Though Paul Feig is certainly fielding some intense fan opinions about his upcoming Ghostbusters movie, he’s also tied to another feature film adaptation of a beloved property: The Peanuts Movie. When it was first announced that 20th Century Fox and Blue Sky were developing a 3D CGI take on Charles Schulz’s beloved cartoon strip, many were understandably wary of what a “modern” Peanuts would look like. There was some reason to be assured by the involvement of Feig as a producer, but the prospect of seeing characters so innocent and sweet “updated” was a scary one.
Thankfully, the footage we’ve seen from The Peanuts Movie has been incredibly reassuring. The joy of Schulz’s original characters appears to remain intact, and director Steve Martino looks to have found a solid visual balance that respects the aesthetic of the original cartoons while using CG technology to further bring the Peanuts characters to life.
Steve recently spoke with Feig at SXSW after the premiere of his upcoming action comedy Spy, and the filmmaker talked a bit about Peanuts, saying they are in no way trying to modernize the characters:
“It’s very sweet. It’s totally a G-rated movie, because you can’t get edgy with Charlie Brown. That was the Schulz family’s fear, that me and Fox everybody were gonna come in and hip it up and cast Justin Bieber as Charlie Brown and have it like Space Jam or something. All of us were like, ‘No.’. We cast kids that sound exactly like the kids you remember from the specials. It’s very pure of heart.”
Feig admits it was a daunting task to tackle, but he’s pleased with the results thus far:
“I’m really happy with it. It’s a scary thing to take on, but also Charles Shulz’s son and grandson and the grandson’s writing partner are the writers on it. So we’ve been guiding it along for quite a while, it’s been almost two years now. Steve Martino from Blue Sky is directing it, and he and that team are so religious about wanting to keep it the way—everything we loved about it.”
That’s not to say he wasn’t aware of the fan reaction when the plans for The Peanuts Movie were initially unveiled:
“What happened was when it first got announced as ‘3D CGI’, everybody went nuts—including Brad Bird. And you’re just like, ‘Everybody just wait!’ It’s the thing in showbiz that movies mean so much to people, and their favorite properties mean so much that people get very passionate—I do, you do. But when you’re on the other side of it, when you’re the one trying to steer it, all these preconceptions come out and you’re just like, ‘Oh you don’t know what we’re doing, just wait.’”
Feig also discussed his first reaction to seeing what Blue Sky and their team put together, heaping praise on their visual take on the characters:
“When I first came onboard they were already in the beginnings of developing it and Steve and the Blue Sky team showed me the preliminary artwork and some of the animation, and I literally got so choked up because the minute it came out I was like, ‘They cracked it. It’s so true to what it is.’ And weirdly the CGI makes it almost work a little better in a weird way because they made it feel like the cartoons, but it just has enough of a—realism’s not the right word, it just kind of comes off the screen in a way where you feel like they’re real. It’s very bizarre, I’m so excited about it.”
Watch the portion of Steve’s interview with Feig pertaining to Peanuts below, and look for the full interview soon. The Peanuts Movie is slated for release on November 6th.