Every year generations of families wait with Linus for the Great Pumpkin, laugh with Snoopy as he serves popcorn and pretzels for Thanksgiving dinner, and sigh as Charlie Brown’s sorry Christmas tree finds its ultimate glory. It’s TV tradition–perhaps one of the few that remain. Now the family of Peanuts creator Charles Schulz is planning to make these bigger-than-life characters, well, bigger. An animated film designed for the big screen is in the works (scheduled for release November 2015).
The co-screenwriter/producer of the untitled film is one of Schulz’s sons, Craig, who says the family is determined to not veer far from the original cartoon strips. Yet it’s certain that the deal he signed with Blue Sky Studios, the animation unit behind “Ice Age” and Dr. Seuss’ “Horton Hears a Who” will turn out something far from the humble strips of yore. (Note: Throughout his life Theodor Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, shunned the efforts of Hollywood studios to put his characters on the big screen and dismissed the idea of actors portraying them. It took his widow’s permission to make “Horton Hears a Who” into a feature with voice work by comedians Jim Carrey and Steve Carell. It grossed $154.5 million before going to DVD.) In his other role as President of the family biz–Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates, which owns 20 percent share of the Peanuts franchise (annual retail sales topped $2 billion, with more than 24,000 new products approved every year)–Craig Schulz says: “Peanuts is a long-term growing stock that has to be managed properly.” Good news: generations are depending on it.