Fans of The Simpsons have known for a while that the yellow-skinned citizens of Springfield are set to make their way back to theaters this summer in a new 3D short film exclusively attached to Ice Age: Continental Drift.

In The Longest Daycare, Maggie returns to the Ayn Rand School for Tots, which previously appeared in the episode “A Streetcar Named Marge” from the fourth season, where she’ll face off against her old nemesis, Baby Gerald.

The trailer comes courtesy of Entertainment Weekly and is the first footage of the short to be released so far.

Clocking in at four-and-a-half minutes, The Longest Daycare is intended to launch a series of big-screen Simpsons shorts. These future installments will likely focus on other members of the Simpsons clan and will probably be attached to forthcoming family adventures like next year’s Epic (which also just released its first trailer).

Regardless of its declining role in popular culture, The Simpsons has been one of Fox’s most recognizable brands for over 20 years, and these theatrical shorts are a great way to keep the series alive and boost box office numbers for the studio’s latest would-be blockbuster.

However, it’s quite possible that Fox is also using these theatrical shorts to whet audiences’ appetite for a sequel to 2007’s The Simpsons Movie. That film earned a whopping $527 million worldwide against a $75 million production budget, and with the series possibly nearing its end in a couple years, the time for a second big-screen adventure might be near.

The above footage isn’t really enough to gauge if The Longest Daycare will feature the series’ trademark combination of slapstick and social commentary, but the fact that it harkens back to the show’s early years indicates that even Simpsons fans who believe the series is past its prime may want to check it out.

The Longest Daycare hits theaters – attached to Ice Age: Continental Drift – July 13th, 2012.

Source: Entertainment Weekly