ThunderCats Movie Footage is Dead on Arrival

Published 4 years ago by , Updated January 24th, 2013 at 8:27 am,

thundercats logo ThunderCats Movie Footage is Dead on Arrival

It’s been just shy of a year since we had news regarding the oft-delayed ThunderCats feature film. Warner Bros was, rightfully, quick to abandon the idea of utilizing flesh and blood (and fur) actors to portray the iconic humanoid-feline heroes – setting animators to work on a TMNT-esque ThunderCats CGI film.

Now, nearly three years later, test footage from the now defunct CGI project has made its way online – raising the question will we ever see a modern ThunderCats film on the big screen?

Last February we reported on the possibility that the ThunderCats film was still alive but after almost a year of silence regarding the project, not to mention the positive buzz for Cartoon Network’s upcoming animated TV series reboot, it’s becoming increasingly likely that the CGI project was killed-off when Warner Bros. lost interest.

It makes sense that the ThunderCats CGI footage leak would be the final nail in the project’s proverbial coffin – with a source releasing the work to Flixist for online posting (since the fruits of the animation team’s labor would otherwise rot in a WB storeroom). That said, if the project is still alive, most ThunderCats faithful will probably wish it was dead after seeing the test video.

Check out the footage below:

Jerry O’Flaherty, the art director for Gears of War, was brought on to direct the CGI project and early concept artwork seemed encouraging – showcasing a dark and edgy take on the iconic 80s cartoon.

Though, judging by the footage, it seems the designers had a difficult time balancing the campy cartoon with the necessary elements of a modern CGI picture. In general, the designs are bland (even for test footage) and there’s an odd balance between some aggressive edgy action and an over-abundance of cheesy (and un-funny dialogue). The only truly recognizable feature of the video is the iconic ThunderCall with the Sword of Omens but, as a proof of concept, the footage falls short of generating the kind of excitement that would have been necessary to get a project like this off the ground.

thundercats movie lion o1 ThunderCats Movie Footage is Dead on Arrival

Lion-O from Jerry O’Flaherty's ThunderCats

At this point, it’s unlikely we’ll ever see a ThunderCats movie with O’Flaherty’s pre-production design intact.

The ThunderCats franchise in an unfortunate grey area when it comes to making a feature film. It’d definitely be hard to take any live-action project seriously – unless the Cats were recreated in Avatar-like CGI detail (which would be extremely expensive for an untested IP from the 1980s). Similarly, CGI animation has made incredible gains through Pixar and DreamWorks Animation but the success of both studios has been the result of creating their own original IPs – not recreating an existing set of characters in a modern CGI reboot.

Mirage Studios’ 2007 TMNT film, which intended to solve the problem of bringing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles back to the modern megaplex, without requiring expensive and potentially goofy-looking practical effects, did more damage to the Turtles franchise than good (despite being a commercial success).

TMNT ThunderCats Movie Footage is Dead on Arrival

However, expect Hollywood to be keeping a close eye on the animated ThunderCats reboot at Cartoon Network. Should the series catch fire with young audiences, more than a few studios will likely take another look at the Paul Sopocy script treatment – with the intention of starting development from scratch. The combined interests of passionate young consumers coupled with nostalgia-fueled twenty somethings is an irresistible set of demographics in Hollywood.

Follow us on Twitter @benkendrick and @screenrant and let us know what you think of the footage.

The new ThunderCats animated series will debut in 2011 on Cartoon Network.

Source: Flixist (via ComingSoon)

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  1. Thundercats was my favorite growing up Cheetara was my favorite thunder cat. I wonder will they have Cheetara get with either Panthow, or Tigera?

    • fans guys you know in the earth there are too much for oportunities on the way and a few directors wants to make the thundercats in the real screen like He-man in 1995 or 1985 and there still hope for the thundercats so look what happend to transformers they wanted to be alive just like the Avengers superman starwars in 1985 the blue lagoon the moorfs and there are two channels who it could be representing the thundercats there is two one is Scy-fy two fx so there are much more oportunities to discuber so the world are waiting for the new fantasy movie because look what happent to Herry potter and the X-men there are so many more Miricles on the way so are so many oportunites too search an to discuber so i leave you in the good hands and you will see that there still hope on the way

  2. This really sucks this movie would made A boat load of cash I know I would pay to see it and buy it on DVD but your chicken to put it out there and make it because some moron sneaked the CGI footage out on it just chalk it up to PR hype it only makes people want more like the smell of popcorn popping

  3. Silver Hawks was my favorite, please make the live action movie…Anyone??? Universal? WB?

  4. Wow. That was truly horrible.

  5. I think thundercats was great in the way a kid describes when he’s in pajamas, when it was on tv, and you bought the toys, but it wasn’t really good in a “lets make this an action movie” way because lets face it. it was a kids show. Not to mention, it was great for its time but… nobody is going to give a crap about it today if it hits cinema. Lets be honest, can you imagine yourself in your car, hearing about it in theaters and thinking “well.. i loved that as a kid… seeing the movie sounds like a terrific idea!”. Your more likely to tell yourself “… I don’t think i want to ruin what love i have left for what it was by seeing something like a movie.” Cinema kills childhood favorites. Its very notorious for that. Especially in today’s day and age. And it always starts when some producer or screenwriter or someone thinks “why don’t I take a name people loved and try to make it into a movie! That’d make money!” because people like that only want your money. The people they hire try their best to do what their payed to do, but nobody collaborates anymore while on set. everything is CG, nobody challenges themselves to pull of scenes or concepts that require hard work because the digital age is now like a thing set, to where everything is a copy of something else done in some other movie. Remakes are dying, because nothing is a challenge anymore. I definitely can’t imagine myself wanting to see, or being too excited about a movie based on Wildcats. not today, anyway.

  6. btw “wildcats” is my sarcasm. you know its not going to be THE thundercats. always expect a generic brand, with the original title in remakes.

  7. Vids like that should come with the warning may ruin your childhood memories.

  8. Wait how did the ’07 CGI Turtles movie harm the franchise?

  9. i think for my personal opinion there are lots and billions of oportunities too see thundercats in action in the real screen like they did too transformers because look what happend to transformers too g.i. joe X-men star wars green landers so there are billions of oportunities because the whole world wants many more real fantasies and lots of Actors wants to play each one of the thundercats so there are lots and lots of millions of oportunities i said that for the cartoons of the transformers turned in too real screen thanks too the CGI special effects and lots of actors wants to play each character so there you go there are lots and lots an oportunities to make the thundercats in the real screen because look too what happend too ninja turtules they still alive the same as X-men Mortal Kombat the avengers there are still there more on the way too see

  10. I really do hope this gets made. I loved the cartoon when I was a kid and even now as a 42 year old bloke I would definitely go and see it!

  11. In that test footage and picture lionel looks more like Akuma from the street fighter series than he does lionel