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. Let’s not forget the very popular Mirage series of Thundercats comics around 2003 proving it is possible to have an edgier franchise product. I like the character concepts, but I have to agree this test is very weak.
    And lets not kid ourselves, the TMNT reboot needs to be like the original comic series to be successful, unkiddified and free of the limiting factors. the original fans want this and the children who saw the original cartoons and movies are grown up enough to appreciate not being sheltered.
    Sadly, this will not happen because of the toys.

    • I so agree with you on the lame attempts to kiddiefie the TMNT movies. I am a true fan of the Orginal Comics which were both realistic and well written. Not the bubblegum crap that they watered down the original concept so much that nothing was left.

    • Those Thundercat comics from the 2000’s were fantastic have them all and loved them all. The Return and Dogs of War were great.

      • thunder cats movie!!!!!!!!!

  2. Terrible. Too much slow motion makes a battle feel boring and slow.

    • really want to see a thunder-tank concept.

  3. Back to the drawing board. That was horrible! It didn’t have a Thundercats feel to it at all.

  4. wow that was horrible from start to finish.

    • thundercats are loose!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. it was quite bad, didn’t feel like thundercats at all. i didn’t like the look of lion-o for starters, he looked really bland. there is so much potential for a brand like this but it always seems to be wasted. they need to go back to basic’s, rewatch the tv series and take it from there.
    why not go down the avatar route, throw a bit of money at it. i think they spend too much time concentrating at the fanboys instead of the wider audience. i have always been a fan of thundercats and hope a movie does manage to hit the cinema.

  6. That seemed to have too much of both elements to be good for either — too campy for adults and too graphic for kids. It may have been alright for 14 year old boys, but that’s an aweful thin target group.

    So anyone else hear they’re calling the Spidey movie The Amazing Spiderman? …and there’s new pic I hadn’t seen before w/Spiderman crouched and prepared to shoot his web.
    Sorry, I just seemed more interesting than the trailer for Thundercats… bummed they wont be making a killer version of Thundercats anytime soon (not big on anime.)

  7. Christ, the lion man was irritating beyond words.

    • No doubt, I wanted the bad guy to win.

      That was…. craptacular.


  8. That footage was pretty bad. Maybe someday we’ll get a REAL ThunderCats movie, but I’m not going to get my hopes up.

  9. This shows how Hollywood destroys franchises. Strip all of the aspects that made the original cartoon enjoyable, change both the look of the characters and desgns that people found successful, then wonder why it fails to gain interest with the Fans. The only thing they need to eliminate from the original cartoon was Snarf, everything else was a positive in my book.

  10. I couldn’t even finish watching the trailer, it was beyond awful! Thundercats CAN be done live-action, but it would need to be done with motion capture, like Avatar. THEN it might work.

    • motion capture is an excellent idea, question is mainly actors and costumes.

  11. Absolutely cringe-inducing and terribly lame. I feel like my good childhood memories of Thundercats have just been molested and violated.

  12. What the Heck was that. crap from beginning to end I might buy it if it comes out STV straight to video but I wouldn’t pay to see it

  13. That looks awful about as bad as the awful new TV series looks. Thundercats are pretty much dead at this point studios just keep trying to destroy them.

  14. I actually really liked TMNT. I think this could be cool

  15. I’m just wondering what that thing was, and why it was called Liono.

    Granted, I haven’t watched the show since I was a kid. But I don’t remember Liono being an obnoxious 14 year old boy…

    • While that level of CGI might be ok for a TV series, it felt way too unfinished to be a movie. Even stylized, it should have looked MUCH better.

      Was also an underwhelming and boring 2 mins. I expect to see more than just 2 characters for that length of time.

  16. I would watch it.

  17. they completely changed liono and made him a kid instead of a leader, but it looks like it might be pretty good. i hope to see a live action master of the universe soon because they have some great villain and stories they could do. i mean triclops,beastman,merman,trapjaws, and the rest would be pretty nice to see in a live action film, also the ninja turtles woul be cool to and they need to use more mutant villains like baxter stockmaqn, beebop,rocksteady, and shredder this time but do them right.

  18. Horrible…thank god this died early.

  19. I just want to point out that Lion-O really is a kid in an adult body so him acting silly and childish is not out of character, especially if it’s at the beginning of the whole saga. An obnoxious kid playing with his new found powers and strength? Who’d guess a kid might do that?

    Not just trying to be different in this thread, but I thought it wasn’t bad. I even had a laugh at the end when he’s toying with the body of the bad guy.

  20. As for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles… Well… I was born in 1983, which makes me somewhat of a self proclaimed authority on the subject of what makes them awesome and successful and I have narrowed it down to a short list of 4 indispensable factors:


  21. What was wrong with TMNT now?

    • My thoughts exactly!!! I happent like TMNT alot, and it held up it was also financially a success, and was a good follow up to the terrible Turtles in time film…

  22. So they are watching an ANIME version of thundercats, to see if it does well in order to greenlight this project?
    that is the most moronic thing i have ever heard of. The anime version of the thundercats WILL FAIL.
    No one wants the thundercats as ANIME. Everyone wants the thundercats we grew up with. Quit screwing around just for the sake of making money, and make the damn thundercats into a live action movie already.

    They need to get Nolan on a live action thundercats movie, and they will make more of a profit than they will know what to do with.

    • Actually, the anime one looks AMAZING, and is projected to be pretty big. Its not like this piece of trash that totally screws up Lion-O’s personality and everything else about him. You can watch the trailer for the new series on youtube and stuff.

  23. That is the most horrible recreation attempt I have ever saw, I enjoyed the TC when I was a kid and my daughter (6) is in love with them. If you can’t make it seem like I’m watching an improved version of the series, then don’t bother. Sure they were cheesy and the graphics weak back then, but don’t lose the essence of it. I wouldn’t even have recognized Liono if not for the sword, no resemblance to a Lion and I thought the other was Pantera and I still don’t know for sure. Sucks Period.

  24. To the TMNT rants, the only way that Bebop, and Rocksteady will ever make it into the next movie is if they get the cartoon rights. They were never in the comics, that is why we got Tokka and rahzar.

    As for Krang i believe the first appearance(in comics) by him was in an Archie comic based on the t.v. series, so they would need to get the cartoon rghts for him as well i think.

    As for the Thundercats clip. The last thing we need is are beloved 80’s cartoons being morphed into advent children clones. I stopped the video as soon as i saw Lion-O, stop making every CG hero look like Cloud!

    We the fans who grew up during the 80’s, the sad fact is that we will never get a TRUE comic movie, since we are adults and we want it to be for adults. Then if it is, the toys will not profit, so we have to settle for cheesy Anime style movies(that all seem to take from FFVII: AC), so crappy games, and weak looking toys can sell. Original thundercats and transformers toys back in the 80’s are still best things around.

  25. i think they should stick to doing thundercats with hugh jackman as tigra brad pitt as lion-o vin diesel as panthro and the actress that plays cheetara (unknown) the warner bros film looks totally awesome i think many will agree :)…………..scrap animated version it looks terrible no character looks like they should!!! THUNDERCATS HOOOOOOOO!

    • 100% agree!

  26. Seriously??? I grew up on the cartoon, and to be honest I actually like the new cartoon. It took me a while to adjust to all the differences but actually enjoyed the writing. Which to me says a lot since I dont watch cartoons, and have not read comics or played video games since I was a kid. Yet hear I am glued to the tv watching a remake of a cartoon I enjoyed as a child.

    I would love a Thundercats movie but if it is even remotely similar to the crap I just watched…I mean I don’t want to bash the hard-work of someone who is obviously talented, but that left me speechless and not at all in the good way.

  27. Please go back to the drawing board on the design of the caracters. I’m a big fan of the the thundercats. Use the current design for the caracters from the cartoon networks thundercats

  28. Wow! Put a bullet in my head, please! CGI IS TRASH1 Please don’t make a Thundercats film please.

  29. I am currectly screenwriting for a modern actual Real ThunderCats movie….using little CGI…synthesizer soundtracking and Movie one based on “Exodus”.