Yet another famous old-school (animated) character is being prepared for a return to the big screen: Woody Woodpecker, the famous anthropomorphized cartoon fowl whose trademark cackle is a reminder of a bygone era in Hollywood animated entertainment (or the stuff of nightmares, depending on your personal view).
Illumination Entertainment is working on a new feature-length project that will star the Woodpecker character. It could be one of the company's next completely CGI-animated efforts, following Despicable Me, next year's adaptation of Dr. Seuss' The Lorax, and the in-development Despicable Me 2.
Woody Woodpecker was concocted by storyboard artist Ben "Bugs" Hardaway and cartoonist Walter Lantz as being a screwball character, similar to early incarnations of Looney Tunes icons Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck - both of which were also partly Hardaway's creations.
The Woodpecker character eventually transitioned from being a wild and hyperactive troublemaker during the 1940s, to a more mellow and refined cartoon character, like the Chuck Jones version of Bugs Bunny, in the '50s. Universal Entertainment (which owns Illumination) purchased the rights to Woody Woodpecker back in 1985.
Heat Vision says that Illumination's plan is to "create a story that modernizes [Woody Woodpecker], hopefully launching a franchise in the process." Current in talks to create said story is writing duo John Altschuler and Dave Krinsky, who previously worked as executive producers/writers on King of the Hill and co-penned the Will Farrell sports comedy Blades of Glory.
It pretty much goes without saying that Illumination's Woody Woodpecker movie will be more of an all-ages-friendly and madcap slapstick-filled computer-animated cartoon, with more in common with Despicable Me than Altschuler and Krinsky's previous animated efforts (or their work on the new incarnation of Beavis and Butthead).
Here is the original Woody Woodpecker cartoon theme song, complete with the character's (in)famous laugh:
How exactly Illumination plans to "modernize" the Woody Woodpecker character is the question right now. It's safe to say we won't be seeing a "darker and grittier" version of the bird; he will probably be more prone to making pop culture references and humorous nods to adult viewers, though. Exactly how much the character will spend his time cracking "trendy" jokes now, though, is the question...
Are you excited, horrified, or unmoved by the prospect of a modernized Woody Woodpecker?