Looney Tunes history (1997–present)

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Due to the success of Space Jam in 1996, Warner Bros.' Looney Tunes were revamped as a series with the release of multiple new expansions of the canon including movies, theatrical shorts, and television series.

Roots of the revival (1979–1996)[edit]

After 10 years of absence from the silver screen, the Looney Tunes returned in the compilation film The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie, (Chuck Jones, 1979), later other compilation movies followed suit, in 1987 new shorts were made (continuing production intermittently through 2010) and beginning in 1990, original television series. Owing to the success of these films Warner Bros. produced Space Jam (1996), whose success positively reintroduced the Looney Tunes on film. In 1994 Erik Dehkhoda created and directed the "3D Looney Tunes" Project at Warner Bros. All of the main characters were successfully converted into Digital 3D Models. Erik was mentored by Chuck Jones, 'who admittedly wanted nothing to do with computers at the time', and the Looney Tunes were introduced in a new form for the CGI revolution taking place. This new technology generated a lot of Press for Warner Bros and the Looney Tunes due to the fact that they were introduced nearly two years before Disney's "Toy Story" was released.

After "Space Jam" (1997–2003)[edit]

In 2000, Time Warner granted all US television rights to Cartoon Network, ending ABC's The Bugs Bunny Show and Nickelodeon's Looney Tunes Show. Three years later, Warner Home Video began to release Looney Tunes Golden Collection box sets with uncut and remastered cartoons (some with their original titles), which continued on yearly releases until 2008, when WHV axed all the classic cartoon collections as a result of the 2008 financial crisis.

Despite being a hit, Space Jam had relatively high costs and it was received with mixed reviews, which led to some disputes for the style of a future film yet commissioned. Considered a critical and financial flop Looney Tunes Back in Action (which began production in 1998 as Spy Jam) was beset with other troubles during early production, as the unsuccessful releases of some (non-Looney Tunes) WB -and other studios- animated movies, and the lower impact produced by 2D animated films, overshadowed by CGI-focused studios like Pixar and DreamWorks. The resignation of Jackie Chan (the film's original star) caused the film to be postponed several times, as stretching the budget and the addition and exclusion of some scenes.

Originally it was planned to open in summer 2003, but the big success of Finding Nemo forced the studio to move the release date one more time, now for the Thanksgiving holiday season also putting in production over 30 theatrical shorts (not only Looney Tunes, also some Tom and Jerry cartoons – many story-boarded and directed by co-creator Joe Barbera and Hanna-Barbera veteran Iwao Takamoto- such as The Karate Guard) However, the release date of the film proved fatal to the film's performance. On the family front, the film was sandwiched between the releases of Elf and The Cat in the Hat, resulting in Looney Tunes: Back in Action being lost in the shuffle. It should also be noted that this film was released the same month as another Warner Bros. film The Matrix Revolutions, which the studio put more advertising money behind; and a few weeks before the much-hyped release of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (which like Elf, it was coincidentally distributed by New Line Cinema -then a sister company to WB-, which would later be folded into Warner Bros.). Only the barest minimum of promotions were done to advertise the film, limited to advertising with the film's promotional partners, very few television ads, and the release of very little merchandise directly based on the film. Additionally, the film was released in a period in which international tension caused by the Iraq War caused audiences to not want to see action films for some time[citation needed], and retained a PG rating -now considered to be a children-focused rating- (which alienated its target teen audience)[citation needed]. All of these factors made the movie result in a box-office flop[1] (although getting positive reviews[2]), forcing Warner Bros. to reorganize the entire cartoon unit, now focused on television. Only 11 of the shorts were completed and the Looney Tunes shorts have been released on DVD, while the Tom and Jerry cartoons were shown as part of Tom and Jerry Tales (except for The Karate Guard which received limited theatrical release in 2005). See also: Tom and Jerry.

Reorganization and a new start (2004–present)[edit]

Now exclusively working on the small screen, Warner Bros. Animation produced three Looney Tunes television shows; Baby Looney Tunes, Duck Dodgers, and Loonatics Unleashed, the latter one being the most successful, (despite the constant criticisms owing to its departure from the classic designs). At the same time, the original shorts were taken off Cartoon Network due to an extreme lack of corporate synergy between CN's parents, Turner and Warner Bros (as in WB wanted Turner to pay them a royalty for the rights to air the classic shorts and Turner refused). Fortunately, within the past few years, people have also started to find the internet, Xbox Live[3] and DVDs useful for watching these shorts, meaning viewers still had access to the classic shorts no matter what.

More recently, the Looney Tunes are having a new lease on life, with three 3D Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner shorts released in many countries preceding family feature films, beginning July 30, 2010 (with the possibility of releasing more shorts with other characters),[4][5] one all-new series in the style of the original shorts, which premiered on May 3, 2011, and two probable CGI/live-action feature films, one starring Marvin the Martian and one starring Speedy Gonzales,[6] with pre-production from the former slated to begin at the end of 2011. Furthermore, Cartoon Network brought back the original shorts in March 2011 for its kid-targeted audience to be re-familiarized with the characters for The Looney Tunes Show, which seems to have proven effective given that it is still airing as of August 2012.

On June 8, 2011, Warner Bros. Animation announced that there will be more Looney Tunes 3-D theatrical shorts; the first was "I Tawt I Taw A Putty Tat" with Tweety Bird and Sylvester, that preceded the film Happy Feet 2.

On September 19, 2012, it was announced that a new Looney Tunes reboot film was in development.[7] Former Saturday Night Live cast member Jenny Slate was already on board as writer for the new flick. Jeffrey Clifford, Harry Potter producer David Heyman and Dark Shadows writers David Katzenberg and Seth Grahame-Smith were slated to produce the film.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Looney Tunes: Back in Action. Boxofficemojo.com. Retrieved on 2010-08-18.
  2. ^ Rosenbaum, Jonathan (2003). "Joe Dante Calls the Toon". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 2010-08-18. [permanent dead link]
  3. ^ "From Looney Tunes and iCarly to Shrek and SpongeBob SquarePants, Xbox 360 Launches Massive Library of Family Games and Entertainment" (Press release). Microsoft. 2007-10-22. Retrieved 2010-08-18. 
  4. ^ Looney Tunes exclusive clip: Coyote Falls Archived October 27, 2015, at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ News: Looney Tunes Shorts Attached To Upcoming Family Films
  6. ^ New Line making Speedy Gonzales film; George Lopez to voice character
  7. ^ "Former 'SNL' Star to Write 'Looney Tunes' Reboot Film (Exclusive)". hollywoodreporter.com. 2012-09-19. Retrieved 2012-10-13. 
  8. ^ Anderson, Paul (September 19, 2012). "Looney Tunes Movie Back in Action". Big Cartoon News. Retrieved September 19, 2012.