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Back in March 2010, we learned that Sony was set to bring Popeye the Sailor Man back in an animated feature film. Well over a year later, they now have two people lined up to write the screenplay for the film, and it looks like they’ve gone with a duo with some experience in adapting a vintage cartoon to a modern-day story.
It’s likely that Popeye’s message of eating spinach to stay strong inspired many a kid to chow-down on their vegetables. Of course, the healthy message may have been lessened somewhat by the fact that he was often seen chewing on a pipe. Regardless, the character, who dates back to a comic strip from the late ’20’s, is beloved by generations. The last time we saw him on the big screen, it was in the 1980 film Popeye. If my memory is accurate (I can’t recall the last time I actually saw this movie), Robin Williams did a fairly good job in portraying the cartoonish character, due in large part to the comedian’s ability to mimic Popeye’s scrunched-up face and unique way of speaking.
It’s sort of a relief to know that Sony Pictures Animation and Avid Arad’s Arad Productions are going the animated 3D route for the latest installment, rather than live-action. According to the Hollywood Reporter the project now has a team of two screenwriters. Jay Scherick and David Ronn are set to pen a screenplay for the animated film.
The duo are among the screenwriters for The Smurfs, which makes them a good fit for a project like this. Sony’s Bob Osher (president of Sony Pictures Digital Productions) seems to agree, saying, “Scherick and Ronn have a remarkable talent in re-energizing beloved characters. As they demonstrated with The Smurfs, they embrace the iconic characteristics of these timeless characters and craft a story that really engages moviegoers today.”
I haven’t seen The Smurfs, so I can’t comment on whether or not the movie managed to capture some of the old magic in the cartoon series, however these two do have the experience for the job. Meanwhile, Popeye has proven to be a strong character (I credit the spinach) and he's surely as adaptable to a modern day story as he has been for more than eighty years.