Cartoon Network's 'Captain Planet' will be drawn into film
Can a cartoon with a conscience make for good cinema?
That's the bet being made by Cartoon Network, which announced Tuesday that it would develop a film based on the early '90s cartoon "Captain Planet and the Planeteers." The movie will be produced by Don Murphy and Susan Montford, who as the producers of "Transformers" have some experience in turning cartoons into film franchises.
"Captain Planet" centers on five kids from across the world who are given superpowers to fight environmental disasters, such as sensing where a cataclysm may be happening, a kind of Spidey Sense as imagined by Al Gore.
Producers say that the property's entertainment value will dovetail with a larger timeliness. “With the earthquakes, tornadoes, melting icebergs and all the other problems threatening the world right now, Earth really needs her greatest defender,” said Montford. No cast or filmmakers have been brought on board yet.
Developed by Ted Turner in 1990 and airing on TBS, the hand-animated "Captain Planet" ran for three seasons, with a sequel series running for an additional three seasons. It can still be caught in syndication. Whoopi Goldberg, Meg Ryan and Martin Sheen voiced characters, who sported names such as Sly Sludge and Hoggish Greedly.
Cartoon Network is trying its hand at turning properties into films in the manner of rivals such as Nickelodeon. Cartoon Network recently announced that "The Matrix" producer Joel Silver would develop a film based on "Ben 10," its series about a boy who can turn into an alien.
Television cartoons don't always make for the most groundbreaking movies, but they do tend to rake it in at the box office, as those who worked on the "Transformers" and "Alvin and the Chipmunks" movies can attest. It of course remains to be seen, however, whether audiences will pay for glossy entertainment packaged around a social message.
-- Steven Zeitchik
Photo: "Captian Planet and the Planeteers." Credit: Cartoon Network