24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Mighty Mouse

With 'Mighty Mouse' reboot, Paramount is here to save the franchise

April 15, 2010 |  5:32 pm

Migh
EXCLUSIVE: With "Alvin & the Chipmunks" showing that a classic animated property can have a prosperous life on the modern film screen, Paramount is pushing forward with a reboot of "Mighty Mouse."

The project, based on the vintage cartoon about a crime-fighting super-mouse (which will surely get a modern spin) has been in development for several years at Paramount and its Nickelodeon Movies label. A number of writers have taken stabs at a script over that time, including the Gunn brothers (Brian and Mark), who also count the "Journey to the Center of Earth" sequel among their credits.

But the studio has, over the last few months, been seeking both a new writer and a new director for "Mouse," with a number of up-and-comers on the list. We''ll keep you posted when they're hired, but the very fact of development momentum is noteworthy. Paramount has had success distributing DreamWorks Animation's films – the studio currently has the hit "How to Train Your Dragon" out in theaters -- but also has made the most of its few forays into animation production. "The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie," a Paramount/Nick collaboration, earned $140 million worldwide back in 2004 (and that was long before the 3-D and hybrid live/animation crazes hit full bore, which could give a jolt to this one if the studio went that way).

"Mighty Mouse" also has plenty of name recognition. The Terrytoons cartoon was a staple on Saturday morning television from the 1950s to the 1980s, meaning that pretty much anyone over the age of 30 is familiar with it (here are those theme-song lyrics, if they're not lodged in your head already; Mr. Trouble, indeed, never hangs around when he hears that mighty sound).

But how studio executes update the property will be a key question. The original 1940s "Mighty Mouse" comic was designed as a a satire of the then-popular "Superman," a kind of subversive postmodern creation before entertainment (and most of the world) was familiar with subversive postmodern creations. Producers could still go that way -- especially in an era when big Marvel and DC superheroes are themselves getting subversive treatments -- though part of the reason to do a movie like "Mighty Mouse" in the first place is its broad, family-oriented appeal.

That said, there are plenty of cartoon staples here that writers can play with -- love interests like Mitzi and Pearl Pureheart, the villainous cat Oil Can Harry and the main character's ability to save the day with the help of his superpowers, to name a few. Hey, if so many of our other childhood memories are getting re-imagined by the Dream Factory, the yellow-costumed one might as well get re-imagined too.

--Steven Zeitchik

Follow me on Twitter.

Photo: Mighty Mouse. Credit: Terytoons Inc.


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