〉 Warner Bros., Sellers and Derbez want to bring the classic Looney Tunes character to the big screen.
Warner Bros. is in development with a new SPEEDY GONZALES animated feature. The comedy is being produced by Dylan Sellers through his Rivers Edge Films and Eugenio Derbez through his 3Pas Studios. Jesse Ehrman is overseeing for the studio.
The story will be a contemporary take on the classic cartoon character Speedy Gonzales created by Friz Freieng and Hawley Pratt, which first appeared in the 1955 short ‘Speedy Gonzales’. The character, a savvy Mexican mouse who has the ability to run extremely fast, often faces off against Sylvester the cat–whom Speedy always manages to outsmart and outrun. Occasionally the cartoons featured Speedy saving his cousin Slowpoke, or creating trouble for Daffy Duck.
New Line attempted to get an animated version of the film off the ground a few years ago, with George Lopez attached to voice the title character. That project ultimately stalled, and now it appears that Warner Bros.–which maintains the rights to the characters along with the rest of the Looney Tunes franchise–are mounting a new, updated version, assuming they can navigate potential controversy.
In the past, there have been concerns raised about the character and its portrayal of Mexican stereotypes. Specifically, Cartoon Network chose to discontinue running the ‘Speedy’ cartoons when the company obtained exclusive rights to broadcast Looney Tunes in 2002. The Looney Tunes Golden Collection DVD box set even features a disclaimer that states, “The cartoons you are about to see are a product of their time. They may depict some of the ethnic and racial prejudices that were commonplace in American society.”
It is difficult to imagine that the producers involved would unaware of the possibility that a traditional depiction of the character–which some would argue feeds negative stereotypes–could cause a stir, which makes their search for a writer who can appropriately update the character while being sensitive to such issues all the more challenging–but crucial–a task.
Sellers, who served as an executive producer on this year’s Burnt and awards contender Southpaw, is in development with the Brian Epstein biopic A Life in the Day. Derbez, who has a first-look deal with Universal TV, is currently developing the dramedy about Ponce de Leon, Ponce. He recently lent his voice talents to the animated film Underdogs, but whether he’ll be doing the same for the Speedy Gonzales feature has yet to be confirmed.
Derbez is repped by UTA.
Josh Lyons | Associate Editor