Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Classic Chipmunks?

Fox has been super-quiet about their fourth Alvin and the Chipmunks film... And I think it's because they are planning to reboot the series... Now why would I have any interest in what Fox is doing with the chipmunks? Well, because I think if they do reboot it, it might go the Peanuts Movie route. The result will be a movie that respects the iconic characters it's based on, rather than being a shameless cash grab...

Hear me out.

Back in summer 2012, the distributor scheduled a fourth movie for Christmas 2015. This announcement was of course met with many groans, because very few outside of the kiddie age range like these movies. They just bank on nostalgia and try to make the iconic characters hip and cool and such. I just remember seeing the teaser for the first one before The Simpsons Movie way back in 2007, and cringing at the end. I was astounded that it opened so big and did so well.

Actually, funny story, I went to go see I Am Legend, which opened the same weekend. The lines were incredibly long at my local multiplex, and I assumed, "They're all seeing I Am Legend." Then the ticket booth people had to announce (with a loudspeaker no less) that Alvin and the Chipmunks had sold out!

The sequel did very well two years later, but when the third one came on the scene in December 2011, its opening weekend was much lower than the first two. ($23 million against the $44-48m openings of the first two.) By this time the fad was over, the only audience it had left to rely on was the kids... And most parents probably decided to either stay at home and wait for the DVD, or they took their young'uns to better movies that were playing. It had very strong legs though, probably because it had zero competition from then until the release of The Lorax...

So Fox waited a while to say that a fourth one was coming, but ever since they announced it, not much has been said...

After Disney announced a December 18, 2015 release date for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Fox moved the Chipmunks film to December 16, 2016. Now a currently untitled standalone Star Wars film occupies that slot. Fox still hasn't moved the chipmunks...

I mean, if they push it back to 2017, it will have been six years since the last one opened. All of this along with some other things, plus the general reception of the three movies, leads me to believe that, yes... Alvin and the Chipmunks 4 will be a reboot.


Sony Pictures Animation scored big with The Smurfs in 2011, which was no different from Fox's "Hipmunk" movies. The same goes for the second one, and both were decidedly very kiddie and got bad critical reception, again, much like the Hipmunks movies. The Smurfs 2 performed well at the box office but not that well. Sure, $347 million against a $105 million budget is great, but domestically it made just $71 million. Pretty unimpressive...

Instead of going through a "Smurfs 3", Sony decided to reboot the series, not even a year after the sequel came out! They were only 2 movies in! Two didn't even flop at the box office, either! Not only that, but the reboot arrives a mere 3 years after the last one. Talk about fast! That beats Batman v Superman's 4-years-since-Dark-Knight-Rises reboot! So why reboot it? Sony Animation is simply going an extra mile and is wanting to create a quality film that's not like the last two, rather than a shameless money-grab. That shows that they care: Stop the series even though the first 2 made a lot of money, and then reboot it immediately and go a completely different direction. When do you see a studio do that?

But Sony's reboot of the series sounds promising because the intention is to make a film that'll be more like the original Smurfs comic strip by Peyo, not the Hipmunks movies or the Hanna-Barbera cartoon. Instead of building off of nostalgia, and being all hip and cool, this film will be more classic and traditional. This reboot was announced earlier in the year, and there's even a production blog (!) dedicated to it. Sony also plans to pay Popeye a lot of respect, too. Their feature film based on the sailor man, directed by genius Genndy Tartakovsky, looks and sounds very, very promising!

Blue Sky is currently working hard on The Peanuts Movie. Its teaser, unleashed back in March, was wonderful. The new teaser is also a lot of fun. The animation style is eye-popping, and writer Paul Fieg has been quelling our fears. He assured us that there would be "no twerking" and "no rapping", he's also a massive Peanuts fan. Charles Schulz's son and grandson are also working on the script. Fieg recently had to remind us all that the film is in good hands.

So, does this mean that the people behind this fourth Chipmunks movie plan to go the same route?

Will they make a film that's actually respectful of the characters? Will it avoid the cheap hip tricks and needless modernization stuff? Born from novelty records in the late 1950s, the Chipmunks had an interesting animated history. 1961's The Alvin Show was a response to the success of the records, but it didn't last a year. The 1980s series was far more successful, running a good 7 years and it even got a feature film in 1987! That series was so big, that a lot of people think the Chipmunks originated from it!

If this movie goes a new direction, I think it will probably resemble the 80s show and movie. Maybe it could be like the 60s show. Who knows! Also, all-animated please! But this is all just speculation on my part. I just can't see them rolling out another Hipmunks movie 5-6 years after the third one, especially since the third one didn't do all that well and there's probably no more demand for another Hipmunks movie.

Time for a change, I say.


  1. Those "Hipmunks" movies were nothing compared to the steaming piles of dung that were Garfield: The Movie and Garfield 2: A Tale of Two Kitties. Those two travesties make the former pieces of garbage look like a Pixar movie by comparison. Peanuts at least has people that care about the property (especially the family of the original creator) working on it.

  2. Honestly, aside from pop culture references and toilet humor, how are the Chipmunks in these live-action films any different from the Chipmunks from before. A friend of mine said it best: "Alvin, Simon and Theodore are basic archetypes with little personality, which becomes understandable when one remembers they started life as a novelty record. It’s astounding that through four films and earlier animated incarnations and albums, they have not grown whatsoever".