In 1993, Matt Groening, in a caveman-era Internet chat, was asked if there’d ever be a Simpsons movie. He didn’t say yes, he didn’t say no. He said a film “is way down the line.”
He wasn’t kidding.
More than 10 years since that Net moment and more than 15 years since Groening’s animated clan made their TV debut, The Simpsons is finally getting ready for its close-up.
Fox’s feature-film animation division is “in the very early stages of developing an idea for the movie,” exec Chris Meledandri said in Wednesday’s Daily Variety.
Per the trade paper, “at least seven” veteran Simpsons writers, including Groening and executive producers James L. Brooks and Al Jean, are at work on a script.
Buzz about the long talked about Simpsons movie buzzed anew Tuesday when DVDFanatic.com posted an interview with producer Mike Reiss, another scribe apparently on the ‘toon’s big-screen development team.
Reiss told the Website he could see Homer, et al., debuting in theaters in summer or Christmas 2006.
“It’s a reality after being just sort of this phantom idea,” Reiss said on DVDFantatic.com. “I think it is really gonna happen.”
Reiss essentially has been saying the same thing at college campuses the nation over for at least a year. The Simpsons fan site the Simpsons Archive has a comprehensive rundown of all the times cast and crew, Reiss included, have blabbed about a big-screener.
Something about Reiss’ latest statement must have hit home. Fox, on behalf of Brooks, was prompted to release a statement to Variety, confirming the very poorly kept secret yet cautioning against reserving your tickets today.
“This is our idea of how to whip up enthusiasm for an idea that hasn’t been formed yet,” Brooks said in the statement.
To be sure, Reiss didn’t have any specifics to offer, promising only that The Simpsons movie would bigger, longer and uncut. Any resemblance to 1999’s South Park movie is purely intentional.
Last year, Groening told the Hollywood Reporter that South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut was the only movie based on a TV show that wasn’t “horrible.”
Picking up on the theme, Reiss, in a talk last year at Drexel University, said that “there was a Scooby-Doo movie so there will be a Simpsons movie,” per the campus paper The Triangle.
And like Scooby-Doo, Reiss joked, The Simpsons movie is “gonna suck pretty hard.”
According to Reiss, Fox has wanted to do a Simpsons movie since President Bush’s father was President Bush.
“Finally Fox said, ‘Let’s just do it!’ ” Reiss told DVDFanatic.com. “We never had the greatest idea that was compelling, but Fox said, ‘Maybe if we start paying you, you’ll get inspired.’ And sure enough it worked!”
Now 15 TV seasons old, The Simpsons hasn’t been dulled by the weekly grind, averaging 12.9 million viewers so far this season, the Fox network’s most-watched scripted series.
While it may be best not to consider the movie a sure thing until it’s in theaters, the prime-time ‘toon is, already renewed through at least 2004-05.