Bugs, Daffy, Elmer, Wile E. Coyote and the rest of the gang make their highly anticipated return to the big screen as Warner Bros.’ Looney Tunes: Back in Action debuts across North America today. The mix of live action and animation will challenge New Line’s Elf and Disney’s Brother Bear for the family entertainment buck this weekend.
In addition to many of your favorite cartoon characters, the film stars Brendan Fraser, who teams up with Jenna Elfman to find his missing adventurer father (Timothy Dalton) and a fabled precious stone. Steve Martin, Heather Locklear, John Cleese and Joan Cusack also make appearances.
Fraser is no stranger to working with animated co-stars, having starred in Twentieth Century Fox’s Monkeybone, Disney’s George of the Jungle and Universal’s The Mummy series. In 2000, he got animated himself when he took the lead voice role in Improvision Corp.’s 2000 CG adventure Sinbad: Beyond the Veil of Mists.
The last Looney Tunes big-screen outing, 1996’s Space Jam, enjoyed a $27.5 million November bow and went on to earn $90.4 million domestically. Warner Bros. will be lucky to get a repeat with Elf building positive word of mouth and Brother Bear showing strong legs. Both of those films are also playing in more theaters than Back in Action, which boxoffice pundits predict will finish in the lower end of the top 5.
Back in Action is directed by Joe Dante (Gremlins, Small Soldiers) and enlists the creative talents of head animator Eric Goldberg, storyboard artist Tom Sito and visual effects supervisor Chris Watts, among others. To bring the Looney crew to life, Warner Bros. used USAnimation, the 2D animation software from Montreal, Canada-based Toon Boom Technologies. To learn more about the making of the film, see the cover story in the December issue of Animation Magazine.
Also opening today is Twentieth Century Fox’s maritime adventure thriller Master and Commander: The Far Side of the Ocean. The Russell Crowe vehicle has already won over critics and is expected to take the top spot at the North American box office. It features EFX by Asylum Effects, ILM, Weta Workshop, CaféFX, Pacific Title & Art Studio and Digital Backlot. Pablo Helman (Star Wars: Episode 2–Attack of the Clones, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines) serves as visual effects supervisor. Read more about the contributions of CaféFX in the Visual EFX & Technology section of this site.