(Los Angeles, California--October 10, 2012) Twentieth Century Fox Animation and Blue Sky Studios have acquired rights to make a feature film based on the late Charles Schulz’s beloved and iconic “Peanuts” franchise. The agreement is the culmination of over two years of discussions – focused on the film’s creative direction – between the Studio and members of the Schulz family. The announcement was made today by Vanessa Morrison, president of Twentieth Century Fox Animation.
The Peanuts Gang (Graphic: Peanuts Worldwide)
The as yet untitled animated event will be released on November 25, 2015. 2015 will mark the 65th anniversary of the debut of the “Peanuts” comic strip and the 50th anniversary of the landmark television special, “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”
Charles Schulz drew the most popular and influential comic strip of all time, which was read everyday by 355 million people in 75 countries. In addition to the famous strip, Peanuts holiday television specials such as “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” have won Emmy’s and continue to be among the highest rated prime time TV specials.
Steve Martino will direct the “Peanuts” feature; previously, he brought to the big screen (with Jimmy Hayward) Fox/Blue Sky’s “Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who!” Martino also directed (with Michael Thurmeier) Fox’s recent box-office smash “Ice Age: Continental Drift.” The screenplay is by Craig Schulz and the writing team of Bryan Schulz & Cornelius Uliano. Craig Schulz and Bryan Schulz, respectively Mr. Schulz’s son and grandson, along with Uliano are producing.
Also playing a key role in the deal was Neil Cole, chief executive officer and president of Iconix Brand Group (NASDAQ: ICON), which, in a joint venture with Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates, formed Peanuts Worldwide in 2010, the home to the global “Peanuts” property.
Twentieth Century Fox Animation director of development Ralph Millero worked closely with Morrison and with the Schulz estate in securing the rights to the property.
Commented Vanessa Morrison: "We are thrilled to partner with the Schulz family and Iconix and honored to bring the Peanuts characters to the big screen. This all started with our love and respect for the work of Charles Schulz. We thank the Schulz family and Iconix for letting Fox and Blue Sky bring his vision to new generations of film goers.”
Craig Schulz, President, Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates, commented, “We have been working on this project for years. We finally felt the time was right and the technology is where we need it to be to create this film. I am thrilled we will be partnering with Blue Sky/Fox to create a Peanuts movie that is true to the strip and will continue the legacy in honor of my father."
“This is a momentous step for the Peanuts brand. The beloved characters, Snoopy, Charlie Brown and the whole gang resonate with multiple generations all over the world,” commented Neil Cole, CEO, Iconix Brand Group. “This film will give us a new medium in which to engage consumers globally and showcase the power of the Peanuts brand,” added Cole.
About 20th Century Fox Film
One of the world’s largest producers and distributors of motion pictures, 20th Century Fox Film produces, acquires and distributes motion pictures throughout the world. These motion pictures are produced or acquired by the following units of FFE: Twentieth Century Fox, Fox 2000 Pictures, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Fox International Pictures, and Twentieth Century Fox Animation.
About Charles Schulz
Charles Schulz once described himself as "born to draw comic strips." A Minneapolis native, he was just two days old when an uncle nicknamed him "Sparky," after the horse Spark Plug from the "Barney Google" comic strip. Throughout his youth, he and his father shared a Sunday-morning ritual of reading the funnies. After serving in the army during World War II, Schulz got his first big break in 1947 when he sold a cartoon feature called "Li'l Folks" to the St. Paul Pioneer Press. In 1950, Schulz met with United Feature Syndicate, and on Oct. 2 of that year, "Peanuts," so named by the syndicate, debuted in seven newspapers. Schulz died in Santa Rosa, Calif., Feb. 12, 2000 – just hours before his last original strip was to appear in Sunday papers.
The PEANUTS characters and related intellectual property are owned by Peanuts Worldwide LLC, a joint venture owned 80% by Iconix Brand Group, Inc. and 20% by members of the Charles M. Schulz family. Iconix Brand Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: ICON) owns, licenses and markets a growing portfolio of consumer brands including CANDIE'S (R), BONGO (R), BADGLEY MISCHKA (R), JOE BOXER (R), RAMPAGE (R), MUDD (R), MOSSIMO (R), LONDON FOG (R), OCEAN PACIFIC (R), DANSKIN (R), ROCAWEAR (R), CANNON (R), ROYAL VELVET (R), FIELDCREST (R), CHARISMA (R), STARTER (R), WAVERLY (R), ZOO YORK (R), and SHARPER IMAGE (R). In addition, Iconix owns interests in the ARTFUL DODGER (R), ECKO (R), MARC ECKO (R), ED HARDY (R) MATERIAL GIRL (R), PEANUTS (R), and TRUTH OR DARE brands. The Company licenses its brands to a network of leading retailers and manufacturers that touch every major segment of retail distribution from the luxury market to the mass market in both the U.S. and worldwide. Through its in-house business development, merchandising, advertising and public relations departments Iconix manages its brands to drive greater consumer awareness and equity.