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ElfQuest movie in the works -- no, really!

Yeah, that particular wolf has cried before, hasn't it? But yesterday, it was announced all over the place: Warner Bros. is in a deal with WaRP to do an EQ movie, with Rawson Thurber writing/producing/directing.

Some linkage:




Who the hell is Rawson Thurber, you ask? Why, the guy responsible for "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story", starring Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughan!

... What the HELL, you ask? Why should *that guy* doing the ElfQuest movie give me ANY faith in this project? Yeah, that was my first question, too. Despite the Pinis charmingly calling him an "A-list" director, I have my doubts. But here are his own words, recently posted on the EQ forum by RP:


To Elfquest Fans Everywhere:

When I was eleven years old, my brother first handed me Elfquest Book One: Fire and Flight. I spent that whole summer in Cape Hatteras, North Carolina reading and re-reading what was then the entire four volume set. Wendy and Richard's work was my very first introduction into the world of fantasy and I fell for it head-over-heels. I distinctly remember the excitement that gripped me when the Wolfriders discovered Two-Edges's treasure armory. And I gasped at Winnowill's cruel torture of Strongbow. And felt steeled by Cutter's heroism and valor in the face of incredible odds. And Leetah's kindness and quiet strength throughout. I couldn't flip the pages fast enough. I was in love.

I know most of you only know me as "the guy who did the 'Dodgeball' movie" — and that's both fair and accurate. I am that guy. I'm proud of that film. But I'm also the guy who loves Elfquest with all of his heart. And I just want you all to know that this film is going to do justice and honor to the fantastic and deeply beautiful world that Wendy and Richard so carefully and skillfully created. This is going to be the Elfquest movie you've always hoped would be made — written and directed by a true fan for all the fans out there around the world. It's going to be great. That's my promise to you as well as to myself.

Shade and sweet water,
Rawson Marshall Thurber


Hmm! (That makes it sound more, to me, like the announcement of Peter Jackson doing LOTR -- "What? The guy known for 'Meet the Feebles'? Is doing LOTR? What?")

Still unknown: what format the movie will be in.

Will it be live-action? CGI? 2-D animation? Some combination?

So far, fan preference is leaning heavily towards the latter two, and mostly rejecting the idea of the former.

Also unknown, of course, what story the movie will cover.

What I'm really interested in, at this stage, is the question of what Warner Bros. *expects* this property to be; what marketing niche do they think it fills? What kind of box office do they expect from it? It seems to me that it would be very foolish to expect Harry-Potter-like b.o. for it. But if not that, then what *is* realistic to expect? What defines "success" for an EQ film? (A mixture of kiddie and adult audience?)

And naturally, my inner cynic says that I'll believe it when I hear a firm release date and start seeing trailers for it. The announcement is so new, that this could STILL fall through... just like every other attempt to bring EQ to the big screen. But from the way this is being talked-up, it certainly *sounds* like this might be the most serious attempt yet... and it can't be denied that you could make an all-CGI movie for it, without breaking the bank too much. (But the lingering question for either an all-CGI attempt, or a 2D animated attempt, is of course: will it be quality enough to be a success, rather than some grotesque failure?)



( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 10th, 2008 04:45 pm (UTC)
I was interested in seeing that Rawson Thurber is a great great grandson of James Thurber. I loved James Thurber's writing as a teenager.

About the movie- Wendy says it will PROBABLY be live action/CGI which makes me go "meh." I suppose it worked for LotR, but unless they're getting Weta to do the effects, I'll be cynical. Also, I really don't want to see Cutter portrayed by a real person. I'm not sure why but the idea just bothers me. Kind of like the horrible casting that was done for Interview with a Vampire. Blech.

But I could be totally wrong and it could be totally awesome. I just hope it doesn't make me squirm, if the movie gets made.
Jul. 10th, 2008 07:20 pm (UTC)
I'm trying to be evenhanded in my reactions, although, as you know: still dubious.

The thing is... all comic-book movies so far have been based on the idea that the fan part of the audience has a built-up notion of what the characters look/act like, from the comics art. Yet we often accept live actors portraying the characters; sometimes the live actors supplant the comic portrayal in the minds of many.

But... well, EQ is different. The main characters are *non-human*. A human just isn't going to easily step into those shoes.

Another thing: in many cases with the comics, characters were drawn over the years by many different people. So fans *were* used to changing looks for characters, based on which artist was drawing them.

But let's be honest with ourselves -- while there are some folks who are defenders of the not-Wendy EQ artists, many more people discovered that there's only a small, select few artists who can *really* draw the EQ characters. Others' depictions aren't taken well. For EQ, it's really NOT that the title has weathered a lot of different artists on it. Wendy's depictions are far more important to EQ than any one artist is important to, say, the X-Men, or Iron Man, or whatever.

This is why I'm having a much stronger negative reaction to the idea of casting a real live person to play Cutter, than I ever have to anyone cast to play another comic-book character. The others were human. Cutter just isn't.

Someone on one of the SoC threads proposed that fans may really need to stretch their minds and accept the idea that what's important is the essence, the size differences, the relationship to the wolves, movement, and so on... and not get hung up on whether the elves have "big eyes" or 4 fingers, or exaggerated body proportions. I'm mulling that over at the moment. I'm not sure how I feel about it. (Maybe it'll be an okay version of EQ; but I'm not sure it'll be the optimal version of EQ.)

Believe me -- I'm VERY worried about the squirm factor.
Jul. 10th, 2008 04:52 pm (UTC)
See, when you shorten it to EQ, my brain thinks EverQuest and I really don't feel the need to see that movie... I already saw Second Skin. ;)
Jul. 10th, 2008 07:21 pm (UTC)
Sorry, EverQuest was never part of my life, so... it never even crossed my mind. Whereas EQ has been ElfQuest for me for... 22 years? Yeah.
Jul. 10th, 2008 05:09 pm (UTC)
I am REALLY dubious, personally, especially if they go live action+CGI with it. Plus we don't know yet what Warner are going to want the movie to be -- that could have a HUGE impact on what gets made.

(As an aside, I've been kinda brain-damaged since getting back from San Francisco, but I'mma try to catch up on things soon as I can. ^_^)
Jul. 10th, 2008 07:26 pm (UTC)
I was wondering this morning how you were doing. *hugs* Get in touch when you can, man!

I'm really, really hoping that WB is going to be realistic about what this property can and can't be. I do not think it can be LOTR, or HP. From a marketing perspective, that is. EQ has a built-in fan base, but it's just not as huge or as rabid as for those other properties. EQ just isn't as well-known. Perhaps this movie will MAKE it know, but... we'll see.
Jul. 10th, 2008 06:33 pm (UTC)
At best, it'll be Miyazaki-style 2D, attract the sort of mixed audience that watched the 'Watership Down' cartoon, and baffle critics. I'll enjoy reading their 'aroo?' reactions.

At worst...you know how when they made that 'The Phantom' live action movie, that purple-and-black costume that looked okay in the comics suddenly became jaw-droppingly bad? Tom Hanks. Shirtless. Wearing a vest. Riding a wolf.

Jul. 10th, 2008 07:25 pm (UTC)
EXACTLY. Yes, this exactly. That's the biggest worry.

I'm pleased that Thurber apparently is in love with the material, and *wants* it to come across on the screen as nobly as it does in print. So we'll just see what he and Warner Bros. pull out of their sleeves, I guess.

I can just about imagine a good CGI treatment of it... although someone on the forum I read was making the excellent point earlier that CGI may not be able to handle as many characters as the storyline demands, which is certainly a worry. (May not be able to handle them all at the quality one would want, in particular; and the quality of the CGI is definitely a worry.)

I think the marketing concerns about a 2D animated film are very valid. I HATE the fact that -- despite continuing small successes, "Persepolis" for example most recently -- in terms of audience, CGI is somehow "taken seriously", while 2D animation just isn't. Dammit, people! Grr.

I think it's probably absolutely true that if Warner Bros. wants EQ to become a Harry-Potter-like film success, the perception is going to be that it has to be "live action" (with CGI additions that look live-actiony).
Jul. 10th, 2008 11:25 pm (UTC)
I'm excited at the idea of a film for ElfQuest, I've been a fan for... 25 years? At least of the first 4-6 collections. After that they just didn't grab me, I didn't really like the non-Pini stories and art, for the most part. The first four were just magical for me, I loved how the characters were drawn.

I suppose they could do it right if they did it similarly to how Golem was made, live actors acting everything out for the motion, and CGI characters for the look.

I wouldn't like CGI mixed with live action, I don't think. I'm thinking of the first Narnia movie where there were CGI animals, and then real dogs/'wolves', the contrast was really jarring for me. The wolf riders and wolves would all have to be CGI to look right together, and behave right, I think.

I would like to think that the anatomy of the elves would prevent human live actors...
Jul. 11th, 2008 02:11 am (UTC)
I can't imagine pulling it off any way but animated. Live-action just makes my head hurt, because they can't possibly have real people riding CGI wolves in any way that looks believable, and the wolves are too important to the story.

Hello, and yes, I spent a weekend or two working my way through the EQ online archive. Still not done with it all, but it was fun. Books are easier, I gotta say. *g*
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )