Charlie Brown and Snoopy are back! The Peanuts Movie is sure to be an instant audience favorite, simply because we all know every single character, and we want our kids to love them as much as we do. This action-packed 3D animation will take us on the journey of everyone’s favorite underdog, and is dog where they seek courage and dream big in this fantastic family movie! Jeannie Schulz, President of Board of Directors for the Peanuts Museum, writer and producer, Craig Schulz, and Steve Martino, director of The Peanuts Movie give us an amazing insight into the process of making Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus, Lucy, and all our favorites come to life in this updated version of a classic comic strip series.
Recently, we were able to take part in a press day in Santa Rosa at the Charles M. Schultz Museum, where we got to hear highlights of the movie-making process.
How did you keep the authenticity of the original Peanuts comic strip?
The technology today, computer animation, is the latest version of a paintbrush. Now, we’re using these tools to transport viewers into the world of Charlie Brown, or into Snoopy’s imagination, more than we could in a comic strip.
What background concepts had to be considered in the making of The Peanuts Movie?
Steve Martino described it as the spirit of Charles M. Schultz, the creator of the Peanuts, being channeled to ensure each character stayed true to him or herself. The specific poses that the characters were known for were incorporated to movie, because there are certain qualities that they each possess, that needs to be carried through. When the first Christmas special was created, Bill Melendez, the animator and voice of Snoopy and Woodstock, had to go through a similar process.
How is The Peanuts Movie compared with older Peanuts cartoons?
According to Jeannie Schultz, the style harkens back to the hold animation style. It’s like a marriage of the older techniques with state of the art technology – combining 2D animation with 3D components that create an entirely new Peanuts experience for today’s audience.
As Schulz family member, did you have any concerns for The Peanuts Movie?
According to Craig Schultz, who wrote and produced the movie, being able to “pull off” the animation aspects was a fear. These fears quickly disappeared when he saw the year-long process of studying and analyzing the characters that Steve Martino worked through. In the end, the characters were so realistic, that you want to reach out and pet Snoopy’s fur!
Will kids who are unfamiliar with the dynamics of each character “get it?”
The characters are such incredible individuals, so to come at if from a strangers perspective made Craig Schulz had to go back and rewatch the movie from a completely different point of view. This caused production to go back and tweak characters who would react in a particular manner based on previous knowledge of them. This also allowed the change to weave some of the story origins within The Peanuts Movie.
How did the movie evolve as it was being created?
Originally, the movie was based on Snoopy and his famous battle with the Red Baron. As production moved forward, the movie naturally progressed into a more full-character-driven production. Linus and his blanket, Lucy and her “Doctor is In” sign, Charlie Brown and his kite…all classic components that were seamlessly woven into The Peanuts Movie. It moved from the focus being on Snoopy, to broadening the entire movie which opened it up to allowing the audience more insight into the past characters while breathing a new life into each of them through the amazing feats of technology.
With so many iconic moments in Peanuts history, how did you decide what made the cut?
The movie itself isn’t just a series of individual vignettes, connected by the common thread of the characters and their interactions. According to Martino, it’s a full-length feature film that has woven so many unique characters and stories, all within the traditional arc, and three-act structure of movies today. Craig Schulz stressed the importance of staying “organic to the story and organic to the strip,” as a way to tie in the older moments with the newer concepts of The Peanuts Movie. It had to be a perfect combination of the past, like the music of Vince Guaraldi, or how often to interject Linus’ blanket.
How were you able to ensure that the move to computer generated graphics would work with something as traditionally 2D as the Peanuts?
Craig Schultz said he had a version of the film, and from his house, was able to use a film editing suite. He used some of the computer generated animation that Martino had already passed along to see how it would all work out. He utilized video from the Christmas special, and blended it with the footage that he had, to see if the transition from 2D to 3D would work. Thankfully, it worked out beautifully! To see the characters in 3D really changes the personality of each character – it just gives them more depth than on a traditional 2D cartoon.
Were you able to combine any of the traditional 2D components into The Peanuts Movie?
Jeannie Schultz was happy that “the kids still walk with that funny little walk.” Even though the movie was filed in 3D, there are many 2D aspects the keep this in line with the traditional Peanuts who we know and love. One of best ways to combine the two was with Charlie Brown, who imagines in 2D. The images bring to the screen a daily comic strip component that is unique to The Peanuts Movie, and gives the audience the feeling of nostalgia that so many are looking for when classics come to the big screen.
Snoopy, we all know, will come in at numerous points, and steal the show. However, in the end, Steve Martino summed up our love of Charlie Brown, quite perfectly:
“He’s kind. He’s honest. He perseveres. He’s the guy that picks himself back up and tries again no matter what happens. And in the film, we try to show that those qualities are as important if not more important than being the grand winner and winning some medal.”
The Peanuts Movie opens November 6, 2015!