Former Marvel Studios head Avi Arad has acquired the screen rights to E.C. Segar’s Popeye and plans to develop a Popeye theatrical feature film. Segar’s creation has a long history in animation starting with the Fleischer cartoon shorts in the 1930s and continuing with the Famous/Paramount Popeyes in the 1940s and 1950s, as well as TV cartoons in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. Warners, which is releasing the Popeye cartoons on DVD, and Fantagraphics, which is publishing collections of the original Segar Popeye comic strip, will certainly benefit if Arad gets to make his new Popeye theatrical feature.
With a career that also encompasses radio, comic books, big little books, and even an unfortunate live-action film in 1980 with Robin Williams as the spinach-chomping gob, Popeye is a true culture icon. Variety is reporting that Arad plans to use computer animation to create his Popeye animated theatrical feature. If it gets made, Arad’s computer-animated theatrical feature won’t Popeye’s first CGI effort. Lionsgate produced a CGI made-for-TV film, Popeye’s Voyage: The Quest for Pappy in 2004 to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the slaphappy sailer.