Many movies we wanted to see never came to fruition, whether it was Stanley Kubrick’s Napoleon or Darren Aronofsky’s Batman. In the eyes of Popeye fans, the recently shelved film may simply be another example of a movie that didn’t go as planned.
Popeye Movie: It’s hard to look at spinach without being reminded of Popeye, the iconic strongman sailor in popular culture. Popeye was created by Elzie Crisler Segar and first appeared in the King Features comic strip Thimble Theatre in 1929. Animated and live-action shows have reimagined the sailor over the years. A new Popeye movie was planned by Sony Pictures Animation for a 2015 release but it fell apart soon after.
According to Cancelled Movies Fandom, Sony’s desire to focus on The Emoji Movie and creative differences were the reasons behind the cancellation. Popeye was going to be directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, perhaps best known for his work on Samurai Jack and Dexter’s Laboratory, as well as The Powerpuff Girls.
Genndy explained the obstacles that arose during production in a 2015 interview with Cartoon Brew. He said there had been a screening that everyone enjoyed before Sony canceled it. It was, however, plagued by other problems:
“This was also during the culmination of the Sony hack, and I could feel that something was going to happen soon. So after the screening, I didn’t get an answer from them, which was weird because everybody was so positive. Usually, we meet and talk and get notes. But they had a meeting on their own, and that was it.”
“Later, I personally went to see [then Sony Pictures Entertainment executive] Amy Pascal, and said, ‘Look, I’m a big boy,’” he explained. I can handle it. She replied, ‘Look Genndy, we love you, but we don’t like Popeye.’”
He did add that they were still trying to make a Popeye movie, just not what he was doing.
The project to bring Popeye back to the animated screen is still in the works for those eager to see him again. Popeye is being brought back to screens by a small animation studio called King Features. Cartoon Brew reported back in 2020 that Genndy was working with King Features on the film.
If a live-action Popeye movie is ever made, Flea, bassist of Red Hot Chili Peppers, would like to play the role. Taking to social media, the musician and actor expressed his desire to take on the role of the spinach-eating cartoon sailor.
“If a good director decides to make a popeye movie, I’m your man,” wrote Flea, who played a bounty hunter in the new Disney+ Star Wars series Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Popeye did arrive on the big in 1980 when Robert Altman released a live-action musical starring Robin Williams as the titular sailor. Unfortunately for Flea, there are no plans to make another Popeye film. Although the enthusiasm of the bassist and his followers might convince producers to consider the idea.
It seems for now our best chances are with King Features and their upcoming Popeye project.