Since the success of Space Jam, Warner Bros.' Looney Tunes have defended their position as classic Hollywood's most beloved characters. (just after the Disney studio) Over the last 13 years, they have starred in 3 movies (1 theatrical, 2 direct-to-video), 7 theatrical shorts, 8 "planned-to-be-released" shorts. (but after Looney Tunes Back in Action flopped, these shorts found their way on TV or video), 2 "ad cartoons", and 3 television series.
Roots of the revival (1979-1996)Edit
After 10 years of absence from the silver screen, the Looney Tunes returned in the compilation film The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie, (Chuck Jones, 1979), later other compilation movies followed suit, in 1987 new shorts were made (continuing production intermittently through 2010) and beginning in 1990, original television series. Owing to the success of these films Warner Bros. produced Space Jam (1996), whose success positively reintroduced the Looney Tunes on film. In 1994 Erik Dehkhoda created and directed the "3D Looney Tunes" Project at Warner Bros. All of the main characters were successfully converted into Digital 3D Models. Erik was mentored by Chuck Jones, who admittedly wanted nothing to do with computers at the time, and the Looney Tunes were introduced in a new form for the CGI revolution taking place. This new technology generated a lot of Press for Warner Bros and the Looney Tunes due to the fact that they were introduced nearly two years before Disney's "Toy Story" was released.
After "Space Jam" (1997-2003)Edit
In 2000, Time Warner granted all US television rights to Cartoon Network, ending ABC's The Bugs Bunny Show and Nickelodeon's Looney Tunes Show. Three years later, Warner Home Video began to release Looney Tunes Golden Collection boxsets with uncut and remastered cartoons (some with their original titles), which continued on yearly releases until 2008, when WHV axed all the classic cartoon collections as a result of the 2008 financial crisis.
Despite being a hit, Space Jam had relatively high costs and it was received with mixed reviews, which led to some disputes for the style of a future film yet commissioned. Considered a critical and financial flop Looney Tunes Back in Action (which began production in 1998 as Spy Jam) was beset with other troubles during early production, as the unsuccessful releases of some (non-Looney Tunes) WB -and other studios- animated movies, and the lower impact produced by 2D animated films, supersed by CGI-focused studios like Pixar and DreamWorks. The resignation of Jackie Chan (the film's original star) made the film to be posponed several times, as stretching the budget and the addition and exclusion of some scenes.
Originally it was planned to open on summer 2003, but the big success of Finding Nemo forced the studio to move the release date one more time, now for the Thanksgiving holiday season also putting in production over 30 theatrical shorts (not only Looney Tunes, also some Tom and Jerry cartoons - many storyboarded and directed by co-creator Joe Barbera and Hanna-Barbera veteran Iwao Takamoto- such as The Karate Guard). But by this time, international tension caused by the Iraq War caused audiences to not want to see action films for some time, Its PG rating -now considered to be a children-focused rating- (which alienated its target teen audience) and the much-hyped release of Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (coincidentally distributed by New Line Cinema -then a sister company to WB-, which would later be folded into Warner Bros.), made the movie result in a box-office flop (although getting positive reviews), forcing Warner Bros. to reorganize the entire cartoon unit, now focused on television. Only 11 of the shorts were completed and the Looney Tunes shorts have been released on DVD, while the Tom and Jerry cartoons were shown as part of Tom and Jerry Tales (except for The Karate Guard which received limited theatrical release in 2005). See also: Tom and Jerry.
Reorganization and a new start (2004-present)Edit
Now exclusively working on the small screen, Warner Bros. Animation produced three Looney Tunes television shows; Baby Looney Tunes, Duck Dodgers, and Loonatics Unleashed, the latter one being the most successful, (despite the constant criticisms owing to its departure from the classic designs) causing the older shorts to nearly vanish from television, like other classic cartoons from other studios, now appearing from time to time (like the 2007 special Bah, Humduck! A Looney Tunes Christmas) and so, Internet, XBOX Live and DVD have become the principal means of viewing these cartoons.
More recently, the Looney Tunes are having a new lease on life, with three 3D Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner shorts released in many countries preceding family feature films, beginning July 30, 2010 (with the possibility of releasing more shorts with other characters, albeit the worsening recession has put plans for future shorts in a limbo), one all-new series in the style of the original shorts, which is slated to premiere on May 3, 2011, and two probable CGI/live-action feature films, one starring Marvin the Martian and one starring Speedy Gonzales, both slated for release in 2011.