Everything old is new again.
That’s not to say it isn’t rather worn out.
Recent news on the stooge-front is that there is both a new animated series being shopped around as well as "an all-new action comedy film," according to C3 Entertainment, which controls the Stooges brand.
C3 also mentioned that Will Sasso, Chris Diamantopoulos, and Sean Hayes, the leads from the 2012 Stooges feature, will return along with a "major" action star (not yet announced).
Entertainment Weekly reports that an eleven minute pilot, produced by Titmouse, an animated studio and C3 Entertainment, is being shopped around by Cake, a children’s programming distributor.
They hope to have fifty-two short episodes on the air soon.
C3 Entertainment , in announcing the all-new action comedy feature, mentioned that the 2012 movie grossed $55 million dollars at the box office. It hard justifies another version of the film.
According to Boxofficemojo.com, the production budget for the movie was estimated at $30 million dollars.
Should that be correct (and who am I to dispute it?), that’s $25 million dollar profit for a flick that was in cinemas for 126 days.
Granted, that doesn’t include DVD/Blu-ray, TV releases, video streaming and various merchandise revenues.
On the other hand, it also doesn’t seem to say much about the power of the Stooges “brand” to attract younger audiences.
Perhaps that’s because the said brand has been repeated to obsolescence.
Keep in mind that they have been around, in one form or another, for the better part of nine decades.
The original incarnation was as a vaudeville act with Ted Healy as the head bully, sort of a beta version of Moe.
Financial and personal difficulties with Healy, who also served as the de facto leader of the group, led to their eventual breakup and the boys, the Moe, Larry and Shemp, striking out on their own.
At some point, Shemp opted to pursue a solo career and his, and Moe’s, youngest brother Jerome stepped in as Curly.
Consider that the crack team at www.threestooges.net, in assembling the group’s filmography, developed a listing of 921 sources (short subject; feature film and other media.)
That’s a heck of a lot of product. Just the short films, of which there are 280, have been repeated millions of times on TV for more than sixty years.
It hasn’t been without glitches, however. For a time in the 1950’s, the shorts were taken off television out of concern for their being too violent.
They were right. Punching, shoving, smacking, eye gouging, kicking and elbowing were plentiful every time out.
That said, with the current outreach against bullying, which was the center of every Three Stooges performance, and excessive violence in entertainment coupled with an extreme proclivity for litigation, how might young audiences react to the upcoming animated series?
Add to that the census notion that the most recent incarnation of the group (as of 2012) is arguably the least funny of the teams; isn’t it time for the powers that be to realize that “powerful brand” has been stretched to its reasonable limits?
Further, the old shorts, in the era of hi-definition don’t hold up well at all. If you watch closely you can see bad cutaways from stuntmen back to the stooges; Mannequins tossed out windows who were supposed to be Stooges; wires that mysterious flying projectiles and extra padding on set floors for falls. Those are a few things that I notice and I only occasionally watch them on TV.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti- stooge. Among my fondest early childhood memories of afternoon TV time involved watching them constantly bungle their way through misadventures.
But I, like the rest of the world, have changed considerably since those happy times. I now see the Three Stooges as stiff, mediocre actors, struggling to appear to struggle with their lines and who, at times, appear weary of the near-constant violence.
That said, it’s time to leave the memories and The Three Stooges legacy alone and not continually try pushing them down our collective throats.
In corporate speak: It’s weakening the brand.