There are certain subjects you cannot write about without infuriating the fanbase of that subject, no matter what you say.
I’ll be blunt: ‘Family Guy’ does not make me laugh much. I don’t hate the show, I don’t begrudge the fanbase their enjoyment of it, and I certainly don’t have any problem with Seth MacFarlane’s methodical takeover of the Fox network. I actually enjoy the way the story unfolded, with the show getting canceled its first time on the air, then getting saved by DVD sales, and now serving as the cornerstone of an entertainment empire. Even if I’m not the audience for the show, I can appreciate a content creator getting a second chance.
Now it looks like he’s getting his first shot at bigscreen success, courtesy of Universal, with a live-action/CGI comedy called “Ted,” which is so far simply described as a hard-R-rated comedy about a man and his teddy bear, with MacFarlane doing the voice of the bear. Sounds like a perfect fit for the filmmaker, since I’m guessing the teddy bear will be an even-dirtier riff on the Stewie character from “Family Guy.” The film, which MRC developed with MacFarlane before taking it to Universal, is said to be a $65 million production, and I’m betting most of that ends up on the screen. You don’t need to hire giant movie stars for a film like this because MacFarlane is the star that will get the fanbase interested.
This isn’t the first time MacFarlane’s dipped his toe into feature films, but it’s certainly the biggest attempt he’s made so far. I’m a big fan of his performance in “Hellboy II: The Golden Army,” and he’s been trying to develop a “Family Guy” feature at Fox for a while now, but keeps hitting the wall over ratings arguments.
Universal and MRC built a fairly irresistible deal for MacFarlane here, giving him ownership stake in the movie and giving him full permission to cut loose with all the abandon that an R-rating offers him. The crazy thing is that based on what he can get away with on network television, I’m not even sure what he would need an R for. It’s not like there’s some taboo he’s been afraid of up till now.
Whatever the case, Universal seems to think there’s more potential here than just the one film, as the deal is said to accomodate a long-term licensing plan for the character. Expect the foul-mouthed teddy bear to show up everywhere once the film is released. No word on when it’s expected to be released, but they’re looking to start production this summer. I have no idea how MacFarlane finds the time to do all the work he already does, so I wish him luck with slipping in a feature film during his “free time.”
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