'Tardpocalypse Now: 7 figures for the rights to a Family Circus movie

Senior Editor
10.11.10 27 Comments

Behold, the stupidest story in history. That’s right, someone just paid SEVEN FIGURES for the rights to FAMILY CIRCUS, the worst comic strip in the paper, which is like being the world’s shortest midget, or Helen Keller in the valley of the blind. Having to put a positive spin on stories like this is what drives Variety writers crazy.  My journalistic inverted pyramid for this: 1. This is the stupidest thing that has ever happened.  2. Who what where when how. 3. Of course it was Fox.

20th Century Fox has teamed with Walden Media to buy rights to Bil Keane’s venerable [please kill yourself] syndicated comic strip The Family Circus, and they’ve hired Bob Hilgenberg & Rob Muir to script a live action feature. It is the most widely syndicated strip in the world, according to King Features. A number of studios competed for the rights for what is envisioned as a multiple quadrant family franchise. [Deadline]

The COMIC isn’t even multiple quadrant.  It is literally one frame.  Who the hell are these people?  The only way Family Circus has entered the public consciousness AT ALL in the last 20 years is when film characters are mystified by how unbelievably sucky it is, like Timothy Olyphant in Go. These people cannot be the same species as me.

Though several members of the Keane clan have become film animators, Bil Keane resisted making a film deal all these years. Producer Baldecchi spent two years trying to track them down. He got Keane’s number, but never had his messages returned. [I’M BIL KEANE, MUTHAF*CKA! I’M WAY TOO BUSY THINKIN’ UP PUNS! -Ed.] One day, Baldecchi called and Keane picked up the phone. He made enough of an impression that Keane introduced the producer to his son Jeff. Soon they had an agreement to move forward and then studios got involved. I’m told the deal was six figures against seven-figures [in “blank” against “blank” deals, the second number is how much you get if they actually make the movie] and went to Fox and Walden, which are partnered in the upcoming The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

I was sitting here trying to figure out why this project sounded so familiar, and then I realized: I had the idea for a Family Circus movie myself TWO YEARS AGO, LITERALLY AS AN EXAMPLE OF THE DUMBEST THING I COULD THINK OF.  So for the writers trying to get a feel for this project, Hilgenberg & Muir (currently hard at work on Meet the Haunteds), here’s the secret.  Are you ready?  Okay, here goes: THINK OF AN IDIOTIC, PAINFULLY UNFUNNY ONE-WORD PUN. EXAMPLE: DRAW JEFFY AT HIS GRANDMA’S FUNERAL WITH A PUP TENT IN HIS PANTS.  GIVE HIM A SPEECH BUBBLE THAT SAYS, “BUT DADDY, YOU NEVER WARNED ME ABOUT MOURNING WOOD!” CONGRATULATIONS!  YOU ARE DONE!  YOU HAVE WRITTEN EVERY FAMILY CIRCUS COMIC FOR THE LAST 160 YEARS!  COLLECT ONE MILLION DOLLARS, CACKLE WILDLY AT THE STUPIDITY OF MANKIND!

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