Mike Fleming

BREAKING: 20th Century Fox Animation and Ice Age makers Blue Sky Studios will turn Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Woodstock and the whole Peanuts gang into an animated feature film franchise. Fox has closed a deal for rights to turn the strip by the late Charles Schulz into a film that has already been set for release on November 25, 2015. That date commemorates the 65th anniversary of the comic strip and the 50th anniversary of the TV special A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Fox Animation has set director Steve Martino, who co-directed the Fox/Blue Sky hit Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears A Who! and Fox Animation’s latest blockbuster, Ice Age: Continental Drift. The screenplay is by Craig Schulz and the writing team of Bryan Schulz & Cornelius Uliano. Craig Schulz and Bryan Schulz, who are Schulz’s son and grandson, will produce with Uliano.

Deal came after two years of rights negotiations with the Schulz family, culminating in a agreement announced by Fox Animation president Vanessa Morrison. So much of the family film game is built around branded properties, and few family brands are as well known globally as Peanuts.

The Schulz strip was read daily by 355 million people in 75 countries and spawned such Emmy-winning specials as It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

Also playing a key role in the deal was Neil Cole, CEO and president of Iconix Brand Group which, in a joint venture with Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates, formed Peanuts Worldwide in 2010, the home to the global Peanuts property. Fox Animation director of development Ralph Millero worked closely with Morrison and with the Schulz estate in securing the rights to the property.

Said Fox Animation’s Morrison: “We are thrilled to partner with the Schulz family and Iconix and honored to bring the Peanuts characters to the big screen. This all started with our love and respect for the work of Charles Schulz. We thank the Schulz family and Iconix for letting Fox and Blue Sky bring his vision to new generations of film goers.”

Craig Schulz, President, Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates, said, “We have been working on this project for years. We finally felt the time was right and the technology is where we need it to be to create this film. I am thrilled we will be partnering with Blue Sky/Fox to create a Peanuts movie that is true to the strip and will continue the legacy in honor of my father.”

Said Iconix Brand Group CEO Cole: “This is a momentous step for the Peanuts brand. The beloved characters, Snoopy, Charlie Brown and the whole gang resonate with multiple generations all over the world. This film will give us a new medium in which to engage consumers globally and showcase the power of the Peanuts brand.

CAA brokered the deal along with the Ziffren law firm.