Phineas and Ferb has proven to be a hit animated series for the Disney Channel, so it only seems natural that the House of Mouse would bring the show to the big screen at some point. Fans learned that the “some point” would be July of 2013 earlier this month, but that was just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to major announcements about one of the company’s hottest properties.
Sources close to the project say that Disney has really gotten behind the film, hiring Toy Story 3 scribe Michael Arndt to transition the tale from television to major motion picture. Arndt’s hiring is a big deal – he received an Oscar nod for his work on Toy Story 3 and won an Oscar for writing Little Miss Sunshine back in 2007. Any doubts that Disney was looking for a Phineas and Ferb film to be a quick cash in can officially be put to bed. You don’t hire a writer of Arndt’s pedigree for a disposable film.
Arndt comes in to the project and replaces series creators Swampy Marsh and Dan Povenmire – who had been working on a script for the feature. No word on whether Arndt will incorporate their ideas or move in an entirely new direction, but Marsh and Povenmire will continue to work on the television series.
The show, which follows the adventures of step brothers Phineas and Ferb as they spend their summer break creating crazy inventions, is currently in its third season and shows no signs of slowing down. Disney has already fired up the merchandising machine, and is set to release some 200 Phineas and Ferb branded items in the very near future.
The real question, though, is, can Disney turn this franchise into the next Toy Story? That appears to be the goal in hiring Arndt for the writing duties, but this is a straight up Disney production, not a collaboration with Pixar. Disney has had recent success in cultivating their own unique material (Tangled took in over $200 million), but crafting a franchise can be tricky – especially when aiming to replicate the success of something as beloved and successful as Toy Story.
Working in Disney’s favor is the fact that Phineas and Ferb is a well-known commodity with a built in audience. Fans already know what to expect going in, and it’s clear that there’s a large group of viewers who love what they see in each episode.
The potential hurdle is convincing those same fans to pay to see a movie version of something they can watch at home for free. This is conceivably where Arndt’s involvement will pay off. While Marsh and Povenmire undoubtedly know the characters and what works, they’re also used to creating Phineas and Ferb within the confines of a television show. If this film is truly hoping to launch a franchise, the story will need to be bigger. It can be done, as The Simpsons Movie proved a few years ago.
That being said, aspiring to be a franchise along the lines of Toy Story is a pretty tall order. Sponge Bob Squarepants was huge – and his film made $140 million dollars – but never morphed into a movie franchise and instead continues to run on television. We suspect the same sort of thing will happen with Phineas and Ferb. It may spawn sequels, but seems unlikely to ever really rival Pixar’s greatest success. All in all, that’s not necessarily a bad thing – unless you’re a studio executive looking to hit one out of the park.
What do you think? Is Phineas and Ferb a big enough property to really blow up on the big screen and rival stuff like Toy Story? Share your thoughts below.
[via The LA Times]