'Peanuts Movie': Blue Sky and Fox Reveal 20 Minutes of Work in Progress

Clips included Snoopy's encounter with the Red Baron and the start of Charlie Brown's crush on the Little Red-Haired Girl.
'The Peanuts Movie,' based on Charles M. Schulz' iconic comic strip.

Twentieth Century Fox and Blue Sky Studios (Ice Age) previewed roughly 20 minutes of unfinished 2D footage as well as a 3D teaser from its upcoming Nov. 6 release of The Peanuts Movie to a small group Thursday on the Fox lot. What’s clearly evident is the extreme care that was put into bringing Charles M. Schulz’s iconic comic strip into a 3D animated world.

The beloved comic strip ran for half a century, from 1950-2000. And the work of Schultz — who went by the nickname "Sparky" — spawned additional content for television and the stage, including the animated special A Charlie Brown Christmas, which celebrates its 50th anniversary in December.

With the painstaking work of the Blue Sky artists, along with dedicated involvement of the Schulz family, the results that were previewed reveal some remarkable 3D animation that looks and feels like the Peanuts and captures its spirit, focusing on underdog Charlie Brown while celebrating his "never give up" attitude.

"I’m a fan, first and foremost," said director Steve Martino (Horton Hears a Who), adding that he and the 400 fans from Blue Sky that made the movie felt "fear and responsibility" in bringing the material to audiences around the world.

Clips revealed some classic moments and fresh twists. The first opened on a snowy morning as the gang wakes up to a snow day. They race off to go ice skating, as Charlie Brown tries to fly a kite.

In the second clip, it's the Little Red-Haired Girl's first day at school, when Charlie Brown first forms his crush. They next showed Snoopy teaching Charlie Brown to dance in order to impress his crush, followed by the school dance competition where we see many of the characters’ dance styles that were featured in A Charlie Brown Christmas. Others included an aerial sequence during which Snoopy encounters the Red Baron.

Martino emphasized the famed animator's gift for "connecting to the human experience. [Charlie Brown] is not the guy that saves the planet. But we look at his qualities and celebrate that." For the preview, Martino (Horton Hears a Who) was joined by Sparky' son — Craig Schulz, who wrote and produced — and Sparky’s wife, Jeannie Schulz. The movie actually involved four generation’s of the Schulz family. Craig Schulz’ son, Brian, was also a screenwriter and producer, and Sparky’s great grandson provided one of the voices.

The family was heavily involved in keeping the work true to the comic strip. Jeannie Schulz gave the filmmakers access to the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center and its archives in Santa Rosa, California. The Blue Sky team also had access to gallery work and even a digital library of the comic strips.

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