Universal Gets A Woody

Woodpecker, not Allen

While he might not enjoy the iconic fame of, say, Mickey Mouse or Homer Simpson, Woody Woodpecker has been a recognisable figure in short ‘toons and TV shows for decades, best known for his trademark bright feather quiff and madcap call. And now Universal, via its Illumination animation house, is looking to turn him into a movie star for today’s kids.

The studio is now in talks with Blades Of Glory co-writers John Altschuler and Dave Krinsky to develop the story. They’ll have plenty of material to work from – Universal bought the rights to the character from co-creator Walter Lantz back in 1985, and Woody has a long history of short cartoons and telly episodes.

First birthed in 1940, Woody was originally voiced by legendary tonsil talent Mel Blanc. His character has evolved over the years, from a blowhard egotist to the slightly mellower (yet still zany) character known today. He even scored an Oscar nomination in 1947 for the theme tune to his early shorts. But it was his TV appearances from the late 1950s onwards that secured him a place in pop culture history. Universal is no doubt hoping to tap into a blend of nostalgia and kids’ never-ending love for offbeat characters, with plenty of fingers crossed that any eventual movie kicks off a new franchise.

Illumination made Despicable Me for the studio, and that one has already spawned a sequel due in 2013. The company’s next gig – Dr Seuss adaptation The Lorax – will hit our screens on July 27, 2012.