EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has stepped up to acquire the $65 million budget Ted, an R-rated comedy that will mark the feature directorial debut of Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane. The film, which was developed by Media Rights Capital, is most succinctly described as a “Hard R” comedy about a man and his teddy bear. The feature will mix live action and CG. MacFarlane will also co-star and provide the voice for the CG-generated title character. MacFarlane wrote the script with Family Guy cohorts Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild, and he will produce with MRC, Scott Stuber and John Jacobs.
I’ve heard that the intention of Universal, MRC and MacFarlane is to get the film into production this year. That is subject to delicate discussions that are taking place right now between Fox, MacFarlane’s WME reps and attorneys Karl Austen and Jim Jackoway. MacFarlane will work the film around his exhausting duties supervising the animated Fox shows Family Guy, The Cleveland Show and American Dad!, and providing a majority of the voices. Fox and MacFarlane have long wanted to make a Family Guy theatrical feature, but Ted will come first. Fox apparently was reluctant to embrace the teddy bear movie because of its R-rating.
The Ted deal expands the relationship between MacFarlane and MRC that began with Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy, an online venture that involves Google and Youtube that will culminate in the creation of 60 sponsored online cartoon creations. As is the case with all product generated through Modi Wiczyk and Asif Satchu’s MRC movie deals, MacFarlane will get an ownership stake in Ted, with Universal essentially making a long-term licensing deal for the film. Universal has been MRC’s most consistent movie customer, and the next major project coming is The Adjustment Bureau, the George Nolfi-directed adaptation of the Philip K. Dick short story that stars Matt Damon and Emily Blunt. Universal releases the film July 30.