EXCLUSIVE: I’ve always wondered by Viacom hasn’t done more to create franchises from some of its youth-oriented TV networks. Well, they’ve just cooked up a pretty clever original feature that uses the signature characters of Nickelodeon to create an original narrative that sounds like Paramount’s answer to Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon have set Jared Hess to direct NickToons, a feature that he’ll write with Jarusha Hess, his wife and writing partner on films including Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho Libre. Producing will be Disruption Entertainment’s Mary Parent and Cale Boyter. This is a complex picture, but that can’t seem too daunting for Parent, who in quick succession produced The Revenant, The SpongeBob Movie, Godzilla, Noah, Pacific Rim, the just-wrapped Monster Trucks and the currently shooting Kong: Skull Island.
The pic is based on an idea by Ali Mendes, who works for Parent at Disruption Entertainment. Mendes grew up loving the characters and hatched the idea to bring them together. Anybody in their 20s, or their parents, won’t need a primer for the signature Nickelodeon characters that will be part of the film at this point: Rugrats, Ren & Stimpy, Rocko’s Modern Life, Aaahh! Real Monsters, and The Angry Beavers. I’d like to suggest they not forget about the subversive anthology show KaBlam! and its absurdly unforgettable characters from Action League Now, Tiki Brothers and Prometheus And Bob. All are part of the vast Nickelodeon character library from the past 25 years that can be exploited to frame an original story the studio hopes will spark a franchise.
Hess, who’s repped by UTA and Offer Weber Dern, is still waiting patiently for Relativity to find its way out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy and release Masterminds, the comedy he directed starring Kristen Wiig, Jason Sudeikis, Owen Wilson, Zach Galifianakis and Kate McKinnon. The Hess-directed comedy was considered the best of the completed projects at Relativity, and the one Ryan Kavanaugh wouldn’t let go of when his company’s funds were frozen. It was pulled off the release calendar last year and rescheduled for a September 30 release. By then, Wiig and McKinnon will have come out in Ghostbusters, which might make the new release date fortuitous.