Over six years ago Sony Pictures Animation announced that animator Genndy Tartakovsky would be taking a crack at a classic property, reviving Popeye the Sailor for a CG animated feature film. The director of the Hotel Transylvania trilogy for the studio, and a fan-favorite thanks to his original shows Dexter's Laboratory & Samurai Jack, followers of Tartakovsky's work were eager to see his take on the iconic character (you can watch the publicly released test footage for the project in the player above). Despite the excitement, Tartakovsky announced he was off the project in 2015 and though the studio seemed to be moving forward without him nothing ever came of this new version of the character. Until now.
Animation Magazine reports that Genndy Tartakovsky and King Features, the company which owns characters like Popeye, Flash Gordon, and Betty Boop, have teamed up to bring an animated version of the character to life. Further details on the project are unclear for the time being, though it seems unlikely any of the materials used for Tartakovsky's version developed at Sony will be used for the film. As Animation Magazine notes, Tartakovsky and King Features are going "back to the drawing board" on the project.
This marks a major expansion for King Features who had been expanding their own original output of their characters rather than licensing them out to other companies. A 2D animated digital series of Popeye debuted from the entertainment company in 2018, with plans for an animated series based on the video game Cuphead in development for Netflix.
Genndy Tartakovsky previously opened up about the project not happening at Sony Pictures Animation, telling Moviefone in an interview in 2015: “Popeye we put up a great screening, everybody really liked that sizzle, we got a positive reaction. I was in love with what we were doing, but I think the studio is going through changes and I don’t know if they want to make the Popeye that I want to make. So they’ve got to make a decision....It was hard to let Popeye go, but that’s the business.”
Luckily for Tartakovsky and all of us, it seems like he'll get his chance to develop the character for the big screen after all. Coincidentally in that same interview, Tartakovsky seemed to cast doubt on returning for a third Hotel Transylvania with Sony after the way the Popeye situation was handled, but as we now know he did return for the threequel which went on to become the highest grossing entry in the series with over $527 million worlwide.