Another Live-Action ‘Popeye the Sailor Man’ Movie is in the Works

POPEYE, Shelley Duvall, Robin Williams, Wesley Ivan Hurt, 1980,
Paramount/courtesy Everett Collection

The sailor who lives off of spinach is ready for another big screen close-up. Popeye the Sailor Man started as a comic strip character in the 1920s and grew in popularity, spawning cartoons, merch, and a live-action film starring the late Robin Williams in 1980.

The film did relatively well in theaters and has since achieved a cult-classic status, partially because of Williams’ involvement. The character celebrated its 95th birthday this year, noting his start in the 1929 comic “Thimble Theater.”

Popeye, ca. 1940s

Everett Collection

The new live-action film is in its early stages from Chernin Entertainment and King Features with screenwriter Michael Caleo. Currently, they are trying to find a studio partner and then the process of finding its lead and cast will begin. In 2012, it was announced that a new Popeye animated film was in the works. However, even though the film got some positive feedback from the test footage, Sony ultimately scrapped the project. In 2020, King Features announced that they were going to do an animated feature but that one got scrapped as well. Now it seems they have swerved to a live-action film.

Popeye from left: Robin Williams, Paul L. Smith, 1980

Fans already have mixed emotions about the new film. Some fans have created fake movie trailers, imagining the character played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson or being a castaway. Meanwhile, others groan at the possibility of another Popeye remake, and perhaps another remake in general. We are in the era of remakes and reboots and just about any beloved show or movie is getting an update.

Popeye's Voyage: The Quest for Pappy 2004

King Feature Syndicate/Everett Collection

While some of these gain great success, booking on nostalgia, others miss the mark completely. What’s your take on a new Popeye film? Who would you like to see as its titular star?

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June 2018

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