Live-Action ‘Popeye’ Film to be Scripted by Michael Caleo

Live-Action ‘Popeye’ Film to be Scripted by Michael Caleo

Popeye the Sailor Man will turn 95 this year, but that’s not stopping Chemin Entertainment and King Features from planning a live-action film starring the beloved spinach-eating cartoon hero. An article in Variety reveals that he’ll be fighting to the finish in a “big-budget feature” to be written by Michael Caleo.

No further details about plot or casting is known, though some months back, FoxStar Media published a YouTube video trailer teasing that Dwayne Johnson would be a good choice for the leading role of “the spinach-loving sailor” with “muscles flexing in determination.”

Caleo’s most recent project was the British crime drama, Sexy Beast, a television series that started streaming on Paramount+ in January. Caleo also scripted an episode of The Sopranos for HBO and co-wrote the screenplay for Luc Besson’s  The Family (2013), starring Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer.

Since first making an appearance in a 1929 cartoon short for Paramount, Popeye has been featured in comic books and video games as well as lending his image to a popular fast-food restaurant franchise. The character also inspired menswear collections and appears as part of the logo for McCall Farms spinach.

It’s been 44 years since the last-live action film about the crusty sailor, a joint project by Paramount Pictures and Walt Disney Productions that Robert Altman directed in 1980. That movie, which earned about $50 million worldwide on a budget of $20 million, starred Robin Williams as Popeye, Shelley Duvall as his girlfriend Olive Oyl, Paul L. Smith as his nemesis Bluto, and Paul Dooley as the hamburger-chomping J. Wellington Wimpy.

A decade ago, Sony Pictures Animation hoped to make an animated film about Popeye with Genndy Tartakovsky but plans never materialized. In 2015, Tartakovsky complained that “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.” However, in 2020, it was reported in Animation Magazine that his project may have found a new home.

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