The furry but dirty-minded star of "Ted." (Universal Pictures )
EXCLUSIVE: Could the massive success of “Ted” — with $120 million in box office after two weekends, it’s outpacing R-rated juggernauts “Bridesmaids” and “The Hangover” — prompt a run on comedies about a man and his whimsical childhood pals?
Steve Oedekerk hopes so. The veteran comedy writer behind movies like “Bruce Almighty” and “The Nutty Professor” has penned a script titled “Escape From Dabble Drive” that plays on a similar theme as “Ted.” He and his representatives are aiming to set up the human-furball hybrid at a studio that will release the movie as early as the 2013 holidays, with Oedekerk also directing the picture.
According to two people who’ve read the script but were not authorized to talk about it publicly, "Dabble Drive" centers on the Doozies, a group of animated creatures (sample names: El Matadooz and Globby) who were cuddly favorites when they appeared on television in the 1970's (emphasis on the cuddly, and the television; the “Sesame Street”-like alliteration of the title is hard to miss).
But the Doozies have now come under the control of a villain, leading them to seek out a human protector, an uptight type who was a fan of the show growing up but never knew they were real.
Oedekerk’s agency, WME, is taking the project to studios this week on the heels of “Ted’s” success.
Unlike “Ted,” the creatures in a "Dabble" movie are animated instead of puppet-based, according to people familiar with the project. And the idea is for a PG-13 film, so that the movie can play to a wider audience, which could make "Dabble" more “Muppets” than MacFarlane.
The people familiar with the package say it would come in the $50 million budget range, and the effects will be handled by Richard Taylor's WETA, the New Zealand special-effects powerhouse that is behind the upcoming "Hobbit" pictures and other tent poles. ("Dabble" will also shoot in New Zealand, and be financed in part by the effects company Reel FX.)
Oedekerk has animation experience as well as the live-action kind. In 2001, he was nominated for an Oscar for "Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius," which he produced and wrote. And he directed, produced and wrote the 2006 talking-animal toon "Barnyard."
Of course, any new project in the"Ted"vein would need to contend with a growing number of movies about whimsical creatures and man-children. Looming on the movie horizon is a likely “Muppets” sequel from Disney. And then there’s always the possibility of a "Ted" follow-up, which would be a no-brainer for Universal if MacFarlane decides he wants to revisit the beloved bawdiness of the dirty-minded bear.
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