Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the rest of the gang are headed back to the big screen in The Peanuts Movie, out Nov. 6. We saw a preview of the film recently, and it’s adorable top to bottom. The characters from Charles Schulz’s imagination come to life in a modern way with animations and action, without sacrificing what made them unique when reading the strip in the newspaper—pencil strokes for their simple facial features, giant heads on little bodies, and an unencumbered sense of wonderment about the world in front of them.
This particular film, which coincides with the comic's 65th anniversary, follows Charlie Brown as he tries to navigate life from the baseball mound to the ice rink to the school classroom. His world changes one day when a new girl with red hair (she's creatively called the Little Red-Haired Girl) shows up and he wants to impress her. Meanwhile, Snoopy goes off on an adventure all his own.
The person responsible for modernizing Mr. Brown and his friends for Generation Z is director Steve Martino. We caught up with him over the phone recently, during a time when he was putting finishing touches on the film, and he said it took over three years for his team at the Blue Sky Studios (owned by 20th Century Fox) to make the movie. He employed more than 400 people in the process. “We really wanted to honor the drawing style of what Charles Schulz provided us as the foundation as well as make it something that is a little richer and more detailed in a big-screen feature film,” he told InStyle. “It started as fear and trepidation because we wanted to get it right. Now, it’s fantastic because we’ve solved all the problems and challenges.”
One of his biggest challenges: Nailing their features, down to each strand of hair and every look of the face. For that, a portion of Martino’s team worked for months to perfect every angle—it’s like if there was hair and makeup on a movie, this was the team that did it. So, yes, Charlie Brown did have to figuratively sit in a makeup chair every time he was about to “film” a scene. But it was slightly different than a typical set: “For us, it is not like really putting makeup on, but more about creating attributes for the quality of his skin,” Martino said. “We wanted to make sure that when we put lights on him, he has a richness to his skin but still looks like the simple shape of Charlie Brown.”
Therefore, the department responsible for that on this movie wasn’t called Hair and Makeup, but rather the Hair and Fur Grooming Team. “These are the people who use our computer software and their artistry to be able to get the characters ready for the screen,” said Martino. “They’re the ones who focus on making Sally’s curls and that little puff of curl in the front of her hair look really good. They’re the ones who created Lucy’s shiny beautiful black hair.”
If you look closely at Lucy, you’ll notice that her hair has sheen to it—an idea originally drawn by Schulz. “I look at the way Charles Schulz would ink in her hair and always left a little white along the edge for the highlight of sheen,” said Martino. “For the movie, we made sure Lucy’s had that same quality. We groomed her hair specifically for the sheen."
Same thing with Snoopy, said Martino: “The goal is that you look at this and say, 'Oh, that’s Snoopy, but he’s now got some soft fur.’” Isn't it nice to know that our favorite characters got some Hollywood superstar treatment on their way to the box office?
The Peanuts Movie opens nationwide Nov. 6. Watch a trailer here: