Mike Myers used to joke that donning the 80 pounds of faux-latex blubber to play Fat Bastard in Austin Powers caused him to sweat so much that “by the end of the day, I was Pepé Le Pew.” Vulture has learned that Warner Bros. Pictures is now developing a live-action/CGI movie on the lovelorn French skunk and Myers is attached to voice the lead role.
The decision to reinvigorate the Looney Tunes cast of characters — which includes fading American icons like Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Porky Pig — is a high priority for Warner Bros., for while they still throw off a billion dollars in licensing revenue annually, that’s barely a fifth of what Disney makes every year from licensing better-known characters like Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck.
Created in 1945, Pepé Le Pew starred in over a dozen animated short films for Warner Bros., and one of them, Chuck Jones’s For Scent-imental Reasons, even won the Oscar for Best Animated Short Subject (Cartoons) in 1949.
But the intervening half-century has not been so kind to Monsieur Le Pew, who was always one of the lesser-known Warner Bros. characters, and remains even more obscure today. According to E-Poll Market Research data, even the most popular of the Looney Tunes bunch have trouble connecting with audiences: For instance, more Americans over the age of 13 can recognize Mike Myers (68 percent) than can recognize Bugs Bunny (66 percent) or Daffy Duck (56 percent). Even tougher for Warner Bros., more Americans have a favorable impression of Bugs (65 percent) and Daffy (55 percent) than they do of Myers (52 percent).
Myers, of course, supplied the ogre Shrek with his Scottish brogue in four films for DreamWorks Animation totaling $1.2 billion in worldwide grosses. But unlike the Shrek franchise, we’re told that in Warner’s new Le Pew, only the skunk and his perennially unrequited love interest, Penelope Pussycat, would be CGI characters; the rest of the Le Pew film will be shot in live action.