Did Disney Kill Roger Rabbit 2? [SLYT 6min 20sec]
January 3, 2019 7:44 AM   Subscribe

Animation Investigation, deep dives into the many attempts to un-stall the production of a Roger Rabbit Sequel The 1988 mixed animation and live action film "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" was a commercial [$329.8 million box office takings against a reported $50.6 million budget] and critical success.

So why more than 20 years later has there never been a sequel?

As various 'Live Action' Disney remakes have shown, the technology to mix cgi/animation and live action is constantly improving, so what might be preventing a sequel to the quirky Roger Rabbit universe?

One of the stars of the film is sadly no longer alive - Bob Hoskins died in 2014, but although the answer is mostly linked to legal character rights issues, that's not the entire story...
posted by Faintdreams (64 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
How could they ever hope to improve upon it? That film is lightning in a bottle, combining a variety of elements and techniques that wouldn't have the same resonance or impact if done today.
posted by Servo5678 at 7:48 AM on January 3 [32 favorites]


The film came out in 1988, not 98.
posted by memebake at 7:49 AM on January 3 [18 favorites]


So why almost 20 years later has there never been a sequel?

Because not everything needs a sequel just because it made money the first time round?
posted by memebake at 7:49 AM on January 3 [32 favorites]


Yeahhh...no. Please let WFRR? stand on its own. A sequel is almost guaranteed to taint the original by over-emphasizing all the stuff that made the original so edgy for the time, but would come off as tired and lame today.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:50 AM on January 3 [6 favorites]


I have Dyscalculia apologies for messing up the release dates it should read:

"... released in 1988" and then "So why *more than* 20 years later .."
posted by Faintdreams at 7:54 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]


I believe the sequel is called Detective Pikachu.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:59 AM on January 3 [50 favorites]


Because not everything needs a sequel just because it made money the first time round?

I was gonna make this comment, but it's already been done so I guess this is Comment II: Electric Boogaloo
posted by nubs at 8:03 AM on January 3 [3 favorites]


Totally agree about not needing a sequel and it would almost certainly pale in every way. Also at the time sequels generally were given significantly lower budgets, the original Planet of the Apes were essentially halved each time, that would've made it impossible to produce any kind of animation at the time.

But a Jessica Rabbit in Paris spy thriller, now that could have real legs.
posted by sammyo at 8:11 AM on January 3 [15 favorites]


But a Jessica Rabbit in Paris spy thriller, now that could have real legs.

I see what you did there.
posted by chavenet at 8:13 AM on January 3 [14 favorites]


Because not everything needs a sequel just because it made money the first time round?

I was gonna make this comment, but it's already been done so I guess this is Comment II: Electric Boogaloo
And due to no demand whatsoever, here's The Comment Part III.
posted by MrJM at 8:17 AM on January 3 [4 favorites]


Count me in for The Comment: The Revenge. This is one of my favorite movies of all time. It's so goddamned good I'm not actually worried about it being "tainted" by a bad sequel, but it reeeeeally doesn't need one.
posted by duffell at 8:19 AM on January 3 [3 favorites]


Jessica: "I suppose you think no one's going to notice Toontown's disappeared?"

Doom: "Who's got time to wonder what happened to some ridiculous talking mice when you're driving past at 75 m.p.h.?"

Jessica: "What are you talking about? There's no road past Toontown."

Doom: "Not yet! Several months ago I had the good providence to stumble upon a plan of the city councils. A construction plan of epic proportions. They're calling it... a Freeway."

Valiant: "A Freeway? What the hell's a freeway?"

Doom: "Eight lanes of shimmering cement running from here to Pasadena. Smooth, safe, fast. Traffic jams will be a thing of the past."

Valiant: "So that's why you killed Acme and Maroon? For this Freeway? You're kidding."

Doom: "Of course not. You lack vision. I see a place where people get on and off the Freeway. On and off. Off and on. All day, all night. Soon where Toontown once stood will be a string of gas stations. Inexpensive motels. Restaurants that serve rapidly prepared food. Tire salons. Automobile dealerships. And wonderful, wonderful bill boards reaching as far as the eye can see... My god, It'll be beautiful."
I think it's underappreciated how Judge Doom's master plan was something that actually happened, except to Latino communities, instead of cartoons. Who Framed Roger Rabbit was, in a sense, a very strangely cast documentary.

It's hard to imagine a Who Framed Roger Rabbit sequel that involved a dystopian, polluted Toontown and a long slow effort at restorative ecological and social justice, but that's what it'd need to be IMO.
posted by mhoye at 8:23 AM on January 3 [38 favorites]


[ dreamy look ] "Hey, Eddie? What do you call the middle of a song?" "I dunno Roge--OH NO A BRIDGE!" [ nostalgic sigh ]

Yeah, I'm okay with there just being one. You can't make a love-letter to a love-letter, it doesn't work that way.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:24 AM on January 3 [2 favorites]


I agree with everyone that we do not need a Roger Rabbit sequel, but I will never give up on my quest to revive interest in the dance of the same name.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 8:24 AM on January 3 [2 favorites]


Also, just because you brought up my favorite movie ever: did you ever think about the fucking craft that went into the "handcuffs scene?"
posted by duffell at 8:25 AM on January 3 [36 favorites]


To summarize the video that easily could've been a three paragraph article: various scripts were written throughout the years, but Zemeckis' read is that the property no longer fits with the Disney brand.

All of the ideas sounded sort of dire, to be honest, except for the musical.
posted by codacorolla at 8:34 AM on January 3 [3 favorites]


Who Framed Roger Rabbit was, in a sense, a very strangely cast documentary

It was assuredly not. As someone who grew up in Los Angeles, it was extremely frustrating dealing with people who learned the “history” of my home town via a Disney movie.

The “Red Car” was shutdown by the MTA in 1961 because people wanted cars not streetcars. The citizens of Los Angeles killed it (by not using it), not General Motors.
posted by sideshow at 8:38 AM on January 3 [6 favorites]


A couple of months ago, we went to a screening of Who Framed Roger Rabbit with a talk by Gary K. Wolf afterward, and his story was basically that Disney couldn't manage to script a sequel that captured the magic of the original while staying as "Disney" as they are today. Remember that the big explosion of Disney princess-specific modern Disney started the very next year with The Little Mermaid, so a direction into more adult stuff (which was tried with The Black Cauldron releasing just 3 years earlier, to disastrous results) wasn't really their gig anymore.
posted by xingcat at 8:41 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]


[Fixed the dates, carry on ]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 8:45 AM on January 3


sideshow: because people wanted cars not streetcars.

"people" is always an interesting term. It usually means "a majority of the people in groups with political influence." Were there no people - maybe quieter, poorer, less influential - who wanted to keep the streetcars?

I think of Robert Moses in New York, and how "the people" supported freeways there, too. You never heard from people in the neighbourhoods who were being bulldozed, though, because they had no clout, no voice.
posted by clawsoon at 8:45 AM on January 3 [16 favorites]


xingcat: the big explosion of Disney princess-specific modern Disney started the very next year with The Little Mermaid

Ah, yes, the old "keep your mouth shut and get a man" movie. Not like Jessica Rabbit at all.
posted by clawsoon at 8:48 AM on January 3


Not a strict sequel but a another story set in the same world circa today, where the studio system is dead, unions for toons are nonexistent, and they face increased pressure from CGI actors who are pitted against traditional toons by the large corporate businesses that own all the IP, the only working toons are trapped in seemingly endless sequels and remakes while being told everyday they’re replaceable with a “reimagining” if they don’t get in line.
posted by The Whelk at 8:55 AM on January 3 [20 favorites]


The only movie I can immediately think of that's comparable in technical proficiency is Chicken Run, with its, "Hi, now a claymation character is going to spin a buzzsaw and gaze at his reflection in the rotating blade as he speaks ALL IN STOP MOTION WHY BECAUSE WE CAN" type scenes.
posted by kyrademon at 9:00 AM on January 3 [5 favorites]


that curbed article is interesting dig, because it does contain a long preamble which includes:

"in 1949, the Federal District Court of Southern California found the corporate investors of National City Lines guilty of "conspiring to monopolize sales of buses and supplies" in violation of antitrust laws."

"For one thing, National City Lines bought (and soon discarded) the Yellow Cars of the Los Angeles Railway,"

So it is not incorrect to say that certain people thought they were planning the transit of Los Angeles, and those plans didn't include development of streetcars.

I think you could leave it as a matter of ideology and assumptions as to whether you believe that the general public has an interest in the economic plans of monopolizing corporations, or whether you think that the property right and corporate charters give corporations a larger mandate to ignore what people want.

Saying that "the people never brought it to a vote", and then blaming the lack of popular will, is ahistorical. Has economic planning ever worked that way in the United States? It's not like regular people are ever asked to plan the economy.
posted by eustatic at 9:04 AM on January 3 [4 favorites]


In Los Angelus Plays Itself the narration mentions that movies like Chinatown and WFRR tend to frame the great civic crimes of the LA like water theft or the streetcar destruction as shadowy cabals and backroom deals when they where, in fact, rather public and cheered on by the public (the movement of the LAPD To way out in the suburbs was another one)

The cabal between the rubber, steel, and automotive manufacturers that lead to the streetcar’s destruction was, I belive thrown out by a very anti-anti-trust court,
posted by The Whelk at 9:09 AM on January 3 [7 favorites]


Whether or not the people wanted mass transit or cars, it's worth pointing out that busses would still be a more flexible transit solution than trolleys. For one thing, you can really alter routes according to changes in development.
posted by happyroach at 9:11 AM on January 3 [2 favorites]


One of the things that I love about Roger Rabbit is that you can occasionally see the seams between the live action and the animation; a new production would be so airlessly seamless and shiny that it would lose a lot of charm.
posted by octothorpe at 9:22 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]


It was also important to remember the rapid post war growth in LA was fueled by a not concealed at all extreme redlining designed to create all white enclaves based around car ownership. It was not a conspiracy, it was pretty out in the open,
posted by The Whelk at 9:28 AM on January 3 [5 favorites]


Were there no people - maybe quieter, poorer, less influential - who wanted to keep the streetcars?

Early 60's? Gas was essentially free, cars were the main ambition, there was zero perception of pollution unless you drove past a paper mill and that just meant rolling up the windows for a couple miles. A car was more important to the less affluent, it gave some freedom, actually huge freedom and a sense of power. Go anywhere, or get on a stinky trolly to skid row, no thanks.
posted by sammyo at 9:29 AM on January 3 [6 favorites]


This is fifth sequel to The Comment - The Comment: Tax Dodge
It was assembled from pre-written comments we pulled off the shelf in Prague. One word from the original Comment survives, but only in a brief and blurry way. It has an innovative soundtrack that is performed entirely on a Yamaha DX7 using only presets. It exists more as a complex financial instrument than as a movie but you will find yourself watching it on Netflix on some long and lonely night.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 9:30 AM on January 3 [7 favorites]


Early 60's? Gas was essentially free

Gas was most assuredly not "essentially free" in the early '60s. A gallon of gas cost somewhere around $2.50 in today's money.
posted by Automocar at 9:33 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]


I think it's underappreciated how Judge Doom's master plan was something that actually happened, except to Latino communities, instead of cartoons. Who Framed Roger Rabbit was, in a sense, a very strangely cast documentary.

TOTALLY: it's impossible for me not to see this movie as (among many things) commenting on race and capitalism. <3
posted by Dressed to Kill at 9:41 AM on January 3


I am no movie aficionado, but when it was in the theaters, I caught a matinee of this gem, and 5 hours later returned with as many of my friends as would humor me, and saw it again that night.

What a great movie! I agree with xingcat, that the racier tone of WFRR is out of Disney's area these days.
posted by corvikate at 9:52 AM on January 3


We’ll always have Cool World
posted by rodlymight at 10:04 AM on January 3 [7 favorites]


1988 was just before the modern boom in adult-oriented primetime television animation, and any sequel, especially one that took place in the modern era, would have to reflect that. How weird would Toontown look with the casts of The Simpsons, King of the Hill and South Park walking around?
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:33 AM on January 3 [5 favorites]


Forget it Roger, it's Toon Town
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:47 AM on January 3 [2 favorites]


Yeah, too many modern characters are human.

George Jetson, Stewie Griffin and Pocahontas walk into a movie. "It stinks," says The Critic.
posted by smelendez at 10:49 AM on January 3 [3 favorites]


Pl-l-l-l-l-l-l-eeeeease don't make a sequel!
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:49 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]


Roger Rabbit was set in 1947 and released in 1988 so a Roger Rabbit sequel should be set in 1978 at latest. So no Simpsons, but maybe you could have Scooby Doo and the Flintstones, for instance.
posted by RobotHero at 10:56 AM on January 3 [3 favorites]


I saw the movie when it came out and enjoyed it. If it came out in 1988 then I was 9 or 10 years old and enjoyed it on the level of "partially animated film for children". I've never felt the need for a sequel and am glad they didn't make one because while I think they would be able to make a film that was as enjoyable for children or a film that was as enjoyable for adults (as it apparently was) I don't think they'd be able to make one that was capable of being as enjoyable for both.

WFRR was my first time seeing Bob Hoskins so hearing him speak with an English accent in other roles threw me for a loop.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 10:57 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]


Same here, I had no idea he was English.
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:02 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]


WFRR was my first time seeing Bob Hoskins so hearing him speak with an English accent in other roles threw me for a loop.

Super Mario Bros. is going to blow your mind.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:04 AM on January 3 [7 favorites]


Same here, I had no idea he was English.

ooooh.....have I got a treat for you then
Last Orders
posted by kokaku at 11:29 AM on January 3


I still had a couple show biz connections in the years after WFRR, and I got into discussions about where a sequel could go. The best one I heard was to do a background story as retro-topical as the LA Freeways one in the original, and that would be about the '50s Red Scare. Obviously, it would involve a cartoon bear being accused of being a Russian bear (which would be an interesting change of pace for Winnie the Pooh... that Disney would never accept).

I did throw in a side gag... with other classic cartoon characters ending up with "three nephews" after the success of Huey, Dewey and Louie, why not nephews for Roger? Name them Rocky, Robbie and Ronnie. But while they originally appeared as little rabbits, they would eventually grow into other personnas... Rocky the Flying Squirrel, Robbie the Robot, and Ronnie the - uh - Reagan...
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:48 AM on January 3 [5 favorites]


Not a strict sequel but a another story set in the same world circa today, where the studio system is dead, unions for toons are nonexistent, and they face increased pressure from CGI actors who are pitted against traditional toons by the large corporate businesses that own all the IP, the only working toons are trapped in seemingly endless sequels and remakes while being told everyday they’re replaceable with a “reimagining” if they don’t get in line.

I’ve got good news for you.
posted by nonasuch at 12:23 PM on January 3 [2 favorites]


That "...only when it was funny!" bit blew my mind as a young teenager. I think it was one of my major introductions to fourth-wall humor.

Also, Jessica Rabbit (sung by Amy Irving!) really does tear up "Why Don't You Do Right (Like Other Men Do)?"
posted by praemunire at 12:48 PM on January 3 [4 favorites]


1988 was just before the modern boom in adult-oriented primetime television animation, and any sequel, especially one that took place in the modern era, would have to reflect that. How weird would Toontown look with the casts of The Simpsons, King of the Hill and South Park walking around?

FWIW, I think one of these adult-oriented animated series, Bojack Horseman, can be seen in its own right as a spiritual successor to Roger Rabbit, but with a more sophisticated take on having humans/nonhumans coexisting in a modern world. Instead of spoofing creaky old film noir detective tropes, it's a surrealist take on prestige cable dramas that also happens to have a lot of wacky animal puns.
posted by Strange Interlude at 12:49 PM on January 3 [2 favorites]


And I just checked a list of movies from the same year. The top five movies all have no sequels.

So in addition to Who Framed Roger Rabbit Again? we should also consider why we haven't seen Rain Men, Coming Back to America, Bigger, and Triplets
posted by RobotHero at 12:54 PM on January 3 [3 favorites]


I recall there was talk of doing a Triplets, but some movies are indeed sequel-proof, and I'd put Rain Man in that category...
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:58 PM on January 3


How do sequels taint the original? Does the boring music Billy Corgan releases now taint Siamese Dream? No. Was Ghostbusters diminished by Ghostbusters 2?
posted by Brocktoon at 1:03 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]


I'm going to assume that we didn't get Triplets because Walken was busy.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:43 PM on January 3 [2 favorites]


Super Mario Bros. is going to blow your mind.

For... many reasons.
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:52 PM on January 3 [3 favorites]


Triplets was supposed to co-star Eddie Murphy...
posted by Servo5678 at 3:01 PM on January 3


We already had this, right? It was puppets instead of cartoons, and a TV series, not a movie, but Greg the Bunny was the sequel we didn't know we needed.

(I mean seriously folks, it has puppets, famous name-drop jokes well before Bojack, some quasi-adult humor, the warden from Shawshank Redemption as a kid's show host, what more do you need?)
posted by 1f2frfbf at 4:13 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]


The scourge of design for cars destroying cities is a story that ranges from coast to coast, but it looks ugliest in California, I think because they were the last big cities to be made. For instance, Boston has neighborhoods like Southie and Somerville that are still plagued by freeways cutting the area up at odd angles, but California cities seem to be nothing but. San Francisco is marked by a dearth of neighborhood squares, Los Angeles is infamous for its traffic and smog, and the rest of the cities are like Fresno, basically huge swaths of mini-malls and apartment complexes in a grid of fences and walls that seem designed to thwart pedestrians and cyclists. These are cities that exploded in the 50s and 60s with the driver in mind.

This is a conjecture I feel is important to make in the middle of a thread about an 80s cartoon.
posted by es_de_bah at 4:13 PM on January 3


Saying that "the people never brought it to a vote", and then blaming the lack of popular will, is ahistorical. Has economic planning ever worked that way in the United States? It's not like regular people are ever asked to plan the economy.

The most ahistorical thing is he idea that regular people just loved them some public transportation (or even satisfied with it), and had cars and freeways rammed down their throats.

My family extends back quite a long time in L.A. A lower to middle class lot of Mexican Americans.The truth is that nobody liked public transportation. Not only was it a symbol of class we were crawling away from as fast as we could, but it was a real limitation on where one could live and work and recreate. Mobility via a personal automobile was the key to upward mobility. And those dastardly car companies did everything they could to sell cars to even the lowest rung. The result? My extended family ll owned cars. Sometimes multiple cars. And loved them. And everything that they made available that would otherwise not be possible. There was no conspiracy. Those damn cars practically sold themselves, and the only reasons you didn't own one were if you were destitute, inept, or one of those weirdos like the people that hang out on MetaFilter. My family even had one of those weirdos, my cousin Joe, who got never ending grief for taking buses, and perpetually going to college, (perpetual meaning about six years). And in the end, even he relented, in true fashion, he got a weird old Karman Ghia instrad of a good ol' Chevy.

The truth is that not only was the personal automobile the key to upward mobility back then, most people recognizing the advantages immediately, it still is for just about everyone. This is the problem that's proving difficult to solve.

As far as Roger Rabbit, count me as one of the curmudgeons who's sick to death of sequels, spin offs and reboots. It stands well enough on its own merits, thank dog Disney never really tried to pull this off.
posted by 2N2222 at 5:15 PM on January 3 [7 favorites]


I am super happy for no prequel/sequel/reboot for many of the reasons mentioned above. But, from what I remember of the book the movie is based on, I would be there opening night to see Who Censored Roger Rabbit. (I read the book 30 years ago, so, my memory of the differences may be poor.)
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 5:54 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]


I was thinking the same thing. I think a reboot of Who Censored Roger Rabbit would be more likely to go over than a sequel. It was a perfect idea to take a book about comic strip characters and make it into a movie about cartoon characters, but Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was a perfect movie adaptation too and that didn't stop them from making a completely unnecessary remake.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 9:09 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]


The only possible benefit of a WFRR sequel would be if it were turned into a roman a clef about the whole John Lasseter thing.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:15 PM on January 3


2 Frame 2 Rabbit
posted by cortex at 10:43 PM on January 3


2 Frame 2 Rabbit Too Censored and Thank Heaven
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:48 PM on January 3


Hey Octothorpe - those "seams" between the live action and the animation really, truly exist in the depicted universe. Humans and toons alike ignore the seams out of politeness.
posted by Wetterschneider at 8:18 AM on January 4 [1 favorite]


IMHO the big risk with a new one now is that instead of just enough animation on top of some extremely clever practical effects, we'll just get a CG overdose from the "more is better" school of thought.

Which would be especially bad since you can't really have a movie set in the "golden age" of animation without actual animation!
posted by -1 at 9:33 AM on January 6 [1 favorite]


It's hard to imagine anyone being as good at pantomiming against non-existent toons as Hoskins was.
posted by octothorpe at 10:27 AM on January 6


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