A Pink Panther live-action/CGI film is currently in development at Metro-Goldwyn Mayer with Sonic the Hedgehog director Jeff Fowler set to helm the project. The big cat first appeared in the 1963 film bearing his name, Blake Edwards' The Pink Panther – but he wasn't the star. The comedy follows bumbling French police detective Inspector Clouseau (Peter Sellers) as he seeks to prevent the theft of the Pink Panther, a large pink diamond with a fault that resembles a leaping panther. The cartoon panther only appears in the opening and closing credits of the film, and of almost every other film in the franchise that followed, right up to 2009's The Pink Panther 2 starring Steve Martin as Clouseau.
Where the panther truly shone was in his own theatrical shorts, TV specials, comics, video games, and television series. His first starring role, 1964's The Pink Phink, saw the swanky rapscallion coating the walls of a house in his signature pink, much to the dismay of a house painter tasked with making everything blue. The DePatie-Freleng cartoon won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film and launched the Pink Panther into a successful animated career, accompanied all the while by his jazzy theme tune composed by Henry Mancini.
Deadline reports that the Pink Panther will be returning to the silver screen in his first-ever live-action/CGI appearance. Fowler will direct from a script by Chris Bremner, writer of Bad Boys for Life and the upcoming National Treasure 3. Michael De Luca and Pamela Abdy, chairman and president of the MGM Film group, respectively, shared their excitement over bringing the character to life in a manner we've "never seen before."
It's apparent that MGM is eager to recreate the success that Paramount found with Sonic the Hedgehog. The film has dethroned Marvel by becoming the highest-grossing superhero film of 2020, breaking a decade-long streak. Extraordinary circumstances made Sonic the Hedgehog a bigger fish than it likely would have been otherwise, but the film was no doubt a financial success. Though there have been numerous Pink Panther films and even more Pink Panther cartoons, the animated panther has never really appeared in the films, which have always featured Clouseau as the true star.
On the market today, a live-action/CGI Pink Panther film would be far from unique. Early next year will see the release of the first-ever Tom and Jerry live-action/CGI movie. At the very least, the concept is certainly unique for the franchise. It's a safe bet that Inspector Clouseau will appear yet again, but who will play him after Steve Martin's lackluster performance in the most recent films, and how the cartoon panther will enter his world are a mystery. At this rate, the film will likely premiere in 2022 at the earliest, so there's plenty of time to figure things out. Perhaps the theme song will finally be out of people's heads by the time it's ready to get stuck again.
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