Last week we had the scoop
about Warner's June 2008
plans for Popeye the Sailor - Volume 2: 1938-1943
. That's still unofficial, and unconfirmed by the studio, so it stays under "rumors" for now...as does the info which follows. But we've gotten some further insight from our friends in the industry about what may be coming for all 4 planned Popeye
releases. Here's the dirt:
Warner is planning to continue these releases annually, with three more 4-DVD sets each containing around 55 cartoons...except for Vol. 2, which will have a few more. Why? Because Warner wants to have the second release finish out the black-and-white shorts on that set, including the first done under the Famous Studios banner. In 1942 Fleischer Studios was taken over by Paramount, and Max and Dave Fleischer were ousted, resulting in its changing to the new name of Famous Studios. Popeye cartoons carried that imprint until 1956, when the studio was again renamed as Paramount Cartoon Studios. The final theatrical Popeye
cartoon was produced in 1957. So the game plan seems to be to finish off the black-and-white shorts with Volume 2 in Summer 2008, and then split the remaining color cartoons fairly evenly between Volume 3's release in Summer 2009 (should cover 1943-1950) and Volume 4's release in Summer 2010 (covering 1950-1957).
The one exception to the black-and-white rule of thumb for Volume 2 is probably going to be the color special "Aladdin & His Wonderful Lamp," which is a 20-minute "2-reeler" from 1939. Considering that it falls into the date range of "Volume 2: 1938-1943
," it ought to be found on the 2008 DVD set.
Another topic of discussion for "will it be included?" are the so-called "banned cartoons" from Popeye's
history. There are 3 black-and-white cartoons produced during World War II that contain racial stereotypes against the Japanese: "You're A Sap, Mr. Jap," "Scrap The Japs" and "Seein' Red, White 'N' Blue." Later, three color cartoons made in the decade that follows would have racial sterotypes against Blacks: "Pop-Pie A La Mode," "The Island Fling" and "Popeye's Pappy." Coincidently, I took up the topic of banned material, even bringing Popeye
up, over at my TVGuide.com blog called "DVD Guy."
Last Thursday (Nov. 1st) I posted a blog entry
called "Does 'Complete' Have To Include THAT?," and an accompanying poll
for people to cast their votes about whether this historical material (which includes racial stereotypes of past eras) should be trimmed from upcoming DVD releases? The overwhelming response on the poll (99.1%!!!) was "Show It As It Was! (unedited original production)." All feedback left at the blog's comments area - which was quite a lot of responses - was completely (and passionately) in favor of including everything just as it was and making all releases "complete," perhaps accompanied by an explanation on the DVD that the material is a product of it's time, and not intended to reflect modern ideas and maybe not intended for kids, either.
Has anyone at Warner seen the results of this dicussion I kicked up? I honestly don't know...but the word I hear this morning is that the current plans for all six "banned" Popeye
cartoons is that they will likely be included on the appropriate sets, based on year of original release. So everyone who responded so passionately to my blog post and poll will be very happy to know that this is the current plan!
Of course, Warner is also planning on extensive bonus material that will go on all of these DVDs, but that's still being mapped out and won't be ready for discussion for a long while yet. Nor are we anywhere near ready for package art for these upcoming titles yet, either. Still, it's good to know that Warner's planning the get them all done. It sounds like they're pretty commited to the entire run, and that as long as sales continue to be strong they will keep 'em coming. Oh, dearie me...I better make some room on the shelf for these! Stay tuned and we'll keep you posted in the future, as more info comes to light.