Tick, tock, Arnie…

A timeline of sorts…

A week or so before July 9, 2008: Got the news from Elfquest’s agents that two or three major studios were in contention and negotiation for the rights to make an EQ film. Very exciting to think about, but we can’t say anything because the various players are still indeed in negotiation.

July 8, 2008: Email from the agent-in-charge. Warner Bros. has come in with the best offer. Huzzahs all around, but in a sense it’s not quite real yet.

July 9, 2008: The news goes public. Front page story in Hollywood Reporter, mirrored on the Elfquest.com web site. Traffic to the site spikes, thanks in part to a number of news/blog sites echoing the news. Now it’s real!

July 10-26, 2008: Flurry of on-line activity as EQ fans wonder, debate, speculate, ponder, suggest, debate more about what the storyline of the film will be, whether it will be animated or live acting, whether the animation will be traditional 2-D cel animation or 3-D computer generated imagery or a mix of both, who might voice the characters, who might provide the soundtrack, and whether writer/director Rawson Thurber (whose major previous credit is directing “Dodgeball”) can possibly handle the job.

July 27, 2008: Sunday of San Diego Comic-Con international. The Elfquest presentation panel is packed. Rawson Thurber makes a “surprise” (to everyone else in the room; we knew he was going to be there) appearance to speak to the assembled fans about his experience growing up with Elfquest. In short, he loves the elves. The audience loves him. A good time is had by all. This is the high point of the process to date; everyone involved is riding on Cloud 9.

July 28-September 1, 2008: And then the waiting begins. Even though Warner Bros. has committed to the project sufficiently to make the announcement to the trade and to the world at large, which is fine as far as we’re concerned, the actual contract has yet to be hammered out. That process begins. WB requires various forms be filled out; Warp complies. Lawyers dwell on small details. Snail mail and e-mail courses back and forth. Their lawyers go on vacation. Their lawyers return; Warp’s lawyer goes on vacation. Messages are routed from office to office. There appears to be little of Larry the Cable Guy’s directive to “Get ‘er done!” in play.

We – the entire EQ team – continue to have faith, because… well, because. As often as Elfquest has been to the altar and then been jilted, the process has never started off or gone in this fashion before. It is meaningful. Faith is a good thing, a sustaining thing. But, dammit, no one likes waiting. Especially after having had far too much practice at it. There are tidbits, of course. The director gives a tentative schedule of when he’d like to begin on a treatment, and then on the screenplay. A high-up at the studio hints that they’d like to see how big they can make this. A well-placed person in the animation department looks at one of the EQ graphic novels with Wendy’s artwork and says, cryptically, “We can give you this.”

Teasing bastiches, all!

And now it’s Labor Day. The thing about Hollywood is that nothing whatever gets done between Thanksgiving and the new year. All the various holidays, all the various reasons not to be in the office. So I want to say to all concerned, “All right, kiddies! Summer’s over! Labor Day’s done! Coffee break’s over – back on your heads! Time to round ’em up and head ’em out! Faster, must go faster!”

Because every day there’s no news from Tinseltown, there’s no news to pass along here, or on Elfquest.com, or in the fan press, or on the forum boards. And if the world truly is going to end on the winter solstice, 2012 (which I don’t for one nano-second believe), then yours truly wants to enjoy at least one year’s worth of movie box office, DVD sales, and royalties from Mcdonald’s Happy Meal “Elfun” toys, before the Vogons pave us over.