Futurama fans were treated well at Comic-Con this year. Not only did
Matt Groening and
company assemble for an amusing and informative panel, but Rotten Tomatoes
scored an interview with Rich Moore, supervising director of
Futurama. We spoke with Moore in-depth about his work on
The Simpsons Movie
and the upcoming Futurama flick, Bender’s Big Score!, out on DVD
First, a recap of the
Futurama panel. Series creators
Matt Groening and
David X. Cohen assembled on stage, introducing one at a time the principal voice
crew, the director of the DVD movies, and two writers. A mini Futurama comic
was distributed throughout the panel audience, and the voice cast paged through
the booklet, doing a hilarious, unrehearsed live reading.
Then they ran the clip, a
five-minute collection of random footage from the first DVD movie, out November 27th. Three more are planned, which will be released throughout 2008. Bender’s Big Score! Big
Score revolves around Bender being swindled by nude Internet scammers and
Planet Express the victim of a hostile takeover. The plots of the three other
movies have yet to be revealed, but all four will be re-edited as 16 TV episodes
that will air on Comedy Central in 2008.
The clip starts with
Professor Farnsworth’s good news that the people at the Box Network that
cancelled Planet Express in the first place have been fired, beaten, killed, and
ground into a pink powder, much to the delight of Farnsworth’s crew. Fan
favorite Zoidberg has some of the best scenes in the clip, including popping out
of his shell on a nude beach, and reattaching Hermes’ decapitated head back onto
his body. Hermes looks down, and is livid to see that Zoidberg has placed his
head on backwards. Confused, Zoidberg states he thought Hermes was happy because
"his tail was wagging." Nice. The clip ends with Hypnotoad staring from out the
screen, a voice repeatedly commanding the audience to buy the DVDs.
The floor opened to audience
questions, with one of the more compelling inquiries regarding content and
budget. Cohen appeared very aware that fans are curious about this issue. He
candidly said that the writing crew had to take a hit, and that instead of a
live orchestra a synthesizer was used to score the movies. But he assured the
crowd that this technology was an excellent substitute, and quipped that a
synthesizer will eventually start producing scripts.
Rich Moore has a long
pedigree in television animation, including working as director on the major
triumvirate of 1990s primetime cartoons: The Simpsons, The Critic,
and Futurama, where he acted as supervising director for all 72
episodes. We met with Moore earlier that day on the chaotic exhibit floor, to
get the details on Futurama’s future and his role on
The Simpsons Movie.
(To you three Simpsons fans who haven’t seen the movie, beware of
Rotten Tomatoes: Are
you still working as supervising director for the Futurama movies?
Rich Moore: Well,
right now, I just finished working on The Simpsons Movie. So that’s been
a year and a half of…joy. I love those characters. It’s great to work
RT: It’s been a while
since you last worked on The Simpsons.
RM: It has been a long
time. And I was wondering, "Have they changed that much?" No, they’re exactly
So there were four sequence
directors on the movie. I directed pretty much the end of the movie, starting
with Marge waking up back in Springfield. And I really like action sequences.
That’s why I like working on Futurama so much. There’s great acting, but
there’s also great action. So when I read the Simpsons script, I was
like, "I want to do this part!" And they said, "Go ahead! The guy drives a
motorcycle up the inside of a glass dome. I don’t know, you figure it out."
As for Futurama, I am
supervising, but not as deep into it as I was back on the series. The first
movie’s back. It looks terrific, it looks great. I’m kinda jumping into the
back end, pumping them up a bit.
RT: Can you confirm
the titles of the rest of the Futurama movies?
RM: The Beast with
a Million Backs, Bender’s Game, and The Wild Green Yonder.
Those are the titles. I don’t think David would mind that that’s out at this
I was supposed to direct the
fourth movie, but The Simpsons Movie went on a little longer than it was
supposed to. So I missed out on directing Green Yonder. But Pete
Avanzino and Dwayne Carey-Hill, who were also on the series, are directing the
RT: Will you be trying
to capturing new fans with the Futurama movies?
RM: I think the idea
is to capture new fans. The first one is a great science fiction story. It’s
got the Fry and Leela relationship. It’s got lots of action. It’s got lots of
great Bender and Zoidberg moments. All the old regulars who have appeared have
their own scenes. But it’s very accessible to people who haven’t watched a
RT: You’re re-cutting
the four DVD movies into television episodes. How is that working out?
RM: Each movie’s going
to be divided into four parts. It’s not going to be just cut, cut, cut.
They’re going to try and edit them into separate pieces of a story.
RT: Is new animation
going to be produced for the episodes?
RM: No. It’s written
in a way so that we can, like, move the third act [of one movie into an earlier
part of an episode]. We’ll tell Fry’s story in one episode. We’ll tell Bender’s
story in one episode.
RT: So it’s like
multiple perspectives on one long event.
RM: Right. That’s
what we’re talking about right now. Hopefully, if enough people watch the
episodes and the DVDs sell, they’ll order more episodes, more movies. I
personally think Futurama would make a great theatrical release. It just
lends itself to the big screen.
RT: In moving from
network television to cable, have there been changes to the show’s budget?
RM: The budget’s a
little smaller. But it’s comparable to what it was on Fox. The writing’s crew
a little smaller, but [we have] all the key people like Ken Keeler, Eric
Kaplan. Our animation staff is exactly the same as it was on the series, the
same size. Our CG department’s a little bigger, even.
RT: Considering that
there might not be more episodes after these 16…
RM: How can you say
that? Oh my God, you jinxed it!
RT: Just in case
that happens, will the last DVD movie have the same kind of closure that "The
Devil’s Hand are Idle Playthings" episode had?
RM: It does have some
closure. When I read "The Devil’s Hands are Idle Playthings" script, I was like,
"You know what, this really reeks of the end. The last show of the series."
And they did that on purpose, because they knew we might not be renewed. And
the last DVD movie does have a little bit of that.