Annecy: ‘The Day the Earth Blew Up’ Reiterates the Viability of the Looney Tunes in Wake of ‘Coyote vs. Acme’ Debacle

“The Day the Earth Blew Up,” the first non-compilation Looney Tunes animated feature to be released theatrically, held a special screening at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival on Tuesday, where it played to an enthusiastic crowd – multiple applause breaks, tons of solid laughs and a generally impressive level of enthusiasm throughout (which is saying something considering it screened, for some reason, at 11 p.m. on a Tuesday night). It also loudly rebuked the corporate thinking that the characters aren’t viable enough for modern audiences. The characters are just as entertaining as they’ve always been. And the movie has been one of the great reveals of Annecy so far.

Sam Register, the president of Warner Bros. Animation, Cartoon Network Studios, and Hanna-Barbera Studios Europe, introduced “The Day the Earth Blew Up: A Looney Tunes Movie” by saying how important the characters were to Warner Bros. (And, yes, in light of the “Coyote vs. Acme” debacle, Register’s comment got a few audible snickers from the animation-loving crowd.)

Director Peter Browngardt, who previously served as the executive producer and creative director behind the “Looney Tunes Cartoons,” the excellent and unheralded series of shorts released on Warner Bros. Discovery’s streaming platform (first HBO Max and then just Max), was also there to introduce the film, calling it a labor of love. “The Day the Earth Blew Up” is, ostensibly, a continuation of those excellent shorts although with some casting change-ups. But you don’t need to have watched the shorts to enjoy the movie.

What’s really striking about “The Day the Earth Blew Up,” which sees Porky and Daffy (both voiced by Eric Bauza) facing off against a 1950s-style alien invasion, is how contemporary it feels. The jokes are quick, the pacing is unrelenting and for a 2D animated movie released in 2024, the look is genuinely sophisticated. It’s a gorgeous movie. And instead of something like “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” which tried to fit the characters into an overly complicated story, there’s a looseness to “The Day the Earth Blew Up” that feels downright revelatory. The characters get to be their classic selves. The drama and emotion is real. It all just works.

And, mercifully, it doesn’t try and downplay its origins. Daffy and Porky are given a hilarious new origin story, as they are adopted by Farmer Jim, a bizarre character that the crowd absolutely adored. When Farmer Jim leaves them the farm, they have to fix up the house and get jobs in a gum factory, which plays into this whole alien invasion. It’s a really smart framework for some really great gags, including an extended montage that is structured like an old Looney Tunes short where they try different jobs and fail hysterically. When the main thrust of the plot kicks in, there are plenty of homages to classic sci-fi films like “The Thing,” “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” “The Blob” and, of course, “The Day the Earth Stood Still” but its knowingness never overrides the fun.

Not only is “The Day the Earth Blew Up” classic Looney Tunes, but it is also the perfect reintroduction to the characters, something that Warner Bros. Discovery could easily exploit going forward. Great animation, solid character work, a hilarious and engaging story – this is the stuff that is going to return audiences to a legacy brand.

When Warner Bros. chief David Zaslav shelved “Coyote vs. Acme,” there was an explanation trotted out that the characters simply weren’t all that important to modern audiences, citing the disappointing returns of “Space Jam: A New Legacy” and a dip in consumer products sales. “The Day the Earth Blew Up,” produced by a different division of the same company, loudly refutes this. If you were in the audience at Annecy, it was very clear that not only are these characters just as adored as they ever were, but when you put out a movie this entertaining and artful, audiences will eat it up.

After originally pegged for a streaming release, “The Day the Earth Blew Up” will open in theaters later this year — and it could be just the thing to cement the characters’ place in the zeitgeist.

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