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Popeye the Sailor Man Live-Action Film in Development From Chernin, King Features (EXCLUSIVE)

Popeye is coasting back to the big screen.

The iconic sailor man and spinach chugger, who first appeared in comic strips in the late 1920s, will be the subject of a new live-action feature film from Chernin Entertainment and King Features.

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The project is currently in development as a big-budget feature, and has attached screenwriter Michael Caleo (“Sexy Beast,” “The Family,” “The Sopranos”).This is the first live-action revisiting of the character since the 1980 film “Popeye,” led by Robin Willians. Directed by Robert Altman and co-starring Shelley Duvall as the sailor’s quirky love interest Olive Oyl, the film was panned upon release but has since gained cult status and critical reconsideration. It was also profitable, released by Paramount Pictures at a $20 million budget before grossing roughly $60 million worldwide.

Popeye celebrated his 95th anniversary this year, after appearing in the 1929 comic “Thimble Theater.” The character spawned both animated features and series in his heyday, and could be one of the earliest templates for mass merchandising across multiple generations. Two years ago, Popeye was named a key inspiration for menswear collections from Moschino, Supreme and A Bathing Ape. Popeye is still the face of McCall Farms spinach — in the cartoons, the vegetable offers the sailor superpowers to defeat his enemies — which carries the Popeye logo and face on canned goods.

Some devout fans (which Popeye still has) crafted a series of self-made movie trailers this year, all fictional, which have racked up millions of views combined. These trailers imagine the character as a castaway warrior with Dwayne Johnson proportions, which may well be the direction this is headed creatively. Producers are in the process of attaching a studio partner.

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