'The Simpsons: Welcome To The Club': Showrunner Al Jean casts doubt on 'The Simpsons Movie 2' (exclusive)
The Simpsons co-showrunner Al Jean says a follow up to The Simpsons Movie may not be happening any time soon.
Released in 2007, the feature-length Simpsons film was a box office hit and fans have clamoured for a sequel ever since, but talking to Yahoo ahead of the launch of a new Simpsons short on Disney+ day, Jean says it’s not on the show’s radar at the moment.
“I’d love to work on another Simpsons movie, and we’ve talked about it,” Jean tells us. In 2021, Jean said conversations about a sequel were shelved by the COVID-19 pandemic.
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“I don’t know exactly what the animation feature world is at the moment," Jean adds. "I know there are some movies that have done well, but is it streaming, is it theatrical?
“So I think that’s actually a question we would have to wrestle with before we even started working on a script, is what do we want to do, and right now, I’m really happy to work on these shorts.”
The latest Simpsons short ‘Welcome to the Club’ – on Disney+ from 8 September – sees Lisa being seduced by the dark side. She makes it her mission to become a Disney Princess, but when she meets Disney’s roster of villains – including The Little Mermaid’s Urusla – she finds that being bad might be more fun.
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It’s the sort of 'brand synergy' we’ve come to expect from the long-running animated sitcom ever since Disney acquired the show when it took over Fox. The team has since produced Simpsons shorts that cross over with the worlds of Marvel, Star Wars, and even Billie Eilish. 2021’s Disney+ short Plusaversary saw iconic Disney characters rocking up at Moe’s Tavern for a party.
Being brought into the Disney fold has opened up many doors for an old animation nerd like Jean, and on Welcome To The Club — directed by The Simpsons Movie director David Silverman — he brought in some of his Disney heroes to work on the short.
“The great thing about it is that we got animators who’d worked on some of those old 90s Disney classics to work on this,” he shares.
“[The Little Mermaid’s] Ursula has a huge role in it, not played by the original voice actress [Pat Carroll] who sadly just passed, but by Dawnn Lewis, who’s fantastic.”
Beyond Ursula, you can expect a cavalcade of classic Disney characters to rock up in ‘Welcome to the Club’ — including the evil Queen from Snow White and various Marvel characters — and Jean says they were given pretty much free rein to plunder the back catalogue of House of Mouse, with only a handful of restrictions imposed on them.
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“[Disney] do have to go to their rights holders [for permission to include their characters], but honestly we’ve been lucky, we’ve used everybody,” he explains.
“The only notes they have will be things like we would say too like ‘don’t show a Princess under 18 drinking’ which I wouldn’t either, I don’t think that’s a good look, I wouldn’t show Lisa drinking. But that’s it, we’ve been given pretty free rein otherwise.”
While showing the Princesses chugging back a beer being off limits, poking fun at their male counterparts is very much on the cards, reveals Jean.
“We make a lot of comments about the Disney Princes, the guys, who are the most vapid and unmemorable characters in movies,” Jean says with a hearty chuckle.
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“We make that point very clearly, because you remember the names like Jafar, but you don’t remember the Princes very well at all. I didn’t even know the name of the Prince in Snow White until we started this, and I forgot it already.”
It's Prince Florian, but we had to Google it.
It should come as no surprise that The Simpsons feels comfortable poking fun at their corporate overlords now. It's been over three years since Disney completed its deal to take over 20th Century Fox, and Jean tells us very little has changed at the show since they became part of the Disney family.
“When Disney bought Fox, they said to us ‘we want you to do what you do. Don’t change, be yourselves.' And we’ve been happy to live up to that," Jean smiles.
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“It’s introduced us, I think, to new viewers, new generations, even people who are maybe fans of Star Wars or Marvel, but not Simpsons fans,” he adds.
“If I had picked the landing spot for us in the streaming wars, I couldn’t have picked a better one for us.”
The Simpsons new short “Welcome to the Club" launches on Disney+ Day, 8 September.