Land of the Lost wasn't the big box office hit it was supposed to be. Despite culminating a pretty strong cult fan base since its release in the summer of 2009, this "Will Ferrell in a world of hungry dinosaurs" comedy failed to resonate with the true, hard-core fans of Sid and Marty Krofft's original 1970s Saturday morning live action show. The legendary brothers, who became famous for bringing their unique puppets to television in the late sixties, aren't letting the poor critical reception of Land of the Lost stand in the way of bringing their other iconic properties to the big screen, though. Instead, they are viewing it as a cautionary tale in what the fans actually want to see.
They plan to bring both H.R. Pufnstuff and Sigmund and the Sea Monsters to theater screens in the very near future. This time, though, they are going to stick to the formula that made both series some of the most beloved and remembered kids' shows of all time. Vivendi Entertainment is releasing H.R. Pufnstuf: The Complete Series DVD on January 18th. To help celebrate the release, we caught up with Marty Krofft, who was more than willing to share his upcoming plans for H.R. Pufnstuff and Sigmund and the Sea Monsters with us, including the fact that they have discussed bringing Justin Bieber on board as Jimmy, the young boy who, with the help of his magic flute, accidentally becomes stranded on Living Island, where he befriends the iconic dragon mayor:
We've already seen full series sets for H.R. Pufnstuf and a few of your other shows. Why did you decide to go with re-releasing Pufnstuf again as opposed to releasing a series that isn't available on DVD yet?
Marty Krofft: We're making the H.R. Pufnstuff movie at Sony. So we are taking these titles, and we are making movies out of them. We have a deal at Universal set up for Sigmund and the Sea Monsters. And we're about to have another one set up with another big studio, to do our first animated movie. Lidsville. It's not set up, so I can't talk about it. But that will be a good one. Right now, it looks like all of our titles are going to come back as movies. We have The Bugaloos, we are developing that. It will be a whole new group of Bugaloos. We are putting together incredible music for that, for the kids. It will be country. No one has done that yet, so we are putting that together. It will be for Tweens. That will fit in with Miley Cyrus and the J.O.N.A.S! age group. We are working on Electra Woman and Dyna Girl. We are going to turn that into a feature. We already have a script. We're dealing with Bigfoot and Wildboy. Bigfoot and Wildboy will be a movie. It's a great idea. We're also looking at Dr. Shrinker.
What are you guys planning with the H.R. Pufnstuf movie? We already know that it's going to be live action with costumed characters and puppets, right?
Marty Krofft: We had a big script meeting yesterday. We're already on our second draft. We have Dennis McNicholas writing it. We contracted a guy who has never done a live action movie before to direct. He has done a couple of small cartoons. Monsters Vs. Aliens and Shrek 2. He is director Conrad Vernon. So we've got a good guy there. We are doing the origin story that we've never done. It's a little heavier. Its got the same tone as the series. We're not screwing with it. Because there were so many reruns of H.R. Pufnstuff. More than any of our other stuff. You can't mess with it too much. You'll really piss off the audience who grew up with it. People like you!
So we're going to see the origins of Pufnstuf. Are you still going to have Jimmy come onto the island?
Marty Krofft: Jimmy will arrive on the island. And Pufnstuf? We are going to show how he got to be mayor. We're not messing with it. We're not messing with the characters. I think it's going to have the humor that we need. It's also going to have the heart that we want.
Are you going to be able to get the original voice of H.R. Pufnstuf?
Marty Krofft: Lennie Weinrib died. So no. We are going to have to find a new Pufnstuf.
I'd imagine getting the voice right would be one of the most important elements of brining this to the big screen. You have to nail that voice, because it is so ingrained in our brains...
Marty Krofft: I know. We weren't able to nail it in the movie that we made in 1970. We didn't have Lennie Weinrib to do it, so we had to get someone else. And we never got it nailed. It always bothered me. But it didn't bother the kids, or anyone else. We have to be careful with all of the repeats. The movie, though? I think we are going to do a good job on this movie. I am really excited about the H.R. Pufnstuff movie.
In being true to the original source material when it comes to bringing H.R. Pufnstuf to the screen, are you looking at some of the complaints that fans had about Land of the Lost? Personally, I loved that movie...
Marty Krofft: You are the only fan that wasn't pissed off. Its funny. The movie? We were dead by the time Land of the Lost opened. The critics who grew up with the show were pissed off, and they buried us before we even opened. And we were unlucky, we had The Hangover on top of us. We had to change our date, because Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince came out in July. We moved to June. Then The Hangover was opposite us. Who knew that was going to be so big?
What were some of the fans' complaints about it? Seriously, I have seen every episode of Land of the Lost many times. I am a huge fan of the show. But I love that movie. I thought it captured the heart of the series. And then you have Will Ferrell and Danny McBride in there, saying all of the things we thought of as adults re-watching the show...
Marty Krofft: I wish you were the whole audience. Anyone who watches it on television loves it. We are just doing this new movie head-on. It's a movie that is going to have heart. Hopefully, it will make an impact. It will be live-action, but we will have some of the CGI. We are in 2010. We should have it. We learned a lot doing Land of the Lost. We are going to try and keep the integrity of it. We will have some low tech and some high tech.
Have you started talking about casting?
Marty Krofft: We are always talking about casting. But we aren't ready yet. I start mentioning names, and then I may not get them.
As far as Jimmy goes, are you at all considering Russell Brand? I mean, will we see a grown Jimmy living on the island?
Marty Krofft: No! This is not going to be like Land of the Lost. Hiring Will Ferrell and Danny McBride, that made it almost like a spoof. This is going to be an actual H.R. Pufnstuf fantasy. We will have a kid living on the island.
Is Justin Bieber at the top of your list for Jimmy?
Marty Krofft: Oh, of course! We certainly have talked about him. The other day I said, "By the time we make this movie, he will be thirty-seven." We don't know when this is going to be greenlit. But it will be sooner than later.
Can you tell me more about what is going on with Sigmund and the Sea Monsters?
Marty Krofft: That is being developed over at Universal. That is a little slower in development. We have Dana Gould, who is writing it. We are working on that at the same time as H.R. Pufnstuff.