It was a Christmas hit in 1984. The 1990 sequel was also a critical success. Now there is talk of an animated series. Could it be that this time they’re back for real?
The question has been making the rounds for the past thirty years. Ever since 1990 which saw the worldwide release of Gremlins 2 – The New Batch, the sequel to the hugely successful Gremlins (directed by Joe Dante and produced by Steven Spielberg) which in summer 1984 proved the fourth most popular movie screened in the United States alongside other groundbreaking blockbusters such as Beverly Hills Cop, Ghostbusters and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
Definitely one of the most iconic films of the ‘80s, featuring the little furry monsters who only come out at night (sunlight being lethal to Gremlins) to terrorize the inhabitants of your typical small American town. It brought in a whopping 153 million dollars at the box office in addition to earnings in the vast merchandising sector.
Gremlins 3 however seems to be languishing in a limbo of confirmations promptly denied, production dilemmas, fear of failure and one postponement after another. It would appear that the screenplay has been around for a while (once again by Chris Columbus who also did the other two movies) and the main actor in the 1984 film, Zach Galligan, misses no opportunity with the press or online to announce that he would gladly take up the role of Billy Peltze if he was asked tomorrow.
But so far no work has begun on the film. Or rather, it is waiting in the shadows, sending another project to scout ahead, not a movie this time, but a tv series.
In fact in February 2019, WarnerMedia confirmed the launch of an animated tv series about the Gremlins. The name of the project is Gremlins: Secrets of The Mogwai and so far there is just one season with a total of ten episodes of half and hour each. And more importantly, it will not be a sequel but a prequel.
The adventures of the little monsters will be set in Shanghai in the 1920s where Sam Wing (a ten-year-old boy who in the future will have the shop in Chinatown made famous in the 1984 movie) has his first encounter with the cute mogwai Gizmo, the good guy in Dante’s original movie.
Hiss furry new friend – so rumour has it – accompanies Wing on a voyage full of colourful monsters and spirits of Chinese folklore which the duo takes one for two reasons: one, to riunite Gizmo with his family and two, discover a legendary treasure. The series will also feature a teenage thief (Elle, sidekick of Gizmo and Wing) and two antagonists to watch out for: an evil power-hungry businessman and his personal army of bad Gremlins.
This means that the animated series might be able to sidestep an artistic problem of no slight importance which has been mentioned on a number of occasions by Colombus. The scriptwriter is in fact disinclined to recreate the critters using modern CGI (computer-generated imagery) seeing as how the original film was shot using twenty-five Gremlin puppets brought to life at a cost of thirty thousand dollars each..
“To make Gremlins 3 with the help of computer graphics would inevitably spoil much of its original charm”, said Columbus. “We were dealing with cutting edge puppetry back then, and I would hate for us to lose that sense of cinematographic anarchy we achieved in 1984”.
And meanwhile, you can do your bit by admiring some of the tattoos dedicated to our little Gremlin friends. Who are friendly enough, but only as long as you don’t feed them after midnight…