What’s the rush, doc? That was Warner Bros. response to the backlash from some “Looney Tunes” fans who complain that a handful of their favorite cartoons are missing from the collection of 56 shorts released Tuesday.
“Looney Tunes — The Golden Collection,” the first-ever DVD release for Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Yosemite Sam and Elmer Fudd, includes such classics as “Rabbit of Seville,” “Duck Dodgers in the 24th-and-a-half Century” and “The Scarlet Pumpernickel.”
Animation fans, however, have debated and second-guessed the selection of shorts endlessly on Amazon.com and elsewhere on the Internet.
Among the notable absentees: “What’s Opera, Doc?” with Bugs tormenting co-star Elmer Fudd, who sings “Kill the wabbit! Kill the wabbit!”; and “One Froggy Evening,” which showcased the “Hello, My Baby!”-singing amphibian Michigan J. Frog.
“We held back some of the jewels for future releases,” acknowledged George Feltenstein, the marketing executive who helped pick the shorts for the inaugural DVD release. “We couldn’t release all the best ones at once ... what would we do for an encore?”
Some fans see that response as cynical, saying they feel like their loyalty is being abused. “I would have rather never had these shorts be released than to deal with this garbage,” Aaron Strader of Houston wrote on Amazon.com. “I hope it sells well enough to justify a full release on DVD of everything.”
Warner Home Video counters that its plan to release a set of 60 cartoons each year is not just a marketing ploy — it’s as fast as they can clean up the originals. Dorinda Marticorena, WHV’s director of children’s marketing, said it takes months to restore the original cartoon prints to their original bright colors.
“Looney Tunes” admirers could have a total collection sooner, but it would be a DVD full of grainy, faded cartoons.
The “Golden Collection” ($64.92) and the lesser “Premiere Collection” of 28 shorts ($26.99) is part of a bid by the studio to rejuvenate its trademark characters, Marticorena said. A new feature film, “Looney Tunes: Back in Action,” is set for release Nov. 14.
Fans have waited nearly six years since Warner Bros. began creating the DVD of classics, so Feltenstein said he understood why they’re as impatient as Porky Pig’s speech therapist.
He described the “Golden Collection” as “an all-star sampler,” with a lot of Bugs and Daffy, and a little bit of Foghorn Leghorn, Tweety Bird, Sylvester the Cat, Marvin Martian and the Tasmanian Devil. There is also the first Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner cartoon, “Fast and the Furry-ous.”
Nearly 1,100 “Looney Tunes” cartoons were created between 1930 and 1969, so there are a lot left to choose from for future DVDs, he added, although not all of them are created equally.
“About 300 of them are excellent,” Feltenstein said, “300 of them are very good, 300 are good, 100 of them are OK, and 100 of them are lousy.”