Comic-Con@Home Panel Discusses Bugs Bunny’s History, 80th Anniversary Blu-ray Collection and New HBO Max Series

Three voices of Bugs Bunny — Billy West, Jeff Bergman and Eric Bauza — joined “Looney Tunes Cartoons” executive producer Pete Browngardt, movie historian/author/TV personality Leonard Maltin, animation historian/author Jerry Beck, and George Feltenstein, SVP, theatrical catalog, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, for a Comic-Con@Home panel July 23 to discuss Bugs Bunny’s history, the new HBO Max series “Looney Toons Cartoons” and the character’s upcoming Blu-ray collection.

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Dec. 1 (moved from Nov. 3) will release the “Bugs Bunny 80th Anniversary Blu-ray Collection,” featuring 60 remastered cartoons starring the wily rabbit.

“This is gonna be something that fans have wanted for a very long time,” Feltenstein said. “It’s been many years since the company has put together a collection on Blu-ray Disc dedicated to what I consider to be one of the most popular Warner Bros. cartoon stars, Bugs Bunny. He’s right up there with Bette Davis and [Humphrey] Bogart, who created the DNA of the studio’s history. What we meant to do here is have 20 cartoons that had been out before, but that are basically essential, and then have 40 cartoons that either had never been on Blu-ray or never been remastered at all or they were not released in the proper aspect ratio. … It goes from the great classic early cartoons to the very end of Bugs’ tenure [in the mid-60s].”

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The collection includes some titles not available previously, including “Racketeer Rabbit” (1946), “Rabbit Every Monday” (1951), “Jack-Wabbit and the Beanstalk” (1943) and “What’s Cookin’, Doc?” (1944).

“If you’re collecting Bugs Bunny, as you should be on video, I can’t say you’re going to complete the collection, but you’re going to have literally most — 90% or more — of all the Bugs Bunnys when you get this set,” added Beck.

Panelists mused about the lasting appeal of the cartoons, which were designed as mere amusing precursors to the main feature.

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“These cartoons were considered throwaways as far as the industry at large,” said West (Space Jam, “Futurama,” “Doug”). “While people were getting popcorn and Coca-Colas, that was what was playing on the screen. … They’re more famous and more well-known than any of the movies they opened up for.”

“If something is great entertainment, it will transcend time,” Feltenstein said.

The online panel screened “A Wild Hare,” considered the first official appearance of Bugs Bunny, supervised by Tex Avery.

“When Tex Avery arrived on the scene … he started pushing the cartoons toward wackier, crazier gags,” noted Maltin.

It’s those early Bugs iterations that inspired the new “Looney Toons Cartoons” on HBO Max, said executive producer Browngardt.

“We kind of tried to go back in time to a Bugs that was sort of before the [director Chuck] Jones Bugs had sort of taken over,” he said. “We felt like the character was a little bit more dynamic then. He had flaws. He would actually lose from time to time in a few cartoons and was a little bit surreal at times as well. We purposefully went back to that.”

They gave the character yellow gloves, which created controversy on the web, but helped differentiate the new Bugs. Bugs also got an updated vocabulary, saying things such as “fake news” and “Is that organic, Doc?”

“’Looney Toons Cartoons’ was definitely a different direction as far as getting out of the half-lidded, sarcastic Bugs from the Jones era and into more of the manic, unhinged energy that [voice actor] Mel Blanc had,” added Bouza, the voice of Bugs in the new series.

Each discussed their favorite Bugs Bunny cartoons, the many adversaries he has faced over the years and what they liked about the character.

“He’s a genuine, great hero,” Browngardt said. “He stands up for the little guy when he’s put upon. We all wish we could be the smartest guy in the room, wish we could take on every bully and not be cut down to size.”

“We all want to be Bugs Bunny, but we’re stuck with Daffy Duck is who we are,” added Bergman (“Tiny Toon Adventures,” “Our Cartoon President”).

Feltenstein credited Warner Bros. for taking care of these gems of cartoon history.

“I’m so grateful to our company that we have a preservation program that will see to it that they will remain available for people to see for years to come,” he said.

‘Paramount Presents’ Label Launches to Celebrate Studio Library on Blu-ray, in Theaters

Paramount Pictures will introduce a new “Paramount Presents” label to recognize and celebrate films from the studio’s library on Blu-ray and in theaters.

The “Paramount Presents” banner will be used for a new line of Blu-ray Discs “incorporating a curated selection of enduringly popular movies, as well as films that had a cultural impact upon their release,” according to a Paramount press release. The label will also be used to bring classic films to select theaters for limited theatrical runs so audiences can experience them again on the big screen.

“Paramount’s library represents over a century of filmmaking and includes some of the greatest films in cinematic history,” Bob Buchi, president of worldwide home media distribution at Paramount Pictures, said in a statement. “We look forward to opening the vault and sharing some of our most treasured films with fans under the new ‘Paramount Presents’ banner, both in theaters and in our new Blu-ray collection, which has been crafted to offer something special to casual fans, dedicated film enthusiasts and collectors.”

The “Paramount Presents” Blu-ray Discs will include a diverse and eclectic array of films spanning all genres, according to the studio. The new collection will return each title to the spotlight with meticulously remastered releases that include new bonus content focused on the filmmakers. The discs will be presented in collectible packaging that includes a foldout image of the original movie poster and interior artwork featuring key movie moments. Each Blu-ray in the line will feature new interviews with filmmakers and/or film historian Leonard Maltin.

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“Movies have the power to hold a mirror up to the world. Sometimes they make us think about big issues and sometimes they simply reflect the times in which they were made,” said Maltin in a statement. “The ‘Paramount Presents’ banner encompasses a wide array of films that are worth revisiting because they captured something unique that resonated with audiences. Whether you’re watching them for the first time or the hundredth, you will see why these films have stood the test of time.”

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The first three films in the “Paramount Presents” Blu-ray line will be Fatal Attraction, which has been remastered under the supervision of director Adrian Lyne; 1958’s acclaimed Elvis Presley drama King Creole; and director Alfred Hitchcock’s romantic thriller To Catch A Thief, which celebrates its 65th anniversary this year. All three titles will be available beginning April 21. Fatal Attraction will also have a limited theatrical release in 2020 (details to be announced at a later date).

Additional titles scheduled to be released as part of the “Paramount Presents” Blu-ray line include newly remastered editions of FlashdanceAirplane! and Ghost, as well as several titles arriving on Blu-ray for the first time ever, including Pretty in Pink and The Golden Child.