The Simpsons movie was a box office hit that instantly became a cult comedy classic, but not everyone appreciates just how stressful the development was for its creators.
It’s easy to enjoy a project as masterful as The Simpsons Movie, but it’s harder to gauge just how much work actually goes into putting together such an ambitious animation film. From countless redrafts to an abandoned idea that would have changed everything about the movie as we know it, here’s everything we know about how The Simpsons Movie eventually came to life.
The Simpsons Movie was in development for six years
To try and quantify the longevity of The Simpsons, the initial discussions about doing a movie began way back in 1997 when Fox first gave the idea the greenlight, by which point the witty cartoon had already been on our TV screens for over a decade.
According to reports, the show’s creator Matt Groening wanted to do a movie after the show had come to an end, but, like most people, failed to realize just how popular it would be.
Given that there was no end in sight for The Simpsons back in the 90s, (much like in 2023), and the fact that the actors and creators involved with its production were working full-time in order to churn episodes out, the movie project was sidelined until 2001.
Though plans for the movie were kickstarted in ’01, the ball did not start rolling properly until another couple of years after, and it was July 2007 before the gang at Fox was finally ready for the world to see their treasured cinema debut.
The producers went through at least 100 script rewrites
Evidently, one of the main reasons why the movie took so long to produce was due to the fact that the writing team took so long to settle on a script.
Of course, one can only imagine how strenuous and time-consuming the animation process is for a project as ambitious as The Simpsons Movie, but Groening et al. reportedly took the film’s execution very seriously, resulting in a writing and re-writing process that each of the writers is still probably trying to forget about 16 years later.
According to an archived interview given by Groening at the time of the movie’s release, the creative team spent six months discussing the premise of the movie before a first draft was even written.
And after that first draft was written, the geniuses responsible for making us all laugh at The Simpsons proceeded to re-draft the script over 100 times over the next four years, in a process that lasted right up until less than a month before it hit the big screen.
The Simpsons Musical which never was
Among the weighty pile of rejected ideas that presumably laid sprawled across the writer’s room floor was one particularly interesting suggestion, which certainly would have changed the vibe of the film.
“At one point the movie was supposed to be a musical,” Groening told Time Out in 2007, describing the group writing process. “But we kept interrupting the songs to stop people getting bored, then the songs got shorter and shorter and in the end we just said, ‘Lets not do it.'”
Given the show’s success with musical numbers in the past, (The Monorail Song, Do The Bartman and Canyonero all spring to mind), perhaps a full-length musical would have actually worked quite well.
With a Simpson’s Movie sequel constantly discussed online, despite no official plans having come to fruition at this point, perhaps the show will have a change of heart and go down the musical route next time, should there be one.