Box Office Bunny, released in 1990, is a 4-minute Looney Tunes short starring Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Elmer Fudd. It was shown in theaters with The NeverEnding Story II: The Next Chapter. This was Warner Bros.' first Bugs Bunny theatrical release since 1964. It was issued to commemorate Bugs' 50th anniversary.
Box Office Bunny is also notable for being the first Looney Tunes short to not feature Mel Blanc as the voice of Bugs and Daffy, as he had died the year before its release. Jeff Bergman provided the voices of Bugs, Daffy and Elmer for this cartoon, having already voiced most of Blanc's characters on Tiny Toon Adventures (which also debuted in 1990).
The action takes place in a massive movie theater, called "Cineminium". It is a 100-screen multiplex, constructed right above Bugs' rabbit hole. When Bugs surfaces within the theater, usher Elmer Fudd attempts to drive him away. Meanwhile, Daffy finds the admission fee of the multiplex to be too high for his tastes. He instead uses his library card to force open a door and sneak inside.
The would-be free rider stumbles on the usher, Elmer. To divert attention from his own illegal entry, Daffy drives Elmer to further focus on Bugs. He also join forces with him against Bugs. Following a chase through the movie theater, Bugs manages to trap his opponents within a projection screen and within the film depicted on it. Said film is apparently part of the slasher film sub-genre and the trapped duo are confronted by a "hockey-mask wearing, chainsaw-wielding maniac". As the film ends, Daffy and Elmer break through the ending card in their attempt to escape and Bugs then appears to say the traditional "That's all, folks" line.
In the late 1980s, Warner Bros. Animation started producing new theatrical animated shorts, featuring the Looney Tunes characters. The Duxorcist (1987) and Night of the Living Duck (1988) were well-received individually. Both were then incorporated to the compilation film Daffy Duck's Quackbusters (1988). They marked a return to prominence for Daffy Duck. They were followed by Box-Office Bunny, the first theatrical short featuring Bugs Bunny since 1964's False Hare.
According to director Darrell Van Citters, the Warner Bros. studio was uncertain what to do with the film. It was reportedly completed six to nine months before its actual release. Its release was delayed because the studio wanted to release it alongside one of their feature films, but could not decide which could best serve to spotlight it. It was finally released alongside The NeverEnding Story II: The Next Chapter (1990). The under-performance of the feature film at the box-office is thought to have negatively affected the fate of the short.
Kevin Sandler believes the short set an unfortunate pattern for subsequent releases. Later Looney Tunes shorts were similarly attached to children's films which under-performed. In each case dragging the short film with them to relative obscurity. He offers the examples of Chariots of Fur and Richie Rich (1994), Carrotblanca and The Amazing Panda Adventure (1995), Superior Duck to Carpool (1996), and Pullet Surprise to Cats Don't Dance (1997). Staffers involved in the production of several of these shorts reportedly suspected that the studio already knew that these feature films were "hard-to-market" films. From a marketing perspective, the shorts could then be used to attract additional viewers to the cinema. Sandler himself, however, suspected that Warner Bros. was simply not particularly interested in generating publicity for the animated shorts.
The ABC version of this cartoon cuts the "That's All Folks" ending variant where Daffy and Elmer run screaming through the title card (in connection to the end gag where the two are trapped in a slasher flick with a chainsaw-wielding maniac after them), leaving a red background in the hole and Bugs pops in to deliver the closing line.
- Happy Birthday Bugs: 50 Looney Years includes a clip from this short, including a pencil test.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 Charles Solomon (February 11, 1991). "CARTOON REVIEW : 'Box Office Bunny': An Echo of the '50s". Los Angeles Times. http://articles.latimes.com/1991-02-11/entertainment/ca-754_1_box-office-bunny. Retrieved December 20, 2013.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Coyote" (June 2, 2007). "Daffy:1990". The Acme Factory. http://acmefactory.blogspot.gr/2007/06/daffy1990.html. Retrieved December 20, 2013.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Sandler (1998), p. 21-22