Snoopy never tells anything, he just thinks. Snoopy finally reveals why he has chased the Red Baron for 40 years during The Peanuts Movie, which debuts Nov. 6. AOPA has the exclusive and shocking news now.
All these decades, Snoopy has imagined flying scenes for his novel, and the Red Baron is one of the characters in that as-yet-unwritten novel. We’re revealing this exclusively here for the first time. (Hollywood reporters always repeat their scoops.)
Let’s go live, sorta, as Hollywood Access reporters would do, to Santa Rosa, California, where Craig Schulz, son of cartoonist Charles M. Schulz, tells all—that he cares to tell in advance of the movie’s release.
“In the movie his persona is the great writer,” Schulz said. “During that persona as the great writer he is attempting to write the greatest novel. Within that novel, that’s where the Red Baron shows up. That explains why, in the comic strip, he has continued to chase the Red Baron for 40 years.”
“My son asked me, ‘Why does he chase the Red Baron?’ I had never pondered that before and we did the movie around that.”
Schulz, a longtime pilot, flight instructor, and personal pilot to his late father, said pilots will notice the flying scenes are accurate. “That was one of our main goals. One of the guys at Blue Sky [Studios] is a pilot. I talked to him and we acted out all the scenes. We actually had a cellphone video of myself and my son acting out what a dogfight would look like between the dog house and the triplane.”
(We tried to get that video for you and failed.)
“We acted out some of the aerobatic maneuvers, from a split-S to a hammerhead, a loop and a roll. I actually took all the animators up for a ride in my biplane and let them experience all the maneuvers for themselves. They had the sense of the G load and the acceleration, the sound.
“On top of that we had Skywalker Sound come up [from George Lucas’ Lucas Digital motion picture group] and attach microphones all over my Stearman and we went out and did a bunch of sound passes by the microphones. We had the whole Doppler effect of the sound.
“We went up and did aerobatics with it so we got what the airplane would sound like doing loops and rolls. That sound track section of the movie is when you hear the Red Baron’s plane and some of the Sopwith Camels come by—that’s actually the sound of my Stearman.
“We had six people on the ground with microphones all over the airport. I had actually called the tower and said, 'Hey, we need to do some sound recordings for the movie.’ The guy in the tower is a friend of mine and he said OK. We came buzzing down the taxiway five feet off the ground. We did like 10 passes. Next day I saw the guy and I thought he’d kinda yell at me. He said, ‘I gotta tell you Craig, that’s the most fun thing I’ve seen in a long time. If you ever do that again, let me know.’ Within that we had one of the female sound recorders from Skywalker [in the Stearman]. She said, ‘Man, that was a trip of a lifetime doing that.’ We did all the low passes and [later] we went up and did a loop and a roll and she was controlling microphones and audio levels.
“We were very authentic, which was really cool and really fun to do. We wanted to make it look right and sound right. We paid as much attention to detail as we could in all the flying sequences.
“In trying to get to the essence of the story we cut it down to probably four flying scenes. They incorporate the triplane and Snoopy on the doghouse. With Snoopy on the flying doghouse scenes I had experimented probably eight years ago with what that would look like. I had taken my video camera, because I do film editing also, and put the Snoopy toy on the doghouse, and in the background was my 50-inch TV screen with the background stuff I wanted.
“I told the animators, ‘We never want to see the bottom of the doghouse.’ It always should be in Snoopy’s head that Snoopy is flying. Since they were animating all the sequences, they’re going, “Why? There are only so many angles we can use without seeing the bottom of the doghouse.’ I said, ‘Well, take that as a challenge.’ The director [Steve Martino, Ice Age: Continental Drift] told them the same thing. They did, and it looks much more believable than all of a sudden seeing the doghouse up in the sky by itself. Just looks pretty cheesy to me and it lost the excitement of what it would be if you were in Snoopy’s head. Again, Snoopy’s writing the book. You’re in his head. We want to be with Snoopy on this pursuit.”
At the time Schulz got the idea his son Bryan and friend Neil Uliano were going to film school. They graduated from film school, sold a movie to Steven Spielberg and one to Warner Brothers, and then Schulz needed help with his The Peanuts Movie.
“I wasn’t a screen writer and I didn’t understand the whole idea of what the format should be so that’s when I hired them,” Schulz said. “We all got together and decided to do this project and see if anyone would be interested in it.” Schulz, his son, and Uliano are all writers and co-producers of the movie.
Now here is a final tidbit. “If you look really closely during the film at Charlie Brown’s bedroom—they do these things called Easter eggs, they hide stuff in the background that only certain people will catch—but hanging from Charlie Brown’s is an exact copy of my P-40.”
Is Snoopy’s novel never going to be finished like the football that Charlie Brown has never kicked? Hope not, because dogs have great "tails" to tell.
Snoopy was painted on the sides of helicopter gunships during the Vietnam War and a landing zone was named after him. After the Apollo fire on the pad that killed three astronauts, NASA established a Snoopy award for outstanding work by contractors. The comic strip syndicate at first balked until NASA promised to carry Snoopy's likeness to the moon. A statue of Snoopy in a pressure suit was also given to NASA.