It's been over twenty years since that widely acclaimed, box-office winning, and quotable cult classic came into popular culture. Now, Mr. Reubens, though a bit older (but still plenty Pee-wee) is considering making two more films featuring his infamous alter ego.
"I feel like the time is really ripe right now," Reubens said on why he's interested in making more Pee-wee movies at this point in time. "A lot of the kids who grew up with the show are young adults. The college kids are middle-aged adults. I feel like I have enough of a built-in audience to make back an investment."
Reubens reported that he has two scripts ready to go. The first concerns an extension of his multi-Emmy Award winning children's series, Pee-wee's Playhouse. This feature-length adaptation will bring the characters into a whole new realm. "We never really went out into what we call puppet land," Reubens recalled of the show. "And this [film] takes place out of the playhouse. I think there are one or two scenes in the playhouse in the beginning. Basically it's all in a fantasy land," he said. "It's like a 'Wizard of Oz,' H.R. Pufnstuf epic adventure story." The whole assemblage of characters will hopefully be there, in their live-action human and puppet forms alike.Photo: Frazer Harrison/ Getty Images
The second storyline is one that Reubens called "the dark Pee Wee movie," is "not really very dark" and certainly not intended to be an R-rated film. "It's basically the story of Pee-wee Herman becoming famous as a singer," he explained. "He has a hit single and gets brought out to Hollywood to make musical movies, kind of like they did with Elvis. It all kind of goes downhill from there for Pee-wee. He turns into a monster. He does everything wrong and becomes a big jerk." Though he described it as a movie "about fame," Reubens insisted, "It's not autobiographical."
But will audiences buy a 55-year-old man-child, even if it is Pee-wee? People have noted that Reubens still has the energy, humor, and essence of his character from over two decades ago. But if that isn't enough, Reubens has a plan: "My second option is to have Johnny Depp play Pee-wee," he said. Reubens insisted that he's even spoken to Depp about it, saying that the actor told him, "Let me think about it."
Will Tim Burton and Paul Reubens collaborate again? After Pee-wee's Big Adventure, Reubens and Burton collaborated again on Batman Returns (1992) and The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993). Reubens admitted that he talked to Burton about the possibility of bringing these new Pee-wee projects to the big screen in the future, but acknowledged his old collaborator's own busy schedule. "I have talked to Tim about one of them about a year ago. But Tim is booked. I think he would be interested in it, but he's really busy." Indeed, Burton will soon be working on a feature-length version of Frankenweenie (the original short film from 1984 was what made Reubens decide that Burton was perfect for directing the first Pee-wee Herman movie) and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
Reubens is still searching, but remains optimistic. "I think it's really just a question of the right person coming along. I've had opportunities to do [the films] with people who didn't feel like the right people. It just takes one person."