‘Jonny Quest’ gets Zac Efron but loses its name?

April 08, 2009 | 6:15 p.m.

Zac Efron

I’ve written before about my fondness for “Jonny Quest,” both the classic animated series and the revival script by Dan Mazeau that has been stirring much interest in Hollywood.

Now it looks like the rumors are true and that the plum role is going to Zac Efron, the 21-year-old pretty-boy star who is hoping the action role will help him dance away from youth-pop vehicles and whip up a career-redefining franchise in the Indiana Jones mode. (Dwayne Johnson is circling the project as well and would be the brawny version of pilot and man-of-action Race Bannon.)

The choice of Efron is going to stir up fans of the classic Quest series because, well, Jonny was just an 11-year-old in the prime-time cartoons of the 1960s that so deftly pulled on  Milton Canniff, Ian Fleming and Rudyard Kipling for their spirit of exotic adventure. I myself think it’s a surprising but interesting choice, and I’m one of the people in town who think Efron (like Justin Timberlake) has a big future ahead of him and that people will look back on his frothy Disney duty as just the early steps in the choreography of his career. Making Jonny older will change the property, to be sure, but maybe it will make it richer as well.

I’m more dismayed by news that folks at Warner Bros. are thinking of jettisoning the name Johnny Quest altogether. Why? I hear the thinking is that the vintage animation roots of “Quest” will somehow pair it in the public mind with “Speed Racer,” which was a major Warners pile-up as blockbuster films go, considering the investment, expectations and critical reception. I’m not surprised because, well, unnuanced thinking in Hollywood is commonplace, and instead of spending the time needed to judge individual properties by their own merits, lots of decision-makers act like my grandmother at the racetrack. “A horse wearing an even number won each of the last two races, so they must be faster…”

I remember the people who predicted “Batman Begins” and the new Batman franchise would be DOA because, clearly, the American public was done with the caped crusader after Joel Schumacher’s odious tips to Gotham City. How’s that going?

Movies make it because of their scripts and their directors and, believe me, the only people who really give any further thought to “Speed Racer” all work on the studio lot in Burbank. I (and a lot of people like me) hope Quest makes it to the big screen with Mazeau’s script, but it’d be a shame if it did so without that prestigious brand name and the legacy of sophisticated adventure that goes with it. Check out this nice montage of the old magic…


— Geoff Boucher



In search of Jonny Quest

Harrison Ford says George Lucas in “think mode” on fifth Indy movie

The lowdow on 13 new remakes of sci-fi classics

“Green Hornet” movie has troubles…and Adam Sandler?

Guy Ritchie talks “Sherlock Holmes”

Zac Efron photo: WireImage

Indiana Jones image courtesy of Lucasfilm and Paramount.




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24 Responses to ‘Jonny Quest’ gets Zac Efron but loses its name?

  1. ZIRA says:

    Zac Efron really needs to be Kira in the Death Note adaptation. Can't Lin Pictures get on that before moving on to Jonny Quest.

  2. briguyx says:

    Well, I hope they don't stick too close to the original animated series. I watched a few episodes a few years ago and now that I'm not a kid, I realized that Jonny never saves himself. Today's audiences need a more active character.
    I would recommend the comic book series of Jonny Quest that Comico put out years ago. Great stories!

  3. You think casting Efron is "interesting" and might make the property "richer"?
    If by richer you mean bigger box office, then perhaps. The only reason anyone is talking about Efron is dollar signs. No one is casting Efron because he's ideal for the role. He's nothing close. This isn't about making JQ a better movie artistically. This is about grabbing as much BO on opening weekend as possible and putting Efron's face on the poster and DVD.
    You should know that.
    This is one of the most cynical casting decisions I've ever heard of.
    Making Jonny 21 also torpedoes much of the story. Why does a 21 year old need a babysitter (Race)? And he's going to be in a much different place emotionally at 21 than at 12. You just can't have it both ways.

  4. Pete says:

    Wow, Warner Bros is so afraid of making good kids movies that they have to completely change everything about Jonny Quest? I really believe that if they would just believe in their material and let it live in its era and make a great film, the revenue will follow. Well, it would for any other studio, but Warners has no idea how to market a kids movie that isn't Looney Toons.
    If they change the name and make him older then I guess they can still make a Jonny Quest movie sometime. Don't fear a kid buddy action adventure film set in the '60s.

  5. The Unpromised One says:

    First Hollywood ruins the Dragon Ball franchise, and then I hear that there's going to be an Avatar Live Action Movie directed by M. Night Shyamalan (sp?), and now they're going to ruin another childhood memory by hiring ZAC EFRON to play Johnny Quest!?!?!?!?!?!? I swear to god casting the star from High School Musical just to make lots of money has got to be the single WORST decision from a Hollywood producer I have ever heard of… Probably NOT as bad as the abomination known as Dragonball Evolution, but still a pretty bad decision. I genuinely hope he has more to offer than spazzing out and going into a singing frenzy.
    NOTE: In before M. Night Shyamalan adds a character with some variation of the name "The Unpromised One" and kills him on one of his movies because I dared criticize him. It would be an awesome tweest indeed lol.

  6. This is bad. A large part of what made Jonny Quest unique and work was his age (around 11). I say drop the name. A 21 year old playing Jonny Quest is not going to be Jonny Quest.

  7. Sam says:

    God, this is horrible. Absolutely idiotic and done with no respect for the source material. Just create a new character and situations since that's what they are doing anyway and call it something else. Like Lucas did when he couldn't get the rights to Flash Gordon so he created STAR WARS.

  8. Joshua Lieberman says:

    You guys need to check out Jassim Lone to play Hadji. Plus I think he'll do well playing opposite Zac. I directed Jassim 6 months ago I think he's a very talented actor.

  9. Frittz says:

    Lot's of people ask "who would watch it or even know who Jonny Quest is now?" Well guys in their 40's like me who loved it as a kid, who would take their kids and nephews and nieces for starters. Then there are my kids, 11 year old son and teenage daughters who have and still do watch the original cartoons on our dvds. They know who these characters are, what they should look like, and what is true to the storyline. This stuff is important if you want to make money, which is why they make movies, and if you want to tell a good story, which is why they should make movies. A 21 year old character is just nonsense. The Rock as Race Bannon is nonsense. Even my 11 year old says so. The guy from Burn Notice is who you want, and though Clooney is really too old, he would be great. Sounds like they are on their way to another Wild Wild West, Lost in Space, The Avengers, Speed Racer debacle. I love movies, I have all my life and I am one of those who purchase the shows I am nostalgic about from childhood and have my kids watch them, because current TV is a wasteland. I am the one who purchases the movie tickets for my kids and buys the dvd, so I wonder if they should not at least consider the baby boomer's tastes and opinions when making something they hope will make them a pile of cash.

  10. fatesfortune says:

    As someone who watched and really enjoyed the Real Adventures of Jonny Quest, rather than the original hokey series, I find the casting to be rather exciting. It will allow for Jonny to have an older and therefore more developed character like was seen in the newer 90's series. I think that while Zac Efron has been in a slew of Disney movies directed more to the preteen population, this will allow him to direct his acting skills towards an older audience. Whether or not his acting skills will be up to par will be for us to decide when the movie comes out. However if he does well enough, I could see his movie turning out really well and I'm very excited for this.

  11. Heid says:

    can´t believe that zac efron is going to do something like that….horrible

  12. Choco-Kanyon -Man says:

    Translating the original JQ 1964 series to the screen must be done with the same heart as you watched it the first time around on dvd or tv. If the source music to JQ (composed by Hoyt Curtin) is dramatically changed then no doubt that i can forsee another classic series will go down as another pre packaged overly produced series without a heart. If you can't feel it for what it once was then wats the point of making it. When Superman 1978 came out, i was amazed how well it was made, the music became a classic. Changing up the details of the animated series will only help to put nails on its coffin faster than the latest disasters as of late. Waaaaaaa hehhehe. lol Anyone who wants to create a new in house production for classic tv series -contact me after we have a new and better civilization on Mars. hehe!

  13. mar says:

    i would be relieved if they dropped the name. zac efron spells death & i really dont want to see an awesome cartoon whored out by hollywood. all the hype with fast food resturaunts 7-11's etc. the series was perfect the way it was. i would see it if the detached the project from the original series though. Why not just make a venture bros movie?

  14. Elyse says:

    Wow, I think this cast just took a massive dump on my childhood. Why not someone like Josh Huchertson, who clearly as the talent and the look, as Johny Quest? And Dwanye Johnson as Race, not only does he not fit the character but his melodramatic acting might be enough to ruin the whole movie. I am not going to over analyze how bad this movie is going to be. I will probably be seeing it, but I know for a fact that this movie is clearly going to deter a lot of fans of the classic television series.

  15. Intan Dzulkefli says:

    I've always been a fan of the Jonny Quest series from the original 60's show to the most recent (not as successful I might add) 'The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest' where Jonny is much older than 11 (I think). So I was excited when I heard about a live-action movie in the making; that is until I learned about the tentative cast chosen.
    I have no doubt that Zac Efron is a talented actor. It's just that personally I feel that he is not 'right' to play Jonny. I just cannot see him as Jonny Quest at all. Personally if they want to produce an adult Jonny Quest movie my actor choice for Jonny would be Chris Pine (the guy *really* looks like Jonny imho) and I believe he has the right spunk for the role. Or perhaps casting Pine would be overkill since he is already attached to another famous franchise, but my point is pick someone else but Zac Efron. An unknown who would be well suited for the role would be a better choice. And horror oh horror- they want to cast Dwayne Johnson aka The Rock as Race Bannon. One word from me: NO

  16. Ai~ says:

    Most of the people who have commented here seem to have NEVER heard of Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures, which ran in the late nineties over Cartoon Network for two seasons. It was that series which was my first exposure to Jonny Quest (since I wasn't born when the classic 60's cartoons aired), and I LOVED that series. Based on the fanfiction and fanart circulating, it was a fairly successful fandom as well. It would be awesome if the movie would pick up that characterization. And it better keep the name! No point in doing a JQ movie if it wouldn't faithfully take on the nuances of the show!

  17. s says:

    i watched jonny quest back in the day, and still do on cartoon network..
    zac effron would be totally cool in this flick, he's actually a stellar little actor…
    some of you people need to get over the whole, 'zac's fine' thing, and move on. watch him in '17 again', he's got skills…
    and i love the idea that jonny will be older, cause frankly, if we are taking it from cartoon to real world, i dont want to see some little kid in a movie… i dont watch kids movies, and making jonny and haj young again, will put it in the whole 'agent cody banks' catagory, and NO ONE would want to see it….
    but i also think that putting dwayne johnson in the race bannon slot, would do the same thing. it would put the movie in the 'race to witch mountain' slot…
    i'm happy with the new concept so far, making it current is good, cause than i can take an adult companion with me, without begging…

  18. Susan says:

    Haven't heard any more about this – hopefully, it will be getting either the axe, or they will drop Efron to go with a more sensible casting choice.
    Why, why, WHY haven't directors learned from such bombs as "Underdog", "Josie & the Pussycats" and especially "Speed Racer" that YOU DON'T MESS WITH THE SOURCE MATERIAL???

  19. RH says:

    I’m kinda between the two, here…

    1. Yeah, Rock as Race? NO. If you’re not going to cast a guy who looks anything like the original, at least cast somebody who would be believable. Acting skill wouldn’t be bad, either.

    2. “Johnny Quest: The Real Adventures”–especially the second season which was written by fans of the original & ignored the middle redo that was so bad CN doesn’t even run it on Boomerang (first season treated it as canon)–might be actually quite good as backstory, if they’re going to age Johnny up. Given the currently-cast actor’s age–perhaps to about when he’s starting university? That’d place it a few years after TRA, but since Jesse would be around it’d make perfect sense if Race (her father) would be, too.

    3. Losing the name isn’t going to save it, if it’s of the same quality as the recent flops. Would they have been significantly better movies if they’d not pretended to be based on their (alleged) source material?

  20. Danette says:

    A 21 year old is absolutely too old for this movie as a fan of Johnny Quest I think this is just blasphemy.

  21. Mindy says:

    Those who know Zac Efron only as the kid from High School Musical haven’t kept up with his movies since then. I have and think that he is a great actor in any type of movie, not just musicals. Also, a grown up JQ would be a new and possibly better concept. Let him grown up and mature and get better, just like Indiana Jones, from the old series to the movies with Harrison Ford. They used different actors to portray different stages in life and things worked out wonderfully there.

  22. Chad Groenhout says:

    I think they need to get Ewan McGregor for Dr. Quest. I think he would be a good fit.

  23. Augustus Howard says:

    Those of you giving accolades to the later version of Jonny Quest over the original must have not SEEN the originals. The original version was more believable while the later version was all hoky and just too cartoonish. A man made of rock from the days of the Roman Empire knowing about life in the USA in the 1960's, how could he? He was made of rock but acted like gray normal person. Race was turned into a wimp and the new Hadji was also a wimp. All of them cracked jokes in time of danger and just Talked TOO MUCH TO BE REAL. I bought the original series and look at these cartoons often. I would never buy the newer version as it is just awful compared to the original. And a movie was never made unless they did and didn't release it. How does the saying go, if it isn't broken don't fix it. The original Jonny Quest, if a movie is to be made, should be done with an 11 year old and please exclude Hardrock!!

  24. alan says:

    I think Harrison Ford would make a decent Doctor Quest!

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