Groening, Brooks, Jean keep franchise fresh

It took 18 years for “The Simpsons” to move from the smallscreen to theaters, but the wait was worth it: To date, “The Simpsons Movie” has grossed nearly $183 million in domestic box office receipts and $341 million internationally.

What’s more, “The Simpsons Movie” was met with mostly favorable reviews from critics — and more important, the franchise’s fans, a notoriously picky bunch.

And back on TV, “The Simpsons” is having a stellar season on Fox, with Sunday night ratings up around 15% over last year.

Not bad stats for a show that, if human, would be old enough to vote. “The Simpsons’” longevity is unprecedented; no other half-hour comedy has lasted as long.

Under the leadership of Groening, Brooks and day-to-day showrunner Jean, “The Simpsons” remains arguably as fresh now as it was 18 years ago, even as society and many of the show’s targets have changed.

“The Simpsons” also remains a pop cultural icon — witness the media frenzy over the movie’s various marketing stunts, such as the rebranding of several 7-Eleven convenience stores across the country into Kwik-E Marts. Next up: A ride at both Universal Studios theme-park locations, and the “Simpsons Movie” DVD release.

Point of view

“I was here during the first season of the show, and I never thought I’d experience that feeling again — but I did,” Jean says. “My biggest fear all through production (of the feature) was that we have such good will with our fans, and we didn’t want to squander that. But we had a real good response, and people are happy that we did it. … It’s like the No. 1 movie in the history of Chile.”

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