Fox to Start Production on ‘Three Stooges’ Movie in March

Peter and Bobby Farrelly are still directing, but Jim Carrey and Sean Penn are no longer involved with the project

MGM's dire financial situation is no laughing matter, as the approval of the studio's pre-packaged bankruptcy has led the Farrelly brothers' long-gestating "Three Stooges" movie to imminently land at 20th Century Fox, an individual familiar with the project has confirmed to TheWrap.

The new studio has scheduled a March 14 start date for the slapstick comedy, which will follow the format of the original "Stooges" shorts and be divided into three segments that are each 27 minutes long.

It's certainly questionable whether the Stooges' slap-happy brand of physical comedy will play to younger audiences who may not be familiar with Larry, Moe and Curly. I'm also wary of the intended format, as a single narrative storyline would probably be the most effective way to reintroduce these beloved comedic characters.

The story will follow the Stooges from the time they're dropped off at an orphanage as newborns and the Farrellys are talking to Richard Jenkins about playing the head of the orphanage who is terrorized by the three new arrivals, according to Deadline. The film will follow the blue-collar trio into adulthood as they get the best of the wealthy society matrons who try to exploit them.

The filmmakers will begin casting immediately with the goal to shoot the PG movie for a reasonable budget in Atlanta. Oscar winners Benicio Del Toro and Sean Penn were previously attached to star Moe and Larry, along with Jim Carrey as Curly, but now that the latter two actors have dropped out, only Del Toro remains a possibility.

Peter and Bobby Farrelly will direct from a script they wrote with Mike Cerrone. Conundrum's Bradley Thomas has stuck by the project for more than a decade, and he will produce with Charles B. Wessler. The Farrellys have been involved with the passion project since Warner Bros. bought the feature rights from C3 Entertainment in March 2001.

The film will be executive produced by Earl Benjamin, the gatekeeper of the Stooges estate who also happens to be the stepson of Joe DeRita, a vaudeville vet who was made the sixth member of the comedy troupe.

"The Three Stooges" movie has bounced around Hollywood for years. It was first set up at Columbia Pictures (which produced the classic 1930s Stooges shorts) before moving to Warner Bros. and finally MGM. The Farrellys are based at Fox, so it made sense for the studio to acquire the popular property.