Hey Arnold! creator Craig Bartlett has announced that the newest movie based on his beloved cartoon series, Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie, would debut next Thanksgiving.
On a San Diego Comic-Con panel celebrating 25 years of NickToons, Bartlett said that they've started production on the film and showed off some of the concept art. Slight changes have been made to Arnold and his crew to modernize their looks — the last time Hey Arnold! had something new was in 2002 for the Hey Arnold! film — but Bartlett said he thinks fans will get a kick out of just how meta the movie is.
"It's very meta and it answers just about every fan question I've ever gotten from fans over the years," Bartlett said. "The biggest question the movie will answer is who Arnold's parents are and what happened to them."
In one of the photos Bartlett showed off, Arnold's parents could be seen standing on an island, and according to the creator, had just swung over a waterfall on a vine. When the moderator joked that neither Arnold's mother or father had the main character's iconic football-shaped head, Bartlett said that would also be answered.
"I cant't give away too much information, and I don't want to spoil anything, but literally every question I've ever been asked will be answered," Bartlett said. "I've collected all of the questions over the years!"
Bartlett said that he remembered when the internet was still in its infancy, receiving emails from kids through Nickelodeon's site in 1996 asking why Helga was so mean, and of course, where were Arnold's parents?
"I was getting angry emails back then," Bartlett joked. "Imagine if the show had come out when Twitter was around!"
"It's very meta and it answers just about every fan question"
As much as Bartlett joked about the reaction young kids had to his show at the time, he said that it was the fans constant badgering of Nickelodeon that kept Hey Arnold! going and he didn't think that would ever happen. It was something that his former co-worker and Rugrats co-creator Arlene Klasky echoed when talking about the legacy her show has had.
"The only thing that would make me happy is more Rugrats episodes," Klasky said. "I want to do more episodes and it's great seeing people ask the network for that."
Klasky said that she never thought Rugrats would become the sensation that it still is, retelling the story of how she came up with the idea while dealing with her own toddlers. She said that the concept for the series was originally supposed to be a segment on Sesame Street and it wasn't until much later that she thought it could be a cartoon series; a world she was used to being in after spending years writing on The Simpsons.
"I didn't think Rugrats would ever be as successful as it was — or win an Emmy," Klasky said. "But I also didn't think The Wild Thornberries or Rocket Power would be successful and Nickelodeon proved me wrong each time."
While Klasky would like to work on more Rugrats, she said she's perfectly content with the show remaining an incredibly important part of people's lives. Especially those, she added, that are watching it with their own children now. During the panel, Klasky said her favorite moment she ever had with a Rugrats fan happened during a college visit and it reiterated just how special the series was.
"This woman came by at the very end and she said, with tears in her eyes — and it was really over the top and so sincere — 'Thank you for everything you've done on informing my life on everything I do,'" Klasky said. "That's a lot of responsibility and I think about that moment often."
All of Polygon's Comic-Con coverage can be found here.