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Why We Never Got To See A Sequel To The Simpsons Movie

Hopes, rumors, and then actual news of a movie based on the long-running TV classic The Simpsons floated around for years before The Simpsons Movie was released in 2007. It was worth the wait. A hilarious animated adventure with a big story befitting the big screen (Springfield is placed under a dome), the film made more than $500 million at the worldwide box office. It's been 10 years since everyone's favorite four-fingered Springfield residents proved they could make the jump from television—so how come they haven't made The Simpsons Movie 2 yet?

The writers only want to do it if they've got a good idea

The show's writers and producers don't want to attempt another big-screen project just for the sake of doing it. It's such a monumental project, with millions of dollars at stake and millions of fans with exacting standards, that they'll only make another Simpsons movie if they've got a really good idea—one that's really worth a 90-minute treatment. During a Simpsons panel at the 2016 San Diego Comic-Con, writer-producer Al Jean addressed the possibility of doing another Simpsons movie. "We talk about it, but if we do it we only want to do it if it's going to be really good," Jean said. "We would never do it just to cash in, so if it comes out, it's because we believe in it."

They had a good sequel idea and repurposed it for TV

At one point, the writers actually thought they had a great idea for the next Simpsons Movie. In an episode initially conceived as the 24th season finale, Kang and Kodos, the humongous, booming-voiced aliens that have appeared in numerous "Treehouse of Horror" Halloween specials, kidnap the Simpson family from "Dizzneeland" and take them to their distant home plant of Rigel 7, where Homer is nearly eaten. 

Al Jean, who co-wrote the episode with David Mirkin, decided with Simpsons executive producer James L. Brooks that the plot was so ambitious that they should use it for the next Simpsons Movie. "But then," Jean told Entertainment Weekly, "we were worried that people might think it's an idea that's not canonical"—because the plot is so far gone from the generally realistic scenarios of The Simpsons. The script went back into the episode pile and aired as "The Man Who Came to Be Dinner" in 2015.

They have too many ideas

Perhaps the real problem isn't that the Simpsons writers don't have a good idea for a sequel...it's that they can't pick just one. For example, before they settled on the plot of the first Simpsons Movie, the writers floated several large-scale, movie-worthy concepts. The fourth season episode "Kamp Krusty," in which Bart and Lisa attend a terrifying, decrepit summer camp that descends into nightmarish chaos, was nearly a movie. Matt Groening wanted to make a Fantasia parody called Simptasia, consisting of short animated sequences set to music. And before his death in 1998, Phil Hartman planned on making a live-action film about his Simpsons character, B-movie actor Troy McClure.

Matt Groening isn't thrilled with the idea of making another movie

Any Simpsons movie has to get the sign-off from Simpsons creator and executive producer Matt Groening. Even 30 years after his characters debuted on The Tracey Ullman Show, he's still very much involved with any and all major decisions affecting his prized creation. And as far as a sequel goes, he's in no rush. Why? The first one was a grind. 

In a 2009 interview, Groening said the first movie was an experience that left him "frustrated," in part because he and other members of the creative team "thought it would take two years" to produce "but ended up taking four." While speaking at UCLA Law School in 2013, Groening said that the first film "killed us," adding that The Simpsons Movie "stole animators from the show and drained resources." At the same speaking engagement, Simpsons producer and director David Silverman estimated that another movie would happen in "another 10, 15 years."

There are so many other Simpsons things to do

James L. Brooks, a Simpsons executive producer since the show debuted in 1989, told The Hollywood Reporter that the Simpsons creative team hasn't made another movie because they're "doing a lot of other stuff." Brooks meant that whatever time Simpsons makers have for work outside the show itself is spent on Simpsons-related extracurricular activities, such as a series of live Simpsons shows at the Hollywood Bowl or developing the scores of Simpsons bonus materials for the Simpsons World app.

Because The Simpsons is still on TV

Probably the main impediment preventing The Simpsons' writers, cast, and crew from making another Simpsons movie: The Simpsons. The same people who'd make another movie are already pretty busy making 22 episodes of the show every year. That's a huge workload—episodes take months between conception and full animation, so each is a lengthy and costly endeavor involving a small army of employees. Simpsons producer and director David Silverman told Entertainment Weekly in 2017 that a sequel is "daunting because it really knocked the stuffing out of us to do the movie and the show at the same time." If the crew doesn't want to make a movie at the same time as the show, don't expect that sequel anytime soon: The Simpsons has been renewed to air until at least 2019.

Fox hasn't ordered one yet

While another Simpsons Movie would be a surefire hit and a no-brainer for all involved, the fact remains that studio Twentieth Century Fox hasn't technically asked for one yet. The creative team isn't about to move mountains to make another movie until they're officially asked—and contracts are signed. Otherwise, why work on something that might not get made anytime soon—or ever? Nevertheless, Simpsons writer-producer Al Jean says a movie is in its "earliest stages," which probably means the show's writers are tossing around ideas and getting a game plan together for if and when their corporate bosses ever commission a Simpsons Movie sequel. Keep those stubby yellow fingers crossed!