In 1989, both O'Hanlon (on February 11) and Blanc (on July 10) died during production of the film, which was dedicated to both their memories. The film serves as the series finale to the television show. It was the last official Jetsons production until the 2017 direct-to-video animated film The Jetsons & WWE: Robo-WrestleMania!. Jetsons: The Movie was released by Universal Pictures on July 6, 1990, and grossed $20.3 million in its theatrical run.
In the late 21st century, Spacely Sprockets and Spindles has opened a new mining colony on an asteroid. The proposed project is meant to increase productivity at 1/10 the cost of making the items on Earth. However, the factory continues to be sabotaged by someone or something. As Cosmo Spacely (voiced by Mel Blanc and Jeff Bergman) checks up on the "Orbiting-Ore Asteroid" again, the latest head of the factory, Alexander Throttlebottom, has run off, making four vice presidents of the new plant that Spacely has lost so far. Fearing for his company (and profits), Spacely names George Jetson (voiced by O'Hanlon and Bergman) as Throttlebottom's successor and sends George and his family to the plant. While the family is thoroughly upset at being thrown from their normal lifestyle (and the plans that they had that day), they set up apartments on the adjoining apartment community to the asteroid and its neighboring shopping complex. While it takes the family time to adjust, Elroy Jetson (voiced by Patric Zimmerman) meets a robot boy named Teddy-2 (voiced by Dana Hill), with whom he first is at odds, but eventually befriends.
Teddy-2's father, Rudy-2 (voiced by Ronnie Schell), is the plant engineer and shows George around. Meanwhile, Judy Jetson (voiced by Tiffany) is having a hard time adjusting, and accepting the fact that she lost her chance at a date with rock star Cosmic Cosmo (voiced by Steve McClintock) (which a friend of hers later takes), but soon feels better after meeting a teenaged boy named Apollo Blue (voiced by Paul Kreppel). George soon figures that he is ready to set the plant running again, and Mr. Spacely is all set to see the plant working full-throttle, and soon to churn out the one-millionth Spacely sprocket. However, the opening-day festivities give way to panic as the factory is sabotaged once again. Over the next several days, George and Rudy-2 try to fix things, but the problems persist, to the point that Mr. Spacely heads on up to check on things. Thinking he has to take charge, George stays overnight, only to fall asleep and be taken off by the mysterious saboteurs. Elroy, Teddy-2, and their neighbor Fergie Furbelow (voiced by Russi Taylor) sneak into the plant, and meet Squeep (voiced by Frank Welker), a member of a furry alien race known as Grungees.
Squeep tells them (with Teddy-2 translating) that the factory is actually drilling into his people's community, which is based inside the asteroid. Soon, Jane, Judy, Apollo, Rudy-2, and Astro show up, and realize what is happening, as well. George is found hog-tied in the Grungees' colony, and although he soon realizes just what the factory is doing, Spacely does not. Seeing his factory at a stand-still, he starts it up (despite that it is the night) (after disconnecting Rudy-2, who tries to stop him), nearly burying Elroy and Squeep alive under rubble, and prompting everyone in the asteroid to get top-side, where George manages to shut down the factory and show his boss exactly what he is doing. After some talk, when George finally stands up to his boss, telling him that all he cares about is money, they come to an agreement: the Grungees will run the plant, and create new Spacely sprockets through recycling old ones (thus stopping the further destruction of the Grungees' homeworld).
Spacely Sprockets reaches the millionth sprocket, and when George asks about being vice president, Spacely retorts, stating, "he's lucky that he'll be getting his old job back". Only when pressured by everyone else does he reluctantly promote him to vice president (without a raise). However, George knows that with the Grungees now running the plant, he is no longer needed as head of the asteroid and will have to return home. The Jetsons then bid their new friends a tearful goodbye, including Fergie, who attempted to stow away aboard the Jetsons' car. They then head back to their apartment on Earth. As the family passes over the factory, the Grungees arrange themselves to form the words: "THANKS GEORGE", as a final grateful goodbye to him for saving their home.
A problem that arose during production of the movie was the advanced age and poor health of many of the voice actors from the series; all of the major cast members except Don Messick (himself in his early 60s) were over 65 years old by this point. Daws Butler, the voice of Elroy, was the first to die; he died in 1988 of a sudden heart attack and did not record any lines for the film. To replace Butler, voice coordinator Kris Zimmerman brought in her then-husband Patric, then a relative unknown, to fill the role of Elroy. George O'Hanlon died of a stroke on February 11, 1989 after he finished recording; Romano later recalled that he could record only an hour at a time due to ill health and had his final stroke while at the studio. Mel Blanc, the voice of Mr. Spacely, would also die during the film's production on July 10, 1989, following a long battle with emphysema and coronary artery disease brought on by age and decades of smoking. Jeff Bergman, already on the payroll for bit parts in the film, filled in roles left unfinished when Blanc and O'Hanlon died; the film is dedicated to the memory of O'Hanlon and Blanc.
Janet Waldo, the original voice of Judy Jetson, recorded the role for the film but her voice was later replaced by singer Tiffany (though she still provided the voice of a robot secretary). Studio executives hoped that Tiffany's involvement would result in a stronger box office performance. Displeased with the casting change, voice director Andrea Romano had her name removed from the finished film. Tiffany said her singing voice was what initially drew the attention of Barbera. Tiffany sang three songs used in the film ("I Always Thought I'd See You Again", "You and Me" and "Home"), which are on the soundtrack album along with "Jetsons' Rap" by XXL and tracks by other artists. Tiffany did not write any of the songs, but she cited "I Always Thought I’d See You Again" as one of her favorites to sing.
Jetsons: The Movie was originally slated for a 1989 release, but was delayed to avoid competition with Disney's The Little Mermaid, United Artists' All Dogs Go to Heaven (which were both released on the same day), Universal's own Back to the Future Part II and Warner Bros.' National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. Universal released The Wizard in its place.
The film was first released on VHS and Laserdisc on October 25, 1990. On April 28, 2009, it was released on DVD - in the United States and re-released to DVD (in new packaging art) on September 8, 2015 and was aired in its original aspect ratio on Universal HD on February 2, 2007. The film is also available via digital download on the Sony Entertainment Network and the iTunes Store. A Region B Blu-ray was released on June 6, 2016 in the United Kingdom.
Jetsons: The Movie received a 21% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 14 reviews; the average rating is 4.3/10. The film is often both criticized and praised for its messages about protecting the environment, and observing ethical practices when doing business in developing countries. The movie is also noted for its early use of CGI including digital ink and paint; the technique had already been used in Disney's The Black Cauldron (1985), The Great Mouse Detective (1986), Oliver & Company (1988) and The Little Mermaid (1989), as well as some of Hanna-Barbera's own 1980s television productions. The animation artwork follows the lead of the series in its art direction and character designs, although additional flourishes such as full animation and form shadows on the characters were added for the film. Siskel & Ebert gave this film two thumbs down, citing both the story and the animation as having "no imagination whatsoever". Ebert later named the film as one of the ten worst films of 1990. Critics have also criticized the performance of Tiffany as Judy Jetson.
The film opened at #4, behind Die Hard 2, Days of Thunder and Dick Tracy, with a weekend gross of $5 million, for an average of $3,220 from 1,562 theaters. The film then lost 43% of its audience in its second weekend, falling to #10 with a second weekend gross of $2.9 million, averaging $1,820 from 1,566 theaters, and bringing its ten-day gross to $10.9 million. It ended up grossing just $20.3 million in the United States. However, the film performed better on home video.
The soundtrack was released by MCA Records on May 25, 1990. The film's score, composed by John Debney, was left off the commercial release but was later issued as a promotional album with his score for the television film Jonny's Golden Quest (1993). "I Always Thought I'd See You Again" by Tiffany was released as a single. Composer Mark Mancina helped on writing the songs for the film.
- "We're the Jetsons" (Jetsons' Rap) – XXL
- "With You All the Way" – Shane Sutton
- "You and Me" – Tiffany
- "I Always Thought I'd See You Again" – Tiffany
- "Maybe Love" – Steven McClintock
- "Stayin' Together" – Shane Sutton
- "Through the Blue" – Gayle Rose
- "Mall Theme" – John Duarte
- "Home" – Tiffany
- "Jetsons Main Title" – The Stunners
During the summer of the film's release, Kool-Aid had a tie-in where Kool-Aid points could be redeemed for a red Jetsons car featuring the cast. However, the promotion was not carried by some theaters, and instead of a red Jetsons car, the points were redeemed for a miniature film poster. Wendy's restaurants had a Jetsons kids' meal tie-in. When clips were shown on television, scenes with George had re-dubbed lines from an unnamed voice actor. The commercials showed Wendy's founder Dave Thomas either in a theater watching the movie or at his restaurant promoting the film. A tie-in simulator ride titled "The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera" opened at Universal Studios Florida one month before the movie's release. In it, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera state that the Jetsons will star in their next project (presuming the film), which angers Dick Dastardly and Muttley and causes them to kidnap Elroy, and Yogi Bear and Boo-Boo Bear must save him by riding through the worlds of The Flintstones, Scooby-Doo, and The Jetsons, and Dastardly and Muttley are arrested. Merchandise based on the film and other Hanna-Barbera-related stuff was sold at the ride's gift shop. Also in 1990, Ralston released an apple and cinnamon–flavored Jetsons Cereal.