Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Sony Stop-Mo

Sony Pictures Animation is beginning work on a live action/stop-motion hybrid… You heard that right!

As Variety reported earlier today, it'll be directed by Robot Chicken executive producers John Harvatine and Eric Towner, and produced by Jared Hess (director of Napoleon Dynamite) and Eric Robinson. Hess is also writing, alongside Family Guy's Ricky Blitt, actor Hubbel Palmer and former Disney TV writer Chris Bowman (who both directed a 2007 film called Humble Pie, which Palmer starred in)…

First off… A stop-motion film from one of the big studios? Well, to be fair, it seems the only stop-motion elements in it are the two main characters. Sony Animation's president Michelle Raimo Kouyate revealed that they are brought into the real world, following the Smurfs route. While I'd love for the film to be mainly be done in stop-motion, it'll be interesting to see two characters done in that medium carry a live action movie. Also, with Robot Chicken people behind it, I have a good feeling about the tone and the humor.

The title? Superbago. It's about two wannabe superheroes… That's it. It's common for animation studios to give us one detail about the movie when it's 2-5 years away.

What interests me more about this film is the fact it will, according to Kouyate, aim for an older crowd. That implies to me that it won't really be a family film, maybe it'll tread PG-13 or maybe R-rated waters. We need more adults-only feature animation in this field of family-friendly animated films, and a comedy about superheroes is a good place to start. An irreverent spoof on the genre would be perfect, I mean perfect for a PG-13 or R-rated animated film.

Then you might bring up DreamWorks' Megamind, another animated film that spoofed superhero films. While I understand that a good amount of people felt the film was a pretty good offering from DreamWorks, I thought otherwise. It being a family film held it back from being a really funny satire of superhero films, and it came out at the right time too. But I felt it didn't go all out, and it didn't know whether it wanted to be a giddy, all-out farce or a more serious piece. The result, for me, was a bore. I'm hoping this film on the other hand is what this should have been.

Right now, aside from this, the only just-for-adults mainstream animated film on the horizon is Nitrogen's Sausage Party, which is going to be released by Sony in the summer of 2016. It's hard to gauge whenever this will come out, given the fact that Sony Animation has a boatload of projects on their development slate that are awaiting to be given to go-head. The studio has an undetermined film set for 9/23/2016 and another for 9/22/2017. Films like Genndy Tartakovsky's Popeye seem like they'll fill those slots. Go to their site and you'll see that and Lauren's Faust's Medusa as the main attractions on their upcoming slate bar, not Kelly Asbury's Kazorn & the Unicorn, which used to be listed on it.

Kazorn & the Unicorn, along with Tartakovsky's original story Can You Imagine?, are in a separate "upcoming films" tab. It implies to me that Medusa and Popeye will be the 2016 and 2017 releases respectively.

This new project won't come for a little while, but I do hope it gets the green light and moves forward because it would be great to see one of the big mainstream animation studios like Sony Animation release an adults-only animated film, or one that's not rated G or PG. Of course, quality has to come first or else you get something that only pushes adult animation back another 20 years. It is also very possible that this won't be in that territory, but will be more like Rango, a film that may be rated PG but was definitely not the most family-friendly PG film out there.

In short, I love the direction Sony Pictures Animation is heading. Genndy Tartakovsky and Lauren Faust, original projects, and now possibly adult animation… I'd say there's a lot to look forward to from this studio!

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