Thursday, March 12, 2015

Not So Smooth Sailing: Genndy Tartakovsky Leaves 'Popeye'?


With the teaser for Hotel Transylvania 2 now out, Moviefone interviewed director and animation wizard Genndy Tartakovsky...

They inevitably asked him about Popeye, since that was set to be his next project for Sony Pictures Animation after Hotel Transylvania 2. A film that would be out maybe in 2016 or 2017. Here's what he had to say...

"We definitely won't be talking about "Hotel 3," with me at least. Popeye, at least, we put up a great screening, everybody really liked that sizzle, we got a positive reaction. I was in love with what we were doing, but I think the studio is going through changes and I don't know if they want to make the Popeye that I want to make. So they've got to make a decision. Right now, I'm off that project and moving on to the other one that we soft-announced, which is Can You Imagine? which is an original idea of my own and a very personal story. It was hard to let Popeye go, but that's the business."

While I'm happy that Tartakovsky is focusing on Can You Imagine?, I am really not happy with the idea of him leaving Popeye. It's very possible that Sony can still make what he wanted to make without him necessarily directing, but Sony could also have it reimagined in a way that's not like his. Or worst-case scenario, canceled.

Sony had problems with Popeye from the start. It was announced around 2011/2012-ish, and it then got a fall 2014 release date. Then it was removed from its release date sometime in early 2013, as it seemed to hit the wall known as "story problems". But then last autumn, it seemed like it was in great shape. We got that cool animation test that showed exactly what Tartakovsky wanted for it, and it was cool!

To be honest, Tartakovsky directing was what had me interested from the get-go. In this day and age of Hollywood soullessly reviving classic characters for a quick buck (*cough*Alvin and the Chipmunks *cough* Smurfs*cough*), this film, Blue Sky's Peanuts, and this studio's own Smurfs reboot were a breath of fresh air. Finally, current films based on these characters and properties that are actually respectful of the source material! I was looking forward to all three!

Popeye looked like classic Golden Age slapstick and craziness, it looked very respectful of the Fleischer cartoons. If we won't be getting anything like that, I'll be so upset...

If we have to wait even longer for a Genndy-directed or Genndy-like Popeye, I'll be less unhappy but still a bit bummed. That stems from the fact that they showed test animation and implied that it was on the horizon. But then again I shouldn't say that, for Sony Animation didn't ink any release date for the film. The year 2016 might've been thrown around, but Sony never officially said that the film would definitely be released in 2016. Or 9/23/2016, a date they claimed a while back.

So if we have to wait for the Popeye we want, fine. If it has to go, I'll be sad. The sailor man is one of animation history's funniest, most iconic, most endearing characters. He and his world deserve to be done justice in his theatrical animated feature film debut. The same goes for the Looney Tunes (they weren't done justice... TWICE.), Tom & Jerry (they weren't done justice), and swaths of other classic cartoons, cartoon shows, and comic strips.

We shall see, but for now, I am a bit worried. What do you make of this news?

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