Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Sheep Surge: Sony Animation's 'The Lamb' Moves Forward?

One of Sony Animation's in-development projects is seemingly moving forward...

Sony Animation has been through some ups and downs lately, namely some changes in upper management. When these changes come, slates change too. Some projects in development might get canned, others don't move forward, while different ones are favored. We certainly saw that at DreamWorks when they had to decide what had to hit the back-burner or possibly the can when whittling down their slate. We also saw former Disney Chairman Rich Ross bark death to fairy tales and 2D films when he was put in that position at the company five years ago, only to grab his walking papers two years later.

After management changes at Sony Animation, Genndy Tartakovsky's retro take on Popeye got canned. We're still getting a film based on Popeye (other higher-ups like Avi Arad want it to happen), but it's not going to be the film that Tartakovsky had in mind. I reckon other projects that entered development at the studio got hit, too. It seems that Sony has a few features they want to do, but nothing is set in the stone.

Recently, the studio moved Untitled Animated Smurfs from summer 2016 to spring 2017. It's still unknown whether they'll release a currently-untitled film on September 23, 2016 or not. I reckon they won't, considering the Smurf delay and the fact that Warner Bros. is threatening them with Lego spin-off Ninjago, a film that would obviously be a hit. From the outside, it looks like nothing that's in development is even ready for fall 2016. Again, they delayed Smurfs in order to give its director Kelly Asbury and his crew more time so I wouldn't rule it out.

One of the projects that was inching closer to production than most of the other ones was The Lamb, a project of author/former MGM exec/preacher DeVon Franklin.

Timothy Reckart, director of the Academy Award-nominated 2012 short film Head Over Heels, has been named director of the film, which implies that it's really moving along. We knew since last fall that it would be a faith-based story that will also be about the Nativity, but here's the current synopsis (via Variety): "The Lamb tells the story of a young sheep whose destiny is to change the world. It’s based on an original pitch by Tom Sheridan and will be produced by DeVon Franklin though his Franklin Entertainment banner. Jenny Marchick will oversee the project at the studio."

Reckart himself said...

"I can’t imagine a more exciting project for my animated feature debut. The story is profound and moving, the characters have deep, powerful desires, the pastoral imagery is gorgeous, and it’s a film that can only be done in animation. And I also get to work with DeVon Franklin and the team at Sony Pictures Animation, who have been so supportive of my efforts to develop a bold, creative direction for the project."

It's exciting to see Reckart getting the opportunity to direct a feature, and it's an interesting film to put forward since it's more faith-based and we don't really see those kinds of animated films in the mainstream market. (Leaving out the two VeggieTales flicks, last one I can think of is The Prince of Egypt.) Hopefully the end result is something really good and impressive, as it does - I think - have potential. Look at The Prince of Egypt. That film might not exactly be my cup of tea in terms of the writing, but you have to marvel at how the DreamWorks artists pulled it off in the visual department. Let's hope Sony Animation and Mr. Reckart do the same and tell a good story too, and not make another silly CG talking animals romp.

What are your thoughts on Sony Animation opting to do this film? What are your thoughts on the project itself and the Head Over Heels director being at the helm? Sound off below!

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