Friday, January 22, 2016
Adding a Rudder: Sony Animation's 'Popeye' Gets a Writer
Sony Animation's Popeye has been an interesting and frustrating project...
The updating of the classic, iconic spinach-eating, brute-beating sailor man was originally set to be directed by animation genius Genndy Tartakovsky, creator of the shows Dexter's Laboratory and Samurai Jack. He got his kicks on the Sony route when directing the long-gestating Hotel Transylvania, a mediocre film he made somewhat watchable due to the direction he took the animation in. It was a good-sized hit, and spawned an even bigger sequel. He won't be back for part tre, and it's possible he may depart Sony Animation altogether. For starters, Popeye was taken from him.
Sony's executives, particularly the ones in charge before the hack of 2014 occurred, told Genndy straight up - after an exciting sizzle reel went over very well - that they disliked what he was doing with it. After the hack, new management took over, but it looks like they won't be resurrecting Genndy's film. Genndy is now at work on Can You Imagine?, but given the way Sony Animation is currently going (for starters, one of Sony Pictures' heads is the infamously filmmaker-unfriendly Tom Rothman), I am in rare pessimism mode when it comes to discussing that project.
The film now has a writer, indicating that it's going to set sail once again. The writer in question is T.J. Fixman of Ratchet & Clank fame, and that's pretty promising. Those games have quite the sense of humor and then some, so hopefully he will do something really cool with Popeye that honors the classic Fleischer cartoons. Genndy's version was very much a Fleischer-esque Popeye movie, and apparently the higher-ups disliked it for that very reason. I guess it needed more pop songs and fart jokes in order to suit them? I'm not sure what the current team wants out of it.
This is why I can't get my hopes up too high. I have a bad feeling that the higher ups will take his actual script - which is probably going to be pretty decent - and run it through a million script "doctors" and "polishers" before it becomes bland Redbox fodder. Again, with what Sony is going through right now, I wouldn't rule it out. After all, when he was at Fox, Rothman was responsible for not only nearly destroying the X-Men film franchise, but also giving us the Alvin and the Hipmunks movies.
Anyways, here's hoping the sailor man gets his due on the big screen in feature-length form. I'd love for a crazy miracle where Genndy comes back to do it, but that's a pipe dream.
What do you think? Is this good news for Popeye? Or would you rather the project in its current state sink? Sound off below!