Reel FX is a studio I've kept my eye on for a while.
The Book of Life and the rest of the projects on their slate show that the Dallas-based studio is going to deviate from the norm, both visually and story-wise. The Book of Life looked like concept art come to life, and its director - Jorge Guiterrez - is hard at work on an untitled "kung fu space western" that looks to be a similar endeavor.
Then there's stuff that sounds darker and not-so-family-friendly, like Beasts of Burden and W.I.S.H. Police, and more offbeat stuff like that. Reel FX plans to spend less than $60 million on their features, which is very smart given the experimenting they'll be doing.
Then there's Rock Dog...
It's a co-production with the Chinese-based Mandoo Pictures. As Cartoon Brew notes, it's a Chinese production, but an American studio is doing most of the animation. Huayi Brothers is distributing the picture in China on July 8, 2016, and with a new teaser out, it's an indication that the film - previously in the TBD pool in terms of the release date - is moving forward once again, as it had once been set for this past year. Much like Zootopia and Sing, and several other animated works, the film is set in a world where it's only anthropomorphic animals.
Though set in modern times, the home where the titular Tibetan mastiff comes from appears to be stuck in another era. We got his village, that's very ancient-looking with no tech or modern stuff, and then we got the big modern city... It's an odd, almost The Gods Must Be Crazy-like contrast, and I really like that. It more than differentiates it from previous animated films set in all-animal worlds. It's almost like a mix of Kung Fu Panda and Zootopia.
Plus, from this footage and the previous reel, it doesn't look half-bad. I really hope it gets picked up for US release. I have no idea what distributor is going to handle Reel FX's other projects. Relativity only did Free Birds, and Fox handled The Book of Life. Do they go back to Fox? Is Relativity back on the table now that the company isn't facing hardships anymore? If someone does pick it up for a wide theatrical release, I suppose it'll be penciled in for fall. If DreamWorks doesn't nab mid-October for Trolls (instead of putting it up against Doctor Strange), then I guess they can move right in.
Anyways, I really like the different premise, the animation looks decent for a picture its size, and it looks like it could be a fun ride. What say you?