Thursday, July 20, 2017

Recap: Untitled WAG Film / Sony Animation Budgets / Static Cling

Not a video this time...

I'm experimenting with a new way of expressing my thoughts on the ever-flowing animation news. I feel that my work has come up short and lacks what it once had some 3-5 years ago, so I'm going to try something new. I'll wait for a few stories to come about, let the announcements and such sink in, and then I'll collect all my thoughts in a megapost like the D23 one... Except it's not live.

Anyways, there have been some happenings... Some interesting, some shocking, some unsurprising...

Warner Bros. once again added more movies to their ever-growing movie slate, one of them being a new Warner Animation Group project. The untitled picture curiously carries a 6/1/2018 release date, which places it before Smallfoot (9/14/2018), The Lego Movie Sequel (2/5/2019), and the Scooby-Doo feature (5/22/2020). Right now, a small variety of non-Lego projects are in development, one of them being the long-gestating adaptation of Jeff Smith's graphic novel series Bone, a couple of Hanna-Barbera adaptations (The Flintstones, The Jetsons), and a Space Jam sequel.

Right now, I think the likely candidates are Bone and the Lego spin-off The Billion Brick Race. The former has Mark Osborne (Kung Fu Panda, The Little Prince) tapped to direct and co-write with Adam Kline, who apparently is writing an Artemis Fowl movie for a particular studio that hasn't made any movement on it in years. This made the news back in November, and it's possible that they were on the project long before the announcement, so maybe the summer WAG event will indeed be Bone.

The Billion Brick Race was announced back in early 2015, and has had writers and directors attached since then (Iron Man 3 scribe Drew Pearce and Jason Segel), and some folks assumed that it would be released on May 24, 2019. Warner Bros. claimed that for an untitled film, and later gave it to the in-development Minecraft movie, but it's obvious that Warner Bros. probably won't release anything on that date now...

Warner has a unique way of keeping quiet on things. For a long while, the fall 2016 was occupied by Ninjago, until out of nowhere they revealed that the secretive Storks was now coming out on that date... A film they barely talked about after announcing it in 2013. The animation release date chess is an ever-changing thing...

On the Sony Animation front, director Shannon Tindle posted a taste of his upcoming original project, a superhero send-up.

Apparently still on track for a 2020 release, it could take one of Sony's 3 remaining 2020 dates. (An update clarifying the "no 2019 projects" and "5 between 2020-2021" would be nice.) As for the small hint, to me that looks like the protagonist. For those who aren't in the know, Tindle's project is supposed to be about a billionaire superhero having to raise the kid of his/her nemesis. Of course, people already pointed out the similarities to The Lego Batman Movie, but I think it could be a good original superhero send-up not dissimilar to DreamWorks' Megamind. The superhero craze is still in full swing, so might as well try again.

Speaking of Sony Animation, a recent article on the split between the parent studio and LStar Capital confirmed that both of their other releases this year will be small-budgeted. It comes as no surprise, since Sony Animation moved all its operations to Vancouver. Smurfs: The Lost Village came in at $60 million, The Emoji Movie ended up costing $10 million less, so it's probably not going to flop at this rate. At worst, it does Smurfs numbers and Sony's brass deem it a failure just because it didn't make blockbuster numbers. What's more interesting is the cost of The Star, the Nativity retelling that they have outsourced to Cinesite Animation.

That came back at $18 million. $18 million! Just one click lower than that of Sausage Party's budget...

The early images of the characters indicate that the movie will look pretty decent on such a small budget. Like I've been saying, the small-scale animated feature is really rising. Captain Underpants, Smurfs, The Star, lots of little guys showing that you don't need to blow $125 million on something like The Boss Baby. It also seems like Hollywood is finally getting the picture, that not every animated feature is destined to be some gargantuan tentpole-starting blockbuster smash. They all can't be Despicable Me or Frozen.

Now, they've gotten budget down on the third Hotel Transylvania film. The first two cost around $80 million respectively, this new one - heading to theaters next summer - will cost closer to $60 million. The live-action/CG hybrid Peter Rabbit will also be a small movie, for it cost $50 million. It's also a UK and Australian production that Sony Animation's basically attaching their name to, a la Goosebumps and its sequel.

With this all in place, I can't imagine them having a big problem with their upcoming original movies at the box office. Unlike Illumination, it seems that they're actually going to take initiative and take advantage of the fact that they aren't spending DreamWorks or Pixar dollars on their pictures. Let's cast aside our Emoji frustration and our mourning of Genndy Tartakovsky's two projects for a second... Tindle's project sounds promising and having him onboard (he conceived Kubo and the Two Strings) means a lot, the other upcoming originals - from Michael Rianda's "robot uprising road trip" movie to the before-time-boy-and-a-dog story being developed by Jon Saunders - sound like they have a lot of potential.

Next up is the trailer for the Nickelodeon reboot that I'm actually rather excited about... Rocko's Modern Life: Static Cling...

Static Cling is set to be a commentary of 90s kids' nostalgia for the bygone decade, but the Comic-Con trailer for the upcoming TV movie doesn't quite dive into the nitty gritty, rather it focuses on how Rocko's getting knocked around by all the new, modern technology and such. What's great is that they were really able to preserve the look and feel of the original show, without giving it some snazzy upgrade, something that could go either way with older cartoons. I think it's also brilliant because this will be a critique of being over-nostalgic for the past, so the original style more than bolsters that.

For me, this revival and the Hey Arnold! one make the most sense, but I do welcome the return of the weirdness that was Invader Zim. Not everything needs a revival, but I like the choices Nick is making as of late.

What say you on WAG's 2018 project, Sony Animation's budgets, and Static Cling?


  1. Where did you find the information that WAG was releasing a film on 6/1/18? I can't find information about this anywhere.

    1. To my understanding, the info originated on a Deadline article. Kyle himself even retweeted said article on his Twitter page!