Tuesday, October 19, 2004

The CG Features Come Marching In... Part 1

It seems like everyone and their mother are trying to make CG films these days. You have to assume that the majority of these startups are going to fail miserably. But who has what it takes and who doesn't?

Let's go through the current slate of announced CG feature productions (there are several more unannounced projects, but I'll keep my yapper shut because I have no idea if outing them will cause problems). For the sake of brevity, I won't include the features from Disney, Pixar, or DreamWorks.

  • Rating explanations. Release Likelihood is exactly what it sounds like. The likelihood that they will release the picture they are in production or about to go in production on. 1 = No way. 10 = Absolutely. Studio Longevity is my guestimate on how long the studio will last. 1 = One strike and they are out. 10 = They will be around for many many years.

First on our list is Sony Pictures Animation. SPA has been threatening to make their own CG films for quite a while now. Several of them are in the pipeline but nothing has squirted free yet. The latest indication is that they will pump out "Surf's Up" first (although some indication is that "Open Season" will release first). This picture is a mockumentary about how penguins invented surfing. I have no idea what to expect from this film. It actually sounds interesting, but could fail on so many levels if they don't approach it properly. Personally, I'm rooting for SPA to have a hit. They are good people with fantastic talent behind them. Obviously money and distribution is no problem. It is just a matter of pumping out quality work. On a side-note. I've heard that the politics at Sony are worse than Disney. Is that possible? Budget expected to be over $65 million. Distribution Guranteed Release Likelihood of "Surf's Up" = 6. Release Likelihood of a CG movie = 10. Studio Longevity = 9.

Vanguard in London is currently finishing up Valiant. This movie is about some WW2 pidgeons. Great concept! (insert sarcastic smiley face) Actually. I have seen some of the footage from this picture and it doesn't look so bad. So technically and artistically they are above average. Will they have a good story? Well, I guess that is a matter of taste. Personally I'm not so interested in seeing a movie about flying rats. Vanguard is one of many attempts by Disney to replace Pixar. Budget unknown. Guessing in the $50-$60 million range. Distribution guranteed. Release Likelihood = 10. Studio Longevity: = 6.

Steve Williams and producer Clint Goldman somehow convinced Disney to give them a script called "The Wild" and $50 million to produce this CG film. This new endeavor has been called everything from Complete Pandemonium (name of Clint Goldmans San Francisco production company) to Train Wreck Productions. After receiving the story, they promptly shopped it around to several animation studios in the United States and Canada. They wanted a bunch furry zoo animals the same quality as the Blockbuster commercials (Steve directed those spots) in a CG film for under $50 million. Several studios were asked to give a bid and no one even came close to staying in the requirements. Except... In comes William Shatner up in Canada. Mr. Star Trek owns CORE Productions and decides he can do it for the budget. Only time will tell if Shatner has the ability to complete this project. It is important to note this is NOT a CORE production. They are simply carrying out the service work. This story is VERY similar to DreamWorks/PDI Madagascar. Basically, zoo animals decide that they have to go to Africa to save a friend. Led by a not so fearless lion. The is another attempt by Disney to replace Pixar. I expect this film to see many delays and budget breaking galore. Budget hoped to be under $50 million. Distribution secured. Release Likelihood = 7. Studio Longevity = 5.

Wild Brain recently announced a deal with Miramax. They are talking up Opus from Berkeley Breathed. However, anyone that has been paying attention knows that Wild Brain was touting a take on Little Red Riding Hood a while back. I guess that project has been put on the back burner. Budget planned to be under $50 million. Distribution Guranteed Release Likelihood of Opus = 7. Release Likelihood of any CG feature = 9. Studio Longevity (in CG features) = 6.

Blue Sky Studios in New York is working on Robots. These are the same guys that did Ice Age. There is no doubt in my mind that this film will be released. Budget unknown. Probably in the $65 million area. Distribution Guranteed. Release Likelihood = 10. Studio Longevity = 10.

That's it for part one. Part two will come shortly with the really ugly studios trying to get involved in CG feature production. Get ready for the tidal wave.


Anonymous said...

Word is Blue Sky/Fox's "Robots" feature is that re-writes and re-dos of shots will push the budget up near the $90mil mark.

Anonymous said...

Valiant Productions UK is closing down in 5 weeks.
This studio is not making another film for Vanguard.
Animation looks good, the rest is ok. Film has to finish by December 17th which is highly unlikely. Distribution is not guaranteed, Disney has a negative pickup deal and can also decide not to distribute if they so choose.