The director [Genndy Tartakovsky] told Moviefone that he’s “off that project” essentially over a difference of opinion in the direction the movie was headed. However, the film is still in active development, according to Sony Pictures Animation.
“I was in love with what we were doing, but I think the studio is going through changes and I don’t know if they want to make the ‘Popeye’ that I want to make,” he told Moviefone. “So they’ve got to make a decision.” ...
This is seconded by Cartoon Brew, but Animation Scoop tells us:
... Sony hasn't cancelled the film. What has happened is that Genndy Tartakovsky had moved on to completing Hotel Transylvania 2 and has started production on an original flick, Can You Imagine?
According to a Sony Pictures Animation spokesman I contacted today - and I quote: "Genndy has been developing both Popeye and his original idea Genndy Tartakovsky's Can You Imagine? (temp title) at the same time while directing Hotel Transylvania 2."
"It initially looked like Popeye would happen first but Imagine pulled ahead and is now scheduled to be his next directorial film at Sony Pictures Animation. That said Popeye is still very much in active development." ...
And what Animation Guild reps heard the middle of last week from staff artists was: Popeye hasn't been cancelled outright, but more like put on the back burner/top shelf and left in (temporary?) limbo.
We alluded to this in an earlier post, but the last thing we want to do is break some animation story and then get a brusque and businesslike phone call from the studio, the underlying message of which is:
"Where the f*ck do you get off talking about the status of our projects?!
But since, you know, the cat is now out of the bag, we'll relay what we heard: Popeye development has slowed way down. There was a difference of opinion between corporate parties over the movie's take on the characters. Should the film have a thirties' sensibility along the lines of the Fleischer featurettes? (See below.) Or should the sailor man be more modern? Some story artists thought the Fleischer approach was the way to go, but the story and character development wasn't grabbing higher ups, and so ...
Back burner time.
However, please note: Shelved projects often don't remain shelved. (Witness, for instance, Frozen.) And whatever the full story is, we don't think the sailor man is dead at Sony Pictures Animation, but only in hibernation. SPA needs new projects, so Popeye could ultimately get made.