Monday, January 28, 2008

DreamWorks and Time Bandits

Spent a segment of my morning at DreamWorks Animation, where a number of animators are down to their last several weeks on Kung Fu Panda.

KFP was a topic of conversation down below, both pro and con. But I can tell you what the consensus of the crew that I've talked to is about the picture: they think it's tight, they think it's funny, they think the designs are good and it will do well at the box office.

Now, artists could be blowing smoke up my large intestine (it's been known to happen), and people working for a long time on a picture get so close to the project that they know individual trees well but can't tell you the true quality of the forest. Even so, I think it's interesting that everyone over there seems to be positive about Panda. (We'll know how accurate they are in June.)

One other point. There are times when I've walked through studios and gotten blank looks and strained greetings (it happened most memorably at a studio years ago when everyone was about to get laid off. I walked in and got large doses of stink eye. Moods were not ... ah ... sunny.) Happily, today at DWA many were in a buoyant, chatty mood. A couple of animators had a poster for Time Bandits pasted on their door and we fell into a conversation about the picture. It's one of their favorite.

I told them how, back in the early eighties, Walt Disney Productions had a large contingent of animation staff look at this indie film it was considering for acquisition. Apparently the flick had already been turned down by almost every major in town, and it had now made its way to the Mouse House.

Management wanted our opinion about whether they should make a deal to distribute it or not.

So a bunch of us traipsed into the studio theater one afternoon and watched this quirky, amazing comedy about a British kid traveling through time with an outlaw band of dwarfs. We all thought the flick was original, entertaining, in places downright hysterical, and we voted for the studio to acquire it.

Naturally, Disney passed. Avco Embassy ultimately picked it up, and made a nice piece of change putting it in theaters.

A quarter century later, I don't know how many people even recall Time Bandits. (Probably more than I think.)


Unknown said...

It's one of our favorites.

Floyd Norman said...

Love that film. It's a classic.

No surprise that Disney passed on it. The execs back then wouldn't know a good film if one hit them in the head.

Anonymous said...

I watch it at least once a month to help remind me what creativity is all about.

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