Monday, November 21, 2011

The Next Animated Release

We've had Puss In Boots, followed by Happy Feet Deux, and now comes Arthur Christmas.

The Christmas film marks a new partnership with Sony for the stop-motion animation studio, which suffered a split with DreamWorks over creative differences and the poor showing of 'Flushed Away.' ...

Sony Pictures Animation and British animation house Aardman ... have a lot riding on the success of the 3-D CG animated movie. ... Although pre-release tracking on the film suggests it could have a soft opening in the U.S., the movie has been well reviewed and is already doing brisk business in the United Kingdom ...

AC had a bit of pre-production ... and all the rest of its production ... rendered at Sony ImageWorks in Culver City. It's been percolating along there for the last nineteen months. Every time I stuck my head in one of the offices, there were sunny smiles all around from the Brit staff, and remarks about how smoothly it was sailing through the ImageWorks buildings. (There were varying reports from other sources, but the picture hit its scheduled end dates and is now out in Great Britain. So it's all good.)

But the cloud on Arthur C.'s horizon is that movie box office has been soft, and animated features soft along with it. The penguin movie didn't have a strong debut, and Puss in Boots, though it's held well week to week, is losing theaters and steadily deflating. So now comes Arthur C., sledding along with high approval ratings and a strong opening in the United Kingdom.

Will it play stateside? Will it have a gang-buster opening? We'll be finding out, starting tomorrow.


Anonymous said...

Way to rip off Prep & Landing.

Rankin Bass said...

As a feature project Arthur Christmas was probably already in development before the first Prep & Landing was released.

I don't think they intentionally "ripped off" Prep & Landing , but they are in the unfortunate position of mining the same material. As a short project for TV Prep & Landing got out of the gate first. So, unfortunately for Aardman and Sony a lot of the "Santa and elves go high-tech" gags are going to seem like warmed over bits from Prep & Landing.

Anonymous said...

Saw it. It's terrific, and FAR better than prep and landing--which was a cute--if standard-- idea poorly executed/directed.

Arthur Christmas is loaded with inventive ideas, wonderful character animation, and impressive direction. Unlike prep and landing, which was obviously made fast and cheap, Arthur knows where to spend it's efforts. Of course, the production values prove it was an idea LONG before prep and landing, and Arthur plays more to families and general audience than just to small children.

I look forward to seeing it again.

Anonymous said...

Rip off Prep and Landing? Jeezus, if I see one more version of a fairy tale explained with modern day tech and cultural references, I'm going to puke. The gag has been done to death. Elves with GPS - oooh! Genius!

There is nothing enormously original about either film concept. I'm sure it is a fine movie regardless.

Anonymous said...

Anony at Tuesday, November 22, 2011 7:16:00 AM:

And how are things over at Sony this morning ? Glad you dropped by.

I agree with you about Arthur Christmas being in production prior to Prep & Landing , so they had already started on the concept prior to Prep & Landing, but the sad fact is that the public perception of Arthur is likely going to be : "been there, done that , seen it before" . (and there's some of that even with Prep & Landing ... P & L is reworking ideas that have previously been explored by various Santa movies, but it's made for TV so perhaps not held to quite as high a standard ... although I hold Prep & Landing in higher regard than you do. I think for the time and budget they had to work with that P & L turned out just fine. I'm looking forward to seeing the second P & L.

Anonymous said...

"As a feature project Arthur Christmas was probably already in development before the first Prep & Landing was released. "

Sure, but seriously, they didn't have to lift dialogue, catch-phrases, and have some of the exact same gadgets, now, did they?

Rip. Off.

I'm looking forward to both AC and Prep and Landing 2, and I want both to do well. But you'd think knowing about Prep and Landing 2 years ago, Aardman/Sony would have taken extra care to be more different.

Anonymous said...

What day did you stop by Sony and people were smiling about AC? People were miserable on that project, the director was hated and loathed. People quit during production or asked to not be supervisors midway through. Is the film good, not sure but all smiles when you popped in, not.

Anonymous said...

I doubt anyone over the age of 6 cares much about prep and landing. At least they ought to get someone to direct it that has a strong sense of story.

Anonymous said...

Everyone knows Arthur Christmas was one of the most unhappy, painful productions in modern animation history. I don't know of anyone at Sony who would work on another project with Sarah Smith involved. If she's not the worst director in animation history, I don't know who is.

Friends from DreamWorks told me about troubles working with Aardman on Flushed Away. I assumed the fault was with Jeffrey and DreamWorks. My experience on Arthur Christmas makes me think Aardman just doesn't know how to collaborate with an American studio.

Anonymous said...

Lets have a big hand for the usual gang of overly negative, snarky, sarcastic, and bitter TAG Blog commenters! Yaaayyy!

Anonymous said...

We arent trying to be negative, sarcastic or bitter but when a statement is made that is false then yeah it needs to be corrected by those who worked at Sony. I didnt see many smiling faces and the animators hated working on the project. Sony is a visual effects house and making animators enjoy what they do is low on their list. Besides I saw no snarky sarcasm in any of the post. The only bitterness would be by the after taste left in peoples mouth who had to work with Sarah Smith.

Anonymous said...

I've heard great things about Arthur, but it looks like the wankers who are trying to relive their childhoods are going to drag their kids to see the Muppets instead. Which I've actually seen, and is a rehash of everything - good and bad - the puppets have already done.

Anonymous said...

I doubt anyone over the age of 6 will care about Arthur's Christmas either.

Anyway, I remember hearing about Prep and Landing back in 2007, when I was working at Disney on ADog. I think they both go way back. P&L might have even been first.

Won a bunch of Emmy's too. Kind of hard to knock it.

Anonymous said...

Your remarks about Sarah Smith seem to be your own personal way to keep women directors out of the animation business.

I'm sure there are other bad directors out there.

Anonymous said...

Your ignorance about the Sarah Smith issue proves you are either:

A) Not in the industry

B) Havent talked to any Sony people in the last 2 years

Anonymous said...

That comment about Sony people being all smiles further indicated the waning credibility of this blog site, as well as losing touch with the actual working animators.

And the indication that if you did not like Sarah Smith, you are a sexist is the most vile comment and the most asinine attempt at injecting feminism into this discussion. Please note that you are arguing with people who actually have worked with Sarah Smith for months, even years.

Anonymous said...

Just to clear the "smiles" comment up a bit for those who don't understand. Sony's development building(SPA)is a part of the Animation Union and Sony Imageworks where the actual production was done is not. The "smiles" comment has nothing to do with the actual production of the movie. I don't think that Mr Hulett saw anyone at Imgeworks.

Anonymous said...

I didn't get to work on AC and when I first saw some clips last year, I thought, "uh oh, this is Prep & Landing" but I got to see an advanced screening and I really didn't come away thinking that at all. There is much more to it than the technology gags which didn't seem so much like gags to me as just setting the scene. I really enjoyed it as did a lot of my male 20-40 yr old co-workers and their kids. I thought it was clever and charming and it looks great.

I enjoyed Prep & Landing too. To me, these are two completely different stories.

Anonymous said...

Sarah Smith: worst, most disrespectful, unprofessional, uncreative, and pathetic excuse for a director.

Alan Short: absolutely had no idea how to manage, lead, or collaborate with the animation crew as animation director. His passive aggressive attitude and general man-baby approach to his role made me want to kick him in the crotch every day.

Please, PLEASE do not put them in charge of another feature film.

and that 3rd comment up there is so clearly bullshit:
"Arthur Christmas is loaded with inventive ideas, wonderful character animation, and impressive direction."

Thats probably Alan Short or Sarah Smith leaving that comment. Its the exact opposite of what this film is. Wonderful character animation? That was Tangled, the animation in Arthur is garbage.


Anonymous said...

Man! It sounds like crap at Sony!

In other news, Disney is actively seeking animators for Wreck it Ralph.

Anonymous said...

The Muppets: 97% Certified Fresh on RT so far!!!

"The Muppets is clearly the strongest newcomer this week. Adults will experience a rush of nostalgia, the presence of Jason Segel and Amy Adams​ will bring in teens/twentysomethings and the squeaky-clean jokes will be safe for younger children. The Muppets is shaping up to be yet another four-quadrant hit for Disney. Expect Segel's passion project to post solid numbers right up until the rush of Christmas releases overshadow it.

As of 1 p.m. PT, Fandango reports that The Muppets is responsible for an impressive 31% of daily sales.

Look for The Muppets to bring in $37 million from Friday-Sunday and $54 million from Wednesday-Sunday at around 3,300 locations."


Now, where are those stupid troll who said that the Muppets was going to suck?

Anonymous said...

The Muppets isn't art. If it isnt pencil and...I dont know, what's it called...paper, then it ISNT art. Those clueless puppeteers dont know who Rembrandt or Michelangelo are so they dont deserve to sniff my smelly socks. What a bunch of NON-ARTIST hacks!!

I matter! My job! MEEEEEE!

Anonymous said...

Its the exact opposite of what this film is. Wonderful character animation? That was Tangled, the animation in Arthur is garbage.

Sadly, AC is well on track to get a higher RottenTomatoes score than Tangled did. Bizarre, right?

Anonymous said...

"Sarah Smith: worst, most disrespectful, unprofessional, uncreative, and pathetic excuse for a director."

Obviously you've not met Stevie Wormer.

Anonymous said...

We need to step back and realize that the reviewers are reviewing the movie as a whole, and not from an animator's perspective. They are not experts about the craft itself; instead, they take in all aspects of the film.

With the rave reviews, credit needs to given where appropriate. They story is solid and engaging, and dare I say, warm. She wrote a good story and there were few rewrites.

Yes, I have worked on this film. It is true that it was not pleasant to work on. Let me just say that there is Sarah Smith the gifted screenwriter. Then there is Sarah Smith, an incredibly rude, mean, condescending, arrogant, phony, and the most horrible human being to have ever walked the halls of Sony Pictures Imageworks.

Because she us an unpleasant person doesn't mean the film itself is unpleasant. She may be the first to admit that this would not have been possible if it weren't for all the hundreds of artists who made her vision come to life. But she would do so begrudgingly.

Even though 99% had an very bad experience with Sarah Smith and a few others (we all know who), having this film in our resume is a good thing and will help all of our careers in the long run. After all those months of hell, I HAVE to believe that.

Anonymous said...

The audience apparently doesn't think Arthur Christmas is pleasant enough, and is voting with their feet. The early box office returns show Arthur Christmas is a lump of coal in Sony's Christmas stocking, with it finishing the holiday weekend behind the weak HF2. Too bad for SPA.

Anonymous said...

As was noted above, Arthur Christmas is a turkey on Thanksgiving.

Maybe it'll have some box office legs like Puss in Boots, but it looks like it'll score in the neighborhood of Open Season, and well below last season's disappointing Christmas Carol.

Anonymous said...

What's interesting is the the Muppet Movie is projected to do better than AC and HF2 combined! Who would have guessed that?

Anonymous said...

Obviously the person who can't spell Stevie's name never worked with her either. I've worked with her on 4 productions now. One of my all-time favorite directors I've ever worked for. Super-smart. Cllear on what she wants. A fast thinker on her feet. And always respectful of artists, appreciative and collaborative.

And she has a boatload of Emmies that speak to the quality of her work.

Anonymous trash-talker is full of shit.

Anonymous said...

^ Totally agree with the above poster about Stevie. Smart, collaborative and inspiring. I would work with her again in a heartbeat.

Steve Hulett said...

I don't think that Mr Hulett saw anyone at Imgeworks.

Mr. Hulett sees some of the crew at Imageworks (certainly not all.)

Mr. Hulett heard various stories regarding the travails of production on "Arthur Christmas," of animators jumping ship because of those travails.

Mr. Hulett thinks it's better if people closer to the situation talk about it, and not him.

Edgar Souse said...

Does Sarah Smith get sole director credit ? At one time I thought that Barry Cook (co-director of "Mulan") was attached to this project as a co-director.

Barry had another great movie in development at Disney Florida called "My Peoples" which was very suddenly killed off under the David Stainton regime .

Last I heard Barry had been at Aardman and was co-directing "Arthur Christmas" . But did that not turn out to be the case?

Please no fan-boy/troll speculation, I'd only like to hear from actual crew members at Sony or Aardman.

Anonymous said...

Barry Cook left mid production because differences with the co-director. It wa a shame because he actually has animation and film experience.

Anonymous said...

I liked working with Stevie Wermer as well. The hater above is full of crap

Anonymous said...

Sarah Smith is credited as Director and Barry Cook gets a separate Co-Director credit later in the crawl.

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