Friday 17 May 2013

Sony Pushes Genndy Tartakovsky's Popeye Back to 2015

Sony Pictures Animation had a profitable 2012, with the financial success of Hotel Transyvania. The film was also very enjoyable though (our review here), not so much due to the somewhat derivative characters and story, but rather because of the inherent sense of fun and the wonderfully stylised CG orchestrated by Dexter's Lab creator Genndy Tartakovsky. Although Sony are moving ahead with a sequel to that film, Tartakovsky won't be at the helm, as he's instead shepherding the studio's CG reimagining of the gravel-voiced, spinach-stomaching sailor man, Popeye.

We hadn't heard much from Popeye, but knew it was due for release next year. That's no longer the plan though, and Box Office Mojo reports that the film has been moved from its erstwhile 26th September, 2014 release data to an indeterminate 2015 one.

Genndy Tartakovsky and producer Michelle Murdocca
during the production of Hotel Transylvania.

The tricky point being, though, that Sony already has two other animated films slated for release in 2015: The Smurfs 3 on 24th July and Hotel Transylvania 2 on 25th September. Three films in one year seems like an overextension for the relatively small animation house; are we to assume this means one will be delayed? Or that SPA will break their usual pattern and release the film early 2014? I would say it's extremely unlikely they'd position the film in winter and risk going to head-to-head with Finding Dory, but it's far too early to know anything for sure.

As for why exactly the film has been pushed back, Sony are staying rather mum on the specifics, but when we emailed their PR guys for comment, they said:

"Popeye remains a priority project for Sony Pictures Animation. We are actively developing a script that will introduce the beloved characters to a whole new generation."

Personally, I remain very optimistic for and interested in Popeye; Genndy Tartakovsky is a wonderful, artistic director and the source material is rich and seems well suited to his style. What I would love to hear more about, though, is the film former Pixarian Doug Sweetland (Presto) was directing for the studio, The Familiars, which is apparently "still in development," despite Sweetland's involvement with Warner Bros.' rejuvenated animation division.

Before all that, though, Sony will release two films this year: The Smurfs 2 on 31st July and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 on 27th September (US)/25th October (UK).

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