Fresh off the massively disappointing box office of his underrated ensemble drama Men, Women & Children (I liked it!), filmmaker Jason Reitman is poised to make his first foray into the world of animation. Variety reports that the Oscar-nominated Juno and Thank You For Smoking director has signed on to write and direct Beekle for DreamWorks Animation. The movie is an adaptation of the children’s book The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend, which revolves around an imaginary friend who, after becoming tired of waiting around to be chosen by a real child, takes off on a magical journey on his own.
This is a curious move for both Reitman and DreamWorks Animation. The studio has been suffering as of late with box office disappointments like Mr. Peabody & Sherman and Penguins of Madagascar. It’s recently gone through a significant behind-the-scenes change, as the studio will restructure its focus to one movie a year rather than churning out two or three.
This new focus on quality over quantity might be where Reitman comes in, but the filmmaker himself has been in a rut lately too. Despite the fact that they’re good movies (really, I promise), the dramas Labor Day and Men, Women & Children failed to make any sort of splash, with the latter only grossing around $700,000 domestically—and it had Adam Sandler in its cast!
Beekle is the first project put into development under the newly appointed Co-Presidents of Feature Animation Bonnie Arnold and Mireille Soria, and it certainly provides an interesting look at the kind of direction they hope to take the studio in. But all is not lost in the meantime, as Dean DeBlois is still writing and directing the third and final How to Train Your Dragon movie for release in 2018, and next March’s Kung Fu Panda 3 is sure to be a box office hit.