Sony Pictures Animation has been working on a new Popeye movie for a while now. They signed Hotel Transylvania director Genndy Tartakovsky to bring the concept to life, and last fall we got a look at the first footage from the CG rendering of the famous comics strip character. At that time, a 2015 release for Popeye seemed likely. That doesn’t appear to be true anymore, though, as the film has lost a key component: its director.
Speaking with Moviefone, Tartakovsky revealed that he’s no longer working on Popeye after some creative disagreements with Sony over the direction of the picture:
“We put up a great screening, everybody really liked that sizzle, we got a positive reaction. 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. So they’ve got to make a decision. Right now, I’m off that project and moving on to the other one that we soft-announced, which is Can You Imagine? which is an original idea of my own and a very personal story. It was hard to let Popeye go, but that’s the business.”
So this would appear to put Popeye on the backburner for now, meaning we won’t be seeing that film for a while–assuming Sony still wants to move forward with it. But Tartakovsky still looks to be in good graces with the studio given that he’s actively working on Can You Imagine?, which will be his next film.
The footage we saw from Tartakovsky’s work was surprisingly impressive, and I’d definitely be up for seeing a CG Popeye movie in the tone of the comics strips. But if Sony is wanting something more traditional and more in line with modern animated films, I think the property is probably better left untouched.
Popeye is a valuable IP so I imagine Sony will still try to do something with it, but how soon that comes to fruition is anyone’s guess.