Fans of the short-lived TV series Manimal will be happy to hear that a live-action/CG feature adaptation is in the works. The series, which only ran for eight episodes at the tail end of 1983, centered on Jonathan Chase (Simon MacCorkindale), a crime-fighter who could change into any animal at will. The campy premise that was shredded by critics was apparently worthwhile enough to be picked up by Sony Pictures Animation for a possible adaptation. Coming off of the success of The Smurfs live-action/CG hybrid and with plans for a similar adaptation of Alf, the studio is currently mining 80s properties for all their worth. Hit the jump for more on the Manimal adaptation.
An animated feature film about Tonka Trucks is now in the works because of course it is. Sony announced today that they will be partnering with Hasbro and Happy Madison to produce and develop an animated pic based on the popular brand of children’s toys. Yes, now that robots and board games have already been mined for material, the new frontier for brand-recognizable feature films is toy trucks. Fred Wolf, a Saturday Night Live vet and the screenwriter of Joe Dirt, Grown Ups and the upcoming Grown Ups 2 has been tasked with writing the script for the currently untitled Tonka Trucks project.
Sony is also developing feature films based on Risk and Candy Land in partnership with Hasbro, with Happy Madison also onboard for Candy Land. It’d be great if Sony’s animation division could direct their talent towards original, character-driven projects, but apparently kids are still playing with Tonka Trucks, therefore there must be a Tonka Trucks movie. Hit the jump to read the press release.
An animated feature film version of Popeye has been in the works for a while, but now the project finally has screenwriters (an integral part of every major motion picture). Jay Scherick and David Ronn, who wrote this summer’s feature film take on The Smurfs, have been tapped to pen the script for Popeye, per Heat Vision. Sony Pictures Animation and producer Avi Arad are behind the adaptation, which will be released in 3D. While it’s possible to make a kooky and fun cartoony version of Popeye for modern audiences, Scherick and Ronn’s resume gives me some pause. The duo wrote for the smart sitcom Spin City back in the day, but their recent output includes the Kevin James “comedy” Zookeeper and the infamous Norbit.
Basically what this means is we’re in for something more along the lines of The Smurfs than Rango. While that’s not great news for adult moviegoers, the kids sure seemed to love that Smurfs movie so the little one’s shouldn’t be disappointed. Scherick and Ronn were recently tapped to write a sequel to The Smurfs, and have also written a script for the Baywatch movie. Hit the jump to watch some of the first episode of the Popeye cartoon show.
Back in March 2010, we reported that Sony Pictures Animation was developing a 3D CGI movie based on the popular character Popeye. Now it looks like the movie may be finally moving forward as It’s on the Grid reports that Jim Carrey and Amy Adams will be voicing Popeye and his rail-thin girlfriend Olive Oyl, respectively. We’ve reached out to Sony for comment, but haven’t heard back from them. As for this potential casting, we all know that Carrey could voice Popeye in his sleep and Adams could probably do a great job with Olive Oyl. The real question is how a character like Popeye will translate into 3D CG because let’s face it: in a three-dimensional context, a guy with a ugly mug and bulging forearms looks a little creepy.
[Updated: Sony has now gotten back to us and informed us that the casting news is false and It's on the Grid has taken down the info from their story. There ya go. ]
To learn more about Popeye, hit the jump.
I kind of love Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. While on the surface it looks like a forgettable family film that’s a quick cash-in on a children’s book, it’s actually a witty and at times darkly comic film that has no problem being absolutely bizarre. And despite the anti-family film humor, the movie managed to rack up $243 million worldwide and Sony has been mulling over a sequel the past couple of years. Now it looks like Cloudy 2 is gaining some traction as 24 Frames reports that the studio has hired Horrible Bosses screenwriters John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein to write the script. I caught Horrible Bosses last night and while I’m not sure how much was ad-libbing and how much was Daley and Goldstein, it was the funniest R-rated comedy I’ve seen so far this summer. Hiring Daley and Goldstein is a good sign that Sony isn’t going to ditch the weirdness that made the original so enjoyable.
Unfortunately, Lord and Miller won’t be returning, but “the producers are set to hire a director who had worked in a lower-profile capacity developing the story for the original.” The film won’t be based on Ron and Judi Barrett’s follow-up kids’ book Pickles to Pittsburgh, but will use an original idea. I eagerly await the future adventures of Flint Lockwood and food-based catastrophe.
Sony Pictures Animation has lined up the voice cast for their 3D family comedy Hotel Transylvania. Adam Sandler, King of the Family-Films-I-Never-Want-to-See, will play the lead voice of Dracula, the head of the lavish “five-stake” resort for monsters, Hotel Transylvania. Dracula tries to prevent his teenage daughter Mavis from adventuring into the outside world, but runs into a complication when an ordinary guy (voiced by Andy Samberg) stumbles into the hotel and falls for Mavis. The voice cast also includes Kevin James as Frankstein, Fran Descher as his bride Eunice, David Spade as Quasimodo, Steve Buscemi and Molly Shannon as a pair of married werewolves, and Cee Lo Green as a Murray the Mummy. Genndy Tartakovsky (Samurai Jack) will direct.
Hit the jump for the press release which includes a longer synopsis and the box office clout of Sandler as if that were some indication his movies were actually good. Hotel Transylvania is due out September 21, 2012.
Sony Pictures Animation has picked up the rights to the action fantasy Instant Karma and plans to develop it into a live-action/CGI hybrid. According to Heat Vision, “The tale follows a misguided safecracker from New Orleans through his life lessons from a near-death experience only to find himself reincarnated as a fly. As the hero does good deeds to improve his karma, he moves up the food chain through a variety of animals, such as a frog, raccoon and dog, trying to get back to his human body and the woman he loves.” He could probably fulfill his good deeds as a fly and a raccoon simply by not bothering people.
SPA is the fourth studio to house Instant Karma. The project was originally set up at DreamWorks, then moved to Universal/Imagine, and found its way to New Line in 2003. When the project was set up at New Line, it almost made it into production with a voice cast that included Dwayne Johnson, Pierce Brosnan, Mira Sorvino, Eartha Kitt, and Gene Wilder. Paul Hernandez (Sky High) will direct his own script. Pirates of the Caribbean writers Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio will produce.
Following the less than thrilling reception of Robert Zemeckis’ motion-capture production Mars Needs Moms, Sony Pictures Animation has optioned the rights to the book How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack for Zemeckis to produce. Variety reports that the film will be an R-rated live-action/CG hybrid, with a budget in the range of $20-30 million. The film is based on the humor book of the same name by Chuck Sambuchino that details what to do in the event of an invasion by lawn gnomes.
No director is currently attached to the project, and at this point Zemeckis is only producing. The motion-capture advocate is currently weighing his directorial options after Disney canceled his big-budget motion capture remake of Yellow Submarine in the wake of the Mars Needs Moms fiasco. Zemeckis has been lingering in “creepy face” motion capture for the past decade, having not made a live-action film since 2000’s Cast Away. Personally, I’d love to see the Back to the Future director return to live-action work, or at least a CG/live-action hybrid. Maybe the rumored sequel to Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Hit the jump for a synopsis of How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack.
Sony Pictures Animation has acquired the screen rights to Janet Foxley children’s novel Muncle Trogg. Deadline‘s description says the book is about a “fairytale community” who live in volcano and hidden away from humans. However, the official description of the novel (via Amazon) says that the hidden-dwellers are giants and that the title character is a small giant that’s laughed at by the other giants for being human-sized. Muncle then goes to take a look at the “Smallings” and is surprised by what he discovers.
SPA has had a mixed track record so far. They launched with the forgettable Open Season, followed up with the slightly better Surf’s Up, and then hit it out of the park with Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. This year they have the live-action/CGI hybrid The Smurfs and a collaboration with Wallace and Gromit creators Aardman Animation for the holiday flick Arthur Christmas.
Ready for more princess Amy Adams and singing birds? The writer/director team behind 2007’s hit musical/fantasy Enchanted are set to reunite for a new untitled film for Sony Pictures Animation. The plot is being kept under wraps, though the film is said to be a live-action/CG hybrid a la Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. Variety reports that David Sussman will write the script, while Kevin Lima will direct and produce.
I was pleasantly surprised by Enchanted in that Disney went the DreamWorks route by parodying the ridiculousness of their fairy-tale stories, while at the same time maintaining the staples of their classic fairy-tale stories with a huge dose of heart. It’ll be interesting to see what Lima and Sussman do here without the Mouse House’s involvement. The most recent film from Sony Pictures Animation was 2009’s Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, which was a fairly large-sized hit for the studio. Lima was previously set to direct Hugh Jackman in Avon Man, but that project was shut down shortly before filming. More details on this new untitled project are sure to come when Sussman finishes the script.
The creative talent at Pixar seems to be fair game, and who can blame other outfits for going after them? Sony Pictures Animation has signed David Reynolds, the Oscar-nominated co-writer of Finding Nemo, to flesh out a story by Stephan Franck. Franck was a supervising animator on The Iron Giant and most recently served as story artist on the acclaimed How to Train Your Dragon. This is the first of four upcoming projects between Gotham Pictures and Sony.
Hit the jump for more on the untitled project.
Doug Sweetland, who directed the wonderful Looney Tunes-style Pixar short Presto, has been tapped to helm Sony Pictures Animation’s The Familiars. Per Heat Vision, “The story centers on three young wizard apprentices who, after being whisked away by an evil queen, must rely on their animal companions, or familiars — an alley cat, a blue jay and a tree frog — to escape.” Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson will write the screenplay based on their recently-released children’s book. Sam Raimi and Josh Donen are executive producing.
Sweetland worked at Pixar for 16 years and earned Annie awards for his work on Monsters Inc., Finding Nemo, and Toy Story 2. He earned an Annie nomination and an Oscar nomination for Presto.
THE SMURFS Begins Production in New York
To be clear: I do not care about The Smurfs live-action/CGI movie at all. However, Collider is a news site and we don’t just report on the projects we are personally excited for. So for our three readers who are excited for The Smurfs, Sony Pictures Animation sent out a press release announcing that film had begun production. They also revealed that Anton Yelchin (Star Trek) and Fred Armisen (Saturday Night Live) would be among the voice cast.
Hit the jump for the full press release. The Smurfs is slated to hit theaters on August 3, 2011.
Sony is getting ready to power up freakishly forearmed sailor Popeye and giving him the CGI and 3D treatment. Variety reports that Spider-Man producer Avi Arad is on the project with Mike Jones set to write the script. Says Arad:
“Scott called me and said, ‘I have something for you,’” said Arad, who grew up watching Popeye shorts in movie houses in his native Israel. “I literally started singing the famous Popeye song (after securing the rights). What always blew me away is the level of the animation. It was so beautiful and unbelievably detailed.”
I’m going to go ahead and believe that was the case at the time Arad saw those shorts. The character was adapted into a live-action film in 1980 starring Robin Williams and directed by Robert Altman. Sony is already getting into the classic cartoon re-adaptation business with The Smurfs set to hit theaters on July 29, 2011. For more on the history of the sailor man, hit the jump.
Deadline reported today that How I Met Your Mother star Neil Patrick Harris will be taking on the lead role in the upcoming 2011 Sony Pictures film The Smurfs Movie.
Directed by Raja Gosnell, known for such cinematic gems as Home Alone 3, Big Mamma’s House and Beverly Hill Chihuahua, the film mixes both animation and live-action and Harris will be starring in the lead live-action role. J. David Stem and David N. Weiss penned the script with Jordan Kerner producing. Sony plans on the movie being the first in a trilogy of live-action, computer-generated Smurf films. Filming begins in April with a tentative release date of July 29, 2011.
Hit the jump for thoughts on this latest bit of news.