While I grew up on Popeye cartoons (it was the only way my parents could convince me to eat spinach as a kid), I didn’t have much faith that Sony’s new CG animated Popeye movie would recapture the spirit of the classic Fleischer cartoons. That was until Genndy Tartakovsky came on board as the director. With the likes of Dexter’s Lab, Samurai Jack and Cartoon Network’s Star Wars: Clone Wars in his repertoire, the Russian-born animator is responsible for some of my favourite cartoons of the modern age. He even made a very successful translation to the big screen when helmed Hotel Transylvania.
So with that kind of pedigree behind the Popeye film – and with Tartakovsky releasing this really cool animation test reel for the movie – I was was really excited for it. Well, time to temper my excitement way down, because during an interview with Moviefone, Tartakovsky revealed that he’s no longer working on the project due to what sounds like creative differences.
“We put up a great screening, everybody really liked that sizzle [reel], 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.”
Damn you, James Franco and Seth Rogen!! I’m cursing the two funnymen because it appears that the fracas surrounding their poorly received The Interview and the subsequent Sony Hack that it caused may have led to this, as Sony’s upper levels experienced an executive shakeup with Chairman Amy Pascal being replaced by Tom Rothman and Dreamworks Animation producer Kristine Belson being brought in to become the new president of Sony Pictures Animation. And while that bout of boardroom musical chairs went/still goes on, Popeye was seemingly moving nowhere as everybody wanted to do their own thing.
That’s sad news not just for fans but also for Tartakovsky who was really into the character. But as he realizes that this is unfortunately part of Hollywood politics, he already has his next project lined up.
“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.”
Sigh. Here’s that animation test reel to remind us of what could have been.
Last Updated: March 17, 2015