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What’s Next for Genndy Tartakovsky?

I spotted this poster on the wall during a visit to Sony Animation last week:

With Hotel Transylvannia number #1 at the US box office, I’m particularly delighted that Genndy Tartakovsky’s next project will be Popeye for Sony Animation and producers Avi and Ari Arad. No one (not even my hero, Gene Deitch) has been able to top the classic Fleischer version of this iconic comic strip hero. I’m betting that Genndy has the vision to be true to the characters comic strip and cartoon roots, yet bring him up to date for modern audiences with all the appeal and action-packed humor the character is famous for.

After that? Samurai Jack? Something new? Who knows? But I trust this guy – and wish him all the luck in the world. Here’s a great little half-hour interview he recently did with Movie City News:

  • Mapache

    An Astroboy reboot maybe? I do belive in miracles.

    • Jow

      There already is one. It came out in 2010, I think.

      • David D

        I get the feeling he’s referring to a reboot of the reboot, since the 2010 movie bombed (and sank the studio that made it no less).

        • Funkybat

          That’s too bad. Aside from the rather distracting voice presence of Nicolas Cage, I rather enjoyed that Astroboy movie.

          • Ahmed Jameel

            I’d rather Tartakovsky was just allowed to make his own stuff and not just adapt. He’s a genius. It’s wasteful getting him to reimagine when he can imagine so well!

  • Great interview! Big fan of Gendy’s work. I’d give my left arm to work on that Popeye film.

  • Very good and long interview. I have yet to see Hotel Transylvania-we’ll have to wait here in Spain but I like when he says they did the best under the circumstances. I wish the studio will win confidence in him and the circumstances improve.

    Also, I know it’s only a hand, but that Popeye poster totally gives me the feeling I was anticipating from a Popeye movie directed by Tartakovsky. I think he’s getting writers from The Smurfs movie, which is not the best credit for writers, but I really hope his visual style and the fact that he will probably have more freedom and time than he had in HT can help to make this Popeye movie a little classic.

  • Jow

    Nice Poster.

  • Aaron B.

    Like a lot of films, HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA had five or six directors on board before the final one (Tartakovsky) stuck. I’m curious as to how the film will look and feel once Genndy has the opportunity to nurse a feature production from start to finish.

  • Jeff

    I wish Popeye wasn’t going to be CG. 2D characters on CG backgrounds would be cool, though; it would look similar to the 3D model backgrounds from the Fleischer shorts.

  • Popeye might be cool, but Samurai Jack would be cooler.

  • Word on the street in Ottawa was that Popeye won’t have a pipe. R.I.P.

    • Chris Sobieniak

      That’s a downer.

  • Tom Minton

    In 1977 Joe Barbera stated privately that Hanna-Barbera’s upcoming new Popeye TV cartoons (eventually animated in Australia) would at least be better than the (abysmal) Format Productions Popeyes done in 1960. That was aiming low but they arguably hit their mark. A few years later Robert Altman, Paramount and Disney threw big money at the Robin Williams live action Popeye feature, with mixed results. The cheap CG Popeye project of a few years back, with Billy West voicing the title role, had its heart in the right place but didn’t quite nail it, either. Making Popeye a viable film franchise again is a long-festering problem waiting for the right creative solution. Genndy is one of the few people capable of cracking that nut, as long as the studio gives him his head.

  • Alissa

    Best of luck to Tartakovsky, hopefully he’ll make the sailor actually watchable.

  • Gobo

    Genndy’s interview in this week’s AV Club indicates that he wants to make his Popeye movie as much like the old Fleischer shorts as possible, with lots of physical humor and cartoonish action. The idea of a 3D Popeye makes me wince, but having seen Hotel Transylvania, I think Genndy can pull it off.


  • Really hoping the Popeye feature turns out good. I’m dying for someone to make a real cartoon feature, and hopefully do Segar’s character justice.


    I Wonder why he hadn´t gone back to Russia before. Maybe too busy with his tv director job at Cartoon?. He is the greatest tv animation director of the 90s I´m glad he´s tackling feature films now.

  • Pedro Nakama

    The only proper way to do Popeye is to make it violent. I’m afraid in this PC world we live in he won’t be smoking a pipe and it’ll be less violent if not violent at all.



    • Royston Dann

      On the other hand he does let his subjects talk in detail.
      Overall David Poland’s interview series (DP/30) is very good, and there are a lot of animation-centric interviews (recently Chris Butler and Sam Fell for ParaNorman, for example). He has a channel on Youtube, if anybody wants to lose the next few hours of their life (and doesn’t mind the UH HMMing).

  • Gerard de Souza

    He better have his pipe.

    I think I’m the only one who thought Mainframe’s effort was noble…..except, Popeye & Bluto were pals; Cathy Bates as Seahag mailed it in, and Popeye’s face only looks good at 3/4….no matter how good the sculpt is IMHO. Otherwise I thought the animation was good for a TV special.

    But no version holds a candle to the Fleischers’.

    • T.D.

      Will Elder worked out a great design for Popeye in “Poopeye” for MAD. He’s seen from every angle, and they all look terrific. I think it’s doable, but it’s going to take the best people availabe to make it work.

  • During production on Hotel T the animators in Culver City were working next door to the development artists working on Popeye. Marcelo Vignali was doing some fantastic stuff that was both retro and modern, and we prayed the project would be green-lit with someone like Genndy at the helm. It’s great when something so logical actually happens in this silly business!

    This is definitely a project to be excited about. Genndy has such a deep understanding and appreciation of classic, cartoony animation that I don’t think it could be in better hands.

  • Russell H

    IDW Publishing has been producing an all-new series of POPEYE comic-books that are absolutely uncanny in re-creating E.C. Segar’s art-style, as well as dialogue and stories that are spot-on; they’re nostalgic but at the same time timeless enough for a new generation of fans. One only hopes Genndy may look into these as a paradigm of how to do something fresh with old characters without losing what made the great in the first place.

  • William

    If it leads to Warner finishing the DVD sets, I’m all for it!

    • David D

      My thoughts exactly. I don’t know whether to cheer or cry at this news. If the movie is successful, then I’d wager it’s a very good chance Warner’s will decide to restore and release the Famous Popeyes. If it bombs, that’s all folks!

      • William

        Hopefully a decision, either way, will simply come with the film in order to ride the wave, and not be based on box office results that reflect little (or maybe nothing) on interest in the Fleischer/Famous shorts.

  • With the current trend of nearly exclusively employing celebrities to voice the lead characters in feature films, I’m curious to know who they’ll cast as Popeye. It’s a really hard voice to do properly and only the finest professional voice actors seem to nail it. I wonder if the role will return to Robin Williams? Are we really ready for another animated character voiced by him?

    • wever

      Robin Williams returning to the character in cartoon form will be a great idea.

      If you think about it, he only voice cartoons in 4 films!

  • Anthony D.

    My choices for Popeye for this film would either be Robin Williams or Billy West. But more importantly, this means will can finally see Famous Studios Popeye shorts restored at long last! ^_^

  • My only hopes are two:

    1) That Genndy use Segar’s adventure theme and extended cast—even the Fleischers underused or simply passed over some characters with prime animation potential (Toar, Professor O. G. Watasnozzle, the Sea Hag…)

    2) That Genndy NOT give us the story of Popeye’s search for Poopdeck Pappy—which has been told and retold too often.

  • William

    Hopefully the decision will simply come with the film in order to ride the wave, and not be based on box office results that reflect little (or maybe nothing) on interest in the Fleischer/Famous shorts.

  • Even though I knew Genndy back in the day, I’m a big fan. I’m also a huge Popeye fanatic. I have total faith that Genndy will deliver the goods on Popeye and then some.

  • It kinda makes sense to put out a Popeye film, since Popeye has TWO comic books currently running from IDW/Yoe Press, one with new Roger Landridge scripted stories and the other reprinting Bud Sagendorf’s run of Popeye comic books. If it gets us more Popeye on DVD, then more power to Sony Animation.

  • Vzk

    I hope Sony doesn’t pull a Superman Returns by not having Popeye throw a single punch. And if last year’s TinTin could get away with an alcoholic captain, then this should have a pipe-smoking sailor.

    • wever

      TinTin was a bit of a different case. It was aimed at the adult set as well as the children, sort of like Indiana Jones. This Popeye, if Sony’s roster is any indication, will be aimed at families and the younger set. I fear his trademark pipe will be long gone.

  • I’m still wishing for John K X Masaaki Yuasa “One Piece VS Popeye” :D

  • Brad Constantine

    Five Fingers?…Big Budget!

    • Chris Sobieniak

      Popeye did have five fingers in the original comics and in the Fleischer cartoons, so I see no problem there.

  • I’m sure you’re depressed- once again another tired out franchise instead of something new and original :p

    Genndy can do just about anything I’d watch it :P

  • Dave

    I think that Popeye poster shows great promise

  • Samurai Jack movie please.
    My life needs closure.

  • Popeye NEEDS to have his pipe! It’s part of his character! I don’t care if it’s “only for show.” ;)

    Genndy is very capable of doing Popeye justice, so Sony should give him more control over the project. And I’m sure the movie will turn out great! (Otherwise, there is that saying by Richard Williams; “The Golden Rule [is that] whoever has the gold makes the rules.” So even in a Sony project, let’s hope that there aren’t too many cooks to spoil the broth!)

    And I am in total agreement with fans who hope this film’s success will result in Warner restoring/releasing all the color Famous Studios Popeye shorts to DVD and perhaps also Blu-Ray (on which the previous sets can be reissued).

  • geoffvster

    I was at Columbia with Genndy way back then, and he’s so right about the smell of animation in the classroom. The animation tables were cheap, but a huge step up from animating on my old tv screen tuned to a static channel. Hotel Transylvania was brilliant, and I can’t wait to see what he does with Popeye. I would love to see Samurai Jack return, but I can’t see Warner Bros. playing nice with Genndy on that one.

  • JJ

    Yes Samurai Jack just come back.