Whatever Happened to Foodfight?

In 2004, CG animation studio Threshold Entertainment and Motion Picture Magic, a product placement company in Encino, teamed up to produce a food version of Toy Story titled Foodfight. Announced with great fanfare, Foodfight would team 80 name-brand products and their associated characters, including Mr. Clean, Cap’n Crunch, Charlie the Tuna, the Engergizer Bunny and the Brawny paper towel man, in an adventure set in a supermarket city – and a voice cast including Charlie Sheen, Eva Longoria, Chris Kattan and Christopher Lloyd. The last time we reported any news on the film was in 2007, when Lionsgate supposedly picked up the film for release.

I’d completely forgotten about the project until Brew reader Kurtis Findlay sent me this pic of merchandising (photo above) he found while he was Christmas shopping. Kurtis says, “I have to say that the characters look far better in 2D than they do in 3D! Do you think the manufacturer of this product got sick of all of them sitting in their warehouse and just released them without the movie tie-in?” Probably. And one look at the characters tells me this film might have better luck remaining unseen and on the shelf.


  • Robert Barker

    How could you use all those iconic characters and then put totally strange characters on the cover?

  • http://robcatview.blogspot.com robcat2075

    “Mr. Clean” is a food?

    I was scrubbing the floor with it.

  • Michael S

    Thanks for the update. Now what ever happened to Big Bug Man?

  • Michael Eilerman

    My store had these books for a while. They come in a budget book bin with books that nobody wanted.

  • http://babbletrish.blogspot.com/2009/11/its-almost-thanksgiving-so-lets-chew-on.html Babbletrish

    I did a double-take at this headline, as I also ran into a “Food Fight” book in a bargain basement-type store. I took a picture and blogged about it this past Thanksgiving (see link). Now I almost regret not buying it.

    Well, almost.

  • http://jessicaplummer.blogspot.com Jessica Plummer

    What in the world am I looking at, and what does it have to do with food???

    I’ll agree though – that drawing looks like something worthwhile…can’t say much for those CG characters though.

  • Ryan

    Well, they DO look horrible, and it’s been ages since I’ve had one of those talking book things – but horrible or not, the film would have a VERY limited audience. Probably USA-only, as the majority of those characters would be completely unknown to outsiders.

    How many Americans are familiar with the Tetley Tea Folk, the PG Tips monkey, the Compare the Market Meercat, and the Anchor butter man?

  • TheGunheart

    Damn, those CGI characters are scary looking.

  • droosan

    Actually, I recall first hearing about Threshhold’s FOOD FIGHT waaaaaay back in 1997. It has apparently been ‘scrapped’ and ‘started-over-from-scratch’ several times over the past decade, or so.

  • http://kelseighn.blogspot.com/ Kelseigh

    Hillary Duff’s character looks like a bad Second Life avatar.

  • http://www.sportingnews.com/blog/mjf7583 Michael F.

    If I were Wayne Brady I’d be upset over how my character looked. Plus I’d have to choke someone.

  • Michael

    It’s pretty crummy-looking, and there’s no way in hell it could even come close to Brendan Douglas Jones’ ingenious and hilarious (and recelty-complete) “Breakfast of the Gods” webcomic:

    http://www.webcomicsnation.com/poyorick/botg/series.php?view=archive&chapter=10960

  • http://www.amazon.com/Writers-Journey-Mythic-Structure-2nd/dp/0941188701 Dead Inside. Just a Little.

    Awesome!!! Rant time….

    So I worked on this POS movie at a real “classy” (yeah i understand the irony in using POS and using the term classy in quotes btw) studio in santa monica called image metrics that laid off about 16 crew members or so about 2-4 weeks into “production” by some dipshit named… I want to say something Barton… Anyways, at that time, around 2006 I’m guessing (I blocked the precise dates from memory), they had just barely had the first sequence in digital animatic form, and the script wasn’t even locked, despite years and years of “pre-production work”. Look, every freelance artist and their mother knows or has a friend that knows someone that’s worked on this, I’m not special. What is special about this production is exactly how it emphasizes just how amazingly far you can go with a shit, insanely corporate idea and how much money and time you can waste/grab if you play your cards right and completely disregard any artistic and moral obligation to making art.

    I don’t hate the creator of this, as pathetic as he’s been described (fake casting calls to see hot chicks for non-existent commercial/film projects… really man? really?!?!?) or the companies involved though imagemetrics did screw the hell out of the people it brought on for this, I do resent the fact that every shitty thing you’ve ever heard about how “hollywood” people are, is sadly represented by this film.

    I doubt this film will ever come out btw since from the segment i saw, the sexual innuendo was almost laughable until you understood some sick fuck (owner of Threshold I believe) was sitting there coming up with these ideas knowing full well it was intended for kids, then it just became gross and creepy. I don’t get it, this film, if it ever sees the light of day will be a sad, sad testament to how far talentless hacks could rise. I’d say I’m not bitter but most wouldn’t believe me after reading this. I’m not, it’s just that this film embodies nearly everything that is depressing about working in this industry. Thank God I’ve had the chance to work on fun and creatively rewarding pics since then…

    Oh, btw, I believe some pop star princess is also involved… a miley cirus type girl… cant recall her name but she should be shamed with the rest of them I guess. Thank god I’m not famous (nor want to be) and can carry my shame quietly in the darkest part of my soul, lol!

    bam! now that’s a post!!!

  • Cody Covell

    ugh… UGH… just…. UGH!!!!!
    One look at those CG models and…. UGH!!! *throw up noises*

    The only GOOD thing out of looking through that is the misspelling of Chris Kattan’s name… heh heh… Kattau…

  • Omnitarian

    ” The delay was a result of an unexpected calamity. As one of the film’s characters might say, “We wuz robbed!” During the 2002 Christmas holiday, the hard drives that held the film’s files were stolen. ”

    UNCANNILY similar to the story of

    http://www.cartoonbrew.com/cgi/an-update-on-freaky-flickers.html

    Is there a rogue animation fan on the loose, stealing half-baked CGI projects so that the world may be spared their loathsomeness? Hmm….

  • robert

    remember this article in 2007?
    A lot of fat cat hollywood execs claiming they are the next Pixar.
    Larry Kasanoff producer of Foodfight, made such a claim

    http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/101/hollywood-pixars.html

    some great excerpts:

    Five years ago, Larry Kasanoff corralled one of his colleagues, put him in his car, and said, “We’re going to drive around Santa Monica until we come up with an idea for a movie.” The result is Foodfight!

    “They want to make computer-animated feature films for family audiences, too, but they’re looking to do it on an entirely different scale: smaller, cheaper, faster.”

    YEP they should also include words like, uninspiring, unoriginal and unintelligent.

    Hey Larry, lets go for a drive maybe we can come up with another brilliant idea. Turkey: The Musical

  • http://www.frankpanucci.com FP

    Re:
    –Dead Inside. Just a Little. says–

    This is my favorite kind of post. The dirt!

  • doug holverson

    Cute blonde/yellow tabby cat-girl somewhere in there. May be its only redeeming point.

  • captainmurphy

    Hmm, from the look of what made it to merchandizing, it looks like the companies that normally might pay for product placement, decided to bail. I do not see one recognizable supermarket product or corporate mascot.

    If this is the case there are Two obvious reasons supporting this theory-

    1. not wanting to be associated with a POS

    2. Those companies that thought it might work wanted more control and less competitors products. They can barely agree on how to present themselves in their own commercials.

    Of course, it could be a decent looking film in the way that Toy Story was able to make decent versions of real toys like Slinky Dog and Mr. Potato Head, at least as good as the models the manufacturers ad agencies use in their own cgi spots.

  • http://none Zack Mays

    Maybe after seeing this movie You would want to throw up !!

  • gaastra

    It’s like hoodwinked 2. The movie has no release date or trailer but toys at burger king are out! My nephew was shocked that they made a second movie. There are no ads or anything and no word when the movie will come out but the kids meal toys are out!

  • Scott

    I can’t WAIT for this. It’ll make that pile of crap of Zemeckis’ Christmas Carol seem positively BEAUTIFUL. And that’s saying something.

  • Donald Benson

    Memories of the first Simpsons gold rush. There were toys and tie-ins for Fish Police and Capitol Critters long after the shows themselves had vanished.

    There should be a film festival — of necessity, underground — where the faithful can view works that could never find a distributor, or were purposely buried by their studios, or got lost in Lawyer Hell. You probably won’t find another Sita Sings the Blues, but you’d have a laugh.

  • Jon Reeves

    OK, that’s kind of freaky. I was discussing this pile of crap with someone just tonight (after mentioning, of course, 8 Crazy Nights, its trailblazer in lame product placement). And wondering if it ever got released — and I come home, and here’s the answer waiting for me.

  • http://gagaman.blogspot.com Gagaman

    Haha oh wow, I was just thinking about this ‘movie’ the other day, wondering if it had been finally canceled or if the company were still trying to drag it up. Amazing that they would have merchandise produced before even releasing a TRAILER of the movie, talk about getting your priorities all wrong! If this movie ever does see the light of it you could probably write a book about it’s crazy production and behind the scenes chaos. This could be the Gizimondo of animation!

  • http://www.markmcdermott.com Mark McDermott

    I’m sure product placement contracts didn’t extend into merchandising. Still, geez. Let’s take a fondly-remembered classic cartoon situation: the “book covers/magazine titles/consumer product logos come to life.” Use that as a minor background point to the real plot of the movie, a cheesy-ass mystery that even Scrappy-Doo could have solved (hey, that’s what made “Tom & Jerry: the Movie” a classic). then animate it with off-the-shelf CGI software (but call it “a unique technology alliance” with IBM). Could these characters look any more like clip art from the animation software’s library, without a trace of artistic input? Even I say no, and I can’t draw flies to my trash bin.

    BTW, we rented “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” and enjoyed it last weekend, but among the trailers was one for a direct to video CGI of the Playmobil toys whose plot and animation sure brought “Freaky Flickers” back to mind.
    —-
    robcat2075 says:
    “Mr. Clean” is a food? I was scrubbing the floor with it.

    Gilda Radner: New Shimmer is a floor wax!

    Dan Ackroyd: No, new Shimmer is a dessert topping!

    Gilda: It’s a floor wax!

    Dan: It’s a dessert topping!

    Gilda: It’s a floor wax, I’m telling you!

    Dan: It’s a dessert topping, you cow!

    from http://snltranscripts.jt.org/75/75ishimmer.phtml

  • Daniel J. Drazen

    The concept — logos and spokescharacters come to life — reminds me of the Master Card commercial where some of them (Charlie the Tuna, the Vlasic Stork, the Morton Salt girl, Count Chocula) are gathered around a holiday table with Mr. Clean doing the dishes in the kitchen. At one minute, the concept worked fine. Imagining the commercial going on for an hour tells you why the movie never saw the light of day.

  • s.w.a.c.

    So it’s like an animated version of Mac & Me?

  • http://www.inkandpixelclub.com Sara

    Man, this sounds like a bad idea. I think part of the problem is that a food (or non-food, in Mr. Clean’s case) product mascot does not have inherently recognizable characteristics. Even if you’re just looking at a still image of the characters from “Toy Story” and you’ve never seen the movie or heard the title, you can still tell that they’re toys because they look like toys: Woody’s cloth body, the screws that hold Buzz together, Rex’s cheap plastic texture and obvious joints. Creating a generic food spokescharacter is trickier. Unless it looks like the Orange Bird, it’s not going to immediately read as a product mascot. Aside from not being very good, the character designs here do nothing to clue potential audiences for the potential film in to the idea that it’s about food mascots and what they do in the supermarket when no one’s around. They just look like a jumble of generic characters. What really confuses me is that the studio went through the trouble of getting all of these companies and their well-known advertising characters on board and then gave none of them a starring role.

  • Michael Eilerman

    I can post the pictures from the book, if anybody wants to the see the plot.

  • TheGunheart

    Sure, why not? I kinda want to see where this trainwreck was going.

  • http://babbletrish.blogspot.com/2009/11/its-almost-thanksgiving-so-lets-chew-on.html Babbletrish

    ^ Yes, please Mike. That’d be great / potentially hilarious.

    And ye gods, I had “Eight Crazy Nights” nicely repressed. That sequence in the mall made me throw up in my mouth a little.

  • Michael Eilerman

    Alright, I will have them up alittle later but for now I can tell you about the story. ;) lol

    The book is written about by Justine Fontes and art by Ron Zalme. Basically the story is about a food mascot called Dex Dogtective, he runs the U.S.D.A (United Supermarket Defense Association). Dex runs into some trouble with Brand X but in the end, saves the day. As you can tell the story, is pretty weak. No cameos from the famous food mascots in the book, so I can’t tell what their roles would have been in the movie.

  • TheGunheart

    So…where are the images?

  • Paul Greenberg

    I was waiting for this to come out a while ago. I actually have a script with a similar concept (but much more wholesome) that I registered with the Writers Guild of America a few years before they wrote this. My agent passed around the script and there’s way too many coincidences for it not to be a rip off of mine. I was waiting for them to set a release date and was going to slap a nice fat lawsuit on their laps! No such luck! My movie is called “Food For Thought” – Dare to dream beyond the vegetable patch!

  • Keegan Bucy

    If this movie is ever released it’ll probably be straight-to-dvd. I’d still like to know the story behind two characters that appeared in the 2003 publicity still. One was a growling dog wearing a conical asian hat and the other was a man in a French foreign legion outfit. They intrigued me for some reason.

  • http://nicholasederer.com Nicholas

    I actually spotted a FoodFight! plush in a crane game at a movie theater recently. Can’t remember which character it was, though.

    • Milan P.

      HOLY CRAP, I saw one of those in a crane machine on my way back from Ottawa at a service station! It was a plushie of Cheesel T Weasel, I believe.

      Funny, seeing how all of my fellow Canuks (except my brother) don’t know what the hell this film is.
      Also shows how full of shite this film ended up being.