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Feature FilmGenius

FOR SALE: “Foodfight!”

We’ve been posting about Foodfight! since 2004 (the year Cartoon Brew began!) and every year we wonder if it will ever be released. (Click the Foodfight! tag to see all of our coverage.) It’s becoming The Day The Clown Cried of animated features. How bad can it be?

This bad: I spotted this classified ad (below) printed the latest issue of The Hollywood Reporter (9/23/11):

So, next Monday you can purchase the film, lock, stock and barrel from Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company, who obtained the rights when C47 Productions and Threshold Animation Studios defaulted on their loan. That is, of course, if you have at least $2.5 million dollars to throw at a film that looks like this: Click here to see Foodfight! trailer.

  • Jay Sabicer

    It would probably make sense for Frito-Lay to buy it, just to bury it. Chester Cheetah may never regain his street cred if this ever got released via YouTube or Vimeo. Looking at the trailer, all I could think was “this is a train wreck – – please, look away!”

    • Back in the 90’s, FOX wanted to make a series around Chester and his “cool” pals, a funky monkey, a rockabilly dog and a hip hop hippo. We worked for months on designs, scripts and boards for at least two episodes. Suddenly, someone in legal, realized that they couldn’t air half-hour commercials on Saturday morning and we were called to LA for the gentle letdown. It was an interesting meeting. Obviously, Frito-Lay couldn’t give up so they might have actually been anxious to ink their deal on this horror show.

      • I find that odd because Marvel Prods. got progress on a CBS CHESTER CHEETAH cartoon show to the point where I was contracted to produce the series. Suddenly, CBS realized that it’d be a 22-minute commercial and torpedoed the project. And this was also in the 1990s. What studio were you working with, John?

      • Scarabim

        I think this is the sad legacy of the self-appointed busybody, Peggy Charren, otherwise known as the Dementor of Children’s Television. I’m surprised she isn’t screeching about My Little Pony:Friendship Is Magic. Is she dead? I hope?

      • James E. Parten

        It isn’t just the latest incarnation of the “My Little Pony” franchise. It could be argued that much of the original programming on the Hub is “commercial driven”. This goes especially for their kids-and-family game shows; “Family Game Night”, “Scrabble Showdown” and “The Game Of Life”. All are adapted and derived from board games controlled by Hasbro, through their long-ago acquisition of both Milton Bradley and Parker Brothers.

        But then, this sort of thing is not new. In the laissez-faire 1980’s, we had “Transformers”, “G. I. Joe”, and other shows that were derived from toy lines.

        Going further back, there was “Linus the Lion-Hearted”, a show which lingers in the memories of those who saw it. Several episodes exist (in varying conditions) on YouTube. The show had a good voice cast, but only okeh animation.

        And then there was “Shenanigans”, which ran on ABC for parts of two seasons. This was a mash-up of “Video Village, Junior Edition” and a program-length commercial for Milton Bradley games, including “Operation!” and “Time Bomb”, among others.

        It was shows like those that got Peggy Charren and her (rhymes with stitches) off their duffs, for better or (mostly) for worse. These people weren’t great fans of capitalism to begin with. If they had had their “‘druthers”, they would have banned all advertising from children’s television entirely.

        One can only wonder what they’d think of today’s broadcast television schedules–and how much of the blame for these sorry schedules might be laid upon the Children’s Television Act of 1990.

  • Richard Tom

    I worked for a game outfit that was contemplating partnering with these folks for the games associated with this sure fire property. The original IP document was hideous and childishly written, and that was what they were using to interest possible investors! What could have possessed anyone to give them the money to make this thing?

    I read everything I can about this project. It’s fascinating, in a Huck’s Landing kind of a way.

    • “Huck’s Landing”? Last I heard, Tom Carter was STILL trying to get his animated Jungle-Book-On-The-Mississippi made!

      • Q

        Tom is an old friend of mine going back to 1985 and I worked with him on trying to get that project off the ground. How can I get a hold of him? I can finance it for him now.

  • amid

    This film will someday be recognized for how far ahead of its time it was. Look at how they used Barry Manilow’s “Copacabana” (or a reasonable facsimile) years before Madagascar 2 and Despicable Me did.

    • Don’t forget the use of a setting called Copabanana, years before Almost Naked Animals thought that was clever!

  • wowwwww…I REMEMBER reading about this in 2004 and I was still wondering what was going on!!

    Always seemed like the premise could have been fun, with the right writing of course.

  • Peter H

    Sad to say, I really LOVE the look of that trailer!

    • Gobo

      Why? I can’t possibly imagine loving the look of it. But maybe I’m missing something!

      • Peter H

        No, it’s just me, lacking in taste! Normally I moan about oversaturation, but the bright colours here seem to work for me, and the movement is handled well. I think I like the fact that it looks like a picture book rather than boringly ‘photorealistic’!

  • I hate to say it, but there has to be a market for this stuff somewhere…

    • Chel Traynor


  • They should have teamed up with David O’ Reilly and NMA.

  • Randy


    A movie with some busty Chick walking into the room in a slinky red dress and the audience gets to see all the guys go “Boiiiiiinggggg” and pant and hop around.

    Boy, that’s NEVER been done. Yeah, right.

    God, are these guys serious? What a friggin’ train wreck.

    Burn it.

    • Conor

      Really? You watched that whole trailer and the key part you take issue was the attempted Tex Avery homage?

      • NC

        I think he was more implying the Roger Rabbit reference, which yes, is of course a Tex Avery homage too, but I do agree that it seems more of an RR knock-off than a TA nod.

  • Paul M

    A dvd sales campaign would probably make back the 2.5 mil, especially if the case disguised it as a Disney/Pixar release like so many other budget titles do.

    • Katzenburger

      Hmm… may have something there.

  • Ben

    Why only Chester Cheetah? Didn’t I read somewhere that they were going to use a whole bunch of food mascots? I’m surprised they managed to get just one from Frito Lay…and, his use is…uh, random?

    I agree that the premise could be kind of interesting if there was clever writing, but this looks horrible. And the animation is so awful, it makes video game animation look good in comparison. And even stuff from the 90’s looks better than this. It goes to show that just because you can make something in CGI, doesn’t mean you should.

    • Chris Sobieniak

      And yet they never learn.

    • I also spotted Charlie Tuna in there towards the end.

      It seems to me that the idea might work if they did use recognizable characters, which I also recall hearing was the original intent. But if it’s all original characters, what’s the point of them being food mascots? Is there any connection between the characters and the products they supposedly represent? It could be cute to see, say, Cap’n Crunch or Chiquita Banana acting out a film noir story, but without the familiarity they bring to it, it’s basically a bunch of random animal characters–and kind of poorly-designed ones, at that.

      • Corey K.

        “I also spotted Charlie Tuna in there towards the end.”

        Also, an army of “Hamburger Helper” gloves. ‘Cause who doesn’t adore that finger-headed rascal?

    • Hey, now, there’s a LOT of good video game animation. Like all things, there’s good and bad. I’d take most PS2 and PS3 games’ animation over 90% of cinematic CG.

      For example, and just off the top of my head: Ratchet and Clank (especially the PS3 titles), Ico, Last Guardian, Metal Gear Solid 4, Epic Mickey, and even Super Mario Galaxy are pretty well-animated, both in-game and in cutscenes.

      • Ben

        Oh, I know. I guess I phrased that poorly. I should have said video games have better animation than this does. I didn’t mean to knock games, I’m an avid gamer myself. There are PS1 and N64 games that look better than this movie…

      • AniCentric

        Agreed. What’s with the hate for Video Game cinematic animations? They are actually typically top notch in most cases, especially today!

        How many video games has the original commenter played? Sounds like none, to me. Or at least nothing since 1992 or the SNES.

      • hmmm…

        The *animation* is usually pretty good.

        The *modelling* and pretty much everything else, is not even comparable to mainstream feature animation. Two TOTALLY different beasts.

        In my opinion.

  • It’s the ‘Toot Whistle Plunk & Boom’ of CGI! Simply tremendrous.

    • Sardonic Tuba

      Only without the design, wit, charm, appeal, color, or taste.

  • I find bad CG somehow disturbing, even more so than the “Uncanny Valley” effect of films like Polar Express. Maybe it’s the complete opposite of the Uncanny Valley? Like it’s so far from any reference in our own world that it shatters the mind, like starring into the eyes of Cththulu.

    • Martin

      Whenever I see something that bad in CG, I’m always scared my own work will get as ugly for a few hours or days through some kind of weird osmosis effect.

  • tgentry

    My eyes, they burn.

  • If they spruced up the animation (by a lot), it could’ve been something nice.

  • dbenson

    I kept thinking “Cool World” in CGI.

    • AniCentric

      No, that film at least had good animation in it.

      Horrible plot, threadbare characters, childish dialouge, immature premise, yes. But fantastic animation.

  • Looks like the cutscenes from conkers bad fur day.

    • AniCentric

      Conker looked brilliant compared to this tripe.

  • Rufus

    Why the heck is Chester Cheetah in it?


  • Justin

    This is what gives CG animated films a bad name.

  • Maybe the Charlie Sheen factor will help the sale since he is a voice in the film. lol

  • I read in an earlier post that Charlie Sheen is one of the people whose voices are in the movie; I bet that might raise the value of the film. Usually the celebrity doesn’t move tickets for an animated film but I would not be surprised if people went just to see what a tiger-blooded martian rock star is doing there.

  • It would make a great double bill with the horrifying FREAKY FLICKERS.
    The trailer:
    (All the YouTube links have gone away)

    Search previous Cartoon Brews for news about that project.

  • Silence Dogood

    The premise is actually not that bad. Although it doesn’t seem strong enough to carry a feature length film…
    I kind of hope someone with actual taste buds will give it a new face or something…

  • very punny

    Now I know what to get John Lasseter for his birthday!

  • Geo

    This goes back to at least 2001. I worked at Threshold on a different project back then and they had already done a few rounds of development work on the film. Doesn’t look any better than it did then, which is odd, because Threshold does have the capacity to do decent animation if they want.

  • Jeff

    Chester Cheetah didn’t even have spots!

  • How about sell it to a wannabe TV distrubutor and have them strip off the titles!

    • Chris Sobieniak

      I feel like selling this to The Weinstein Company, they’ll know how to deal with it. :-P

  • I have a Foodfight plush toy that I won at a carnival.

  • Keegan

    All I could think of was their use of the Ren & Stimpy font.

    It made me want to watch some good animation.

  • Gerard de Souza

    I think some lame brain looked at Toy Story and thought they could do the same with product symbols. I think that’s about it and they try to build a story around it.

    It may be a good idea as in a short like WB’s old Billboard Frolics.

    I bet all the money went to whatever big name voice talent and Chester Cheetah and Charlie Tuna licenses.

  • That was the worst trailer for an animated film I have ever seen. You really think people will see it with a lame song explaining what’s going on? Sorry, this just doesn’t cut it. Hoodwinked was way better than this (and the sequel too!).

  • Daniel J. Drazen

    The Chester Cheetah ripoff (no spots?) was the least of its problems. It looked like a hopeless mash-up throwing everything from Indiana Jones elements to anime catgirls on the screen and hoping enough sticks to call it a movie. Someone please buy it and give it a decent funeral.

  • Ethel Mertz

    I saw this movie at a Threshold screening back when it was completed. Think about the worst animated film you’ve ever seen. It’s a thousand times worse than that. It was an eye-stabbing experience from beginning to end. The great talent at Threshold isn’t to blame for this. The directors and managers and anyone non-creative are solely to blame. I’ve heard stories of the incompetence and just sheer lack of knowledge when it comes to animation at the top of that company. It’s sad.

  • tortured artist

    I was unfortunately one of the abused artists working on the film from the dungeon of a studio. There is a certain producer/director/writer/hack with no talent who was the sole reason for this movie crashing and burning. He had no concept of how to direct animation and made us re-do stuff different ways that was DONE so many times I couldn’t count. There were amazing talented artists working on graphics and animation in there, and everything that looked decent and true to the brand characters, he would change until it was beyond recognition from where it started in the worst possible way. I could go on and on all day. Every day was a new disaster brought on by incompetence on the part of the director. Meetings were a disaster and directed by the musings of a madman who also made me clean up his dog’s diarrhea. I was hired to do one thing that I did very well and after some time I was switched at his direction out-of-the-blue for no reason other than pure whimsy, to do something completely different that I had no knowledge of how to do and I was given no training and had to figure it out myself. then he came 2 weeks later and asked me why I was doing such a crappy job compared to the specialists who have been doing it for years as their career. When I explained to him that this wasn’t what I was hired to do and I had to learn from scratch with no help, he asked me what the difference was. Being the director, he should KNOW that difference, but I think in his mind, everyone who works in animation can do everything perfectly, from modeling, to texturing, rigging, lighting and animating – so he could randomly assign anyone to any job despite job titles and specialties and they would execute it perfectly. The result is that trailer, and probably less than an hour of footage that Threshold claims is a finished movie.

  • Mike

    Still rather see this than ‘Titlee in Jugmugland’

    • ShouldBeWorkin’

      …I suppose if one must choose between torture methods.

  • Silver Lining Czar

    I actually worked on this film.

    I signed on to the gig as a favor (and out of some sense of comradeship since a bunch of other misfits I favored were signing on) and promptly got laid off 2 weeks later along with about 20 other people because “funding fell through from Threshold”.

    I believe I blamed the management (Blake Darton? or something?) at the time but then again, they were most likely just a “Michael” to the whole situations “Office” so I don’t fault that guy, he was actually pretty nice. Figure he was stuck in the same boat as some of the talent there. Man, I don’t member the studios name… I think the studio was known for facial animation or some shit. We did tests using their software (I think they did work on Buttons, not Digital Domain <–who I've worked for and has always been top notch with me…man, I can't remember the studios name… they do facial stuff for games or something…) and the only test that got approved was mine and a couple other cats using hand-keyed animation. It was messy all around from the get go I guess…

    Shit talking aside here's the thing, yes, Threshold was a monster, yes, there were rumors flying about how terrible the owner guy was, like we're talking fake auditions for commercials and casting couch terrible type of shit, but everyone's missing the silver lining, because this is Hollywood and as much as animators like myself might hold some regard for it as an art form, it's a business. So while some may be upset that this Threshold guy is probably going to parlay the completion (as disastrous as the end result may be) into another film project, you have to look at the upside, because if this guy can do this(!?), why not me? Why not you? Right? So stop whining, go out there and do some terrible film of your own, they'll be plenty of bloggers waiting ;)

    • My God. I don’t know how you did it, but you just made me feel positive about the whole thing. XD

    • V. Flint

      Image Metrics was the name of the company.

  • Ever since Cartoon Brew posted about this movie waaay back in 2004, it has fascinated me to no end. I love dreadful animated films like this for reason, so I hope it gets released or leaked one day so I can see it. That was the first time I’ve actually seen the trailer and wow, it really is a complete mess – but there is some odd charm to the chaos.

  • ShouldBeWorkin’

    That “odd charm” is something called Schadenfreude.

  • Scarabim

    Frankly, I think a feature film starring commercial mascots like Chester Cheetah, the Trix Rabbit, Charlie the Tuna, Tony the Tiger, the Morton Salt Girl, Lucky Leprechaun, etc. could actually be kinda cool. Who cares where the characters come from? All of the above have good character designs and (with the exception of the Salt Girl) actual personalities. Animated movies have been made with far less going for them.

  • christopher

    I wonder if whoever said Russia would probably buy into this garb knows about the Hedgehog in the Fog and the other countless of beautiful animation that came out of that country. It obvious that Americans lack taste if they are the ones thought of this crap.

  • tredlow

    Aaugh. 90s video game cutscenes have better graphics than this. I hope whoever buys this is either planning to remake the whole thing or simply bury it.

    Why can’t this be traditionally animated?

  • Matt Sullivan

    I was working at Threshold back in 2001 and they were talking about this so-called “film” back then. The “creators” went out of their way to say it was strictly a money making device, thinking food companies would jump at the chance for free advertising.

    Thank goodness even big business recognized garbage when they saw it.

  • Matt Sullivan

    Give it to RIFFTRAX

  • James E. Parten

    It’s hard to judge by what one sees in this trailer, but there might have been something to “Foodfight” after all. If someone were willing to pony up the $2,500,000 (or more), this might find its way to video, where it might well find itself in the section marked “Cult”.

    The basic idea behind the film–things coming to life in a store after closing hours–can be traced back, in animation, to “I Like Mountain Music” (a/k/a “Magazine Rack”), a 1933 Merrie Melodies short that somehow got separated from its fellows; hence, the retitling. But it goes back further than that in other media.

    In 1929, Ernie Golden (popular bandleader) wrote “The Toymaker’s Dream”, a jaunty novelty about midnight in a toy shop. The most complete recording of this opus was by Vaughn de Leath (Victor).

    Before that, back in 1914, there was “The Terrible War In Snyder’s Grocery Store”, recorded for the Victor by ace novelty singer Billy Murray. This told of the delirious reaction of a German-American grocer to an excess or reading about the War, which has just begun in Europe. The reaction of Hans Gustaf Snyder to all the military goings-on is to crawl back into bed and swear to give up drinking–again!

    In a more recent example, there is a remembered animated commercial for Exxon. This 1971 spot, seen once, had to do with the decision to re-employ their old tiger (the one that was “in your tank”), calling him back from an Old Commercial Character’s Home (where you’d see the White Owl of cigar fame playing checkers with Speedy Alka-Seltzer). This was about the time that the former Standard Oil of New Jersey (which had used more names than you cold shake a dip-stick at!) decided to unify itself nationally under the marque of Exxon.

  • Anthrocoon

    Checked out entry and saw the voice cast–who’s Dexter the dog detective? Let’s just say “…winning…”

  • John

    If you think that is bad, try this one:

    I worked on a film that was screened at the LA Film Festival in the same program as this one, and not only was it awkward to watch, the q.a. afterward had an obvious “plant” in the audience who didn’t ask questions so much as talk about how great the film looked and how he wished he had the money to invest in getting it expanded for television. Super awkward.

  • Tom

    I’ve got an idea! They should sell it to Video Brinquedo!

    Named the cheapest film studio on Earth. A Brazilian film studio that rip-offs major animated films in some of the most bizarrely incompetent ways. They’ve ripped off Cars, Bee Movie, Kung Fu Panda, Up, Robots and much more – and the resulting rip-offs are disturbingly dreadful. Just watch the trailer for “Ratatoing” (the Ratatouille rip-off) and you’ll see what I mean.

    So Foodfight, judging by how crappy it looks, seems like the perfect film for them to distribute ;D