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CGIFeature Film

‘Little Prince’ Helmer Mark Osborne To Direct ‘Bone’ Adaptation

Bone is back on at Warner Bros. Kung Fu Panda and The Little Prince director Mark Osborne is taking on the animated adaptation of comic series Bone by Jeff Smith.

The long-gestating Warner Bros. film will be produced by Dan Lin’s Lin Pictures and Animal Logic’s Zareh Nalbandian. Osborne is co-writing the script with Adam Kline (Artemis Fowl). Osborne and Lin Pictures’ Mark Bauch will exec produce.

Smith’s Bone comics, popular in the 1990s and early 2000s, tell the story of the three Bone cousins who end up in a fantastic valley that they must set free from the Lord of the Locusts. Smith, an animator himself who co-founded the Ohio studio Character Builders, was influenced in the creation of Bone by his appreciation of cartoonists and comic book artists like Carl Barks, Walt Kelly, and George Herriman.

Warner Bros. envisions a trilogy of films based on the 55-issue comic series. Animal Logic will produce the film in computer animation. (Smith has in years past stated that he would have preferred a hand-drawn film, but understands that no company in the U.S. funds hand-drawn animation anymore.)

Bone is very special and unconventional because it blends elements together that you don’t necessarily expect—soft, little comic characters and epic high-stakes fantasy adventure,” Osborne told The Hollywood Reporter, which broke the story. “To carry this into the cinematic realm presents both an opportunity to represent what readers of all ages have loved about the series, while pushing animated storytelling into exciting and different areas.”

Osborne’s The Little Prince is an Oscar contender for the current year. That film’s distribution rights in the U.S. were handled by Netflix after Paramount backed out of its planned theatrical release.

  • Bone Fan

    Remember the fan animation someone did?

    • Dave 52

      If they were to bring Bone into CG I’d say they should follow the style of either The Peanuts Movie or the upcoming fully animated Smurfs: The Lost Village. Those are films whose animation knows how to respect the style of the original but put a CG twist on them.

      • I remember seeing a CG test by Animal Logic a number of years ago. Is that still around?

        • Dave 52

          I remember hearing about the test footage from Jeff Smith himself with him saying it was “Mindblowing” but I never saw it myself. I wish I could though and see what it looks like.

    • WanderPony

      I’d love to see a movie or TV show out of that.

    • Roberto González

      The most perfect thing about that fan animation is the voice of Ted. :D It totally gives the personality I imagined when reading the books. The rest of it is also really cool, though I prefer the look of the Bones to the look of Thorn.

      I think Mark Osborne is a great choice for this film, though I also hope they don’t change the design of the Bones too much. The Rat Creatures or the humans I can see them being more realistic and still looking ok, but the Bones could look atrocious with realistic features.

    • Dusty Ayres

      Fan animation (as much as one may love it) is not the same as official animation sanctioned by the creators that will also be seen by a wider public beyond the fanbase.

  • Bixby

    “(Smith)… would have preferred a hand-drawn film, but understands that no company in the U.S. funds hand-drawn animation anymore.)”
    No one, except at least Warner Brothers, whose DC animated DTVs are ALL still hand-drawn each and every time, and I’ll bet their new season of Young Justice will be as well…

    • AmidAmidi

      Talking about tentpole theatricals, not low-budget TV/DTV.

      • Bixby

        Well Sylvain Chomet and Miyazaki are STILL doing hand-drawn features, and Sergio Pablos is gearing up to do a full-length Klaus feature, so the quote about Hand-drawn features being a dead artform and genre is a lie.

        • NAYT

          I think *in the US* is key, all the companies you named are not. I don’t think hand drawn animation will ever die, but as cheaper methods present themselves, most companies refuse to pay for it. It is a truly beautiful thing when done right!

          • Bixby

            Are you actually saying Hand-drawn animation is more expensive than CG? you are so wrong on that…

          • ea

            There’s open-source animation software, so anybody can make 2D animation; it’s just a matter of how much time you want to invest on it.

        • movieNerd

          Klaus will be full cg and neither chomet nor myazaki’s film where financially successful enough to keep their shops up and running. hell myazaki’s next film will be cg.

          • Bixby

            Klaus is going to be hand-drawn with 3D enhancements, I have it from the horse’s mouth

          • Bixby

            What does it matter if the films were billion-dollar money-makers, was that part of the original statement? And yes, Chomet’ has had to restart from the ground up twice to get his films made…well, a third time as he is gearing up once again to do another film imminently…

  • yes!

  • Dave 52

    YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YEEEEEESSSSS. FINALLY! I Honestly thought that this project would NEVER see the light of day or even get made! I LOVE Bone so this is WONDERFUL news! Just WOW! And from the director of Kung Fu Panda?! You can’t get much better than THAT with a project like this! I can’t wait!

  • Jay Sabicer

    I thought Paramount (through Nickelodeon) originally tried and failed to get a Bone movie off-the-ground.

    I’ve read the entire saga, several of the off-shoot stories and firmly believe it’s adaptable to film. My only concern is Warner has a bad reputation in marketing their animated films properly (save their Looney Tunes franchise films). Cautiously optimistic.

    • white vader

      Animal Logic has been sitting on it for a few years. Seems like things are moving again.

    • Roca

      If I’m not mistaken, Smith has kept this property close to his heart for a long time, I don’t think he’ll make it unless they give him a significant amount of control. He made his reputation fighting for creators rights. It’ll be done right, I have faith.

    • Dave 52

      Actually, after the success of The Lego Movie and starting their own animation division, Warner has put just as much effort into marketing their animated film as much as they do their live action ones.

  • I just hope Warner Bros. allows Mark Osborne room to create like The LEGO Movie. If so, I really think this project can reach the fanbase and general audiences.

    • Dave 52

      My only question is how long is the film’s running time going to be? There are a total of nine novels and if this is a trilogy clearly each film will put focus on three of the novels. A story like that can’t be told in an hour and thirty minute film. Will they pull a Lord Of The Rings or The Hobbit and make the film longer than a usual animated film? Or will they change some things to make the movie fit the usual running time?

      • I don’t know to be honest. I wished it was a live action-animation hybrid instead of an entirely cgi film….or be like Smith and have it entirely 2D. That would’ve been nice.

        If they are smart, they will fully construct how each movie will meet in line with the story of Bone….if they do play it smart, could have more than three films if they really wanted. But we’ll have to see.

        • Dave 52

          Okay…..2D animation I can understand why would you want that but why would take a Live Action/animated film over a fully animated CGI movie? Bone has two different styles one is cartoony the other is more realistic. It’s hard enough trying to make them feel part of the same world in an animated film but in a Live Action one it even harder to do that and not make it seem awkward. You now have three style if it were live action: Cartoony, Realistic, and Live Action itself and there is honestly too much of a risk of not having certain characters look out of place. In a completely animated film you can render certain characters to make them look like part of the world plus you can get away with a lot more in animation then Live Action. It’s also easier to get into the idea that characters like the Bones or the Rat Creatures are part of this world. There are some film upcoming adaptions of graphic novels that I can understand and see how you could make it a Live Action movie not have seem weird or out of place, but if they were to take that direction with Bone I would be scratching my head and just be saying “Why not just make it a fully animated feature?”.

          Also, What is wrong with the film being an entirely CGI anyway? With each passing year animation is getting better and better and with certain films more vibrant and colorful. CG has even managed to take certain films and shorts starring some of our most beloved animated characters and bring them back in the way we grew up with them but with a more Computer Animated twist. A Bone movie animated in the style of something like The Peanuts Movie or the upcoming Smurfs: The Lost Village and Captain Underpants films could be something fantastic. Something that looks CG animated but feels 2D animated. Animal Logic, the studio who is doing the animation, has proven what they can do with The LEGO Movie and The Lego Batman Movie in terms of animation. They made CG animation look like fluid stop motion animation and just imagine what they could do with Bone! Imagining it is making me excited!

          Sorry if it sounds like I am bashing your thoughts I am just curious as to why you wanted those certain things in a movie like this.

          • “Sorry if it sounds like I am bashing your thoughts I am just curious as to why you wanted those certain things in a movie like this.”

            Not at all, you were not bashing my thoughts. You are very excited of the direction Bone could (and will) go, and the passion is nothing but positive. So I’m not offended at all, you’re good. :)

            I’m also appreciative for you allowing me to share my position with you, as I’m enjoying the conversation.

            I agree with your points that cgi is improving into the different styles of cgi animation (Lego Movie, Peanuts, etc.). I am a bit concerned of the kind of designs they’ll have for the parts were I feel it could’ve been done live action (like Thorn Harvestar). It would be more of a challenge as you mentioned, and if they nailed it, I think it would add more interest. I also think people might write it off as just another animated movie to watch (as an entirely cgi film), instead of a really powerful experience. Now, they still can make it that powerful experience with entirely cgi. I hope they do.

            To answer the last question, there is nothing wrong with it being entirely cgi for an animated film. It’s just that I enjoy diversity of media as an artist. Sometimes the different media brings different experiences that the other media would not bring. Each have their strengths for storytelling. CGI has been doing well and staying consistent, and Laika has been doing a phenomenal job as the ambassador for stop-motion. I would love for hand drawn animation to come back theatrically in the States, and to continue every so often.

            Sorry for the long explanation, but if you read all of it, thank you for doing so and your time.

          • Dave 52

            Thank you for reading my comment as well and for your kind response and your thoughts and points. You do have a lot of good points, insights, and I completely understand where you are coming from. We do need to have diversity in terms of film or even television. I like a bunch of variety myself and every once in a while do wish for something different. Whenever I can get a different style of animation in a film in a certain year I just feel happy. I love when I can get a stop motion movie every once in awhile. I love a new story being told in a different style of animation whether it be stop motion, CGI, traditional, or even a hybrid that combines one of the animation styles. I also understand how some people could write off Bone simply because it is an animated film and only that, which is not fair and is pretty ridiculous to me. Regardless whether or not is an animated film or not someone should not a movie and writing off because it is a specific type of movie is just plain stupid. However, animated movies has been getting more and popular (even more than live action) to the point where it is being respected for doing things not even live action movies will attempt to do. And you see very few people nowadays writing off animated movies simply because they are animated movies and are more people who aren’t really into animated movies getting into animated movies. Who Knows? Maybe Bone could bring in fans fans who aren’t that big into animation and love fantasy films or fans newcomers who haven’t even read the comic and just think it looks interesting. You never know.

            Now, give me more detail on you mean by what could be done with Thorn? This could be a very interesting conversation. : D

  • Tomm

    I’ve loved Bone since i stumbled on issue 1 in a local comic shop here in Ireland – i collected every issue for years and all the iterations of the “brick” too. It was a favourite all thru college when I was studying animation . I do think Mark Osborne is a talented and sensitive filmmaker with the right chops to bring this to the screen but dang it – why can’t they make a go of doing this in handdrawn? If ever a project made more sense in that medium this is it. But then I prefer the black and white interior art to the airbrushed covers anyway …still I guess I am looking forward to seeing all those characters and locations in a big budget feature.

    • Dave 52

      I can only imagine how fantastic this will look if they take the animation in same style of The Peanuts Movie or Smurfs: The Lost Villiage or even the upcoming Capatin Underpants movie. Something that is CG animated but still has the look, feel, and style of the original 2D source material. This could phenomenal on the big screen in an IMAX theater especially with Animal Logic doing the animation.

    • Dusty Ayres

      Hand-drawn isn’t as cool as CGI anymore.

  • Steven Bowser

    I don’t know why someone would consider making this film in CG. It would very obviously look great in hand drawn animation. What is wrong with people that they think audiences prefer CG? I honestly think most people have no clue how animated films are made, and they don’t care.

    • GW

      In my experience they can’t always tell stop motion from CG but they do have a basic understanding of animation being frame by frame movement. I think that while some people prefer CG, just about anybody will watch a film if it’s good enough to make them care. It’s the mediocre films that people are less likely to watch if its in a medium that they’re not interested in.

      Speaking for myself, I never got interested in the original comic Bone. It just wasn’t my cup of tea. I would probably like it better if it were a little bit different from the original comic strip whatever medium it’s made in. I never got interested in Jeff Smith’s work. Bone didn’t strike me as very unique aside from having bones as characters(unless you consider anything besides superheroes and realistically drawn action comics unique as a result of fan’s myopic interests) and RASL’s linework is stiff and constrained. I’ve been spoiled by animation linework which is much more fluid. Personally, I’d prefer to see a hand drawn adaptation but one that’s not a direct translation of the original comics.

      • Steven Bowser

        In my experience, most people just see a film as a “cartoon” or “real” and they don’t put as much thought into HOW it was made or anything like that. It’s just not that important to most people. My point is that most people don’t make their decisions of which movie to watch based on the animation medium that was used in the making of the film. Nobody really cares, they just think, “It was cute, I liked the part with the funny trolls” or something.

        So it bothers me that studios think it matters to people. But obviously there’s more to it than that. CG has its benefits and all, and they probably have a lot more expertise in that area now.

  • Steven Bowser

    Every medium has its upsides and downsides. I am not against CG as a medium, but with things like The Peanuts or Bone, they lend themselves wholeheartedly to hand drawn animation because they ARE drawn originally, and hand drawn animation would just take those drawings and bring them to life. So doing hand drawn animation would make it the most true to the original source material.

    To do it in CG would be to change it into something else, or in the case of Peanuts, you’d need to go through a LOT of trouble to make the computer give you something that’s true to the original source material when you could’ve just drawn it.