Shane Acker Joins Reel FX To Direct “Beasts of Burden” Film

Santa Monica and Dallas-based Reel FX has no plans to slow down. Already producing two features—Jimmy Hayward’s Turkeys and Jorge Gutierrez’s Book of Life—Reel FX announced today that they are developing a third feature based on the Dark Horse comic book series Beasts of Burden. Shane Acker, who directed the animated feature 9 is on board as director.

All I can say at this early stage is that Reel FX’s approach to feature animation is refreshingly eclectic and mature for an American animation studio. They will definitely be one to watch over the next couple years.

More about the Beasts of Burden feature in this official announcement:

(Dallas, Texas and Santa Monica, California) February 20, 2013—Reel FX announced today that Academy Award-nominee Shane Acker (9) will direct the studio’s upcoming untitled CG-animated feature based on the Dark Horse Comics series Beasts of Burden, written by Evan Dorkin and illustrated by Jill Thompson. The film is being written by Darren Lemke (Turbo, Shrek Forever After). Aron Warner, Reel FX’s President of Animation, is producing the film alongside Mike Richardson from Dark Horse Entertainment and Andrew Adamson from Strange Weather.

Warner notes, “Reel FX is continuing to partner with some of the leading filmmakers in animation. Shane is an immense talent and will bring his fresh vision and approach to this adaptation of Beasts of Burden.”

Says Acker, “It’s a pleasure to be working with such accomplished producers and filmmakers on this incredible project. There is a real independent spirit at Reel FX—the studio is full of energy and fresh ideas—which is necessary to bring this unique story to life.”

The project is an animated adventure about the baffling behavior (tail chasing, barking at “nothing” at all) of our favorite four-legged friends. In the charming town of Burden Hill, there might be more to these animal antics than meets the eye. The town is inhabited by the supernatural, and when its paranormal activity becomes even more abnormal than usual, it’s up to a group of fearless canines called the Watch Dogs to protect its citizens – and humanity – from the mysterious things that go “bump” in the night.


  • http://twitter.com/kellytindall Kelly Tindall

    Beasts of Burden is a fantastic comic book. I can’t recommend it enough; it makes the switch from humor to pants-filling terror effortlessly. And the pug is cute.

    • Martinelli

      Were William Castle alive and involved plugging “Beasts of Burden,” he’d latch onto ‘Pants-Filling Terror!’ as the ultimate tag line for this filmic gem.

  • Joseph Hudak

    It’s disappointing how few animated features even attempt to go a “PG-13″ route (which “Beasts of Burden certainly is) let alone more toward adult oriented audiences. It’ll be interested to see where this goes and how true it will stay to the source material, or succumb to the urge to sanitize it for the ever popular pre-teen audience.

    • http://twitter.com/SarahJesness SarahJesness

      Agreed. Most (American) animated works made for older audiences tend to be toiler humor and shock value comedy, not exactly what I would call “adult”.

      “Beasts of Burden” is an interesting choice for an attempt at a more mature, PG-13 animated movie, considering that it revolves around talking animals. I’ve got nothing against talking animals, but usually when someone makes a serious animated work (as in, not a Family Guy or South Park style comedy) they usually try hard to establish how “adult” it is by avoiding things that are often associated with children’s shows and films, like talking animals and princess musicals.

      • http://twitter.com/ChriSobieniak Chris Sobieniak

        An interesting feature that was done out of Germany in the 90′s that had talking cats in it that brought this to my mind was “Felidae” (itself based on a novel). For a film that was certainly made for adults, they did a fine job with establishing apart from the talking animal format it contained. Though I suppose it was a bit more brutal in it’s delivery in certain places.

  • http://twitter.com/CartoonPalooza Joseph Patrick

    This is neat! I’d love to see Acker tackle another feature film after 9!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jimmy-McKee/100000472580937 Jimmy McKee

    Beasts of Burden is a rip off of Ginga Nagareboshi Gin

    • Evan Dorkin

      I’ll have to look that title up and see what it is so I can tell you if I ripped it off or not. Because that’s one on me, pal. Thanks for the head’s up.

      • evan dorkin

        Okay, I did some checking. It turns out we ripped off Milo and Otis and an episode of Kolchak, The Night Stalker! So, thanks for playing, but, sorry, you’re very wrong.

        • http://twitter.com/ChriSobieniak Chris Sobieniak

          Seeing what Beasts of Burden is at the moment, I can tell both properties are far apart in their themes since I don’t recall any paranormal activities in GNG or it’s sequel (Ginga Densetsu Weed). You’re cleared Mr. Dorkin!

      • Lieu

        oh snap

    • DarklingDragon

      I thought Ginga was about an Akita pup that joins a feral pack and fights a giant bear. I don’t recall them ever investigating paranormal mysteries.

      Also, I hope you were just trolling. It would be sad if you were serious.

  • http://twitter.com/SarahJesness SarahJesness

    I would like to see more animated films and shows with an older, more mature audience in mind.

  • Obo Agboghidi

    Am I the only one woried at how many projects they are taking on. R&H is close to bankruptcy, DW laid off a bunch of people….RFX starts production on 3 features. The hell

  • James Madison

    This is good news. I want to see Shane Acker direct another film.

  • Ezlo

    I couldn’t disagree more. RFX’s story is in no way similar to either DWA or R&H. DWA bit off way more than they could chew and R&H’s business model was unsustainable from the get-go. RFX, on the other hand, has a well designed production pipeline that provides a reasonable amount of time between features. They didn’t just start production on TURKEYS or BOOK OF LIFE. Both have been in development for a long time and coincidentally happen to be releasing next year. BEASTS likely won’t hit theaters for a few more years. In addition, they have a strong commercials program that provides work for their talent while they’re in-between features. As for it being hard to attract top talent to Dallas: think again. That may have been true ten years ago, but many experienced industry folks are looking at Texas with fresh eyes. If RFX ends up with a few hits on their hands, expect the west coast’s stranglehold on animation to change dramatically. The industry is in sore need of a studio outside of Disney’s domain. I for one hope RFX pulls it off.

    • Van

      I hope you’re right about all those things you’ve listed. Sounds like you work there. As for the stranglehold, I don’t see it as a negative thing. The entertainment hub started in southern California so naturally companies tend to stay near other talented rivals. One of the reasons is the proximity to the talent pool that have been in California for years. ReelFX’s LA studio is here to attract that same talent too. Although, some talks of globalization might skew things a bit. And the weather is a legitimate factor in determining where people want to reside despite the ridiculous real-estate costs and taxes. Dallas may be expanding but let’s get real here. Dallas’ weather cannot even come close to California’s.

  • Mat

    Hopefully hes learned basic story principals for this film.