Early thoughts on Open Season

Sony Imageworks’s first feature OPEN SEASON already has one major strike against it: three co-directors. In my opinion, great animated features have a strong singular vision (Brad Bird, Henry Selick, Sylvain Chomet), not the diluted ideas of multiple individuals. Films with co-directors have rarely worked in live-action (the exception being works by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger), and if the studio animated features from the past decade are any indication, it’s a similarly ineffective system for producing quality cartoon films.

Nevertheless, there are reasons to have hope for Sony’s foray into feature animation. First, the film’s teaser poster is actually appealing. Obviously, it’s not final production art, but it seems to indicate that Sony is headed more in Pixar’s direction than DreamWorks/PDI’s, which is to say they’re making a film that actually takes advantage of the animated medium and not simply producing a live-action feature in CG guise. The film is based on ideas by syndicated cartoonist Steve Moore (IN THE BLEACHERS) which also points towards a more animated approach. Another reason to hope is that, despite my reservations about the co-director system, the film’s directors are actually quite talented. Ethan Hurd writes on his blog about why he left PDI to join the OPEN SEASON crew, and it’s primarily because of his faith in one of the film’s co-directors, Jill Culton, who worked on story for TOY STORY 2 and MONSTERS INC. The other co-directors are THE LION KING’s Roger Allers and Tony Stacchi, who has a lot of great projects on his resume and must be cool because he just started his own blog HERE. Jamie Baker mentions on his BLOG that Carter Goodrich and COW & CHICKEN’s Dave Feiss are also involved in OPEN SEASON. The film is currently slated for ’06 release.