“Genndy is one of the most singular voices in animation today and we are overjoyed to have him develop his next original features at Sony Pictures Animation, where he began his theatrical career nearly a decade ago,” said Kristine Belson, president of Sony Pictures Animation. “His imagination and talent have no boundaries, which will be made abundantly clear by the two wildly different movies he’ll be directing next.”
The move into R-rated animation and action-adventure films for Sony is a smart way for the studio to distinguish itself from the rest of the U.S. animation industry. The market for family-friendly cg fare is plenty competitive, but just about every other kind of storytelling in animation is missing. Massive audiences have patiently been waiting for years to hand over their money to a studio that can produce something fresh and original which isn’t targeted to the kiddie crowd.
Neither of these two areas – R-rated animation and adventure animation – are new territory for Sony either. Sony is the only contemporary studio that has done a wide release of an R-rated animated film – the hit Sausage Party in 2016 – though that film was made without the participation of Sony Pictures Animation or its animation arm, Sony Pictures Imageworks. On the action side too, Sony is active; its upcoming Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse looks to offer a new tone and texture for superhero storytelling in animation.
The only possible hitch in all of this is whether Sony will follow through. The studio in the past has struggled to show faith in its creators and to bring interesting projects to completion. Tartakovsky himself has previously developed two projects at Sony – the original concept Can You Imagine? and an adaptation of the classic comic character Popeye – neither of which made it into full production. If and when Sony can overcome its own fears about trusting creators, they could become an unstoppable force in U.S. animation.
Tartakovsky is repped by WME.