Robot Dreams Robot Dreams

Indie distributor Neon will release Robot Dreams, the wistfully endearing hand-drawn Spanish animated feature directed and written by Pablo Berger and based on the graphic novel by Sara Varon, on May 31.

Robot Dreams opens on that date at the Film Forum and AMC Lincoln Square in New York City, before expanding to other cities in June. Neon has not provided further details on how quickly or widely the film will expand in the States. The dialogue-less film is Berger’s first work in animation; he is widely known for his live-action work, particularly Blancanieves, his idiosyncratic 2012 adaptation of the Snow White fairytale.

Berger’s new film, about a lonely dog in Manhattan who builds himself a robot best friend, has had a phenomenal critical reception. It was nominated for an Oscar for best animated feature, and won the Annie Award for independent feature, the European Film Award for animated feature, multiple Goyas for animated feature and adapted screenplay, and the Annecy Contrechamp grand prize, in addition to other honors.

The critical reaction hasn’t necessarily translated to box office success for the $6 million production. The film has grossed $3.3 million global box office, though it still has many international markets in which to open. Top market to date is Mexico ($2.2m).

One of the biggest hurdles that the film’s distributors must overcome is its graphic look. While the film is a richly layered auteur’s work and possibly most meaningful to older audiences, its colorful visual style screams young and can lead the average viewer to conclude that it’s a standard-issue children’s film. Director Pablo Berger spoke about how people perceive the film in an interview with Cartoon Brew last fall:

For us, it was never a kids’ movie. Sara’s book wasn’t meant for kids either. Of course, it’s got kid-friendly designs and colors, and I think kids will enjoy the film, but we never considered adding anything or leaving anything out for kids. For me, the most important audience for any of my films is me. That may sound selfish or egocentric, but I make all of my films with myself as the main target, and after me is the team I’m working with.

Robot Dreams is a Spanish-French co-production produced by Arcadia Motion Pictures (Spain), Noodles Production (France), and Les Films du Worso (France).

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Amid Amidi

Amid Amidi is Cartoon Brew's Publisher and Editor-at-large.