Popeye won’t be moving forward at Sony, at least the version that director Genndy Tartakovsky wanted to make. Tartakovsky revealed in a Moviefone interview yesterday that he’s no longer working on a film featuring the pipe-puffing, spinach-guzzling sailor:
“Popeye, at least, we put up a great screening, everybody really liked that sizzle, we got a positive reaction. I was in love with what we were doing, but I think the studio is going through changes and I don’t know if they want to make the Popeye that I want to make. So they’ve got to make a decision…It was hard to let Popeye go, but that’s the business.”
The “changes” at Sony that Tartakovsky alluded to in his comments are the canning of Sony Pictures Digital Productions president Bob Osher (and his enabler Amy Pascal) and the hiring of former DreamWorks producer Kristine Belson as president of Sony Pictures Animation.
The Animation Guild blog hinted at the likely cancellation of Popeye in a blog post yesterday, saying that Kristine Belson “is likely itching to put her own stamp on SPA, so look for some previously-announced pictures to be pushed back….or pushed overboard.”
Tartakovsky, who is currently wrapping up on Hotel Transylvania 2, says that he’s now developing the previously announced Can You Imagine?, which he says is “an original idea of my own and a very personal story.”
Sony has not commented yet on whether they intend to continue making Popeye without Tartakovsky’s participation. Below is the Popeye CG test that Tartakovsky directed as a proof-of-concept. Enjoy it because it’s the only new Popeye animation you’re going to be seeing for a while: