Popular culture

Why was the Sony Popeye movie canceled?

There are plenty of movies we wanted to see that never materialized, whether it’s Stanley Kubrick’s Napoleon or Darren Aronofsky’s Batman. For Popeye fans, the most recently scrapped project may just be one of many movies that got away.

There’s no denying that Popeye is iconic in the realm of popular culture, and it’s hard to watch Spinach without being reminded of the strong sailor.

Created by Elzie Crisler Segar, the fictional cartoon character began appearing in the King Features daily strip Thimble Theater in 1929 and the title of the strip would eventually become Popeye. Over the years, we’ve seen the sailor reimagined in movies and shows, both in animation and live-action.

Speaking of animation, there was talk of a new Popeye movie from Sony Pictures Animation biting the dust in 2015. So why was Popeye canceled?

Photo credit should read YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP via Getty Images

Why was Popeye canceled?

Creative differences and Sony wanting to focus on The Emoji MovieWe were noted as reasons, reports Canceled Movies Fandom.

A Popeye movie was going to be directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, who is perhaps best known as the creator of samurai jack and Dexter’s Laboratory; he was also the author of The Powerpuff Girls.

During a chat with Cartoon Brew in 2015, Genndy explained what happened with the project, detailing the hurdles that arose during production. Before Sony canceled it, he said there was a screening that everyone was happy with. However, the reaction was plagued with other problems:

“…It was also during the height of the Sony hack, and I could sense that something was about to happen soon. So after the screening, I didn’t get a response from them, which was weird because everyone was so positive. Usually we meet and talk and take notes. But they had a meeting on their own, and that was it.

He went on to explain that he got a call from Sony saying it was great, but he suspected he hadn’t received any ratings: “Later I personally went to see [then Sony Pictures Entertainment executive] Amy Pascal, and said, ‘Look, I’m a big boy. I can take it. I just need information. And she said, “Look Genndy, we love you, but we just don’t love Popeye.”

However, he added that they were still trying to make a Popeye movie, but not what he was doing.

Popeye leaked online

Although the project hasn’t been released, Cartoon Brew reported on Tuesday, July 26, that an anonymous source — going by the alias Chip Butty — uploaded an 87-minute animatic for the Genndy Project.

While Cartoon Brew was able to verify its authenticity, it’s unknown how many alternate versions of the animatic existed and it remains to be seen how close this video was to the final version that was allegedly released or submitted.

Nonetheless, Popeye fans who managed to see it will have had a taste of how the film was able to take shape.

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It’s not over for Popeye

Those interested in seeing Popeye return will be happy to know that a project is still in the works.

The Things reports that a small animation studio called King Features is now involved in bringing Popeye back to screens. They note that the film is scheduled for release in 2022 and Cartoon Brew reported in 2020 that Genndy was working with King Features.

However, it remains to be seen if he is actually at the helm.

In other news, Good Luck Jerry: OTT streaming release date and time confusion explained