Sony Pictures’ Sausage Party is one of the biggest surprise hits of the summer, turning a tidy profit almost immediately an earning strong reviews for its unique combination of gross-out Pixar-parody and clever satire of religious and existential arguments. But one group not celebrating is the film’s animators, who allege mistreatment and dishonest practices by upstart Nitrogen Studios.
Following several reports of animators being denied overtime, one of the entertainment industry’s most powerful unions has stepped up to offer aid to the aggrieved employees. This marks the second union to lend its support to the employees, as Local Unifor 2000 already filed an official complaint late last week.
While Sausage Party (which is already looking likely to receive a sequel) was largely conceived by and stars the extended family of actors and comedians associated with producers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the film’s animation duties were handled by the smaller Canadian animation firm Nitrogen Studios. Shortly after the film was released, current and former employees at Nitrogen began to allege a variety of abuses by management; including the denial of overtime pay, threats of unjust termination and other actions that contributed to an “unrewarding and frustrating work environment.”
While this has already led to widespread condemnation of the alleged practices at Nitrogen and at least one Canadian union has already weighed in, Deadline reports that the blacklash has escalated with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees — considered among the most powerful labor forces in the entertainment industry — offering to put its weight behind the animators’ cause.
In a statement, the IATSE linked the allegations to the broader cause of employees in the Visual FX field, where similar abuses and poor practices from management have been a growing industry-wide issue for several years now; associated with many of Hollywood’s biggest CGI-driven blockbusters:
“Visual effects workers are in an untenable situation, and something’s gotta give. IATSE does not want to see this situation continue to go unchecked, so we urge those in the VFX community to contact us for support and assistance. These workers deserve better.”
Meanwhile, Nitrogen Studios has continued to insist that the allegations are without merit, telling Deadline that the studio “adhered to all overtime laws and regulations, as well as our contractual obligations with our artists.” Stay with Screen Rant for more news on this story as it develops.
Sausage Party is currently playing in theaters.