Jack Black & Illumination Entertainment Invest in Cryptozoology

Animation films, whether it’s the new school CGI or old school hand drawn, have always been popular with kids of all ages and in recent years, have become fun for adults to watch as well; so, it’s no surprise to read a story over at Variety announcing a new CGI feature film involving Jack Black.  Writer Jason Micallef pitched an idea to Illumination Entertainment which is an extension of Universal headed by Chris Meledandri.

Micallef’s pitch in set in the world of Cryptozoology, which is the study and search for unknown, yet often talked about, animals or beings. My guess is it will include “monsters” like the Yeti, Sasquatch, Bigfoot, The Loch Ness Monster and maybe even mermaids or dragons. Black, who at one time was thought to be voicing a character, will now only be producing with business partner Ben Cooley via their production company Electric Dynamite.

I like the premise of Micallef’s idea but it sounds very similar to this year’s Monster vs. Aliens. Sure this involves unknown creatures instead of 50’s sci-fi monsters but I can’t help seeing the comparisons. The project is still untitled and no details on the actual story or plot have been revealed so we’ll just have to wait and see.

This isn’t Black’s first time in the CGI world. He had huge success as the rotund Po in Kung Fu Panda which now has a sequel in the works, Kung Fu Panda: The Ka-boom of Doom. He also did voices for Ice Age and Shark Tale.

Micallef, however, is somewhat of a newcomer to the scene. He does have another project, Butter, in the works which has Jennifer Garner and producer Michael De Luca attached.  We’ll have to see how his idea ultimately comes across as a story to judge him as a writer though.

Illumination Entertainment is joining the CGI feeding frenzy in 2010 with their first release Despicable Me, starring the voices of Steve Carell (Date Night), Jason Segel (Knocked Up), Kristen Wiig (Whip It!), Danny McBride (Up in the Air), Julie Andrews (The Tooth Fairy), Will Arnett (Jonah Hex) and Russell Brand (Drop Dead Fred).

It makes sense that Illumination would want to get a piece of this juicy CGI animation pie. If you take a look at the top 100 grossing films of all time (as per Box Office Mojo), you’ll count 20 animated films occupying a spot there. Here they are in order of highest to lowest:

Shrek 2, Ice Age 3, Finding Nemo, Shrek the Third, The Lion King, Up, Ice Age 2, Kung Fu Panda, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Madagascar 2, Madagascar, The Simpsons Movie, Monsters, Inc., WALL-E, Aladdin, Toy Story 2, Shrek, Cars, Tarzan

For a long time, Disney enjoyed having the whole pie for themselves; that is until Pixar showed up with Toy Story in 1996 and started taking up a large slice of the profits from them. So Disney just bought Pixar and regained control of the pie. Not so fast, though - Dreamworks (Madagascar, Shrek) and Blue Sky Studios (Ice Age, Horton Hears a Who!) threw their hats into the ring and their fingers into the pie. Out the 20 movies listed 11 of them were released under the Disney label, so they still maintain a hefty portion of the pie but with more and more studios picking up forks and diving in, the percentage is sure to drop.

What do you think about the future of CGI feature length films and the idea behind this latest pitch?

Source: Variety

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