Duncan Jones has revealed that Mute could potentially have been a motion capture animated film, based on talks held during earlier stages of production. The movie has had a long and difficult journey to release, with the director initially starting development on the film sixteen years ago. Morphing several times over the course of its creation, the project even looked to be first released as a Dark Horse comic before a finite structure was finally found.
Mute thankfully found a home, and was confirmed for a Netflix release back in 2016. By this point, Jones had already attached some big names to the project in the form of Paul Rudd and Alexander Skarsgård, and fans of the director’s previous work could finally rest easy knowing that this project was finally going to be seen. However, given that it was such a strenuous task to get Mute made, it’s not surprising to see that there have been some major changes along the way.
As a matter of fact, Mute was once being scoped out as a potential motion capture animated film. Speaking with Deadline, Jones confirmed that when sounding out the movie’s concepts in order to get the ball rolling with studio pitches, it was once pushed as an animated movie. “We tried to drum up interest by doing it as an animated film at one point,” stated Jones, before going on to state that the film would have been “motion capture, computer generated.”
According to the director, this passage was taken as a means to try and gain a little interest in getting Mute made, with the film finding it difficult to get a home. However, running with the film as a mo-cap animated feature was also a tough choice for studios to pick up. “What was against us, as you now know, is that the script was so dark and difficult, and the subject matter just so atypical of anything that the studios might be interested in. It was just not going to happen that way,” said Jones. Thankfully, producer Stuart Fenegan “hit the right combination of budget and cast” to get interest from Netflix, finally getting Mute up and running.
Although Jones is right that an adult-centric animated film would be a tough sell for many studios, there have been previous examples that have come to fruition. However, the end results were often mixed, particularly from a financial perspective, so it’s easy to see why some studios would balk at the prospect of a Blade Runner-inspired mo-cap project. After all, neither 2007’s A Scanner Darkly nor 2006’s Renaissance managed to claw back their budgets at the box office.
Even so, it’s interesting to think about how Mute would have worked as an animated film, and some fans may be left wondering what might have been. At the very least, Jones might get the chance to make an animated film in the future. Indeed, with Jones showing interest in adapting a 2000 AD comic series, there’s certainly a lot of potential for an animated feature yet.
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