Sausage Party, an R-rated animated film about a group of food items who engage in the type of linguistic and sexual behavior not typically associated with cartoon multiplex characters, debuted this past weekend. It's since become a box office success, earning $33 million in its opening weekend and finishing just behind the second weekend of Suicide Squad. It also earned generally positive reviews.
In interviews Seth Rogen, who voices the main character and also co-wrote and co-produced the film, has stated that he saw the film as an opportunity to work with people he knows in the animation world who rarely get to indulge in non-kid humor. Now however, some of the film’s animators are leveling some very serious charges at the production.
Dorkly.com lays out the story: The film’s co-directors, Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan, recently gave an interview to the website CartoonBrew to talk about Sausage Party, and specifically how they delivered a quality, not-cheap-looking movie on an uncommonly low-budget. However, the comment section on the interview quickly filled up with accusations from animators who worked on Sausage Party, alleging that they weren’t paid for overtime, that as many as 30 animators quit throughout the production and that numerous animators were unfairly left out of the film’s credits.
According to stories told in the comments:
- The production cost were kept low because Greg would demand people work overtime for free. If you wouldn't work late for free your work would be assigned to someone who would stay late or come in on the weekend. Some artist were even threatened with termination for not staying late to hit a deadline.
- The animation department signed a petition for better treatment and paid overtime. When the letter got to Annapurna they stepped in and saw that artist were payed (sic) and fed when overtime was needed.
- Over 30 animators left during the coarse (sic) of the production due to the stress and expectations. Most of them left before the paid overtime was implemented. This was met with animosity and was taken as a personal insult to the owners. Their names were omitted from the final credits despite working for over a year on this film.
Another commenter noted that as much as half of the animation team was not credited. The Sausage Party IMDb page lists 83 animators, but the film’s own credits only include 47.
None of the concerned parties, it’s important to note, have yet attached their names to criticism. But even so, this looks very bad. Sausage Party was produced in Canada by the Canadian production company Nitrogen Studios, which presumably puts it outside of the jurisdiction of the Animation Guild, the union that represents Hollywood animators. In the CartoonBrew interview, in fact, co-director Tiernan had stated that “after working in the L.A. industry for many years, I could see so much money just needlessly thrown down the toilet in making a lot of these movies.”
Whatever happens, the film's production team and studio backers should probably issue an official response to the allegations at some point. Hopefully, if the accusations are proven to be accurate, this will lead to the situation being made right now.
Sausage Party is now playing in U.S. theaters.