Writer/director Robert Rodriguez impressed critics, audiences, and filmmakers with his first feature El Mariachi, a low-budget throwback to old westerns that combined violent action and wry humor. That led to a series of popular genre film collaborations with Quentin Tarantino, including Once Upon a Time in Mexico, From Dusk Till Dawn, and Sin City. Upcoming projects include a screenplay for a live-action Jonny Quest, and jumping into the director's chair for Alita: Battle Angel and the Escape from New York remake.
While he's made a name for himself with bloody action flicks, Rodriguez has also found success with more G-rated fare. His family-friendly film Spy Kids, featuring well-known actors like Antonio Banderas, Sylvester Stallone, Salma Hayek, and Ricardo Montalban, pulled in $147 million worldwide on a $35 million dollar budget. This led to a full-fledged franchise with three follow-up sequels.
STX Entertainment is hoping Rodriguez can kick off another series of films to launch their new family and animation division. As Deadline reports, the director has been brought on to helm the animated film Ugly Dolls, based on a collection of goofy monster-like dolls, action figures, and comic books created by David Horvath for Pretty Ugly LLC. Gigi Pritzker (Drive) and OddLot (Ender's Game) will co-produce along with STX. The movie's release date is already set for May of 2019.
The indie studio STX has reportedly been struggling financially, and will be hoping Rodriguez can work his Spy Kids magic on an Ugly Dolls franchise. The Ugly Dolls website already features its colorful plush and plastic figures dressed as famous comic book and movie characters, and it's easy to see how the studio could make money on movie tie-in dolls, books, and accessories. The dolls are already extremely popular in Asia, a promising market where U.S. films can often double their domestic box office take.
Rodriguez is known for his experimental visual style that often combines the look of graphic novels with the latest digital and 3D technology. The creative door is wide open for this project, considering it focuses on indefinable creatures whose only unifying characteristics seem to be a sense of adventure and love of cookies. Such a random collection of characters may not be enough to build a franchise on, but it will be interesting to see how Rodriguez will try to lure audiences to the theater with Ugly Dolls.
Ugly Dolls is scheduled to debut in theaters on May 10, 2019.