According to a Deadline report, Paramount Animation is about to get serious about the cartoon game. After winning the Best Animated Feature Oscar last year for “Rango,” and letting their distribution deal with DreamWorks Animation lapse, the studio pledged to seriously commit to original animated product, the first of which was an as-yet-untitled sequel to “The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie.” Now they’re going for an even bigger project: “Monster Trucks,” a $100 million live action/animated hybrid to be directed by Chris Wedge (“Ice Age,” “Epic“) that Deadline describes as being the first in a “‘Transformers‘-like franchise.” Our guess is that, with a movie called “Monster Trucks,” the trucks are going to turn into actual monsters. Why wouldn’t they?
The project is based on an original idea and has Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger (who we spoke to back in 2011, on the subject of “Kung Fu Panda 2“) on board to write it. The duo recently wrote the ‘SpongeBob’ sequel for Paramount, which is, like “Monster Trucks,” being produced by Mary Parent.
Wedge, who got his start in computer animation as one of the original programmers on Disney‘s breakthrough “Tron,” won an Academy Award in 1998 for his short film “Bunny,” and soon co-founded Blue Sky Studios (currently housed in a nondescript office building in Greenwich, Connecticut) and began work on “Ice Age,” a movie that would spawn the 11th highest grossing franchise of all time. (Jesus.) Wedge has been wanting to do other projects for a while, though: in 2008, he was attached to direct what would eventually become “Hugo,” and last year he signed on to do “Cardboard” with Tobey Maguire‘s production company, an adaptation of a graphic novel by noted homophobe Doug TenNapel. Even “Epic,” his visually stunning animated feature released earlier this summer, almost wasn’t a Blue Sky movie. After Fox started to hem and haw about the project, Wedge briefly set it up at Pixar, a company run by Wedge’s old friend John Lasseter. Some 11th hour reshuffling let “Epic” stay at Blue Sky, but it reiterates the fact that he’s itchy to move on.
There’s been no timetable set up for “Monster Trucks,” and no official plot synopsis from the studio, but it will probably move forward as quickly as these types of projects do (meaning not very quickly at all).