Though a worldwide box-office gross of $189 million is nothing to scoff at, the success of Sony Pictures Animation’s flagship CG family film, Open Season, rates at the lower end of a scale tipped by such blockbusters as DreamWorks Shrek the Third and Disney/Pixar’s Cars. Perhaps that’s why Sony has opted to send the sequel directly to DVD, where the first film really shined. Daily Variety reports that Open Season 2 is going into production for a 2009 home video release.
Open Season 2 will reportedly revolve around Mr. Weenie (voiced by Sony animator Cody Cameron), a dachshund introduced in the first film. Boog and Elliot, the two main characters in the original pic, may or may not appear in the sequel as Sony is apparently negotiating with voicers Martin Lawrence and Ashton Kutcher.
In addition to its next two in-house CG features, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and Hotel Transylvania, Sony Animation has a three-year, first-look deal with Aardman Features. Sony Pictures Animation and Aardman Features will join forces to make a stop-motion heist pic titled The Cat Burglars, an adaptation of Gideon Defoe’s The Pirates! book series and a Christmas toon dubbed Operation Rudolph. Steve Box, who co-directed the Oscar-winning Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit with Nick Park, will helm Cat Burglars, while the Pirates! Pic will be Aardman co-founder Peter Lord’s first directorial effort since the 2000 clay-animated DreamWorks release Chicken Run. Park is developing a fourth film but is keeping details under wraps.
Sony Pictures Digital president Yair Landau told Variety that the studio will keep Open Season 2‘s costs low by utilizing Imageworks’ satellite facilities in India and New Mexico. If the pic is successful enough at retail, Sony could be poised to fill a hole in the marketplace left by Disney’s decision to stop making direct-to-video sequels under the new John Lasseter/Ed Catmull regime. DreamWorks Animation may be eying the opportunity as well, though its proposed direct-to-DVD Puss In Boots spin off is currently in limbo.