Emojis are about to take over the big screen…no, seriously. In further proof that Hollywood is fresh out of ideas, Sony has reportedly just won the rights to an animated movie centering on the smiley faces and other symbols you use in texts and on social media
According to Deadline, the project hails from Anthony Leondis (Kung Fu Panda: Secrets of the Masters). Leondis co-penned the script with Eric Siegel (TBS comedy Men at Work) and will also direct. The pitch reportedly spurred an intense bidding war between three major studios. Sony eventually won with an aggressive seven-figure payout…or in emoji terms, a lot of bags with the cash symbol on them.
So what exactly had the studios fighting so intensely over? Details regarding what the film will actually entail (the dancing red dress lady? The sunglass-wearing smiley?) haven’t been released, but Deadline reports that studio execs know this is “a zeitgeist moment for the ideograms that hatched in Japan” and want to jump on it. Plus, unlike with The Lego Movie, there are no underlying rights to purchase – a quality that only makes the concept even more appealing to Hollywood.
It’s hard to believe that anyone, even the most talented of filmmakers, could create an entire feature film out of emojis. That being said, Leondis does have plenty of experience in animation. In addition to directing Kung Fu Panda: Secrets of the Masters, he recently completed the DreamWorks flick B.O.O.: Bureau Of Otherworldly Operation. That movie, which features the voices of A-list stars like including Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, Matt Bomer and Seth Rogen, has been temporarily pulled off schedule as the company undergoes some restructuring.
While Leondis has the animation experience taken care of, Siegel likely helped bring a comedic voice to the table. The writer and actor has sold several shows to Fox and NBC and also served as a producer on the TBS series Men At Work and ABC’s Family Tools.
Given their backgrounds, it’ll be interesting to see what the duo has come up with for their emoji project. Amazingly enough though, theirs isn’t the only emoji-themed project in the works. Per Deadline, a second similar pitch is going to be shopped shortly, which may be another reason that Sony Animation is looking to move on this sooner rather than later. Yes, we live in a world with competing emoji movies.
While an emoji film does seem to reach a new level of absurd, even for Hollywood, it’s far from the only movie based on a phone technology coming our way. The Angry Birds film is currently scheduled for release next summer. Similarly, Pixels, a film based on classic video game characters, is set to hit theaters this month. Depending on how both of those perform in theaters, look for Sony to make this an even bigger priority.
To be fair, some not entirely original animated ideas have recently gone on to become winning features. The most obvious example of this is The Lego Movie, which earned critical acclaim and numerous accolades upon it debut last year. Of course, that won’t be the last we see of it – Hollywood is apparently determined to give everyone franchise fatigue with a slew of Lego-themed films scheduled over the next few years. Still, The Lego Movie’s huge success has clearly opened a new demand for these kinds of animated films. Whether the emoji movie will surprise us and go that same way or end up as big of a disaster as it sounds like remains to be seen.