After years of trying to get the movie made, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are currently enjoying the very successful release of their comedy Sausage Party. This is the first 3D animated R-rated movie ever, and they, along with directors Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan, managed to make something that looked like a Pixar movie, but for a much lower budget. However, some of the animators who worked on the movie have accused the production of mistreating them, and cutting costs by not paying the animation staff properly.
Recently, the website CartoonBrew ran an article that featured an interview from the co-directors of Sausage Party, Vernon and Tiernan. The production budget for Sausage Party has been reported at around $20 million, which is very low for this style of movie. When asked about it, Tiernan explained that they felt they could make a movie that looked like a massively budged Pixar style movie for a fraction of the cost. Here is what he had to say.
"Neither Conrad or I can confirm or deny that actual figure, but all I will say is that when Conrad pitched the movie to us, and we made our pact and vow to Conrad, and to Seth and Evan, and eventually to Megan Ellison at Annapurna and to Sony Columbia, we knew damn well that we could deliver a movie that looks like a $150 million movie for a fraction of the cost. That's about as close as I can get to confirming or denying that figure. In general, that's the whole reason we started the studio 13 years ago. 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. It doesn't have to cost that much money when you're well organized, and you have your mind set on the goal of what you want to do, and you get the job done with a small, determined crew. But yeah, let's just say it was a lower budget movie."
That is all good and well and sounds very nice in context. The problem may be where they were able to shave a lot of the money off of the production cost for Sausage Party. In the comments section for the article, people who claimed to be animators on the movie started spilling stories about how they were all overworked and underpaid during production. Specifically, Greg Tiernan was accused of making animators work overtime, and not paying them for it. Here is some of what was said.
"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 commenter went on to point out that the animation department eventually circulated a petition for better treatment and overtime pay, which did end up going through. The problem being that it was too little too late for many who worked on the movie, because according to the commenter, more than 30 animators had left by the time it went into effect. Here is what the commenter, who goes by "Uncredited Supervisor," had to say about it.
"Over 30 animators left during the course 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 who went by the name of "Another Uncredited Animator" claimed that half of the animation team was not credited. The person stated that IMDB lists 83 people who worked on animating Sausage Party, and only 47 were contained in the credits for the movie. Not only that, but the commenter also feels that the 83 listed on IMDB still contains some omissions.
Sausage Party had a fantastic opening weekend at the box office, finishing second only to Suicide Squad, bringing in $33 million domestically. For a movie with a $20 million production budget, that is very good. However, if what these commenters are saying is true, it definitely would make the low production budget less of an impressive feat, and could wind up causing some very negative buzz around the movie. That would not be good, as Sausage Party up to this point has been getting rave reviews and has been seen as an achievement with franchise potential. But more importantly, if there is any truth to these accusations, it sounds like a lot of hard working people may have been screwed over in the process. We will have to wait and see how this all shakes out, but we will be sure to keep you updated as more information becomes available.