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Animation and Anime

Remember When BOLT! Was Called AMERICAN DOG?

Hey, everyone. ”Moriarty” here. Don’t cry for Chris Sanders. After all, he’s apparently developing an animated film called CROOD AWAKENING that was written, in part, by the one and only John Cleese. So Sanders appears to be keeping busy in a very interesting way. But if things had worked out differently, right about now, we’d be getting our first look at AMERICAN DOG, his follow-up to LILO & STITCH, a film that may have turned into an iconic Disney hit, but which started out as one of the more personal and experimental projects to ever make it out of their feature animation division. I remember when Harry ran the first images from AMERICAN DOG in August of 2004. I loved that it didn’t look anything like the typical Disney film. Here’s one image in particular from that article that I loved:

Those are the three main characters in that version of the film: “A canine TV star, an oversized bunny, and a testy cat.” We saw our first glimpse of footage almost a year later when one our spies went to Siggraph and sent us this clip, which may be silent but it still communicates a ton about the mood and the style of the proposed film. So now here we are in a post-Pixar/Disney world, when many of the projects that were rumbling along as recently as two years ago have gone completely dormant, or in some cases, they’ve been radically overhauled. Chris Sanders is gone. Off the film completely at this point. Out of Disney, too. In his place, Chris Williams (who shared story credit on MULAN and THE EMPEROR’S NEW GROOVE) will be directing the now-retitled BOLT! If you check out the image below, you’ll see just how completely they’ve changed the feel of this one. Will it retain any of the character of AMERICAN DOG? Are these changes all for the better? We’ll have to wait until sometime next fall to find out.

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  • Dec. 28, 2007, 12:50 a.m. CST


    by drew mcweeny

    ... you've got to hope that the hiring of Sanders to direct and the involvement of Cleese as a writer might add up to something more than the typical Dreamworks comedy, Joe... right? Maybe?

  • Dec. 28, 2007, 12:59 a.m. CST

    I hope

    by Kingdaddy

    they add some cool rap-star element to the story. Dreamworks really does URBAN so well. That Sharks Tale was DYNOMITE. (yawn)

  • Dec. 28, 2007, 1:06 a.m. CST

    BOLT looks terrible

    by kgerm

    It looks like every other Pixar wannabe. However, the image for the Sanders version looks amazing.

  • Dec. 28, 2007, 1:10 a.m. CST

    Welcome back!

    by Horace Cox

    Wasn't that rodent in the ball laying low in Richard Gere's ass for a while? Nice to see it getting some steady work in Hollywood again.

  • Dec. 28, 2007, 1:26 a.m. CST

    Fuck you all, Dreamworks is awesome!

    by Proman1984

    And as if What Disney/Pixar did to this is any better. The old pictures are a billion times better than the new ones.

  • Dec. 28, 2007, 1:38 a.m. CST


    by drew mcweeny

    ... that's sort of the point of the piece, Proman1984. I'm distressed by that new design work. It looks like all the eccentricity of what Sanders did has been homogenized right out.

  • Dec. 28, 2007, 2:35 a.m. CST

    Damn, what a shame

    by TheDohDoh

    Seeing that original image is like an epiphany at how tired I am on digital animation. It looks freaky, the same the Rats of Nymh was kinda freaky. In a good way. Moriarty, there is a great piece in the NY Times about how difficult it is and will become for studios to store digital films for their archives. You guys should link to it - most people are not aware of this. I wasn't. Really fasicnating.

  • Dec. 28, 2007, 2:36 a.m. CST

    This will TANK

    by s8ntmark

    It was a good idea that they are now over thinking.....that ALWAYS spells trouble....and those new designs, UGH! What was wrong with the old ones? Disney, just do yourselves and us a favor and cancel it NOW before its too late....

  • Dec. 28, 2007, 2:57 a.m. CST

    proman1984 is

    by frankenfickle

    chris sanders.

  • Dec. 28, 2007, 3:11 a.m. CST

    all the hoopla

    by cdoggy

    American dog was very unique and edgy. From what I heard from insiders was It had story problems, but was definately creative and had Sanders written all over it. It had everything from radioactive girl scout snipers to bouncy bikini wearing showgirls, to gun wielding mobsters and assassins. It broke all classic rules of animated feature story telling, which is why JohnL hated it. That along with ego. All just my opinion, but JohnL was gonna torpedo ChrisS from day one. He hates Lilo and Stitch. So now we have Bolt. Perhaps a bit of the art direction will remain, but that is it. You will get a conservative road movie come next fall. Something like if Buzz from Toy Story had starred in Cars. The concept art above is by the amazing Paul Felix. Some of its inspiration may remain in Bolt but that is it. but what do i know

  • Dec. 28, 2007, 4:20 a.m. CST

    I'm confused

    by Napoleon Park

    First there was that Speilberg show with Family Dog, then Family Guy, then American Dad, now American Dog?<p>I think PBS already used "An American Family" and Hanna Barbera had Doggie Daddy so that leaves what, Dad Guy, Family Dad, American Guy and Dog Guy.>p>Janeane Garofalo in "the Truth About Guys and Dogs" about a chick who prefers dogs to guys.<p>I penciled Bob Koopman's mini-comic "Bolt" back in 1986 and I think we slapped a copyright notice on it. When do we get ur check?) Oh right, AC Comics beat us to it - never mind.)

  • Dec. 28, 2007, 4:24 a.m. CST

    new version looks familiar

    by Napoleon Park

    Isn't that Krypto, Salem from Sabrina and one of the rodents from the game Hamsterball in the role of Klaus from American Dad.<p>I can't believe I referenced American Dad in two posts n a row - I hate that show.

  • Dec. 28, 2007, 5:01 a.m. CST



    Well, we'll see when there's a real trailer. But that looks boring. Bring on Incredibles 2!

  • Dec. 28, 2007, 6:44 a.m. CST

    make a caption for that image

    by palewook

    there are so many wrong captions to be added for that image..

  • Dec. 28, 2007, 7:31 a.m. CST

    the new stuff looks so boring

    by harold_maude

    compared to the older image. ugh

  • Dec. 28, 2007, 7:42 a.m. CST

    if they would release "The Sweatbox" documentary

    by Kennef

    that Trudie Styler produced, no one would ask why Disney is so stupid. "hey, lets get Sting to write songs about putting a water park in the Andes... wait, he's affiliated with Amnesty international? Well we can just put it on a mountain where there are no poor people..."

  • Dec. 28, 2007, 8:01 a.m. CST

    Chris Williams

    by Series7

    Made probably the worse Disney movies as of recent. Mulan and that David Spade crapfest (and I like David Spade) it only had one joke and Tome Jones going for it. I say those two are the worse but there is also that Atlantis thing (which was an awesome idea, horrible animation). And the thing with the cows, but I don't think anyone saw that. See Mulan and Groove just sucked. I was looking for some trend with them being back to back, but they aren't and how Lilo And Stitch, Treasure Planet, Brother Bear where all back to back and then Disney started sucking again. I thought John Lasseter was going to get things under control over there?

  • Dec. 28, 2007, 8:05 a.m. CST


    by Series7

    Dreamworks animated movies are horrible. Man so bad. Mainly because with the people they get to be involved with them you think they would be good, but no it shows why famous actors don't make for good voice actors. Pixar can do it, but they do not always choose the really hot right now actors, they get actors who have had great careers and older actors. The only time I was wrong was in Over the Hedge. I held off a long time before seeing that movie, but man that movie was funny as hell. The only Dreamworks cartoon worth seeing twice, the Shreks are fine but the animation seems to have stayed the same since the first one and its just not funny to me.

  • Dec. 28, 2007, 8:09 a.m. CST


    by Series7

    I've said it once already, if we ever want a good video game to movie. Pixar is going to have to make Mario The Movie.

  • Dec. 28, 2007, 8:19 a.m. CST


    by Darkman

    EMPEROR'S NEW GROOVE sucked, but Pixar needs to get to work on a "Super Mario Bros." movie? <br><br> Jerry Beck ain't got shit on you.

  • Dec. 28, 2007, 9:04 a.m. CST


    by Series7

    Truth be told. Emperor's new groove holds a special place in my heart, because I got my first blowjob while I was watching it. So now whenever I see it thats all I can pretty much think about. I am not saying Pixar needs to make a Mario flick, I am just saying if there is ever going to be a good video game to movie it is going to have to be a pixar interpertation of some aspect of the Mario series. Mario is easily accessable to all ages, so is Pixar. It would be a movie that both critics, audiences and fanboys would enjoy. Think about it, you know I am right. But are you saying the Emperor's is a good movie?

  • Dec. 28, 2007, 9:52 a.m. CST

    I'm not saying that EMPEROR is a good movie.

    by Darkman

    I'm saying it's a great movie; one of the funniest fucking films of the last ten years.

  • Dec. 28, 2007, 9:54 a.m. CST

    You know what?

    by mukhtabi

    I think that while the only worthwhile stuff Dreamworks Animated has generated is the Shrek series, CROOD AWAKENING good spell a new dawn for that studio. Most of the time you allow John Cleese to write, he spins fantastically evil little stories. I look forward to that, Especially with that idiosyncratic artistic style Matthews has.

  • Dec. 28, 2007, 9:56 a.m. CST

    Then you and I

    by Series7

    are on two different wavelengthes. Yeah I laugh at like the first five minutes of that movie and the Tom Jones singing and then just kind of zone out for the rest. And I am like a big David Spade fan (are you?), post Farley and everything. I even sat through Lost and Found (AND ON TBS! TOO BOOT horrible channel) the other day and I had already seen it way back when.

  • Dec. 28, 2007, 10:28 a.m. CST

    No I don't

    by indyjonez100

    And does anybody care?

  • Dec. 28, 2007, 10:42 a.m. CST

    Emperor was All Right; Mulan was Very Good


    What are you whiners on about? This, on the other hand, looks boring. <br><br>Mulan II was barf-inducing, but most of the Disney Direct-to-DVD sequels have been ultra-lame with a gag-me on top.

  • Dec. 28, 2007, 11:15 a.m. CST

    My guess

    by paburrows

    is that Chris Sanders will do for Dreamworks, what Brad Bird did for Pixar.

  • Dec. 28, 2007, 11:54 a.m. CST


    by Hellboy

    ...Disney wanted all signs of Chris Sanders' involvement completely erased. But to go so far backwards in appealing design is just sad. The new image looks like it's from one of those pet store toys commercials. I was really looking forward to more movies like Lilo & Stitch. I hope the Dreamworks project delivers.

  • Dec. 28, 2007, 11:58 a.m. CST

    sorry all you pretentious fans

    by ArcadianDS

    but the second image looks 100X better. The characters have energy and personality. In the first image, they look like a photo of a 'Precious Moments' display. And the dog looks like a midget moose. Which is fine if you're making a cartoon about a moose and is pals. If its a dog, dont draw it TO LOOK LIKE A MOOSE. The first image sucked, guys. Dark, fuzzy, unfocused, dead-eye airbrushes of manaquin faces. The second one has whimsy, energy, personality, oh and BRIGHT COLORS. Its a cartoon, y'know.

  • Dec. 28, 2007, 12:25 p.m. CST

    The first image...Dark, fuzzy, unfocused

    by Kevin Bosch

    That's because it was a picture of a picture. The actual image didn't look that way. Did you see the link to the original article about American Dog. Those were all pictures from the Disney booth at Siggraph. I was there, saw it in person, and the ART looks amazing. But, I guess according to you, everything supposed to look the same and nobody should ever try something different. In any case, wasn't Sander's thrown off the movie because, after the Pixar merger, Disney wanted it to be traditional animation but he wanted it to be computer animated? So why is it still (painfully obvious) CG?

  • Dec. 28, 2007, 12:45 p.m. CST


    by Dollar Bird

    I really would have liked to have seen the original version of this movie made. It's my understanding that it was pretty weird. The gaint bunny is giant b/c he was radiated. The cat had one eye. The dog was a movie star but then went on a tour of the southwest meeting weird characters and gun-toting bikini girls. Now it's about a teevee star dog who thinks he is the super hero he plays on his show. Smacks of Buzz Lightyear's character arc, but who am I to say? I liked "Lilo" okay, but it felt more like a Don Bluth movie than Disney (which is not a slam—I loves me some Don Bluth) and I have been quite happy with Pixar's stuff, but I can't help but think we lost something new (if not good) in favor of something safe.

  • Dec. 28, 2007, 12:53 p.m. CST

    love the clip

    by I87D

    the TV looks so real. amazing what they can do these days.

  • Dec. 28, 2007, 12:59 p.m. CST

    Looks furry.

    by Saluki

    The original art looks like any furry junk you can find all over the net. The story concept is a hoot though. The new movie not only doesn't retain, the art, but the title too. I say they just make both, but make the dog look like something other than a camel and keep the goddamn human clothing off the animals in American Dog.

  • Dec. 28, 2007, 3:20 p.m. CST

    I wish there were better pics of the original...

    by Rakafraker

    I'd like to see how it really looked. Too bad Disney only wanted it to be trad-anim, and ditched it. Dreamworks ain't all bad, but I think it's time for The Dis to take some chances and make something really out there. I thought Lilo and Stitch was pretty darned good (#2 wasn't too bad either, for those with kids, just not 1/2 of L&S1). I could've used a bit less pop-culturisms, like the Elvis thing, but I'm hoping that BOLT! is at least on par with L&S1.

  • Dec. 28, 2007, 3:23 p.m. CST

    Lilo and Stitch

    by Oz J Thomas

    Lilo and Stitch was one of the most original, creative, entertaining things Disney has put out in years. All of their recent work, Meet the Robinsons, Chicken Little, most of Home on the Range, Brother Bear had lots of problems, mostly in the fact that they were bland and predictable and safe. I love Disney, their attention to detail and work ethic, but their weakness is their bland stories and characters. It's too bad they took what was great and unique about American Dog and made it into something I would never have any desire to see. I really hope Chris finds a good place where he is happy working. As for Dreamworks, they just follow trends. Their art and design is pretty ugly and their writing varies from good to god-awful. Not to say that all of their work is bad, but a lot of it has that "trying to be hip" feeling to it that feels really juvenile if you look at it 5 years later. Also, they seem to cast more "bankable" actors in lead parts, which is a spotty way to get good voicework for animation.

  • Dec. 28, 2007, 3:26 p.m. CST

    BTW- Cleese...

    by Rakafraker

    Is usually a good choice to pair with. His unique wit mixes well with either pure slap-stick to dramedy. Plus he's got a ton of experience. *ahem*

  • Dec. 28, 2007, 4:57 p.m. CST

    Emporer's New Groove...

    by DreadPirateRoberts

    Just another vote praising that flick. Is it epic. No. Is it just a hell of a lot of fun? Hell Yes! "We're on our honeymoon. Bless you for coming out in public.", "Why do we even have that lever?", The whole 'assassination dinner scene'. ENG is just a lot of fun gets seriously underrated. Mulan is cool in a lot of ways too. Still have not managed to see Lilo and Stitch somehow, so I can't comment there.<br><br>As for the stills in American Dog/Bolt, not much you can really say. Sure they are REALLY different, but as to what is better, have to see where it was all finally going, and we will never really know. I do know I generally trust JohnL over the guys doing other recent Disney crap.

  • Dec. 28, 2007, 7:44 p.m. CST

    What was he thinking?

    by Rufus

  • Dec. 29, 2007, 12:10 a.m. CST

    Mori, of course I understand the point of the piece

    by Proman1984

    I just was defending DreamWorks Animation who I feel while not as good as Pixar has nonetheless proven themselves to be an interesting studion.

  • Dec. 29, 2007, 12:43 a.m. CST

    pixar owes me 6 billion dollars

    by ironic_name

    i came up with finding nemo.

  • Dec. 29, 2007, 7:17 a.m. CST

    New Groove gets everything right that Shrek gets wrong

    by half vader

    in that it's clever enough be be non-specific with time and place and pop-culture-riffing and so gives itself the leeway to get away with that sort of humour. I hated most of the 'recent' Disney stuff but that thing was a breath of fresh air. Regardless of its tortured past. <p> And on that note, I too put in a vote for that Sweatbox doco. I'd kill (a previous regime Disney exec) to get my hands on it. Youtube, where art thou?

  • Dec. 29, 2007, 10:24 a.m. CST

    the cat looks like the one in Miyazaki's Kiki movie

    by half vader


  • Dec. 29, 2007, 2:05 p.m. CST


    by Garbage

    Not to be a Negative Nellie, but at what point do critics and moviegoers stop treating each Pixar release like the Second Coming? I haven't disliked any of the Pixar flicks I've seen, but I started getting nervous right around the time that people were seriously talking about Ellen DeGeneres getting a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nod for Finding Nemo. I liked Ratatouille, but I didn't "get" why it was supposed to be one of the best movies of the year--other than because it's the most recent Pixar release. I actually enjoyed the short film on the DVD of Ratatouille (the alien trying to beam the sleeping guy into the spaceship) more than the so-called "feature" "presentation."

  • Dec. 29, 2007, 4:41 p.m. CST

    There is exactly one good DREAMWORKS animated film

    by Cartagia

    And that is "Over the Hedge".<br> "Finding Nemo" is one of the most overrated movies I've ever seen, by the by. I liked it yeah, but it doesn't have half the emotional depth of Toy Story 1 or 2, OR Monster's, Inc. <br>Pixar is yet to put out a bad movie ("Cars" is the closest thing, and it's just merely 'not as good'), but Dreamworks is disappointment after disappointment.

  • Dec. 29, 2007, 4:43 p.m. CST

    This is probably the best example...

    by DanielKurland

    of a nidea being completely re-worked by idiot executives. The fact that a bunny is now probably some jittery hamster, and the testy cat is now being dragged on a leash, just to hit those "target demos", not caring about the original idea and statement being made in the first place. That's really too bad.

  • Dec. 29, 2007, 4:45 p.m. CST

    Adding a fucking lightning bolt on him too...

    by DanielKurland

    Didn't notice that before, but that is even more insulting. "I feel this racing stripe is pretty sharp." "Agreed."

  • Dec. 29, 2007, 4:52 p.m. CST

    Yawn... yet another movie I'll never see.

    by Nate Champion

    Fuck Disney. Making their money from brainwashing kids...

  • Dec. 29, 2007, 5:34 p.m. CST

    It's CATDOG!

    by couP

    except they aren't fused together >.<

  • Dec. 29, 2007, 5:47 p.m. CST

    CATDOG was just a brainless rip of Ren and Stimpy

    by half vader

    but the song sure was cool

  • Dec. 30, 2007, 2:06 a.m. CST

    Are people forgetting about ANTZ?

    by Bass Bastardson

    Because, while I generally favor Pixar over Dreamworks, I thought ANTZ kicked the shit out of A Bugs Life - not financially mind you, just quality wise. Do people around here not like ANTZ?

  • Dec. 30, 2007, 7:18 a.m. CST

    No we were TRYING to forget about Antz

    by half vader

    At least Bug's Life was an entertaining riff on Seven Samurai. The voice casting was infinitely better than Antz too, as was the general level of humour. <p> Wait! Woody Allen plays a -get this- neurotic ant! And guess what? Sylvester Stallone plays a -wait for it!- musclebound ant! Man, that's wit that'll last the whole running time! Not to mention how they had the right amount of limbs (the second pair of legs being redundant as they didn't even move scissor-style and couldn't manage to illuminate and extend the performance the way, oh, the second pair of arms on the stick insect in BUG'S LIFE did). Not to mention the inspired casting of Dr. Smith. <p> Sure I'm being way over the top. It wasn't THAT bad, but "kicked the shit out of Bug's life"? Sorry, gotta agree to disagree there. You've got it Bass Ackwards.

  • Dec. 30, 2007, 5:43 p.m. CST

    Was hoping this was a THAT MAN BOLT remake

    by Cruel_Kingdom

    Fred Williams Pwns

  • Dec. 31, 2007, 4:22 p.m. CST

    images no longer available

    by Matthew Martinez

    Can anyone please point me to a mirror site where I can still see the images?

  • Jan. 2, 2008, 12:30 a.m. CST

    Uh...dozen of one...

    by Tourist

    12 of the other? The original title was American Dog, which is total fail, and the images were pretty damn ugly and boring looking. The Dog looked like a pig for a start. But that the overhaul? Generic Cartoon Adventure Dog? Also, Cleese has been a monumental whore for only a few decades now...Not that you can begrudge a guy for wanting to earn a healthy living, but his being on board a Dreamworks animated product doesn't mean anything in regards to it being anything but shit. Etc. Oh, and Lilo and Stitch was ass and nothing that was promised by the advance hype. Thanks. Sorry for being crazy negative on this stuff though, but it just brings out the same reaction in me as watching someone who cant, attempt to reverse park.