Movies That Never Were – Foodfight!

Much like last weeks look at Roger Corman’s Fantastic Four, this week’s movie is one that actually got made, and also released. But given the circumstances of the films production and eventual release you’ll see exactly why we’re covering it on this column.

Toy Story, with it’s mix of real world toys and toys made up for the movie coming to life, was and still is a marketing mammoth. All the existing toys featured, like Mr Potato Head, Barbie, the Etch-a-Sketch, and countless more all saw a massive bump in sales that is happening to this day. Toy Story was an amazing film, with heart, and a great story plus it spawned two equally impressive sequels.

Did I mention it sold a lot of merchandise? Well Larry Kasanoff of Threshold Entertainment saw this and thought hey I’ve got a good idea! His idea? It was a film set in a Supermarket at night when all the marketing mascots would come to life. He’d make a fortune! Think of the toys and the licensing opportunities!

When news of the film first broke in 2001 it was already subject to controversy over the sheer amount of brand placement that would be in the film US Icons like Cap’n Crunch and Charlie the Tuna (no idea!), plus brands us here in the UK are all too familiar with like the Energizer Bunny, Mister Clean, CocaCola, M&Ms, Skittles, and even everyones favourite tinned meatstuff Spam were all going to feature. It would essentially be a two hour advert and people weren’t happy.

Kasanoff, however, was excited about his project. He’d just founded a small independent CG Animation studio, had written a script for Foodfight, and was busy raising the funds one needs to make a movie. His argument, in a 2002 interview, was that brand mascots and action heroes were essentially the same thing and “in the digital world” Mr Clean and Arnold Schwarzenegger were the same. I’m going to go out a limb here and say America might have a different version of Mr Clean than us in the UK. Or I’ve gotten confused over Mr Muscle again… Anyhoo I digress.

Somehow or other, we’ll get to exactly how in a bit, he had raised $65 million to make his film. He hired big name actors like Charlie Sheen, Hilary Duff, Ed Asner, and Doc Brown himself Christopher Lloyd who all recorded their lines.

At the end of 2002 the production officers were burgled and all the hard drives containing the films files were stolen. The film had vanished leaving nothing behind. Production resumed in 2004 with Kasanoff now wanting a more motion captured style rather than out and out animation.

A tentative release date of 2005 was set and film financing company StoryArk added an extra $20 million in funding as they thought that given the celebrity voice actors, the product licensing deals, and the fact that Foodfight! merch was already in stores (talk about jumping the gun), the film was a guaranteed sucess.

That 2005 release date was missed, as was a later 2007 one, so it looked like the film was now certain to be consigned to history as a Movie That Never Was, and perhaps it should have been, but that’s not how our story ends.

It turned out that StoryArk had had the film insured, to protect their investment, and in 2011 they invoked that clause. The result was that their insurance company, Fireman’s Fund Insurance, were given all the files of the film. They wanted to make as much of the lost money back as possible so released the failed film pretty much as-is in June 2012 but only here in the UK.

That film, for it’s total $85 million investment, made around £14,ooo ($20,000) at the box office and that was it. In October it was released on DVD and by the end of that month the only place you could buy a copy was PoundLand.

A very limited VOD release did eventually happen Stateside but if you blinked you most certainly missed it.

As for the film itself? Well as you can see from the trailer below the animation looks like it was done on the PSOne, the script is god awful, and if you watch the first five minutes of the damn thing you’ll find it’s oddly full of weird sexual jokes that totally go over the heads of the key audience. It’s truly one of the worst films ever made.

For comparison another animated movie was released the same day as this one here in the UK. That movie was Wreck It Ralph.

Just think about that for a second. It’s a sobering thought on the pitfalls of film production isn’t it?