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Genndy Tartakovsky is back for the third installment of the Hotel Transylvania franchise, which had its first international screening this week at the Annecy Animation Festival, with a story that takes his motley monster crew out for a cruise.
The director had been vocal about not returning for a third film — and Sony had already moved forward developing ideas — when he was inspired on a family vacation. It turned out he’d packed a little bit of emotional baggage. “I really wanted to forget about them but it was one of those things — you start thinking about something and the characters pop in. I didn’t plan it,” he said. He returned and pitched the idea to Sony, making his return completely organic.
“A third one is always hard, because how do you make it not seem like a cash grab?” said Tartakovsky. “Whenever there is a third one of any franchise, you’re always suspicious about it, so there has to be a good enough story that’s sincere and real. This felt like we could really open up the world. It felt like it deserved to exist.”
Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation creates a bigger monster world, with exotic locales like Atlantis and the Bermuda Triangle, and tells a love story that Tartakovsky had always wanted to tell.
If Sony decides to go forward with a fourth installment, his involvement in that remains to be seen. “I’m not going to say no like I did last time, because I learned my lesson,” he said, “but I very much doubt it because I want to move on.”
With the final season of Samurai Jack having just finished, Tartakovsky is developing a new television project and has started writing a new film.
“I’ve always wanted to do something like Samurai Jack but for the big screen — a big action-y, epic thing that is very artistic and stylized but for the mainstream,” he said, without divulging specifics. “Tech-wise, [animation is] making leaps and bounds, but storytelling-wise, we are telling very similar stories over and over again. There’s no reason why we can’t do a horror animation, or an action animation, or even a completely dramatic one. We should have just as many animated movies as live-action movies.”
With his Sony deal, Tartakovsky has the support of the studio and says it is more open to different ideas after the success of Sausage Party, but he is cautious about how far he can push those boundaries.
“I have to get so successful I can basically write my own ticket. I have to get to the level where I say, ‘Well, I want to do this,’ and they say, ‘OK, we’ll do whatever you want,'” he joked. And bringing in over $830 million at the box office for the first two Hotel Transylvania films hasn’t gotten him there? “I have a very blue collar mentality,” Tartakovsky said, adding that he eschews vacations and has done three movies in seven years on top of his TV projects. “I think if I take time off I won’t get another job, so I try to overlap and start working on the next thing.”
What the next project won’t be is virtual reality. “VR’s cool — a lot of my friends have been goofing around with it — but there’s a certain dynamic where, as a filmmaker, I am trying to guide the audience, and there’s a specific place I want them to go. VR is exactly the opposite,” he said. “I’m actually not a big technical person as far as pushing the tech side of it, and listen — I love 2D. I want to bring it back. I would love for there to be a hand-drawn animated feature. So I’m going the other way.”
The Clone Wars creator also admitted that he hasn’t seen the new Star Wars installment, Solo. “Maybe because I worked on it, I can’t connect as much and I haven’t been into them,” Tartakovsky said, adding, “I like the old mythology.”
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