VeggieTales is set to rebound after a tumultuous couple of years with a new theatrical release in early 2008: “The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything – A VeggieTales Movie.”
Bob and Larry’s second try at the big scren will be distributed by Universal Pictures. Mike Nawrocki (Larry the Cucumber) will direct the film. The script was written by Phil Vischer (Bob the Tomato), who will also serve as executive producer through his new company Jellyfish Labs.
The new movie will follow the three pirates who don’t do anything as they go back in time to face real pirates and challenge everything they believe about themselves. Somehow despite countless plot ideas that sound chessy, the Veggies always pull out something that is quality and funny for kids and adults.
My sons love VeggieTales (altough one is just old enough to “dance” to the music). I can’t wait to take them to the theatre to see this movie. Big Idea makes fantastic movies that maintain a Biblical premise and message, while not being overtly preachy. But the sense of humor is what makes me as anxious as my sons for the next DVD to come out.
For those who don’t know the history of Big Idea, it is a very interesting story of a tiny company exploding in growth and then collapsing in bankruptcy. You can read Vischer’s description of what happened at his site.
Essentially, they went “big” before they were ready to go “big.” They borrowed money to pay for future projects, which didn’t make enough money to both pay back the loans and continue increased opperating costs. Jonah, the first VeggieTale movie, didn’t make enough to recover costs.
They also lost a lawsuit with Lyrick, who was their distributors. Originally, Lyrick, the company behind Barney, was ran by a Christian man who was the only distributor that agreed to allow Big Idea to leave God in their videos. They agreed that Lyrick would distribute the videos and VeggieTales would stay with them as long as their current boss was there. If he left, they could renegotiate the agreement.
Unfortunately for VeggieTales, the former president of Lyrick died and no one was around to honor their agreement. Because the only deal they had allowed Big Idea to leave if the leadership of Lyrick changed, they negotiated a new distribution deal with someone else. Lyrick, now owned by HIT Entertainment, sued and surprising to everyone involved, won $11 million.
Big Idea had to file bankruptcy and was sold, in another long story. An entertainment group that holds the rights to many old cartoons bought Big Idea and retained many of the original staff, while outsourcing much of the animation.
Vischer decided not to work directly for the new company because that would place all of his old work as well as any new work under the control of someone else. He started Jellyfish, but still works for Big Idea essentially as freelance. He still does voice talent, which make sense because he voices half the characters, and writes at least one episode per year for the new Big Idea.