August 14, 2007

Oopsy Does It!

(Okay, a bit of a long wordy post here... with pictures. May take a little while to load. Sorry.)

About a year ago, as I was just finishing up at Disney on Kim Possible, I got a call from my agent to see if I was available to "punch up" a script. I was reluctant since I was really looking forward to having some down-time to work on some of my own projects -- but it's hard to turn down work. So I took the meeting.

The script was for a new Care Bears movie and SD Entertainment (who was producing the film) wanted me to do a general punch up on the story. Trouble is, I don't generally write for the pre-school age group and I knew nothing about the Care Bears other than that their plush forms are in toy stores and their ever-smiling mugs are on everything from greeting cards to bed sheets.

The Care Bears as plush, blankets, bedding and kickin' it Broadway style!
Too much sweetness... can't go on... must look away...

So, I read the script, and I have to say that it was... um...

Ach! Heinrich this trip has been a flaming success! need of a lot of work.

I'm by no means a great writer, but from what I could tell it needed more than a "punch-up". There was no time to start over with it, so I had about a week to rework the entire thing, however I had to keep their original story. So I scrambled through a draft as fast as I could, and despite my lack of knowledge with the Care Bears and their world (I got their genders all messed up -- yes, Care Bears do have different genders - don't think about that too much though) SD and American Greetings (who owns the Care Bears) were happy with my draft. So it moved forward and on into production. That was a year ago.

Flash forward to August 4th - the Care Bears film "Oopys Does it" is released in selected theatres across the US. Well, any chance to see something you've written on the big screen is an event, so Emily and I picked a Saturday to see it.

Oh, if it were only that easy...

As I said, Care Bears was playing in only select theatres. So we had to sniff it out and see where it was playing. And the closest location to me was out in Rancho Cucamonga (about a 50 mile drive from my house in the Valley). It was showing at 10:30 in morning, so we got to the theatre at about 10am.

There were plenty of kids and their parents headed toward the theatre when we got there. Emily wanted to get a picture of me next to the poster for the movie. Trouble was... there was no poster for Care Bears outside the theatre... nor any mention of it on the marquee... not even any sort of sign or leaflet posted in the ticket booth!

When I inquired about Care Bears to the person in the ticket booth, they knew nothing about it. Emily insisted that they'd advertised it the paper. So the booth person asked around and eventually came back and said that "yes" they were showing "Care Bears". I bought two tickets. And then Emily noticed a stack of post-card sized fliers tucked off to the side in the ticket booth and asked the booth person for a bunch of them. This person seemed utterly astonished to see the fliers, as if he'd never before seen bits of paper stacked in such a fashion. He gave us a two of them. I guess that constitutes "a bunch".

One of the fliers, nearly actual size.
Try to read my name in the
credits at the bottom, I dare you!

So everything seemed on track. We had our ticket... well, it was really more of a receipt. It even said so at the top. I should have suspected trouble when instead of a ticket you get something that looks like you'd find at the bottom of a grocery bag.

Hey, where's my double coupon discount?

So, with receipt in hand we headed into the lobby. I showed my "ticket" to the girl taking tickets and she seemed utterly baffled. "Care Bears? We're showing Care Bears?" She looked at me as if I'd just grown a third eye and winked at her. So before letting us in, she had to ask around to find out which theatre the movie was showing -- eventually we were told to go to theatre four. Whew!

Well, the tough part's over. All we have to do is get to our seats and watch the movie. And we had our pick of any seat we wanted, because theatre four was completely EMPTY!

Please sir. No standing in the aisle before the movie.

Even though we'd seen a steady stream of kids and their parents entering the theatre, none of them were coming to see Oopsy Does it. Which makes perfect sense considering that the theatre didn't seem to even know that they were showing the film themselves.

So we took the prime seats in the middle. A few minutes later, a young mother with her little boy came in and sat down. So now there were four of us!

The previews started. I was actually getting a little excited about seeing the completed film - and on the big screen no less! The previews weren't really what I would consider appropriate for a young, G Rated audience before a film with pre-school sensibilities... but they were all trailers I'd seen on TV. Oh well, the theatre must show the same trailers in each of their theatres... must be automated or so I figured.

And then... IT happened.


What we all thought was just another movie trailer turned out to not be. It was the film Hot Rod and it was just starting. Within the first 30 seconds the words "ass" and "shit" tumbled out from the speakers, which prompted the mother to jump up, scramble to grab her little boy and get out of the theatre fast.

At this point I couldn't help but be amused at how incompetent this theatre had been, and I was pretty much ready to give up trying to see the movie. But Emily marched out into the lobby and she and the mother tracked down a manager. Apparently the theatre didn't realise anyone was there to see the Care Bears movie. But they agreed to stop Hot Rod, and start up Oopsy Does It.

And so... a few minutes later the movie began.

Look! I got top billing!

With the movie rolling finally, we settle in to watch it. Oopsy Does It is a 3-D CGI feature. It's not Pixar, but it looks really nice. MUCH better than I had anticipated. The animation is really good, the designs are bright and soft. Everything looks like cotton candy. The story gets a little wonky in a couple of spots, but overall it holds together fairly well as a sweet film for the little ones. It be a nice DVD gift for the holidays.

And then IT happened again! (okay, not the same "it" but a different "it).

In the middle of the movie, all the lights came on in the theatre. The movie kept rolling, but the lights remained on. This lasted for about 6 or 8 minutes, and then FWOMP, the lights suddenly went out again. Emily and I just shook our heads at how crappy this movie going experience has been.

Now I remember why I hate going to the theatre!

The movie ends. It was fun, despite all the difficulties, I really liked getting to see it on the screen. I wish there'd been an audience to see it with. The one little boy with his mother seemed to enjoy it. He did appear to get a little frightened when the villain, Grizzle captures a couple of the bears (Oopsy and Cheer). Which made me happy. Not that he was frightened, but that he a reaction to the film. Okay, maybe I was a little happy he was frightened, he probably deserved it.

After the movie there was time for a little Q & A with the audience.

Yes, you there in the green... you have your hand up.

No. I was just stretching. And DON'T POINT AT ME!

I let my production studio and American Greetings know how much trouble it'd been to try to watch the film. They were glad I was able to pass along the info, but not at all happy to hear about our experience.

I've got no pithy or clever way to end this post, so I'll just throw in a plug for what I'm currently working on:

I continue to story edit and write on the 2-D animated Care Bears series that will be on CBS this fall.

2-D Care Bears

And then after this I've been contracted to write another 3-D Care Bears feature. But this time I won't be heading out to Rancho Cucamonga to see it when it's completed.


Henry said...

Hey Tom! I enjoyed the trip to the theater with you and Emily. I would ike to hear more about the Q&A though. Was there popcorn? Or soda? Did you eat sourpatch bears during the movie? Is that even possible? Or would it create some kind of lovable bear property paradox that could destroy the universe? Hmm...

Eugene said...

AWE SOME. You should've given the movie theatre employees the Care Bear Stare.

Tom said...

I would have felt too weird eating anything remotely "bear-like" during the movie. I kept my snacking down to a minimum because (see response below).

Re: The Care Bear Stare. Unfortunately one needs a belly badge for that, and I just have um... a belly. And one that's growing larger all the time.

So no soda, popcorn or any chewy animal confections. Just a bottle of water. But considering the experience we had, I should have made it a bottle of Scotch.

Steaming bowl o' Calderone said...

I think it's important to see your work whether it's on the big screen, the tv, or even just on your monitor. How else are we to judge our own work or get feedback from those around us? We all have those friends/relatives who will tell us it was better than it actually was.

Congrats on finally completing your vision quest.

Tom said...

I agree (nice purple-handed superhero btw). It's difficult to have much perspective on your own work, especially when viewing it immediately. Feedback (even from those who sugar-coat their comments) can be plenty painful at times, but in the long-run constructive I suppose.

The Care Bears movie-thing just sorta' fell in my lap. Generally writing for that young an age-group is not an area I work in. However it all ended up being a good thing. Plus it's a kick getting to see something you worked on take on a life of its own.

Jenny Hart / Sublime Stitching said...

Did you bring out WTF Bear yet?

My Pal Al said...

Hey Tom. Congrats on the movie. It must be satisfying to be a part of a movie that no one has seen. We tried but there's no theater in the OC showing the movie. Now that this is over get you ass back to the theater and perform for crying out loud.

PrestoVideo said...

The Care Bears movie was at the Cinemas here in the Quad Cities at least one Saturday morning at 10 am.

Swenlin said...

I can understand not wanting to eat any bears during the performance - perhaps you could have gone the other route, empathized with the bears and chosen to eat something like salmon.

I also think you were far too kind in your blog by choosing not to identify the theater by name and address... and maybe a picture of the manager.

Rapid T. Rabbit said...

Well you can thank Kidtoons Films for making the movie hard to see "in select theaters". I organized a small gathering of Care Bear fans in the New York City area to see the movie and we had to cross the river over to New Jersey to catch the one-showing/day weekend kids matinee. I'm also sure that the rather quick (i.e. Oct.23) release date for home DVD also had something to do with that.

Speaking of which, did you notice in your theater that the movie itself was actually be screened right off a DVD (not film)?

Tom said...

Since the CB's movie was all computer generated I wasn't certain if they were going to strike film prints or use digi-packs for the theatrical release (oh, how naive I was)... When I saw it, the image quality on the screen wasn't horrible, but it wasn't great either. It was a little fuzzy, and not too terribly bright. So you're probably correct, they just showed it right off the DVD.

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