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Why does "Cloudy 2" have such a bright future at the box office? Because of all the hard work Sony Pictures Animation staffers put into this production

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Why does "Cloudy 2" have such a bright future at the box office? Because of all the hard work Sony Pictures Animation staffers put into this production

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This week in Hollywood, most of the ticket sales-related talk has to do with how well "Gravity" has been holding up (This Alfonso Cuarón film was No. 1 at the domestic box office from the third weekend in a row) and how quickly "The Fifth Estate" folded. But there is another intriguing ticket sales-related story out there. And it has to do with how long "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2" has been hanging in there.


Copyright Sony Pictures Animation. All rights reserved

For four weeks now, this Sony Pictures Animation production has been the Number 1 family comedy in the country. And to hear the folks who actually worked on this animated feature talk, the secret to this sequel's longevity at the box office has a lot to do with the way that most people discovered the original "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" in the first place.

"Back in the Fall of 2009, the original movie did okay at the box office. It wasn't this huge enormous box office smash. But it did well enough for Sony to say 'Okay. We can maybe explore the idea of possibly doing another one of these.'  But in the meantime, the original 'Cloudy' had become available on Blu-ray & DVD and then began running on cable. For a while there, it seemed to be running on Starz three times a day," said Cody Cameron, the co-director of "Cloudy 2."  "And then all of a sudden, there was all this good will out there for that movie. People were going out of their way to say how much they'd enjoyed the original 'Cloudy' and how they were now really looking forward to its sequel. Which -- in turn -- helped the people in management at Sony really get behind the idea of making 'Cloudy 2.' "

And since Sony had now officially greenlit production of "Cloudy 2," the question then became where exactly to take this sequel's story. I mean, it was obvious that the characters had to go back to Swallow Falls, that tiny town out in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean which had been pummeled by the Flint Lockwood Diatonic Super Mutating Dynamic Food Replicator (AKA the FLDSMDFR). But would Flint and his friends find once they actually got back to the island?


Copyright Sony Pictures Animation. All rights reserved

"Do you remember that part from the first film where those living Gummi Bears were attacking Flint's flying car. Well, in the original 'Cloudy,' we had all sorts of sentient food running around Swallow Falls in that movie's third act attacking the island's residents. But we eventually wound up cutting all of that stuff out because when you're in the third act of your movie, you really should be concentrating on your lead character. Wrapping up his or her story," explained Chris Pearn, the other co-director of "Cloudy 2" as well as being the Head of Story on the original "Cloudy." "But those sentient animal characters were so much fun that -- when Cody and I got the chance to make this sequel -- we just then had to pick these characters up off of the cutting room floor and then fold them into our new film."

Which isn't to say that making this "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" sequel was a breeze. Cody and Kris (who were handpicked for this project by Phil Lord & Chris Miller, the writers / directors of the original "Cloudy") put in three solid years of work on this production.

"During 2012, I don't think that Chris or I took any vacation in 2012. And for the first few months in 2013,  we and the rest of the 'Cloudy 2' team were working weekends and pulling all nighters," Cameron continued. "I mean, it's not we're laying bricks here. We're drawing cartoons. And speaking of drawing, though Chris & I were directing 'Cloudy 2,' we were also still doing what we were doing on the first 'Cloudy,' which was boarding this film. Which meant that -- at 8 o'clock at night -- we would leave Editorial and then go back to our desks and draw into the wee hours. Chris and I were like those little shoe-making elves in 'The Elves and the Shoemaker,' cobbling away after midnight. Trying to come up with new stuff that the 'Cloudy 2' team could work with when they got in in the morning."


Anna Faris recording dialogue for the first "Cloudy
with a Chance of Meatballs." Copyright Sony
Pictures Animation. All rights reserved

Mind you, Cameron and Pearn weren't the only ones who put in long hours on this project. Anna Faris (i.e., the star of "Mom," that new Chuck Lorre sitcom which CBS just picked up for a full season. Not to mention the voice of Samantha Sparks from the original "Cloudy") recalled one 4 or 5 hour-long session in the recording booth just as she, Cody and Kris were getting started on the sequel.

"And a few days later, the guys called me and said that we needed to re-record everything because you didn't sound as energetic as Sam did in the first movie. So back into the booth I went, because we really wanted the characters in this 'Cloudy' sequel to be consistent, to sound just like they did for the first film," Faris stated.

"That's the thing that I think so many actors don't understand about animation voice work. They look at this job and think 'What a great gig. You just walk in, say a few lines, and pick up your check on the way out.' But it's not like that at all," Anna continued. "When you're doing voice work for an animated film, you always have to be asking questions. Before you step up to the mic, you have to know things like how close is my character to the character they're interacting? Am I whispering? Am I shouting? What's the energy level of this scene because you want your performance to be in sync with all of the other voice actors who are in that same scene."


Cody Cameron, Terry Crews, Ana Faris and Kris Pearn at the world premiere of "Cloudy
with a Chance of Meatballs 2." Copyright Sony Pictures Animation. All rights reserved

"That's why I loved working with Kris and Cody. They were so patient with me. They never got tired of explaining to me what each scene was actually about," Faris enthused. "And all that extra effort did really pay off. Have you seen the finished film? Visually, it's so beautiful. Very textured and fascinating and loaded with lots of clever food puns and fun food animals."

"Look, I've done sequels before. I was in four of the 'Scary Movie' movies after all. But I'm so proud of the work that I've done in 'Cloudy' & 'Cloudy 2.' If only because my parents take finally take their friends to see some of my movies," Ana laughed.

So what was Cameron, Faris and Pearn's favorite part of working on "Cloudy 2" ? To be honest, it was Sony Pictures Animation's decision to license some of the food animals that appear in this 'Cloudy' sequel.


Copyright Sony Pictures Animation. All rights reserved

 

"Look, let's be honest here. Nobody wants a Cindy Campbell doll. But during one of the recording sessions for 'Cloudy 2,' Cody & Kris came in and presented me with a prototype of the Barry plush. And I have to admit that -- I know it sounds kind of corny --but I actually got emotional. To think that these movies that we're making are now spawning dolls & toys which will be going into kids bedrooms all around the planet, that's a huge honor and responsibility," Ana concluded. "And if they promise to eventually make a Sam Sparks plush, I'm ready now to sign up for 'Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 3 - 18."

And speaking of "Cloudy 3," will there be yet another installment in this animated film franchise? The folks at Sony Pictures Animation aren't saying anything yet. But given that "Cloudy 2" 's current box office track is very similar to what the original "Cloudy" earned during its initial domestic run, the signs are admittedly good. But when I quizzed "Cloudy 2" 's co-directors about the prospect for a sequel, Cody suddenly got philosophical.

"Look, I remember when Phil & Chris first offered Kris and I the director's chair. And Chris began talking about all of the decisions that we were now going to have to make in order to get this picture made. And all I could think of is that these animated movies take three years to make. And that I was now going to be eating, sleeping and breathing 'Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2' for the next three years," Cameron said. "But as it turns out, when you direct a movie, you actually have to live with that film even longer than that. When you work in Story, you're usually off the film six or eight months before it actually comes out. Well, I've been in this industry for 16 years now and -- in the end -- it's the relationships, the friends that you make as you're making these movies that you remember. So being able to work with all of these great animators & riggers & lighters right down to the very end of production on this movie was really awesome. And if I could work again with the team that helped Kris & I pull off 'Cloudy 2,'  I would definitely do 'Cloudy 3.' "

 

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