At the start of this year, The Great Gatsby entered the public domain, meaning that it can now be subject to as many adaptations, reprints, or ArchiveOfOurOwn rewrites as can be imagined. And we’re already seeing the fruits of the classic novel’s entry into the public domain: a TV series is already in the works, and now…an animated feature film?
The feature animation arm of VFX house DNEG, which was behind the effects of Christopher Nolan’s action tentpole Tenet, is developing a Great Gatsby animated movie, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
While this seems like an odd approach for a story that doesn’t exactly call for an animated version, there’s some intriguing talent involved: Brian Selznick, who wrote and illustrated the book The Invention of Hugo Cabret which served as the inspiration for Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, will be writing the script. Serving as director for the film is William Joyce, who won an Oscar for his 2011 short film The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore and has worked on animated features based on his books like Epic, Rise of the Guardians, and Meet the Robinsons.
“Gatsby continues to cast a powerful spell over readers unlike any other book in American letters,” said Joyce in a statement accompanying the announcement. “Much of the power of Gatsby comes from the enchantment of Fitzgerald’s prose. He created a vivid dreamscape that, to some degree, has eluded filmmakers since the silent era. The previous film versions were constrained by live action, but innovative animation could finally realize the elusive quality of the novel.”
I’m not sure what “elusive quality” Joyce is referring to in Fitzgerald’s extremely slim novel that is populated mostly by archetypes and ideas about the crumbling American dream than flesh-and-blood characters, but perhaps he’s onto something. Maybe animation could breathe new life into a story that has mostly gotten stodgy feature film adaptations, until Baz Luhrmann brought his brand of camp madness to his 2013 The Great Gatsby, whose bright color palette and gaudy spectacle got pretty close to the wild nature of animation.
DNEG Feature Animation hasn’t yet released any animated feature films of note, though they’re currently working with Joyce on an original animated short titled Mr. Spam Gets a New Hat, which is being created using virtual production techniques. “Virtual production” will also be key in the making of The Great Gatsby.
Producer Michael Siegel and DNEG senior VP of creative production David Prescott join Joyce as producers on The Great Gatsby.
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