|Directed by||Lawrence Kasanoff|
|Music by||Walter Murphy|
|Distributed by||Viva Pictures|
|Budget||$65 million |
Foodfight! is a 2012 American computer animated adventure comedy film produced by Threshold Entertainment and directed by Lawrence Kasanoff. The film features the voices of Charlie Sheen, Wayne Brady, Hilary Duff, Eva Longoria, Larry Miller, and Christopher Lloyd. It tells the story of brand mascots ("ikes") who come to life in a supermarket after closing time, and their struggles against the villainous forces of Brand X.
Despite Kasanoff raising tens of millions in funding,Foodfight! had a troubled and much delayed production. The film was originally scheduled for a Christmas 2003 theatrical release, however this failed to materialize and later planned release dates were also missed. Eventually, after the producers defaulted on a loan, in September 2011 creditors auctioned off the film's assets and all associated rights. In 2012, the film had a low-key release, being direct-to-video in most territories.
Foodfight! takes place in the "Marketropolis" supermarket. After closing time, the supermarket transforms into a city in which all the citizens are "Ikes", personified well-known marketing icons.
In the Ikes' world, heroic cereal mascot Dex Dogtective is about to propose to his girlfriend Sunshine Goodness, a raisin mascot, but she goes missing just before he is able to do so.
Six months later, in the 'real world', a Brand X representative called "Mr. Clipboard" arrives at Marketropolis and aggressively pushes Brand X's range of generic products. In the world of the Ikes, the arrival of Lady X, the seductive Brand X detergent Ike, causes a commotion at Dex's club, the Copabanana.
Brand X products begin to replace previous products, which is mirrored in the Ikes' world with the deaths of several Ikes. After Dex's friend Daredevil Dan (a chocolate squirrel) disappears, Dex begins to investigate. After rebuffing Lady X's attempts to bring him to Brand X's side, Dex is locked in a dryer with Dan to be melted but the two manage to escape. Dan and Dex find out that Brand X contains an addictive and toxic secret ingredient.
Dex and Dan attempt to initiate a product recall with the store owner's computer. A Brand X Ike cuts power just as they send the message. Dex then rallies the citizens of Marketropolis to fight the armies of Brand X in a massive food fight. The citizens win the battle through cunning use of the supermarket's electricity and lightning rods to protect their own buildings.
Dex rescues Sunshine who had been held hostage in the Brand X tower and escapes with the help of Dan. Mr. Clipboard then enters the Ike's world, and it is discovered that he is a robot controlled by Lady X. Lady X reveals that she had previously been the hideous Ike of an unsuccessful brand of prunes, and had been stealing Sunshine's essence to create a new brand. Dex and Sunshine defeat her, reverting her to her original form. With Brand X defeated, and a cure found that revives the killed Ikes, Dex and Sunshine finally marry.
Despite the presence of many licensed characters, the principal characters of this film are original characters.
Lawrence Kasanoff and a Threshold Entertainment employee named Joshua Wexler created the concept in 1999. A $25 million joint investment into the project was made by Threshold and the Korean investment company Natural Image. The producers expected that foreign pre-sales and loans against the sales would provide the remaining portion of the budget. The estimated remainder was $50 million.
The film was created and produced by the digital effects shop at Threshold, located in Santa Monica, California in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. In late 2002/early 2003, Kasanoff reported that hard drives containing unfinished assets from the film had been stolen in what he called an act of "industrial espionage". The film was supposed to be computer-animated, with an exaggerated use of "squash and stretch" to resemble the Looney Tunes shorts, but after production resumed in 2004, Kasanoff changed it to a style more centered in motion capture, with the result being that "he and animators were speaking two different languages".
Lionsgate established a distribution deal and the financing company StoryArk represented investors who gave $20 million in funding to Threshold in 2005 due to the Lionsgate deal, the celebrity voice actors, and the product tie-ins. A release date in 2005 was later announced, but missed. Another distribution deal was struck in 2007, but again, nothing came of it. Lionsgate had a negative reaction to the delays. The investors had grown impatient due to the film production company defaulting on its secured promissory note and the release dates that were not met. Finally, in 2011, the film was auctioned for $2.5 million. StoryArk investors had ultimately invoked a clause in their contract that allowed the Fireman's Fund Insurance Company, which had insured Foodfight!, to complete and release the film as inexpensively and quickly as possible.
The insurance company received the copyright to the film in 2012 and began releasing it and its associated merchandise. In June 2012, Foodfight! received a limited release in the United Kingdom, grossing approximately $20,000 of ticket sales on its opening weekend. It was released on DVD in Europe that October.
At the time the film was announced, it was denounced for taking product placement to the extreme, and doing it in a film targeted at children. Kasanoff responded to the controversy by noting that they were not paid money for the brand inclusion and therefore the addition of known brands did not constitute product placement, though the brands were expected to provide $100 million worth of cross-promotion.
Rebecca Hawkes of The Daily Telegraph described Foodfight! as "the worst animated children's film ever made".The A.V. Club stated that "...the grotesque ugliness of the animation alone would be a deal-breaker even if the film weren't also glaringly inappropriate in its sexuality, nightmare-inducing in its animation, and filled with Nazi overtones and iconography even more egregiously unfit for children than the script's wall-to-wall gauntlet of crude double entendres and weird intimations of inter-species sex".The A.V. Club additionally stated that "Foodfight! doesn't just represent one of the entertainment world's most appalling lapses of taste, restraint, and judgment in recent memory; it's one of those fall-of-civilization moments". A New York Times article condemned the film, saying: "The animation appears unfinished ... And the plot ... is impenetrable and even offensive." The article also reported that Foodfight! has been "seized upon by Internet purveyors of bad cinema".Indiewire called it "one of the worst animated movies ever made".Screen Rant included Foodfight! on its list of the top twelve worst animated movies ever made, and Mental Floss and Digital Trends placed it in their respective top ten worst film lists.Hollywood News called it "by far the crappiest piece of crap I have ever had the misfortune to watch". Tim Brayton of Antagony & Ecstasy described it as "the absolute ugliest animated feature that has ever been released by something resembling an actual animation studio". Brayton concluded by stating: "This is, in all sincerity, one of the very worst movies I have ever seen".
In February 2013, the film was released on VOD and was released on DVD in the United States on May 7, 2013. Jake Rossen of The New York Times described the film's United States release as "a muted debut". The United States release was delayed because the American distributor, Viva Pictures, wanted to release it when Walmart could arrange for a satisfactory product display for the film. According to company president Victor Elizalde, Viva Pictures' modest investment of an unspecified sum had proved profitable.
The latest word is that England's Boulevard Entertainment has picked up the rights for DVD - in Europe.