Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse has raised the bar for animation, but not without some challenges.
In a recent report from Vulture, four animators who worked on the project discussed the difficult working conditions they experienced, including constant revisions and long, exhausting workdays. The animators attribute these issues to the management style of writer/producer Phil Lord. Lord, along with co-writer/producer Chris Miller and directors Joaquim Dos Santos, Justin K. Thompson, and Kemp Powers, declined to comment on the allegations.
According to the animators, Dos Santos, Thompson, and Powers were overshadowed by Lord, who insisted on final approval for every sequence in the movie.
Lord’s partner, Miller, was apparently absent for much of the production.
While Lord and Miller have achieved success in the animation world with hits like Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and The LEGO Movie, Lord reportedly struggled with conceptualizing 3D sequences during the early planning stages of the Spider-Verse. This led to more work for the animators as they had to continuously make changes based on his preferences.
One animator described the situation as “nuts,” emphasizing that they had never experienced such level of chaos and revisions in previous projects.
The animators and crew members claim that they were constantly asked to make alterations to sequences that had already been approved, which caused a backlog of work and resulted in grueling workdays.
The film, which utilizes six different animation styles, faced multiple delays before its release. While Entertainment Weekly attributed these delays to pandemic-related issues, the animators reveal that they were hired in the spring of 2021 but had to wait for several months while Lord made adjustments to the film.
Sony Pictures disputes the animators’ claims, including those about Lord’s management style. Former Sony chairperson Amy Pascal, who is still involved as a producer on Spider-Man projects, argues that it’s common for a large number of animators to work on such a complex film.
Pascal acknowledges that the film underwent significant changes in both narrative and visuals.
Michelle Grady, the executive vice-president and general manager of Sony Pictures Imageworks, echoes Pascal’s sentiments, stating that the animators making these claims do not represent the majority of the crew.
Despite the challenges faced during production, IGN’s review of Across the Spider-Verse praises the film for its visual inventiveness and vibrant evolution of the animation style established in Into the Spider-Verse. The review describes it as a worthy follow-up to the original.
If you want to learn more about Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, check out our rankings of all the Spider-Man films and our breakdown of all the different Spider-Men in the movie.
Ryan Leston is an entertainment journalist and film critic for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter.
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