A massive crowd filled a hotel ballroom at Comic-Con International in San Diego to catch a glimpse of Hotel Transylvania, the upcoming Sony Pictures Animation film from director Genndy Tartakovsky.
The panel was moderated by KROQ’s Ralph Garman, who was quick to express his admiration for the work of Tartakovsky (Samurai Jack, Star Wars: Clone Wars). The presentation began with the film’s extended trailer, which was met with cheers and laughter. Tartakovsky listed the voice cast, which features stars like Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Andy Samberg, Steve Buscemi, Selena Gomez and David Spade.
Whenever schedules permitted, he said, the cast would try to record voice sessions together.
“One of the great experiences of working with all these great comedians,” Tartakovsky said, “is how serious they take comedy. They are craftsman and comedy is their craft. You’d think there would be a lot ad-libbing, but there really wasn’t. Once they wrote something that they liked, they would keep doing it and doing it until they got a laugh, until they found the right rhythm.”
Opening Sept. 28, Hotel Transylvania is set in a five-star resort built for monsters by Dracula (Sandler). When he invites the world’s most creatures to celebrate the 118th birthday of his daughter Mavis (Gomez), the festivities are turned upside-down by the arrival of an ordinary young traveler named Jonathan (Samberg).
Asked by Garman whether the cast inspired the animators, Tartakovsky said the voice tracks were recorded first. “The animators really had fun acting with them,” he said. “Especially Dracula, which Adam pushed to be really over the top.”
The lights then lowered and the audience was shown several clips, which were met with thunderous applause. Three was plenty of humor in the scenes, which heavily featured Sandler’s Dracula and his frantic attempts to hide the human who had wandered into Hotel Transylvana.
When asked how the actors were able to visual the world of the film while they recorded their vocal tracks, Tartakovsky said, “They are so talented and funny, they kind get the joke right away and know how to deliver it even better.”
The director revealed that the film’s animation style was influenced by classic Warner Bros. cartoons, saying, “Their animation was fun. I feel like a lot of feature animation is grounded in traditional ideas in the way they animate.”
“We really approached the movie with a drawing aesthetic,” he said. “Whatever we could draw the computer had to match, which made it complex because everything in the computer is built around reality and mimicking reality. What we were doing with the animation was unrealistic.”
When the panel opened up for a question-and-answer session, a fan asked if Tartakovsky had any plans to do an action movie. The director replied that although he doesn’t have any interest in a live-action film, he’s open to the idea of an animated action movie. “I think I found a nice new home at Sony, kind of like when I was at the beginning of Cartoon Network, where we kind of all grew up together,” Tartakovsky said. “Maybe if Hotel Transylvania does well, maybe we’ll do another one that’s safer, but the one after that could be pushed. I want to push the limits that we put on ourselves in the animated world.”
Another audience member asked if there was possibility of a Samurai Jack movie, leading Tartakovsky to reveal he had been through “three different teams of producers in the film world trying to get Jack made.” He said that too often, the producers would want to change too many core aspects of the character. He thanked the fans for keeping Samurai Jack popular, and said that he hoped that a film would happen one day.
A fan then asked if there was a possibility of more Sym-Bionic Titan, the sci-fi animated series that aired for one season on Cartoon Network. Tartakovsky said it wasn’t likely, as the series was action-orientated but never had a supportive toyline, hurting its chances for success. “Is that the sad reality we live in? That you need a toyline to keep an animated project alive?” Garman asked. Tartakovsky said that it was for most action series.
When asked how much he was involved with the animation of Hotel Transylvania, Tartakovsky said he worked “hand in hand with the animators every day.” He said that the animators had to adapt to his style and ideas of character movement. “I’m very proud of the work that they did.”
Asked about bringing back some of his older creations, Tartakovsky said, “When you give birth to a baby, you let it grow up and then you kinda move on. I have another stable of kids that I am trying raise and give birth to.” However, he stressed that he loved the characters and wouldn’t rule anything out. “You never know.”