Bone: Why Jeff Smith's Film Deal With Nickelodeon Fell Apart

Jeff Smith's acclaimed and self-published Bone comic series ended 15 years ago, but hopes of a new animated project are beginning to materialize. While Netflix recently announced it would be developing an animated series, it hasn't been the first to make such an attempt. Nickelodeon was among the contenders expressing interest in a Bone animated film while the comic was still being published in the '90s, and Smith shared why that particular attempt never got very far.

"They wanted a Britney Spears song in the film," Smith explained in a tweet from Cartoon Brew. "And I like Britney Spears; I like pop culture; I like Madonna and Michael Jackson as much as anybody else, but I had a very different kind of film that I was trying to make."

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"And in the late '90s, I was really adamant that there would be no songs in the movie, because all animated feature films seem to have these awful formulaic songs."

"I think that's a law somewhere," Smith joked. "'Animated film for kids? Put some crappy songs in it!'"

"Like when we pitched Warner Bros. while we were in Annecy. They took us out on a boat and were really wooing us -- until I got to the point where I said, 'I need it in writing that there will be no songs.' And it was pretty much, 'Swim back to shore.' That was it. That was the end."

"But Nickelodeon did agree to no songs," Smith continued. "In writing. So this pop song thing was probably the turning point in the whole affair for me -- this was about a year and a half in. I mean we had a great time with Nickelodeon -- they were a lot of fun, the actual executives that we worked with. I really liked them. We would go to New York, where Viacom is, or we would go to Paramount, and we always had a wonderful time."

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"But one day after lunch we sat down -- and the executive there turned to me and said, 'OK. We can get $12 million dollars right now if we put a pop song in the movie. So, Jeff -- do you see somewhere in the body of the film where we could put a Britney Spears or an NSYNC song?"

Smith, needless to say, refused.

Bone spanned 55 issues during its publication between 1991 and 2004, and is currently available in collected form from Scholastic's Graphix imprint.

(Via Cartoon Brew)

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