According to the latest box office results, Sausage Party is a certified smash. The film cost approximately $19 million to make and landed solidly in the No. 2 spot this past weekend with a domestic total of $33.6 million. Success like that, barring a 100 percent drop-off or some unforeseen outrage in the coming week, typically means a sequel should be greenlit any day now, and studios will be tripping over each other to launch their own animated adult knock-offs. Hold on, did someone say unforeseen outrage?
On Friday, Cartoon Brew published an interview with Sausage Party directors Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan that celebrates the creative process behind “2016’s Most Outlandish Animated Film.” Normally, we don’t suggest dipping into the comments on any website, but this specific interview featured some eyebrow-raising commenters making some very serious accusations. Specifically, that they worked on Sausage Party, weren’t paid for their overtime efforts, and were threatened with termination if they didn’t agree to Tiernan’s alleged demands.
Again, these are anonymous internet commenters, so estimate the value of their accusations accordingly. Going back to the Cartoon Brew interview, this is how Tiernan explained the film’s seemingly low production costs:
The production cost for the film has been reported in the entertainment press as being around $20 million. First of all, is that accurate, because it sounds extremely low for a film with this level of production value, and if it is accurate, how were you able to achieve such quality at that price point?
Greg Tiernan: Neither Conrad or I can confirm or deny that actual figure, but all I will say is that when Conrad pitched the movie to us, and we made our pact and vow to Conrad, and to Seth and Evan, and eventually to Megan Ellison at Annapurna and to Sony Columbia, we knew damn well that we could deliver a movie that looks like a $150 million movie for a fraction of the cost. That’s about as close as I can get to confirming or denying that figure. In general, that’s the whole reason we started the studio 13 years ago. After working in the L.A. industry for many years, I could see so much money just needlessly thrown down the toilet in making a lot of these movies. It doesn’t have to cost that much money when you’re well organized, and you have your mind set on the goal of what you want to do, and you get the job done with a small, determined crew. But yeah, let’s just say it was a lower budget movie.
The directors have yet to respond to these allegations, and they could just be passed off as internet commenters trying to ruin the Party with made-up stories, but as we know if there’s smoke, there could be fire. In this case, there could be more upset employees coming forward, and we’ll make sure to circle back with updates.
UPDATE: Nitrogen Studios Chief Executive Nicole Stinn tells the Los Angeles Times that the accusations and allegations — again, from Internet commenters — are simply untrue.
“These claims are without merit,” Stinn said in a statement. “Our production adhered to all overtime laws and regulations, as well as our contractual obligations with our artists.”
Sony declined to comment on the allegations, and representatives for Annapurna Pictures and Rogen’s Point Grey pictures were not immediately available for comment.