‘Spider-Man: Beyond The Spider-Verse’ Might Be Delayed Because of Animator Stress And Overwork

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is a stellar film, a massive box office winner, and, according to a handful of anonymous animators who worked on it, a hellacious nightmare to make. In a thorough Vulture feature, four animators involved in the production lay out why it was an especially arduous process, laying much of the blame at the feet of filmmaker Phil Lord and, to a lesser extent, his filmmaking partner Chris Miller. The main complaint is that they’re mercurial to a paralyzing degree, making big changes beyond the point where it’s humanly possible to make them. This method of building out the art to see what works was also labeled as debilitating because animators had to create over and over again only to see finished product removed. Lastly, an extended idle period meant that animators were hired, changed cities, and told to sit on their hands, meaning that all of them could see the workload growing as the time to get it done got shorter and shorter.

Rebutting the claims, Sony exec Amy Pascal said, “One of the things about animation that makes it such a wonderful thing to work on is that you get to keep going until the story is right. If the story isn’t right, you have to keep going until it is. To the question of animators feeling dispirited by this particular process, she said, “I guess, Welcome to making a movie.”

These are troubling accusations, and they’re woefully common in the animation industry. Lower pay, rushed deadlines, and increased workloads haunt what squeezes out the other end as a billion-dollar batch of entertainment. At the very least, these complaints can be added to the pile of others, ringing an alarm bell for working conditions while award chatter gets louder.

It’s also possible that this method of working will have a genuine effect on when the next installment, Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse, sees theaters. One of the animators, who alleges that over 100 colleagues left Across because of the working conditions, also doubted that the third film would make its listed premiere date in March 2024.

“There’s no way that movie’s coming out then,” the animator said. “There’s been progress on the pre-production side of things. But as far as the production side goes, the only progress that’s been made on the third one is any exploration or tests that were done before the movie was split into two parts. Everyone’s been fully focused on Across the Spider-Verse and barely crossing the finish line. And now it’s like, Oh, yeah, now we have to do the other one.”

As the conversation about working conditions intensifies following the WGA strike and the potential SAG strike, animators shouldn’t be left behind. (There’s also the consideration that, Spider-Verse aside, CGI is looking worse and worse because of rushed schedules.) Of course, there are a few easy fixes: pay them more and give them more time to do quality work. I know, I know. “Welcome to making a movie,” right?

(via Vulture)