The Imagi Animation Studios-produced "Astro Boy" hasn't even hit theaters yet, but watchdogs are waiting with bated breath for the movie's upcoming release—because the success or failure of the movie will have an immediate impact on the franchise's future.
The Hollywood Reporter runs down a veritable laundry list of reasons why the success of "Astro Boy" is so important both for Imagi and other studios, particularly noting that a strong showing for the manga adaptation could lead to "Astro Boy II" launching into production shortly after the first movie's release on October 23, 2009.
"Astro Boy" has already hit theaters in Hong Kong and Japan. According to THR, the Tokyo premiere was met with a warm reaction from moviegoers, thanks to "the careful modernization of the Atom character [that] has kept the film true to the original concept and acceptable to the millions of Japanese who watched the TV series."
At the same time, many are expecting "Astro Boy" to do well in America due to its all-star cast that includes Nicolas Cage, Kristen Bell and Samuel L. Jackson. Additionally, the animation style reflects American-looking characters—THR ascribes this to Imagi's hiring of former Disney and DreamWorks employees who worked on the film's script and storyboards before turning the project over to animators in Hong Kong.
It sounds like most people are expecting "Astro Boy" to succeed, then—but let's zoom the lens out a bit, because I think there's more at stake than just "Astro Boy II."
Clearly, the success or failure of "Astro Boy" will decide the franchise's future on film, but what could it mean for the comic book movie genre's future? If successful, perhaps we'll see Pixar pursue something like the recently rumored "Ant-Man" adaptation — assuming that Disney's purchase of Marvel goes through, of course.
On the flip side, what would failure for "Astro Boy" mean for other comic books looking to go the animated route, such as Dark Horse's adaptation of "The Goon" or the purported cartoon adaptation of "Proof"? Might studios be more wary of this budget-heavy approach should "Astro Boy" fail to fly?
It's tough to predict how this will shake out, but it occurs to me that we're not just talking about whether or not "Astro Boy" will continue past this first installment—"Astro Boy" could have a very interesting impact on the future of animated comic book adaptations overall.
Is it too early to be talking about "Astro Boy II"? Do you think the success or failure of "Astro Boy" will have an impact on the future of animated comic book movies? Let us know in the comments!