The posted artwork from the decommissioned Digital Domain film, “The Legend of Tembo” has prompted me to write about what I feel may be the origin of other films that did reach the screen, all starting with Will.
Below the artwork for Tembo I added a concept drawing I did for one of Will's projects about a baby elephant with a tick bird friend who is hunted by a man riding a Bull Elephant.
Do you notice the friendly tick bird and Bull Elephant in the Tembo picture?
Just as I suspect Tembo to have had its beginnings with Will Vinton, so do I believe Will may have been the source of several others. Let me explain. There was a time feature material was being actively developed at the Will Vinton Studios and the results were three to four ideas that were shopped around Hollywood for financing and distribution. Nothing came from the effort. Or did it?
One idea was about a messenger pigeon that helped win World War One. Do you recall a film called “Valiant” about a messenger pigeon that helped win World War One?
Another idea was about zoo animals that break out and try to get back to their home in Africa. Sounds like two films that competed with each other to reach the box office first, “Madagascar” and “The Wild”. I know first hand both films came from the same script because the lead characters names were the same while I was working on “Wild” and the lions name had to be changed. Will Vinton was given an executive producer credit on “The Wild” but says he didn’t even know about it till he was told later.
Then there was a musical version of "The Frog Prince" and shortly "The Princess and the Frog " came out.
Lastly an idea was pitched about a small action figure named Cliff Damage, and then the movie “Small Soldiers” hit the screen not long afterwards.
Good for you Will, and hope to see you on the big screen again.