In the early 2000s, after the mammoth-sized success of movies like Toy Story and A Bug’s Life, production companies like Dreamworks and Fox poured millions into computer animation studios in order to rival the efforts of Disney’s Pixar films. Franchises like Shrek, Ice Age, and Madagascar popped up in the following years, while Pixar stayed strong with movies like Finding Nemo and The Incredibles. All the while, Threshold Entertainment, a computer animation film company from executive producer Larry Kasanoff, could only dream of the potential for success in their work-in-progress CG-animated film Foodfight!. Originally scheduled for a 2003 release date (which would have come around the same time as Finding Nemo, and not long before Shrek 2), Foodfight! would never see a release in theaters, domestically or otherwise.
Featuring the voice talents of sober-living folk like Charlie Sheen (who plays a dog detective appropriately named Dex Dogtective) as well as Desperate Housewives star Eva Longoria (who must’ve been desperate for a paycheck, hey oh!), the Duff sisters (yes, both Haylie and Hillary – squarely placing this movie into the territory of the early 00s), and with Wayne Brady as the cherry on top of a shit sundae, Foodfight! was primed, in the minds of absolutely nobody (except for creator, writer, and director Larry Kasanoff) to become the next big CG-animated film. Made on a substantially high budget of 65 million dollars (and looking – seriously, just watch that trailer – like a cutscene from a PlayStation 1 era video game), Food Fight!, once again, never actually made its way into theaters, where it would probably just end up frightening children anyway. So, what exactly what wrong?
Does it sound like anything was ever going right? The first buzz on Foodfight! came in 2001, when watchdog groups became concerned about the glut of product placement lined up for the film (allegedly over 80 companies signed on to have their products endorsed). Characters like Mr. Clean, Mrs. Butterworth, and Chester Cheetah were all given cameos, among many, many other “celebrity” product hawkers. After Foodfight! was unable to make its 2003 release date, Threshold pushed back the release to 2005. The production company, it turns out, had been burgled in a case of “industrial espionage” according to Kasanoff. What really transpired was that Threshold Entertainment did not have a distributor for its film. In 2007, Lionsgate Films were reportedly interested, and Wikipedia still lists them as distributor, which is probably false. The film, however, continuously failed to meet release schedules. Eventually, Foodfight! was given a PG-rating by the MPAA, meaning that someone, somewhere had to see it in its entirety.
Charlie Sheen is … an anthropomorphic dog detective!
Another few years went by, and along with the years went the careers of most of Foodfight!’s celebrity voice participants (Chris Kattan, Christopher Lloyd, the aforementioned Duff Sisters and Wayne Brady). Foodfight! remained commercially unavailable, to the chagrin of no one. In the interim, Threshold Entertainment obviously went bankrupt, and the rights to the film were auctioned off and acquired by a European film company for a mere 2.5 million dollars (far lower than it’s heinously high budget). The environment for film releases in 2012 must be far more forgiving than the environment for film releases in 2003, however, as Foodfight! finally saw release to VOD in American markets and DVD in European markets. I can’t possibly imagine anyone walking away from Foodfight! looking good (except for Sheen and Longoria, who still have careers to some extent), just as I can’t possibly imagine that anyone, anywhere will ever make money from this movie.
I leave you with this stupefyingly awful trailer: