Wes Anderson’s Euro-flavored “The Grand Budapest Hotel” was his most successful film to date in every sense: the opulent opus grossed $174 million worldwide, his biggest financial success yet, and the film was so universally embraced by Hollywood it became that rare comedy that earned itself nine Oscar nominations, including Best Picture (it won four). For his next trick, Anderson is returning to the world of stop-motion animation, and like “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” it will center around animals, but this time it will be about dogs. Deeper details are being kept under wraps for now, but sources confirmed the animated project is Anderson’s next picture and that pre-production work has begun.
Last year at the Lisbon & Estoril Film Festival, Anderson said he was working on a movie would be influenced by the work of Italian filmmaker Vittorio De Sica and that would be narratively divided into episodes, the same structure used in De Sica’s anthology film, “The Gold of Naples” — a movie Anderson presented at the LEFF and that just recently finished its run at New York’s Film Forum after being absent from screens for decades. However, sources close to the project confirmed the animated dog film and the gestating, still-just-an-idea vignettes movie are actually two different concepts.
The irony of Anderson making a movie about dogs will not be lost on many: Anderson has maimed or harmed several dogs throughout the course of his career. “Well, I’ve killed dogs before in my work and it never goes over that lightly," he said at Cannes in 2012 when journalists noted he had killed another canine in “Moonrise Kingdom.” "In [‘The Royal Tenenbaums‘] we had a car run over [the dog] but you just saw the leash."
Of course, The New Yorker went as far as writing a humorous article in 2012 titled, “Does Wes Anderson Hate Dogs?” noting all the times a pooch was killed or injured in one of his films (there’s a mutt who is egregiously abused in ‘The Life Aquatic’ too, which Anderson spoke to us about here the same year). And in case, you’re wondering, no, Anderson doesn’t own a dog.
In an’ interview with The Playlist last year, the filmmaker also discussed a vaguely avant-garde, maybe-not-even-a-movie project he was working on with Roman Coppola. He described it as having “many things happening at once,” which could have been code for the De Sica-inspired portmanteau, but that’s speculative at best.
Anderson briefly spoke about the movies bubbling in his head at the aforementioned Lisbon & Estoril Film Festival in the fall of 2014, and the impact of De Sica’s film. "I’ve always been interested in this form of a movie that’s a collection of stories," he said. "And often [anthology films] are uneven, usually there’s a different director doing each segment. It’s rare to see one that’s all one director’s work.”
“A movie like this is full of things you want to steal. That I will,” he quipped.
You can watch the full “masterclass” conversations from LEFF below. One final note, last year it was reported that Anderson may make a thematic park with Mark Mothersbaugh, and when asked if that was happening during these conversations, Anderson simply replied, “No.”