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About eight years ago, Aussie author and recent Supa-Star Aaron Blabey embarked on a walk in the Blue Mountains that would inspire an idea that would completely change his career.
“I had the idea [for The Bad Guys] and I texted the idea to a friend of mine, and I swear that this is true, I texted her the concept and she texted back and said, ‘That sounds like a DreamWorks movie,’” Blabey told fans at Supanova Melbourne during an exclusive Q&A panel earlier this month.
“I just chuckled and went and did the first book and didn’t expect to do more than one book, because at that point none of my books had been particularly successful, and then all of a sudden the first Pig the Pug book and the first Bad Guys book exploded all at once and then it snowballed.”
The Bad Guys became a New York Times best-selling book series and Blabey journeyed to Hollywood at the end of 2016 to speak with studios about developing it into a major motion picture.
“There was interest from a bunch of them,” he noted, “but DreamWorks, right from the beginning, just got it more than anybody else did, they got the tone.”
From there, an A-list voice cast was enlisted to bring Blabey’s characters to life, including Sam Rockwell (Mr. Wolf), Marc Maron (Mr. Snake), Awkwafina (Ms. Tarantula aka “Webs”) and more, telling to the story of a crackerjack crew of animal outlaws trying to attempt their most challenging con yet — becoming model citizens.
He highlighted that animation is a “long, slow process”, but by all accounts, that wait was worth it, with the author revealing his first impressions of the film during the panel.
“Watching it today with an audience for the first time and seeing the animation on a big screen for the first time, it’s pretty cool; I loved it,” he enthused. “It’s the most I could hope for really. They’ve done such a good job that I really dig it; I think it’s a really cool movie.”
When quizzed by a younger fan if the film has any “intense” moments, Blabey offered: “The only warning I should give you is that there are a couple of fart jokes, but other than that, I think you’ll be quite safe,” he joked. “It is like a great, big action movie for kids, so there are pretty exciting action sequences, but I don’t think you’ll find them scary.”
Another fan was quick to point out some differences between the original character designs accompanying the book series and those in the film, specifically that Mr. Piranha (voiced by Anthony Ramos) and Mr. Shark (voiced by Craig Robinson) have legs in the big-screen adaption.
“When we were working out how the characters were going to look, the animators all spoke to me pretty early on and said, ‘The one problem we have is that this is an action movie and you had two characters in your book that have no legs,’ which is Shark and Piranha,” he explained.
“I was suggesting that Shark move like a great big worm and that Piranha could sort of parkour off things, but to just give them a bit more flexibility, they just drew some designs if they had little legs and it looked pretty cute and they sold me on it.”
Given there’s every chance animators will get to work on both characters again, if all things go to plan, it was probably the best move. Blabey revealed that “discussions underway already” for a follow-up, pending this initial release is a success.
“If the movie goes well, [The Bad Guys] may be a franchise.”
‘The Bad Guys’ is in cinemas March 31