"Sausage Party" was the surprise hit at the box office this weekend, but artists who worked on the R-rated, computer-animated comedy starring Seth Rogen as a libidinous hot dog are telling a sadder tale.
On the animation news website Cartoon Brew, several animators who identified themselves as members of the "Sausage Party" crew talked of unpaid overtime, poor working conditions and walkouts at Nitrogen, the Vancouver, Canada-based animation studio that made the film.
Financed by Sony Pictures and Annapurna Pictures, and directed by Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon, "Sausage Party" was made for less than $20 million, a remarkably thrifty price tag for a CG-animated film.
"The production cost were kept low because Greg would demand people work overtime for free," said one Cartoon Brew commenter. "Over 30 animators left during the coarse [sic] of the production due to the stress and expectations."
According to the online commenters, the animation department signed a petition demanding better treatment and paid overtime, which Annapurna ultimately paid. Several animators said they were left out of the credits, however, perhaps in retaliation for complaining.
Nitrogen Studios Chief Executive Nicole Stinn disputed this account.
"These claims are without merit," Stinn said in a statement. "Our production adhered to all overtime laws and regulations, as well as our contractual obligations with our artists."
Sony declined to comment on the allegations, and representatives for Annapurna Pictures and Rogen's Point Grey pictures were not immediately available for comment.
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