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In Focus: ‘Open Season’ opens in crowded animation season

Open Season Art
Open Season. Photo used by permission of Sony Pictures Animation.

Steve Moore’s movie, “Open Season,” wasn’t intentionally planned to open up in the fall around the time of traditional hunting season, but sometimes timing is everything in the entertainment industry. Steve ought to know that. In many ways, his entertainment career has been aided by providential good timing since the day he decided to take a swing at cartooning. His “In the Bleachers” submission landed on the editors desk at Tribune Media at the same time another sports cartoon was ending. Pitching the movie idea for “Open Season” to Sony Pictures Animation came at a time when they were just opening their animation studio and were hungry for a great movie project.

Open Season Art
Open Season. Photo used by permission of Sony Pictures Animation.

“Open Season” is about a domesticated bear named Boog (voiced by Martin Lawrence) who is escapes into the forest just before hunting season opens up. To survive, he must trust a fast-talking mule deer named Elliot (Ashton Kutcher). Together they convince other forest creatures to band together against the hunters. The film also includes the talent of Gary Sinise and Debra Messing.

2006 is a crowded year for full length animated film. “Open Season” will be just one of fifteen to hit the big screens this year. It will also be Sony Picture Animation’s first foray into Computer Generated animation – an industry dominated by Pixar and DreamWorks Animation studios. The idea for the movie was inspired by Steve’s quirky hunting cartoons. A friend, John Carls, had pulled out a bunch of Steve’s hunting cartoons and convinced Steve that a movie about a gaggle of forest creatures turning the tables on the hunters would be great movie fodder. The two sat down and hammered out the movie treatment and went to Sony who snapped it up and rushed it into production a month later.

Steve Moore
Steve Moore. Photo courtesy of Universal Press Syndicate

Steve is credited (along with John) as executive producer and as the creator of the original story. Steve created early sketches of the characters before turning them over to Sony’s artists. All of the characters, according to Steve, have some of his early sketch DNA, but Elliot (the deer) and the ducks are the closest to his original drawings. After seeing the movie several times at different stages of development, the jokes didn’t seem as funny as they once had been, but when he saw the final cut of the movie with the sound track, “Wow!” was his initial reaction. The Sony team, over 200 people, had spent three years on this film and several scenes took three years to make (Steve mentions a scene with Boog crossing a beaver dam that breaks. That scene took nearly three years to make and it’s only 30 seconds long).
This isn’t Steve’s first animated project. While Steve was an editor at the L.A. Times, he was drawing “In the Bleachers” before and after work, but he felt an itch to get involved in the entertainment industry. He quit his job with the Times and survived off of the cartoons income until he was able to find projects to work on. His animation portfolio includes 26 animation shorts for ESPN, another movie treatment called “Flushed Away” that opens this fall with DreamWorks Animation, a kids TV show called “Metalheads” that appears over in England.

So, Steve is back to working two jobs. He wakes up and works on writing for “Bleachers” and then in the afternoon he works on writing for his animation projects and then later afternoon he draws up cartoons. While the two jobs are sometimes difficult to juggle, Steve is happy with the dual rewards he gets for his efforts. From his cartooning, he enjoys the solidarity of being “just me and my paper,” but the thrill of taking a movie idea from napkin notes to the big screen – working with a studio in a collaborative environment – is really great too.

Currently he is working on anther movie script called “Alpha and Omega” for Lions Gate Films.

Open Season opens up the 29th of September in theaters across the U.S.

Quick Facts:

  • In the Bleachers is carried in 250 newspapers.
  • First syndicated with Tribune Media Services in 1985 through 1995; syndicated through Universal Press 1995 to the present.
  • Steve began his career in journalism and has a masters degree in journalism from University of Oregon.
  • He’s worked at The Maui News (where he created In the Bleachers) and then worked 11 years at the L.A. Times resigning from the Times as executive news editor to concentrate on his comic and animation.

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Community Comments

#1 Lefiite
September/22/2006
@ 6:43 pm

But McGruder’s too busy, right?

#2 Lefiite
September/22/2006
@ 12:43 pm

But McGruder’s too busy, right?

#3 JeffM
October/20/2007
@ 7:33 am

Wow, nice to see Steve doing so well. I met him on Maui (where I am from) back in 1995 or so. I remember reading “In The Bleachers” in the Maui News about that time. Funny stuff!

Had no idea he has come this far! Way to go Steve!

#4 JeffM
October/20/2007
@ 1:33 am

Wow, nice to see Steve doing so well. I met him on Maui (where I am from) back in 1995 or so. I remember reading “In The Bleachers” in the Maui News about that time. Funny stuff!

Had no idea he has come this far! Way to go Steve!

#5 Lauren (daughter)
March/21/2008
@ 7:48 pm

Hi daddy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!, You’re so cool!!! ooohh ya!

#6 Lauren (daughter)
March/21/2008
@ 12:48 pm

Hi daddy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!, You’re so cool!!! ooohh ya!

#7 Corrine (friend of daughter)
March/21/2008
@ 7:53 pm

HI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i love your movie open season!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AND I LOVE INBLEACHERS I READ IT EVERY DAY IN THE NEWSPAPER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AND DID I MENTION U ROCK N’ ROLL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! BYE SUPER STAR I WILL SEE U A LOT AT LAURENS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! KOOLIO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!(:

#8 Corrine (friend of daughter)
March/21/2008
@ 12:53 pm

HI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i love your movie open season!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AND I LOVE INBLEACHERS I READ IT EVERY DAY IN THE NEWSPAPER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AND DID I MENTION U ROCK N’ ROLL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! BYE SUPER STAR I WILL SEE U A LOT AT LAURENS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! KOOLIO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!(:

#9 Keith Kopischke
April/11/2008
@ 1:27 am

How can I obtain (through purchase, or, however?) re-productions of your skiing related cartoons. I have only a couple (i.e. “Everyone’s waving at us. Wave back, Floyd!”; & another with sharks snapping up skiiers, on the runs. No captions. THEY ARE EPIC! I NEED MORE! Help.
Keith K.

#10 Keith Kopischke
April/10/2008
@ 7:27 pm

How can I obtain (through purchase, or, however?) re-productions of your skiing related cartoons. I have only a couple (i.e. “Everyone’s waving at us. Wave back, Floyd!”; & another with sharks snapping up skiiers, on the runs. No captions. THEY ARE EPIC! I NEED MORE! Help.
Keith K.

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