Commenters Allege Some Overtime Was Unpaid and Many Animators Uncredited

Sausage Party

Not everyone in the animation world was celebrating this weekend's triumphant box-office performance by adult-oriented 'toon Sausage Party, which earned nearly $34 million. The feedback section of an article at the popular animation-industry website Cartoon Brew was hijacked by commenters who claimed to have worked on or have inside knowledge of the production.

The article — a Q&A with co-directors Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon — was partly focused on the film's budget, which has been reported to be a low $19 million. Tiernan wouldn't confirm that figure, but he did say "we knew damn well that we could deliver a movie that looks like a $150 million movie for a fraction of the cost."

That seems to have touched a nerve with artists who worked on the film at Tiernan's Vancouver animation company Nitrogen Studios — if a wave of anonymous commenters can be believed. A writer self-identifying as "Uncredited Supervisor" claimed that the production demanded unpaid overtime work from artists on the film until animators petitioned production company Annapurna Pictures demanding paid overtime. Other commenters claimed that they worked on shots, particularly those featured in one of the film's trailers, and were surprised not to receive screen credit. One noted that dozens of animators listed on the film's IMDb page don't appear in the film's end-credits scroll.

The allegations have taken on a life of their own as the story has been linked around the wider web with the exhortation to skip the article text and read the comments. The controversy has already generated thousands of comments in a Reddit thread and lit up Twitter. 

Obviously, it's hard to vet any complaints being aired exclusively by anonymous commenters. Still, this outcry has gained more traction than gripes from one or two disgruntled ex-employees would usually generate. 

Updated 08/16/16: Nitrogen Studios Chief Executive Nicole Stinn has responded to the Los Angeles Times: “These claims are without merit. Our production adhered to all overtime laws and regulations, as well as our contractual obligations with our artists.”