Pierre Perifel, the director of “The Bad Guys”, in an outdoor session in Annecy
Annecy this year is synonymous with innovation, in the style of animation – seen in the villain of “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse”, unveiled on Monday – in Europe’s push towards adult animation, and even in new ways to connect with audiences, as DreamWorks Animation demonstrated in a joyous and thrilling outdoor screening of “The Bad Guys.”
A tradition in Annecy, outdoor events by the lake usually serve to introduce new generations of Annecy children and families to the classics of modern animation. Under the artistic direction of Marcel Jean, these are more and more recent. This year’s schedule includes “Illumination’s Sing 2” and Disney’s “Encanto,” both of which bowed in November 2021.
“The Bad Guys” is even pristine, opening in France on April 6 to a robust box office of $6.9 million through June 13, its fifth-best box office result anywhere in the world, behind China ($42.8 million), UK and Ireland ($16.4 million), Australia ($11.1 million) and Spain ($7.2 million ).
The outdoor screening took place in front of a full house which saw four characters in the Pâquier lakeside park in Annecy.
But breaking with another tradition, it took place pre-festival on the eve of its Sunday.
For Pierre Perifel, director of “The Bad Guys”, and Luc Desmarchelier, production designer, who presented the film on stage in Annecy with JP Sand, head of character animation, the screening strongly marked the return of the prodigal sons. .
Both Perifel and Desmarchelier are French, the feature debut of the animated action-comedy Perifel, which not only earned BO a solid reception, but also rave reviews. “Criminals go straight – in a roundabout way – in a fun, frantic kiddie caper,” Guy Lodge wrote in his Variety review, praising the “sharper, more overtly cartoonish aesthetic” and “animated character design”.
Variety met Perifel after the screening. His comments underline the unique joy that Annecy brings to animation creators, who project themselves into a place where they know their art and their craft will be understood and appreciated, as was the case with “The Bad Guys”.
What was the idea or ideas behind the Annecy Sunday session?
Perifel: I believe that in the past outdoor screenings usually started on the Monday evening of the festival. Since the film did so well, and thanks to all the French talent behind the scenes – not just myself, but also set designer Luc Desmarchelier and art director Floriane Marchix – we thought this would be a great way to launch the festival, and fortunately, the Annecy team accepted. And we are very grateful to them, especially to Marcel Jean and Mickaël Marin.
The film is described as one the whole family can enjoy. The Annecy Festival audience is pretty much YA, even though outdoor screenings are much older. But was the audience more YA than usual or did you see that YA audience in other territories as well?
Perifel: The attendance at the screening was amazing. The screenings taking place in the park, they are open to the public as a thank you to the city of Annecy. So you end up with a large cross section of families, adults, children and of course animation students. The humor and style of the movie definitely appeals to YA audiences, so yeah, I’d say the YA crowd was well represented!
Almost all reviews focus on humor, saying the film is very funny. Did all the jokes work in Annecy, or were there other aspects of the audience reaction that were interesting?
Perifel: I think the humor is just one aspect of what the film has to offer and what people usually react to. Not all jokes landed, obviously, as movies play differently each time, depending on context, audience, language, etc. don’t expect people to laugh at you. But I could tell the audience was so engaged in so much more than the humor. The screening in Annecy is such a privilege, as it is aimed at an audience that knows and loves animation, and understands what the intent is when we try to push a character moment or in the case of ‘The Bad Guys’ , push a visual style beyond what is usually done. Everyone has definitely reacted to this, and it’s a real pleasure to see it recognized and appreciated in this way.
How did it go, Pierre, to see your first feature film screening in Annecy, in your native France?
Perifel: When you’re 18 and you decide to pursue your passion and become an animator, you really feel like you’re opening the door to a whole new world. Discovering a community of people, artists, mentors and storytellers that was, at the time, unknown to me. I just assumed that animated films “were”. They just existed. I had never wondered if someone somewhere was actually creating every frame of these films, by hand or with the help of a machine… And yet, they would transport you, these stories. Make you dream, feel and travel… they will shape you, stay with you. And then, I entered this community of dream makers. And the temple where these stories are celebrated every year, the watering place where we all come to refresh ourselves and recharge our batteries, is Annecy. In France, my country of origin. I had the most incredible memories here over the years as a student, as a professional, and later as a director when we screened “Bilby.” We feel like at home. It’s like a giant feast celebrating our passions. And this year, I was able to project “The Bad Guys” on the Pâquier… where everyone can enjoy it on the evening of the premiere. I don’t think there’s a more transcendent feeling than having the honor of sharing what this incredible team of friends and talent at DreamWorks has created with this crowd. I know she will be welcomed, respected, understood and celebrated. And I know everyone overseas is so proud that we can screen it here. Because Annecy is a family before being the most prestigious animation film festival in the world.
Anecdotes about the projection?
Perifel: Oh, obviously, introducing the projection on stage, in French, with my accomplices Luc and JP, will remain one of the greatest memories of the whole adventure of making this film. It was probably the largest audience to see “Bad Guys” at one time, and it’s an incredibly electrifying feeling to know that this crowd will understand your joy at being French and having had the good fortune and honor to make a great movie like this. Also, the screening conditions couldn’t have been better…. I mean, the rain stopped just before it started, and the clouds revealed a beautiful full moon in the sky above Le Pâquier, just as a Big Bad Wolf movie was playing. You couldn’t ask for a more magical night.