Big Idea Productions, the studio behind VeggieTales, released its first feature film, Jonah, in 2002. But before founder and owner Phil Vischer could produce a second film, Big Idea declared bankruptcy and sold all its assets to Classic Media LLC.
Since then, Vischer has written Me, Myself and Bob (Thomas Nelson), his book about the faith lessons of Big Idea's collapse; started a new company called Jellyfish, a faith-based idea incubator for family entertainment; and works with Big Idea as a consultant and writer.
On Friday, Universal Studios will release Big Idea's The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie. Vischer wrote the script and voiced "two of the three pirates and half of the other characters." He talked with CT Movies about Pirates, the lessons of Jonah, and the current state of Christian film.
Can you watch Jonah now, knowing all that happened afterward?
Phil Vischer: No, it's pretty messed up. We laid off half the studio the morning after our premiere party. I don't know if you could soil a memory more than that. It was brutal.
When I watch it now, I can smell my ambition—the drive to do as much as I could with Big Idea as fast as I could. We were in financial trouble actually before we went into production. The movie became about me wanting God to put a stamp of approval on my ambition. And he didn't. He consciously declined my invitation. Sometimes the best way to grow is to lose and to fail—dramatically and publicly.
How did The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything come about?
Vischer: Pirates actually started out during the production of Jonah. I had written another film called The Bob and Larry Movie to be the follow-up to Jonah. But when our finances started to completely fall apart in the ...1