automatons movie

Let’s time travel back to 2004. Bill & Ted writers Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson were working on the stop-motion animated Automatons, a wildly absurd comedy about a pair of neurotic robots who were built to kill Hitler, only to be buried at the bottom of the ocean and emerge 70 years too late. It was the kind of project that would have difficulty being greenlit even coming from the writers of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and its sequel Bogus Journey, much less coming 13 years after Bogus Journey hit theaters. But in the wake of the critical success of the recently released Bill & Ted Face the Music, Solomon revealed that he and Matheson are seeing renewed interest in Automatons, which could finally get off the ground after so many years in development hell.

In an interview with ComingSoon.Net, Solomon revealed that Adult Swim has reached out about finally getting Automatons off the ground.

“I tweeted about Automatons and someone named Matt from Adult Swim reached out to me about maybe doing it,” Solomon confirmed to the outlet. “I want to reach out to Matt again about that because that was a really fun, unsung little gem that never went anywhere, one of the weirdest, funniest, strangest things I’ve ever been involved with.”

The project was born out of a scrapped Bill & Ted draft, which Solomon and Matheson had initially planned to write as “one sketch in a sketch movie, like a Kentucky Fried Movie film.” One of those sketches was Bill & Ted, which eventually evolved into the film series we know and love. But another sketch was Otto and Rob, the “Automatons,” who are “two insecure robots created during World War II to stop Hitler, whose submarine sank and they’ve been wandering around the bottom of the ocean for 70 years and they emerge in Minneapolis St. Paul, still trying to find Hitler,” Solomon described. “But somehow, the pressure of being underwater has created a little bit of a human characteristic, so they are unfortunately totally insecure and neurotic. So they’re these neurotic insecure robots who are indestructible, who believe they’re humans and accuse humans of being robots.”

That sure sounds nutty! But it also sounds very much like one of their creations, considering the writers have frequently gone back to the “indestructible being is actually secretly neurotic” well with fan-favorite characters like Death and Dennis the Robot in the Bill & Ted movies. And with streaming platforms and networks becoming increasingly competitive over new original titles, Automatons sounds just like the kind of wacky, experimental movie (or show) that could gain a big following on Adult Swim.

The project only currently exists in four short films that Solomon and Matheson made with Screen Novelties and a “group out of Portland,” Solomon said. They had even recorded vocals with a super star-studded cast, including Jack Black, John C. Reilly, Sylvester Stallone, John Cleese, Fred Armisen, Holly Hunter, Billy Bob Thornton, Gary Shandling, William H. Macy, Rachel Dratch, Catherine O’Hara, Deidrich Bader, Dennis Haysbert, and Chris Parnell. Now, if Solomon and Matheson could get a few of those stars back on board, Automatons would be a certified hit.

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