A Farewell to Lombaxes

Posted: April 2, 2016 in Uncategorized

As we’ve gotten closer to the release of the Ratchet & Clank movie, friends and fans alike have been kind enough to reach out and tell me how excited they are. It’s an exciting time—Ratchet and Clank, two characters who have meant so much to people (yours truly included), will finally have their day in the theaters. But as some of you have noticed, I haven’t been talking much about the film on social media. I haven’t done any press or appeared on panels. When I’ve tweeted about R&C, it’s always been about the game (which I wrote with the talented Jon Paquette). The reason is that I didn’t want to dive into the behind-the-scenes stuff and risk worrying people when there is no reason to be. But I feel like a bit of a sham dancing around people wishing me congratulations for the final product, so it’s become clear I should explain:

I left the Ratchet & Clank movie over two years ago.

This won’t be a huge surprise to some, as I have mentioned it on Twitter a few times. But I’ve spent the majority of my time dancing around it for fear of what people might say. I wrote the original draft of the script, but it’s since been handed off to director Kevin Munroe and writer Gerry Swallow. If anyone deserves credit or accolades for the final product, it’s them.

So why did I leave? Well, it was a combination of things. The first and most important was schedule. I’ve been fortunate enough to work on a ton of studio projects since leaving Insomniac, and all of that takes time. At the time that Ratchet was moving into production, I had jumped into my Fox project (The Men Who Kill) while also working on a Disney project and a New Line project. I never want my output to be anything less than 100%, so I needed to make some tough decisions. My contract for Ratchet was wrapping up, and it seemed like a good time to pass off the baton.

The other reason was a simple difference of opinion. The director and I agreed on a lot of things, but there were just as many things we didn’t see eye to eye on. This happens on pretty much every project in development, so it’s very normal. No one is ever right or wrong. I didn’t create the Ratchet franchise, so I certainly have no hold or authority over its story, characters, or tone—and Kevin deserved to have his handcuffs taken off so he could create his own unique vision for the movie universe. He’s a talented director and it was a very amicable split, so I wish him and the team the best. I know that seems like a recycled line, but it’s the truth.

My fingerprints are still on the movie, and several of my jokes and plot points are still in (hence you’ll still see my name in the credits). What isn’t mine was made by people who truly love the universe. And remember—the good folks at Insomniac have been there watching and helping to guide Kevin and Rainmaker through the process.

As for me, I’m not sure if I’ll return to R&C any time soon—but never say never. I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for those characters, so it’s hard to say goodbye. For now I am focused on The Men Who Kill, Popeye, and a few other projects I am excited to tell you about. Even as a former writer for one of the greatest game franchises out there, I hope you’ll stick with me.

In the meantime, I’m excited to see the final cut of the movie.

  1. Tim V says:

    How much of the movie is what you worked on? In particular, is the overall plot rather different from when you departed?

    • tjfixman says:

      Hard to put a percentage on it. The premise is the same, but how it unfolds was reimagined. Biggest change is probably in the humor. Way different style than my own.

      • Tim V says:

        Must have been strange to be working within the structure of the movie while you were writing for the game, I’d imagine!

    • The lovely nurse shannon says:

      I hope that you give your honest opinion on the movie once you see it and not sugar-coat or be overly polite because I am interested in seeing how you really feel about how other people have handled/wrote these characters.

      OR if you have time since you are so busy, why not attempt a small “review” of the movie written from the viewpoint of Captain Qwark! I’d LOVE to hear his thoughts on why his name isn’t in the title, or how much of a pain it was to have to work with Paul freakin Giamatti.

  2. weasel188900 says:

    I noticed when it said in the trailer that Gerry Swallow and Kevin helped write it. I’m not worried at all, I’ve spoken to Kevin on Instagram and he seems like a really nice guy who has a passion for R&C. The clips we’ve seen thus far are very faithful to the games too.

  3. Jorge Marcas says:

    This post really bummed me out. I was looking forward to this movie so much, but it’s clear based on your comments that it’s terrible. What else would possibly cause a first-time writer to completely disavow his first produced feature? Especially one with such a strong connection to the material? I understand the need to totally distance yourself, but it’s disappointing. Good luck with your future projects.

    • Tim V says:

      I think it’s more that TJ feels disingenuous when folks attribute him so heavily to a work that he didn’t have as much involvement as people think. That would happen no matter what the quality was.

  4. Jorge Marcas says:

    I’d like to hear more about how they changed it in that case. I’m a fan, but this seems like he’s trying to get ahead of the story. I.E. “I know this movie is going to stink, so I’m going to tell everyone I’m not responsible for it, but I can’t openly talk smack about the guys who wrecked it, so I’ll do it in a roundabout way.” Otherwise why not make this post two years ago when he left the movie? It seems like a terrible position to be in as a writer.

    • Tim V says:

      Again it’s more a credit issue to me rather than a “this movie sucks I should absolve myself from it” situation.

  5. […] Ratchet and Clank dodges all of these problems and more. It’s a series of fantastical space adventures featuring nonhuman characters who are beloved amongst the PS2 generation of gamers. It’s an unfamiliar setting with a different premise, starring characters that have proven to be endearing, often using simple but substantial plots filled with good humor and dazzling visuals (of guns.) The only way it can be screwed up now is by misexecution, either by getting rid of the voices that people loved for A-list celebrities, or by terrible writing that Insomniac would never be caught dead using. It’s a good thing then, that yes, it’s still the voices people know and love, at least partially penned by one of the games’ writers, and, when the script was handed off to Hollywood, was still guided by Insomniac’s hand. […]

  6. Jorge Marcas says:

    So did you see Ratchet and Clank? Let us know what you thought of it!

  7. Jorge Marcas says:

    Lots of talk about the poor performance of this movie in the Cartoon Brew comments section. TJ, can you please weigh in? http://www.cartoonbrew.com/box-office-report/ratchet-clanks-dreadful-second-weekend-raises-questions-sly-cooper-feature-139474.html#disqus_thread

  8. tjfixman says:

    The assumptions made in the comments are incorrect, and unfortunately lack an understanding of how movies are made. I left the movie over two years ago. The script that went into production shares a few of the same bones, but it’s not my script. Writers come and go on almost every project out here, and R&C was no different. I disagreed on the creative direction of the film, and didn’t have the time nor the inclination to upset production by pushing my version on the team. Kevin and Rainmaker deserved the freedom to make the movie they wanted. Which is why no one I’m working with, from Hasbro to Fox to Sony Animation, is worried about R&C. They can tell my work from someone else’s. 🙂

  9. […] Over 2 years ago, the first draft of the movie script was written by TJ Fixman, which is the person who was hired by Insomniac to write the for Ratchet &  Clank games since Tools of Destruction back in 2007. When the first draft of the script was finished, he left the project. Afterwards, a director named Kevin Munroe took over and made his own changes. What we got from this is a movie that, in a lot of ways, fell short of what the narrative from the 2002 game accomplished. The original was very focused on the development of Ratchet & Clank’s relationship. The two characters interacted with each other a lot more, they were often at odds with each other, but by the end of the story, the whole ride they went through made their friendship feel much more genuine and impactful. […]

  10. weasel188900 says:


    Your post got featured on Cartoon Brew. Would you mind weighing in on it because I feel as if there are some assumptions and some gossip mongering going on.

    I don’t deny that you and Kevin disagreed on the direction of the film, but I feel like it’s going a tad far by making bold statements like you wanted nothing to do with it.

    Personally I thought it wasn’t even that bad, mediocre at worst, it was worth my time as a fan and had a lot of easter eggs to the games.

    BTW, really looking forward to Popeye. 🙂

    • tjfixman says:

      Nah. Really no point in elaborating because people will blow it out of context. Plus the article’s author hardly seems impartial. I’m also not out to throw anyone under the bus. They made the movie they wanted to, as was their right. I’m moving on from Ratchet & Clank, and that includes talking about the movie.

      • weasel188900 says:

        Thanks for the reply and insight. Also sorry if I came off as wanting to incite drama or anything. I respect your decision.

  11. tjfixman says:

    You didn’t at all. Thanks for understanding and not rushing to judgement!

  12. Kubaj12 says:

    With the movie getting a home release, is there any chance we will ever get to see that first draft of the script? As much as I enjoyed what I saw in the theater, I’d love to see your vision of the duo’s origin story.

    • tjfixman says:

      Hey Kubaj12 – I haven’t been in contact with the producers, but my guess is they aren’t planning to release the original script. Maybe Insomniac will at some point, but that’s up to them. I know that’s not the answer you were hoping for, but one day I hope people get to check it out!

      • Kubak12 says:

        Honestly, I was affraid that the answer will be a definite “no”, glad to know there’s still hope, thanks 😀

  13. I’ve seen the movie and i’d say it was decently good. To this day, I still watch the Ratchet & Clank Cutscenes that were written by you lol!
    I also see that you have gotten a much better opportunity in the entertainment industry and I wish you best regards to your new goals!
    I’m hoping for myself to make it into the series as a Music Composer or Voice Actor, I’ve been trying to work on those two besides getting slapped in the face by my schedule of high school and work. 😛

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