Citizen Siege

Citizen Siege is a new intellectual property created by Lorne Lanning. It is completely separate from the Oddworld universe, instead being set on a dystopian, near‐future Earth. Oddworld Inhabitants are currently working to create a CGI feature film and two video games to showcase this new IP, all of which will be developed using a shared digital back lot.

Setting

The Citizen Siege universe is a near‐future version of Earth where people have given up their civil liberties at the promise of being protected from various threats and democracy has been replaced by global corporatism and martial law.1, 2 In an early interview, published before the Citizen Siege film was officially announced, Lorne described the fictional world as ‘a place where a state becomes privatized and America becomes Americo.’1

Citizen Siege is set to be much more direct in its commentary on contemporary politics than the Oddworld series, with a dark and gritty feel, and graphics that are mostly realistic, but with stylized human characters.3

Feature film

Citizen Siege was first announced as a CGI animation feature film for cinematic release to be developed by the partnership of Lorne Lanning and Sherry McKenna with Vanguard Animation. The original press release listed Lorne as the film’s director, John William as producer, and Sherry, Terry Botwick, and Margaret French Isaac as executive producers.2

The film is described as a ‘poltically edgy sci‐fi action thriller’, whose hero is ‘an ex‐patriot [who] finds himself ensnared in a nightmarish credit racket that leaves him “repossessed”.’2 It is said to already be in active development,4 with a PG‐13 rating probable if an R isn’t achieved.5 While earlier hoped to be out in 2009,6 a 2010 is now a more likely release date.7

Video games

There are two Citizen Siege video games planned.7 The first of these is Wage Wars,8 intended to be released before the Citizen Siege film to support a ‘synergy’ between the two that has yet to be revealed.7 Wage Wars will be an online game,8 and may be digitally distributed.6 The second game has yet to be announced.

Production history

The concept of Citizen Siege pre‐dates that of Oddworld, and was one of the stories Lorne told Sherry to convince her to co‐found Oddworld Inhabitants. Like all of Lorne’s intellectual properties, ideas for cinematic and video game versions were developed in tandem.9

By December 2004, Lorne was bringing Citizen Siege more to the forefront of his mind as he felt his politically edgy IP was appropriate to the current political climate of fear mongering and relinquishment of civil liberties. His plans were, against his wishes, published in an interview by ComputerAndVideoGames. Seeing that major studios were concentrating on making animated films family friendly, Lorne and Sherry initially tried to pitch Citizen Siege as an effects‐heavy, live‐action film that Lorne wouldn’t have directed,10 but were told this would cost an estimated $125 million to develop.9

However, after pitching the CGI film Pound Dog to John Williams, Williams asked Lorne about Citizen Siege, talk of which had been circulating.9 Impressed by Lorne’s presentation, and recognizing the potential but completely untapped market for mature CGI films, Williams partnered Vanguard Animation with Lorne and Sherry to develop Citizen Siege at Vanguard’s Vancouver studio for an estimated $40 million.9, 10

Vanguard planned to raise funds with outside investment, including foreign pre‐sales.10 Shortly followed by a press release, Lorne publicly announced the development deal at the end of his keynote speech at GameCity in October 2006,11 in time for the American Film Market in early November.10 With the development deal made, Lorne started focusing on the videogame,4 but didn’t want to start searching for a publisher until a distribution deal for the film was secure.5 In September 2007, he said he would be starting actual production on Wage Wars.8

A logo for Citizen Siege, designed by Raymond Swanland, was revealed in Lorne’s keynote speech at GameCity, and officially released in his September 2007 interview with the CGSociety,8 although a photograph of the logo was published shortly after GameCity.12

The logo shows a hand‐eye icon inside a handcuff with a broken chain. The keyhole on the cuff appears upside down. Superimposed on the bottom of the symbol are the words ‘CITIZEN SIEGE’, outlined in gold and filled with a waving representation of the Flag of the United States of America, in which the stars have been replaced with dollar signs.

References

  1. Lanning, Lorne (20/12/2004). ‘Enter the Oddworld of Lorne Lanning’, interview by Graeme Boyd. ComputerAndVideoGames.
  2. OddBlog (29/10/2006). ‘Oddworld Creators and Vanguard Animation Partner on Citizen Siege’, press release.
  3. Bunce‐Edwards, William (11/11/2006). Post №139 in ‘Citizen Siege Film Announced’. Oddworld Forums.
  4. Game Revolution (30/10/2006). ‘Lorne Lanning Talks Citizen Siege’.
  5. Lanning, Lorne (22/06/2007). ‘GDC Lorne Lanning interview’ by Bengt Lemne. Gamereactor Television.
  6. Lee, Matt (03/07/2007). Email to MoxCo. Executive. ‘Citizen Siege correspondence’. Oddworld Forums.
  7. Lanning, Lorne (30/07/2007). ‘Where’s Lorne Lanning Been?’, podcast telephone interview with Crispin Boyer. EGM Live*. Partial transcript by William Bunce‐Edwards (07/08/2007). Post №9 in ‘EGM EXTRAS ON 1UP!’. Oddworld Forums.
  8. Lanning, Lorne (05/09/2007). ‘Lorne Lanning’, special feature. CGSociety.
  9. Bunce‐Edwards, William (08/11/2006). ‘Meeting Lorne & Sherry’. OddBlog.
  10. Fritz, Ben (29/10/2006). ‘Oddworld team lays “Siege” to CG project’. Variety.
  11. Bunce‐Edwards, William (29/10/2006). ‘Citizen Siege film announced’. OddBlog.
  12. Hayward, David (31/10/2006). ‘Lorne Lanning: GameCity Keynote part 2’. Functional Autonomy.