Monday, January 28, 2008

News - 01/28/08...

Minotauromaquia by Juan Pablo Etcheverry

Minotauromaquia is an intriguing stop motion short I saw a few years back in Annecy. It’s directed by Spaniard Juan Pablo Etcheverry. The short will appeal most to those who are familiar with Picasso’s work, though the message should be clear to all. Jeff Hasulo’s blog Hydrocephalic Bunny also offers some nice thoughts about the film.

"Persepolis" Nominated for Cesar; Toons Jostle for Sound Editing Prizes

Prize season continues to unfold, with Persepolis gaining multiple nominations for France's Cesar Awards, Variety reports.

The animated feature was nominated in the Picture, First Film, Adapted Screenplay, Song, Score, and Editor categories. For Best Picture it will compete with The Secret of the Grain, La Vie en rose, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, and A Secret. Winners will be announced on February 22.

Meanwhile, Persepolis will be competing with Bee Movie, Meet the Robinsons, Shrek the Third, The Simpsons Movie, Surf's Up and Tekkonkinkreet for Sound Editing in an Animated Feature, one of the categories in Motion Picture Sound Editor's Golden Reel awards. Transformers was nominated in the Dialogue and Foley categories.

For Best Sound Editing in Television: Animated, the competitors will include The Batman, Catscratch, El Tigre, Loonatics Unleashed, Shrek the Halls, Spongebob Squarepants, Tak and the Power of Juju, and Transformers: Animated. The Invincible Iron Man and Superman: Doomsday will compete with three live-action entries for Best Sound Editing—Direct to Video.

May CMX Releases

DC Comics will be releasing the first 48 page, Prestige Format issue of Yoshinori Natsume's BATMAN: DEATH MASK on April 9th.

There's a new serial killer in Gotham, and he may have ties to the training Bruce Wayne acquired as a young man in Japan. Does the murderer know Bruce Wayne is the Batman?

On sale April 9 - 1 of 4 - 48 pg, B&W, $5.99 US

Next Volumes of Freedom Scheduled

Anime on DVD reports that Bandai Visual will be releasing volumes four and five of the DVD/HD DVD Hybrid sci-fi Freedom on 02/26/2008 and 04/22/2008 respectively. The one-episode discs retail for $39.98

Anime Screening in California

ImaginAsian Entertainment and Bandai Entertainment Inc. announced that three of Bandai’s Anime Movie Classic releases will be screened theatrically on 35mm at the newly opened ImaginAsian Center from February 15-21 in downtown Los Angeles.

The three films to be screened starting Feb 15th at ImaginAsian are:

Escaflowne-the movie, is a theatrical rendition of the classic series which features music by the Yoko Kanno of Cowboy Bebop fame, and produced by animation studio Sunrise. A depressed girl named Hitomi is whisked away to a fantastical land where she meets young King Van and learns that she alone has the power to summon Escaflowne – a warrior/protector that can end the fierce conflict that has been raging between the forces of light and dark.

Mobile Suit Gundam: The Counterattack of Char, is the final chapter of the first Gundam saga. The foundations of peace between the Federation and the Neo Zeon Army are shattered as the notorious Zeon leader Char Aznable threatens the Federation with nuclear devastation. Only Amuro Ray and the state of the art mobile suit, Nu Gundam, can stop them!

Jin-Roh, created and written by the acclaimed Mamoru Oshii (Ghost in the Shell-the Movie, Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence), is a powerful allegory which centers on a very different Tokyo than the one we know today, where a totalitarian government rules with an iron fist. Constable Fuse of the Capital Police’s Special unit defies his orders to shoot and kill a young protestor and as a result is “re-conditioned” as a solider. As Fuse’s world comes crashing down around him, he is challenged to do what is right in the face of an oppressive regime.

The newly renovated ImaginAsian Center is located at 251 S. Main St., Los Angeles California.
For ticket information call (213) 617-1033 or

Santa Monica's Aero Theatre will be screening NAUSICAA, VALLEY OF THE WIND (Friday, February 1 – 7:30 PM), MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO (Saturday, February 2 – 3:00 PM) and SPIRITED AWAY (Saturday, February 2 – 7:30 PM).

Worth Checking Out

Same Hat! Same Hat! posted a translation of Shintaro Kago's Drunkard Condo Syndrome.
The site also previews Kazuo Umezu's Cat Eyed Boy! ahead of Viz's release.

Midnight Eye's Best and Worst of 2007 (lots of TekkonKinkreet love)

The site for Endless Frontier: Super Robot Wars Original Generation Saga has been updated.

Bloomberg glances at the world of manga here

Chris's Invincible Super-Blog's scrambles Peanuts with Azumanga Daioh here and here

Comics Worth Reading points out that Del Rey is accepting submissions for OEL manga here

ComiPress' Year in Design

Patrick Macias at the Young Jump New Years Party, photographed with Kazuo Koike, Go Nagai, and Hirohiko Araki

Newsarama spoke to the localization team for Crayon Shin-Chan.

Bowers Pilots Astro Boy

Imagi Studios, the animation company behind TMNT, has signed Flushed Away director David Bowers to helm its CG-animated Astro Boy feature. Based on the classic comics and anime series created by Japan’s “god of manga,” Osamu Tezuka, Astro Boy will be released worldwide release in 2009 by Warner Bros. Pictures and The Weinstein Co. Bowers replaces the film's previously announced director Colin Brady (Everyone's Hero).

Set in futuristic Metro City,
Astro Boy will tell the tale of a powerful young robot that a brilliant scientist created in the image of the son he lost. Unable to fulfill the grieving man’s expectations, our metalic hero embarks on a journey in search of acceptance, experiencing betrayal and a netherworld of robot gladiators before returning to save Metro City and reconcile with the father.

“I’ve had a lifelong affection for the original
Astro Boy, so am looking forward to giving him the full action-adventure Hollywood treatment,” Bowers comments. “His story is both emotional and spectacular, so it absolutely lends itself to the big screen. With the amazing crew that Imagi has assembled, I feel there’s an opportunity to create something very special—a film to surprise audiences, have them on the edge of their seats, and hopefully make them laugh, too.”

Bowers worked at famed British animation studio Cosgrove Hall before joining Steven Spielberg’s Amblimation in London to work on
Who Framed Roger Rabbit. When DreamWorks was founded, he relocated to Los Angeles where he worked primarily as a story artist on The Prince of Egypt and The Road to El Dorado. During this period, he met Nick Park and Peter Lord and struck up a long and fruitful relationship with U.K. animation house Aardman Animations. He helped to conceive of and storyboard many of the major set pieces is Chicken Run, and continued to move between Los Angeles and Bristol to lend his creative talents to various DreamWorks and Aardman projects, including Shark Tale and Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, before making his directorial debut with Sam Fell on Flushed Away. Maryann Garger, a co-producer on that film, is producing Astro Boy.

Aardman Toons on iTunes

Fans of Wallace and Gromit and other Aardman Animations creations can now find a host of the company’s animated shorts and TV productions available for download from the iTunes Store in the U.K.( For £1.89 per download, customers can enjoy the Oscar-winning half-hour Wallace and Gromit
adventures A Close Shave, The Wrong Trousers and A Grand Day Out, as well as the Cracking Contraptions collection of nine shorts featuring the plasticine pals. Other offerings include 25 one-minute-long episodes of Angry Kid, 13 ten-minute installments of the cult television comedy series Rex the Runt, and the new 2D short, The Pearce Sisters, which won the Special Jury Price at Annecy and the Cartoon D’Or at Cartoon Forum last year.

“We are delighted that some of our key shows will now be available to new viewers through the world’s most popular online TV store,” remarks Robin Gladman, digital rights manager for Aardman.

The Bristol-based company has been aggressively expanding into the digital arena, striking deals last year with Joost, Rhythm, Atom Films and Player X. Further big-screen plans include a trio of films in development via a three-year, first-look deal with Sony Pictures Animation. The lineup includes a stop-motion heist pic titled
The Cat Burglars
, an adaptation of Gideon Defoe’s The Pirates! book series and a Christmas toon dubbed Operation Rudolph.

Diznee’s Aladin

I’m back, with more madness from the same studio that brought you Animal Soccer World. Someone has just posted (on YouTube) their shameless rip-off of Disney’s Aladdin.

The language is German, but the voice-acting is much more bearable this way. There’s even a German “fanpage” dedicated to this company, offering plot overviews and direct comparisons of the characters with the original Disney characters.

If you haven’t had enough, check the Dingo Pictures website for information (and trailers) of their other movies. And don’t miss their inspired sequel More Dalmatians. Why hasn’t Disney thought of this?

The bigger question, you may ask, is why am I so fascinated with this crap?

Digital Downloads of "Naruto," "Death Note," "Bleach" Come to Amazon

Naruto Uncut, Death Note and Bleach will be available for digital download from Amazon Unbox for $1.99 per episode, thanks to a deal between the online retailer and VIZ Media, the companies announced today.

In addition, VIZ is offering a free download of one episode of each series through January 31, 2008.

Death Note will be available in its entirety, while Naruto and Bleach will initially offer the first 25 episodes. All episodes are dubbed.

"Kara no Kyokai" Breaks House Records in Japan

Kara no Kyokai, a Japanese animated feature adapted from a web-based comic, set a house record at the Theater Shinjuku during its December debut, Variety reports. The film, about a girl who can see the "death lines" on all living things, garnered standing room crowds and more than 19,000 admissions during its four-week run.

Speed Racer Lines-Up Big Tie-Ins

Warner Bros.'
Speed Racer, opening in theaters on May 9, is targeting a G rating, reports Variety. Because of this, the studio has been able to enlist a lengthy lineup of promotional partners that will pony up at least $80 million in additional marketing support around the film.

That kind of backing from brands like General Mills, McDonald's, Target, Mattel, Lego, Topps and Esurance, among others, will create the "noise" needed to gets audiences interested in the film, producer Joel Silver says.

"You have to open big," he says. "You have to let them know you're out there. The only way to make a lot of noise is to have people shout from the rooftops. (
'Speed Racer') was an opportunity to do something we've never done before."

The marketing line-up includes:

- General Mills stamping
Speed Racer imagery on packaging of its cereals and other brands like Betty Crocker cookie mixes, Old El Paso Mexican foods and Fruit Gushers.

- LEGO creating four playsets based around the film.

- Target, which rarely does film promotions, coming aboard as the pic's official retail partner and, in addition to in-store ads and circulars, offering a gift card that enables consumers to access exclusive footage from the film;

- Puma designing
Speed Racer-themed shoes;

- McDonald's offering separate Happy Meals for boys and girls.

- Overseas, Japanese tiremaker Yokohama Rubber Co. and auto parts retailer Autobacs, as well as Brazilian oil company Petrobras and Mexican snack-food maker Bimbo, among others, will also push the pic through ads and other tie-ins.

"Variety" on Nick's New Bilingual "Ni Hao, Kai-lan"

Variety has taken a look at Ni Hao, Kai-lan,
the new pre-school animated series that will debut on Nickelodeon on Chinese New Year, February 7, 2008. The show will attempt to duplicate the bilingual success of Nickelodeon's Dora the Explorer, except with a Chinese-American lead exploring Chinese language and culture along with lessons on dealing with anger, jealousy, and other emotions. The article also covers the long gestation period of the show, which began as the yoga-inspired Downward Doghouse, and the attempt to tap into growing interest in Chinese as the language of choice for business in the near future and in the growing population of adopted Chinese girls growing up in the Americas.

"Blue Harvest" Debuts at Number Two in DVD Sales

Family Guy Presents Blue Harvest
debuted in the number-two spot among DVD sellers, Video Business Online reports. It was the thirteenth most popular DVD rental during the same period. Good Luck Chuck, also in its debut week, was both the top DVD seller and rental.

The Simpsons Movie rose to the number eight spot from number nine on the sales chart, but fell to number 20 from number 15 among rentals. Ratatouille held steady at number 15 in sales.

Screen Time and Da Vinci Revive Classic Cartoons

Chicago Superstation WGN's 50-year-old tradition of airing classic cartoons every Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve took on new life this year when Screen Time Images restored the shorts to their former glory. Using the da Vinci Revival image restoration system and other da Vinci color enhancement tools, the Schaumberg, Illinois-based company was able to complete the task in just two weeks.

"Animation, unlike live-action material, does not always have 24 unique frames of motion per second and can have identical consecutive frames, which often confuses systems," said McKee. "But together with a critical eye, Revival handled this with ease. After piecing together new masters from the only remaining 16mm prints available, all of the footage received a scene-by-scene, semi-automated process with Revival to take care of small particles of dirt."

Once the automated process was complete, McKee used Revival's interactive scratch removal, and tool and splice repair features, to go through frame by frame and manually remove larger defects. After the audio had been restored, masters of the four cartoons were created in D5-HD, SD, and SD with logo bugs. The cartoons aired on WGN on Thanksgiving and again on Christmas Eve. McKee thought Screen Time's job was done.

However, on Dec. 22, WGN made a last-minute decision to improve the look of the two-hour
BOZO, GAR, AND RAY show, which was made up of clips compiled from 50 years of children's television on WGN. Origination formats included kinescope, two-inch quad, one-inch, three-quarter inch, and even VHS. To improve the quality of the entire two hours in only two days' time, Screen Time had to prioritize.

Much of the footage had a greenish hue so that the people looked unnatural, and it was decided that scene-by-scene color correction on the da Vinci 2K would make the biggest difference overall. After skin tones and balance were restored, Screen Time then deployed Revival to eliminate video noise and dropouts. The results achieved in a very short time were quite impressive.

"These shows have been enjoyed by so many Chicago viewers over the years and it is wonderful to see them looking new again," said Dean Lyon, director of marketing at da Vinci. "This is yet another example of how the high-speed processing power of Revival and the powerful, efficient 2K system continues to help postproduction houses meet tight deadlines and improve overall productivity -- and most of all, how they make the end result the best quality for the viewing public."

For more information, visit

Alpine Pictures To Animate Oz

Burbank, California-based Alpine Pictures has announced that Bonne Radford, Randi Barnes, Daniel St Pierre, and Matthew Jon Beck have all signed onto their production DOROTHY OF OZ, an animated musical based on the writings of Roger S. Baum (great-grandson of original OZ
series author L. Frank Baum). The film is being produced in association with Box Office Productions III, LLC.

is the first in a slated series of animated feature films by Alpine Pictures based on the writings of Baum, whose work continues the legacy of his great-grandfather through new stories of Dorothy's adventures in the enchanted Land of Oz, and the magical friends she meets along the way.

Alpine Pictures, Inc is a 12-year-old internationally established company engaged in the production, acquisition, and distribution of feature films. Alpine recently completed
LOVE IS THE DRUG, directed by Elliott Lester, and just wrapped postproduction on DARK HONEYMOON.

Ni Hao, Kai-lan

Review of the Nick Jr. original animation 'Ni Hao, Kai-lan,'
a sharp new preschool cartoon that blends Chinese culture, early education-learning and fun in the sun for a great viewing experience. Teaching young audiences elementary Mandarin Chinese as well as the basics of teamwork and dealing with emotions, Nickelodeon's 'Ni Hao, Kai-lan' is a promising new children's program that should keep viewers well-invested.

Bill McFadden, 86, built Disney multiplane cameras

William Clyde "Bill" McFadden, in charge of the 1930s group that designed and built multiplane animation cameras for Walt Disney Studios, has died at 86, according to a belated obituary published in the Los Angeles Times.

McFadden died last April 12, but his paid obituary appeared only Sunday.

Family members said that he graduated from Caltech in 1934, getting a design job with Disney to supervise the group that made multiplane cameras and other devices necessary for the continuous productions of such full-length animated films as Snow White, Pinocchio, Dumbo and Fantasia.

Born in Placentia, California on February 25, 1911, he grew up on a citrus ranch and continued a lifetime of farming in his own backyard in La Canada, California.

During the Second World War, McFadden utilized his college major of aeronautics, working for Pan American-Grace Airlines in Lima, Peru as a service engineer in charge of overhaul of engines, instruments and propellers. In 1949, he went to work at Hycon Manufacturing Co. in Pasadena, California, becoming the vice-president and chief engineer for the development of the "B" camera for the U-2 program.

In 1958, McFadden and his two partners started DynaMetric, Inc. as a design and manufacturing company involved with early government surveillance hardware. They then finally turned their attention to commercial telephone accessories. He retired as CEO of DynaMetric at 86.

Bill McFadden is survived by wife Janet; daughters Jill McFadden, Bonny Henderson and Julie Schermbeck; five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren; and brother James M. McFadden.

'Spectacular Spider-Man' To Premiere At Wonder Con

Sony Animation has recently announced that the first episode of the upcoming The Spectacular Spider-Man will premiere in it's entireity at Wonder Con. The convention takes place between February 22nd - 24th. Below is the current synopsis for the episode, entitled "Survival Of The Fittest".

An elder scientist named Adrian Toomes claims that Oscorp stole his flying technology and plans his revenge on Norman Osborn. Otto Octavius also appears

The Spectacular Spider-Man will premiere on Kids WB! on March 8th.

Hulk vs Wolverine/Hulk Vs Thor DTV Rumored

A recent email survey for marketing focus groups from Marvel/Lionsgate Productions reveals their possible plans for the Hulk Smash! Direct to DVD feature, currently planned for an October 2008 release. These were the synopsis' provided for the direct-to-video feature, but please note, this project is currently in the early stages of production and has yet to be officially announced by either Marvel Or Lions Gate and as such, can only be considered as rumour at this time.

Below are the synopsis' for the feature, which would be split into two parts.

Hulk Vs. Wolverine
ALBERTA, Canada. The smoldering wreckage of a town-the latest casualty of a rampage by the monster known as The Incredible Hulk. Over the past week, Hulk has been tearing a line across the Canadian wilderness, leaving a swathe of destruction in his wake. He has to be stopped, and there's only one man up to the job. He's Wolverine, and he's been put on Hulk's trail with a single objective: stop the green all costs. Hulk and Wolverine are about to enter the fiercest battle of their lives.

Hulk Vs. Thor
ASGARD, realm of the gods. For ages, Loki the trickster has sought a way to bring defeat to his accursed stepbrother, Thor. But for all the battles Thor has fought, in all the nine realms, only one creature has ever been able to match his strength-a mortal beast of Midgard known as The Incredible Hulk. Now, with Odin the almighty king of the gods deep in a regenerative sleep, and the forces protecting Asgard at their weakest, Loki is finally ready to spring his trap. In an epic battle that will pit gods against monsters, only The Mighty Thor can hope to prevail. But to do so he must survive a perilous quest that will take him into the very depths of the underworld itself.

A Thor Direct To DVD feature is also planned for an April 2009 release.

Luc Besson brings Adèle Blanc-Sec to the screen.

French director and producer Luc Besson just closed a deal to acquire the rights for the series of graphic novels of "Adèle Blanc-Sec" created by Jacques Tardi. Besson plans to do a trilogy of movies with the first one to be released in 2009. The series is about a brilliant and independent heroine in a post World War I Paris full of extraordinary creatures.

Cloverfield Drops To Fourth

A week after setting an opening-weekend record for the month of January, Cloverfield fell to fourth place at the box office, taking in just $12.7 million in its second weekend of release, the Associate Press reported. The monster movie, from producer J.J. Abrams and director Matt Reeves, saw a steep 68 percent drop from its initial take of $41 million.

Despite the decline, Cloverfield easily surpassed its reported $25 million budget, with a total box-office gross of almost $65 million in 10 days.

New Up concept image

Upcoming Pixar has posted new concept art from Pixar’s upcoming animated release, Up. A direct link to the image can be found here. Hitting theaters in 2009, Up is the story of a 70-year old man who teams up with a Wilderness Ranger to fight beasts and villains.

"Boondocks" Loses 2 Episodes in Season 2

A report on Newsarama is stating that The Boondocks has pulled two episodes from season 2, "The Huey Freeman Hunger Strike" and "The Ruckus Reality Show." According to an anonymous source speaking to the website, the two episodes were pulled from the schedule for taking a critical and satiric view of BET and its current programming, one of which parodies BET executives Debra Lee and former Boondocks producer Reginald Hudlin.

As of press time, only Adult Swim has commented on the reports, only confirming that the episodes have been pulled from the schedule. So far, there has been no comment on the above from BET, Sony, or Boondocks creator Aaron McGruder.

Nick Names New Toon Prez

Brown Johnson has been named president of animation for Nickelodeon and the MTVN Kids and Family Group, Variety reports. In addition to overseeing development and production of all Nick programming, she will continue to manage preschool programming at the network, including Nick Jr. and Noggin.

Marjorie Cohen, who had formerly overseen all Nick programming, will now concentrate on live-action series.

The trade journal notes that the network's animation studio will boost its output by 50% this year.

Channing Tatum is Duke in G.I. Joe

First mentioned by Latino Review as being up for the role, Ain't It Cool News is now saying it has confirmed that Channing Tatum has landed the lead role of Duke in director Stephen Sommers' big screen G.I. Joe adaptation, which Paramount will release in theaters on August 7, 2009.

Tatum has starred in such films as She's the Man, Step Up and A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints. His upcoming films include Stop-Loss and Fighting.

He'll be joining Sienna Miller, Ray Park, Rachel Nichols, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Said Taghmaoui, Marlon Wayans and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the cast for the action-adventure.

The film, based on the Hasbro property, is set to start shooting next month in Los Angeles.

Del Toro Considering Hobbit Films

Guillermo del Toro is in talks to direct back-to-back installments of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Del Toro's name was on a short list of directors who could tackle the highly anticipated project, the trade paper said.

Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson was originally set to direct the prequel films, but he departed the project following a legal dispute with New Line and the project was put on hold. But with the resolution of the lawsuit in December, The Hobbit is now back on track, with Jackson on board as an executive producer.

Because of the strike, no writer has been hired to adapt Tolkien's children's classic, though that process will be fast-tracked once it's resolved. Del Toro and Jackson will oversee the development of the script.

Principal photography for the two films, which will be shot simultaneously, is tentatively set for 2009. The production budget is estimated at $150 million for each installment. The release of the first film is slated for 2010 and the second in 2011.

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