Thursday, January 31, 2008

News - 01/31/08...

Up release date pushed forward

UpcomingPixar via BoxOfficeMojo and reports that the release date for Disney/Pixar’s Up appears to have been pushed forward by 14 days. Up was originally scheduled for a June 12, 2009 release but is now set to hit theatres on May 29, 2009.

Bam Margera’s Unaired MTV Pilot - Bamimation

Bam Margera, one of the infamous Jackass daredevils, has been animated many times in the past - but mainly as a video game character. But back in 2006, this star of MTV’s Viva La Bam was illustrated into his very own Flash-animated pilot - Bamimation. I found this canceled pilot floating around the web, and am fairly certain it was animated by Six Point Harness in Hollywood.

nockFORCE Revs Up a Presidential Go-Kart

nockFORCE, the weekly animated musings of Jim Gisriel and Ian Jones-Quartey, has spawned its first politically-minded episode. This Flash-animated series isn’t the most elaborately-animated project, but keep in mind that Jones-Quartey is animating on his own - weekly. It’s a loopy, open-topic series that’s now released the 26th episode titled Presidential Go-Kart Race, which nods to the Nintendo game Mario Kart.

LEGO Secures Speed Racer Rights

LEGO Group today announced an agreement with Warner Bros. Consumer Products (WBCP) to secure construction toy rights for the upcoming Speed Racer, the live action feature film adaptation of the classic TV series created by anime pioneer Tatsuo Yoshida.

Under the agreement, LEGO Group will produce four constructible racing playsets under its LEGO Racers brand, scheduled to race onto store shelves in April 2008, and ranging in price from $19.99 to $59.99 USD. Builders and collectors alike will appreciate the inclusion of multiple authentic racers in each set for head-to-head racing and building fun. Many of the Speed Racer characters also will come to life in LEGO minifigure form, including Speed, Racer X, Trixie, Spritle, Chim-Chim, Mom and Pops Racer, Taejo Togokhan, Snake Oiler, Gray Ghost and Cruncher Block.

"Warner Bros. Consumer Products has partnered with LEGO on Batman and Harry Potter, and we are excited to expand our relationship to include products based on the upcoming 'Speed Racer' film," said Karen McTier, Executive Vice President, Domestic Licensing and Worldwide Marketing, for Warner Bros. Consumer Products. "LEGO has captured the racing excitement of the film in its own unique way."

"The popularity and universal appeal of 'Speed Racer' has engaged generations of loyal and enduring fans," said Jill Wilfert, Vice President, Partnership and Alliance Management for LEGO Group. "Combined with one of our most popular lines in LEGO Racers, 'Speed Racer' has become an awesome proposition for our business and consumers."

The green flag drops on May 9, 2008, when Speed Racer makes his feature film debut in the newest project from writer/directors Larry and Andy Wachowski, the creators of the groundbreaking "The Matrix" trilogy, and producer Joel Silver. A live-action, high-octane family adventure based on the classic series created by anime pioneer Tatsuo Yoshida, the big-screen Speed Racer will follow the adventures of the young race car driver Speed (Emile Hirsch) in his quest for glory in his thundering Mach 5. It will feature other characters that fans of the show will remember, including Mom (Susan Sarandon) and Pops Racer (John Goodman), girlfriend Trixie (Christina Ricci) and the mysterious Racer X (Matthew Fox).

Watchmen Enters Final Weeks of Filming

Watchmen director Zack Snyder (300) has posted a new column at MTV that includes the following bit:

At the moment, I'm in the final weeks of shooting "Watchmen," in Vancouver, British Columbia. Since "Watchmen" is a dissection of the superhero genre and forces it to take a long, hard look into the pop-culture mirror, it only makes sense that it's where my head is at these days.

Opening March 6, 2009, the big screen adaptation stars Patrick Wilson, Jackie Earle Haley, Matthew Goode, Billy Crudup, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Malin Akerman, Carla Gugino, Stephen McHattie and Matt Frewer.

Carla Gugino Talks Watchmen

MTV caught up with Carla Gugino at Sunday's SAG Awards, where she talked about her role in Zack Snyder's Watchmen:

"It was really one of the craziest, most fun roles I've ever gotten to play," marveled the "Sin City" star, cast as the burlesque dancer who proves to be the most PR-savvy of the complex superheroes. "I start at 25 years old in the 1940s, and I age to 67 years old with full prosthetics in the 1980s. [Sally] is a larger-than-life character. She's a costumed crime fighter, but her idea of a costume is very Bettie Page-meets-[Alberto] Vargas.

For more of the interview, hit the link above!

Visions of Frank dvd

Visions of Frank is a dvd that came out last year collecting eight animated shorts by Japanese animators, all based on Jim Woodring’s wondrous comic creation Frank. The 45-minute dvd, which sells for $25 on Woodring’s website, also comes with a 16-page booklet, and includes Woodring’s own animated short Whim-Grinder. More info from the website:

VISIONS OF FRANK collects 8 wild Frank animations made by some of Japan’s most innovative and idiosyncratic filmmakers: Taruto Fuyama, Eri Yoshimura, art unit COCOA, DROP INC., Masaki Naito, Kanako Kawaguchi, Naomi Nagata. Each piece is an interpretation of a classic Frank comic and is scored by musicians from Japan and the USA. The films run the gamut of animation techniques: 3D CG, paper craft, clay, iron sand and traditional cel 2D…For each animation, you are able to choose between the original music and the newly composed music by other musicians. Participating musicians include James McNew (from Yo La Tengo), The Coctails, Dame Darcy, Kicell, Milk Yabe, and others.

A number of the shorts, if not all, are viewable on YouTube including this fine one:

Ka-Ching Drops Their 3D Machine on Rotterdam

Last night at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, Joost van den Bosch and Erik Verkerk, the Dutch artists behind Ka-Ching Cartoons, debuted their new 7-minute Flash-animated short The 3D-Machine. Inspired by 50s monster movies, this film is actually produced in traditional 3D format (glassed encouraged, but not required), and the team used Photoshop and After Effects for the backgrounds and Premiere for the editing. The film is about “a professor who invents a machine that can bring everything he draws to life.”

You can view a trailer over at the Ka-Ching website.

El Chavo: Univision’s Flash-Animated Prime Time Hit

According to a recent article in Animation Magazine, Univision’s first prime-time animated series, El Chavo: La Serie Animada debuted with strong ratings, scoring ahead of both The CW and the almighty NBC. This Flash-animated series was physically produced by Anima Estudios, which is based in Mexico City. El Chavo is based on the children’s show, El Chavo de Ocho.

Below is an episode titled Vacaciones en Acapulco.

Marcell Jankovic’s Fehérlófia

Every so often I find out about such an awesome piece of animation that I’m ashamed to admit I’ve never heard about it before. Tonight was such an instance when my friend Joshua Smith introduced me to the 1982 Hungarian animated feature Fehérlófia directed by the legendary Marcell Jankovics. (Note: Other websites peg the film’s release date as 1980 and ‘81. If anybody knows for sure, let us know.)

Admittedly I’ve never followed Jankovics’s work very closely. Like most indie animation fans I’m familiar with his award-winning short Sisyphus (warning: unintentionally NSFW soundtrack) and that’s about all. I had no idea that he’d also directed features, especially one as daringly experimental as this one. The first bit of Fehérlófia that I watched was this clip:

After watching this, I thought there’s no way there could be an entire film that maintains this visual intensity and innovation throughout. Then a search on YouTube revealed that the entire film is posted in eight parts and in fact it’s a pretty damn amazing piece of work. Visually, it’s rooted in a pastiche of late-’70s/early-’80s graphic styles yet it also manages to look remarkably fresh and contemporary. This ten-minute segment blew me away:

What the film lacks in the type of nuanced character animation that we demand from our US animated features, it more than makes up for with its experimental graphic animation and sweeping artistic vision. Joshua Smith tells me that he’s working to create an English fansub of the film. I hope he makes that available online so we can all learn if the story is as fascinating as the artwork.

Spotlight on Chinese Animation

“They already make most of the toys, holiday decorations, and household items sold in America, in addition to holding most of our debt. Think China is just content to be regarded as the place you go for cheap animation outsourcing? Think again!” o-meon covers almost 2000 years of Chinese animation and aims to show the rich quality of animation coming from the most populous country in the world.

Fly Me Gets Launch Date

Fly Me to the Moon, a CG-animated family feature developed specifically for stereoscopic 3-D exhibition, will be released in IMAX venues and other theaters equipped for digital 3-D projection on Aug. 22. A co-production of Illuminata and nWave Pictures, the film will be distributed nationwide by Summit Ent.

In the movie, three tween-aged flies decide they want to become part of the space program and hatch a plan to stow away on the 1969 Apollo II mission. Against the wishes of their mothers and with encouragement from a grandfather who missed his shot at becoming the first fly in space, the intrepid insects manage to get into the rocket and embark on an exhilarating and harrowing space adventure. The voice cast features Kelly Rippa, Christopher Lloyd, Nicollette Sheridan and Adrianne Barbeau, as well as real-life Apollo astronaut Buzz Aldrin in a special cameo role.

The G-rated, independently produced film is directed by Ben Stassen of Brussels-based nWave Pictures. The company has been have been producing 3-D films for more than a decade, creating specialty titles such as 3D Mania, Alien Adventure, Misadventures in 3D and Wild Safari for IMAX theaters and theme-park attractions. To handle its first animated feature for the mass market, nWave augmented its core group of animators in Belgium with hires from throughout Europe, the U.S and Canada.

While other animated movies have been converted to 3-D as an afterthought, Fly Me to the Moon is a pioneer when it comes to animated films built from the ground up with stereoscopic projection in mind. Major studios have since adopted the model. DreamWorks Animation will make all of its CG features in 3-D, starting with 2009’s Monsters Vs. Aliens, and Disney/Pixar will bring an extra dimension to Toy Story 3. The first two Toy Story films will be converted for 3-D exhibition and re-released.

Leonardo in The Box for France

Gruppo Alcuni, a production company based in Treviso, Italy, has signed The Box Distribution to handle its animated series, Leonardo, in French-speaking territories. Co-produced by Rai Fiction with the support of the European community’s MEDIA program, the series consists of 26 13-minute episodes that blend traditional 2D animation and CG techniques. Installments will be ready for air by the end of April.

Set in the 1400s, Leonardo follows the exploits of a group of Tuscan youngsters who are lucky to have a resourceful friend in Leonardo da Vinci. At the age of 13, the young inventor is not yet aware of the role he will play in history. He’s content to dream up new gadgets and get into thrilling adventures with loyal pal Lorenzo and the beautiful Gioconda, while foiling the plots of rivals Laura and Gottardo. Each episode will reveal one of da Vinci’s new inventions from its conception to its creation. These include a flying machine, a special catapult and an elastic bicycle.

Newport Beach Fest Adds Chuck Jones Award

The Newport Beach Film Festival and the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity will present the first ever Chuck Jones Award for Excellence in Animation this year. Created in honor of the legendary animation director, the award will be given each year to an individual or group best exemplifying artistic achievement and innovation in the field of animation.

Winners of the Chuck Jones Award will receive a special animation cel from Jones' body of work, a cash award and recognition at the Newport Beach Film Festival. Filmmakers from around the globe with feature-length or short-form original animated works can submit their films for consideration.

“Chuck Jones lived in Newport Beach as a child and always held it close to his heart,” comments Linda Jones Clough, daughter of the Oscar-winning animator. “His last 22 years were spent as a resident of Newport Beach/Corona del Mar, and it is with great pleasure and delight that the Jones family and Trustees of the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity participate in this wonderful festival.”

The Chuck Jones Center for Creativity is a nonprofit organization with a mission to foster and encourage creativity, especially in young people, using Jones' films, drawings and writings as artistic resource and inspiration. Jones made more than 300 animated films over the course of his 60-year career, and was a driving creative force behind such enduring Warner Bros. characters as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, the Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote.

The Newport Beach Film Festival runs April 24 through May 1, and will highlight more than 300 films from around the world. Filmmakers can download an entry form at, or submit through The final deadline for entries is Feb. 11.

M-I-C-K-E-Y B-U-S-T-E-D: Mouse's tail sent to jail

Forget Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan: Mickey Mouse -- or someone borrowing the celebrity Disney character's name -- has been arrested for DUI in Sacramento, California.

Arrest records indicate that within an hour last Thursday, the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department arrested one "Mickey Mouse" twice on charges of driving under the influence and once for driving on a revoked license.

Department spokesman Sgt. Tim Curran expressed surprise to hear that Mickey had been placed in custody.

"I don't know how that got in there," Wednesday's Sacramento Bee quoted Curran as saying. "When trainees learn to use our system, they put that (name) in.... It's one of the names we can use without getting in trouble."

Arrest records describe the rodent as an Anaheim, California resident who works as a bartender.

The arrest log further describes Mouse as a 47-year-old African-American male who's 5'9" tall and weighs 190 pounds.

Mouse has used the aliases "Buzz Lightyear" and "Donnie Duck," jail records state. He's known to police, having been arrested in 2005 on felony drunk driving charges.

ADV Films Breaks Silence on Anime Titles Vanishing from Their Website

ADV Films has issued a brief statement to Anime News Network about many different anime titles that have vanished from their website recently, and unpublished news reports about licensing issues:

"We know there are a lot of rumors swirling about, and that fans are looking for assurances that ADV will continue to distribute the anime series they know and love.

While we can't go into any detail at this time, please know that ADV is working through a few short-term challenges and fully intends to continue our releases.

We thank you for your patience."

Finally New Superhero Movie Details

It's been a while since we talked about Dimension Films and MGM's Superhero Movie, a spoof comedy from writer/director Craig Mazin and producer David Zucker. The movie, opening March 28, stars Sara Paxton, Leslie Nielsen, Drake Bell, Christopher McDonald, Kevin Hart, Marion Ross, Ryan Hansen, Jeffrey Tambor and Brent Spiner

We can tell you that the trailer is coming very soon--either this weekend or next weekend--and that has posted the plot, which goes like this:

Finally, the guys behind the outrageously silly "Scary Movie" franchise have used their own 'special powers' to spoof superhero movies. After being bitten by a genetically altered dragonfly, high school loser Rick Riker develop superhuman abilities like incredible strength and armored skin. Rick decides to use his new powers for good and becomes a costumed crime fighter known as "The Dragonfly." However, standing in the way of his destiny is the villainous Lou Landers. After an experiment gone wrong, Lou develops the power to steal a person's life force and in a dastardly quest for immortality becomes the supervillain, "The Hourglass." With unimaginable strength, unbelievable speed and deeply uncomfortable tights, will the Dragonfly be able to stop the sands of The Hourglass and save the world? More importantly, will we stop laughing long enough to notice?

Reeves Scares Up Cloverfield Sequel

Matt Reeves is in early talks with Paramount to direct a sequel to his recent monster movie Cloverfield, Variety reported. If the studio can complete discussions with Reeves, producer J.J. Abrams and scribe Drew Goddard, there is a chance that the Cloverfield sequel will be his next film.

Cloverfield, which tells the story of a monster attack on New York City through hand-held video footage, broke the box-office record for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend when it opened on Jan. 18 with $46 million in ticket sales. It fell sharply the following weekend, but not significantly enough to deter the studio from moving forward with a deal for a follow-up film. A likely factor was the film's modest $25 million budget, which it made back in its first two days of release.

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