Friday, February 15, 2008

News - 02/15/08...

Batman: Gotham Knight First Look

A first look at Batman: Gotham Knight is now below! Directed by Bruce W. Timm, the direct-to-DVD six-part anthology film bridge the gap between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. The writers include Brian Azzarello, Alan Burnett, Jordan Goldberg, David S. Goyer, Josh Olson and Greg Rucka.

Interview with Ponyo on a Cliff singers, Unseen Miyazaki art

GhibliWorld, via Yomiyuri, reports about an interview with Ponyo on a Cliff theme song singers Fujioka Fujimaki. According to the article, the song “Gake no Ue no Ponyo” which was released in December, six months ahead of the much awaited animated film’s scheduled summer opening in Japan, was performed by 8 year old actress Nozomi Ohashi and Fujioka Fujimaki, a duo of 55-year-old men who sing songs that focus on the sadness and hardships of middle-aged and older men. The song, written by Katsuya Kondo, the film’s supervising animator with inputs from Miyazaki, was composed by Joe Hisaishi, whose work includes many previous Miyazaki films, such as Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki’s Delivery Service.

In addition to this, Ghibliworld has also posted a never before seen artwork done by Hayao Miyazaki for his new film Ponyo on a Cliff. Direct link to the artwork can be found here.

the trailer is here!

I'm not going to say anything, just enjoy...

Spiderwick, Jumper Hop Into Theaters

Getting a head start on the three-day weekend, two big vfx flicks arrive at the nation’s multiplexes today, each based on a book and offering a different take on the fantasy genre. Paramount’s The Spiderwick Chronicles is out to ensnare family audiences in its fantastical web, while Jumper is aimed more squarely at teenage boys with high-octane action and sci-fi effects.

Based on the best-selling series of books by Holly Black and Tony Diterlizzi, director Mark Waters’ The Spiderwick Chronicles has peculiar things happen to the Grace family when they move into the secluded old house owned by their great, great uncle, Arthur Spiderwick. In addition to a host of CG-animated critters, the film stars Freddie Highmore, Mary-Louise Parker, Nick Nolte, Joan Plowright and David Strathairn, and features Seth Rogen and Martin Short in voice roles. Over the Hedge director Karey Kirkpatrick collaborated on the screenplay with David Berenbaum (Elf) and filmmaker John Sayles (Limbo). Visual effects were created by Industrial Light & Magic and Tippett Studio.

Doug Liman, director of Swingers, The Bourne Identity and Mr. and Mrs. Smith, is known for crafting films with outrageous action, but Jumper represents a leap into new territory. The 20th Century Fox release is based on a novel by Steven Gould and stars Jamie Bell as a kid who discovers that he can teleport at will to anywhere in the world. He meets another “Jumper,” played by Hayden Christiansen from the Star Wars movies, and together they find themselves in a centuries-old battle between their kind and those sworn to destroy them. Weta Digital handled a large part of the visual effects work, getting assistance from Hydraulx, Digital Domain and R!OT, Pixel Playground, Lola Visual Effects and Sandbox F/X.

Also opening this weekend are Buena Vista’s hip-hop dance sequel, Step Up 2; The Streets, and Universal’s romantic comedy Definitely, Maybe. Starring Ryan Reynolds, Abigail Breslin, Isla Fisher and Rachel Weisz, the movie from the makers of Love, Actually should do well with the Valentines day date crowd.

In addition, Magnolia Pictures and Shorts International have joined forces again to theatrically distribute the Academy Award nominees in the Short Subject category. This year’s noiminees for Best Animated Short category are Josh Raskin’s I Met the Walrus, Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski’s Madam Tutli-Putli, Samuel Tourneux and Simon Vanesse’s Meme Les Pigeons Vont Au Paradis (Even Pigeons Go to Heaven), Alexander Petrov’s Moya Lyubov (My Love) and Suzie Templeton's Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf. The toon shorts are being presented along with this year’s nominated live-action short films. Employing RAIN Network’s digital distribution system, the program will initially be beamed to theaters in 50 U.S. cities before widening.

Mind Your Business: Move It

In this month's "Mind Your Business," Mark Simon touts the benefits of living where the work is. Find out more here.

From Aint It Cool News...

So - Did The Writer's Guild Get A Good Deal For The Pain Of Its Strike? Not According to Harlan Ellison

Hey folks, Harry here... Harlan Ellison and I go way back... We first hung out after he was buying some funny animal comics from my parents at an AggieCon in the early Seventies and tried to teach me how to draw an Elephant. It took decades - but we became friendly after a couple of panels I did with him at DragonCon some years back - and well... We're about to hook up again on a panel at SXSW - well, technically it is just me having a CONVERSATION WITH HARLAN ELLISON. Harlan and I discussed it just two days ago - and when this came across my desktop - I had to share. Cuz, well he's Harlan - and he's right...



Creds: got here in 1962, written for just about everybody, won the Writers Guild Award four times for solo work, sat on the WGAw Board twice, worked on negotiating committees, and was out on the picket lines with my NICK COUNTER SLEEPS WITH THE FISHE$$$ sign. You may have heard my name. I am a Union guy, I am a Guild guy, I am loyal. I f@#kin’ LOVE the Guild.

And I voted NO on accepting this deal.

My reasons are good, and they are plentiful; Patric Verrone will be saddened by what I am about to say; long-time friends will shake their heads; but this I say without equivocation…

THEY BEAT US LIKE A YELLOW DOG. IT IS A S*#T DEAL. We finally got a timorous generation that has never had to strike, to get their asses out there, and we had to put up with the usual cowardly spineless babbling horse’s asses who kept mumbling “lessgo bac’ta work” over and over, as if it would make them one iota a better writer. But after months on the line, and them finally bouncing that pus-sucking dipthong Nick Counter, we rushed headlong into a shabby, scabrous, underfed shovelfulla s*#t clutched to the affections of toss-in-the-towel summer soldiers trembling before the Awe of the Alliance.

My Guild did what it did in 1988. It trembled and sold us out. It gave away the EXACT co-terminus expiration date with SAG for some bulls*#t short-line substitute; it got us no more control of our words; it sneak-abandoned the animator and reality beanfield hands before anyone even forced it on them; it made nice so no one would think we were meanies; it let the Alliance play us like the village idiot. The WGAw folded like a Texaco Road Map from back in the day.

And I am ashamed of this Guild, as I was when Shavelson was the prexy, and we wasted our efforts and lost out on technology that we had to strike for THIS time. 17 days of streaming tv!!!????? Geezus, you bleating wimps, why not just turn over your old granny for gang-rape?

You deserve all the opprobrium you get. While this nutty festschrift of demented pleasure at being allowed to go back to work in the rice paddy is filling your cowardly hearts with joy and relief that the grips and the staff at the Ivy and street sweepers won’t be saying nasty shit behind your back, remember this:

You are their bitches. They outslugged you, outthought you, outmaneuvered you; and in the end you ripped off your pants, painted yer asses blue, and said yes sir, may I have another.

Please excuse my temerity. I’m just a sad old man who has fallen among Quislings, Turncoats, Hacks and Cowards.

I must go now to whoops. My gorge has become buoyant.

Respectfully, Yr. Pal, Harlan Ellison

Trek Gets Pushed Back

Star Trek Fans eagerly awaiting J.J. Abrams’ big-screen franchise reboot will have to wait until next year. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Paramount pictures has done some major reshuffling of its release slate, pushing Trek from Christmas Day, 2008 to May 8, 2009. While a number of movies are being rescheduled due to the now ended writer’s strike, Paramount says it’s deploying Captain Kirk and crew on a summer mission because of the film’s blockbuster potential.

Paramount spokesman Michael Vollman told the trade that the Star Trek script didn't require any script doctoring during the strike, and that the film is two-thirds in the can and would have been ready for a December bow. To fill its spot in the holiday lineup, the studio has moved The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, a comedy starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, from Nov. 26 to Dec. 19.

Directed by Abrams, Star Trek will focus on the early voyages of James T. Kirk and his crew aboard the USS Enterprise. Chris Pine (Smokin’ Aces), who bares a passing resemblance to a young William Shatner, is playing Kirk, while Zachary Quinto from TV’s Heroes dons a set of pointy ears as Mr. Spock. Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead) is Scotty, Karl Urban (Doom) is Leonard “Bones” McCoy, John Cho (Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanimo Bay) is Sulu, Anton Yelchin (Charlie Bartlet) is Pavel Chekov and Zoe Saldana (Avatar) is Nyota Uhura. The cast also includes Winona Ryder, Bruce Greenwood and Eric Bana.

Creator and exec producer of the ABC series Lost and Alias, Abrams directed the third installment in the Mission: Impossible franchise and produced Paramount’s recently released giant moster movie, Cloverfield. Among his various irons in the fire is a sequel to the horror pic, which was made for roughly $25 million and has grossed more than $133 million worldwide to date.

Dinosaur King Making Bigger Footprint

4Kids Ent. has expanded the global broadcast lineup for its new animated series, Dinosaur King, with several outlets in key territories picking up the show at last week’s NATPE international TV conference. The fantasy adventure show is now set to air during the 2008-09 season on YTV in Canada, Jetix in Latin America, TV2 in Denmark and TV4 in Sweden. In the U.S., Dinosaur King has been airing Saturday mornings on FOX’s 4Kids TV block since last September.

Dinosaur King blends traditional 2D animation with CG to chronicle the adventures of Max, Rex and Zoe (a.k.a. the “D Team”) as they race around the world to uncover secrets that bring dinosaurs back to life. They are able to transport themselves anywhere in the world in their quest to find all the dinosaur cards that have been lost by the time-traveling Dr. Z and his bumbling team of bad guys.

The show’s new broadcast partners join Mediaset in Italy, RTL2 in Germany, France 3 and Canal J in France, and Jetix in the U.K., Scandinavia and Spain, which all currently air the program. Other 4Kids Ent. properties that have proven successful around the world include Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Yu-Gi-Oh! GX and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Rygiel, Rivers Talk VFX at FRAMES

Jim Rygiel and Christian Rivers, Oscar- and BAFTA-winning visual effects wizards who have worked together on the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Peter Jackson’s King Kong and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, among others, will discuss their craft at FICCI FRAMES 2008. Focusing on the business of entertainment, this year’s even will take place March 25-27 in Mumbai, India.

During a presentation titled “VFX—Making Possible the impossible, Rygiel and Rivers will showcase their achievements and discuss various aspects of effects work, which has become an integral part of virtually every Hollywood project and is quickly gaining ground within the Indian Film Industry. Such recent Indian films as Krrish, Dhoom2 and Om Shanti Om have all featured extensive vfx work and bode well for India’s potential to develop the talent pool and infrastructure to produce movies with Hollywood-level visuals.

In addition to focusing vfx, FRAMES will offer programs on animation and video games. An examination of revenue streams in animation and a status report on the gaming industry are among the highlights for those attending from our industry. For more information on the FRAMES 2008 schedule, go to

ASIFA Atlanta Declares "To Hell with Hitler!" with Vintage WWII Cartoons Feb 19, 2008

ASIFA Atlanta will be hosting a screening of 12 vintage World War II cartoons in a program titled "To Hell with Hitler!" at the Plaza Theatre. Admission is $4 for members and $7 for non-members. All the cartoons are from the collection of C. Martin Croker, and include works by Bob Clampett, Frank Tashlin, Tex Avery, Dave Fleischer, and Ward Kimball.

Hellboy II Valentine's Day E-Card Up

Universal Pictures has brought online a Valentine's Day E-card for Hellboy II: The Golden Army featuring a new shot of Big Red and Liz. You can check it out here.

"The Golden Army" opens in theaters on July 11.

LaBeouf on Transformers 2... "Massive"

Empire magazine talked to Transformers 2 star Shia LaBeouf, who says he has seen a lot for the sequel already and knows that there will be new robots on both sides of the battle. Here's a clip:

"I know of a few things I have to work on for the next one," said LaBeouf. "I've seen pre-vizes of the action scenes and I just saw Michael yesterday. It's going to be bad-ass. We're not making another one unless it is, and Mike is definitely not resting on his laurels — he's doing insane sh*t again. And the pre-vizes that I've seen… it's just massive.

You can read the full interview here! DreamWorks/Paramount is planning a June 26, 2009 release date.

New Hellboy II Production Videos

Universal Pictures has updated the production site for writer/director Guillermo del Toro's Hellboy II: The Golden Army with two new videos. The first video features a meeting between the "Hellboy II" team on the design of Johann Krauss and the second features the very first Creature Design meeting. Check out both clips here!

Opening in theaters on July 11, the action-thriller stars Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Doug Jones, Luke Goss, Thomas Kretschmann, Anna Walton, Brian Steele, Roy Dotrice and John Hurt.

Free Comic Book Day 2008 Offerings Announced

The Free Comic Book Day website has announced the comics that will be available this year. Included in the Gold Sponsor offerings are Simpsons and Futurama comics in the Bongo Comics Free-for-All! Edition (Bongo), the Transformers Animated FCBD 2008 Edition (IDW), and a 2008 Shonen Jump sampler (VIZ Media). Silver-level sponsors include Disney's Gyro Gearloose FCBD 2008 Edition (Gemstone/Disney) and Gumby's Coloring Comic Book Special (Gumby).

Other comics include All-Star Superman #1 and Tiny Titans #1 (DC Comics); Marvel Adventures Iron Man and X-Men (Marvel); Hellboy/B.P.R.D. (Dark Horse); and Project Superpowers (Dynamite Entertainment)

This year's Free Comic Book Day will be on May 1, 2008. Visit the Free Comic Book Day website for more details.

Anima 2008 Winners

AMER BETON, directed by Michael Arias, won the Anima 2008 Feature Film Grand Prix at the festival last week in Brussels.

The Michael Arias-directed film also won the Anima 2008 audience award.

Anima 2008's jury picked THE TALE OF HOW by the Blackheart Gang (South Africa) as the Anima 2008 Short Film Grand Prix.

The "Grand Prix de la Communaute française de Belgique" was given to the film LE PONT, created by Vincent Bierrewaerts.

Twenty other prizes were given to films in different categories by three sets of juries, including short international films, music videos, commercials and short Belgian films.

For the first time in the growing festival's history, there were two new categories: commercials and music videos that adopt animation techniques.

Corin Hardy (Britain) won the award for Best Music Video for his piece: THE HORRORS - SHE'S THE NEW THING.
LLOYDS TSB - FOR THE JOURNEY by the Marc Craste won the award for Best Commercial.

The full list of winners is at

Indian animation receives awards at Mumbai fest

A pair of short films won prizes for animation at the 10th Mumbai International Film Festival for Documentary, Short and Animation Films, which ended Saturday in the Indian city formerly known as Bombay.

Myths About You, directed by Nandita Jain for the Periyar Tiger Reserve in Kerala, won the Golden Conch for Best Animation Film/Video -- along with a cash prize of 150,000 rupees ($3,800 U.S.).

The film was cited "for a clever and imaginative representation of the history of the universe, both in terms of Hindu mythology and scientific research, in an original graphic style, all within a short span of nine minutes."

Winning the Silver Conch -- along with 74,000 rupees ($1,900 U.S.) -- for Second-Best Animation Film/Video was Three Little Pigs, by Bhavana Vyas and Akanito Assumi of the National Institute of Design.

Three Little Pigs was honored "for presenting a well-known childhood story through wire frame animation techniques in a deceptively simple style." Added the judges: "The film has background voiceovers in the form of a conversation recalling the story, which is both engaging and amusing while bridging the documentary form with animation."

Both awards were in the national category. MIFF did not present international awards for animation this year, as "the jury did not find a suitable film in this category," organizers said.

Flatulent "Mr. Men" character promises to be a gas

Don't rile a Frenchman... he might become rude. Or is that Rude?

Such is the case with Mr. Rude, a new character on the British cartoon TV series Mr. Men. Sporting a bogus French accent, he's ready to launch a gas attack on the U.K. when the latest version of the series debuts February 25 on Channel Five.

On the bright orange TV show's Web site (, young game players can pull Mr. Rude's finger. The gentleman displays his southern accent, then apologizes after loud noises and a smelly-looking gas depart from his nether end.

"Oh, parr-donne me!" the ball-shaped Mr. Rude declares in his best (worst?) Pepé Le Pew voice. "Oh, don't seem soo sur-praased. You pulled it."

Then he offers an encore.

The Mr. Rude character is intended all in fun, a Channel Five spokeswoman insisted, adding that it's not the show's purpose to offend France or the over 300,000 French citizens who live and work in Britain.

"Mr. Men is a comedy show for four- to seven-year-olds. The fact that Mr. Rude has a French accent is meant to be light-hearted and tongue-in-cheek, and no offence is intended," she said.

The malodorous Mr. Men is the only foreign-accented character on the show. The French embassy in London declined to comment to Reuters on whether he would be offensive offend. However, an embassy source told Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper that this sort of gibe won't clear the air and sweeten relations between the two ancient rivals.

"It is obviously meant in a light-hearted way, but it won't improve Anglo-French relations," the source said.

Roger Hargreaves created Mr. Men in the early 1970s. They first appeared in a series of books, then on TV in 1975.

Characters include Mr. Messy, Mr. Strong and Mr. Tickle. Over the years, the stable has expaned; Little Miss female cartoons were added in 1981.

In the new series, Mr. Rude will join such other new characters as Mr. Scatterbrain, Mr. Stubborn, Little Miss Daredevil and Little Miss Calamity.

A spokeswoman for Chorion, the studio behind the show, defended the use of a French accent. "It is a kids' comedy show, it is not meant to be offensive or anything like that," she said.

Chorion said that France is one of the foreign countries where it hopes to sell the series. However, it wouldn't say if the French dub of Mr. Rude would have a British accent.

French borborygms as public entertainment date back to the late 19th century, when French baker Joseph Pujol -- who could break wind on cue -- played to SRO houses.

Dubbing himself Le Petomane ("the fartiste"), he imitated animals and blew out candles. The finale came when he played "Le Marseillaise" in a manner that its composers could not have foreseen.

More "Super Robot Wars" Coming From Bandai Visual

The fourth and fifth volumes of Super Robot Wars: The Original Generation: The Divine Wars have been announced by Bandai Visual. Volume 4 will be released on 3/25/08 for $49.99, and runs 72 minutes. Volume 5 will be released on 4/22/08 for the same price and running time.

Biel, Cast Voicing Planet 51

Jessica Biel will join Dwayne Johnson, Justin Long and Seann William Scott as the lead voices in Planet 51, New Line Cinema's first 3-D animated feature film, Variety reported. The studio has set a July 24, 2009, release date for the film.

Johnson (Get Smart) will voice astronaut Chuck Baker. Thinking he's the first to set foot on the surface of Planet 51, he finds it is inhabited by green people who live in an innocent world right out of the 1950s, complete with the paranoia that they will be overrun by alien invaders.

Joe Stillman (Shrek and Shrek 2) penned the script, and the film is produced by Madrid-based Ilion Animation Studios. Jorge Blanco (co-creator of the video-game series Commandos) is directing, and Javier Abad and Marcos Martinez will co-direct. The film will be completed by March 2009.

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