Monday, May 19, 2008

News - 05/20/08...

Five International Hellboy II Posters

Empire Online have gotten their hands on five new international posters for Hellboy II: The Golden Army, coming to theaters on July 11

Trek Writers Had Balancing Act

Star Trek co-writer Roberto Orci told SCI FI Wire that he and his writing partner Alex Kurtzman devised J.J. Abrams' upcoming movie so that it appeals to longtime fans and attracts a new audience while rebooting the venerable SF franchise.

"It's tricky, but we found out that it was an amazing opportunity, which is there'd never been an origin story of how this original crew of Kirk [Chris Pine] and Spock [Zachary Quinto] and Bones [Karl Urban] and Scotty [Simon Pegg], how they met," Orci said in an interview while promoting the upcoming Fox television show Fringe. "So when we went back and started thinking about it, we realized, 'Goodness, that's never been covered.' It's not even a remake. There simply has not been a story that told how they got together."

Orci and his longtime partner Kurtzman worked on Abrams' Mission: Impossible III and on Michael Bay's Transformers. With regard to Trek, he said, "When we realized that, we thought, 'Well, that solves the introduction problem, because this will literally be an introduction to these characters that everyone knows, but not everyone knows how they met.' So we knew that we could tell a story that was still viable for Star Trek fans, because it's not a retelling. It's a new story. But we knew that for those who don't know Star Trek, it's going to be an introduction to the world. So we kind of lucked out in that it hadn't been done before."

Often, it was pointed out to Orci, when the first movie in an intended franchise is successful, those involved will knock it a bit, stressing that it did its job of establishing the universe and promising that the second one would be a far superior film. Orci acknowledged that that does happen frequently, but insisted it wasn't the case with Star Trek or with the first Transformers movie.

"I can tell you right now, we need not make any qualifiers like that," Orci said. "This is not something like, 'Oh, just sit through the first boring one, and then we'll get to the fun.' This one, I'm telling you, it's an origin story, but ... we didn't save anything for later. We wanted to make sure that it was, a), great for the fans, but [also for] a regular audience, a general audience. They're not going to be able to rely on they love Kirk or they love Spock. They have to love it on its own merits."

Orci added: "Transformers and Star Trek are very different things. However, I don't think anyone would say that the first Transformers somehow is like waiting for the second one to happen. Our goal is always, 'Do not be arrogant enough to think that you're going to get more than one movie.' Make one good movie, and if that movie's good, then hopefully you'll get another one. Don't save anything for later. Don't plan on the sequel. That's a mistake. And that's how we approached it. We were like, 'Let's make one good movie, and... God willing, we'll get to do another one.'" Star Trek opens May 8, 2009.

New Terminator gentler

Get ready for Terminator toys to hit shelves next year when a kid-friendly T4 is released.

Buzz Lightyear and Wall-E may want to make room for the Terminator. The producers behind next summer's Terminator: Salvation say they're aiming for a kid-friendly PG-13 in the U.S. - meaning kinder, gentler killer cyborgs from the future. The reason? Less blood-letting means oodles of T4 toys. The previous trio of Terminators were rated R for gory action.

This won't be the first time a 1980s film franchise has been softened for today's audiences - last year's Live Free or Die Hard was similarly defanged, explaining why John McClane never completely utters his oft-quoted catchphrase "Yipee ki-yay, motherf---er" in the sequel.

The original Die Hard was produced in 1988 by Joel Silver, who just released the family-friendly Speed Racer.

Silver says a more accessible rating (which translates to more kid-friendly fare here) is simply smart business. "When you make expensive movies, which I do, you want them to be successful."

Besides which, Silver adds of Racer, "I've always wanted to have all this stuff - to be able to walk into a Toys R Us and see these incredible displays of products ... I like having all of that."

Engineering The Excellent: Greg Johnson Talks 'Iron Man'

With Iron Man season one reaching new levels of mediocrity in animation, Marvel revamped the show and replaced the existing staff with an all new crew, resulting in a huge renovation for the show. But how do you rework a show this bad? The Marvel Animation Age/Toon Zone News caught up with writer/story editor Greg Johnson for his insight on Iron Man.

MAA/TZN: How did you come to work on Iron Man? How did the change in production houses that so greatly changed the show between seasons one and two occur?

JOHNSON: I was fairly new to animation when I became involved with the Iron Man series. Prior to that I’d been a freelance writer on Biker Mice From Mars – a New World Animation project – and during the run of that show I became a staff writer. As Biker Mice was wrapping up, Iron Man was in production on its first season.

Without naming names or pointing fingers, it’s safe to say that the directive for the Iron Man series (and Fantastic Four as well) was to feature as many of the characters in the toy line as possible. Which is fine, because toy sales were and are an integral component to getting a show on the air. And that business model works for the majority of animated series, particularly boys action. I think the problem comes when characters are shoved into the cast just to get “screen time” because of the toys on the shelf, and not because they have a real purpose in the storyline. This is just an unsteady foundation to build a series on, in my opinion.

Marvel knew the show wasn’t clicking. So they handed the creative reigns to Tom Tataranowitz, a very quality conscious, detail oriented guy, and he basically wanted to strip the show down to its basics, and start over. We’d worked well on Biker Mice together, and he wanted to give me a shot at Story Editing. But I was still too new to the biz to immediately helm all thirteen episodes of season two, especially with the schedule as tight as it was. So I took on a third of the season, with Eric and Julia Lewald taking a third, and Dean Stefan taking a third.

MAA/TZN: Was there ever any resistance to getting rid of Forceworks? What made you decide to focus on Iron Man as a lone wolf for the remainder of the season?

JOHNSON: I’m sure Toybiz had reservations, since there was already an investment in place for Forceworks merchandise. But trimming the cast was essential and they were keenly aware of that. Changes had to be made from the concept up, so I was tasked with coming up with episode 14 to transition us. That meant establishing a dramatic reason for the various departures while setting into motion the new agenda for the series. And that agenda was to keep more focus on Iron Man and his relationships.

MAA/TZN: Given that the Mandarin had been treated as an embarrassment for much of the first season, was there ever any resistance to use him again as the main villain in season two?

JOHNSON: The Mandarin is a great villain regardless of how he was interpreted in season one. And we didn’t want to toss the baby out with the bathwater. We just opted to take him more seriously, give him an agenda, and make him a threat worth waiting for. A contribution I made to the season was the Mandarin’s ongoing ring search. I wanted him building steam in the background, so that when he finally did have another showdown with Iron Man, it was something viewers had been waiting for. With the Mandarin in the background, we then focused on Hammer as Iron Man’s principle foil.

MAA/TZN: You wrote "Empowered" and Fantastic Four’s "Hopelessly Impossible," both of which are clip shows. What’s your opinion of clip shows and how does one approach them?

JOHNSON: Obviously clips shows are there to save time and money. But not necessarily because someone wants to pocket the savings. When a schedule is so brutal that quality suffers across the board, a clip show can give everyone a chance to catch up – including the overseas studio. For Iron Man, when such an episode was deemed necessary, I felt it was important to at least give it some meaning, by having it further the continuity in some fashion. That said, I personally do not care for them, and I think other means of controlling costs and keeping to a schedule should be considered first before going the clip show route.

MAA/TZN: You also helped pen "Hulkbuster." Was this actually used as a backdoor pilot for The Incredible Hulk cartoon that followed Iron Man? Again, how does one approach an episode that could lead to a potential spin off?

JOHNSON: Yes, "Hulkbuster" was indeed a vehicle for a Hulk series. But since The Incredible Hulk series had yet to be developed, the most we could do was establish the basics of his origin and his character. It was also important that we weren’t just pimping out the Iron Man series for this backdoor pilot, but that this episode felt organic to the kinds of stories we were already telling.

MAA/TZN: Iron Man later appeared in the aforementioned Hulk cartoon. Was there any deliberate attempt to create continuity between the various Marvel shows at the time, even the ones that you didn’t work on?

JOHNSON: Those of us in the trenches did want to keep the Marvel Universe somewhat consistent through the various series, but casual connections are pretty much the extent of what we could do. Most of the time we’re just happy if we don’t contradict the continuity of other shows. That way, viewers who want to make connections aren’t deterred from doing so.

MAA/TZN: You’ve written various different versions of Iron Man – this show, the Ultimate Avengers version and the solo DTV. Which do you prefer and what are the main differences in your eyes?

JOHNSON: They’re all the same guy, really, with just different aspects of his personality more featured than others depending on the vehicle. The nineties series played him a little cheeky, but much more earnest. Ultimate Avengers played up his coolness, with a hint of his tortured soul. And The Invincible Iron Man focused more on the baggage of his life, his insecurities, and how that shaped him. My favorite version is probably from the Ultimate Avengers, because his character didn’t have to go through a huge arc like it did in his own movie. That meant I could have more fun with his wit and nonchalance.

MAA/TZN: What’s your overall opinion on Iron Man? How did it differ from the majority of the other shows you worked upon?

JOHNSON: Being my first story editing job, it’s kind of a blur, actually. It’s a good thing that my episodes alternated with the other story editors’ because I’m not sure I could have pulled it off and still kept to the schedule if I’d been doing it all by myself. It was exhilarating and terrifying at the same time.

MAA/TZN: How is Wolverine And The X-Men shaping up? What else do you have in the pipelines?

JOHNSON: The scripts were finished last summer, and the last handful of episodes are now in post. None of us have really been at liberty to discuss much about it, since the promotion of the series is usually reserved for the network. Now that we’re set up with Nicktoons, you’ll be hearing more and more about it. In fact I just did a “behind the scenes” interview for them. I’m very excited by Nicktoons’ involvement. They’re really embracing the chance to showcase both the Wolverine and the new Iron Man series, and they’ll be seriously promoting it in the coming months.

Content-wise, this is an ambitious series. The guest star list is notable, varied, and sometimes surprising, yet they all service the overall story arc in some fashion. There are also some plot twists that will keep most viewers guessing until the very end.

After I completed my work on Wolverine, I jumped immediately onto the Direct-to-DVD movie Thor: Tales of Asgard and then I recently completed the script for Planet Hulk. Both are shaping up to be beautiful films.

The Marvel Animation Age and Toon Zone News would like to thank Mr. Johnson for his participation in this interview, and his work on the show. Cheers Greg!

Inside The Armour Wars: Len Uhley Talks Iron Man

A veteran of various animated shows throughout the years, Len Uhley has written for various Marvel cartoons since the mid 1990’s. The Marvel Animation Age and Toon Zone News caught up with Len via an email interview to talk about his freelance assignment on Iron Man, the critically acclaimed Armour Wars storyline.

TOON ZONE NEWS/MARVEL ANIMATION AGE: How did you get your start in the animation biz?

LEN UHLEY: It was kind of a happy accident. A voice actor I knew introduced me to Jymn Magon, the story editor on Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears. I did freelance assignments for that show and for DuckTales, after which I joined the staff at Walt Disney TV Animation. I was there for five and a half years, during the busiest days of The Disney Afternoon, a syndicated two-hour block of cartoons. After leaving Disney, I transitioned from comedy adventure to superhero action, and have been moving between the two ever since.

TZN/MAA: You wrote two episodes of Iron Man as a freelancer. What are the advantages and disadvantages of working as a freelancer in the animation industry when compared to working on staff?

UHLEY: Unfortunately, staff positions are much less common these days. They’re great, because it’s guaranteed work for several months or longer. If your employers provide you with an office at a studio, you also get to work alongside other writers and artists. Oh, and you eat a lot more lunches in restaurants.

The freelance experience is quite different. It’s just you tucked away in your home or office, getting notes via phone or e-mail from the story editor, the only writer-type person who’s on for the run of the show. Also, because it is piecework, you’re always trying to land the next job before you’re done with the current one. It’s a seasonal, feast-or-famine situation.

TZN/MAA: Apologies if this sounds like an odd question, but how does one actually get freelance work? Do story editors approach you or do you ask them for work?

UHLEY: Both. It’s a business of relationships, like any other. Naturally, story editors prefer to hire people who share their sensibilities and who are quick studies. If you make the story editor’s job easy, he or she hires you again. If you make it hard by, say, packing a preschool show with Bill Maher jokes -- nobody answers your calls next time.

TZN/MAA: How much of your work usually ends up on the screen when freelancing? Do you find it’s edited more to fit in with the tone of the show?

UHLEY: The answer to both questions is, “it depends.” Whether you’re on staff or a freelancer, it’s the story editor who does the final pass, whether that’s a tiny polish or a total rewrite. Assuming you’ve integrated the notes satisfactorily, the script is pretty close to final. However, even if the story editor loves every word you wrote, he or she must answer to others (studios, networks, toy companies, the boss’s kids). If you’re on staff, they can have you redo the thing for as long as the production schedule allows. If you’re a freelancer, there are limits to how many times they can go back to the well, since that means you’re doing more work for the same amount of money. Then the story editor has to do the heavy lifting.

TZN/MAA: When a show uses a serialised storyline over the arc of the season like Iron Man did, how difficult is to incorporate the storyline into the show especially as it’s possible the prior episodes are still being written at the same time as you are scripting yours?

UHLEY: It’s the story editor’s job to know what is in the works and to make sure that your script conforms to that grander vision. The episode writer’s job is to do the best work possible, as quickly as possible.

TZN/MAA: "The Armour Wars" was one of the more intense storylines in Iron Man’s comic book lore, with the main character almost reaching his breaking point. However, in the animated version, he completely snaps. Was it difficult to write a hero who was almost becoming that which he fought against? What did you think to the original comic storyline?

UHLEY: It's always interesting when a character loses touch with himself (so long as that personality is well established previously). I remember it being a very good comic book. But, as usual, there was too much plot for 44 minutes of screen time (two 22-minute episodes). So even if the thing was solid gold, lots of it probably fell by the wayside.

TZN/MAA: In the original comic storyline, Iron Man fought The Captain in The Vault, rather than Hawkeye. This has been chalked up to rights issues but the majority of fans believe that the Iron Man/Hawkeye confrontation was one of the show’s highlights. What’s your opinion on the scene?

UHLEY: As happy as I am to take credit (deserved or otherwise) for a highlight -- I can't tell you my opinion of the scene (it was a long time ago), but I do seem to remember that Captain America was not available for our use. Too bad, I've always liked Cap, but never had a change to write for him. I did get a chance to write the Sub-Mariner a couple of times, though: once for The Avengers animated series, story edited by Eric Lewald, and once for the most recent version of The Fantastic Four, story edited by Christopher Yost. So, I got my Classic Marvel Character fix.

TZN/MAA: You’re working on the upcoming Iron Man: Armoured Adventures for Nicktoons. What can you tell us about your work so far on that?

UHLEY: Again, I was freelancing for Christopher Yost, but in this instance, I only wrote one episode, entitled “Field Trip.” He’s a great guy, and I’m sure he’d be happy to fill you in on the series.

TZN/MAA: What do you consider the highlight of your career thus far?

UHLEY: I have several favorites. I wrote three episodes of the Saban/Fox X-Men series, including one called “Nightcrawler,” which was, I think, the first superhero cartoon to deal with issues of faith. I had a wonderful time writing three home video features for Universal (Land Before Time VII, An American Tail III and An American Tail IV). A couple of years ago, story editor Stan Berkowitz hired me to do several episodes of a British Bible-based adventure series, Friends and Heroes. I really enjoyed doing an episode of The Batman for Alan Burnett, which guest-starred my favorite superhero, The Green Lantern, Hal Jordan. Still, I think that I am most proud of my contribution to Static Shock, a KidsWB series. I wrote about a third of the episodes as a freelancer and as a staff story editor. I was fortunate to work with many talented people and we made a show that successfully blended action and comedy with some rather serious issues.

TZN/MAA: What other projects do you have in the pipeline?

UHLEY: In the short term, I have some episodes coming up on Cartoon Network’s new Ben 10: Alien Force, story-edited by the great Dwayne McDuffie. My first two will air on May 17 and June 21, 2008, but check your local listings.

The Marvel Animation Age and Toon Zone News would like to thank Len for his participation in this interview, and his work on the show. Cheers Len!

Woo Hoo ! "The Simpsons Ride" officially opens at Universal Studios Florida

JHM was there yesterday as the bright yellow ribbon was cut and celebrities, dignitaries & guests all surged in experience this brand-new attraction

In God's Waiting Room (AKA Florida), you're bound to run into a few blue hairs over the course of your day. Though -- that said -- one wonders what the AARP would make of the bunch pictured below.

Photo by Nancy Stadler

Believe it or not, the multiple Marges that you see above aren't actors. They were just were Universal Orlando guests who happened upon yesterday's official opening ceremony for "The Simpsons Ride."

Universal Studios Florida really spared no expense for the launch of its newest attraction. Even providing a Krusty clone to direct the live orchestra that provided music for yesterday's ceremony.

Photo by Nancy Stadler

As some Orlando area school children looked on, Bill Davis -- president and chief operating officer of the Universal Orlando Resort -- cut the (appropriately enough) bright yellow ribbon ...

Photo by Nancy Stadler

Then -- as confetti rained down from above and walkaround version of Marge, Bart, Lisa and Homer strolled down Krusty's 35-foot-long tongue, "The Simpsons Ride" officially opened for business.

Photo by Nancy Stadler

As the crowd then surged in to the clown's mouth, among the very first to ride yesterday were Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and former *NSYNC member Joey Fatone.

Photo by Nancy Stadler

Afterwards, members of the media got to sit down with Mike West, Executive Producer for the Universal Creative Studio. And this 25-year Walt Disney Imagineering vet said that he was extremely pleased with the way "The Simpsons Ride" had turned out. "We really enjoyed working with the folks at Gracie Films working to bring the Simpsons world to life."

Mike West, Executive Producer with the Universal Creative Group
Photo by Nancy Stadler

That's perhaps the most intriguing aspect of "The Simpsons Ride." In that Universal Creative didn't actually write this attraction. But -- rather -- the folks who actually write the scripts for "The Simpsons" television show did.

As a direct result ... "The Simpsons Ride" may be the meanest / funniest theme park attraction ever created. With the group at Gracie Films being equal opportunity offenders. In that they went out of their way to blast the Disney theme parks, Universal as well as SeaWorld.

Take -- for example -- this Krustyland attraction, which manages to spoof both Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean" as well as Universal's "Jurassic Park River Adventure."

Photo by Nancy Stadler

Photo by Nancy Stadler

"Bogey" Boys: Scots Animators Profiled

Scotland on Sunday profiles Neil Jack and Cameron Fraser, the animators behind the Scottish animation house Ko Lik, producer of the upcoming stop-frame animated spook special The Glendogie Bogey, a sequel to their 2006 Haunted Hogmanay.

Industry Experts: India Needs Animators

A dearth of manpower will hamper the Indian animation industry, even as it tracks toward doubling its revenues by 2010, India's Economic Times reports.

Presently, the industry employs only 10,000 professionals, even though it is expected to see revenues top $1.5 billion in two years and have the capacity to employ 300,000 professionals in four, the paper says.

Irish Studio Files for Liquidation

Ireland's Digital Animation Media will liquidate after failing to secure new investments, the Sunday Business Post reports. Its prime backer, US businessman Patrick Daleiden, recently had an arrest warrant issued against him in connection with an unrelated failed investment fund.

The studio produced The Island of Inis Cool and other projects earlier this decade.

There are presently 100,000 students undergoing training at various academies and schools on the subcontinent.

Warners Screens Looney Tunes at Cannes

"Looney Tunes Cartoon Night" will be one of the ten special screenings held by Warner Bros. at the Cannes Film Festival to mark its 85th anniversary, Reuters reports.

The special event will feature screenings of nine Warner Bros. feature films, including What's Up, Doc?, a 1972 farce in which Barbara Streisand adopts the Bugs Bunny catchphrase.

Horton Hears a Who edges out Bee Movie at worldwide box office

Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who! reached $287 million this weekend at the worldwide box office, with almost half of that amount ($136 million) already coming from overseas, an impressive feat for a Dr. Seuss adaptation. Previous movies based on books by the author, who is little known outside of the U.S., didn’t fare so well with foreign markets generating less than 25% of the total grosses for How The Grinch Stole Christmas and The Cat In The Hat.

How Jeffrey Katzenberg came to animation

Jeffrey Katzenberg, 57, admitted to The Associated Press during an interview this week in Cannes to promote Kung Fu Panda that he never set out to make cartoons. “I knew nothing about animation. Nothing whatsoever.” Katzenberg said his indoctrination into animation came on his first day at Disney, which he joined in 1984 as head of the film division after his boss at Paramount Pictures, Michael Eisner, became Disney chief executive. In preparation for a meeting with Eisner, Katzenberg made a list of 10 critical things he needed to do at their new outfit. “Nowhere on that list was there any mention of animation,” Katzenberg said. “When the meeting was about to come to an end, Michael stopped and he said, ‘Oh, by the way, do you see that building over there?’ And he pointed out the window of his office. ‘That’s where they make animated films.’ I went, ‘Oh, really?’ He said, ‘Yes, and it’s your problem.’ Honestly, that was my introduction to the animation business. That was my first encounter with it. I saw two, three, four of these movies as a kid growing up. I had zero interest in them. I am not a student of animation. I have no training on animated movies. A hundred percent of it occurred on the job after arriving at the Disney company.” Learning as he went, Katzenberg benefited from copious archives left by Walt Disney, packed with ideas, memos, critiques of works in progress. “It was the most amazing tutorial, and so I really feel like I genuinely was a student of Walt Disney’s even though I never met the man. It was as though he was kind of an angel sitting on my shoulder every day, telling me exactly what to do.” The DreamWorks CEO, who confirmed that a Puss in Boots spinoff feature was in the works, also admitted to some Pixar envy: “Of course, there is. Envy’s a good thing, not a bad thing in this. I envy them the consistency and the quality of the work that they’ve done.” After more than 20 years in animation, Katzenberg’s inner child shines through - and he now considers himself a cartoon geek. “It’s the love of my life, other than my family. It’s just the most exciting and challenging and rewarding thing I’ve ever done, and I continue to be just so enthusiastic about it. It keeps presenting new challenges and new opportunities, and that keeps it fresh and exciting for me.”

Preview of Kung Fu Panda: The Game

PalGN wrote a positive review of the upcoming video game, concluding that Kung Fu Panda should be a lot of fun for all ages, with a charming sense of style and simple yet effective gameplay.” The site also applaude the animation in the video game calling it “one of the better movie-to-game translations that we have seen. Environments are varied and colourful, and the animations all look very smooth and quite comical (in a good way).”

Real Wall•E spotted in Los Angeles!

A real-life version of the new Pixar character has been seen by several cruising the streets of L.A. and videos started to surface on sites such as Film Crunch and Can Mag, the latter also offering a first look at new Wall•E posters from Poland.

Green Arrow Vs. Some Major DC villains!

The script for Justin Mark's new 'Green Arrow' script, "Supermax", sounds terrific - action-packed, but also very funny. If they cast the thing right, it could be the Superhero film of the century.

Latino Review take a look at the script today, and revealed some of the well-known faces that'll pop-up in the movie! - The Joker! Lex Luthor! The Riddler! They will all be sharing jail space at the maximum security prison that the Green Arrow/Oliver Queen has been tossed into.

They also list some of the lesser-known DC Comics' villains that'll appear in the film! Read who they are here.

Spielberg & Jackson to Co-Direct 3rd Tintin?

Media outlets caught up with Steven Spielberg at the Cannes Film Festival and got a few interesting quotes out of the Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull director.

Starting with Indy, Spielberg said that he would make another film, "Only if you want more." He added, "That's why we made this Indiana Jones. We'll certainly have our ear to the ground to hear what happens. That'll decide were we go from here."

We certainly don't think money will be an issue, as the movie is expected to make anywhere between $150-175 million in its first five days domestically alone. That's not counting the 61 international markets it will be released in at the same time on Thursday.

But before another "Indiana Jones" movie can start, Spielberg is working on adaptating "Tintin" for the big screen. As was previously announced, he is directed the first Tintin while Peter Jackson is helming the second. But who will sit in the director's chair for the third installment of the trilogy?

"We are going to make three 'Tintin' movies back-to-back," Spielberg said. "I'll direct the first one, Peter will direct the second one. We'll probably co-direct the third one."

Mummy Trailer Online

As fans get amped up to see Indiana Jones return this weekend, Universal has released a first look at the third film in its successful Mummy franchise, which is largely inspired by the exploits of Dr. Jones. The horror/adventure saga continues with the vfx-laden The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, which is slated to hit theaters on Aug. 1. A first glimpse is now online for all to behold.

Franchise star Brendan Fraser is back for another battle with resurrected evil, but Maria Bello is taking over the role played by Rachel Weiss in the first two films. The third installment was also helmed by a new director. Rob Cohen (Stealth, The Fast and the Furious) took over for Stephen Sommers, who masterminded the first two movies, as well as Universal’s monster mash-up Van Helsing. Rhythm & Hues and Digital Domain handled the lion’s share of the visual effects work.

The trailer for The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor is available for viewing at In addition to the trailer, the website features the director’s production blog and behind-the-scenes videos that include a inside look at the visual effects process.

Fancast to Stream South Park

Fancast, a video-on-demand initiative of Comcast Interactive Media, is expanding its offerings with the addition of Comedy Central’s hit animated show South Park and other programs from Viacom’s MTV Networks and BET Networks. Fellow Comedy Central favorites The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report are also included in the deal, which provides Fancast with more than 50 hours of full-length episodes and 150 short form clips each month. Fancast will also stream exclusive MTVN and BETN stunts, including advance looks at the series premiere of VH1’s Brooke Hogan Knows Best and Nickelodeon’s Polar Bears, the new The Naked Brothers Band TV movie.

“MTV Networks and BET Networks’ audiences are more engaged and invested in our brands than ever, and Fancast gives them yet another touchpoint to access our hit programming online,” says Denise Dahldorf, exec VP of content distribution and marketing for MTVN and BETN. “Comcast continues to be a fantastic partner for us, and we’re excited to extend the reach of our brands while putting their power behind Fancast.” enables users to find, manage and watch entertainment content wherever it is available, be it on Fancast, on television, on VOD, online or in theaters. Visitors to the site can watch free full-length TV episodes and movies from top networks and more than 100 video content providers. Along with broadcast content, Fancast will feature post-show videos, casting specials, cast profiles and sneak peeks from top networks including CBS, NBC and Fox. Later this year, the service will enable users to set their DVR from their computer, receive email reminders about what they should tune-in to based on previous preferences and set designated “watch lists” of their favorite shows.

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