Thursday, June 19, 2008

News - 06/19/08...

'The Sword in the Stone' Feature Animation Turns 45

Disney's Arthurian Tale Turns Forty-Five

A special edition DVD release from one of the farther corners of Disney's archives, the re-release of the feature animation classic The Sword in the Stone seeks to reclaim the loyal hearts of animation fans who recall how one clumsy little kid nicknamed "Wart" changed his destiny by unceremoniously yanking a blade from a rock.

An animated tale whose memorable songs, delightful characters and engaging adventure merged the medieval and the magical in a way for the whole family to enjoy, Disney's The Sword in the Stone now hit store shelves for its 45th Anniversary.

Based on T.S. White's novel The Once and Future King, the Disney movie was directed by Wolfgang Reitherman, and possessed an invariable warmth to it that only resonated with multiple viewings. In The Sword in the Stone (1963), the legend of King Arthur was rarely so animated as were his humble beginnings here. Reitherman, one of the Nine Old Men who shaped the creative aesthetic of The Walt Disney Co. over several decades, naturally had a slew of other celebrated films to his credit: Dumbo (1941), Peter Pan (1953), The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1958), and others.

Beginning with a scrawny, picked on and rather forgettable little squire called Wart, a legend is born through the familiar combination of extensive self-reflection and assisted optimism. The legend begins with the tale that only the bravest and most courageous of heart and mind can pull the sword from the stone and become England's greatest king… but through the years, though many of the strongest of knights have tried, none succeeded.

Nevertheless, a young apprentice guided by a fun-loving wizard soon discovers his destiny to lead England, and discover his destiny to teach others to rely on the kindness of their friends and the strength of their character.

The Sword in the Stone, packaged with a variety of family-friendly bonus materials, is already on sale as a 45th Anniversary Special Edition. Whether it's rooting for an underdog of a young man turned king, pondering the sanity of the hilarious Merlin, or musing at the wonderfully mocking owl, Archimedes; this DVD release should highlight just about all that needs highlighting. The Sword in the Stone is available for $29.99 (78 minutes).

Bonus features on this 45th Anniversary Special Edition release includes:

Music Magic: The Sherman Brothers (Richard M. and Robert B.), the profile of the musical geniuses behind The Sword in the Stone and so many other Disney hits. Includes the deleted song, "The Magic Key."

All-New Merlin's Magical Academy Game: In this all new game Merlin tests the viewer's knowledge of the world as they are transformed into a fish, a squirrel and an owl—just like Wart in the movie.

The Sword in the Stone Scrapbook: An exclusive behind-the-scenes interactive program featuring still-frame galleries and film facts.

Brave Little Tailor: When Mickey tells a white lie about his fighting prowess, he ends up facing down a rampaging giant.

Knight for a Day – Goofy stands in for his master at a joust in this medieval themed short film.

Disney Song Selection

Donkey Ollie

If nothing else, Animation Magazine serves as an entertaining repository of all the awful ideas that animation studios try to produce nowadays. In the latest issue one of the properties being pimped by this studio is called Donkey Ollie.

It probably wouldn’t be so disturbing if the same company hadn’t taken out a full-page ad on the facing page honoring a certain animator named Ollie (see below). What’s sadder perhaps is that having a crappily animated CG ass named after one’s self is a higher honor than many animation legends have received.

(thanks cartoonbrew)

The Pughs

Ryan, Jeremy, Alex and Tim - The Muks of Mukpuddy Animation in New Zealand - have taken a break from their day to day animation work to work produce this:

According to the creators:

It’s an idea we’ve had for sometime now and has always been something we’ve discussed while doing other jobs. Finally, we put everything aside and put all our effort into making a short. It was created in 3 weeks by the four of us here at Mukpuddy.

Our Flash animated 3 minute pilot is called It’s the Pughs and is the story of a man so desperate for a son that after the birth of his daughter, decides to bring up the poo that follows as “his boy”. The idea is based on our observations of the “typical” New Zealand bloke. The dad who wants nothing more that his boy to be the Rugby player he always wanted to be. As kiwi as this is, it seems to us this is a fairly universal trait.

As disgusting as the idea of raising a poo as a child is, we’ve tried to focus on the relationship between Rudy (the dad) and Peter (his poo son). As much as we embrace that the show will be a lot of gross poo jokes, we like to use the phrase “heartwarming toilet humour”.

Clearly, poop characters (Mr. Hankey, Stinky,, etc.) are here to stay - whether we like it or not. The Muks also have a bunch of production sketches posted on their blog.

(thanks cartoonbrew)

Video: 'Batman: Gotham Knight' clip

IGN has a new clip from the upcoming DVD release 'Batman: Gotham Knight'

"Tintin" voice actor Henri Labussiere dead at 87

Voice actor Henri Labussiere, who played Le Professeur Tournesol (Professor Calculus) in the French version of Nelvana's series The Adventures of Tintin, died Sunday night in Paris of a ruptured aorta. He was 87.

He was the voice of Grandfather in Les Razmoket, the French dub of Rugrats, which aired on Nickelodeon in France.

Labussiere also voiced Panoramix the Druid in several movie adaptations of the Asterix comic. He was the Fisherman in 1976's La Flute À Six Schtroumpfs (The Smurfs and the Magic Flute), the Smurfs' first color feature film.

He was also the printer in La Ballade des Dalton (1978), starring cowboy hero Lucky Luke.

Born on March 20, 1921, he had voice roles in French dubs of animated Tarzan and Jackie Chan series.

His live-action films included La guerre des boutons, Un cheval pour deux (A Horse for Two), Martin soldat (released in English as Kiss Me General and Soldier Martin) and Les Chiens (The Dogs).

Henri Labussiere had a wife and two children.

When it comes to the retail world, Speed Racer whomps WALL-E

Jim Hill shares an interesting tidbit about Pixar's latest picture. To be specific, how difficult it was for Disney Consumer Products to convince toy manufacturers to produce "WALL-E" -related merchandise this year

WALL-E sure gets around, doesn't he?

Late last month, this cute little robot was spotted at the Philadelphia Science Museum. This past weekend, Pixar's latest star made an appearance at the Miami Science Museum. And this Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth Class unit was recently seen rolling around Seattle Center, where he then seemed drawn to the Space Needle.

Copyright Disney / Pixar. All Rights Reserved

But you know where you won't find WALL-E? At least not in the quantity that Disney / Pixar officials would have liked? The toy aisle at your local mall.

Oh, sure. If you go over to and search for WALL-E toys, you will discover some very fun items. But the meager assortment of WALL-E merch that's currently available for purchase simply pales in comparison to the huge amount of "Speed Racer" -related stuff that you'll find out there.

So why can you find more Mach-5s in the toy aisle than WALL-Es? Intriguingly enough, the continuing popularity of "Cars" merchandise was actually a factor here.

Andrew Mooney, Chairman of Disney Consumer Products,
speaking last Tuesday at the Licensing International Expo.
Photo by Jeff Lange

As Andrew Mooney -- Chairman of Disney Consumer Products -- explained last week at the Licensing International Expo, " ... there's only so much shelf space out there. And this time around, we had a really tough time selling WALL-E against Speed Racer."

Remembering how well the "Cars" merch sold (and continue to sell), most of the bigger toy manufacturers opted to go with the better-name-recognition, more-boy-friendly "Speed Racer" franchise instead. Which then forced Disney & Pixar to go with much smaller companies like Thinkway Toys in order to get "WALL-E" merchandise out on store shelves this year.

Which is kind of ironic. Given that -- back in 1995 -- when the Mattels & the Hasbros of the world turned up their noses at "Toy Story" ... That's what Disney & Pixar had to do too. Recruit Thinkway at that year's Toy Fair to quickly churn out Buzz Lightyear & Woody toys. And in 8 short months, this Canadian-based toy company was able to do just that. Which is why Thinkway wound up with two of the hottest toys of the 1995 holiday season.

Copyright 1995 Thinkway Toys, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

Now before all you Disney / Pixar fans out there start crowing about how stupid all of these toy companies were to go with "Speed Racer" instead of "WALL-E" ... Know this: Even though the Wachoski brothers' big screen version of this Japanese import crashed and burned at the box office (To date, this Warner Brothers release has only earned $42.5 million domestically. Which is less than a third of what it cost to actually make this movie), all of the "Speed Racer" -related merchandise has been selling very well. Those miniature Mach-5s have been flying off of store shelves at WalMart and Target. At least for the short run.

Which you'd expect would be somewhat disappointing to someone like Mooney. But in his role as Chairman of Disney Consumer Products, Andrew has to take the long view. And in the case of WALL-E ... This is a character that Mooney genuinely believes audiences will eventually connect with. More importantly, by the time the DVD version of this film goes on sale in November, Thinkway will finally be shipping the really cool WALL-E tie-in toy ...

Copyright 2008 Thinkway Toys, Inc. All Rights Reserved

... the Ultimate WALL-E to stores.

Check out this video that the nice folks at Gizmodo took of this toy robot during Thinkway's presentation at last month's Maker Faire. With its 10 motors, infrared sensors (Which allows this miniature WALL-E to detect objects and steer around them) as well as its voice activation and follow-me mode ... This is -- in essence -- a tiny, stripped version of the Living Character Initiative WALL-E that's currently working the science museum circuit.

Be warned, though: The one thing that's not tiny & cute about the Ultimate WALL-E is its price tag. This Thinkway Toy (which -- FYI -- isn't supposed to ship 'til the Fall) has a suggested retail price of $189.99.

Would you pay that much to have your very own version of WALL-E wandering around the house? Or -- given how typically tough kids are with toys -- would you just prefer to spend your holiday dough on sure-to-be-discounted-by-then "Speed Racer" merchandise?

WB renegotiating Miller's 'Justice League' deal?

Superheroes are the new movie stars...and that's not necessarily good news for the actors and directors who used to claim that role. With the perception that bankable properties like 'Spider-Man' and 'Iron Man' can sell themselves, Hollywood deal makers are tightening the purse-strings and offering less lucrative deals to the people making the movies.

Variety has an interesting and extensive editorial on one of the unintended consequences of the current revolution in movies.

Buried in the article is a mention that director George Miller, who cut a lucrative deal for 'Justice League', may be required to make some concessions if the movie goes forward.. Variety writes, "the studio is likely to revisit a gross deal it made a long time ago for director George Miller to direct 'Justice League,' expected to go into production soon."

"Batman: Gotham Knight" Segment Available On Comcast

A segment of the upcoming direct-to-video Batman: Gotham Knight animated feature is available on Comcast as a promotional tie-in to the upcoming The Dark Knight feature film.

The segment, "Field Test," is the third story out of six in Batman: Gotham Knight. The segment written by Jordan Goldberg, associate producer of The Dark Knight.

Comcast describes the segment as follows, as seen below:

"Writer Jordan Goldberg showcases the incredible arsenal Batman commands and reveals that there are some things even Batman won't do in the pursuit of justice."

The segment is 11 minutes and 36 seconds in length.

Batman: Gotham Knight bridges the gap between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. Batman: Gotham Knight will arrive July 8th, 2008 on DVD and Blu-Ray disc, and will also be available that day OnDemand via digital cable and for download through broadband sites. The Dark Knight will hit theaters on July 18th, 2008.

Update: Choose Spider-Man: Web of Shadows' Black Cat & Mary Jane

Activision has announced that you can pick which models you want to appear as Black Cat and Mary Jane for the "Spider-Man: Web of Shadows" video game at the San Diego Comic-Con:

The official Spider-Man: Web of Shadows website has kicked off a new vote allowing Spider-Man fans to take control of the Web of Shadows campaign. Those who head to the site starting today will have the opportunity to pick the model who will appear at San Diego Comic-Con dressed up as Black Cat. The vote will last until Monday, June 16th, when Spider-Man fans will then pick who will be portraying Mary Jane at Comic-Con. The chosen models will be dressed up in costumes tailor-made exactly to the specifications of the in-game character costumes. Come check out starting today and have your say about who will portray Mary Jane and Black Cat at Comic-Con! Simply click on the Seize Control tab and pick your favorite model!

UPDATE: Crystelle has been voted to be Black Cat at Comic-Con. Voting for Mary Jane will wrap up on Friday, so if you want to vote, be sure to do so now here!

The Dark Knight Gets His Own MySpace Page

Batman fans visiting today will get a nice surprise as The Dark Knight has taken over the main page and a new MySpace page for the film is now online as well. There, you can sign up for a sweepstakes to win a trip to Six Flags to ride the "Dark Knight" ride.

Meanwhile, Nokia has launched its tie-in site with the previous V CAST trailer, a mobile game, a digital comic and a new featurette titled "The Technology Behind Batman."

Universal Orders Last Call

Universal has bought the Oni Press graphic novel series The Last Call and set it up with producer Barry Josephson, Variety reported. Written and illustrated by Vasilis Lolos, The Last Call centers on two teens on a joyride who get hit by an interdimensional soul carrier in the form of a train and end up on a quest to solve a mystery that will allow them to return to their regular lives. The series was first released in 2007.

Evan Spiliotopoulos, who most recently wrote the script for Richard Kelly's upcoming SF thriller The Box, is adapting the series for the screen.

The Last Call is the fourth Oni Press work to be developed at Universal. The studio is currently developing an adaptation of the Scott Pilgrim comic series, which Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) is set to direct later this year. The upcoming feature-film version of Oni's Whiteout, starring Kate Beckinsale and Alex O'Loughlin is currently in post-production and is scheduled for release in September. Universal is also developing the Oni comics Leading Man and Resurrection for the big screen.

"Avatar" Finale to Air July 19, 2008

According to an advertisement in Nickelodeon magazine's July issue, Avatar the Last Airbender will return to the broadcast schedule starting on Monday, July 14, 2008, leading up to the four-part series finale on Saturday, July 19, 2008.

NY Times on "Family Guy" Characters as Pitchmen

The New York Times examines the use of Peter and Stewie Griffin from Family Guy in animated advertising campaigns for companies such as Subway and Coca-Cola. The article covers what brands and advertising approaches suit the racy and over-14 show, noting that White Castle will soon be rolling out a Family Guy ad campaign because they consider their brand "quirky" are aiming the campaign at those "who are interested in being a part of something different."

Briefly: Shaun the Sheep DS Game; 2008 Harvey Awards; CD India Sticks to Toons

* D3Publisher will be releasing a Shaun the Sheep videogame for the Nintendo DS this fall. [BusinessWire]

* The 2008 Harvey Award nominees have been announced, recognizing outstanding work in comics and sequential art in the past year. Nominees include William Van Horn (Best Writer, Best Artist, Best Cartoonist - Disney Comics and Stories) and Darwyn Cooke (Cartoonist, The Spirit). The awards will be presented at this year's Baltimore Comic-Con in September 2008.

* Compact Disc India announced on Monday that it will abandon earlier plans to diversify into live-action films, stating that it would remain strictly producing animated films. [Financial Express]

Exclusive: First Look at Thomas Jane as Jonah Hex?

As you know, it is very rare for us to bring you a really good photo exclusive, as it seems like studios reserve that sort of stuff for websites that aren’t constantly making fun of their films. Therefore, we are forced to rely on our legions of fans and a small team of well-trained movie industry ninjas to bring us, from time to time, the coolest cinematic contraband around. Last evening, our team on the ground in Hollywood checked in with an awesome little photo exclusive that was passed on to them from an extremely reliable source inside studio lines.

You all may have heard of this “Jonah Hex” character, a gun-slinging wild west badass anti-hero created by writer John Albano and artist Tony DeZuniga back in the 1970s. Famous for his surly and cynical nature, Hex has always been on the top of a very short list of comic adaptations that many true comic fans would like to see hit the big screen. In fact, Warner Bros. and DC Comics put the adaptation in the hands of producer Akiva Goldsman (Constantine, I Am Legend) and Crank creative team Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor in July of last year, and as they told our friends at Collider in March of ‘08, they intend on getting right down to it once they are finished with Crank 2, which is scheduled to hit theaters on April 17, 2009.

That said, here we go with the photo exclusive… For those of you who haven’t yet skipped ahead. As you may know if you’ve been following the development of Jonah Hex, no real casting announcements have been made as of yet. We are now suspicious, however, as our team in the field has sent over what appears to be either a piece of concept art or an early production test photo of Thomas Jane as Jonah Hex. Have a gander for yourselves below

Straczynski talks 'Silver Surfer'

AMC TV chatted up writer J. Michael Straczynski about his work writing a screenplay for 'Silver Surfer'. Here's an excerpt.

Q: Did your work on Silver Surfer: Requiem comic bring about the offer to write the Silver Surfer movie?

It was one of those weird synchronicities. Whether or not it ever gets made I don't know because they were kind of disappointed in how Fantastic Four 2 did. And given how this will be a subset of FF2 in terms of the marketing strategy, I think there is hesitation there about putting it forward. The script is pretty good, I like it, but whether or not it goes into production, I have no idea.

Q: Does this pick up where Silver Surfer left off in Fantastic Four 2?

I was writing it as FF2 was about to come out, and the theory was for it to pick up literally the next frame after the FF2 movie, where you find out why Silver Surfer was there and what happened to him. We would have seen Galactus, his home world, what happened and him trying to get back there, because now that he's betrayed Galactus, he's concerned his home world might be in jeopardy.

Q: When do you mean when you say,"We see Galactus"?

In the script I come up with some ways to visualize him that are true to the original, but take it one step further using the current CGI technology that we have. So we would have seen him as a character on numerous occasions in the second movie, not inconsistent with the first distant shot of him in that that's just a way of concealing who and what he really is. Believe me, he would be not at all silly looking.

Click here for the complete Q & A...

SIGGRAPH Asia Festival Deadline Approaches

The SIGGRAPH Asia 2008 Computer Animation Festival is open for submissions and is seeking innovative and provocative works from all around the world. The SIGGRAPH Asia event will take place Dec. 10-13 in Singapore. Submission deadline is June 20, 2008.

All subjects or topics will be considered. Submissions should belong to
one of the following categories:

Animated short (narrative, character or any medium)
Art (experimental, abstract)
Combined animation techniques (2D, 3D, Flash, etc.)
Interactive CG Art
Machinima and other emerging techniques
Promotional animation (commercials, educational films, etc.)
Real-time visuals
Scientific visualization and research
Video clips (music, game, documentary, etc.)
Visual effects (sequences, research)

You can submit your entries to the Computer Animation Festival via an online submission form at
Visit the SIGGRAPH Asia 2008 website( to learn more about one of the region’s fastest growing events.

Want More Wanted Clips?

You can now watch even more clips from Wanted, opening in theaters on June 27. The Timur Bekmambetov-directed action-thriller stars James McAvoy, Morgan Freeman, Terence Stamp, Thomas Kretschmann, Common and Angelina Jolie. The film, based on Mark Millar's graphic novel, tells the tale of one apathetic nobody's transformation into an unparalleled enforcer of justice.

Check out the clips here!

Wanted Had Its Perks

Timur Bekmambetov, the Russian director of the upcoming SF action movie Wanted, told reporters that helming his first English-language Hollywood movie carried obvious advantages.

"Yeah, there's no Angelina Jolie in Russia," Bekmambetov said in a group interview in Beverly Hills, Calif., on June 16. "And Morgan Freeman. And everybody speaks Russian. ... Of course, I had the best dream crew, the best people in the industry."

, based on Mark Millar and J.G. Jones' comic-book series, stars James McAvoy as a shlubby office worker who is reluctantly inducted into a fraternity of superpowered assassins, mentored by the lethal Fox (Jolie) and the enigmatic Sloan (Freeman).

Bekmambetov, a Kazakhstan-born filmmaker, gained fame for his visually arresting Russian-language films Night Watch and Day Watch and said that he had as much freedom to shape Wanted as he had when making his Russian movies.

"It was a collaboration," Bekmambetov said. "I was surprised, because, of course, we know all these myths about how bad studio people [are] and how they're torturing creative people. It's bulls--t. It's not true. With me, I mean. Maybe somewhere, I don't know. Maybe I was lucky, or it's a dream. We are here, and nothing [bad] happened."

Wanted features Bekmambetov's dynamic action sequences, including a chase involving a red Viper and a candy truck and a climactic scene involving a horde of exploding rats--not the usual Hollywood fare.

The director credits his studio and producers as being "very, very brave people. You saw [the] movie," he said. "I don't know, I cannot imagine in Moscow producers who decide to make this kind of movie and spend so much money to do it. And release it right in the time of WALL*E and other big and very, like, kind of predictable summer movies around us. Because it's really very brave. ... It was very interesting to work with them."

Wanted is being released by Universal Pictures and opens June 27.

Arcee Details for Transformers 2

Over at the unofficial Transformers 2 Movie Blog, they have a story about the Arcee bikes that were made exclusively for Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen.

They have a story from the Ventura County Star that talks about Will Kenefick's custom made bikes for the film. According to Will, He estimates that 1273 hours were put in and that each bike cost $40,000, with $10,000 on paint alone which added a further 1036 hours of work. 10 grand worth of paint? Que locura!!! That’s a lot of fricking paint!! It better be 24k gold for that price!

Anyhow, take a peek at the bikes, and tell me what you think? I’m glad they aren’t pink like the concept art that was making the rounds a few weeks back, but you never know what makes the final cut.

'Iron Man' pushes Paramount past $1 billion in international sales

Variety reports that Paramount Pictures has raked in over $1 billion at the international box office already, making it the first studio to hit the landmark this year.

Primary credit goes to 'Iron Man' and 'Indiana Jones'.

The studio hit the mark about a month and a half earlier than it did last year.

The Laments Continue for Stan Winston via aintitcoolnews:

Sandy Collora, who worked with Stan on the effects side and directed the well known fan film Batman: Dead End. Here are his thoughts on Mr. Winston:

Hey guys,

Sandy Collora here.

Stan Winston was a very special man to me. He gave me my first job in this business when I was a mere 18 years old.

I've had the good fortune to have had worked at his studio on such films as
"Leviathan", "Alien Nation", and "Predator 2". I also was very lucky to work with Stan personally on designing and developing creatures for some of his personal pet projects. The talented people I met and worked with there, taught me so much and the time I spent at Stan Winston Studios was instrumental in shaping the creative person I am today. Through Stan's talent, humor, and "tough love" approach to what he did, he inspired me voluminously to pursue my efforts not only as an artist, but a director as well.

I remember, on
"Leviathan" I got in a pretty major car wreck and he came to see me in the hospital. He was a great guy and always made time when my parents were in town, to show them around the shop and let my little brother play with the Terminator endoskeleton's fingers... Weird, I remember that like it was yesterday, but it was 20 years ago... Wow.

I'm sad he's gone. I'm sad I can never go to him for advice anymore, and I'm sad he'll never see my first feature film, which in many ways, he inspired... Of Stan I can say this; His contributions to this industry and the art of special effects cannot be measured, but his contributions to the people he's mentored, inspired, and lives he's touched, are even greater still.

You're an Icon, Stan. One of a kind... You will be missed.


Next up is Richard Taylor, another champion of practical effects work who leads Weta Workshop and some of the best designers, sculptors, artists and model-builders in the world. I asked him for an anecdote about Stan and this is what he had:

Hi Eric

Here is my little story about Stan.

Tania and I wanted to make a trip to LA to meet some of the people responsible for the effects work on many Hollywood movies. We wrote letters to a number of Workshops and very kindly the guys at KNB, Rick Baker and Steve Johnson invited us to visit. We wrote to Stan Winston’s and also got a favourable reply inviting us in to look around. We made our way to the States and on the morning of the visit to Stan’s facility we arrived early filled with expectation and excitement. Sadly though, on presenting ourselves to the reception desk we were told that due to confidentialities on a new project we would be unable to now have the tour as promised. We were disappointed but understood the changing nature surrounding this issue.

We got chatting to the receptionist who asked us where we were from, what we did and what we were working on. By total chance as we made our last answer, which was the fact that we were about to embark on the (failed 1996) remake of King Kong with Peter Jackson, Stan happened to walk past the reception area. He overheard this snippet of conversation and graciously welcomed us into his facility with open arms. We spent the next two hours in Stan’s company getting a personal tour of all of his facilities, meeting all the people we had only known through Cinefex magazine articles and getting to see an amazing array of stuff. I found the visit to be immensely inspiring – as were our visits to the other facilities we were so lucky to have had a look inside.

At the end of our tour Stan kindly offered to show us his showreel and it was reassuring to see that he struggled with exactly the same thing we all do in our own facilities – he attempted to do the simple task of rolling his showreel for us only to discover that someone had been messing around with the audio visual equipment and turned the whole thing to custard. Stan was deeply apologetic but very thankful when finally the thing kicked in and we were able to sit together and watch this wonderful reel.

This was the only time we met Stan but it was a wonderful few hours spent with a very enthusiastic individual that treated us as peers and was very giving with his time and knowledge.

From all at the Weta Workshop in Wellington, New Zealand we send our deepest sympathy to Stan’s family and all the team at Stan Winston Studios.

Richard Taylor

Weta Workshop

KNB's Greg Nicotero and Bob Kurtzman. We also have words from Sideshow Collectibe's Scott Klauder as well as a man named Shannon Shea who worked with Stan on many projects and Jim Charmatz who is still at Stan Winston Studios and works as a concept designer. Nicotero is up first:

I moved to Los Angeles in 1985, immediately after wrapping production on Day Of Tbe Dead. The 1st film I was hired on was Invaders From Mars at Stan Winston Studios. Since he was shooting Aliens at the same time, they had a substantial crew working 7 days a week. My first walk through of the shop had displays from Terminator, artwork from The Thing and designs from Aliens adorning the walls. I was thrilled to see such amazing work up close and personal and was struck by the talented artists that Stan attracted. He was a tireless showman and his studio was truly inspirational.

It was here that I met people that would change my life. Shannon Shea, Gino Crognale, to name a few. The caliber of artists that were cultivate by Stan are countless….Steve Wang, Matt Rose, Mike Trcic, Dave Nelson, of course Howard Berger and Bob Kurtzman who eventually became my partners. Stan took make-up effects and creature work to a whole new level, employing make-up, animatronics and puppet technology at the height of its popularity. It was this blend of techniques that I feel contributed dramatically to the crossover between various effects techniques even today with practical and digital creature work….always fool the audience…keep them guessing. The work in
Jurassic Park literally floored me….cutting from this amazing full size T Rex to a walking digital creature in 1 shot was sheer genius. Stan’s imagination and vision have left a legacy that will continue to inspire film makers AND film goers for decades to come.

Greg Nicotero

That was from the N of KNB. Now we hear from the K:

I had the great pleasure and privilege of working with the Stan early in my career on Predator, Aliens, and Invaders from Mars. Stan was an incredibly generous person, family man, and artist who gave me the opportunity, at a very young age, to learn from him and the talented team at Stan Winston Studio. His creations inspired not only me, but a generation of artists. He was a true master of movie magic and he will never be forgotten.

Robert Kurtzman

Next is Scott Klauder from Sideshow Collectibles who worked with Stan Winston to bring some of his creations to the collectibles market. You might remember that amazing Pumpkinhead they put out a couple years back. Here's Mr. Klauder's words about Stan:

I had the honor of meeting Stan twice, and wrote something that I thought I'd share.

For those unfamiliar, Sideshow Collectibles and Stan Winston Studios have enjoyed a relationship of bringing some of the most incredible collectibles to life for over 5 years now. To create a collectible of a movie icon is one thing, but when the masters for that item are developed by the actual effects company that worked on the film, well then, we're talking magic.

I met Stan Winston on two occasions, once when I accompanied our Creative Director, Tom Gilliland, to Stan's shop. We were picking up the masters for the
Pumpkinhead maquette. To tell you the truth, I was
intimidated at first. I mean, these guys had created some of the creatures that got me into this business. For me to walk through those doors and, not only see all of that but then to be greeted with a hand shake and a smile by the man responsible for it all, let's just say I was speechless.

The man treated me as though he had known me for years. He was polite, attentive, and most of all proud. Proud of the world that he had built around him. Proud of the people he had surrounded himself with. Proud of what he had dedicated every day of his life to for close to 40 years! I was a 1 year old when Stan established Stan Winston Studio, and here he was shaking my hand.

The second time I saw him was at San Diego Comic Con in 2007. He came by while we were setting up, again with a handshake and a smile. As he gushed over one of our
Iron Man pieces, he began to tell us about his
excitement and enthusiasm over working on the movie. When he was told that Sideshow was licensed to make product for the movie, Stan simply said "Well, what are we waiting for!" and the 1/1
Iron Man bust was born.

His love and enthusiasm for the industry, the art, and the people around him is inspiring. I will miss him, and I will cherish the few minutes I got to spend with him, this master of monsters, this creator of worlds, this
architect of icons, Stan Winston.

Scott Klauder
Production Manager
Sideshow Collectibles

Next is a guy named Jim Charmatz, a concept designer at Stan Winston Studios.


I wanted to thank you for the tribute you set up for Stan. It has enabled many of the people in his life to express the most wonderful sentiments about him and is giving us all a place to read these collected works. I'm not asking you to post this as my name is not known like the many already there, but as Alec Gillis wrote, it's cathartic.

I started working for Stan on March 21, 1994 (the day he won the Oscar for
Jurassic Park) and I never worked for any other effects house since. Like he did for so many others, Stan saw my potential from the first days of my employment and he immediately took advantage. He had an incredible knack for seeing the strengths in people, no matter how hidden, and developing them. When computers became a viable tool for design, he encouraged many of us to embrace the 3D arts and learn the latest software to achieve the best results...all on his time. Stan gave me the opportunity to build a solid career cultivated from a vast variety of skills that, had it not been for him, I might not have ever had the chance to develop. For that, I am eternally grateful. During my 14yrs with Stan I've worked as a mold maker, sculptor, painter, and designer and feel very lucky that I was able to work intimately with him on so many projects through the years. The project I feel most fortunate to have worked on was not movie, but his book "The Winston Effect," for which Stan trusted me to art direct.

I am proud to say I worked for Stan Winston, not just because of the mark he made on cinematic history, but more importantly because of Stan, the man... and my relationship with him. He accepted me into his talented extended “family" all the while sharing his wonderful, goofy sense of humor, true kindness and wisdom that was often profound.

It's hard to believe he's gone but we'll move forward and do our best to carry on the Winston name with the same quality of work that we always strove for with Stan at the helm.

Jim Charmatz
Conceptual Designer
Stan Winston Studio

Finally for this round of updates is Shannon Shea. I met Shannon on the set of The Mist and he is, without a doubt, a superior geek. He is like us and exactly how we'd be if we got to work on these movies. I remember fondly our pow-wow in the misty parking lot... sitting around b.s'ing about sci-fi and fantasy films with Shannon, the KNB crew and the awesome KNB designed and executed spider maquette. One of the films my friend Kraken and I hounded Shea about was Predator. He talks a bit about working with Mr. Winston on that film below. I hope you enjoy it

Hey guys -

Sorry this has taken so long to write, but I've been on set for
Drag Me To Hell working strange hours. Strange hours that have only become more difficult coping with the loss of not just a friend, but a father figure for myself and many that worked for many years at his studio.

I've been reading all of the heartfelt and insightful posts that have been written by colleagues and friends and I'm not sure what more can be said without just sounding redundant.

Stan hired me in 1985 with only three previous projects under my belt as a mold maker on
Aliens. During that time, Stan employed not just his "lifers" (a term that none of us liked), but Kevin Yagher, Tony Gardner, Howard Berger, Robert Kurtzman, Rick Lazzarini, Dave Nelson, Brian Penikas, and Everett Burrell all of whom broke out and formed their own make up effects companies.

As you can see, Stan was the well-spring. He was the source. He was the inspiration and the model. Stan's fair business practices and unwavering pursuit of excellence was only surpassed by his stubborn belief that nothing was impossible.

Monster Squad, Joel Silver, John McTiernan and Beau Marx came to the shop with a quandary. They had been filming a movie in Puerto Vallarta and their monster was not meeting their expectations. Putting the film on hold and listening to the counsel of their leading man, Arnold Schwarzenegger , they had come to Stan to bail them out. The project was Predator and the task that lay ahead was enormous. It didn't matter that his core team was still finishing Monster Squad. It didn't matter that we had weeks to not just provide something to film, but having to surpass what had already been provided. None of that mattered. Stan knew, he just knew that we could do it and it would be fantastic.

I'll say this now 22 years later. None of us knew that the
Predator would become an icon. A symbol synonymous with Stan and the studio at that time. We were too busy getting the work done at break neck speed.

Stan was at the top of his game on that show. No longer shooting in the resort location of Puerto Vallarta, we, instead filmed the reshoots in the jungles of Palenque. I cannot stress this enough - it was a real jungle. Our first night there, we were driven up the side of a mountain to meet with John McTiernan at company wrap.

John had a glass of scotch in his hand and led us on a tour of where the fight between Arnold and the
Predator would happen. As production shut down, so did the lights and we found ourselves in a Mexican jungle with just the ambient light of the moon to show the way. Then came the bats. McTiernan continued his blocking with us as bats zipped passed our heads. Stan finally convinced John that we should head back to base camp and as we ascended a hill, Shane Mahan plucked a long reed of grass and started flicking it past Stan's ears. "F-ing BATS!" Stan cried as we headed back to camp unaware of the practical joke.

But that was Stan. He wanted us to have fun. He encouraged us to immerse ourselves in the experiences of being on location in distant lands. If it wasn't worth laughing it wasn't worth doing. Upon our return to the United States, Stan gave me my Blue Cross health insurance papers - his way of saying that I was part of his permanent team. He adopted me and had called me "his last son".

One of the last times I saw Stan was at a San Diego Comic convention. I was with my daughter and friends and saw Stan across the room. To those outside of his studio, few believed that Stan LOVED Jerry Lewis and LOVED imitating him. I caught his eye and in my best Lewis voice yelled "LADY!" In a flash, Stan cocked his glasses on his face and launched into his Jerry Lewis schtick repeating "Lady! LAAA-DY!" at the top of his lungs surrounded by his fans.

There are too many stories, too much history, too many people, too many projects, too many emotions for me to effectively attempt to portray someone who had become a surrogate father to me.

When I was completing my tenure at his studio, Stan pulled me aside and told me that not only would the studio be okay without me, but I would be okay without the studio. Like so many others, I moved on professionally, but not without learning profound lessons that would effect the way I work and live to this day.

Shannon Shea

Ovation Airs Dante’s Inferno

Cable network Ovation TV will host the world television premiere of a new animated feature titled Dante’s Inferno on Thursday, June 19 at 8 p.m. (ET/PT) as part of its week-long programming event dubbed “Unreal Worlds: The Art of Animation.” Currently running, the program also includes a screening of the documentary Hand Behind the Mouse: The Ub Iwerks Story, which airs tonight (Wednesday) at 8 p.m.

Featuring hand-drawn images, hand-made special effects and the puppetry of Paul Zaloom, Dante’s Inferno is a contemporary re-telling of the literary classic. After a night of carousing, Dante (voiced by Dermot Mulroney) awakes in a modern American City and is led through circles of Hell by Virgil (James Cromwell). The controversial production has been descrbed as an apocalyptic graphic novel and is meant for mature viewers. An encore presentation will air on Sunday, June 22 at 8 p.m.

Ovation’s “Unreal Worlds: The Art of Animation” launched on June 15 with an airing of Hayao Miyazaki’s Oscar-winning feature Spirited Away, and continued with the Academy Award-nominated French toon The Triplets of Belleville and an Aardman Animations documentary titled Wallace and Gromit Go to Hollywood. Satoshi Kon’s acclaimed anime feature Tokyo Godfathers will air on Saturday, June 21 at 8 p.m. For more information on Ovation TV programming, go to

Buzz Lightyear Joins Space Program

Toy Story action figure Buzz Lightyear made his first appearance in zero gravity aboard the International Space Station to officially open the Toy Story Mania! attraction at Disney's California Adventure. Buzz and real-life Astronaut Greg Chamitoff, flight engineer for the Expedition 18 mission, addressed Earth-bound fans at Disneyland via downlink from orbit.

Buzz also helped Disney Parks and NASA launch their Space Ranger Education Series, part of NASA's Toys in Space educational program for teachers and students ( The program builds on NASA's efforts to encourage students to pursue studies in science, technology and mathematics by providing materials for educators to download and integrate into classroom . Online features such as educational games are also linked to each key component of the mission at

Tentative plans for Buzz's return from space include a back-to-school initiative and possibly a hero's welcome at Walt Disney World in Florida later this year. For additional information about the educational series and NASA programs, guests go to

Iron Man Gets to $300 Million First

Marvel Studios' Iron Man (distributed by Paramount Pictures) will become the first 2008 film to cross the $300 million mark domestically on Thursday.

Through Tuesday, the comic book adaptation had earned an estimated $299.3 million in the U.S. and Canada.

Among summer 2008's other big openers, Paramount's Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is another clear $300 million candidate, with $279.5 million through Tuesday. "Skull" has also grossed $359.5 million internationally for a worldwide total of $638.9 million.

Iron Man has grossed $250 million internationally for a worldwide total of more than $550 million.

Pitch Party 2008 Voting Underway

Animation Magazine’s 7th Annual Pitch Party is on and you can now click here: to view all of this year’s entries and vote for your favorites. All pitches are presented as 1/6th-page advertisements that offer new ideas for animated shows that that just may get picked up for development. Results of the online reader poll will be announced along with the picks of their distinguished panel of industry judges and AniMag staffers in the August issue of Animation Magazine (which has a big bonus distribution at Comic-Con in San Diego).

The Pitch Party offers independent artists an opportunity to advertise their animated properties for a greatly reduced rate in the pages of Animation Magazine, which is read all over the world. Each of their esteemed judges then review all entries and collectively select one winner for the opportunity to pitch their idea to the participating execs of their choice.

Here is this year’s awesome judge lineup:

Karen Toliver, VP of production, 20th Century Fox Animation
David Wiebe, director of Content at YTV, Corus Entertainment
Alex Schwartz, Damon Ross and Chris Kuser, DreamWorks Animation Development Team
Daniel Wineman, director of original series and co-productions, Jetix Europe
Julie Kane-Ritsch, exec VP, The Gotham Group
Roland Poindexter, VP of current series animation, Nickelodeon
Rob Renzetti, supervising producer, Cartoon Network’s Cartoonstitute
Matt Harrigan, head of program development, Adult Swim
(Click Here to View the Judges and their Rules and Regulations)

The winners of this year’s event will get to pitch their project to the judge of their choice in person!

As an online voter, you too can help get someone noticed by the animation community and possibly get their big break! You only have one week to get your votes in, so get started today!

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