Tuesday, July 29, 2008

News - 07/29/08...

SDCC2008: DC Animation Panel Report

DC gave fans a brief first glimpse at its upcoming “Wonder Woman” animated feature, kicking off a discussion with fans at the San Diego Comic-Con in which fans and panelists talked about which characters they’d next like to see come to DVD.

DC’s senior VP of creative affairs Gregory Noveck kicked things off by stating what the large bags Warner Bros. had been giving out the show had made obvious: The “Wonder Woman” animated DVD would debut in February.

Paul Levitz, president and publisher of DC, said the animated DVD program began as a way to do DC stories in animation that weren’t restricted by the rules of Saturday morning cartoons. “This is about let’s make the best thing we possibly can,” he says.

Noveck says “Wonder Woman” is not an adaptation of a specific comic, like “Justice League: The New Frontier.” Instead, it features an original story by “Wonder Woman” comics writer Gail Simone and Michael Jelenic, with the screenplay by Jelenic. That approach was decided on because the character can be a tricky one to get right, Levitz says.

Voice director Andrea Romano says they like to use a lot of name actors for these projects and joked that fans can often tell what she’s watching on TV and in the movies by who she casts. She says, for example, she liked very much the film “Waitress,” which played a role in her casting Keri Russell as Wonder Woman. Russell was right for the part because she can convey both strength and the vulnerability the character needs as she adjusts to living in the world of men.

Other cast members include fellow panelist Nathan Fillion as Steve Trevor, Alfred Molina as Ares, Rosario Dawson as Artemis, Virginia Madsen as Hippolyta and Oliver Platt as Hades. Romano says Platt had to record his lines in New York and couldn’t be filmed in the booth because of the distance — which turned to be a good thing when his starched shirt made so much noise he ended up having to work shirtless.

The look of Wonder Woman was much discussed by DC/WB animation legend Bruce Timm and the film’s director, Lauren Montgomery. “I definitely wanted to give her a more athletic feel — she’s an Amazon,” says Montgomery. Her features also have a slight Greek influence, and the boots she wears in the film ended being inspired by the comic book covers of Adam Hughes.

Noveck then showed a short trailer for the film, featuring Wonder Woman engaged in extensive battles with mythological creatures and even featuring a decapitation in silhouette. Fillion reacted to the footage by saying “Man, I look back and cartoons really sucked when I was a kid!”

In opening it up to questions, fan began to ask about the chance of adapting specific comic book storylines to animation, with “Batman: Knightfall,” “Batman: The Long Halloween,” “Catwoman,” “Batman: A Death in the Family,” “Jack Kirby’s Fourth World” and “Alex Ross’s Kingdom Come” all suggested. While most were possibilities, the last one may take some time until they can figure out an affordable CG look that would be like the comic book.

A long-discussed adaptation of “Teen Titans: The Judas Contract” is on hold, Noveck says, because fan support hasn’t been broad enough to vault it past other titles.

Levitz says the key to the success of these DVDs is whether they can sell a couple hundred thousand copies in the first couple of weeks — they have to do the kind of business to make it worth it for outlets like Wal-Mart and Target to carry them. Still, it’s a building process and if these discs continually sell well, it makes it easier to experiment with lesser-known characters and storylines.

He then asked fans to vote by cheering whether they wanted to see more adaptations of specific comic book stories or a mix of DVDs that was more equal between adaptations and original stories inspired by the comics. The latter won out.

Wonder Woman will be released in February in single- and double-disc DVD editions and Blu-Ray, with a premiere planned at a comics convention as soon as those shows’ dates are set. Also, a special edition is planned for “Superman: Doomsday” that will feature more than two hours of extras, plus a handful of “Superman: The Animated Series” episodes hand-picked by Timm.

Timm wrapped up the panel, saying that while the next DVD project after “Wonder Woman” had not been decided, he was thinking about adapting a specific comic book drawn by an artist whose style he looks forward to animating.

2008 SDCC Day 3: BET Animation - The Black Panther

BET hosted a panel at the SDCC featuring their new programming properties, including the highly anticipated Black Panther.

The trailer was shown. The actual scene from the show involved an African tribe attacking Wakanda. Working on the art on the series is John Romita, Jr. He also drew the first six issue of the recent series and that will be the basis of the first arc of the show, stretching over 8 episodes. Romita may be back to continue providing direction for the rest of the series.

BET approached Marvel with the idea for the Black Panther animated series. There was a lot of enthusiasm on both sides. The show will debut in February 2009.

Titmouse Productions in Los Angeles, the same company that does Metal-acolypse, provided the animation. Titmouse was given the actual comic book to recreate in animated form. Their directive was to match Romita's style of art.

This show will air in prime time, but a night has not been selected yet. It will probably be shown around 10pm.

BET also is creating a Hannibal animated series, produced by and starring the voice work of Vin Diesel, depicting the life of the warrior king in the ancient world. The show is taking efforts to make the stories historically accurate so that it can be used as a study guide for children.

The Iron Man animated series will have an episode with the Black Panther about mid-season.

Future Black Panther episodes will feature other interpretations of prior comic story arcs.

Times Online UK on the Stateside Success of "Skunk Fu"

The Times Online has noted the success of Irish cartoon Skunk Fu in the United States. Cartoon Saloon, the studio which makes Skunk Fu, first pitched the program in 2003, well before Dreamworks' Kung Fu Panda's box office success, and its first exposure in the United States was on the Kids WB! Saturday morning program block, and the rights to air the show were just acquired by Cartoon Network.

Color in 101 Dalmatians

To this day, Walt Peregoy’s color styling in 101 Dalmatians remains a fine example of how color can be used creatively in animation while serving more than a merely decorative function. On his blog Colorful Animation Expressions, artist Oswald Iten is exploring the use of color as a storytelling device in that film. So far he has written two thoughtful and in-depth posts about the topic with more to come—Color in 101 Dalmatians: An Introduction and Color in 101 Dalmatians: 1. Home Sweet Home.

(thanks cartoonbrew)

Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who! DVD in December

DVDTimes reports that Fox Home Entertainment have announced the Region 1 DVD release of Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who! on 9th December. Available in Single Disc, Two-Disc Special Edition and Two-Disc Gift Set releases, extras on Two-Disc Special Edition will include “Deleted Footage and Animation Screen Tests”, “That’s One Big Elephant: Animating Horton”, “Bringing the Characters to Life”, “Meet Katie”, “Bringing Seuss to Screen” and much more. A Blu-Ray release will also arrive, day and date.

Pete Docter talks UP

UpcomingPixar reports about two Pete Docter interviews, available at Aint It Cool News and MovieWeb, wherein he talks about upcoming Pixar film UP, some inspiration and Pixar’s writing process.

Bruce Adler, "Aladdin" Narrator, 1944 - 2008

Veteran Broadway actor Bruce Adler passed away on Friday, July 25, 2008, in Davie, FL, due to liver cancer at the age of 63. Adler began his career in Yiddish theater and moved on to Broadway, garnering two Tony nominations during his career. He was also the singing voice of the narrator in Disney's animated film Aladdin, also providing voices for Beauty and the Beast and appearing on the soundtrack to the Aladdin and the King of Thieves direct-to-video movie. Adler was also Cogsworth in the Broadway musical production of Beauty and the Beast.

See The Return Of Clone Commander Cody!! Almost 4 Minutes Of Star Wars: The Clone Wars Is Now Online!!

3 minutes and forty-something seconds of the forthcoming Star Wars: The Clone Wars CGI extravaganza is online over at Yahoo via both streaming video and several forms of Glorious QuickTime.

The sequence features Anakin, Obi-Wan, and tons of Clone Troopers in battle against Trade Federation Battle Droids. You can also get a good since of the huge(ish) score by Kevin Kiner (the Wing Commander movie with David Arnold, and Enterprise).

Just wondering... at 1:43 into the clip, does one of the Clone Troopers yell "Right on!"?

Tyrese Gibson a Thundercat?

Superhero Hype! got a chance to speak with rapidly rising star Tyrese Gibson at the Death Race junket in San Diego on Sunday. We'll have the full video interview soon, but he did fill us in on another big project for him that will hopefully be happening the near future: Thundercats!

Tyrese said that he's been very involved in the attempt to bring the classic '80s cartoon series to the big screen and seemed to hint that a deal is very nearly complete. We asked him what character he'd be playing and he just smiled and said that there's a number of options on the table.

Late last year, the project was announced as a CG-animated feature at Warner Bros. Pictures that would be directed by video game veteran Jerry O'Flaherty. Whether that still stands is unknown.

Look for the full interview soon!

Comic-Blog ’08: Disney’s Bolt

Comic-Con attendees pack the biggest auditorium at the Los Angeles Convention center on Saturday to view footage upcoming Disney animated features. Directors Chris Williams and Byron Howard were kind enough to show nearly 20 minutes of animation from Bolt, an adventure-comedy that will hit theaters in stereoscopic 3-D and traditional versions on Nov. 26.

Bolt tells the story of a canine TV star (voiced by John Travolta) that is inadvertently shipped from Hollywood to New York City. During his cross-country journey home to his owner, Penny (Miley Cyrus), he makes the surprising discovery that his TV super powers don’t work in the real world. He his joined in his adventure by a jaded, abandoned housecat named Mittens (Susie Essman) and a TV-obsessed hamster in a plastic ball named Rhino.

The pic is yet another entry in the talking animals on an adventure category, but the footage screened was highly entertaining and promising. After struggling with such recent entries as Brother Bear, Home on the Range and Meet the Robinsons. Walt Disney Feature Animation could be looking at its biggest hit in some time.

Some of the animation shown was still in rough form, with storyboard images standing in for certain shots, but a lot of it was beautifully rendered. The longest clip presented was a thrilling and funny action sequence that depicts Bolt and Penny in one of their TV adventures. Bolt runs at lightning speed, leaps over helicopters, flips cars and unleashes a devastating bark that demolishes a desert road and wipes out an army of advancing bad guys. Peppered with clever humor, the big, ridiculous action set piece will have audiences cheering and sufficiently engaged for the more subtle moments that follow.

Howard and Williams then introduced a very funny clip where one of Bolt’s fellow animal actors, a cat voiced by Diedrich Bader from The Drew Carey Show, makes sport of the dog’s delusion by taunting him in character when the cameras aren’t rolling. Rhino the hamster, voiced by animator Mark Walton, was introduced in another clip where he helps Bolt spring mittens from an animal control center. much of the comic relief seems to fall on Rhino’s rodent shoulders, and the film;s directors are confident that the character will be big hit with moviegoers.

Bolt is one of the projects that went through some revisions when Pixar heads John Lasseter and Ed Catmul took over Disney’s animation operations. When what it was like to work with Lasseter, Williams responded, “John really is everything you hope he would be. He can be a tough, demanding boss, always pushing for more and more, but he’s the best boss you could have for animation.”

Williams and Howard also spoke briefly about the patent-pending technology developed at Disney to allow the animators to put brush strokes on CG surfaces to give the backgrounds a more painterly quality. The result can be seen in the film’s first trailer, which can be viewed at www.empireonline.com/video/bolt.

Sony, CAPCOM Unveil Resident Evil Toon

Comic-Con pass holders got a chance to check out some footage from Resident Evil: Degeneration, a CG-animated feature film coming from CAPCOM and Sony Pictures Entertainment Japan Co. The horror pic will make its theatrical debut this fall in Japan and will come to DVD, Blu-ray and PSP in North America later this year.

Based on the popular CAPCOM video-game series and the live-action film franchise, Resident Evil: Degeneration takes place seven years after the government destroyed Raccoon City in an attempt to wipe out the deadly zombie virus. The horror begins again when a zombie is unleashed in a U.S. airport that soon becomes filled with the undead and trapped survivors struggling to live through the nightmare.

CAPCOM hosted a sneak preview of the movie during a panel and press conference at the San Diego Comic-Con Int’l on Friday. Producer Hiroyuki Kobayashi (associate producer of Resident Evil: Apocalypse and video game producer of Resident Evil 4 and Devil May Cry 4) and director Makoto Kamiya (special effects director of L: Change the World, Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All Out Attack) presented the worldwide debut of the film’s revealing two-minute theatrical trailer and answered questions about the property’s first animated chapter.

Comic-Blog ’08: Next Avengers

To be honest I didn't hold out much hope for Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow, the latest direct-to-DVD animated superhero movie from Marvel Studios and distributor Lions Gate Entertainment. I’ve been a big fan of the two PG-13 Avengers pics, as well as The Invincible Iron Man and Doctor Strange: The Sorcerer Supreme, but when I heard that they were going for a younger audience with a PG-rated installment focusing on the children of the Avengers, I expected a watered-down story with inane dialogue coming from annoying, bratty characters. Boy, was I wrong.

I caught the premiere of Next Avengers at Comic-Con on Friday night and had my low expectations crushed like anything unfortunate enough to cross the Incredible Hulk. Based on a clever, engaging script by Chris Yost, the film delivers great action sequences, likeable characters, and plenty of surprises for both hard-core Avengers fans and those new to the Marvel Universe.

Next Avengers begins with an aging Tony Stark telling a group of children how the Avengers stood up against a powerful, mechanical conqueror named Ultron and ultimately fell. The kids turn out to b the children of such Marvel icons as Captain America, Thor, Giant Man and Black Panther. Before their parents were defeated in battle, the children were hidden away in a remote facility where they would be safe from Ultron and free to train for their inevitable showdown with the fiend. That time comes sooner than expected, and the kids soon find themselves fighting not only Ulton and his mechanized minions, but robotic versions of their own parents.

The crowd assembled at Comic-Con responded very enthusiastically to the movie, especially when the surviving members of the original Avengers swing back into action. Tony Stark proves he still has it when he gets back into the Iron Man suit, and an aged Bruce Banner reluctantly comes out of his self-imposed exile to once again unleash The Hulk, who appears with long, gray hair and a white beard. It’s very cool to see the old guys getting it done as the new heroes arise to take up the mantle.

Expect to see more animated features, comic books and possibly an animated television series spawned by this movie, which successfully introduces new super heroes to the Marvel canon. The movie will debut on DVD and Blu-ray on Sept. 2. Animation Magazine will have more on this release, including interviews with the filmmakers, in their next issue.

Fox Opening Registration for X-Men: First Class?

An interesting listing at Production Weekly caught our eye - "X-Men: First Class." Could 20th Century Fox be developing a movie based on the series written by Jeff Parker and pencilled by Roger Cruz? Or are they using the title of that comic for their proposed Young X-Men spin-off?

What makes it even more interesting is that X-MenFirstClass.com redirects to FoxMovies.com.

The "X-Men: First Class" was an eight-issue mini-series published from September of 2006 through April of 2007. As Special was also released in May of 2007 followed by a monthly series that started in 2007 with the same creative team. The comic is described as follows:

For millions of years, mankind's place on Earth was unchallenged – until five young people paved the way for a new kind of human. While students at the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters, Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Angel, Beast and Iceman taught the world what it meant to be X-Men. These are the hidden stories of the team that laid the foundation of a mutant dynasty!

We'll have to wait and see if official news on this hits.

Comic-Con: Notable News Quotes

- EW.Com has some exclusive new "Underworld: Rise of the Lycans" photos.

- Eight very cool character posters from "Watchmen" have gone online at Omelete.Br.

- Wes Craven tells STYD that "There has been contact. I haven't spoken to Bob Weinstein but they have checked with my agent. I'm not saying 'no'" about the possibility of a fourth "Scream".

- "We have a treatment that we're submitting to the studio in the next week or so. And if they sign off on that treatment, we'll go to script, and hopefully we'll have a script that's shootable next summer" says Andrew Form and Brad Fuller on "The Birds" remake to Slashfilm. As for the "Rosemary's Baby" remake? "We're in the process of hiring a writer, to kind of update that movie. That's the next movie that we're making with Paramount Studios".

- Author Dean Koontz revealed that his novel "Odd Thomas" has been adapted into a screenplay and the title character, a fry cook capable of talking to the dead, has already been cast.

- J.J. Abrams said that "There's something we're playing with now that may or may not happen. There's an idea we have that plays with... it's not a literal sequel" when asked about a "Cloverfield" sequel during a panel at Comic-Con this year.

- Frank Miller has apparently given "Watchmen" and "300" director Zac Snyder his blessing to shoot a film version of his most famous comic - the Batman tale "The Dark Knight Returns".

- "Prince of Persia" creator Jordan Mechner says that the upcoming film is solely based on the "Sands of Time" game and not the sequel games. Also the unnamed prince of the games will be named Dastan in the film because "it was not practical for the film for the Prince to remain nameless" and Dastan is the Persian word for 'trickster'.

- "I'd love to make another Evil Dead picture. And actually that's in the wheelhouse. I'd like to work on it with my brother Ivan [Raimi] when he comes up next week" said Sam Raimi about doing another 'Dead' picture whilst promoting "Drag Me To Hell".

- Kevin Feige has confirmed that the chances of the "Silver Surfer" movie going into production will depend a lot upon how the "Wolverine" movie does.

- "Torchwood" star John Barrowman has hinted that discussions have been taking place about him possibly starring as Captain America in Marvel's "The First Avenger: Captain America".

- Chris Evans says that a third "Fantastic Four" does not look like it will be happening any time soon - and his option to return is running out as well.

- The next "Futurama" DVD entitled "Bender's Game" will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on November 4th 2008.

New Star Wars: The Clone Wars TV Spots

Two more TV spots for Warner Bros. Pictures and Lucasfilm's Star Wars: The Clone Wars have come online and you can watch them using the players below! The CG-animated sci-fi action-adventure opens in theaters on August 15.

Korean hero Robot Taekwon V becomes UNHCR envoy

Robot Taekwon V, an iconic martial arts cartoon hero as famous in the Republic of Korea as Superman is in the West, has signed on as the United Nations refugee agency's goodwill envoy in the Asian nation.

"We thought that being associated with this character, who is extremely popular with all age groups and both sexes, would give us huge potential for recognition in the Republic of Korea, where we are still largely unknown," said Janice Lyn Marshall, country representative for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, after the signing ceremony at Robot Taekwon V's 32nd birthday party on Thursday.

"It's a first for UNHCR to join forces with an animated character in this way," she added. For the next year, the character, which uses the martial art Taekwondo to protect the weak, will collaborate with UNHCR on events such as World Refugee Day and UN Day. His image will also be used on fundraising and promotional materials.

Robot Taekwon V is seen as a guardian figure saving the Republic of Korea -- a country that has been invaded by foreign countries numerous times in its history -- from danger. "What the character is fighting for is akin to what the United Nations stands for -- world peace and stopping those who would try to destroy it," Marshall said.

On UNHCR's Korean-language Web site (www.unhcr.or.kr), the robot himself explained his motivation for working with the agency.

"For the last 30 years, I have protected Korean families and children from evil, and guarded their hope and courage," he said in an interview. "Now I have to go beyond Korea and into the world, and try my best to help the children not to lose hope, but to realize their dreams."

Robot Taekwon V said he would remind Koreans that many of them were displaced during the Korean War in the early 1950s.

"I'm also going to inform Koreans about refugee situations around the world, together with the UNHCR representation in Korea," the robot said in the interview. "I know that Koreans are warm-hearted -- so I'm sure they will have empathy."

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