Wednesday, July 30, 2008

News - 07/30/08...

The Frog gets his own trailer

Not much to say here except that the trailer for Disney’s return-to-hand-drawn feature, The Princess and the Frog, is now up at its official site . . . so hop on over and check it out.

Black Panther trailer

A "better" version of the trailer BET Animation premiered at Comic-Con.

Looney Tunes Vol. 6 Bonus Materials

A few weeks ago it was announced that Looney Tunes Golden Collection Vol. 6 (on sale October 21st) would be the last Golden Collection. It is true, this will be the last - but let me be very clear: Warner Bros. will continue to release new Looney Tunes on DVD on an annual basis for the foreseeable future. There will be more classic cartoon restoration and collectible DVD sets to come (and No “double dipping” is planned). More about that later.

For now, we have an incredible collection of material to savor in Volume 6. Details about the main content of 60 classic Looney Tunes is listed here. Bonus materials will include:

Disc One: Looney Tunes All Stars


Hare Trigger Commentary by Greg Ford
Birth of a Notion Commentary by Mark Kausler
My Favorite Duck Commentary by Jerry Beck

Music Only Tracks
Raw! Raw! Rooster
Jumpin’ Jupiter
Rabbit Rampage
Boyhood Daze

The Looney Tunes Television Specials
Bugs Bunny in King Arthur’s Court [1978 WBTV special]
Daffy Duck’s Easter Eggcitement [1980 WBTV special]

Bonus Cartoons
Sniffles Takes a Trip [1940 WB cartoon]
Hippety Hopper [1949 WB cartoon]
Rabbit Rampage [1955 WB cartoon]
Boyhood Daze [1957 WB cartoon]

Disc Two: Patriotic Pals

Herr Meets Herr Commentary by Greg Ford
Russian Rhapsody Commentary by Mark Kausler
The Draft Horse Commentary by Greg Ford
Fifth Column Mouse Commentary by Jerry Beck

Music Only Track
Yankee Dood It
Friz Freleng at MGM
Poultry Pirates [1938 MGM cartoon]
A Day at the Beach [1938 MGM cartoon]
The Captain’s Christmas [1938 MGM cartoon]
Seal Skinners [1939 MGM cartoon]
Mama’s New Hat [1939 MGM cartoon]

Bonus Cartoons
The Fighting 69 1/2th [1941 WB cartoon]
Hop and Go [1943 WB cartoon]
Confusions of a Nutsy Spy [1943 WB cartoon]

Disc Three: Bosko, Buddy and Merrie Melodies

Shuffle Off to Buffalo Commentary by Historian Jerry Beck
A Cartoonist’s Nightmare Commentary by Historian Jerry Beck

The World of Leon Schlesinger
Introduction by Martha Sigall and Jerry Beck
Crying for the Carolines [1930 WB short]
Haunted Gold Title Sequence
Schlesinger Productions Christmas Party with Optional Commentary by Martha Sigall and Jerry Beck

Bonus Cartoons
I Love a Parade [1932 WB cartoon]
I Like Mountain Music [1933 WB cartoon]
Sittin’ on a Backyard Fence [1933 WB cartoon]
How Do I Know It’s Sunday [1934 WB cartoon]

Disc Four: Most Requested Assorted Nuts (One-Shots)

Fresh Airedale Commentary by historian Greg Ford
The Hole Idea Commentary by animator Mark Kausler

Alternate Audio Programs
The Hole Idea Music Only Track
Martian Through Georgia Music Only Track
Punch Trunk Music and Effects Track
Wild Wild World Music Only Track

Bonus Documentary
Mel Blanc: The Man of a Thousand Voices (70 mins.)

Bonus Cartoons
Sleepy Time Possum [1951 WB Cartoon]
Punch Trunk [1953 WB Cartoon]
Wild Wild World [1960 WB Cartoon]
Bartholomew versus the Wheel [1964 WB Cartoon]

I urge you to buy the set the day it comes out (or Pre Order the set on Your purchase of this collection will help keep the cartoons coming, and will strengthen the message to Warner Bros. that the public wish to continue to buying Looney Tunes on DVD.

(thanks cartoonbrew)

CCTV on Olympic Adventures of the Fuwas

The CCTV International website has posted a feature article on the success of the animated short films spotlighting the fuwas, the five mascots of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. 100 short films have been created starring the five characters, who also adorn keychains, pins, stuffed animals, toys, and other Olympic paraphenalia. The article also chronicles the history of the shorts from the point when the Beijing Olympics were announced to their current success on Chinese TV.

Nick Picks Up Eisner’s Glenn Martin

Michael Eisner, former CEO of the Walt Disney Co., has sold a stop-motion animated series to Nickelodeon’s Nick at Nite. The network has ordered 20 episodes of Glenn Martin DDS and plans to launch the show next summer. Celebrity Deathmatch creator Eric Fogel is helping to design the family-oriented production for Tornante Animation, a new division of Eisner’s Tornante Co.

In the series, the titular dentist and his family set out on a cross-country road trip in their toothbrush-topped dental mobile “dental mobile.” The concept is reportedly inspired in part by In Search of America, a 1971 ABC made-for-TV movie that starred Jeff Bridges as a college dropout who drove around the country with his family in a bus.

“Nickelodeon is a global brand synonymous with innovative and creative content for kids and families,” Eisner remarks. “This network is a great fit for Glenn Martin, DDS and I look forward to helping Nick at Nite grow their primetime line up.”

“Michael Eisner has been the creative architect of some of the most successful sitcoms in television history, and we're very excited that the first new series from his new company will be on Nick at Nite,” adds Cyma Zarghami, president of Nickelodeon/MTVN Kids and Family Group. Glenn Martin, DDS is an innovative take on the modern American family and has the potential to be a definitional program in Nick at Nite's lineup of family comedies like George Lopez and Home Improvement."

Eisner put up his own money to make the animated pilot. A team of 10 writers has been hired and animation will be handled in Toronto. An obscure comedy troupe will provide the voices with a bit of improvisation involved. Nick plans to heavily promote the series debut in conjunction with its September kickoff of the popular sitcom Everybody Hates Chris.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Eisner decided to bring his show to Nickelodeon rather than Disney because he appreciated cable channels’ strategy to make bets on a small number of shows and nurture them. “And Nickelodeon liked it, they bought it. It felt comfortable to me, period,” he said.

Avatar, Freakazoid!, Tiny Toons Lead DVD Slate

Six episodes of the Nickelodeon’s hit animated action series Avatar: The Last Airbender debut on DVD with today’s release of Book 3 Fire, Volume 4. Also hitting retail are the first season of Steven Spielberg’s 1990s series Freakazoid!, and Tiny Toon Adventures, the animated feature 64 Zoo Lane and a two-part Phineas and Ferb adventure.

Avatar: The Last Airbender Book 3 Fire, Volume 4 is a single disk that contains the final 6 episodes of the fourth season, including the ratings hit Sozin’s Comet movie, which is broken up into four installments. The Paramount Home Entertainment release lists for $16.99 an includes an Avatar comic book and commentary by creators Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko and various members of the cast and crew.

Freakazoid! Season One is a two-disc set offering 14 episodes of the cartoon series about a cyber nerd named Dexter Douglas, who gets zapped while surfing the nest one day and turns into a smart-mouthed, butt-kicking maga-voltage superhero. Special features include the featurette Freakazoid: The Original Freak, Freakazoid-less Freakazoid Promos: cruise ship parodies that promoted the series launch, and commentary on thre key episodes by senior producer Tom Ruegger, voice actor Paul Rugg and writer John McCann. Created by Steven Spielberg, Paul Dini and Bruce Timm, the series aired from 1995-1997 on Kids’ WB!.The Warner Home Video disc lists for $26.99.

Tiny Toon Adventures: Season 1, Volume 1 offers 35 episodes in a four-disc set. Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Taz, Tweety, Sylvester and the rest of the Looney Tunes gang navigate childhood in this hit comedy series that introduced classic Warner Bros Animation characters to a whole new generation. Extras include the featurette From Wacky Tunes to Tiny Toons: A Looney Evolution. Fans can pick up the set for $44.98.

64 Zoo Lane
is a feature-length compilation of episodes that follows the adventures of a little girl who lives next door to a zoo and who, every night, slides down the neck of Georgina the giraffe to listen to one of the animal's stories. The series currently airs on Nickelodeon’s Noggin network for preschoolers. The PorchLight Entertainment release carries a suggested retail price of $14.98.

Phineas and Ferb: The Fast and the Phineas is a two-part story arc from the hit Disney Channel animated series, which just got 13 episodes added to its second season. The Disney disc lists for $19.99 and includes “Phineas and Ferb's Homemade Tree Shade Arcade,” set-top games and the original series pitch by creators Dan Povenmire and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh.

Sci-fi fans can also pick up Alex Proyas’ director’s cut of vfx-laden cult favorite
Dark City
. Starring Rufus Sewell, Jennifer Connelly, William Hurt and Kiefer Sutherland, the 1998 film has been updated with enhanced picture and sound, never-before-seen footage and three commentary tracks that viewers deeper than ever before into a trippy world where nothing is what it seems. The New Line release lists for $28.99 and is also available on Blu-ray Disc.

Academy Rediscovers George Pal

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will revisit some of the magical works of a visionary filmmaker when it presents “George Pal: Discovering the Fantastic” on Wednesday, Aug. 27 at 7:30 p.m. in the Samuel Goldwyn Theater. The centennial celebration will be hosted by director Joe Dante (Gremlins) and will feature a panel discussion with several Pal collaborators, as well as a screening of two Pal “Puppetoons” and the 1953 vfx-driven epic The War of the Worlds in its entirety.

The panelists will include stop-motion animator Jim Danforth (The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm, 7 Faces of Dr. Lao) Puppetoon animator Bob Baker and actors Barbara Eden (The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm, 7 Faces of Dr. Lao), Ann Robinson (The War of the Worlds), Russ Tamblyn (Tom Thumb) and Alan Young (Tom Thumb, The Time Machine). The onstage discussion will follow screenings of new prints of Rhythm in the Ranks (1941) and John Henry and the Inky Poo (1946), which earned Pal two of his seven Oscar nominations in the Animated Short Subject category. The films were restored by the UCLA Film & Television Archive in cooperation with the Academy Film Archive.

Pal’s career in Hollywood launched with
Puppetoons, a series of animated shorts that featured wooden stop-motion replacement puppets to bring fairy tale worlds to life. He later branched out into live-action feature films that still inspire today’s blockbusters.

Tickets for
“George Pal: Discovering the Fantastic”
may be purchased online at, in person at the Academy box office or by mail. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and all seating is unreserved. The Samuel Goldwyn Theater is located at 8949 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills, Calif. For more information on George Pal and his films, go to

Polar Express 4-D Bound for Dollywood

Kicking off on Nov. 8, Dollywood’s 19th annual Smoky Mountain Christmas Festival will feature The Polar Express 4-D Experience, a theme-park attraction based on the performance-capture movie from Warner Bros. and director/producer Robert Zemeckis. The attraction will be open through Jan. 3, 2009, in the Pigeon Forge, Tenn. park’s Imagination Cinema.

The Polar Express is based on the Caldecott Medal-winning children's book by Chris Van Allsburg. The story revolves around a doubting young boy who takes an extraordinary train ride to the North Pole. SimEx-Iwerks is the worldwide exclusive distributor of the theme-park installment, which employs stereoscopic 3-D and multi-sensory effects to make believers of visitors. As park attendees Upon arrive at the North Pole, it begins to snow inside the 4-D Special FX Theater, and when the conductor sings “Hot Chocolate” and the dancing waiters begin to pour, the audience can smell the aroma of cocoa.

Dollywood is a 130-acre family adventure park that operates mid-March through Jan. 3. The Smoky Mountain Christmas festival includes a lineup of award-winning entertainment including the shows Dollywood’s Babes in Toyland, Christmas in the Smokies, ’Twas the Night Before Christmas, An Appalachian Christmas, Christmas with the Kingdom Heirs, The Victorian Melodies, O’ Holy Night, Carol of the Trees and a nightly Lighted Christmas Parade. For more information, go to

Wolverine wants to join the Avengers

Asked yesterday by MTV News if he could envision a scenario where he’d have a cameo in an “Avengers” movie, Hugh Jackman sounded more than game. “Any movie with Robert Downey Jr. I want to be in,” he grinned. “I’m open to it. I love playing this guy.” Clearly in a great mood Jackman discussed why he’s still fond of this character. “The great thing about Wolverine is he’s still a fun character. He’s a tortured soul but he’s always got a quip. He’s always got a line. He’s like Dirty Harry and Mad Max. These aren’t nice guys but they get the job done. He marches to the beat of his own drummer. That’s why I love playing him.”

SDCC Update: 'X-Men Origins: Wolverine' Poster!

Walking around Preview Night here at San Diego Comic Con and, well, we kinda stumbled upon this poster for X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The film wasn't supposed to have a major presence here at Con, so it's nice to at least see a poster for the flick, which hits theaters on May 1, 2009. We'll have a whole bunch of photos for you from Preview Night here at Con in just a little bit -- in the meantime, what do you think about this poster? Does it get you excited for the film? Starring Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber and Danny Huston, X-Men Origins: Wolverine will claw its way into theaters next summer.

Sam Jackson Wants Nick Fury Cameos in ‘Thor,’ ‘Captain America,’ Unsure If Favreau Will Return to ‘Iron Man’

Samuel L. Jackson had a brief cameo as Marvel Comics character Nick Fury at the end of “Iron Man,” so it would be up to director Jon Favreau if he appears again, right? And we probably won’t see Fury until “The Avengers,” correct?

There are certain questions that superfans think they know the answer to. But when we caught up with Sam the man himself Thursday at Comic-Con, he said we still have a lot to learn about the future of Fury.

“Yeah, I’m looking forward to making that character a bit more integral, in terms of the other stories that are happening,” Jackson told us, revealing that he may have multiple cameos in practically every Marvel movie for the next few years. “’Iron Man 2,’ ‘Captain America,’ ‘Thor,’ and hopefully the big one that’s coming in 2011, when they put everybody together.”

Of course, Jackson is referring to “The Avengers,” which his recent cameo set up as he recruited Tony Stark to join the superhero team. But according to the “Pulp Fiction” legend, he has no intention of keeping Nick Fury on the shelf that long.

’Iron Man 2’ is coming sooner!” he laughed. “I’d rather go to work than wait three years and be in ‘The Avengers.’ I’m looking forward to going to work soon.”

But when we asked about Favreau, who has been widely reported as recently being asked to return after rumored speed-bumps on the way to the sequel, Jackson gave a response that indicated things might not be as ironed out (sorry, couldn’t resist) as some are assuming.

“First of all, Jon’s doing another movie,” Jackson remarked. “So it’s not for sure Jon’s going to do it yet.”

When I told him about the recent rumors, he replied: “Really? Okay, well, you know more than I know. See, I don’t read the papers.”

Either way, Jackson (who is in San Diego to promote the video game and upcoming new season based on his hugely successful cartoon “Afro Samurai”) said he was flattered several years ago when Marvel began drawing the S.H.I.E.L.D. leader to resemble him, and is happy to have taken things full circle.

“I remember when they first started, and all of a sudden Nick Fury turned from David Hasselhoff into me,” he laughed. “I was kind of like “Hmmm…interesting!” I smiled about it, went about my business and read a lot of other [comic] stuff.”

Now he’s intimately familiar with the character and his decades-long backstory; however, Jackson promised that he won’t try to force any old comics subplots on Favreau or whoever else will be directing him in the Fury character. Well, at least not for a little while.

“Whoever it is, not yet. I’m not trying to exert my will on anybody, I’m just trying to be calm, be quiet,” he promised. “But when they call me and say “Okay, we’re ready,” maybe I can get in there and talk about that then. But until then, I’m just going to leave them alone and let them put me in there.”

Comics Into Film

Steve Niles, author of 30 Days of Night, and Michael Uslan, producer of all the Batman projects in the franchise, stopped by G4tv to talk about what's good and what's bad about comic book movies, what films remain closest to the source material, and what to look for in the future of comic film.

Anime features competing at Venice Film Festival

Two anime pictures are among the 21 feature films competing for the Golden Lion at the 65th Venice International Film Festival, to take place from August 27 to September 6 at Venice Lido.

The Venice Bienniale announced Tuesday the films which will compete at Venezia 65, an international competition of feature films presented as world premieres.

In competition are Hayao Miyazaki's 101-minute Gake No Ue No Ponyo (Ponyo on Cliff by the Sea) and Mamoru Oshii's 122-minute The Sky Crawlers.

Ponyo on Cliff by the Sea is rumored to be Miyazaki's last film. The director based the five-year-old boy of the story on his grandson, the son of Tales From Earthsea director Goro Miyazaki.

Films to be screened in Corto Cortissimo, an international competition of short films (not exceeding 30 minutes), have yet to be announced.

Marco Müller will be the director of this year's festival, continuing the work that he began in 2004.

The festival will be opened on the evening of August 27 by the world premiere screening of Burn After Reading, written and directed by Academy Award winners Joel and Ethan Coen.

Oeming & Glass on the Mice Templar 'Toon

Newsarama has interviewed Michael Avon Oeming and Bryan J.L. Glass about the upcoming CGI-animated movie adaptation of their comic book series Mice Templar, which was announced last week. Oeming and Glass discuss how the deal came together, how the movie will fit in with the 25-issue story of the lead mouse Karic, the books and movies that influenced the comic book series, and when they expect the movie to hit the air.

Announced last Wednesday, Mike Oeming and Bryan J.L. Glass’s fan favorite “Chosen Rodent” is headed to the small screen as an animated feature film.

The Mice Templar tells of an extraordinary adventure of magic and wonder, faith and valor, and of one small mouse whose destiny might change the entire world. To date, five out of a planned 25-issue run have been published. Image plans to collect the first six issues and release a hardcover collection titled The Mice Templar Vol. 1: The Prophecy in October.

We spoke with the creators about the Cartoon Network project as well as what’s coming up in the The Mice Templar comic book series.

Newsarama: So, Cartoon Network is producing feature films based on The Mice Templar and two other properties. Congratulations on the deal. For you guys, what does it feel like to eventually see Karic come to life?

Mike Oeming: Hey Benjamin, first let us thank you for the interview. But before we answer these, you should know this is still very early in the deal so we don't know the full answers to some of these questions. We'll just answer the best we can. But hell, it’s a great feeling!!!

Bryan Glass: Incredible. Words cannot truly describe it. Every creator fantasizes their creations living on in some form beyond the printed page, but the odds are so remote that it isn't something that should be taken seriously. But now that we're facing that reality of our story, my dialogue and Mike's visuals, taking on a voice and life of their own is absolutely utterly stunning. My mind races now with pondering how scenes from the comic, most especially scenes that haven't even been scripted and drawn yet, will manifest in animated form with SFX and an inspiring score?

NRAMA: How long has this animated film project been in the works?

I fear such questioning is a bit premature, as our deal for Mice Templar was only just finalized the week preceding Comic-Con.

NRAMA: How did this deal come about in the first place?

We first spoke with producer Gregg Goldin last August, just before issue #1 hit the stands. Greg was a reader of my work and had known about my creation of Mice Templar for years. When he first contacted us, Cartoon Network was looking for projects to connect to a younger audience, but we all felt Templar was actually a bit more mature than the age group they were shooting for at that time. Eventually, Cartoon Network started looking for more mature audiences and that's when we started talking about Mice again.

BG: It was April, 2008, with four issues on the stands, and Mike and I were just stunned to learn that Gregg was back with a revised pitch based upon an older demographic. That was enough to rekindle our interest, and soon we sent Gregg and his team the entire 25-issue synopsis of the Mice Templar saga, along with the much ballyhooed history. Before we knew it, a pitch was launched to higher executives at CN and negotiations began. The authorization from our agent and lawyer to finalize the deal literally occurred the Friday preceding Comic-Con, so there has been little time for any preproduction to materialize.

NRAMA: By the way, just how many films are we looking at?

Right now, it's just the one for sure, but obviously we are hoping for more if it does well.

BG: I'm just concerned that any attempt to reduce our 25+ issue series into a single film would be a huge mistake. But as it currently stands, there will be no true ending until that 25th issue is realized. My own suggestion to the production team thus far is that a single film could be made of the first two arcs--as the first arc will not end in a cinematically satisfying manner, as we have currently laid it out--yet it would still end on a cliffhanger necessitating a second film to resolve the final arc.

Then again, there are always ways to play with the structure of a story within the confines of a new medium that might just allow the prime
Mice Templar story to play out as a classic fantasy trilogy. We still have to see what decisions are ultimately made.

NRAMA: How involved will you guys be with the development of the project? Are you contributing ideas to the script, storyboards, the character designs, etc?

MO: Its great! Not only are we producers, but we'll be very involved in the project. I think that's important so that we can make sure the film remains true to the spirit of the comic.

BG: Preliminary interaction with the production team has been positive--everyone involved seems genuinely interested in bringing our vision of the comic to the screen.

NRAMA: What format are you guys developing?

MO: It's going to be CGI, I'm not sure of the running time.

NRAMA: Also, Watership Down, The Lord of the Rings and the Bible are primary influences for the book. Is the planned animated film(s) targeted at kids or will it/they have an all-ages feel?

BG: As far as the written word goes, those are my primary influences as writer. I'm sure Mike will chime in with the animated version of The Secret of NIMH, Watership Down and the Peter Jackson theatrical version of The Lord of the Rings. In our own ways, Mike and I both grew up on epic fantasy, and for me the literary works of Richard Adams were landmark. Many anthropomorphic characters have displayed heart over the years, but it was Adams that gave them a soul in such works as Watership Down, The Plague Dogs, Shardik and Traveler. The challenge for us has been to create this mouse culture that remains in touch with its rodent roots, even as its heroes reach for the sky. The works of Tolkien then set the stage for fantasy as grand opera, wherein unlikely heroes find themselves upon impossible quests, carrying great burdens, and setting themselves against ancient evils that set in motion before its heroes were born all of the doom they must now overcome. The Lord of the Rings is the bar against which all other fantasy endeavors must be measured; and only the fans can ultimately judge if any such work is revised plagiarism or a worthy successor on the field it originally plowed. And lastly, I would say it is the Judeo-Christian virtues of the Bible that give The Mice Templar its spiritual heart; there are many heroes throughout myth and literature, but few resonate with the reality of the human condition as those who struggle throughout the Old and New Testaments.

NRAMA: How are you ensuring that Mice Templar will not be just an animated version of The Lord of the Rings film trilogy? Okay, I'm not saying that it's not a good thing but surely you have a vision for the project, no? Other than the fact that it features mice as armored warriors...

Overall, we are telling a vastly different story. The journey of Karic is unique. He is not Frodo, he's not Luke Skywalker; his destiny isn't going to quite fit the Joseph Campbell "Heroes Journey." From a purely visual perspective, Mice Templar will have all of the visual cues--from epic sieges and battles, to internal doubts manifesting in spectacular disaster--but in the end, it is the heart and soul of our characters revealed through the distinct choices they make that separate them from all that have come before.

NRAMA: What can you tell us about the storyline?

Again, too many factors are still too premature to ponder. The 25-issue saga of The Mice Templar is definitely the story of Karic, and Cartoon Network is definitely looking to tell his story. Yet Karic's story is ultimately told in comic form through three distinctive arcs, each conveying a distinct step in his evolution as a character: “The Prophecy”; “Destiny”; and concluding with “Legend”. Our plan has always been to set up various cliche's of the fantasy genre, only to then turn them, or spin them, in a new and distinctive direction--Karic is never going to end up in the role you expect him to fulfill at any given moment of the story. For those following the first arc in comic form, they know full well now that the first three issues were about setting up a classic formula, while the subsequent three are all about twisting expectations. We can only hope at this time that our storytelling direction translates to the screen so that the audience never quite knows what to expect or how the saga of Karic will truly end.

NRAMA: When is the film scheduled to hit the TV screens?

I cannot imagine anything earlier than 2010, which should allow the comic series to reach its conclusion before the animated version appears.

NRAMA: For the comic book series, what have you guys planned? What can we look forward to in the coming months?

I'm wrapping up issue #6, and then taking a very short break until the next arc. We had scheduling problems last year, and then again early this year, which I want to avoid

BG: First comes the conclusion of the first arc, “The Prophecy”. At the end of issue #6, fans should have a complete reversal of their expectations on what the cliche' of the fantasy "Chosen One" actually means.

MO: The HC trade comes out in October! And we're looking to get the next arc started in early '09. I'm thinking of getting out a sketchbook between now and then to hold people over.

BG: The second arc, “Destiny”, is probably closer to what many were expecting from the series as a whole, but when all is ultimately revealed, fans will realize the absolute necessity of the tale beginning in the way in which we presented it. The second arc is where Karic learns that it isn't always a good thing to be called the "Chosen One." The action quotient is going to go through the roof, as Karic exchanges his dubious mentor Pilot for Cassius, a mouse of sheer action and attitude. Cassius is my favorite character in the series--seen only via flashback in issue #1, and then as a menacing potential antagonist in issues #2-#6--as the overall saga is revealed to be as much about his story as it is that of Karic.

NRAMA: Thank you for your time, guys. Congrats again.

It was great talking with you. And remember that you can visit the official comic website at: And you can get all the latest Mice Templar news, as well as everything else going on with my work by joining my mailing list; just write to me and ask to join:

The Spirit Art School Program Announced

Announced last week by Lionsgate, but here is the official press release:

Lionsgate, a leading next generation filmed entertainment studio, today announced that it will partner with nine prestigious art schools nationwide in THE SPIRIT Art School Program, which will present nine student-designed advertising campaigns for the upcoming film THE SPIRIT, written for the screen and directed by Frank Miller, creator of 300 and SIN CITY. The campaigns will be unveiled throughout the summer in the individual cities that are home to the nine schools. THE SPIRIT Art School Program will launch this weekend at the annual Comic-Con convention in San Diego, when The Art Institute of California-San Diego introduces its campaign. The announcement was made jointly by Lionsgate Co-Presidents of Theatrical Marketing Sarah Greenberg and Tim Palen, and Deborah Del Prete and Gigi Pritzker, co-principals of Odd Lot Entertainment and production partners with Lionsgate on THE SPIRIT.

"We are very excited and proud to be partnering with these nine superb arts educators on this innovative program," said Greenberg and Palen. "Will Eisner and his masterpiece, THE SPIRIT, were great influences to me. THE SPIRIT Art School Program gives students at these nine institutions a terrific showcase for their work, and it’s also a wonderful way to continue the cross-generational exchange of ideas that is so important to every art form." said Frank Miller.

The college-level facilities participating in
THE SPIRIT Art School Program are: The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandise in Los Angeles; School of the Art Institute of Chicago; The Art Institute of New York; The Art Institute of California – San Francisco; The Art Institute of California – San Diego, Miami Ad School; The Art Institute of Washington; The Art Institute of Philadelphia; and The New England Institute of Art. The schools were provided with creative assets from the Lionsgate marketing portfolio, and were given wide artistic latitude in interpreting THE SPIRIT to design a campaign that was pertinent and unique to their cities. The program is spearheaded by Danielle Della Corna, Director of Media and Promotion for Lionsgate.

The first of
THE SPIRIT Art School Program advertising campaigns will be unveiled at this weekend’s Comic-Con, the annual celebration of all things comic-oriented. The Art Institute of California - San Diego has created a series of specially designed SPIRIT cups, which will be used at all the Comic-Con concession stands. The cups bear the unique signatures of the films four femmes fatales: Silken Floss, Sand Saref, Ellen Dolan and Lorelei Rox. And San Diegans will learn that they are now being protected by the masked crusader as SPIRIT Neighborhood Watch signs are posted in strategic locations around the city.

The Fallen Confirmed for Transformers Sequel

MTV talked to IDW Publishing, which is working on a five-part prequel miniseries to Michael Bay's Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen titled "Transformers: Destiny" that will bridge the gap between the first and second movie. What IDW Publishing says confirms the rumor that "The Fallen" in the title is indeed the villain:

"[We're going to] explore the background of The Fallen — the main villain of the movie — as well as expand on the 'Reign of Starscream' story that we're doing and tie everything in to what this next movie is going to be," explained writer Chris Mowry, who partners on the book with artist Alex Milne. "The next movie starts out with just tons of action and there’s obviously going to be a lot of questions, so we’re hoping to answer some of those beforehand."

For more of the interview, click here!

Warner Aiming At Super Max?

Writer/director David S. Goyer told SCI FI Wire that Warner Brothers likes his draft for Super Max, a proposed film centering on the DC Comics superhero Green Arrow, and that they seem prepared to move ahead with the movie.

"The studio really likes the script," Goyer said in an interview at Comic-Con International in San Diego over the weekend, where he was promoting his upcoming horror film The Unborn. "Green Arrow seems to be one of the characters in the wake of this phenomenal summer ... book-ended by Iron Man and The Dark Knight [for which Goyer received a story credit]. I know that [for] Warner Brothers, Green Arrow is one of the characters that they're really interested in [and] seem to be interested in moving forward with next."

Super Max centers on Green Arrow, who finds himself framed, stripped of his identity and imprisoned in a high-security penitentiary for supervillains, with whom he must team up to clear his name and escape.

"It started out as a supervillain-escape idea, and the idea was, well, we can either go Marvel or DC," Goyer said of the genesis of the idea. "And I talked to both of them, and I kind of said, 'Well, who can you give me?' Because I needed a superhero that I can bounce off of. And I don't know. For my money it was, if we went Marvel, it would be Captain America. If we went DC, maybe Green Arrow. And Green Arrow seemed like the best fit."

Goyer added that Warner seems all the more eager to move forward with a movie based on the second-tier comic hero in the wake of Iron Man, which is also based on a second-tier hero (unlike Spider-Man or The Incredible Hulk).

"Green Arrow is, you know, probably on the same level as Iron Man," Goyer said. "And, yeah, I mean when a movie like Iron Man does $300 million, and DC, Warner Brothers, realizes, 'Wow, we've got 20 of these kinds of characters.' I don't know, it's an interesting twist, though, because Super Max didn't start out as a Green Arrow project."

Wonder Woman animated movie site

Just a promotional image for the new animated Wonder Woman movie. Hopefully a lot more to come.

New Images Of "Batman: The Complete Animated Series" DVD Collection

Warner Home Video has released new images of the upcoming Batman: The Complete Animated Series DVD collection.

To view on the images, click on the thumbnails below.

More 'Hulk vs Wolverine' footage

Another look at the superhero brawl between Hulk and Wolverine in the upcoming animated movie.

DreamWorks' 2Q profit falls, but "Panda" kicks in

This summer's hit film "Kung Fu Panda" helped DreamWorks Animation SKG's second-quarter profit exceed Wall Street expectations, although figures fell sharply from the same period a year ago, the studio announced Tuesday.

The computer animation studio made $27.5 million (30 cents per share) in the quarter, down from $61.8 million (60 cents per share) the previous year, when profits from Shrek The Third were a major factor.

DWA earned 28 cents per share (excluding some items), about five cents above analysts' predictions.

Revenue fell to $140.8 million in the second quarter of this year from $222.5 million in the same period a year ago. Kung Fu Panda contributed $46.4 million to the latest figures. On average, analysts had predicted revenue of $121.8 million.

The results show a 55% drop in net profit and a 37% drop in revenue from the same quarter a year ago.

Kung Fu Panda is the studio's most successful non-sequel since the company went public in 2004, CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg said. He said that the movie is already the most successful animated film in China's box-office history, and that international receipts will make it the primary driver of third-quarter earnings for the studio.

The film has grossed over $500 million worldwide since its June 6 release, including about $210 million at the domestic box office, the company said.

A scheduled DVD release of Panda in November is expected to make the film the main contributor of fourth-quarter earnings, too.

However, there are no definite plans for a sequel, said Katzenberg, who ascribed the delay to "the snowballing of the success of the film."

"We're not ready to say yes, but there's lots of enthusiasm" for a sequel, he told analysts, adding that it would be "premature to push the button on it."

If a sequel is made, it would be released in 2001, president and chief financial officer Lew Coleman said.

DreamWorks warned, however, that its third-quarter earnings could be hit by higher international marketing costs. That factor would increase the amount that its distributor, Viacom, needs to regain before DreamWorks gets any revenue from a film.

Shrek the Third was the second-largest contributor to corporate earnings in the quarter. Thanks mostly to domestic pay TV, it contributed $29.9 million. As of the end of the quarter, 20.3 million DVD units of the sequel have been shipped worldwide.

Bee Movie provided only $25.5 million in earnings over the second quarter. About 7.1 million DVDs of the title have been shipped internationally.

The 2006 movies Flushed Away and Over The Hedge contributed $7.3 million and $5.4 million, respectively. Another $21 million came from DreamWorks Animation library titles.

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa will reach theaters November 7. In September, a $25 million Shrek the Musical stage play opens in Seattle, heading to Broadway in December. Costing $150 million to $170 million to produce, the sequel probably will experience a 10% high in marketing costs to over $190 million due to the weak American dollar, Katzenberg said.

Meanwhile, Katzenberg announced that Coleman has extended his contract through 2011, and that executive chairman Roger Enrico will become non-executive chairman.

The studio said that it has authorized a $150 million stock repurchase after having bought $88 million worth at an average price of $24 per share.

DreamWorks Animation said that it plans to spend $85 million over two years to expand its Glendale, California animation studio, including upgrading 3D capabilities.

Katzenberg said he anticipates that as many as 3,000 3D screens -- half the total screens that it will debut on -- will be available for release of Monsters vs. Aliens next March.

The company hopes that theater owners will charge $3 to $7 extra for 3-D screenings, allowing more profits for the studio.

"We clearly want them to charge as much as they think they can and maintain the audience," Coleman told Associated Press. "It will be an experiment in price elasticity."

DreamWorks Animation shares closed Tuesday at $31.29.

Toei Animation rises following profitable quarter

Shares in Toei Animation Co. rose the most in nine months in early trading Wednesday after an announcement that quarterly net income almost doubled from the same period last year.

Stock gained 170 yen (8.1%) to 2,260 yen at 9:54 a.m. on Tokyo's Jasdaq Securities Exchange, the biggest increase since October 23.

The Tokyo-based company is responsible for the Dragonball animation franchise.

Net income for the quarter ended June 30 reached 564 million yen ($5.2 million) from the same time in 2007, with a 12% increase in sales, Toei Animation said in a release to the exchange Tuesday.

The profit reached 38% Toei's company's annual target of 1.5 billion yen.

It credited the upturn in profit to higher licensing revenue, particularly from original characters appearing on pachinko machines.

Domestic licensing sales in the first quarter zoomed to 1.7 billion yen from 1 billion yen a year ago, said company spokesman Keisuke Shirasaki.

Toei stock has declined 5.8% this year, far less than a 12% drop in the national Topix index.

"First-quarter results seem rather positive, including the apparent earnings stability," Morgan Stanley analyst Hironori Tanaka wrote in a report Tuesday, maintaining his rating on the firm at "equalweight."

A North American expansion of Toei's Pretty Cure cartoons, now in negotiations, could drive earnings growth for the company, Tanaka added.

Chuck Jones & Michael Maltese's MARVIN THE MARTIAN To Mount Return Invasion Of Earth Cinemas For Warner Bros.!!

Marvin The Martian, soft-spoken but bloodthirsty interplanetary nemesis of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, is getting his own live-action/CGI feature.

Marvin previously sought to destroy Earth because it blocked his view of Venus. For the feature he will for some reason seek to destroy Christmas.

Marvin is no stranger to cinemas, having starred in numerous Warner Bros. shorts starting with 1948's "Haredevil Hare," directed by Chuck Jones from a story by Michael Maltese. The martian's resume also includes "The Hasty Hare" (1951), "Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century" (1953), "Hare-Way to the Stars" (1958) and "Mad as a Mars Hare" (1963).

Writers are being sought for the project.

Read all of Variety’s story on the matter here.

SDCC 08: Still Want a Copy of Who Is Rocket Johnson?

The comic book anthology Who Is Rocket Johnson? brings together numerous Disney artists and directors to help raise money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Besides looking great, it's for a great cause.

One copy sold on eBay for over 500 dollars, and the rest of the limited print run of 1000 copies were made available at the San Diego Comic Con for $20. If you still want to get your hands on a copy, get in contact with Stuart Ng in California or The Labyrinth in Toronto while quantities last!

The Harry Potter 6 Teaser Trailer!

Warner Bros. Pictures has revealed the new teaser trailer for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, hitting conventional theaters and IMAX on November 21! Directed by David Yates from a script by Steven Kloves, the anticipated sixth installment stars Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Helena Bonham Carter, David Bradley, Robbie Coltrane, Warwick Davis, Tom Felton, Michael Gambon, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, Natalia Tena, Julie Walters, David Thewlis, Evanna Lynch, Matthew Lewis, Bonnie Wright, Jim Broadbent, Helen McCrory, Jessie Cave, Hero Fiennes Tiffin and Frank Dillane.

You can watch the teaser trailer in High Definition QuickTime and Flash Player format here!

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