Thursday, July 31, 2008

News - 07/31/08...

2008 SDCC Day 3: DC Animated Movies (Wonder Woman Trailer Added)

DC Comics senior VP for creative affairs, Gregory Noveck, is moderating a panel of both the production staff and creative talent behind some of DC's recent animation features to discuss the past and future of DC animation. Others on the panel include Paul Levitz, president of DC, Bruce Timm, executive producer, Lauren Montgomery, director and voice director Andrea Romano and Nathan Fillion. This report is being brought to you live, so hit refresh often for updates.

All three of DC's recent releases - Superman Doomsday, Justice League: The New Frontier and Batman Gotham Knight - have been very successful. They provide an excellent start to DC's animated division, ensuring that there will be many future projects.

Wonder Woman is coming in February 2009 to DVD!

Saturday morning cartoons force a limited amount of story telling due to the restrictions of advertising commitments. The crew on JLU and Batman, particularly Bruce Timm, did a great job but the DVD format lets stories be told that appeal to a more adult market without outside, artificial restrictions like scheduling commercial breaks.

The DVD format allows for more stylized story telling and art. This led naturally to Gotham Knight.

There are several projects in the pipeline that can't be revealed yet.

For Wonder Woman, Nathan Fillion will be voicing Steve Trevor. Alfred Molina is also part of the cast.

A special two-disc with 128 minutes of extra content will be released on November 25 for Superman Doomsday.

Wonder Woman will premier at an upcoming con, to be selected later. The story is by Gail Simmone. This is an original take, true to the feel of the comic character but not based on any prior story.

Molina is Ares and Oliver Platt is Hades. Rosaria Dawson is Hippolites.

Wonder Woman is a strong female character who is able to project dominance and power without trying to be a man. She is muscular and strong but not manly.

There will be multiple releases - single and two disc special Blue Ray version.

There are more Batman DVDs planned. Nightfall is not on the schedule at this time. When Worlds Collide is under discussion and may be produced.

A Kingdom Come, CG project with Alex Ross is under consideration.

A Long Halloween is also under discussion.

DC won't do a project until it can be done right. Time constraints and artistic limitations are factors.

Bruce Timm is interested in doing a Catwoman animated movie and removing the stain of the live action movie.

Teen Titans: Judas Contract is a project that is discussed, but fan interest on the forums seems limited.

In order for a project to be okayed, the producers must think that several hundred thousand people will see it in the first few weeks. If there isn't that fan interest to begin with, the project won't move forward.

The current animated movie projects are intentionally being done in different artistic styles.

It easier for the movie makers to get well known actors casted because the producers who make the final decisions are already familiar with the abilities and of the actors. A lot of movie actors like doing voice work since the nature of the work is much easier and less time consuming. These actors are also interested in doing projects that they can show to their children.

The Wonder Woman movie has a lot of battles. The action is more intense than in the prior DC projects.

It's a possibility to see more JL Unlimited DVDs in the future. It really depends on sales of the current releases.

The current project is an adaptation of an existing comicbook, but they can't reveal just what it is now.

4th World New Gods is under consideration as a series or a DVD.

MPAA sues site linking to illegal "Kung Fu Panda"

A Web site offering a link to an illegal download of "Kung Fu Panda" and other movies now in theaters is being sued by the Motion Picture Association of America for copyright infringement. (Free Online Movie DataBase) is one of two sites sued by the MPAA in Los Angeles. is the other.

The suits were filed Monday in United States District Court in Los Angeles for damages and injunctive relief for violations under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976.

With servers located in Charlotte, North Carolina and Chicago, respectively, Fomdb and Movierumor attract over 27,000 unique visitors per day who view over 97,000 pages of content.

The association, which represents major Hollywood movie studios, said that it sued the two sites because they make money from ads while providing links to illegal movie downloads.

"The purpose of these lawsuits is to stop this kind of blatant illegal activity," said MPAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Kaltman. The MPAA filed suit after cease-and-desist letters to the Web sites weren't answered, she added.

"There are many people operating illegal Web sites like these who are profiting from the theft of protected content," the MPAA said in a release. "We have every intention of shutting down these, and sites like them, for good."

The Web sites did not reply to requests for comment.

According to the MPAA, lawsuits have been filed against seven similar sites since June 2007. A federal judge in Los Angeles awarded multimillion-dollar judgments in May to film studios against and for infringing copyrighted movies and TV shows.

In 2005, the MPAA said, the international movie industry lost $18.2 billion U.S. to piracy, including over $7 billion from Internet piracy. More than $11 billion is attributed to hard goods piracy, including bootlegging and illegal copying.

The association's members include Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Paramount Pictures Corporation, Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc., Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Universal City Studios LLLP and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Three weeks ago, Kung Fu Panda got owners of a video store in East Naples, Florida in hot water after investigators from the Collier County Sheriff's Office said that they were caught selling bootleg DVDs of this and other films.

Midnight Video owners Yoandry Ponce, 26, and Lida Castillo, 29, both of Fort Myers, Florida, were arrested July 10. The two, who are "domestic partners," each were charged with one count of passing counterfeit audio visual articles, a felony.

The Sheriff's Office stated that early this month, investigators received an anonymous tip that the store may be selling counterfeit DVDs. Deputies learned that Midnight Video may have a book listing of movies for sale that haven't been officially released to the public.

Customers could choose a title from the book, which was shown in plain view, and one of the owners would get a copy of it from the back of the store, reports said.

Posing as a customer, an MPAA field investigator entered the store and asked to see the book, which contained color photos of such movies as Kung Fu Panda. She then asked to buy a copy of Get Smart, said Detective Tom Muscato of the Sheriff's Office's Economic Crimes Unit.

"The first trip in, the guy said, 'I don’t have a clear copy of that one yet. Come back another day,'" Muscato said.

The next day, the investigator returned to the store and asked for a copy of Get Smart. Ponce handed her one from behind the counter and sold it for $5, with no tax charged, authorities said.

Entering the store, investigators found 250 counterfeit DVDs in plain white envelopes in plain sight. Another 14,100 were found in the back, authorities said.

Obviously, the DVDs of in-theater movies were filmed by someone sitting in a theater with a video camera, Muscato said.

"It's crappy quality. It's really bad," he told the Naples Daily News.

"You can tell that's just what it is. There are other sounds around you.... It's distorted. It's terrible quality."

Ponce denied burning the DVDs, claiming that someone else sold them to him, Muscato said.

"He wouldn't give me a name," Muscato said. "I think they were burning them themselves, but he wouldn't admit to it."

WB Took Pains To "Delay" Pirating of Dark Knight

The L.A. Times is reporting on a new studio tactic — not to prevent piracy, but to delay it, as was the case with special tactics used with Dark Knight. 'Warner Bros. executives said the extra vigilance paid off, helping to prevent camcorded copies of the reported $180-million film from reaching Internet file-sharing sites for about 38 hours. Although that doesn't sound like much progress, it was enough time to keep bootleg DVDs off the streets as the film racked up a record-breaking $158.4 million on opening weekend. The movie has now taken in more than $300 million. The success of an anti-piracy campaign is measured in the number of hours it buys before the digital dam breaks.

You know what else helps to have a big opening weekend? Making a good movie.

Hong Kong Mad at The Dark Knight

Oh sorry looks like we’re back at talking about The Dark Knight. See, I do have a love/hate relationship with this film.

This is so retarded that it has to be brought to your attention, a writer for the Hong Kong-based newspaper South China Morning Post (publishing since 1908) wrote a piece about his discomfort on the portrayal of Hong Kong in The Dark Knight.

The writer expresses sadness that money gets laundered in HK (it does, by much richer men than the mobsters of Gotham), a place where only criminals hang-out and that Nolan and crew only went for the Infernal Affairs HK mythology. (Which I prefer as its much closer to the truth than the Enter the Dragon comparison, no, nobody is kung fu fighting in the streets.)

For what its worth, Nolan mentioned that he did in fact write a draft of The Dark Knight in Hong Kong as the city inspired him, and was inspired enough to return to film a sequence in the city; kind of as a ‘give-back’ - but in typical Hong Kong mentality, people complained anyways: complained that Christian Bale didn’t wear the Bat-outfit when they were filming, complained that there wasn’t enough of HK in the movie, complained when they were asked to leave the lights on for the night when they filmed that big B-52 sequence, and for what?

Nolan gets props in my book for even BOTHERING with this at all (even though I thought it should have been cut) unless it truly is a marketing trick for HK and China to get better box office. Don’t laugh, this is how and why the Robert Deniro/Al Pacino of Japan: Ken Watanabe was used for in Batman Begins. As you recall, Watanabe was used for all of 5 minutes in the first movie as the decoy Ra’s Al Ghul. American audiences might not care, but when you go to see a movie to see your local celebs in a big US movie you expect a little more. And don’t start me on Edison Chen’s supposed cameo in The Dark Knight - the Justin Timberlake/Paris Hilton of Hong Kong. (Go ahead and Google him, NSFW though)

The South China Morning Post is a paid site - but we were able to get a clipping of it below:

Film Studies: cinema city
Clarence Tsui
Updated on Jul 24, 2008

It’s a city where American mob money can be stashed, laundered and toyed with to maximise returns for its shady owners; an international legal black hole in which wanted felons can simply disappear, as the city’s authorities would never extradite “one of their own”. And don’t trust the cops, either: they’re in the pay of criminal overlords who bemoan the police for being slow to come to their aid despite the fact they’ve been in the underworld’s pay for so long.

Viewers across the world are transported to this city in The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan’s latest outing in the Batman franchise. But if you’re thinking of Gotham, think again, it’s closer to home than that: welcome to 21st century Hong Kong (pictured).

It’s ironic that The Dark Knight has succumbed to Hollywood norms about how to portray Asian cities, given that it’s an otherwise thoughtful study of the complex nature of heroism and social justice - and a great story with nuanced characters and superb acting.

With the blockbusters Nolan now produces, perhaps he hasn’t got the time to reach beyond Infernal Affairs and the Election diptych for inspiration. Then again, it’s not as if he’s the only filmmaker who has bought into the well-worn urban iconography of Hong Kong.

Likewise the landlord of the building that Batman jumps off is PISSED that they didn’t get more mention even when the movie made them look like incompetents having Batman just swing in there and take off:

Well, we’ve heard talk that a certain major landlord was disappointed about not getting credited in the movie. Also, there have been mutterings that some of our more spectacular buildings, such as the IFC2, were shown for only a few seconds while most Hong Kong landlords had complied to a request from the movie makers to keep the lights on well into the early morning for a week during filming last November.

One landlord even complained: “The movie makes us look stupid security-wise. We are not a major crime city but our security is much better than portrayed in the film.”

When the Batman crew decided to film around IFC2, many Central property owners were encouraged by Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen and Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Rita Lau Ng Wai-lan to co-operate for the good of the city. At the time, Sun Hung Kai Properties (SEHK: 0016) was keen to comply but not Henderson Land (SEHK: 0012).

The movie makers did thank the people of Hong Kong at the end but we suppose it’s hard to keep everyone happy.

Here’s a 3 minute clip from the press conference back in November 2007 in Hong Kong - watch it for info on a scene that was cut figuring on the dumping of Batman into the HK harbour:

Former Catwoman Says Jolie is Purr-fect to Play Part

Hollywood beauty Angelina Jolie has been tipped to play Catwoman in a future Batman movie - by the actress who made the role famous, Julie Newmar.

Newmar, 74, prowled across the small screen, playing the feline villain in the 1960s Batman television series.

And she would love Jolie to take on the role - if The Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan decides to resurrect the character in a future sequel.

Newmar tells the New York Daily News, "Angelina would own the part. My industry friends tell me (she) has made inquiries about the role. I can understand how it would pique her interest. Catwoman is Batman's one true love. She's tremendously popular with women because she's both a heroine and a villainess."

Since Newmar, the Catwoman role has been played by Eartha Kitt, Lee Meriwether, Halle Berry and Michelle Pfeiffer.

Did Snyder turn down Superman?

In an article from USAToday detailing the future of comic book movies, it's revealed a nice piece of info. "They asked me to direct a Superman movie, and I said no," 300 and Watchmen director Zack Snyder says. "He's a tricky one nowadays, isn't he? He's the king daddy of all comic-book heroes, but I'm just not sure how you sell that kind of earnestness to a sophisticated audience anymore."

Toon Thursday: GAME OVER for TRON's first director

Jim Hill's back with even more news about this eagerly awaited sequel. Including who's replaced Steve Lisberger as the new creative lead on the "TR2N" project

It's been a week now since that "TR2N" teaser trailer ran at Comic-Con. And Disneyana & sci-fi fans are desperate for additional information about this Summer 2010 release.

Well, let me share some info that I'm sure will send all of you "TRON" fanboys out there straight off the Game Grid. Guess who's the real power-behind-the-throne (The Master Control Program, if you will) on this particular Walt Disney Pictures production? Would you believe John Lasseter?

Yep, the Chief Creative Officer of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios has quite the soft spot when it comes to the original "TRON." Lasseter still remembers when he first saw this Steve Lisberger film. Which was back in 1981 when John was just a lowly animator toiling away on "Mickey's Christmas Carol."

One lunch hour while wandering around the Disney lot, Lasseter came upon the trailers where all of the 16 X 20 Kodalith cels that were used in this 1982 production were stored. And it was here that John first saw "TRON" 's lightcycle sequence. And as Lasseter looked at this CG sequence ...

"It absolutely blew me away! A little door in my mind opened up. I looked at it and said, `This is it! This is the future!'"

Mind you, John was quite taken with the look of "TRON" (as well as -- of course -- that film's use of computer animation). But as for that movie's storyline ... Lasseter wasn't really a fan. He felt that Lisberger had missed some obvious opportunities to create a truly compelling piece of entertainment. Something that would have touched an audience's emotions as it dazzled their eyes.

Copyright 1982 Walt Disney Productions. All Rights Reserved

Which is why -- even though Steve (i.e. "TRON" 's original director & co-writer) has spent the past five years developing a script for a sequel -- none of that material will now be used in the production of "TR2N."

Don't get me wrong, folks. Lasseter is still extremely respectful of all the groundbreaking work that Lisberger & his production team did on the first "TRON." Which is why Steve will receive a co-producer credit on this 2010 Walt Disney Pictures release. But as for Lisberger having any real creative input on the sequel ... "GAME OVER !," man.

"So -- if Steve isn't working on the 'TR2N' screenplay anymore -- who is then?," you ask. Well ... Allegedly at John's insistence, Disney hired Eddie Kitsis & Adam Horowitz to create a script for this sequel. Given their long association with "Lost," Kitsis & Horowitz have lots of experience when it comes to guiding colorful characters through surreal settings. Which made Eddie & Adam an obvious choice for the "TR2N" assignment.

And if Lisberger's no longer slated to helm the "TRON" sequel, who's Disney now going to get to direct this movie? Joseph Kosinski. Who has yet to actually direct a full-length feature film but has created some award-winning commercials for Saab, Nike and X-Box.

In fact, if you want to get some sense of the visual look that Joseph wants to bring to "TR2N," click on the above links. Or -- better yet -- check out Kosinski's animated architectural renderings. These will give you a better sense of Joseph's eye. The way this guy moves a camera. Which offers a hint of how truly dazzling a Kosinski-directed version of "TRON" could be.

Speaking of which ... To convince Disney executives that his vision for "TR2N" was commercially viable, Joseph spent six months working in secret with the folks at Digital Domain. Laboring to create a vivid, updated version of "TRON" 's famous lightcycles. With the hope that this three-minute-long sequence would then prove to the suits that a sequel to this 26-year-old film would actually appeal to today's gamers.

Which brings us to Disney Interactive Studios' involvement in the "TR2N" project ... To help prime the pump for this potentially-hugely-profitable profect, Disney's gaming division actually released an Xbox 360 version of those classic arcade games, "TRON" and "Discs of TRON," last summer. Given the huge number of units that were then sold to video game players as well as "TRON" fans ... It was clear that there are a lot of people out there who -- just like John Lasseter -- have a very soft spot in their hearts when it comes to this particular Walt Disney Productions release.
But that said ... There are still those at the Studio who are saying that it may be a mistake to release a "TRON" sequel 28 years after the fact.

Which is kind of ironic, given that Walt Disney Pictures' other big picture for 2010 is also a sequel.

Copyright Disney Pixar. All Rights Reserved

What film am I talking about? "Toy Story 3." Which rolls into theaters nearly 15 years after the first "Toy Story" film debuted.

So what do you folks think? Do you think that "TR2N" has a better chance of becoming a truly entertaining motion picture now that you've learned that John Lasseter is shepherding this project? Or is it just too late for a "TRON" sequel to connect with today's audiences?

Charitable Auctions for Signed Spirit Posters!

Lionsgate has kicked-off eBay charitable auctions for signed posters from The Spirit signed by Gabriel Macht at the San Diego Comic-Con and benefiting the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. The winning bidders will receive studio certified posters signed by the Macht along with a signed letter verifying their authenticity. The auctions begin today and will continue through the weekend, ending on August 4th.

To view the auctions, click on the link you are interested in below!

The Sand Saref (Eva Mendes) Poster

The Ellen Dolan (Sarah Paulson) Poster

The Lorelei Rox (Jaime King) Poster

The Silken Floss (Scarlett Johannson) Poster

Trek's Pine Talks Kirk

Chris Pine, who takes on the iconic role of James T. Kirk in J.J. Abrams' upcoming Star Trek reboot movie, revealed to SCI FI Wire a bit of his character's arc--and added that he has a bit of a familial connection to the original Kirk, William Shatner.

"I think people will be surprised" with Abrams' film, Pine said in an interview on July 29 in Beverly Hills, Calif., while promoting the film Bottle Shock. "I think what J.J. has created--and what we've been a part of--is really the birth of these characters. ... Not only their individual journeys and how they all meet, [but also] the forging of those relationships and how it carries on to the five-year mission."

Pine added that Abrams and writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci "infuse these characters with as much humanity as possible, so not only are you getting the big effects you would expect from a blockbuster, but also something of a character movie, which I think is difficult to do, and I think we've done extremely well."

Pine also praised co-star Zachary Quinto, who plays Spock. "People will be blown away," Pine said. "Zach is great. Between him and Karl Urban and the rest of the cast, ... they've really captured who these characters are."

Pine added that he got Shatner's blessing before taking the role. "I wrote him a letter in the beginning of the process and introduced myself, and said hello, just to make a connection, because I didn't know him at all," Pine said. "And he was very nice, and he was very gracious and sent me a letter back, and that's the only contact we've had. ... Except my father--in the first week I got the Star Trek project--did a Priceline commercial with William Shatner, so there was multi-generational contact with Mr. Shatner."

Star Trek is slated to open May 8, 2009.

SDCC: Rick Baker on The Wolfman talked to special makeup effects guru Rick Baker at the San Diego Comic-Con this weekend about creating the creature effects for Universal Pictures' The Wolfman, coming to theaters on April 3 and starring Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt and Hugo Weaving.

You can read the interview here!

Meanwhile, the site also got an update from director David Goyer on his adaptation of Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden's graphic novel "Baltimore, or The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire."

You can read that here!

NOTE: In addition, at Aint It, you can read Quint's interview with Baker where he expresses his disappointment concerning the Wolfman transformation being all CGI.

Newsarama Interviews FUNimation's Gen Fukunaga

Newsarama's Animated Shorts has interviewed FUNimation President and CEO Gen Fukunaga about the firm's continuing success when the general trend in the anime market suggests a decline. Fukunaga discusses the recent acquisitions of titles from Geneon and ADV, their plans for utilizing new methods and technologies to deliver content, how they have achieved growth when the rest of the industry seems to be shrinking, and their other plans for the future.

Year of the Fish Swims to U.S. Theaters

Filmmaker David Kaplan’s independent animated feature Year of the Fish will have a limited U.S. theatrical engagement starting on Aug. 29. The modern-day, adult adaptation of Cinderella is set in New York City’s Chinatown and is takes place in a massage parlor specializing in “happy endings”. The English-language film will open in five cities and platform into 30 cities.

The fantasy, romance and suspense story revolves around an optimistic young girl travels alone to New York City where she hopes to earn money to send home to her ailing father. Expecting work in a beauty salon, the girl is instead delivered into the hands of her father’s distant cousin, an embittered woman who runs a seedy massage parlor. When she refuses to do the requisite sex work, the girl accepts her fate as the operation’s browbeaten servant, her only solace a magical goldfish given to her by a sidewalk fortuneteller.

Year of the Fish was created with a layered animation style designed to evoke a painting come to life. The film’s voice cast includes Ken Leung (Lost, X-Men: The Last Stand, Rush Hour), Tsai Chin (The Joy Luck Club), acclaimed Broadway vet Randall Duk Kim (The Matrix Reloaded, the upcoming Dragonball).

Nick Jr. Headed for Big Screen

Nickelodeon and National Amusements will bring Nick. Jr. shows to theaters in the U.S. this summer with a preschool movie program dubbed “Nick Jr. at the Movies," Kicking off on July 31 in 36 theaters nationwide, the lineup will include episodes of the animated hits Dora the Explorer, The Backyardigans, The Wonder Pets! and Go, Diego, Go!—all reformatted for large-screen projection. Young viewers will also enjoy sing-along music videos and interstitials from Nickelodeon's preschool brands.

“With the introduction of ‘Nick Jr. at the Movies,’ families will have even more entertainment choices at our theatres, yet another step toward the goal of transforming our theatres into community entertainment destinations,” comments Shari Redstone, president of National Amusements.

“We've found from talking to families that they are looking for fun opportunities to get out of the house and enjoy age-appropriate moviegoing experiences with their kids,” adds Howard Smith, exec VP of Nickelodeon Recreation. “We've formatted some of the best Nick Jr. adventures for the big screen so kids and their caregivers can experience their favorite characters in a whole new venue.”

Nick Jr. at the Movies will run in National Amusement theaters in 12 states, including California, Connecticut, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Virginia. The 50-minute programs will run Thursday and Saturday mornings at 10 a.m., each featuring two episodes of hit Nick Jr. shows. Eight different programs will be introduced in 2008 with more coming in 2009. Tickets are $6.00 per person. For more information, including a schedule of shows, go to

Comic-Blog ’08: New BET Animation

Reggie Hudlin, president of BET (Black Entertainment Television), unveiled footage from the upcoming BET Animation series including the The Black Panther and Hannibal The Conqueror at Comic-Con in San Diego over the weekend. Both series look very promising, stylishly bringing to the screen adult-oriented action animation with strong African-American appeal. Hudlin led a panel discussion featuring Denys Cowan, senior VP of BET Animation; Eric Rollman, president of Marvel Animation; Cort Lane of Marvel Animation; and Black Panther comic-book artist John Romita Jr.

The Black Panther is slated to debut on BET in February. The footage screened involved a rival tribe advancing on Wakanda, the fictional Aftican kingdom of the Black Panther, a black superhero created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in the mid-1960s. As the warriors make their way through tall, brown grass, they begin to fall prey to elaborate spring traps that snap shut on their abdomens, impaling them with sharp spikes. “Jaws of the Panther,” they're called. Arrows then black out the sky and shower down upon them, further reducing their numbers. We didn’t get to see the Black Panther himself, except for some rough animation featured in a behind-the-scenes look at the production process. Obviously done on a modest budget, the animation nonetheless looks great. It’s more focused on strong artwork and veers away from the Saturday-morning cartoon look that marks many of Marvel’s other animated properties.

“We’re doing something that’s never been done before—actually bringing a comic book to life,” Rudlin proclaimed. “A lot of comics have been adapted for the screen, but we often hear ‘It’s great, but I wish it looked like the art of Jack Kirby or various other comic artists.’”

(Ed. note: Apparently Hudlin has never seen 1966's Marvel's Superheroes, featuring Captain America, The Hulk, Thor, Sub Mariner and Iron Man, or MTV's The Maxx, both of which used artwork and panel layouts directly from the books.)

The series is being animated by Titmouse, the Los Angeles-based studio that currently produces the Adult Swim series Metalocalypse. Titmouse is using After Effects to animate the art of John Romita Jr. from the comic-book series Who is the Black Panther? The first six episodes of the show will come directly from the comics, which Rudlin wrote.

“I got chills watching it,” Romita said of the footage shown. “I was very proud of the work, but it also just makes sense to do it that way.”

Action film star Vin Diesel is working with BET to bring storied African military leader Hannibal of Carthage to the screen with Hannibal the Conqueror. Hannibal is perhaps best known for scaling the Alps with an army of elephants to challenge the Roman Empire, but the series aims to highlight other aspects of the general’s extraordinary life and career. The show will delve into his tutelage as a warrior under his father, the king of Carthage, as well as his history-making invasions of Spain and England.

The brief bit of Hannibal animation that was screened also looked like comic-book art brought to life. A lot of it was unfinished, but successfully portrayed the epic scale of the project and offered a taste of cool things to come. Hudlin noted that they are toying with the idea of putting together a study guide for the series so it can be used in schools to help teach ancient history. He added that they are also in discussions with comic-book publishers to launch the property in that arena.

BET has several other animated shows in development, but Rudlin and company didn’t offer any tidbits of information, only mentioning that the network has been in discussions with such animation shops as Film Roman, Mike Young Prods. and Wild Brain.

INTERVIEW: COMIC-CON 2008: EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: The Cast of The Spectacular Spider-Man Speak Out

While at Comic-Con, we had the chance to talk one-on-one with the creative talents behind the newest incarnation of Marvel's web-spinning hero, The Spectacular Spider-Man. The animated series airs Saturday mornings and takes a classic look at the character, but updated for modern times.

We had the chance to talk to Greg Weisman, the supervising producer behind the show, Vic Cook, supervising director and producer, Jaime Thomason, the vocal director and casting director and Michael Vogel from Sony Pictures Animation. On top of that, we spoke to Josh Keaton (Peter Parker/Spider-Man), Vanessa Marshall (Mary Jane Watson) and Ben Diskin (Eddie Brock/Venom).

Click on the players below to watch the interviews.

Greg Weisman

Director Victor Cook

Michael Vogel

Josh Keaton

Vanessa Marshall

Ben Diskin

The Spectacular Spider-Man airs Saturday mornings on The CW network.

Mr. Beaks Enlists in THE CLONE WARS with Director Dave Filoni!!

Reporter 'Mr. Beaks' from aintitcoolnews, talks with STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS director, Dave Filoni

Every time I think I'm done with STAR WARS, they pull me back in!!!

I wasn't supposed to conduct this interview with Dave Filoni, the director of STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS (which is the second animated take on this chunk of the STAR WARS saga); basically, I was just sitting outside of one of the press rooms transcribing another interview when WB's Orna Pickens reminded me that AICN had a 1:1 scheduled with Filoni, and that it was to begin in five minutes. Knowing Quint and Capone were off doing interviews of their own, I nervously jumped in to chat with the director, hoping I could hold my own without having seen the Lucasfilm panel eariler in the day. What I failed to consider was that, deep down, this would just be a back-and-forth between two lifelong STAR WARS fans. I can do that in my sleep. Hell, I probably have done that in my sleep.

In other words, what started as an off-the-cuff interview essentially turned into, I think, a very worthwhile conversation about the challenges of a) creating within a bookended universe (THE CLONE WARS takes place between ATTACK OF THE CLONES and REVENGE OF THE SITH), b) differentiating this version from the hyper-stylized "micro-series" dreamt up by Genndy Tartakovsky, and c) finding the light in what is inherently a tale of defeat. I was surprised to find myself fully engaged, and, ultimately, very excited about the direction of the STAR WARS franchise post-prequels. When the publicist came by to break us up after twelve minutes, we were both disappointed; even now, a good, nerdy STAR WARS conversation can go on for hours.

In case you're wondering, the 98-minute STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS that's getting released to theaters on August 15th is the kickoff for the animated series, which is currently slated to premiere this fall on the Cartoon Network and TNT. And without further ado, here's Dave Filoni (you might already be a fan of his work on Nickelodeon's AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER).

Beaks: Every now and then, I encounter folks in the press room who've been coming to Comic Con for years as fans, and now they're on the other side of it.

Dave Filoni:
It's crazy, huh?

Beaks: And maybe some kind of validation for the fans.

Yeah. Hopefully, they'll get here, too.

Beaks: I know this is terribly superficial, but the one thing that gets me every time I see the CLONE WARS trailer is that this is the first STAR WARS movie we'll see without the 20th Century Fox fanfare. (Filoni laughs) I know, I know... it means nothing at all, it's still a Lucasfilm production, but... it still takes some getting used to.

(Laughing)It's still Star Wars, but it is something. I remember driving home in my car, and one of the nice things about the soundtracks is that they have that fanfare at the beginning. When the prequels came around, I was so looking forward to hearing those trumpets call out the Fox fanfare. Being a big fan, and knowing that, with Warner Bros., we're not going to have that, I thought really long and hard about what the heck we're going to do to try to bridge that gap. That's part of STAR WARS. The solution came from a surprising source. I think the sound guys - Matthew Wood, David Acord and Juan Peralta - came up with an interesting thing to do at the beginning of the movie. At the very least, it lets you know that it's STAR WARS, but... in a different way. I watched what they did, and it kind of struck me. So I said, "Let's just go for it, and see what happens." It's already different, like you said, with the Warner Bros. logo, but I think this will help tie us in, that this is the Clone War.

Have you seen the movie yet?

Beaks: No, I haven't had a chance yet. Everything I've seen has been online. You know, we've been through this chapter once with Tartakovsky's animated series, and now here we are with this. Could you explain how the two will coexist?

The way George explained it to me going in was that THE CLONE WARS micro-series was really an experiment to see what kind of audience there was for Star Wars in an animated form. There have been Droids and Ewoks, but that was a long time ago. So he brought out THE CLONE WARS micro-series, and it was super action-packed and exciting and really short installments. And it proved that people wanted to see STAR WARS in a lot of different mediums. So when we into doing this, I think that, now that George is done with the prequels, he wanted to reestablish the rules a little bit more, like "Mace Windu can't take out hundreds of battle droids by himself, otherwise the arena on Geonosis would've been a wipeout; [The jedi] would've won, and there be no Clone Wars. Those are exciting installments, but we don't tie directly into them; we tie more directly into the film that preceded us, ATTACK OF THE CLONES, and the one that comes after us, REVENGE OF THE SITH. We take cues from [Tartakovsky's series]. I definitely pay a big homage to them in some of the design look of it. Anakin wears an outfit that was definitely inspired by what we saw in the other CLONE WARS. But there's no direct link-up.

Beaks: It's definitely less stylized. I mean, your film is stylized in its way, but... was there a sense that this was supposed to look like an animated George Lucas film? Did you have freedom to put your spin on it?

There was a lot of freedom, especially in the beginning. George said, "Just make it something no one's ever seen before."

Beaks: (Laughing) "Oh, okay."

(Laughing) Yeah, I was like, "What is that? I guess I haven't seen it either." In a way, I kind of used the two measuring rods in STAR WARS: I had Genndy's CLONE WARS one end, which was really super action-packed, exaggerated force powers, exaggerated proportions in the ankles and the waist... just awesome. They're the masters of that design sense. And then, on the other end, we've got ILM's super-photorealistic live-action STAR WARS. So I thought, "For this CLONE WARS to be a success, I'm going to have to shoot for somewhere in the middle. I don't want to exaggerate things too much; I want to stay in keeping with the powers that I've seen the Jedi use in the films, but I don't want to be photorealistic because I know there's a live-action TV series on the horizon." So it had to be very different from that. That was probably the biggest reason - besides doing it so quickly on television - to stay away from photorealism. There's another impending STAR WARS television show. We wanted to be unique and different, so I kind of shot in the middle. I took a little dab of things that I liked from working on AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER. We had been studying everything from MONONOKE to MACROSS on that show. Those are all things I like, so there's a little dash of those here and there.

Beaks: Those are good references.

Yeah. Ashoka has a lot of San from MONONOKE in her, the wolf girl - her movements and quickness.

Beaks: You know, I remember talking to one of the writers from SMALLVILLE, and he told me that when Warner Bros. was developing SUPERMAN RETURNS, they'd often come up with a great story arc for the show only to have it nixed by the studio because it was something that might turn up in the movie. I wonder if you've had any similar experiences on CLONE WARS, where you get this killer idea only to have George or someone else say, "Eh, we might address that in the live-action series."

(Smiling) It's interesting you say that. Early on, there were a couple of things that we were not going to go near because they were, like... Lucasfilm is famous for having ideas that are "reserved". "You can't touch this because later on it's going to be developed." There were definitely some areas...

Beaks: Like?

...that I can't tell you about that we couldn't use. But as we've gone on, THE CLONE WARS has a large, expansive area to tell stories - wider than I thought, actually. It's not just all battles. There are many stories to tell.

Beaks: Obviously, one of the few characters that has yet to be touched on in the filling out of the pre-OT universe is Han Solo. I think a lot of the fans are dying to know when or if he's going to get worked into one of these series.

Well, I'll tell you my stance on the big, big canon characters. I never presume I'm the person who should be defining anything about them or their past. He's not in this show - I'll say that quite clearly. If George came one day and said we were going to do that, it'd be very daunting because defining that would really be something else. I kind of like characters whose origins are mystified and still a little unclear, so I'm very careful when we use canon characters from the original trilogy. Very careful.

Beaks: But you still have plenty of cool prequel characters to work with. Kit Fisto has turned into a huge fan favorite.

Yeah, that's a big thing I have with my friend Giancarlo [Volpe], who's now with THE CLONE WARS: he's a huge Kit Fisto fan, and I'm a big Plo Koon fan. And it drives me nuts that Kit Fisto gets, like, twice the merchandising that Plo Koon does. It's that smile. We did an episode with Plo Koon in THE CLONE WARS and we did an episode with Kit Fisto, and everyone was like "That Kit Fisto episode's awesome!" And I'm like, "Whoa, wait a minute! What about the Plo Koon episode?" You saw today's clip presentation, right?

Beaks: Actually, one of our other guys was in there. We've been having to switch off all day, so it's been a bit of a jumble.

That's too bad. We showed a clip of Luminara today, and that was pretty exciting. But you're right. It's fun to work with those guys and say, "Well, how did they talk and how did they act? What were they like? How are the Jedi all different from one another?"

Beaks: But you have a sort of fixed destination with this series' narrative, correct? It's got to bridge right into REVENGE OF THE SITH.

I definitely do. And I have a lot of ideas surrounding the end of it, but I haven't really gotten around to discussing that point-blank with George yet. We'll get there one day.

Beaks: Any chance of there being an upbeat ending? I mean, it can only be so upbeat, obviously. But could there be some small sense of triumph?

I suppose there's a possibility. I'm keeping it open-ended for now. But it's a war. And one of the things I like about THE CLONE WARS is the impending encroachment of the idea of the Empire; it's slowly taking over despite all the efforts of the Jedi. And the Jedi's effort - even in REVENGE OF THE SITH - that they're going to cling on to and pull this shattered republic out of the debris and keep things the way they were... it's one of their mistakes. They're trying to hold on to something that's already lost. I like that idea, and I like that maybe it gets that dark eventually; I'd like to see how we can do that in an animated series where things don't typically go that far.

Beaks: But it's strange that, whereas we were able to end on such a high-note with RETURN OF THE JEDI over twenty years ago, we've been mired in this sadness and failure for so long. I'm not saying this is a bad thing; it's a part of mythmaking. But it's peculiar that STAR WARS has been so downbeat lately. It does seem to reflect the tenor of the times.

It's interesting. Look at THE DARK KNIGHT, and what a huge success it is. It's so dark, but people are going out to it. It's fantastic, and the movie seems to be resonating. But I think you're right: there is room for the good, and I think we have to show that. Part of what we're trying to do is show Anakin as a very good person. George has always talked about that, how Anakin is a very good person. And we have time to show that in this series. What is this guy like as a hero and a good friend? I want to see him as the good person his son is. I always say our Anakin in THE CLONE WARS is going to be a cross between Han Solo and Luke Skywalker: he's got the grease monkey attitude and cockiness like Han, but he's backing it up with a lot of naiveté about the galaxy and his role in it like Luke. I think together, that really spells out who Anakin is. I think it means he's still a good person. I want to see that so that maybe we can have a positive outcome before he hits his low.

I always bring this up to my crew: Luke never did anything that was that evil in the movies we've seen him in, but when he gets Darth Vader down and chops his hand off, and the Emperor says, "Strike your father down and take his place at my side"... I believe Luke might do it. And I believe if Luke had done it, he would've turned to the dark side. That's a really powerful thing, and I think Anakin is not that far off from that. It's just that we see the big points leading up to that. (Laughs) He slaughters a camp of Tusken Raiders, so he's got a leg up on Luke already. He's descending farther, but there's still good in him.

And with that, I'm officially hooked for both THE CLONE WARS and the live-action television series, which is apparently still gestating. All too easy.

Faithfully submitted,

Mr. Beaks

Disney: Blu-ray Sale at!

It appears that is ready to blow out some Disney and Pixar Blu-ray discs! In addition to a slew of live action titles, the online retailer is offering these animated films at a discount:

- Cars
- Ratatouille
- Pixar Short Films Collection: Volume 1
- Meet the Robinsons
- Chicken Little
- Dinosaur
- The Wild

All titles will be sold at up to 40% off list price until August 8th. That's almost 15 bucks off Ratatouille - a Blu-ray that shows off your gear and proves to your spouse that you truly did need the high-def upgrade in your living room!

Disney Blu-ray Disc Sale Page

No comments: