Tuesday, September 23, 2008

News - 09/23/08...

Ponyo reviews, US release buzz

TIME reviews Ponyo on the Cliff, the latest film by Hayao Miyazaki and also mentions that Disney will release Ponyo in North America, next year.

In another review of Ponyo, Variety says, “Hayao Miyazaki’s latest animated epic, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, unfolds with a magic limpidity, teeming with imaginative transports that owe nothing to CGI.”

"Igor" not dead yet, opens at #4 spot with $8M

Monster spoof "Igor" rose from the operating table and showed signs of life in its debut weekend.

Featuring the voices of John Cusack and Molly Shannon, the irreverent animated comedy opened in fourth place with $8 million.

Released at a cost of $25 million by independent animator Exodus Film Group and distributed by MGM, Igor is the story of a mad scientist's hunchbacked lab assistant who has big dreams of becoming a scientist in his own right and winning the coveted first-place award at the annual Evil Science Fair.

Igor also includes the voices of Steve Buscemi, John Cleese, Christian Slater, Eddie Izzard, Jay Leno and Molly Shannon. It screened in 2,339 theaters for an average of $3,425 per screen.

Exodus Film Group said that it was pleased with this weekend's opening. Besides the usual family audience, teens and young adults were drawn to Igor as well, Exodus founder and CEO John Eraklis said.

Samuel L. Jackson's thriller Lakeview Terrace opened on top of the box office, collecting $15.6 million between Friday and Sunday, according to studio estimates. It was released under Sony's Screen Gems banner and averaged $6,331 in 2,464 theaters.

"Obviously, as compared to the summer season, the bar has definitely been lowered in terms of what movies are making," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracking company Media By Numbers LLC. "This definitely is a slowdown period, as is typical for this post-summer malaise we always seem to run up against."

Revenues in general returned to their two-month-old slowdown after strong business last weekend. Overall revenues reached $93 million, down 4% from the same weekend last year, Media By Numbers said.

Russians Rally to Support "South Park"

In the wake of an effort to get South Park banned from Russian television (see earlier coverage), several hundred young Russians assembled on Sunday, September 21, 2008, in support of the show. The organizers had applied for permits for no more than 50 people. 2x2, the network which airs South Park, has been under fire from Russian religious groups since March, who state that the network "promotes immorality and violence."

Cartoon Network Slated To Air "Batman: Gotham Knight" In October 2008

Cartoon Network will be airing the direct-to-video Batman: Gotham Knight animated movie in October.

The feature, comprised of six different short stories, is scheduled to air Saturday, October 4th, 2008 at 9pm (ET). The official description of the feature is seen below.

Batman: Gotham Knight
Acclaimed screenwriters, including David Goyer (Batman Begins), Josh Olson (A History of Violence), and Alan Burnett (Batman: The Animated Series) join forces with revered animation filmmakers on six spellbinding chapters chronicling Batman's transition from novice crimefighter to The Dark Knight. These globe-spanning adventures pit Batman against the fearsome Scarecrow, the freakish Killer Croc and the unerring marksman Deadshot. Froms ome of the world's most visionary animators comes a thrilling depiction of Batman as man, myth and legend.

Stay tuned for further updates.

'Spider-Woman' coming to home video

TVShowsOnDVD.com reports that Morningstar Entertainment will release 'Spider-Woman - Spider-Woman vs The Fly' on DVD this October.

The DVD set will include episodes of the late 1970s TV series, as well as two bonus episodes from the 1967 'Spider-Man' cartoon ("The Slippery Dr. Von Schlick" and "The Spider and the Fly").

The DVD is set for release on October 14th and can be pre-ordered through Canadian region DVD sales outlets now.

Details Emerge About The Dark Knight's Audio and Extras

The PlanetaHD site from Spain is reporting the first detailed information about the audio and supplements to be included on Warner's 'The Dark Knight' Blu-ray Disc release. The highly anticipated title will have a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack and will be issued in a two-disc edition.

In addition to the movie itself, the first disc will include the "Gotham Discovered: The Creation of a Scene" extra where Director Christopher Nolan and his collaborators unveil details on the planning of the movie, including stunt double work, how the filming in IMAX was done and information about the new Bat-suit, Bat-pod, etc.

The second disc will include the following documentaries: "Batman Technology: Gadgets and Tools" (in HD), "Batman Unmasked: The Psychology of the Dark Knight" and "The World of Batman Seen Through Real Life Psychotherapy" (in HD), 6 clips from the Gotham Cable Premier's newscast: "Tonight in Gotham", plus art galleries on the Joker's letters, conceptual art, posters, production stills, trailers, and TV spots.

Box Office: 'Dark Knight' still in top 10

In the face of four new opening movies, 'The Dark Knight' has fallen only two places this week, according to estimates published by Box Office Mojo.

Samuel L. Jackson's thriller 'Lakeview Terrace' opened at #1 and 'My Best Friend's Girl', 'Igor' and 'Ghost Town' all opening at points lower in the top 10.

'The Dark Knight took in almost $3 million in this, its 10th week of release. That was enough to out-perform 'The House Bunny'
and 'Tropic Thunder', two movies that had previously higher in the rankings, and hang on to the #9 spot on the chart.

The bat-phenomenon's domestic take now stands at about $522 million.

The movie is still #5 on the All-time Worldwide box office chart. However there is less than $6million separating it from the #4 ranked
'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone'
. We'd expect it to surpass that movie in the next week, given current momentum.

September Linkdom

Obviously DreamWorks Animation's Jeffrey Katzenberg has noted the Koch box office calculator here on TAG blog:

Katzenberg, speaking at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia XVII Conference in New York, told Wall Street analysts to adjust the "multiplier" estimates for the movie. A "good" movie, he said, will earn 3.5 times opening weekend box office, while a "very good" should get a 4 multiplier and an "exceptional" movie a 4.3 multiplier.

Either that, or Jeffrey can also do math ...

Robert Winquist, an iconic teacher at Cal Arts, died on September 10th:

He was the kind of inspirational teacher that movies are made about, said his former students, who went on to make films that reflected lessons learned in his Valencia classroom between 1983 and 1991.

Ralph Eggleston, who won an Academy Award in 2001 for his animated short
"For the Birds," credits Winquist with pushing students to think more broadly about what they could accomplish.

"When Bob came in, animators primarily left the school and became animators. Suddenly, they started becoming art directors and storyboard artists. He made us think of ourselves as filmmakers, not just animators," [Pixar art director Ralph] Eggleston said ...

Foreign box office continues to percolate, and Pixar's latest feature thrives right along with it:

Family fave "Wall-E" scooped up $6.6 million at 2,700, mostly thanks to No. 1 launches in Australia ($3.1 million), Greece and New Zealand. The Disney-Pixar vehicle's become the 10th pic released this year to top $200 million.

So the little robot is up to, what? $420 million in worldwide grosses? I'm guessing it generates profits.

Producer Max Howard tells of getting the new animated feature Igor to the screen:

Howard contends that this film is a smaller, independent production. "We're not aspiring to be Pixar or Disney," Howard says. "We're more like Juno. I'm hoping we'll be discovered."

That discovery appears to be underway. In fact, when Igor opens on September 19 in North America, it will be on more screens than originally anticipated.
"We'll be on 2,300 screens," Howard says. "We originally thought it would be 1,200 to 1,500 screens."

Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson are hitting some rough headwinds as they try to get their Tintin animated features financed:

Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson don't hear "no" very often.

But after they submitted a final budget of $130 million for their 3-D animated movie
"Tintin," based on the Belgian comic strip, to Universal Pictures, the studio balked. The decision has left the two powerful filmmakers scrambling to find another financial partner ...

The particular problem for Universal with
"Tintin" is that Spielberg's and Jackson's involvement comes with a huge price tag. The two filmmakers together would command such a large percentage of the movie's revenue as part of their compensation -- without putting up any of the capital themselves, as is typical in Hollywood -- that it takes a substantial slice of the profit off the table for the backers ...

We end with a piece on the teen-aged world's favorite show, Robot Chicken:

The series, which uses stop-motion animation, began largely as a hobby for [Seth] Green and partner Matthew Senreich, who worked in the comic book world in New York. The Emmy Award-winning series has a large following, not only in the United States, where it is shown on the Cartoon Network Adult Swim block, but also abroad, where they get the parodies of pop culture and spoofs of the Star Wars movies.

Senreich said the series has an aggressive production schedule _ roughly about 11 months work to produce a 20-episode season. The company started with a few employees and many interns to a current staff of more than 100 people.

Green, who appeared as Doctor Evil's son Scott in the
Austin Powers movies, has no plans to abandon his movie career. But he says his work in animation is giving him much satisfaction ...

Add on: Variety details the competition between Disney Xtreme Digital (formerly Toon Disney and Turner/Time Warners' Cartoon Network (whcih Variety mistakes for a Viacom subsidiary):

The Mouse's ad-supported toon net will face a tough hombre in the mighty Cartoon. The Viacom net recently announced new iterations of marquee properties -- including a new Star Wars show -- for the fall, and it's about to debut a giant, downloadable massively multiplayer online game called FusionFall; after all, the kids these nets need are notorious for reaching for a joystick before their remote control.

If Disney has a cheering section in this enterprise, it's Madison Avenue, which, if it's going to sell action figures or sugary food, has to buy boy-focused ad time from Nick or Cartoon, whether their ratings are good or not.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Terra, Chainsaw All the Buzz at Ottawa

The Ottawa Int’l Animation Festival (OAF) wrapped up over the weekend with closing ceremonies at the Museum of Civilization in Gatineau. The event saw top prizes go to filmmakers Aristomenis Tsirbas and Dennis Tupicoff. Tsirbas’ Terra won the Grand Prize for Best Animated feature, and Tupicoff’s Chainsaw took the Nelvana Grand Prize For Best Independent Short Animation. The fest was held Sept. 17-21 and attracted more than 27,000 attendees from around the world. The official count hasn’t yet been tallied, but organizers believe this year’s edition was the most attended to date

2008 OAF Winners:
, directed by Dennis Tupicoff, Australia

Terra, directed by Aristomenis Tsirbas
Honourable Mention: Sita Sings the Blues
, directed by Nina Paley

I Slept With Cookie Monster
, directed by Kara Nasdor-Jones, U.S.

Sony Bravia “Play-Doh,” directed by Frank Budgen and Darren Walsh, U.K.

Drux Flux, directed by Theodore Ushev, Canada

Rhode Island School of Design (U.S.)
Honourable Mention: Supinfocom (France)

Narrative Short Animation under 35 minutes: Chainsaw, directed by Dennis Tupicoff, Australia
Experimental/Abstract Animation under 35 minutes: Muto
, directed by Blu, Italy
Honourable Mention: Dialogos, directed by Ülo Pikkov, and Drux Flux
, directed by Theodore Ushev, Canada

Adobe Prize for Best High School Animation: The Depose of Bolskivoi Hovhannes, directed by Will Inrig, Canada
Undergraduate Animation:
I Slept With Cookie Monster, directed by Kara Nasdor-Jones, U.S.
Graduation Animation: Camera Obscura, directed by Matthieu Buchalski, Jean-Michel Drechsler and Thierry Onillon, France

Promotional Animation: Sony Bravia “Play-Doh”, directed by Frank Budgen and Darren Walsh, U.K.
Music Video: “Último 'Spong Ice,” directed by Bolos Quentes Design, Duarte Amorim, Albino Tavares, Miguel Marinheiro and Sérgio Couto, Portugal
Television Animation for Adults: People from The Dark Years “Bates,”
directed by John Halfpenny, Canada

Best Short Animation: The Swimming Lesson
, directed by Danny De Vent, Belgium/Netherlands/France
Honourable Mention: Leon in Wintertime, directed by Pierre-Luc Granjon and Pascal le Nôtre, France/Canada
Television Animation for Children: The Upstate Four, directed by Fran Krouse, U.S.
Honourable Mention: The Bunjies, directed by Andreas Hykade and Ged Haney, Germany

More information about the Ottawa Int’l Animation Festival can be found at www.animationfestival.ca.

Relic Taps Plastic Wax for Warhammer Trailer

Sydney, Australia-based animation Studio Plastic Wax collaborated with video-game developer Relic to produce the first trailer for Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II. trailer, which recently debuted. The trailer can now be seen at www.dawnofwar2.com.

“It was our mission to make sure gamers' first impressions director of animations and cinematics at Relic. “To give fans a taste of where Relic's latest masterpiece is going, both in terms of action and visuals, we needed an extended cinematic that brought frenzied battles to life unlike anything that has ever been seen before. Plastic Wax delivered big time.”

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II is set in the 41st millennium, a dark, forbidding time, ravaged by thousands of years of conflict. Across this gothic universe huge armies struggle for victory in a battle to the death. For more information on the eagerly awaited title, go to www.dawnofwar2.com.

Saudi Cleric Declares Mickey Mouse and Jerry Should be Killed as "Satan's Soldiers"

The Telegraph is reporting that Saudi Arabian cleric Sheikh Muhammad Munajid declared on the al-Majd TV network that, as mice, Disney's Mickey Mouse and Jerry of Tom & Jerry are "Satan's soldiers," and that both should be killed along with household mice and their other cartoon counterparts. His comments came in a week when another Saudi cleric, Sheik Saleh al-Lihedan, issued a fatwa declaring that it was acceptable to kill the owners of satellite TV channels that show immoral or indecent programming, although Sheik al-Lihedan clarified his comments later, apparently to prevent vigilante killings.

Harper to adapt 'Clockwork Girl' for the big screen

Arcana Comics has announced that screenwriter Jennica Harper has come on board the 'Clockwork Girl' film project.

Harper has worked as a screenwriter and story editiro in the Canadian film industry and is primarily known for the feature film 'Nostalgia Boy'.

'Clockwork Girl' is based on the all-ages comic created by Arcana chief Sean O'Reilly and Disney animator Kevin Hanna. The movie is set to be an animated feature, funded by Telefilm Canada.

'Clockwork Girl' tells the tale of a nameless robot girl who has recently been given the gift of life from her creator. While she explores the wonders of an ordinary world she meets an amazing mutant boy and they share a friendship that must overcome their warring families.

Release Date All Set For Astro Boy

Summit Entertainment will release Astro Boy in North America on Friday, October 23, 2009, it was announced today by Rob Friedman, Co-Chairman and CEO of Summit Entertainment, and Erin Corbett, President of Imagi Studios U.S. Summit and Imagi are putting together the final details on a marketing plan designed to reach both the family movie-going audience and adult fans of Astro Boy alike. Plan includes a commitment from a major fast food restaurant partner as well as alliances in the areas of toys, games, books and others, soon to be announced.

Produced by Imagi Studios, the CG-animated motion picture will bow on over 3,000 screens across North America. International release dates for the film are to be announced soon.

"We are pleased to bring the exceptional world of Astro Boy to the big screen for movie-goers in North America," said Friedman. "We have lined up some key marketing partners for the film and our October date allows us to put the film out at the right time enabling our partners to reach their targeted audiences with on-going marketing programs tied to the film."

"A beloved icon for over half-a-century, this marks
Astro Boy's first time on the big screen, making our film one of the most highly anticipated releases of the year," stated Corbett. "We're thrilled to be bringing this remarkable and enduring property to fans - both old and new - as a grand-scale action-filled adventure with cutting-edge CG technology."

Astro Boy
's all-star cast features the voices of Academy Award®-winning actor Nicolas Cage, Donald Sutherland, Nathan Lane, Bill Nighy and Eugene Levy with Freddie Highmore in the title role. David Bowers (Flushed Away) is directing Astro Boy from a screenplay written by Timothy Harris (Trading Places, Kindergarten Cop), with Maryann Garger producing.

The iconic character
Astro Boy has found global popularity since his creation in the early 1950s by Japan's Osamu Tezuka, known as the "god of manga" and "father of anime", and has been the hero of three acclaimed animated television series aired around the world.

Set in the future, Imagi Studio's
Astro Boy
is a classic superhero origin story about a young robot with incredible powers, created by a brilliant scientist, and his adventure-filled journey in search of his identity and destiny, taking him into a netherworld of robot gladiators before he returns to save Metro City.

Summit Entertainment, which entered into a global alliance with Imagi Studios earlier this year, will distribute
Astro Boy
worldwide except for Imagi's reserved territories of Japan, Hong Kong and China.

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