Monday, October 27, 2008

News - 10/27/08...

The Chestnut Tree

For those who missed it, when it was posted earlier...

Described as "beautiful, hand-drawn animation, director Hyun-Min Lee explores childhood memories of life with her mother in Korea. A heartwarming, autobiographical tribute, "The Chestnut Tree" was nominated for the 2008 Annie Award for Best Short Subject."

Bolt Pushback

The Big Mouse has sunk big bucks into its next doggie picture, and it's pulling out all the stops. Apparently some of the theatre chains in and around the fruited plain aren't happy:

... [Disney] attached a six-minute-long promotion for the 3-D family flick -- about a superhero dog -- to film prints of its box-office hit "Beverly Hills Chihuahua," numerous theater owners said Disney had gone too far.

Theater owners said the
"Bolt" spot intruded on their screen time and not only made "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" run longer than it should but also cost them time that the theater owners could fill -- with other showings or their own commercials.

Some of the nation's top theater chains complained to Disney that the extended trailer violated a long-standing agreement about where trailers can be placed and how long they can run ...

The studio has a lot riding on the Pixar team's first Disney feature out of the blocks. For obvious reasons, the company wants it to be a sizable hit, and if Diz ruffles distributors' feathers in order to get it, that's a price the conglom is willing to pay.

Madagascar Too is going to be out there offering hot competition, so the Mouse House is going to use all the tools at its disposal. If AMC and Regal don't like it, tough. I'm sure Disney's attitude is: "Suck it up."

Since I'm a self-serving twerp, I want both pictures to be major, box office hits.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Marvel Unloads ‘Hulk Vs. Thor’ DVD Trailer

Back in July, Splash Page brought you the first exclusive clip from Marvel and Lionsgate’s upcoming “Hulk Vs.” direct to DVD/Blu-Ray animated feature, showing the classic battle between Hulk and Wolverine in the aptly titled “Hulk Vs. Wolverine” movie.

And now — despite his constant requests to be left alone — Marvel has dropped yet another clip from the January ‘09 DVD, this time showing Hulk facing off against the combined armies of Asgard, led by the Thunder God himself, in “Hulk vs. Thor.” You can either watch the trailer at, or you can check it out below…

"Batman: Brave and the Bold" Preview, Interviews On-Line

Cartoon Network has posted a preview of the premiere episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold in streaming Flash video format. The clip from "Rise of the Blue Beetle" includes footage of both Batman and the Blue Beetle, voiced by Diedrich Bader and Will Friedle, respectively.

In addition, the Legions of Gotham website has posted interviews with supervising producer James Tucker, story editor Michael Jelenic, and Batman voice actor Diedrich Bader.

Universal Enlists in EA’s Army of Two

Universal Pictures will bring Electronic Arts’ Army of Two video-game franchise to the big screen. Scott Stuber will produce the pic through his Stuber Prods., along with EA, and screenwriter Scott Z. Burns (The Bourne Ultimatum) has been tapped to pen the script. The movie is set to go into production in 2009.

Army of Two has raked in more than $100 million in sales since its release in March of this year. The strategic, co-operative, third-person shooter features a politically-charged storyline set in the world of private military contractors. The game follows the missions of Tyson Rios and Elliot Salem, who, after extensive careers in the Rangers, are drawn into the business of war. They quickly learn, however, that their employer is as corrupt as the people they're sent to take out. The game is available for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360,

Army of Two is the second film project in EA’s aggressive push to exploit its properties across various entertainment platforms. The game maker is currently developing The Sims at 20th Century Fox with producer John Davis.

Disney animation goes Bollywood with dog romance

The Walt Disney Company's first co-production with an Indian studio -- an animated film about a Mumbai dog who finds love -- opened Friday in India.

The Hindi-language Roadside Romeo was made in partnership with Yash Raj Films, with India's Jugal Hansraj making his directorial debut. Bollywood stars Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor voice the dogs.

Like the human romances in many Indian films, the canine Bollywood relationship progresses with much singing and dancing.

While Roadside Romeo offers some much-needed high-quality animation from Bollywood, Indian media have reported, the story doesn't appear to be too friendly for kids.

The animated feature marks the start of Disney's involvement in the Indian market. The Mouse House recently bought a children's Hindi-language channel. It is also contemplating expanding production to areas beyond Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay).

The American entertainment mogul may ramp up production to as many as eight movies a year with Yash Raj studios, one of the most established film production companies in Bollywood.

"For Hollywood studios, expanding globally no longer means only pushing their product in these markets," PricewaterhouseCoopersentertainment analyst Smita Jha reflected.

Althouh Bollywood has the biggest movie output in the world, the industry is largely controlled by family businesses. Bollywood box-office revenues are only 10% of Hollywood revenues.

But increased corporatization in recent years and higher ticket prices are making American producers interested in the Indian market, Jha said. However, "in a creative business, there is always a risk," Jha added.

"The Hollywood big guns can't break into the market on their own, while for the local firms, there are clear financial and strategic benefits," said Vivek Couto, executive director at Hong Kong research firm Media Partners Asia.

Hooray for Bollywood: Roadside Romeo is the Walt Disney Company's first co-production with an Indian studio.

Roadside Romeo secretly released in L.A.

This almost escaped our notice… but not quite! Disney has quietly opened Roadside Romeo Friday (we posted the trailer back in May). It’s “Absolutely ‘howl’arious!” says the India Times in a four-star review.

Should you wish to see this flick, it’s playing at the NAZ 8 Cinemas in Artesia, with English subtitles. The theatre is located at 6440 E. South Street, in Lakewood, CA. It’s playing all week at 5:00 6:00 7:00 8:00 9:00 10:00 and 11:00pm.

Move over WALL•E - Roadside Romeo is now qualifed for for an Oscar nomination!

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

NFB of Canada marks World Animation Day with tour

Tuesday, October 28 is World Animation Day -- and Canada is getting animated.

The National Film Board is celebrating this special day with a 13-city tour of Get Animated!, a series of free public screenings from the NFB's Oscar-winning animation studios. Get Animated! is showcasing amazing new creations from Canada's public producer, for young and old, from tonight (Friday, October 24) through Wednesday, November 12.

After celebrating the 65th anniversary of NFB animation, National Film Board studios have found a fresh burst of energy, producing works that have garnered international acclaim, including a record-setting 70th Academy Award nomination last year -- more than any production company or organization outside Hollywood -- as well as awards across Canada and around the world. Get Animated! is part of a broader commitment at Canada's public producer and distributor to ensure that Canadians from coast to coast have access to outstanding NFB productions.

Get Animated! free screenings will take place in Victoria, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal and Halifax, as well as five communities served by the NFB's pioneering e-cinema network for francophone Acadian communities: Moncton, Bouctouche, Caraquet, Edmundston and Kedgwick, New Brunswick.


Friday, October 24
Emily Carr University
Lecture Theatre, Room 301
1399 Johnston Street, Granville Island
7 p.m.: Get Animated! New Visions
9 p.m.: Local Animation

Sunday, October 26
Carousel Theatre
1411 Cartwright Street, Granville Island
1 p.m.: Get Animated! Children's Program
2:30 p.m.: Reel 2 Real Animation Workshop for Kids!


Saturday, October 25
Camosun College, Lansdowne Campus
Fisher Building, Room 100
3100 Foul Bay Road (at Lansdowne)
7 p.m.: Vancouver Island Shorts/Get Animated! New Visions
8:30 p.m.: Artist Talk and Screening with Oscar-winning animators David Fine and Alison Snowden


Sunday, November 2
Metro Cinema
Zeidler Hall (main floor of the Citadel Theatre Complex)
9828-101A Avenue
(780) 425-9212
4 p.m.: Get Animated! Children's Program
5 p.m.: Get Animated! Get Animated! New Visions


Sunday, November 9
Plaza Theatre
1133 Kensington Road NW
(403) 283-2222
12 noon: Get Animated! Children's Program


Saturday, November 1
304-100 Arthur Street, Winnipeg
(204) 925-3457
3:30 to 6 p.m.: Celebrate World Animation Day by learning how to make your own short animation video! Freeze Frame, Media Arts Centre for Young People, will host a free animation station between 3:30 and 6 p.m. at the Cinematheque. Watch free animation films from the NFB, then make your own character using Plasticine and animate it! This is a free event, and guaranteed fun for all ages.
4:30 p.m.: Get Animated! Children's Program
7 p.m.: Get Animated! New Visions
Get Animated! is screening as part of Plastic Paper: Winnipeg's Animation Festival. For more information about Plastic Paper, visit


Wednesday, October 29 and Thursday, October 30
Toronto NFB Mediatheque
150 John Street (Osgoode subway), Toronto
(416) 973-3012
7 p.m.: Get Animated! — New Visions
To celebrate World Animation Day, the Mediatheque is presenting a program of great new works from the NFB's Oscar-winning animation studios.

Saturday, November 1
Toronto NFB Mediatheque
150 John Street (Osgoode subway), Toronto
(416) 973-3012
10:30 a.m.: Can't Sit Still, Get Animated!
Clay and mixed media. Details coming soon! (ages 3-5) After the workshop, come to the cinema for a special screening of the hottest new NFB films just for kids!

Saturday, November 1 and Sunday, November 2
Toronto NFB Mediatheque
150 John Street (Osgoode subway), Toronto
(416) 973-3012
1 p.m.: Animated This! Get Animated!
Clay and mixed media. Details coming soon! (ages 6-13) After the workshop, come to the cinema for a special screening of the hottest new NFB films just for kids!


Saturday, October 25
NFB CineRobotheque
1564 St. Denis Street (Berri-UQAM metro)
(514) 496-6887
12:30 p.m.: Weekend animation workshop
4 p.m.: Anima-kid Kid's program of animated films
7 p.m.: New Visions

Sunday, October 26
NFB CineRobotheque
1564 St. Denis Street (Berri-UQAM metro)
(514) 496-6887
2 p.m.: Anima-kid Kids' program of animated films
4 p.m.: Anima-kid Kids' program of animated films
7 p.m.: New Visions

Monday, October 27 and Tuesday, October 28
NFB CineRobotheque
1564 St. Denis Street (Berri-UQAM metro)
(514) 496-6887
7 p.m.: New Visions


Thursday, October 28
Dartmouth High School
95 Victoria Rd., Dartmouth, NS
1 p.m.: Children's Program in partnership with Viewfinders
Animator JoDee Samuelson will be presenting her most recent film, Uncle Bob's Hospital Visit, and will be available for a Q&A session with the students.

Wednesday, November 12
CBC Radio Room
5600 Sackville St., Halifax, NS
7 p.m. (doors open 6 p.m.)
New Visions program in partnership with AFCOOP
For more information, call (902) 426-6157


Thursday, October 30 Place: Amphithéâtre du pavillon Jacqueline-Bouchard
Université de Moncton
506-858-3738, 1-800-363-8336 Time: 7 pm: An evening of short films to celebrate World Animation Day


Tuesday, October 28
Centre culturel de Caraquet
220 Saint-Pierre Boulevard West
(506) 727-5441
7 p.m.: An evening of short films to celebrate World Animation Day


Wednesday, October 29 Place: Galerie des Artistes
5 Irving Boulevard
(506) 532-2068
7 p.m.: An evening of short films to celebrate World Animation Day


Thursday, October 30
Mgr-W.-J.-Conway Public Library
33 Irène Street
(506) 737-6846
7 p.m.: An evening of short films to celebrate World Animation Day

Thursday, October 30
Kedgwick Public Library
116 Notre-Dame Street, Unit P
(506) 284-2915
7 p.m.: An evening of short films to celebrate World Animation Day

New Visions

A new generation of artists are transforming the NFB's world-renowned animation studios, experimenting with innovative techniques and styles. The best new works are being featured in a 75-minute program of 10 films.

This program includes a pair of exquisite puppet-animated shorts: The Necktie, by Jean-François Lévesque, offers a refreshing look at life in a dead-end job, garnering the Best Short Film Prize and the Audience Award for Best Canadian Short Film at the Montreal World Film Festival, while Sainte Barbe, by Claude Barras and Cédric Louis, is the tale of a young boy's undying bond to his grandfather, capturing the Audience Award at the Melbourne International Animation Festival.

Other outstanding shorts in the program include Retouches, a paint-on-celluloid masterpiece from multi-award-winning animator Georges Schwizgebel, and Theodore Ushev's Drux Flux, deconstructing industrial imagery to offer audiences a powerful look at the inhumanity of human progress. HA'Aki is a lyrical and wonderfully unorthodox interpretation of hockey as played in the mind of a lyrical and wonderfully unorthodox artist, Swedish-born filmmaker, actor, playwright, composer and painter Iriz Pääbo. In Nicolas Brault's timeless animated tale Hungu, winner of the Best Animated Short Award at the prestigious Palm Springs International FBoldestival of Short Films, a mother's soul is resurrected by music, returning strength and life to her child.

Children's Program

Seven titles are featured in the children's program, including Claude Cloutier's Sleeping Betty, a playful recreation of the classic fairy tale "Sleeping Beauty", as well as two shorts from the NFB's Hothouse program for emerging young animators: the delightful puppet-animated short The Squirrel Next Door by Carla Coma, and Jody Kramer's Lost Monster Hop, about a banjo-picking monster. The total running time for the children's program is 54 minutes.

As a special gift for animation lovers, the NFB is offering free streaming of two acclaimed NFB shorts: Flutter, by Howie Shia, and At Home with Mrs Hen (2006), by Tali.

For more information, visit

Gale Anne Hurd on the Future of The Hulk

MTV chatted with The Incredible Hulk producer Gale Anne Hurd, who said she has every intention on making a follow-up and that Edward Norton is signed on:

"It's all going to depend on the screenplay and where his character goes in any sequel, because he does have a multiple-picture deal," she said of Norton, who told us recently that he's waiting to hear from Marvel regarding Hulk's future. "[Norton's situation] is the same with every franchise like this, when you have one of the top actors of his generation."

But first, you're likely going to see him in The Avengers:

"Next, he's likely to appear in an 'Avengers' movie, but that's completely up to Marvel," she explained. "It's wonderful that Marvel now controls so many of their own characters, and they can create a Marvel universe in film and populate it with so many of their characters who naturally exist together. I think an 'Avengers' film is a very exciting prospect."

To read more on what villain she would want for the next "Hulk" movie, click here!


Some of the things Mr. (or Ms.) Ranter puts up I agree with, other things not so much. For instance:

If Art Babbitt Were Alive Today...

...he would be "blacklisted" as a troublemaker.


it wouldn't be a blacklist by the studios.

It'd be by the animation artists.

Yes, blacklisting is around, but is it generally started by the studios when an artist rightfully complains about being taken advantage of, or is it started by their fellow artists who don't want to "rock the boat" no matter how many unpaid hours are put in to meet unreasonable schedules?

I've not talked to an artist that wasn't hired by the studios for standing up for themselves, but I've certainly met artists who don't get recommended by other artists for their loudmouths.

If Mr. Babbitt were around today, the same career arc he had in the thirties, forties and onward would be pretty much the career he'd have ... today.

Because though animation technologies evolve, human passions and behaviors don't change very much through time.

Greed, lust, jealousy, back-biting, infighting, scheming, rage, sorrow, all pretty much the same in 1938 as in 2008. Hell, the same in 1248, for that matter.

So. What would happen to 21st century Art?

Oh, he would make enemies of management at one studio or another ... just as he enraged Walt in 1941. The only difference now? Management rotates through places a lot faster. Nobody stays top dog like Walt did for forty-plus years, and institutional memories are short. So Art would not be able to work for one or another studio topkick, but chances are the topkick would be gone after a few years, and Art would be back, because today's institutional memories are short, and studios operate more than ever under the old Jack L. Warner dictum:

"Don't let that bastard in here ever again.

"Unless we need him."

So Ranter is half right. The studios now are large, robotic conglomerates that don't personalize much and don't hold long grudges. (How could they? Few mucky mucks hang around long.) But Art would no doubt have a few Captains of Industry from whom he would have to steer clear.

But would he piss off his fellow workers? Probably some, because Art was a prickly personality. (I met him once.) But because many artists respect top talent, even when attached to disagreeable personalities, Art would keep working.

How do I know? Let's take a look at the old 20th-century Art, at the end of a long career. It's 1991, and he's not the animator of old, not by a long shot. He's elderly, wizened, stooped, shrunken and his drawing is not what it used to be. But he's got a job at Bill Melendez Productions.

Why? Because Bill Melendez loves and respects Art, knew him and admired him as a young artist during the '41 Disney strike, and has the wherewithal half a century later to employ Art and help him keep going ... until Art's death in the Spring of 1992.

So here, Ranter is three quarters wrong. Yes, there are artists who are fearful, selfish and petty, who would blackball a fellow employee. But there are many artists, artists like Bill Melendez, who wouldn't. And 21st century Art would end his days pretty much as his 20th century incarnation ended it.

Because human hearts, emotions, nerve-endings, don't change.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Exclusive: Stargate Universe Concept Art!

SCI FI Wire has exclusively obtained the first concept art for the upcoming Stargate Universe, which reveals the new look and feel of this latest spinoff of the Stargate franchise.

The images show a bit of the new ship that will figure prominently in the show.
Stargate Universe
centers on a simple reconnaissance mission that turns into a never-ending quest as a new crew of Stargate explorers gates onto the Destiny, an Ancient ship that is unable to return to Earth. They will travel to the far reaches of the universe, encountering new races, enemies and adventures.

The shuttle bridge

Corridor hub

The airlock door

An Ancient console

Universe is executive-produced by Brad Wright and Robert Cooper, the co-creators of Universe's predecessor series Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis. SCI FI Channel plans to begin production of the show in early 2009 and debut it next summer with a two-hour premiere.

Legendary Pictures Looks to Buy Epic Games

Legendary Pictures, the Warner Bros.–based film financing company behind such blockbusters as The Dark Knight and 300, may be poised to launch into the games businesss in a big way. Daily Variety reports that the private equity-backed entertainment firm is in talks to acquire Epic Games, the North Carolina-based developer of the hit Gears of War franchise. Legendary is co-financing New Line's Gears of War movie.

Legendary principal Thomas Tull also co-founded video game publisher Brash Ent., which has made games based on the animated features
Space Chimps and The Tale of Despereaux. Tull recently resigned from the Brash board of directors, but an Epic acquisition would keep him soundly rooted in the interactive entertainment industry.

Gears of War
hit retail in 2006 and has sold more than five million units to date. Epic is bracing for even better sales for the sequel, which debuts in November. The company made its mark with the popular Unreal Tournament
, and licensing the Unreal Engine continues to contribute greatly of Epic’s annual revenue.

Domo Bows on Nicktoons

Having won over fans in Japan, animated sensation Domo makes its way to the U.S. this month. Nicktoons Networks is airing 26 two-minute episodes of the stop-motion animated series, debuting a new short each week. Nickelodeon introduced viewers to the short-form series earlier this year via international channels in Europe, Latin America, Australia and New Zealand.

The fuzzy, brown cave-dweller debuted in 1998 as mascot of Japanese television station NHK and has since become a cultural icon. Domo was hatched from an egg that one day mysteriously fell into the home of a wise, elderly rabbit named Usajii. A TV lover, Domo named himself after the first word he ever heard on TV, which can mean either “hello,” “thank you,” “excuse me,” “sorry” and “goodbye.” In addition to watching the tube, he enjoys drinking tea, listening to garage band music and sinking his sharp teeth into seasoned beef with potatoes.

The stop-motion character has appeared in roughly 400 television spots and has been a viral hit that has inspired countless fan-made images, websites and videos, as well as a licensed product line selling at major trend retailers nationwide.

New York-based Big Tent Ent. handles marketing and licensing for Domo worldwide (excluding Asia). The company first tapped Internet television service Veoh Networks ( to host the animated series. Big Tent is the North American agency of record for a number of children’s properties including Discovery Kids, preschool sensation The Wiggles and Miffy & Friends, a major brand for infants, toddlers and preschoolers that recently added a tween/teen program.

Emcee Cain

It’s hard to avoid political humor during campaign season - especially in these last days of the presidential race. Animator and caricaturist Andrew Arnold has been doing some very funny - and very unique - stuff on his website. In the interest of fairness, here’s his latest animated political cartoon that highlights Senator McCain:

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

Briefly: Tinker Bell as BT's Clock; Chowder Contest; SpongeBob Returns to China

* The voice for the BT speaking clock service will be temporarily replaced by Mae Whitman voicing Tinker Bell to promote the Disney direct-to-video movie. [BBC News]

* Cartoon Network will run a contest in conjunction with the first DVD release of Chowder, where fans can create a recipie using bizarre ingredients at until November 18, 2008. Grand prize is a $250 Visa gift card, an iPod nano with Chowder episodes, the Chowder Vol. 1 DVD, and more. [Home Media Magazine]

* SpongeBob SquarePants will be returning to China's CCTV in January 2009. The last time the show was aired was in December 2007. [Hollywood Reporter]

"Schoolhouse Rock - Earth" Coming to DVD reports that Disney will release an all new version of Schoolhouse Rock! called Schoolhouse Rock - Earth.

The DVD will feature 10 brand new songs about taking care of the environment.

The DVD will hit stores on March 31st, 2009.

Hi-Def WATCHMEN footage

Want a better look at that 'Watchmen' footage from Spike's Scream Awards?

Warner Bros. have released links to the clips in several formats, including various hi-def downloads:

Download it here:

Windows Hi-Def: 1080 | 720
Windows Standard: Large | Med | Small
Flash: Standard | Hi-res
Quicktime Hi-Def: 1080 | 720 | 480
Quicktime Standard: Large | Medium | Small | SD LL
IPOD: Download

Preview it here:

The AFI Fest

The 2008 AFI Fest starts on Friday (Oct. 31st) and runs through November 9th at several venues (but mainly at the Arclight Hollywood) in Los Angeles. There are several animation events of interest - all of them highly recommended.

On BoldNovember 4th and 5th, there is a screening of Adults Only Cartoon Shorts which includes Mike Roush’s The Hidden Life of the Burrowing Owl (pictured above), Clemens Kolger’s CuteCuteCute and various episodes of Signe Baumane’s Teat Beat of Sex.

Bill Plympton will be here in person November 5th and 6th showing his latest feature Idiots and Angels; there will a retrospective showing of Yellow Submarine at the Cinerama Dome (on November 5th), and premiere screenings of Waltz With Bashir (on Nov. 1st and 7th).

I’m also intrigued by the documentary Imaginadores which explores the history of Argentinean comic books with new animation of some of the country’s classic comic characters. Check the trailer here. It’s being screened on November 5th and 6th.

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

Trouble For Diz's Bollywood Dog Picture?

Uh oh.

According to some early reports, the House of Mouse's Indian animated flick seems to be running into headwinds:

Samir Karnik’s Heroes has opened to a fairly good response as compared to this week’s other release, Roadside Romeo. The Yash Raj – Walt Disney’s first joint venture, the animated film, Roadside Romeo has also been given thumbs down by the critics and its report isn’t encouraging ...

Roadside Romeo has got a very poor opening with just a 20-25% response. The reports are not encouraging and the film will find it hard to make a mark at the box office ...

Let's stipulate that I've got no clue what "just a 20-25% response" means. I'm assuming it indicates that the Mubai and Delhi cinemas showing Disney's animated offering are not ... uh ... Standing Room Only. But truth to tell, I don't know exactly what it means.

But here's my hope: I want Bolt to tear up the wickets when it debuts in the sub-continent. I want it to out-perform the Bollywood picture. I desire this for a very selfish reason: I think it's good for the Burbank-based animation studio if its product outperforms the overseas variety.

So go ahead. Call me selfish. Call me beyond the pale in wanting the home-grown product to continue to dominate worldwide box office. I'll just have to deal with it.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Hollywood Reporter Names John Lasseter "Innovator of the Year"

The Hollywood Reporter has named John Lasseter as their Innovator of the Year for 2008 for his work at Disney and Pixar, saying, "There are few men as inventive as Lasseter and even fewer whose creativity pays such respect to tradition." The article details Lasseter's rise to his current position, including his dismissal from Walt Disney Animation Studios, his joining up with Pixar, his creative stewardship of that company to multiple Oscar-winning films and financial success, and his current position at Disney and Pixar, which touches feature films, direct-to-video offerings like Tinker Bell, and attractions at then Disney theme parks.

Trick 'r Treat Preview Scoop!

Michael Dougherty, writer and director of the much-delayed Halloween-themed horror movie Trick 'r Treat, told SCI FI Wire that he's been delighted with the rapturous response the film has received in preview screenings--and I'd have to say I can see why after watching it on Thursday.

Speaking after a screening of the film in Hollywood's famed Grauman's Chinese Theatre complex on Oct. 23, Dougherty said, "I'm completely blown away by the response. It's kind of everything I'd hoped for and more, oddly enough. ... They're really getting it. I'm suprised and flattered by that."

Trick 'r Treat is a throwback to the funny-scary horror movies of the past, like An American Werewolf in London and Tales From the Crypt, as well as EC Comics and the Twilight Zone TV show and film and even the black humor of Edward Gorey and Charles Addams. Set on a fateful Halloween night in a small Midwestern town, the movie interweaves four separate narratives that touch on each other.

So why is it taking so long for Warner Brothers to release the film? Finished roughly a year ago, the movie has sat on the studio's shelf while previously scheduled release dates have come and gone. The movie's screened in only a few places, notably this month's 2008 Screamfest Film Festival in Los Angeles. (Legendary Films produced the movie.)

Dougherty, ever the diplomat, shrugs his shoulders when asked the source of the hangup. "I don't know," he says. "I don't know. It's like, ask the magic 8-ball, you know?"

Drew McWeeny, the screenwriter and Ain't It Cool News contributor who hosted last night's screening, theorized that the studio may not know how to market a movie that combines humor with horror.

An early poster showed an Oct. 5, 2007, release date.

After watching the film, I can see that its sly tone, intertwined storylines and multiple characters might flummox marketers used to selling more straightforward teen fare.

Which is a shame. Trick 'r Treat is a delight--funny, suspenseful, scary in the right parts--horrifying even--touching at times and always surprising and original. It's a movie made by a filmmaker with a deep love for Halloween and old-fashioned storytelling, smart enough to tweak the genre's conventions while honoring them and weird enough to take his horror just those few steps beyond the expected into shocking and perverse.

The four stories are preceded by an introduction in which a Halloween-obsessed young man (Battlestar Galactica's Tahmoh Penikett) argues with his wife (Leslie Bibb), who hates the holiday.

That leads into the first story, involving four young women who have come from the big city to the small town to find a party in the woods and seek out suitable dates. Laurie (Anna Paquin), dressed as Little Red Riding Hood, finds herself stalked by a dark hooded figure with a taste for blood.

In the second story, a group of young trick-or-treaters, led by Marcy (Britt McKillip), makes a night pilgrimage to a rock quarry, site of a Halloween-night disaster 30 years earlier that has become an urban legend. A prank aimed at the socially inept Rhonda (Samm Todd) doesn't go quite as planned.

In the third story, a bully gets his comeuppance at the hands of a creepy school principal (Dylan Baker) who isn't all that he seems.

And in the film's fourth and perhaps most effective sequence, the reclusive Mr. Kreeg (Brian Cox) wants nothing more than to be left alone in his ramshackle house. But one Halloween prankster won't give him any peace.

Thirty years ago, this school bus figured in a horrific disaster in Michael Dougherty's Trick 'r Treat.

The sequences are deftly woven together with flashbacks, and at various points in the movie characters explain the history and rules of Halloween: Wear a costume. Hand out candy. Never blow out a jack-o'-lantern. And always check your candy.

Connecting all the stories is the diminutive figure of Sam (Quinn Lord), dressed in orange flannel footie pajamas, wearing a burlap hood with button eyes.

"To me it's more of a Halloween movie than a horror movie, if that makes any sense," Dougherty says. "It's an odd mixed candy bag of laughs and scares and morbid humor. ... I don't think you can classify it solely as a horror film."

We can say it's destined to become a Halloween classic. If only it gets released.

Ed Asner talks Up

UpcomingPixar shares a link to an interview with the Emmy-winning actor Ed Asner who voices the main character, Carl Fredricksen, in Pixar’s upcoming feature Up. Direct link to the interview can be found here. Up, a fable about a flying house, is slated to open in May 2009.

Ninja Scroll to get a live-action makeover

Variety reports that Warner Bros. has acquired rights to turn Yoshiaki Kawajiri’s anime classic Ninja Scroll into a live action feature. The film will be produced by Appian Way as a co-production with Mad House. Alex Tse, whose recent credits include Watchmen and The Illustrated Man, has been set to write the script.

Trailer for Klasky-Csupo’s Immigrants

In case you were wondering “Whatever happened to Klasky-Csupo?” — Here’s your answer:

This trailer says Immigrants (L.A. Dolce Vita) opens next week, but I think that’s the Hungarian release date. The film still has no U.S. distributor that I’m aware of, but it will screen at the American Film Market in Santa Monica on November 5th and 6th.

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

Pixar's first "Cars Toon" debuts tonight on Toon Disney

Jim Hill shares what he knows about these new interstitials, which are designed to help keep this Pixar franchise fresh 'til "Cars 2" rolls into theaters during the Summer of 2011

You all remember Lightning McQueen and Mater from "Cars," right ?

Copyright 2008 Disney - Pixar. All Rights Reserved

Well, the folks at Disney - Pixar certainly hope that you remember these two animated autos. Given that -- come the Summer of 2011 -- they're going to be starring in "Cars 2" ...

Copyright 2008 Disney - Pixar. All Rights Reserved

... which will (according to the press release, anyway) send McQueen & Mater "around the globe" to "a new world of intrigue, thrills and fast-paced comedic escapades" where they'll then "take on the globe's fastest and finest."

The only problem is 2011 is quite a ways away. So -- to keep the "Cars" franchise fresh in our hearts 'til then -- the Disney Interactive Media Group has just created The World of Cars Online, a new virtual world that's currently in "Test Track" mode.

Copyright 2008 Disney Interactive Media Group. All Rights Reserved

In addition to this new "Cars" -related online community, the folks at Pixar have also put together a brand-new series of "Cars Toon" animated shorts ...

Copyright 2008 Disney - Pixar. All Rights Reserved

... the first of which -- "Rescue Squad Mater" -- will have its world premiere tonight on Toon Disney at 6:56 p.m. (all times ET / PT).

These three-minute-long interstitials will also go by the name "Mater's Tall Tales." During which Lightning McQueen's rusty but trusty friend will tell a story about his past that may or may not be true.

In tonight's installment, Mater's part of a rescue squad ...

Copyright 2008 Disney - Pixar. All Rights Reserved

... that has to put out a blaze at the local Gasoline & Match factory.

Copyright 2008 Disney - Pixar. All Rights Reserved

Unfortunately, Lightning McQueen is injured at this inferno and then has to be rushed to the hospital. But not to worry. Mater's not just a fire truck. He's also an MD.

Copyright 2008 Disney - Pixar. All Rights Reserved

Can you see now why these new "Cars Toons" are also being called "Mater's Tall Tales" ? Just so you know, the further installments of this series get even sillier. In "Mater the Greater" (Which debuts tomorrow night on Toon Disney at 6:57 p.m. ET / PT), this tow truck reveals that he was once a world-famous daredevil ...

Copyright 2008 Disney - Pixar. All Rights Reserved

... who persuaded Lightning McQueen to take part in his most dangerous stunt.

Copyright 2008 Disney - Pixar. All Rights Reserved

And then -- on Wednesday night -- it's the world premiere of "El Materdor" (at 6:57 p.m. ET / PT on Toon Disney). Where Mater reveals that he was once the most famous bulldozer fighter in all of Spain.

Copyright 2008 Disney - Pixar. All Rights Reserved

Now what's particularly nice about these new "Cars Toons" interstitials is that they're not being produced by Pixar's B-team. John Lasseter himself had a hand in the creation of "Mater's Tall Tales." Working with Victor Navone, Rob Gibbs and Kori Rae, Lasseter made sure that these interstitials -- as crazy as they may seem -- were still a consistent part of the "Cars" universe.

In fact, if you're paying close attention, you can catch quick cameo appearances by characters from the first "Cars" movie, like Tia & Mia, the twin Miatas ...

Copyright 2008 Disney - Pixar. All Rights Reserved

... who appear as swooning senioritas in "El Materdor" ...

Copyright 2008 Disney - Pixar. All Rights Reserved

... as well as as buck-toothed members of Mater's stunt-driving support team in "Mater the Greater."

By the way, these three "Cars Toons" shorts are it ... at least for a while, anyway. Mind you, the guys at Pixar do have ideas for other interstitials starring Mater (And one hopes that they'll capitalize on that great Darth Mater that Mattel's artists created for this past Saturday night's auction at CAAF's annual Dream Halloween LA event) ...

Copyright 2008 Disney - Pixar / Mattel. All Rights Reserved

... but they're going to wait and see how the first set of "Mater's Tall Tales" are received before they put any more "Cars" - related shorts into production.

FYI: For those of you who don't get Toon Disney, all three of these "Cars Toons" will be shown through the day this coming Saturday, November 1st on the Disney Channel. And then -- starting on Tuesday, December 23rd -- "Rescue Squad Mater," "Mater the Greater" and "El Materdor" will be shown on ABC Family as part of that network's annual "25 Days of Christmas" programming event.

My 2008 Political Post

These two short films, made eight years apart, pretty much say where we've been and where we are now pretty succinctly.

They were created by movie maker (and animator) Charles Stone, and both have pretty much gone viral, but I put them up anyway because they plug nicely into the screed below ...

My first Presidential vote was cast for Richard Nixon. It was 1972. I was a Navy Swabbie. At the time, it seemed to me like the right thing to do.

This time around, my vote will be for Barack Obama.

Now I'm sure I'll get trolls who will call me a commie sympathizer and Muslim lover, a Librul, a Socialist, etc. etc. But let me explain anyway.

When a government has loused up as throughly as this one has, it's hard to get around the fact that all the damage will probably cause the general population to become ... I don't know ... pissed off. This is currently reflected in the poll numbers you find around the web*.

If Al Gore had become President, and versions of the disasters that have taken place under G.W. Bush had occurred with him, I've little doubt that the electorate would be on the cusp of riding Democrats out of town on a rail.

However, if we were in that alternate universe and the Democrats were about to become toast, I would not be one of the cooks burning them in the oven, because I'm not the man I was thirty-six years ago.

I am now middle-aged. A father and husband. A guy who has worked for a living for thirty-plus years, swimming against a rising tide of corporatism, where the top 1% earns the lion's share of wealth, where the government exists to protect and defend blue-chip companies and nobody else.

And I would still be voting the liberal, "spread the wealth around" line because I'm painfully aware that the United States has become -- in the words of novelist Gore Vidal -- a country devoted to "Socialism for the rich, and free enterprise for the poor," and I would like the equation to be redressed, at least a little.

Now I don't think Mr. Obama is the end-all and be-all as a Presidential nominee. And I don't believe John McCain is evil personified. But pushing income inequality to greater extremes -- as McCain's policies would do -- ends up making our problems worse. And sooner rather than later, more of us will end up like Dukie and his brethren: Out of a job, out of the house, and still in Iraq, being bled white to the tune of $10 billion per month.

There's not much time left before election day. Use it to make things better. And please vote.

* It's possible these poll numbers can change and Senator McCain might pull off a triumph. I doubt it, but it's possible.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

No comments: