Monday, November 10, 2008

News - 11/10/08...

`Madagascar' roars with $63.5 million weekend

Families herded into movie theaters for another trek with stranded zoo animals as the animated sequel "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa" led the weekend with a $63.5 million debut, according to studio estimates Sunday.

The haul for the DreamWorks Animation comedy far surpassed the $47.2 million debut for
"Madagascar" over Memorial Day weekend in 2005. Its three-day total also beat the $61 million gross the first movie took in over that full four-day holiday weekend.

"It just shows people seem happy to escape to the movies and have a good laugh,"
said Anne Globe, head of marketing for DreamWorks Animation.

While parents with children were the bulk of the audience,
"Madagascar" also drew teens and adults on their own, who made up half the audience on Friday and one-third on Saturday, Globe said.

Premiering in second place with $19.3 million was the Universal Pictures comedy
"Role Models," starring Seann William Scott and Paul Rudd as immature adults sentenced to community service as mentors for two misfit youths.

The weekend's other new wide release, the Weinstein Co. music comedy
"Soul Men," opened weakly with $5.6 million, despite the lure of Samuel L. Jackson and his late co-stars, Bernie Mac and Isaac Hayes, who died last summer. Jackson and Mac play an estranged singing team on a reunion road trip to a memorial concert.

Mac also was among the voice cast for the
"Madagascar" sequel, providing vocals as Zuba, the father of Ben Stiller's Alex the lion.

"Certainly, he just brought a wonderful heart to the role of Zuba. We were just fortunate to have him for that character,"
Globe said.

The movie also reunites voice stars Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith and Sacha Baron Cohen as the animal gang crash lands in an African nature preserve.

"High School Musical 3: Senior Year," which had been No. 1 the previous two weekends, slipped to third place with $9.3 million, raising its total to $75.7 million.

and "Role Models" kicked off a big start to Hollywood's holiday season. The top 12 movies took in $128.8 million, up 32 percent from the same weekend last year.

"It's all boding well,"
said Nikki Rocco, head of distribution for Universal. "We have lots of really good films coming, lots of commercial films. I love the fact that everybody's going to the movies. I love the fact that everybody likes what they're seeing."

The season continues with Sony's James Bond adventure
"Quantum of Solace"
on Friday, then Summit Entertainment's vampire romance "Twilight" and Disney's animated canine comedy "Bolt" on Nov. 21.

"Quantum of Solace"
continued to pull in big audiences overseas with $106.5 million in 60 countries, raising its total to $160.3 million since it began opening internationally Oct. 31.

Hollywood's domestic revenue for the year stands at $7.96 billion, a fraction ahead of the pace in 2007, when the industry took in a record $9.7 billion, according to box-office tracker Media By Numbers.

Factoring in inflation, the number of tickets sold this year trails last year's admissions by 4 percent. But Hollywood has a stronger lineup this time heading into Thanksgiving, so studios could finish the year with a bang.

"Given where we are and the films in the pipeline, we have a huge shot at more than making up for any kind of attendance deficit," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of Media By Numbers. "You wouldn't know there was a recession if you were just looking at the movie industry."

New Up, Bolt trailers

Two new trailers for Up and Bolt have now hit the net. Up’s new teaser can be viewed on TrailerAddict, while the preview for Bolt can be seen on Must Watch. Bolt opens on November 21st, while the wait for Up is a bit longer with the film hitting theaters on May 29th, 2009.

Drinky Crow to Fly on Adult Swim

Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim will debut the new animated series The Drinky Crow Show on Sunday, Nov. 23 at 12:15 a.m. (ET/PT). The show is based on the popular comic strip Maakies by Tony Millionaire, bringing its characters and irreverent humor to life as only Adult Swim can.

The Drinky Crow Show
chronicles the darkly comic misadventures of Uncle Gabby and Drinky Crow. The title character is a desperate, depressed and tormented romantic who seeks escape from the horror of being alive by killing his brain cells with alcohol and/or bullets. Uncle Gabby is an overweight, drunken monkey sailor who devotes his life to the simple pleasures of sleeping, eating, drinking, defecating and mindless coupling. The series’ theme song is performed by They Might Be Giants.

Co-created and exec produced by Millionaire and Eric Kaplan, the show debuted in May of 2007 as part of Adult Swim’s
“Night of 1,000 Pilots” and quickly became a viewer favorite. Millionaire is a cartoonist, illustrator and author who is also known for his Sock Monkey series of comic books. Maakies has earned him multiple Harvey and Eisner awards. Kaplan has written and produced for a number of television shows including The Late Show with David Letterman, Malcolm in the Middle, Futurama, Andy Richter Controls the Universe and HBO’s Flight of the Conchords. He currently serves as co-exec producer for the CBS comedy The Big Bang Theory

Alphanim Sells Gawayn to Disney Latin America

Alphanim has sold its new animated series, Gawayn, to The Walt Disney Co. Latin America. Co-produced with Mondo TV France, Gawayn is Alphanim’s first series produced with the European Broadcasting Union, whose members include France 3, Italy’s RAI, Spain’s TVE, Belgium’s RTBF and VRT, Portugal’s RTP, TSR in Switzerland and Zeppelin the Netherlands.

was recently introduced at MIPCOM Jr, where it secured commitments from a number of broadcasters and was also presold to SRC Radio-Canada. Set in the middle ages, the series (52 x 13) follows the comedic adventures of 10-year-old knight-in-training William and his mentor, the lovable but slightly inept Sir Roderick. When Princess Gwendolyn is miniaturized to doll size by the evil Duke, William and Roderick set off to find the Crystal of Gawayn and reverse the terrible curse.

The show is created by Jan Van Rijsselberge
(Potatoes & Dragons, SantApprentice, Robotboy) and directed by Luc Vinciguerra (SantApprentice, Zombie Hotel
). Alphanim is currently developing an MMORPG and a book publishing program based on the property.

Midway Welcomes New Chairman

Peter C. Brown has been named chairman of the board of directors at Midway Games Inc. following the resignation of Shari E. Redstone. Brown joined Midway’s board in 2005, and currently serves as a member of the Audit Committee. He is also chairman of the board, CEO and president of AMC Entertainment Inc. (AMC).

Mr. Brown has served as AMC’s chairman and CEO since July of 1999, and president since January of 1997. He is a director of Embarq Corp., National CineMedia Inc. and

President of National Amusements Inc., Redstone joined Midway’s board of directors in 2004, acting as vice chairwoman and serving on the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee and the Compensation Committee before taking on chairperson duties. She was recently appointed to the Special Committee of the National Amusements board of directors, and resigned from Midway to focus on those responsibilities.

Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, Midway Games has offices throughout the world and develops and publishes interactive entertainment software for all major gaming platforms. More information on the company and its products can be found at

FUNimation Brings Anime to Hulu

Leading anime distributor FUNimation Ent. has officially launched its programming partnership with online video service Hulu ( Debuting this week are installments of Shuffle, Peach Girl and Slayers, which join new episodes of Black Blood Brothers, Blue Gender, MoonPhase and Mushi-shi. Other offerings include Shikebane Hime, Kiddy Grade, Mr. Stain on Junk Alley and xxxHOLiC.

In the following months, Hulu visitors will be able to access nearly 150 episodes and approximately 75 hours of free on-demand programming from FUNimation’s library. Additional content will be added on a monthly basis.

“We support Hulu’s mission of making legitimate, professionally produced content easily available,” says Gen Fukunaga, president and CEO of FUNimation Ent. “Plus, the wide reach of Hulu not only allows fans to catch an episode they may have missed, but offers viewers a way to discover new shows.” offers consumers one of the largest selections of legal, free videos from more than 50 top broadcast networks, cable networks, movie studios and web content providers. On tap are 100 feature-length films and 400 television series, with hundreds of videos added to the site each week. Programming is provided by such leading media companies as FOX, NBC Universal, MGM, Sony Pictures Television, Warner Bros. Television Group and numerous cable outlets.

Insert Coin To Continue Game

Obviously these plans will change once the first film fails to make a dent at the box office and filmgoers summon it to DVD shelves alongside next year's 'Tekken' (fair assumption, look what happened to "Max Payne" and "Hitman"), but as of today, Hyde Park's Ashok Amritraj says he's looking to develop a franchise out of this "Street Fighter" reboot of his.

The studio bigwig tells Collider that he's so confident audiences will enjoy the upcoming Lana Lang-led film adaptation of the crusty-old video game that he's got two more ready to go.

''We feel that in the “Street Fighter” world universe there are 3 key characters which are Ken, Ryu and Chun Li. So we hope the movie works but we’ve taken Chun Li and this is a movie “Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li” so the Chun Li movie we’ve gone with and if it works we hope to do Ken and Ryu and so on. But we would do Chun Li and then we’d have Bison and Vega and you know some of the Balrog and all that.''

''I really think we have a good film. I really think Kristin is enough unknown to play the role and not be identified with some star. While on the other hand, people kind of know who she is, you know from “Smallville” but not really. She fits the role. I think she’s absolutely terrific in the film and we have very cool sort of all the things from the video game that we tried for but then we feel we’ve not really stuck to it. It’s an origin story of Chun Li is what the movie is and we feel it works. I mean I feel it works.''

So these next two movies would center on? ''I would like to do the Ryu and Ken stories [separately]. Again everything is always tied of the performance.''

Sounds like a smart-enough man, clearly he'll never work for FOX.

Event News

The New York International Children's Film Festival will be presenting Sita Sings the Blues on November 8th and 9th at 11am at New York's IFC Center. Animator Nina Paley will be in person following both shows.

Tickets can be purchased here

Sita is a goddess separated from her beloved Lord and husband Rama. Nina is an animator whose husband moves to India, then dumps her by email. Three bickering shadow puppets with Indian accents act as comic narrators as these old and new stories are interwoven in a post-modern, feminist retelling of the ancient Indian epic Ramayana, animated in a dazzling mix of traditional and collage animation styles, and backed by a soundtrack from legendary 1920's jazz singer Annette Hanshaw. This visually stunning, highly original, subtly subversive comedic work is as enjoyable for children as it is for adults.

A trailer can be reviewed here


Toys"R"Us will be distributing "one of the most unique and powerful dragon-type" Pokémon via Wireless Distribution November 8 and November 9 (12 pm to 4 pm ).

On Saturday, November 8 and Sunday, November 9 from 12 pm to 4 pm, Pokémon fans who bring their Pokémon™ Diamond or Pokémon™ Pearl Game Card (sold separately), along with their Nintendo DS™, to any Toys"R"Us store in the United States and Puerto Rico will have a chance to add a Level 50 Dragonite to their game. Giveaways at this exclusive Toys"R"Us event also include a complimentary Pokémon Ranger™: Shadows of Almia poster and a coupon for $5 off any Nintendo DS game, for redemption at Toys"R"Us stores only.


Wizard World Texas will be screening two episodes of Spaceballs:The Animated Series ("Hairy Putter" and "Mighty Meteor" ) on Friday November 7th from 5-6 p.m. in the Michael Turner Room at the Arlington Convention Center.

The creators of the Adult Swim series "Moral Orel" will appear at the Wizard World Texas convention. During their appearance on Saturday, November 8th, Dino Stamatopoulos, Scott Adsit and Chris McKay will participate in a special panel with everything from a question and answer session and clips from upcoming episodes to insights on how the dirtiest stop-motion animation series ever is made. Scott and Dino will also play Match Game alongside some of the biggest names in comics during Saturday night’s game show event benefiting the Hero Initiative.

Game Show Night, Wizard World Texas style, will be held Saturday, November 8th from 6:30 – 8:30 P.M. in the FearFest Room at the Arlington Convention Center. Admission to the event is $5 and tickets to the event can be purchased at the Hero Initiative Booth on the show floor. Contestants will be determined by raffle. Raffle tickets ($2 each, 3 for $5) can be purchased at the Hero Initiative booth. One lucky winner will win a JS20S 20TH Anniversary Model electric guitar from Ibanez, which features a stunning rendering of the Silver Surfer on the body, IBZ Axis pickups and the Edge III trem. The Silver Surfer art comes from the album jacket of the groundbreaking Joe Satriani album "Surfing with the Alien." Contestants must be present at the event to win.

The Hero Initiative is the first-ever federally chartered not-for-profit corporation dedicated strictly to helping comic book creators in need. Hero creates a financial safety net for yesterday’s creators who may need emergency medical aid, financial support for essentials of life and an avenue back into paying work.


Anime, as Japanese animation is usually called, is an immense presence in the culture of Japan, with a global reach as well. During the film series "Anime for Grown-ups: The Art of Japanese Animation," the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute will examine anime not from the perspective of genre expectations, but through the work of directors who speak in the international language of film.

The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts has begun presenting the "Anime for Grown-ups: The Art of Japanese Animation." Films are free and held on Saturdays in November at 1 pm (Japanese with English subtitles) and 3 pm (dubbed American version).

Whisper of the Heart ( 1995, 111 min., rated PG )
November 8
For Whisper of the Heart, a thoroughly charming tale of adolescent romance and a bright young girl’s search for self, Hayao Miyazaki wrote the script but gave the direction to heir apparent Yoshifumi Kondo. If you liked Juno, you will love this winning story of a brash schoolgirl finding both a boyfriend and a calling in life.

Grave of the Fireflies ( 1988, 88 min., rated PG-13 )
November 15
Directed by Isao Takahata, Hayao Miyazaki’s longtime collaborator, Grave of the Fireflies is a sensitive, harrowing film that depicts the impact of war on children, warranting comparison to all-time classic Forbidden Games. An orphaned boy and his younger sister, struggling for survival in the aftermath of the World War II firebombing of Japan, find evanescent beauty in a terminal landscape.

Tokyo Godfathers ( 2004, 92 min., rated PG-13 )
November 22
Satoshi Kon, a young director to watch, transposes John Ford’s Western Three Godfathers to the underbelly of modern-day Tokyo, with three tramps—an alcoholic, a transvestite, and a teen runaway—finding a baby on Christmas Eve, and encountering comic adventures in their heartwarming attempt to return the child to its mother.

Paprika ( 2006, 90 min., rated R )
November 29
Paprika is the therapeutic avatar of a powerful woman psychiatrist, partnered with a blubbery nerd genius who has invented a machine that allows physical entry into the dreams of subjects, a dangerous weapon in the hands of the unscrupulous and power-mad.


Anime Masterpieces will present "Grave of the Fireflies," Saturday, Dec. 6, 2 p.m., in the Smithsonian's Freer Gallery of Art’s Meyer Auditorium. The film is followed by a panel discussion with leading authorities on the subject of Japanese animation, or anime. For tickets, see here

The panel discussion features Pulitzer prize-winning historian John W. Dower, author of "Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II"; Japanese literary authority Susan J. Napier, author of "Anime from Akira to Howl’s Moving Castle"; and manga and anime historian Frederick L. Schodt, author of "Manga! Manga! The World of Japanese Comics."

Produced by New York-based company Gorgeous Entertainment, the series is aimed at enhancing the understanding and appreciation of the Japanese art of anime. At each screening, audience members are given study guides containing essays by eminent scholars of Japanese pop culture and animation, which are supplemented by numerous images from the film.

The winner of several international film awards,
"Grave of the Fireflies," written and directed by Isao Takahata, chronicles the experiences of two children as they valiantly struggle to survive amidst the ravaged landscape of Japan during World War II. It is considered by many critics as one of the most moving anti-war films ever made. Chicago Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert calls the film "an emotional experience so powerful it forces a rethinking of animation."

The next scheduled screening of "Grave of the Fireflies" is Feb. 11, 2009, at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

The next film in the Anime Masterpieces series is "Tekkonkinkreet" and is available for screenings courtesy of Sony Home Entertainment beginning January 2009.

Anime on North American TV

Bandai Entertainment Inc. announced today that Code Geass R2 will move to 2am on Adult Swim starting November 8th with a rebroadcast of the first episode "The Day the Demon Awakens" which premiered last Saturday. Subsequent episodes will air at 2am each week.

continues the Code Geass story immediately following the events of the Season 1 which just concluded airing on Adult Swim. Lelouch and Suzaku are on a collision course as Zero’s revolution escalates toward its climatic conclusion. One of the most successful anime in recent years, Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion features animation studio Sunrise and a story by Goro Taniguchi (s-CRY-ed, Planetes) and Ichiro Okouchi (Eureka SeveN, Planetes) and character designs by the legendary manga creators CLAMP. The story is a military drama with intricate plot lines and robotic action about the character Lelouch and his journey to overthrow a totalitarian regime that has invaded Japan.

Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R2
will follow its broadcast with a DVD release planned
for 2009

ICV2 reports that Adult Swim will be retooling their Saturday anime programming with a line-up of
Bleach at 1am followed by Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit (1:30am), Code Geass (2am), and Shin Chan (2:30am), Fooly Cooly (FLCL, 3am), Death Note (3:30am), Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (4am), Cowboy Bebop (4:30am), Big O (5am), and Inuyasha

In a major format change, the Adult Swim Saturday night schedule will not involve repeating shows broadcast earlier the same night.

Worth Checking Out...

AniPages launches a detailed conversation on the latest from Bones. Also What makes animation interesting?

Chicks On Anime recently spoke to AniPages Daily's Benjamin Ettinger on key animation

Erica Friedman lists Anime With Strong, Adult Female Leads.

The new issue of Otaku USA is out, here are the contents.
Editor-in-chief Patrick Macias' preview can be read here
Otaku USA's site also features
Battle Angel
Gundam 00 Season 2
Claymore Election Day

Chip Kidd talks Bat-Manga at the Strand

LA Weekly on Ball Joint Dolls

Bateszi Anime Blog on Devilman

Twitch talks favorite Japanese soundtrack composers, most which should be familiar to anime fans

The site also reviews Mamoru Oshii's live action anthology Kill and an interview with TOKYO GORE POLICE Director Yoshihiro Nishimura

Production I.G posts a Q and A with director Kenji Kamiyamai

May’n (Macross F's Sheryl Nome) interviewed

Publishers Weekly spoke ton Yen Press's Kurt Hassler. The site also features a look at MangaNext

An evalutation of the medical accuracy of Black Jack volume 1 at Polite Dissent

A new Akihabara shopping guide

Reverse Thieves talks Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Why not?, along with "Top 5 WTF?! Moments in Anime"

Anime Pulse talks The Providence Anime Conference

FUNimation as posted a test episode of the comedy Sgt. Frog on their YouTube Channel.

The series follows the attempts of frog-like alien invaders to conquer Earth. Sergeant Keroro is the leader of the platoon which botches its attempt at world domination and is left behind in our hostile world! And then (dramatic pause), Sgt. Keroro falls into the hands of a human family ...

The Beat has posted a full chapter of Vertical's release of Osamu Tezuka's Black Jack, featuring the origin of his assistant/"wife" Pinoko

Evangelion origami

ANIPAC looks at the The pulp art of Ishihara Gojin

Totoro bento box and Nekobus papercraft (and Howl's Moving Castle papercract)

spacecoyote's (of manga Simpsons fame) Obama-Okami tribute

Anime News Network notes that Futabasha has published the first chapter of Jiro Taniguchi's (Icaro, Ice Wanderer, Benkei in New York) Sensei no Kaban (The Teacher's Briefcase) online.

Shigeyuki Fukumitsu's gag manga Uchi no Tsuma-tte Do Desho? has also been

A trailer for the live action adaptation of Osamu Tezuka's picaresque Mw. A review of the provocative manga can be seen here

Halloween at Viz

Original Artwork and Paintings By Yuichi Yokoyama

Hunting for the Kappa Monster in Tokyo

Pyu to Fuku! Jaguar trailer

Blood+ volume 4 preview

Clockwork Machina! talks their upcoming t Comic Market 75 appearance

How anime cred is established in Japan

urology manga

Hokuto No Ken; Uniting Asia

New Evangelion Unit-02 designs

Times Square Hello Kitty

Macross F English Teaches: "I Like Middle-Aged Man"

Bader And Jelenic Discuss The Upcoming "Batman: The Brave And The Bold" Series

The World's Finest recently sat down with story editor Michael Jelenic and voice actor Diedrich Bader to discuss their respective roles on Batman: The Brave and The Bold.

To view these two new interviews, click on the links provided below.

Diedrich Bader Interview / Michael Jelenic Interview

Batman: The Brave and The Bold is set to premiere on November 14th, 2008, at 8pm (ET) on Cartoon Network. The Canadian network Teletoon will also be airing a special preview of Batman: The Brave and The Bold on November 14th, 2008, at 5:30pm (ET) before giving the series a regular timeslot in January 2009.

Bryan Fuller Returning to Heroes?

Entertainment Weekly reports that former "Heroes" writer (and "Pushing Daisies" creator) Bryan Fuller may rejoin the show now that co-executive producers/writers Jeph Loeb and Jesse Alexander have been let go.Bold

"I am exclusive to 'Daisies' through the delivery of the 13th episode of our 13-episode order, which will be mid-January," Fuller said. "If 'Daisies' isn't picked up by then, I will definitely be going back to play with my friends at 'Heroes.'"

It's unlikely ABC will pick up more episodes of "Daisies" considering the show is currently ranked at No. 64 and attracts just 6.14 million viewers.

Fuller, who was responsible for the critically-acclaimed "Company Man" episode of "Heroes," also created "Dead Like Me" for Showtime and Fox's "Wonderfalls."

Betty Boop-boop-a-dooping her way onto Broadway

Betty Boop has always been a singing sensation... and now Fleischer Studios' spit-curled cutie is headed for Broadway during the 2010-11 season.

With music by Canadian composer David Foster, who has written pop songs for Celine Dion and Barbra Streisand -- Betty Boop will open in a yet-to-be-announced theater in the Nederlander chain.

"In the new musical, the inimitable Betty Boop joins her friends Bimbo and Koko to work her irresistible charm in reuniting her grandfather (who has created the Greatest Invention of Mankind) with the long-lost, true love of his life, while saving the Happy Heart Theater from the developer's bulldozers," press notes for the production said.

The winner of over a dozen Grammys, Foster also has worked with such singers as Whitney Houston, Josh Groban and Andrea Bocelli.

The book will be written by Oscar Williams and Sally Robinson. Robinson is a screenwriter whose credits include Medicine Man and Iron Jawed Angels.

No director is currently attached, and casting details have not been announced.

Ostar Productions is the musical's production company.

Andrew Lippa and David Lindsay-Abaire were collaborating on a Betty Boop musical at one time, the theater magazine Playbill observed Thursday.

Foster is the winner of more than a dozen Grammy Awards and has worked with such singers as Celine Dion, Barbra Streisand, Whitney Houston, Josh Groban and Andrea Bocelli.

Meanwhile, "Betty Boop" lottery tickets are heading to Kansas retailers this week in time for Veterans Day.

Proceeds from the $2 tickets will assist Kansas veterans programs and aid with construction of additional space at the Museum of the Kansas National Guard.

Thirty percent of proceeds from ticket sales will go to the museum, located at Forbes Field south of Topeka, state adjutant-general Maj. Gen. Tod Bunting said Thursday.

As well, funds will go to veterans scholarship programs and supporting the Kansas Commission on Veterans Affairs, which operates the Veterans' Home in Winfield, the Soldiers' Home at Dodge City and the Veterans' Cemetery System.

HPA kudos handed out

'Dark Knight,' 'Iron Man,' 'Wall-E' honored

Three of the year's biggest box office hits got feature film kudos Thursday night as the Hollywood Post Alliance handed out the third annual HPA awards.

"The Dark Knight" took top honors for editing, "Iron Man" took the kudo for color grading using digital intermediate and "Wall-E" was saluted for its audio post.

The evening's only multiple winners were ABC skein
"Pushing Daisies," which was saluted for color grading and editing, and Jaguar's "XF Hush"
commercial which also won two awards.

"CSI" took top honors for television audio post.

The HPA Award calendar ends early and so 2007 holiday releases competed with features released through summer 2008.

Among previously announced winners, Elizabeth Daly, dean of the USC School of Cinematic Arts, was presented the first Charles S. Swartz award, recognizing "broad and lasting contributions that have advanced and/or provided some unique purpose to the field of Post Production."

'Donkey Xote' proves story still rules

Lumiq's animated film retooled for Italian release

'Donkey Xote'

The posters in Spain for "Donkey Xote" proclaimed "From the producers who saw 'Shrek,'" but those ironic one-sheets could not make the "Don Quixote" adaptation a success in their native land, where the digital toon has been a quixotic quasi-flop.

What happened?

"The problem was the script," says Lumiq's Carlo Alfano. "Average audiences won't really appreciate the definition of a lion's hair or the detailed texture of a forest. They want a great story."

That's why the version that went out in Italy on Oct. 31 was completely retooled with rewritten dialogues and even some plot modifications. Lumiq is distributing
"Donkey Xote" in tandem with Italo distrib Revolver, opening on a modest 70 prints.

"Donkey" should not be considered a total flail against the windmills. It sold to all Spanish-language territories and has been released in Poland, Russia and Turkey.

"We have proved that we are capable on the production side, but we need to work on the scripts and develop the right stories," says Alfano.

"Now we'd like to take the next step."

Dave Gibbons On The 'Watchmen' Movie

Dave Gibbons continues to make the rounds, this time talking to

"I really enjoyed it as a movie. I thought it was a great movie. It was a long movie, I think the cut I saw was about two hours and fifty minutes. I’m not sure about that, because I wasn’t timing it. I was just enjoying it. And I enjoyed every minute of it. I could have done with more of it. I mean, as you can appreciate, I’m unique in all the world sitting in the dark watching this, because it could easily be confused with me lying in the dark with my eyes shut, dreaming up the images in the first place. So many of the images in there are the essence of what I saw in my head when I came to design scenes based on Alan’s script. So, there was a really, rather dreamlike and surreal quality to it."

Click here for the full interview...

New Images From Upcoming "Hulk Versus Thor" And "Hulk Versus Wolverine" Features

Lionsgate Home Entertainment has provided Marvel Animation Age with three hi-res images from the upcoming Hulk Versus direct-to-video animated feature.

For a close look at the images, click on the thumbnails below.

The direct-to-video Hulk Versus animated feature, which comprises of the two short films Hulk Versus Thor and Hulk Versus Wolverine, will hit DVD and Blu-ray on January 27th, 2009. Click here to check out the press release for the upcoming title.

The 5 Most Scientifically Plausible Sci-Fi Movies

Reuters – A scene from the film 'Iron Man'. Marvel Entertainment was a victim of its own success Tuesday, reporting …

Great science fiction isn't just about gooey aliens and gee-whiz technologies like teleporters. Unlike, say, the ever-popular fantasy genre, sci-fi is often grounded in the human condition and based on plausible-if speculative-science. Of course, some science fiction films are more plausible than others: Would the Galactic Empire really have enough manpower to build (and then rebuild) the Death Star in the Star Wars films? While legions of sci-fi nerds debate that question, here's are flicks that stand out:

1. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
It's no accident that the classic sci-fi film 2001 was rooted in good science, having sprung from the mind of the late, great Arthur C. Clarke. Clarke's background in science informed and inspired the setting in 2001, describing geosynchronous satellites, artificial intelligence, and commercial space travel. Clarke lived long enough to see the satellites he envisioned actually put into orbit, and in the deserts of New Mexico, a "spaceport" is planned that will allow paying passengers to see our pale blue dot from near space.

2. The Truman Show (1998)
It's hard for many young people to remember, but there was a time before the 24-hour news feed and the reality TV craze. The Truman Show, starring Jim Carrey as the unwitting star of a voyeuristic television show watched by billions around the planet, foretold the coming of America's weekly entertainment. Not only was close, continuous surveillance plausible, it already exists in current hits like Big Brother and Survivor.

3. Gattaca (1997)
In the not-too-distant future world of Gattaca, children's genes are pre-selected by their upper-class parents for the best traits; those babies whose genes are imperfect are treated as second-class citizens. Today DNA analysis is common, and several companies offer genetic testing for as little as a few hundred dollars. Genetic profiling? Health insurance companies potentially denying claims based on genetic predisposition to a disease? For many, this fear is not science fiction but science fact.

4. Iron Man (2008)
Marvel Comics hero Tony Stark is a genius inventor whose suit of armor-basically a souped-up mechanical exoskeleton run by computers-is probably more scientifically plausible than most superheroes. Though Iron Man's nifty gadgets, including his handy laser repulsors and jet boots, remain science fiction, in many cases the underlying scientific principles are sound. Practical problems, such as the suit's cost and weight, would make a real Iron Man unlikely.

5. Jurassic Park (1993)
Part of what made Michael Crichton an enormously popular writer was his ability to extrapolate current science technology. Science fiction has always been about "What if?", and few modern authors blended science fact with science fiction so successfully. Though scientists are a long way off from cloning dinosaurs-they haven't gone much past Dolly the cloned sheep-the scientific fundamentals are there. By the end of the century, real cloned dinos might just be chasing down tourists!

Djimon Hounsou to Voice Black Panther

BET Networks and Marvel Animation have hired Djimon Hounsou (Blood Diamond) to voice to the title character in the cable network's upcoming animated series, "The Black Panther."

The series will be adapted from six issues of the Marvel comic of the same name, which were written in 2005 by director, producer (The Boondocks, House Party) and former BET president Reginald Hudlin.

"It's a blessing for African Americans and minorities to have a superhero they can identify with," said Hounsou of the character, which was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, debuted in 1966 in a Fantastic Four comic and later headlined his own volumes beginning in 1973.

Brett Ratner Commits to Conan

The Hollywood Reporter says that Brett Ratner has weighed two high-profile projects the past few weeks: Paramount's fourth installment of the "Beverly Hills Cop" franchise and a 21st century take on "Conan" co-produced by Nu Image/Millennium and Lionsgate.

Ratner has now made his choice and is in final negotiations to direct Conan, which is aiming for a release in early 2010.

The trade says that Ratner jived to the Conan script by Joshua Oppenheimer and Thomas Dean Donnelly, who looked to Robert E. Howard's original pulp stories of the 1930s to create their take on the character. The writers are doing a quick polish to incorporate some of Ratner's ideas.

Joe Gatta and Avi Lerner of Millennium Films are producing, along with Paradox Entertainment president and CEO Fredrik Malmberg.

Millennium and Lionsgate are eyeing a potential franchise and envision a very R-rated approach in the $85 million budget range. Preproduction is under way for a shoot at Nu Image's Nu Boyana Studio in Bulgaria.

"The story opens on the battlefield where Conan is born and tells the origin story that sets the stage for what will be the first of multiple films," Lerner said.

Cameron Unsure Aabout T4

There was some footage from ''Terminator Salvation'' on YouTube this morning. I say was because it's since been removed by the studio.

Didn't see it myself. AB King emailed me (the subject header : "HOLY F***, SALVATION is gonna KICK ASS!") whilst I was still chasing demon dogs and dancing with hula girls in my dreams, and by the time I was up and atom, it was gone.... Poof! Ta-da!

I wonder if James Cameron saw it before it was taken down? Maybe the footage was enough to convince him one way or the other what the film's going to be like because at the moment he doesn't really have an opinion on it - and can't; he hasn't, after all, even read the script.

Cameron told Aint it Cool that '' There's been some discussion at AICN and elsewhere of me rescinding my so-called blessing of T4 and that's not the case. The truth is there never was a blessing to rescind, and there's been some kind of misunderstanding between me and McG, perfectly innocent I believe. He asked me in a phone call when I was shooting in New Zealand earlier this year if I would be a supporter and creative participant in the new film. I said sure, send me the script and I'll give you my thoughts. And I warned him that free advice is usually worth what you pay for it. For whatever reason I never got the script and to date I haven't seen a foot of film other than what everybody's seen in the trailer, which is not enough to form an opinion. So I have zero basis for supporting or dissing the film. As I said in an interview, for all I know it could be a masterpiece or it could be a big steaming pile. I think all people heard was the steaming pile part and concluded I was against the film, which I'm not. In fact, it might be very good, an opinion based solely on what Sam Worthington has shared with me. He's nobody's fool when it comes to material, and has absolutely the lowest bullshit quotient of anyone I know, and he has repeatedly told me that he reckons the film is going to be good. I know him to be very critical (in a healthy way) of his own work, and an actor who always aspires to excellence, so I know he wouldn't praise the film if he didn't feel it.

Obviously I can't give my blessing (whatever that means anyway ) to the film completely blind. But I'm predisposed to be supportive based on Sam's involvement and his judgment, because I believe in him. So there you have it. Let's all keep our fingers crossed that it's not a steaming pile.''

I believe Worthington's a man of his word too - but that doesn't mean people still aren't going to be disappointed by the fact that it doesn't feature a 6-foot Austrian in a leather jacket.

Toonz Entertainment believes in CGI "Santa Claus"

Three studios are combining to produce the CGI-animated feature film The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, based on the book by L. Frank Baum (The Wizard of Oz).

Singapore-based Toonz Entertainment are working with Ashok Amritaj's Hyde Park Entertainment and Gang of 7 Animation for the production, expected to be ready for theatrical release during the 2010 holiday season.

This will be Hyde Park Entertainment's first animated film.

Gang of 7 Animation head Tom Tataranowicz will join Rich Arons and Dick Sebast to direct the film. Tataranowicz and Mark Edward Edens wrote the script.

"story follows Santa's formative years, including a battle against the heart of evil that establishes the Santa mythology," Variety reported Thursday.

Production begins this month at Toonz Animation Studio in India. Hyde Park shares domestic rights with G7 and will distribute
The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus internationally. As well, the film will be sold at AFM.

: A stop-motion version of The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus
was also produced by Rankin/Bass in 1985 -

24 Hour Toons

Disney Feature animation artists Joe Pitt and Alex Hirsch have started an animation blog project, 24 Hour Toons. Every other week, on Fridays at midnight, they put up a theme and challenge their colleagues to make a animated film about it within the course of 24 hours. They’ve only had a couple rounds so far but the results are intriguing and fun - for example:

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

The Precinct Cracks Its First Case

David Blumenstein has finally delivered his 2-minute teaser pilot for The Precinct. I’ve been tracking this project for a couple years now, and it doesn’t disappoint. Blumenstein, the creator, co-writer, designer and composer of the pBoldroject, describes The Precinct as a mix between shows like The Shield and “idiotic cop action” like Lethal Weapon. Adam Wajnberg co-wrote the project, while animation was handled by Kelly Lynagh, Simon Apfelbaum, Rachel Bloch and Ann-Marie Denham (sp?). Blumenstein recently took his project to MIPCOM, and he recounts his sales mission on his blog. Here’s the explosive 2-minute teaser episode The Precinct: Good Friends (NSFW - some strong language):

The King of the Hill Crew

Not the cast members, but the artists doing the show.

The late morning found me wandering around Film Roman, mainly with the The Goode Family and King of the Hill units ...

Goode Family
is moving briskly along. One of the supervisors told me that there's a few more months on the schedule, then the first batch of episodes for ABC will be done.

"We're not going to know if there is a pickup until after the show goes on the air, so everybody is looking at a long hiatus. Who's hiring?"

Note how this "who's hiring?" question keeps coming up. Gives you an idea how truly crappy the teevee animation employment picture has been of late.

Speaking of which, the King of the Hill artists were talking about the prospects of KOTH being picked up by ABC, now that it's been canceled by Fox. Nobody had any solid answers, since upper and middle management isn't talking.

But I think I have a clue about King's prospects for survival:

Cartoon Network's mature animation bloc Adult Swim began its illustrious career by cannibalizing cast-offs from other networks, most notably Fox. And it really hit its ratings stride once it netted aborted Fox shows like Family Guy and Futurama.

So it's sticking with the streak by syndicating Mike Judge's recently canceled Fox lifer
King of the Hill
, which just wrapped up its 12th season, and expanding its programming to seven nights a week. The new schedule starts in January 2009, at which point Adult Swim will broadcast its envelope-pushing cartoons at 10 p.m. every night.

If Adult Swim in an indicator ... and I think it is ... then the artists on the Mike Judge show will, sometime, somehow, be working on new episodes. After Adult Swim and sizable DVD sales, Hill will emerge from its present corpse-like condition and get a new lease on life.

At least, that's my prediction. (Feel free to comment on what a starry-eyed Pollyanna I am.)

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

The Charlie Downs Interview

Charlie Downs, circa 1960 by Ric Gonzalez. Crewcuts were all the rage.

Over a long career, cartoon veteran Charlie Downs animated on almost every kind of project. Disney and Richard Williams features, commercials, television specials and series, he did it all.

Charlie was born in Richfield Idaho on March 22, 1927. After service in the Navy, he studied at Chouinard Art Institute, afterward going to Disney Feature Animation where he started (as did hundreds before him) as an in-betweener.

Mr. Downs was active in TAG politics for decades. Not only was he a charter member of the guild and elected onto the board in the early fifties, he was elected as Vice President in 1960 and again in 1968. He served as President of the guild in 1964 and 1965. He passed away in July of this year.

In this 1991 interview, conducted two years before he retired from a forty-plus years career, Charlie talks about his early days at Disney and the joys of working in the Ward Kimball unit ...

Q: So, April Fool’s Day 1950 was when you started at Disney’s?

Uh huh. The training class I was in had John Dunne, Joe Hale, Bob Kirch. There were two others, but they quit before the first year was up.

Q: What did you do before the training program?

I worked for about six months at Douglas after I got out of Choinard’s. Before Chouinards, I was in the navy, on a tanker. The USS Misspilian.

Q: What was the first scene you worked on? "Alice in Wonderland"?

I only did one scene on Alice and that was doing in-betweens that they were putting on ones of the caterpillar, sitting on top of the toadstool. It was awful. I worked on “Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom” and “Melody Time,” and that’s because I had gone to Chouinards and knew design, and I was actually stylizing the characters around cleanups, making them look flat.

Q: Was that Kimball’s unit?

Not really. Ward was working through an old buddy of his that he rode back and forth to work with that was a director. Afterwards, he got off into the space show. Walt was trying to get the United States to put up money for space stuff, and so we were making the “Man in Space,” “Man in the Moon”, “Mars and Beyond.”

I had a hell of a good time on those. We did everything. We did the research and then we wrote it, we did the storyboards, we did a lot of the layouts, and then we animated it. And some of it we inked and painted.

Q: How long did that show last? I mean the working on it.

Oh, the three of them lasted about five years. There was about seven of us working for Kimball, like a small tv animation studio, and he had us do just everything.

Q: And Walt left you alone?

Oh, he came in for a meeting when we were all through with the storyboards and we would … In fact, I found out that he came in on the weekend before the meeting and looked them over, so he would have his answers ready. But we would go through the storyboard and then he’d recommend changes, and we’d make them.

Ward always cut the pencil tests into the reel, so he wouldn’t just look at them alone, so he could see how they hooked up. And he was rolling through there and he stopped and he ran the scene back, and he looked at it again. This was somebody else’s scene. And he looks at it, and he says: “That isn’t the way I would’ve done it,” and he ran it back again and then he stopped and he looked at me. And he says: “That doesn’t mean anything. You give a scene to five guys and you get back five different scenes, and they can all work.”

Ward used the scene.

Charlie Downs, second from right, at the retirement of Bob Youngquist (to Charlie's immediate right) in the Disney Penthouse Club (December 1970).

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

IATSE and AMPTP Negotiations Get Reanimated

In case you hadn't heard, our Mother International and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers return to the negotiating table on Monday next. For those just tuning in, this isn't the maiden voyage for these particular set of contract talks:

The AMPTP and IATSE held the last round of talks in April -- more than a year before the conclusion of the current deal, which expires in August 2009 and covers about 25,000 West Coast workers in 18 locals. Both sides said at the the time that those talks covered new media, minimums and the pension and health plans.

The IA hosted an informational meeting for local union reps last week. Nobody needed to know what proposals were on the table, because everyone found that out last April when the negotiations started. (Here's a five-word hint if you might be wondering: wages, benefits, new media.)

What we were (mostly) there for was an update on how the Motion Picture Industry Pension and Health Plan was faring.

The Good News: The Plan is doing better than most. Its investment assets are conservatively invested, and the billions now residing in stocks, bonds, real estate and a few other things haven't taken the hit that the broad U.S. and foreign stock markets have.

The Bad News: Plan investments have taken a hit. They're down roughly 12-15% from the beginning of the year.

The Other News: The Motion Picture Industry Health Plan is experiencing an increase in costs of around 9% per year. Going forward, this will probably mean some changes are going to happen over the next contract cycle. (This has been the standard mantra for as long as I've been doing this. Costs hardly ever go down.)

One of the questions asked during the meeting: Is the big corporate downturn of the last two months going to impact the talks?" One of the older and wiser heads noted:

"Sure, they'll use the recession and downturn as a reason not to give us anything, as a reason for rollbacks. But look, the producers always have a reason they want rollbacks. If it isn't a recession, it's something else, like the business model is changing, or they're overstretched, or that we've got get along with less for the good of the industry.

"It's always some reason or another. The song and dance never changes, so don't expect it to be any different this time."

And of course the SAG talks are still hanging out there like a sagging branch on a diseased elm, and that won't likely be changing anytime soon.

The IATSE-AMPTP talks will occupy a good chunk of next week, and I'll be in attendance. But don't expect any details unveiled here until there's a deal in p;lace and all the mouth gags are removed.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

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