Toei’s Pretty Cure Sits Pretty at Box Office
Toei Animation’s Yes! Pretty Cure 5 Go Go! has hit No. 2 at box office in Japan, according to Daily Variety. The latest installment in the popular girls’ fantasy franchise opened nationwide on Nov. 8 and reportedly raked in $1.6 million in its first two days in theaters.
Based on the popular anime television series, the movie sees the return of five-member Pretty Cure team. Flora, guardian of the Cure Rose Garden, becomes alarmed when an art organization tries to get to the garden by invading the Palmier Kingdom and four other realms to acquire keys from their rulers. Sensing danger approaching, Flora sends a letter to Nozomi and the Pretty Cure 5 asking for their help.
Pretty Cure is second to John Woo’s sweeping period epic Red Cliff: Part I, which has topped the Japanese weekend B.O. for two consecutive weeks. This past weekend, the historical Chinese drama raked in $4.125 million, bringing its two-week total to $18.1 million. The film is distributed by Toho-Towa and Avex Ent.
Miser Brothers Coming to ABC Family
Fans of the Rankin-Bass animated Christmas classic The Year Without a Santa Claus will remember the characters Heat Miser and Snow Miser. This holiday season, the quarreling siblings are back in ABC Family’s new original animated special A Miser Brothers’ Christmas, which premieres Saturday, Dec. 13 at 8 p.m. (ET/PT). Mickey Rooney returns as the voice of Santa Claus and George S. Irving reprises the role of Heat Miser. The debut is part of the network’s “25 Days of Christmas” programming event.
Santa’s new chief mechanic, Tinsel, has created a speedy, new high-tech sleigh for Christmas, but North Wind has sabotaged it in the hope of taking Santa’s place this year. When Santa takes it out for a spin, he gets caught in the cross fire between the feuding Miser Brothers and the sleigh comes crashing down. North Wind frames the Misers for the accident and, with Santa stuck in bed with a bad back, seems poised to be the heroic fill-in. But much to his chagrin, Mother Nature punishes the Miser Brothers by forcing them to put their differences aside and do Santa’s job. In between comedic squabbles, the Brothers rediscover what it means to be family and, along the way, save Christmas for everyone.
Written by Eddie Guzelian (Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch), and directed by Dave Barton Thomas, the special is produced by Warner Bros. Animation in association with Cuppa Coffee Studios and is presented by Warner Bros. Animation and ABC Family. Exec producers are Adam Shaheen, Howard Schwartz and Linda M. Steiner.
Manga Studio 4 Released For Windows
Smith Micro Software Inc. Consumer Group today announced the availability of Manga Studio Debut 4 and Manga Studio EX 4 for Windows. The manga and comic art software is used by artists and hobbyists to create professional, ready-to-publish comics and print cartoons from start to finish.
“The global manga phenomenon is growing rapidly and today thousands of manga artists around the world delve into a wide range of subjects, including comedy, action, sports, business and romance," said Sarina DuPont, product manager for Smith Micro Software. “Manga Studio has become one of the world's most popular comic solutions because it saves artists time and resources, while offering users powerful tools to enhance their creativity.”
Manga Studio 4 offers an intuitive interface and a comprehensive suite of screen tones, content and special effects to satisfy comic artists at any level. The Debut version is designed for novice users and features a Beginner's Assistant and dynamic help to allow them to get started quickly. Manga Studio 4 EX offers many new features including specialized color correction tools, millions of colors to choose from, enhanced filtering sets and special effects, new vector tools to create resolution-independent vector images, and more than 550 3D objects to use as comic props.
Manga Studio Debut 4 carries a suggested retail price of $49.99. Previous users can upgrade for only $19.99. Manga Studio EX 4 is available for $299.99, with upgrades from previous versions priced at $129.99. The packages are available from the Smith Micro web store or at www.smithmicro.com/manga, and from popular resellers such as Amazon.com. Find more information about the software at www.mangastudio.net.
Studios enter multiple toons in Oscar race
Best Animated feature category gets a boost with 20 toons slated to receive qualifying runs in Los Angeles theaters by year’s end, encouraging the studios to enter more than one entry per Oscar season, reports Variety. While Disney has Wall-E and Bolt in contention, DreamWorks’ plans to launch campaigns that focus on the individual strengths of both of their submitted films- Kung Fu Panda and Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa. The article also talks about how this year’s race might have been different if Fox had submitted Space Chimps and Universal had entered The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie and pushed the total submission count to 16, boosting the chances for films such as Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who! and The Tale of Despereaux. Since there have been 14 submissions this year there will only be three nominations on the shortlist.
Corny Gets Aid
Tina Price of the Creative Talent Network went to Cal Arts on Tuesday and gave Corny Cole a check on behalf of the animation community. Cole, a veteran animator and educator, lost his home and possessions in a fire last month. CTN’s online fundraiser raised $12,168 thanks to the donations of his many colleagues, fans and students (and quite a few Cartoon Brew readers). Photos of Corny receiving the funds are posted here.
Our sincere best wishes to Corny Cole!
Luxo Jr. Grows Up
Twenty-two years later, Luxo Jr. is no longer a kid, and he’s developed other interests that are a bit more mature than beach balls. The short is by Mark Grundy.
Ralph Bakshi’s Bickersons
Here’s a real rarity. When Ralph Bakshi worked at Paramount in 1967, he produced several theatrical shorts and proposed a dozen more. One of his assignments was to create a pilot based on the classic radio show The Bickersons using the track of a 1940s radio broadcast starring Don Ameche and Frances Langford. Paul Rapp, son of Bickersons creator Philip Rapp, found this previously lost footage and has posted it on You Tube. Note the first half is in pose reel, the second half is finished in (now faded) color:
Interview: Pixar Animator Angus MacLane
When it comes to animated movies, there's no question that Pixar is currently leading the pack. It used to be Disney, but the storytelling in Pixar films has has consistently been fantastic (except for Cars). Now that Disney and Pixar are one, Disney features are beginning to once again show signs of greatness (Bolt). It's a pairing that I think will give fans a lot of animated greats for decades to come.
Yesterday Pixar set up two separate online chats with animator Angus MacLane, directing animator for WALL•E. Angus has worked on every Pixar film expect for the first Toy Story. For the DVD and Blu-Ray release of WALL•E, he directed his first short called BURN•E. This hilarious little short takes place during the events of WALL•E's time on the Axiom ship.
For those of you looking to get some inside into the thought process of an animator, this is a great read. And hey, it's Pixar. Which means I'm pimping it no matter what it's about.
Could you give a piece of advice to all those who start in this of the animation and dream of working in Pixar or on a project like this someday?
A.M.: Surround yourself with people whose work you admire and whose opinions you trust. In school I worked really hard and sought out others who did the same. In your work make sure that you are making something that you believe in. In BURN•E I tried to have at least one thing in each shot that was true or real or relatable. Make the world of your film believable and relatable and the audience will follow.
John has previously said that Pixar's shorts provide animators with the opportunity to experiment with new challenges outside the confines and limitations of a feature. Were there any particular technical or story challenges you set out to accomplish with BURN•E?
A.M.: The biggest challenge was how to make a 7+ minute film on a budget. I was allowed to make a film that long if it came in on budget. To be honest, I think the budget constraint helped. I wanted the film to look like a 70's-80's Sci-Fi films. On those films they built awesome sets on limited budget. We used a lot of the same principles of repeated forms for BURN•E. As an homage, the floor grating in BURN•E is based on floor grating in featured in the movies Outland, Alien, and Aliens.
Which animator or moviemaker from the past has made the biggest impression on you? And how does that reflect itself in your work?
A.M.: That's hard to say. It's been great to learn from the directors here at work. Right now I'm really into Jean-Pierre Melville and I would say that the movie Aliens (1986) is the best movie ever made.
How much freedom do you have at Pixar as a director on a little film like this?
A.M.: I pitched the film to Andrew Stanton and John Lasseter. Once they bought off on the concept I was free to pretty much do as I wished. There were budget considerations, but there weren't any compromises that hurt the film. I checked in with Andrew periodically and if there was anything that wasn't reading or could be improved he would make notes. I would say that 95% of his notes made the film better. Mostly he had notes on pacing. BURN•E by nature is fairly episodic. He had a lot of notes that kept the pace from slowing to a crawl. Freedom as a director is also the freedom to make a bad movie. I had the support of an extremely talented crew so anything that was bad they did there best to fix.
Could you tell us how you got to work for Pixar? Was it always your dream to be an animator?
A.M.: I lucked out when standards were low. When I was hired in 1997, Disney and DreamWorks were the hot places to work. Pixar was looking for animators to work on the Toy Story direct to video sequel. I got an internship and then worked as hard as I could to learn how to animate. I had done 2D animation in school, but I had so much to learn. That's one of the great things about Pixar. There are a lot of people to learn from.
BURN•E will be another great addition to the acclaimed canon of Pixar shorts. What is it, in your opinion, that makes short films like BURN•E and Presto so unique?
A.M.: I'm glad you enjoyed the short. What makes the films so unique is that all of the shorts are personal stories. Pixar supports the directors realizing their unique visions and as a result you get a wide variety of stories. Presto is Doug Sweetland and Doug Sweetland is Presto. Likewise for the other shorts.
One of your big hobbies is building your own LEGO creations. For instance the big LEGO version of WALL•E you did a while ago. Any chances of a LEGO (short) movie in the future?
A.M.: I'd love to do a project with Lego. Disney and Lego are two huge companies who admire each other's work but the logistics of doing a joint film project might be a little difficult. I open to it though. Imagine a film that has a main character who has to remove his head to put on a backpack. Pure gold.
As far as I can tell BURN•E is your first film as a director. Do you see this film as a steppingstone towards directing features? Is that something you aspire to do?
A.M.: BURN•E was a tremendous opportunity for me. The shorts program at Pixar is designed to be a training ground for potential future directors and new department heads. Sometimes that translates into directing features or heading departments on features and sometimes not. I have stories that I'd like to tell, so we'll see what happens.
How do you - as a modern day animator - view the classic 'oldschool' style of animation? Do you think that's a nostalgic era in animation that will never return fully? Or do you think classic animation styles will become more prominent in the future? And in what way?
A.M.: I love all forms of animation. Each medium does different things better than others. 2-D or hand drawn animation allows for a stylization not achievable in CGI. The audience is open to whatever world you present them with. They just want good stories. I feel that unfortunately 2-D got associated with only one type of story and the audience for that story got tired of seeing the same thing over and over. I hope in the future there are a wider variety of stories told in all forms of animation.
Q: Why did you choose the Beethoven's Ode (European's anthem) to joy to play a key role in the soundtrack?
A.M.: It's true that Ode To Joy has been used many times in the history of cinema. Most notably to me in Raising Arizona, Die Hard and A Clockwork Orange. There is a reason why is this piece of music has stood the test of time. It is a great piece of music. Using it in a film is a bit of a cliché' but it is still a very effective piece in communicating a certain emotion. For BURN•E the needs of the emotion from the piece overruled the originality from the selection of the piece. I also thought that it was funny that BURN•E would be humming Beethoven.
WALL•E was the acronym of 'Waste allocator...' What does BURN•E mean?
A.M.: I was called one day by Derek Thompson who worked in story on BURN•E, informing me that we had to know the answer to this question. He and fellow story artist Ted Mathot informed me that BURN•E stood for: Basic Utility Repair Nano Engineer. However, Jim Reardon, head of story on WALL•E thought of the name BURN•E.
Did you work on BURN•E during or after the production of WALL•E?
A.M.: Both. I started boarding BURN•E on the evenings and lunches when we were in the heat of animation production on WALL•E. Once the animation was wrapping up on the feature, production started on BURN•E. It dovetailed nicely but I did have to put off a May vacation till August.
Brad Bird created a similarly fun companion short to The Incredibles with "Jack-Jack Attack". What are your thoughts on side-stories like these?
A.M.: I am a big fan of side stories. Coincidentally, I had a side story pitch for The Incredibles that Brad was excited about, but budget constraints kept us from doing it. I think it is important that the side story not belittle or betray the main story. If the main story is about the existence of the Easter Bunny, the side story can't say there is no Easter Bunny or it messes with the feature.
Pixar has by now built a real legacy with some of the best animation film the last twenty years, beginning with short films in the eighties. Could you feel the pressure of that legacy while working on BURN•E?
A.M.: Certainly, the rich history of Pixar Short Films is a bit intimidating, but making BURN•E feel like a logical extension of WALL•E was more important to me. I wanted the film to be good but I did not choose to spend too much time worrying about it's comparison to earlier work. I mostly sweated whether or not it was good enough to be in the WALL•E universe.
How did you come up with the story for BURN•E? Did you already think of it during the production of WALL•E?
A.M.: As a filmgoer I wanted to know what happened to BURN•E. I had a few ideas of places we could cut back to BURN•E in the feature, but it slowed the pace of the film down. Once Andrew encouraged me to take these ideas and develop them into a short, I needed to find a unifying story arc. I came up with this idea of him having a job and that job would be repairing this light. Then I thought, it would be funny to have WALL•E inadvertently cause this meteor to hit the light on the ship. This led to the central idea of the short. In the feature, WALL•E has a positive effect on everyone he meets. So I thought what if there is someone for whom WALL•E 's arrival on the Axiom isn't a good thing. WALL•E is never purposefully mean to BURN•E, it's just bad luck. Once I had that central idea I looked for key moments in the film to cut back to BURN•E to see what he was doing at that particular time.
What is the most difficult aspect of creating a character?
A.M.: For BURN•E, communicating his thought process to the audience was the biggest challenge. He is a fairly limited character, which is appealing, but more work must be done in the story process to communicate his intentions. With BURN•E and with WALL•E, if the audience can't tell what the character is thinking or what is going on, then they loose interest very quickly.
How long did it take you to make that short?
A.M.: I first pitched the storyboard to Andrew Stanton in November of 2007 and we finished production in late June 2008.
How did you come to choose BURN•E as the main subject of the short (and not other characters, like, say, M-O, who was interesting, too)?
A.M.: I was drawn to BURN•E because his story was not fully explored in the feature. I like M•O, but he is in the feature a lot already, so I did not feel like his story needed to be told as urgently. Also I liked the idea of having a short that took place outside the central story arc of the WALL•E feature film.
Where did you get your inspiration for BURN•E?
A.M.: BURN•E in the feature, but Andrew felt that it would slow the pace of the film down. He agreed it was a funny idea but encouraged me to develop it into a short film. Visually I wanted to replicate, or 'pay homage' to late 70s early 80s Sci-Fi movies. The unifying element in these films is that everything was hand made, they did not have CGI, and so it gives the worlds a tactile quality that has been missing from many modern sci-fi films.
Is there any Pixar film that you would have loved to work on, but didn't get the chance to?
A.M.: I would have loved to have worked on the original Toy Story, which is the only Pixar feature that I was not involved in. I also wish that I could have worked on some of those Listerine commercials.
I noticed that BURN•E does a fist-pump when he cuts through the door. What gave you the idea to include that?
A.M.: That is a bit of an inside joke. Brad Bird's pet peeve is the movie cliché' where a character does that fist-pump an says "YESSSS!" I think that I put that joke in just to irritate him. I think there is an easter egg on the Ratatouille DVD that explains this. So if you watch that before you see BURN•E, the short will be 34% funnier.
So when will we get to see BURN•E in Lego like you did with WALL•E?
A.M.: I designed a Lego BURN•E as a crew gift as a thank you for the hard work. I ordered the pieces, made custom decals and instructions and hand packaged each of the sets. If there is interest, I will post a picture on Flickr soon.
WALL•E stands for Waste Allocation Load Lifter, Earth class. What does BURN•E stand for?
A.M.: BURN•E stands for: Basic Utility Repair Nano Engineer. I have since heard from some people that it actually be BURN•A because the "E" in WALL•E stands for "Earth-Class" and the "A" would be the appropriate "Axiom-Class". Now I could argue that maybe BURN•E was a robot on earth that then was installed on the Axiom, but A: I would be lying and B: What is the point? If that is the biggest problem you have with the film, then I have done my job. Now put yourself in my shoes- you have to name this robot. The name BURN•E is funny and breaks the continuity of the film or BURN•A which is more accurate to the feature and is not funny at all. Which would you choose? I thought so. I do love that geeks pick up on this and I am happy to be creating this controversy. I'd probably do the same thing were I not involved.
How much of an animated film is software and how much is the result of an "artist's" vision and his/her ability to bring that vision to life? What role does software play in the process? Is it a mere tool, like, say, video editing software, or does it allow animators to do things they could not do with ink and paper?
A.M.: WALL•E was mostly created by a computer robot we have here at Pixar called the EntertainmentBot 3000. Nah, the computer is just a big, dumb pencil.
Why'd you decide to give BURN•E of all the characters in WALL•E his own short?
A.M.: I thought he was a fun character to animate. After I had animated the shot with him in the feature I wanted to know what happened to him. I wanted to answer that question with this short.
How hard was it to think of a name that sounded like a robot but was a pun for a human name (Bernie)?
A.M.: His name internally had been "Repair Bot" When I started the short, I envisioned him as being called WELD•R. About two days later Jim Reardon, the head of WALL•E Story handed me a drawing he had done of the word BURN•E burned into metal. After that there was no going back.
Is it harder to do an animated film with little dialogue? Does it put more pressure on the animation to do the talking? Because of this, was WALL•E a harder character to create than some of your others?
A.M.: It's not harder to animate, but it is way more work in the story board process.
At what point during the development of WALL•E did you start planning the story of BURN•E? Did they construct any plot points in the feature to facilitate the short, or vice versa?
A.M.: I came up with and started boarding the short approximately 5 months before WALL•E was completed. However, no plot points were changed in the feature to make the short work. There were things that were changed in that one shot in WALL•E that featured BURN•E after it had been finished. The light spire that he welds was not originally in the shot.
How did you go about choosing scenes from WALL•E that BURN•E could impact? Did you have to scrap any ideas that just wouldn't fit with the existing story?
A.M.: I came up with as many places in the movie as I could think of to cut back to. We cut whatever wasn't funny or slowed the pace down. Oddly enough the scene from the feature that sparked the original idea for BURN•E was cut from the feature. The scene is too complicated to explain. Maybe that's why it never made it.
Having been the directing animator on WALL•E, what did that involve?
A.M.: The Directing Animator's job is to help the other animators keep their animation on model so that the acting and movement are consistent for each of the characters over the entire film. They work to be both a surrogate voice of the Director when he/she is available, and also offer acting and performance suggestions. Directing Animators also help to define the motion and character of the main characters in the film. The Directing Animator reports directly to the Supervising Animators. On WALL•E (as well as The Incredibles) I worked under the Supervision Animators Alan Barillaro and Steven Hunter. They interface more with the production staff about the direction and management of the WALL•E animation department. They also serve as both a surrogate voice of the Director and also offer acting and performance suggestions as well. Time permitting, Supervising Animators will also help to define the motion and character of the main characters in the film.
How did you get selected to direct BURN•E? Now that you've done it, what would you do differently?
A.M.: I think it was opportunity met with preparation. Andrew liked the idea of the DVD short being about BURN•E. He encouraged me to storyboard the film. After the story was approved, Andrew asked if I would be interested.
What do you think was the hardest thing to get right in the short?
A.M.: There were a lot of difficult shots to pull off in this film. From a technical perspective, the shot with WALL•E touching Saturn's rings that transitions into the pebble meteor was the hardest to pull off. The Effects Supervisor, Bill Watral did a fabulous job stitching the shot from the film and a bunch of new elements that were on a literally planetary scale. On the performance side, the shot where SUPPLY•R drops the light on the ground was the trickiest to get right. There was something in the boards that was really funny that was extremely difficult to capture.
BURN•E has a very "Pixar" feel to it as an animated short. What is it about repetitive failure (Lifted, One Man Band, now BURN•E) that is so funny?
A.M.: Humor usually comes about when result doesn't match the expectation. If everything in a characters' life goes well it's hard to relate to and probably not as funny.
Where do you actually start on design with so many different kinds of robots?
A.M.: In the WALL•E universe most of the robots are designed and built around the idea of function first, character second. With the character of WALL•E we figured out his motion as a trash compactor first. After that had been firmly established we then worked on how to define his character based on the limitations of him being a trash compactor
Are there any easter eggs we should watch out for?
A.M.: There are a few small nods here and there to various sci-fi properties. I won't go through all of them, but I will mention that there is a graphic on the elevator inside the Axiom that reads "ELV 426" indicating that this is elevator number four hundred and twenty-six. This is of course (pushing my glasses up on my nose) a reference to LV-426 the planet that is the setting of the movie Alien and Aliens.
How hard was it to get the right type of emotion out of a robot?
A.M.: It is always our goal as animators to make our work clearly communicate the thought process of the characters to the audience. It was particularly challenging for us on BURN•E as well as WALL•E because of the limited nature of the designs and the lack of dialogue. Both characters limited designs are appealing, but more work must be done in the story process to communicate his intentions. With BURN•E and with WALL•E, if the audience can't tell what the character is thinking or what is going on, then they lose interest very quickly.
Look for the November 18th release of WALL•E on DVD and Blu-Ray.
‘Hero By Night’ Headed To TV, Series Creator DJ Coffman Responds
“Hero By Night,” the winner of Platinum Studios’ 2006 Comic Book Challenge contest, is headed to TV as a live-action series. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the series is being developed by IM Global into an action-adventure program produced by IM Global and Platinum execs.
Created by DJ Coffman, “Hero By Night” follows the adventures of a young landlord who accidentally discovers the secret hideout of a former superhero. The series is one of the most successful titles in Platinum’s stable, which also includes “Cowboys and Aliens,” an under-the-radar comics optioned ages ago that not only has “Iron Man” screenwriters Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby tagged to adapt, but Robert Downey Jr. possibly attached as its star.
While the success “Hero By Night” has achieved thus far could mean a better chance of forward movement on the movie front, the series has been the focus of significant controversy in the comics world.
In June, Coffman suspended production of the series due to non-payment issues with Platinum, and later announced that he was trying to reclaim rights to the series from the publisher. Over time, his negotiations with Platinum took a very public downturn, and Coffman became one of the publisher’s most vocal critics. On his personal website, Coffman responded to this morning’s “Hero by Night” announcement, which he says was as much a surprise to him as anyone else.
“How do I feel about the news?” asked Coffman. “Well, it’s a press release, and that doesn’t mean a whole lot about actually getting something made, as you can learn from the plethora of press releases that fire out of Hollywood daily. It’s buzz, I guess.”
“I’ve never heard of IM Global before,” continued Coffman. “You’d hope they would consult the creator, and I’d be happy to talk to them. ‘Hero By Night’ could be a big success for anyone who goes about it properly.”
Coffman’s involvement with the live-action “Hero by Night” is uncertain at this point, but it’s certainly a behind-the-scenes aspect of this project that could prove interesting for comics fans with an eye toward the business side of the industry.
The Links of November Toons
I've been buried of late in the negotiation tap dance, and the linkfest has languished, which I now rectify.
France has trouble keeping its c.g. animators and tech directors down on the old Parisian farm:
While Gaul has had a thriving animation industry with Oscar-nominated 2-D features like "The Triplets of Belleville" and
"Persepolis," Gaul lacks the financial backing to produce mainstream CGI pics that can export well.
"In France, it's nearly impossible to raise more than E15 million ($18.7 million) to make a 3-D animation film unless you're a movie mogul like Luc Besson," says former Duran Duboi topper Pascal Herold, who has just wrapped post-production on "Le Chat Botte" (Puss 'n Boots).
A series of recent casualities has hampered the mood of French animation producers working with CGI:
* The production of "Monster in Paris," helmed by Eric Bergeron ("Shark Tale") for Bibo Films and produced by Luc Besson's EuropaCorp, has been halted.
* Rumors spreading within the animation circuit even have it that the Gaumont's $35 million animated feature "Rock the Boat" has been delayed because of financial trouble.
A film festival devoted strictly to animated feature rolls out November 14-16 -- The Waterloo Festival of Animated Cinema (I was waiting for this!):
An integral feature for the festival was that they were going to use original 35 mm film for all the screenings. “There was no way to enjoy these movies the way Japanese audiences were. To be able to see this in a theatre, to be able to see this the way it’s supposed to be was very important to us.”
While many die-hard fans of certain genres, often anime, will certainly have seen the films before, seeing them on 35 mm is something special. “A lot is lost in translation from the big screen to the little [TV] screen,” said [festival found Joseph] Chen.
Chen notes that throughout the history of film, animation has had a stigma attached to it, one that WFAC can hopefully dispel. “A lot of people don’t take animation seriously. Back in the 1920s when Lotte Reiniger was looking for people to back her film Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed, they [the studios] didn’t want to talk to her. They thought animation was too difficult a medium. That continues to this day. People think that it’s too hoity- toity, or that it’s for kids.”
Madagascar 2 director Eric Darnell gets interviewed by his home-town teevee station here:
Q: How does one go from Prairie Village, Kansas to Hollywood?
A: Slowly ...
Sound designer Ben Burtt -- most recently of WALL-E -- talks about matching sound to image:
I've always found, when you're trying to create illusions with sound, especially in a science fiction or fantasy movie, that pulling sounds from the world around us is a great way to cement that illusion because you can go out and record an elevator in George Lucas's house or something, and it will have that motor sound. It will be an elevator and you might associate it with that, but if you use it in a movie people will believe it's a force field, or maybe it's the sound of a spaceship door opening.
...and of course Pixar has released its new trailer for Up ...
Animation legend/veteran Bob Givens holds forth at the ASIFA Hollywood archives, and Will Finn is there to participate:
I dropped by the ASIFA Hollywood Animation Archives this afternoon to find animation legend Bob Givens regaling Steve Worth and Mike Fontanelli with insights and memories from his past 95 years, including going to grammar school with John Wayne, assisting on Disney's Snow White, storyboarding and doing layouts on countless classic LOONEY TUNES and TV shows for Hanna-Barbera, Depatie Freleng and others. Somewhere in there he found himself drafted into World War II as well, where he wound up tagging along on covert ops and doing Kitchen Patrol with author William Saroyan before being tapped by Rudolf Ising to return the Culver City and participate in animating training films that saved the lives of countless Allied soldiers.
Blogging Stocks pats DreamWorks Animation on its furry back for the most excellent launch of Madagascar the 2nd:
... [K]udos to the studio's marketing department for improving the previous film's opening weekend. Madagascar, which was released in May 2005, took in $47 million during its opening weekend. As of this writing, Escape 2 Africa has been credited with about $63 million. Considering that this isn't the summertime, I thought the sequel's debut performance was pretty cool.
And here's another equally cool fact: if the estimates hold, then Escape 2 Africa's first-weekend take will be slightly higher than Kung Fu Panda's opening weekend of $60.2 million. You've got to call that a success.
Film Roman/Starz Media has itself a new studio head:
[Jay] Fukuto, who joined Film Roman two years ago from MGA Entertainment, will now oversee all of the studio's animation production operations for TV series, feature films, homevid, commercials and visual effects ...
Fukuto, who will report to Starz Animation CEO Kent Rice, formerly served as veep of entertainment for MGA, where he oversaw development of the "Bratz" and "Alien Racers" series.
He also served a stint at Walt Disney TV Animation, where he worked on "Kim Possible" and "Lilo & Stitch: The Animated Series."
Lastly, the trades and various outlets announce the animated contenders for the oncoming Academy Awards:
The contenders are "Bolt," "Delgo," "Dragon Hunters," "Fly Me to the Moon," "Igor," "Kung Fu Panda," "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa," "$9.99," "The Sky Crawlers," "Sword of the Stranger," "The Tale of Despereaux," "Waltz With Bashir" "WALL-E" and "Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!
Because there are at least eight but fewer than 16 submissions, a maximum of three movies can share the spotlight when Oscar nominations in all categories are announced January 22.
Astro Boy Movie Jets Forward
The 2009 CG animated Imagi movie has begun making its mark on international markets
Astro Boy World notes the movie has been licensed local for distribution to Golden Harvest in Hong Kong, Enlight Pictures in China, and Kadokawa in Japan.
Summit Entertainment will be handling the film in North America.
Creative Director Felix Ip blogged about the film's AFM standee, Ip also mentioned "The trailer will be shown to public in theater very soon (within this month)." According to Anime News Network, the trailer has been put before DreamWorks' Madagascar Escape 2 Africa and will be added to Disney's Bolt.
D3Publisher will be developing Astro Boy games for console and handheld systems, targeted for forth quarter of 2009.
ICV2 reports IDW will be producing two Astro Boy comic mini series tied to the film. Current plans include a four-part prequel and a four-part adaptation of the film. Pending approval, the first issue of the prequel miniseries is slated for May 2009.
According to IDW Editor in Chief Chris Ryall, the books will be tied to the film, but presentation (manga-style or American, formats, etc.) are yet to be determined according to Ryall.
Imagi Studios has announced that Jazwares will be the master toy licensee for the film, joined by licensees American Greetings for greeting cards, stationery, gift wrap, and party goods; Penguin for books; and D3Publisher for game software. Mass market products will focus on six to 14-year-olds.
Dark Horse has the classic manga rights in the U.S.; Right Stuf has the classic anime.
Toy R Evil collects some media.
Anime on American TV
Bandai Entertainment Inc. announced that Mobile Suit Gundam 00 will premiere on the SCI FI Channel November 24 that 11 p.m. on SCI FI’s “Ani-Monday” programming block. Two episodes will air that night and each week throughout the fall and spring of 2009.
“Mobile Suit Gundam 00” is the latest installment in the long running franchise and takes place in the year 2307 A.D. When fossil fuels have been completely depleted and humanity has turned to solar energy to maintain its way of life, the controlling nations of the solar power find themselves at war with more impoverished countries. These sun-deprived countries threaten the “promised land of God,” which leads to the formation of a group called the Celestial Being, whose purpose is to end war and unite humanity through the use of four Gundam mech. The series is directed by Seiji Mizushima whose past credits as a director and storyboard artist include Fullmetal Alchemist, Evangelion, and Appleseed: Ex Machina.
Following its U.S. broadcast it will be released on DVD in 2009 by Bandai Entertainment Inc.
Anime (and Animation) on North American TV
4Kids Entertainment announced in their third quarter 2008 that their programming block will be ending on Fox
Alfred R. Kahn, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, 4Kids Entertainment stated
“I am also pleased to announce that we have entered into an agreement with Fox to settle our litigation. Under the terms of the settlement agreement, our agreement with Fox will end on December 31, 2008 rather than at the end of the 2008-2009 broadcast season in September 2009. Our remaining financial obligations to Fox for the first three quarters of 2009 will also terminate. We believe that the settlement is favorable for both companies and enables 4Kids, beginning in early 2009, to focus resources on our five-hour block of children's Saturday morning television on The CW Network.”
“Although we are continuing to invest significantly in content creation and our digital platforms, 4Kids.tv and Chaoticgame.com, we currently expect to return to profitability in the fourth quarter of this year. We are hopeful that some of our newer properties, including Dinosaur King, RollBots and GoGoRiki will help strengthen our licensing business in 2009 and that the momentum behind Chaotic will continue.”
Adult Swim announced that it will expand its late-night programming by having it begin every day at 10 p.m. The new schedule will begin airing in January 2009. To launch the new hour of programming, Adult Swim has reached a multi-year licensing agreement with Twentieth Television to air the Emmy(r) Award-winning animated series King of the Hill. Starting in January, King of the Hill will kick off Adult Swim every night at 10 p.m.
BET Networks and Marvel Animation have announced that Oscar-nominated actor Djimon Hounsou has signed on to voice The Black Panther in the animated adaptation of the Marvel comic, set to run on BET in 2009. The series will be adapted directly from the first six issues of the Marvel Comic written by Reginald Hudlin (issues #1 - #6, "Who Is The Black Panther").
ICV2 Notes that 10 episodes of The Drinky Crow Show adaptation of Tony Millionaire’s comic strip The Maakies will run on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim starting Sunday, November 23rd at 12:15am (ET, PT)
IGN reports Fox has moved the live action Dragon Ball from it's April 10, 2009 release to a Wednesday, April 8 debut.
Via mmosite, Super Saiyan Goku?
A set of official stills have popped up on places like this
Japanese Mall Dragonball Promotion
Latino Review offers an Akira script review
The story takes place in a burgeoning new metropolis of the future, several years after a cataclysmic event destroyed the old city that once stood in its place. Unbeknownst to most of the populace, the real cause of the event was a small boy with incredible psychic powers, part of a top secret government program attempting to harness such so called “Espers” as weapons. The project is deemed too dangerous, and the young boy – AKIRA – is put in cryogenic stasis in a secret underground facility to prevent such a disaster from ever occurring again. In probably the most significant change and the only one that really bugged me, the events of this version are shifted from Tokyo to New York – but after the city is destroyed and the United States’ economy collapses, burgeoning superpower Japan buys the devastated island to construct a new city to house their ever expanding population. So the film will still technically be set in New Tokyo, but on the island of Manhattan, and with about half the characters being American and the rest remaining Japanese. It’s a somewhat odd way of appealing to American audiences and fans alike, and feels somewhat awkward, but does allow for some up to date political commentary.
MTV Movies Blogs talks to M. Night Shyamalan about SOFT POWER HARD TRUTHS / Hollywood's new respect for anime sources
Van Damme Street Fighter on Blu-ray
Worth Checking Out...
A number of online commentators have objected to the omission of manga creator Jiro Kuwata's name on the cover of Bat-Manga! The Secret History of Batman in Japan
The conversation could be broken down into
*Reaction to the Bat-Manga!
*Response to the Reaction
Chip Kidd talks to Comics212
*Reaction to the Response
Christopher Butcher at Comics212
Myriad Issues again
A Journal of Zarjaz Things
Roland Kelts' "The Japanamerican Devil, Pt. 2," Fall 08, out in Japan
If you don't know Ashita no Joe (Tomorrow's Joe) check out Burried Treasure
AniPages Daily's Benjamin Ettinger talks with ANN's panel on Animators Turned Directors
Comics Should be Good address Death Note in their latest Comic Book Legends Revealed
Barefoot Gen author Keiji Nakazawa on the closing of Hiroshima Municipal Stadium
Japan Times Online looks at "Sakura no Sono" ("The Cherry Orchard"), based on an Akimi Yoshida manga, the film described the day a drama club at an exclusive girls' school stages Anton Chekhov's "The Cherry Orchard."
University of Tennessee's Daily Beacon present a not-too-insightful obituary for anime
An amazingly extensively list of Recommended Japanese Anime TV Series, going back to Tetsujin 28 from 1963.
Destroy All Podcasts DX talks Urusei Yatsura Movie 1: Only You, check it out, especially if you haven't seen the great Mamoru Oshii comedy
The Anime World Order podcast's review of Ressentiment is worth a listen.
Daryl's been making offhand references to how good this comic is for quite some time now, but it's only now that THE TRUTH can be told. Forget about Genshiken, Welcome to the NHK, Otaku no Video, and all that flippity floppity stuff: this is the real sh**. Finally a tale of otakudom that tells it like it is...or at least, we think.
On the episode comment thread, Carl Horn makes an interesting point about the history of The Wings Of Honneamise in North America
Episode 79 of Right Stuf's Anime Today podcast features an interview with actor Chris Patton – who has been cast in more than 120 different anime series and whose roles include “Sosuke Sagara” in Full Metal Panic!, “Fakir” in Princess Tutu and “Greed” in Fullmetal Alchemist –
In this new, three-segment interview, Patton discusses his background as a performer, the process of finding a character’s sound, and his recent characters of “Tatsuhiro Sato” in Welcome to the NHK, “Ranmaru” in The Wallflower, “J.C.” in Red Garden and “Reiji Sagaya” in Tokyo Majin. He then shares some news about his future projects and upcoming convention appearances.
Via MangaBlog, Indie Spinner Rack did a podcast interview with Manga: The Complete Guide's Jason Thompso
While plugging podcasts, I have to mention Fast Karate For the Gentleman's Cybernetics Guardian episode, which has to be the most hypnotic thing I've ever listen too. Series, I think I was getting brainwashed listening to the stream of consciousness talk
For those looking to expand their giant robot repertoire, let's anime on Raideen and Subatomic Brainfreeze on Space Warrior Baldios
R5 BONUS EPISODE 6.5 on the latest sentai
Penguin Wars, (seen at Providence Anime Conference) resurfaces on kidfenris's journal
Polygon counting video game Naruto
Erin Finnegan recounts the happens at the New York Anime Festival at MangaRecon
Anime Almanac's MangaNEXT 2008 report
Via Comics212, Tokyo Reporter has interviewed prominent hentai manga artists Takeshi Oshima and Urotsukidoji creator Toshio Maeda
Publishers Weekly spoke to Sean Michael Wilson, editor of Top Shelf's anthology of gekiga manga from AX.
The Broward-Palm Beach New Times talks to Aqua Teen Hunger Force creator Dave Willis
Something Deeper: Anime, Manga and Comics talks to Dark Horse's Michael Gombos, and Otaku USA's Benjamin Boyles and Joseph Luster after New York Anime Festival
also Aki Con Coordinator Nicole Pelham
Old school Blade of the Immortal advocate zigguratbuilder presents a run down of manga recently purchased in Japan
Mecha Mecha Media's The Perils of Translation: Part 3
Jen Lee talks post TOKYOPOP/Off*beat work on Renascence at CBR
Alt Japan has Star Wars Fever pachinko and "possibly the single most obscure Japanese robot character in existence."
I may have already linked to this, but Vintage avant-garde manga by Maki Sasaki is definitely worth a look
Dir En Grey's music video, featuring scenes from Kazuo Umezu's Drifting Classroom.
A related interview here
Yomiuri looks at tributes to Osamu Tezuka.
Present-day artist Kyotaro Aoki has taken Black Jack and characters from Tezuka's Dororo, MW, Ode to Kirihito and other manga and changed their cartoon faces into lifelike pencil portraits, showing what they might look like in the real world.
While Aoki adds detail, Akihiro Soma (Concorde), strips it away, presenting Black Jack in a minimalist torn-paper collage resembling the work of American illustrator Eric Carle (known for his kids picture books such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar).
more Tezuka covers
Also Tezuka's Dororo
Chocolate Astro Boy
The Destroy All Podcasts DX episode above lead me to this Shonen Sunday 50th Anniversary clip
Godzilla: The 1972 Demonstration Show
Pyu to Fuku! Jaguar ~Ima, Fuki ni Yukimasu~ trailer
A trailer for The Tower of Druaga: the Sword of Uruk
ADV's Mermaid Melody sales package
oi, hayaku!'s Top Eight - ShockHorror Anime Scenes: 8-5 (with spoilers)
Yikes! or Wow! Reportage! Halloween With Shintaro Kago
Redesigned Masters of the Universe characters
Frightening Fate/stay Night doll
Tatsunoko vs. Capcom Wii clips
Condolences to the family and friends of writer Emru Townsend (Protoculture Addicts, PC World, Animation World), who passed away of leukemia on November 11th
tributes can be seen on Anime News Network
Enough Tezuka yet? Black Jack on stage
I recently hear about this indie animated project MKUltra3
MKULTRA3 is/was the code name for a covert CIA child assassin program initiated by the U.S. intelligence community sometime in the early 21st Century.
Elite preteen assassins Cody (surname unknown, place of birth: New Canaan, Connecticut), Ricky (surname unknown, place of birth: Bakersfield, California) and Vera (surname: When, place of birth: Ha Noi, Viet Nam) regularly executed highly classified extermination missions for U.S. government interests until the lethal and costly raid on The Genetek Building, a secret genetics weaponry facility located somewhere on the outskirts of Los Angeles county, where the MKU3 operatives staged a rabid offensive for personal freedom.
Follow Cody, Ricky and Vera's blood soaked bid for liberty here, in the serialized folk tale, "MKULTRA3"
Jake Myler on his OEL title undertown howing up in Japanese
Gash/Zatch Bell's Raiku Wins 2.55M Yen over Lost Art
Machinima.com Received $3.85 Million to Fund Expansion
Miyazaki Figurines From LeGuin Auctioned to Benefit Endeavour Award
Wine manga contributes to wine sales
This Month's Vice To Feature Kago, Wada
120 years of Kirin Beer
A couple of interesting IP notes
Astro Boy fans get nod for free use of hero in their artwork
OverDrive Offers Starz Media Video Titles to Public Libraries for Digital Borrowing
Golgo 13 links
The Mega Collector's Home On The Range
Among TAG's members are a number of animation buffs, people who not only work in the cartoon biz but love the whole essence of the biz, revel in it, and collect artwork from its lengthy past. One of TAG's Mega Collectors has allowed us to tiptoe upstairs to his crowded attic and peep at some of his treasures. Here's the first offering ... Home on the Range. (We're not talking about the Disney feature here, but a Rudy Ising short released by MGM in 1940.)
Click the thumbnail for a larger image
The framed thumbnails are small, but give them a click anyway, since I don't plan on writing anything to wear out your eyeballs. Artist, Bob Allen; MGM-Ising. Home On The Range (1940)
Click the thumbnail for a larger image
Click the thumbnail for a larger image
Click the thumbnail for a larger image
Click the thumbnail for a larger image
And here's a YouTube of the cartoon made from the sketches:
(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)
Star Trek Trailer Leaks Out
The second official trailer for J.J. Abrams' Star Trek hit theaters on Nov. 14 attached to Quantum of Solace, and, predictably, bootleg videos have begun popping up all over the place. Below is one of the clearer ones.
The trailer goes online at the official Star Trek site on Nov. 17 at 10 a.m. PT. Star Trek opens May 8, 2009.
Guillermo del Toro to Develop Stop-Motion "Pinocchio"
Variety reports that Pan's Labyrinth director Guillermo del Toro and the Jim Henson Company are working on a stop-motion version of Carlo Collodi's classic children's novel. He is currently working on the screenplay with illustrator Gris Grimley.
Canada's Breakthrough Preschool Animation
'My Big Big Friend' from Breakthrough Animation
Kids have big imaginations. Breakthrough Animation, whom has quickly become one of Canada's most ambitious producer/distributors of animation across international borders, is looking to echo this truism of childhood merriment their latest cartoon to head into production. New on tap is My Big Big Friend, another jaunt into preschool television animation for the Canada-based group, which looks to combine one shy little boy's imagination with his desire to become brave and adventurous… with the help of his gigantic elephant friend Golias, of course.
Now farther in production with two promising associates, Breakthrough Animation is planning on rendering clear the worries and challenges one four-year-old boy, named Yuri, who is confronted with everyday obstacles first thought a bit too large for a kid his size. Produced in association with Brazil's 2Dlab, who specializes in flash animation, and the Corus Entertainment owned Treehouse TV group, My Big Big Friend is an early education animated television series that focuses on friendship and camaraderie for the sake of problem solving, social engagement, and more. Tagging along with Yuri is Golias (the "big big friend"), and Lili and Matt (and their own, "big big friends").
"We are delighted to be working on My Big Big Friend with a broadcast partner [in Treehouse TV] that has an international reputation for quality entertainment," Kevin Gillis, Executive Producer and Managing Partner, Breakthrough Animation, commented. "We anticipate that this series will be a major hit in all territories around the world. As our first Canada/Brazil co-production we believe 2DLab will be a wonderful partner on the series, bringing a tremendous amount of talent."
With a splendid array of colorful background artwork that buds nicely with a bright active environment where the series' young characters narrate the best and worst moments of being a kid, My Big Big Friend (52x11) hopes to dare preschool viewers to imagine, in any and everyway possible, a world as creative as this. As Jocelyn Hamilton, Vice President of Content for Corus Kids stated rather simply: "This is going to be a lovely series."
on Breakthrough Animation: Breakthrough Animation is one of Canada's leading creators and producers of original, animated programming for the global marketplace. Since its inception in 2003, Breakthrough Animation has produced over 200 half-hours of award-winning and critically acclaimed children's brands including Atomic Betty, Captain Flamingo and Miss BG, their newest shows include Jimmy Two Shoes for kids, and Producing Parker for older viewers. Breakthrough Animation's programs can be seen in over 140 countries worldwide.
"Happy Feet" sequel ready to run in Aussie studio
A sequel to Oscar-winning 2006 cartoon movie "Happy Feet" will be made in a Sydney, Australia digital studio, ending concerns that production might be moved out of the country.
Happy Feet 2 will be produced at a new digital production facility called "Dr D," Ian Macdonald, Minister of State Development for the Australian state of New South Wales, announced Sunday.
Macdonald said that production of the dancing-penguins sequel was ensured after the state government offered a payroll tax assistance package to filmmaker George Miller and aided in establishing the production facility.
Happy Feet 2 will employ an average of 438 people over the next three years, including about 230 computer-generated imaging artists, he added. Miller will start work on the sequel in January.
Happy Feet 2 and the "Dr D" facility have put Sydney "once again front and center of the national film industry," Macdonald said.
Last month, Miller threatened to move the production for Happy Feet 2 and other upcoming movies offshore after he was denied access to a new 40% producer rebate for his planned film Justice League Mortal.
The original Happy Feet collected about $385 million U.S. at the box office and won last year's Academy Award for best animated feature film.
The New South Wales government's assistance package and the digital facility already have drawn several big-budget international film projects in the planning or pre-production stage, according to Miller: "It helps us in our attempts to attract substantial foreign investment which will create hundreds of high-end, highly skilled jobs."
"Dr D" is expected to give a major boost to the local movie industry, which has been criticized in recent years for a lack of investment, the national newspaper The Australian reported.
Earnings at Disney plummet 13% in fourth quarter
Earnings at the Walt Disney Company dropped 13% for its fiscal fourth quarter as executives warned of a "sobering outlook" for the current year.
Net income at the Burbank, California-based entertainment giant dropped to $760 million (40 cents a share) for the quarter ended September 27, as against $877 million (44 cents a share) for the same period last year. Revenue rose 6% to $9.4 billion from $8.9 billion.
Revenue at Disney's studio entertainment division fell 5% to $1.5 billion, while operating income dropped $70 million to $98 million. Home entertainment sales and rentals of such films as Ratatouille were below the levels of 2007, when Disney released DVDs of such movies as Cars.
Disney warned of financial difficulties due to slowing TV ad sales and theme park resort bookings.
Other than one-time charges, earnings at Disney were 43 cents a share, considerably less than analysts' estimates of 49 cents, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters.
"The quarter was uglier than anyone anticipated," said Janna Sampson, co-chief investment officer at Oakbrook Investments. "Going forward, it becomes a question of how long and how deep this economic recession will last. And that's very, very difficult to predict."
But an optimistic Disney CEO Bob Iger declared: "Despite a steadily weakening economy, we delivered very solid results for the year."
Annual earnings fell as well, partly due to the quarterly results. Net income was $4.4 billion ($2.28 a share), 5.5% below $4.7 billion ($2.25 a share), in the previous fiscal year. However, revenue reached a record $37.8 billion, a 7% increase from last year's $35.5 billion.
Disney shares fell $1.42 (5.9%), to $22.81 as markets closed. The company released its results after the close of trading, and Disney stock slid as much as $1 a share after hours.
"In recent weeks, as the economy deteriorated, our pace of business has been impacted," Iger said. "We have seen significant softening in the local ad market as well as a slowing of the pace of national advertising." Ads account for nearly 20% of company revenue.
Disney's media networks division, which supervises overseeing both broadcasting and cable, brought in $4.2 billion in revenue, 4% higher than in the final quarter last year. Operating income held steady at $1.1 billion.
Although quarterly operating income for Disney's cable networks rose $116 million to $1.2 billion, those increases were offset in part by lower advertising revenue.
"Handy Manny" picks up Environmental Media Award
"Sculptor Manny" and "Manny Goes Solar," two episodes of Nelvana Limited's Handy Manny TV series, won the Environmental Media Award on Thursday in the category of Children's Live Action/Animated.
The cartoon episodes won over the live-action The Naked Brothers Band episode "Polar Bears" and "A Global Warning From the Kids of the World," an installment of Nick News With Linda Ellerbee.
In the Feature Film category, Fox's The Simpsons Movie lost to the live-action Into the Wild.
Other winners were 30 Rock for TV comedy, CNN's Planet in Peril for best documentary, ABC's Boston Legal for TV drama, and Mobile Home Disaster from CMT in the reality program category.
Winners of the 18th annual EMA Awards were announced at a reception at the Ebell Theater and Club in Los Angeles.
First presented in 1991, the Environmental Media Awards honor film and TV productions and individuals that increase public awareness of environmental issues and inspire personal action on these issues. The awards recognize writers, producers, directors, actors, musicians and others in the entertainment industry actively expressing their concern for the environment through their work.
NY Times on Mark Walton's Trip from Artist to Actor for "Bolt"
The New York Times has profiled Mark Walton, a visual development artist for Walt Disney Feature Animation who also provides the voice of Rhino, the over-excited hamster who is becoming the breakout character in the movie Bolt, even outshadowing its star, John Travolta. The article details Walton's geek bona fides, ranging from the paraphenalia crammed in his office and his status as a fixture at the San Diego Comic Con International, and also explains how Bolt directors Byron Howard and Chris Williams cast Walton as Rhino instead of finding a celebrity.
AWN Speaks with Jay Stephens on "The Secret Saturdays"
AWN has spoken with Jay Stephens, creator of Cartoon Network's new show The Secret Saturdays. Stephens discusses his inspirations for the Saturdays, how his comic book roots influenced the design of the show, how he plots episodes with story editor Brandon Sawyer, and how delighted he is with the voice casting for the show.
Bob Clampett's Brown Derby caricature, 1950s
One more from the Mega Collector. The young Robert Clampett, formerly a resident wall-hanging of the Brown Derby Restaurant (most likely the Hollywood branch).
Click the thumbnail for a larger image
The Brown Derby had rows and rows of celebrity caricatures over its leather-lined booths. To capture the Derby aura in 2008, you'll need to fly a few thousand miles to Orlando and scope out the recreated Hollywood location at Disney World.
The interior of Disney's Florida duplication has a lot of the details right -- the caricatures, the fixtures, the decor -- but for obvious commercial reasons is larger than the first edition.
(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)
South Park's 7 Awesomest Sci-Fi Moments
Comedy Central's South Park isn't just a crudely animated, potty-mouthed, politically incorrect and insanely funny series that takes shots at celebrities and politics.
It is also a wellspring of pop-culture satire that regularly lampoons science fiction, fantasy and supernatural movies, TV shows, games, etc., with a keen eye.
Series creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone know their sci-fi. SCIFI Wire picked the top seven South Park sci-fi moments, based on creativity, astute satire and downright belly laughs.
1. "Imaginationland". In a three-part epic, terrorists attack the land of imagination in a thinly veiled political metaphor. Imaginationland is populated by every fantasy creature from films, books and even the Bible. Freeze any frame and look around to see which of your favorite characters are in the background: Orcs, Mogwai, Luke Skywalker, Aslan and many more. Where else could you see Woodland Critters rape Stargate's Kurt Russell and Wario join Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger to terrorize Strawberry Shortcake?
2. "The Return of the Fellowship of the Rings to The Two Towers." When the boys' tape of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring gets switched with their parents' porno, Backdoor Sluts 9, they form their own fellowship to return it to the video store (named Two Towers). This spoof of Rings got everything right, from Butters' becoming Gollum after viewing "the one videotape" to Jimmy's shouting, "You shall not pass!" at a horde of sixth-graders pursuing the fellowship. Even Rings director Peter Jackson loved this.
3. Kenny's Halloween Costume. In the Halloween episode "Korn's Groovy Pirate Ghost Mystery," featuring guest stars Korn, the boys solve a supernatural mystery Scooby-Doo style. The show-stopping scene has Kenny dressed as RoboCop's nemesis, ED-209, complete with clunky robotic biped walk. Of course, he loses the costume contest to Wendy in her Chewbacca costume, a running joke from the previous year's Halloween special.
4. Cartman Gets an Anal Probe. Man, no matter how far South Park evolves past its vulgar basics, the show is still all about Cartman's butt. In the series' premiere episode, Cartman gets abducted by Communion-esque aliens who probe him from behind. The rotund rageaholic spends the rest of the episode farting fire and ultimately launches a satellite from his ass. Oh, the subtleties of intellectual humor.
5. Lesbian 300. When Mrs. Garrison (the sex-changed Mr. Garrison) seeks solace with the women at the bar Les Bos (get it?), he/she defends them against Persian developers who want to renovate it. Complete with slow-motion and rock music, the lesbians act out the movie 300, with perhaps the most disturbing resolution between Garrison and Xerxes.
6. Scientology Video. In "Trapped in the Closet," South Park exposes the Church of Scientology with a complete animated portrayal of the religion's supposed alien mythology. Tom Cruise hides in Stan's closet (get it?), while the boys learn about Xenu and Thetans. All the while, text flashes onscreen: "This is what Scientologists actually believe!" This spoof caused Scientologist Isaac Hayes, who voices Chef, to leave the show. To be fair, the episode "The Return of Chef" makes fun of the "Trapped in the Closet" episode by explaining the origin of Chef's Super Adventure Club with the text: "This is what Super Adventure Club Actually Believes!"
7. Timmy's Time Machine. In the episode "Fourth Grade," the boys wish to travel back in time to third grade, where everything was better. Two Star Trek fans help them build a time machine out of Timmy's wheelchair, debating the exact number of original series episodes along the way. (Can you believe one of them actually thinks there were only 72?) Meanwhile, the fourth-grade teacher goes through training with a Yoda-like Mr. Garrison to face her bratty new class.
Stop Motion at Silent Movie
The next several Saturday nights at the Silent Movie Theatre in Los Angeles will feature a rare festival of vintage stop motion animation films. Saturday night (11/15) at 7:30pm is Stop Motion Rareties featuring Starevich, Bowers’ and Svankmajer amongst much odd and unusual. Next week (11/22) at 7:30pm an entire show of George Pal Puppetoons; and on November 29th at 6pm, a fully restored 35mm print of Lou Bunin’s Alice In Wonderland (1949).
And that’s not the only animation event at the Silent Theatre this month. Spend An Evening with Don Hertzfeldt on Sunday November 30th at 7pm.
Sleigh Ride by Funnypages
Our friends at Funnypages Productions in Nashville, Tennessee, just finished their first fully animated music video for the group Relient K. It’s a classic Christmas song, Sleigh Ride and it’s really cute - put me in the holiday mood instantly. Former Disney animators Tom Bancroft and Rob Corley co-directed. The animation team was made up of Brent Bouchard, Enoc Castaneda, Erik Girndt, Michael Huang, Chris Kennett, Missy Roode, Mike Owens, and Jayson Thiesson. Background Paintings by Tod Redner.
Bob Givens Interview
Animator, character designer and layout artist Bob Givens (UPA, Warner Bros.) dropped by the Asifa-Hollywood Animation Archive a had a chat with animation artists Will Finn and Mike Fontanelli and Asifa archivist Stephen Worth. The excerpt above is devoted to his career at Warner Bros. Cartoons. Another section devoted to his career in TV Animation is posted on the archive site.
SMALLVILLE Showrunners To Script ROBOTECH Movie!!
Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, who served as showrunners for the first seven seasons of “Smallville,” will write Warner Bros.’ big-screen version of the 1980s giant-robot cartoon series “RoboTech.”
The Hollywood Reporter describes the premise:
A sprawling sci-fi epic, "Robotech" takes place at a time when Earth has developed giant robots from the technology on an alien spacecraft that crashed on a South Pacific isle. Mankind is forced to use the technology to fend off an alien invasion, with the fate of the human race ending up in the hands of two young pilots.
Gough and Millar’s prior big-screen credits include screenplays for “Made Men” (with Jim Belushi), “Shanghai Noon,” “Shanghai Nights,” “Showtime,” “Herbie: Fully Loaded,” and “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.” The duo also received “story” credits for sequels “Lethal Weapon 4” and “Spider-Man 2.”
Find all of The Hollywood Reporter’s story on the matter here.
The Billion-Dollar Batman
It's going to happen. Maybe it already has.
As of midweek, The Dark Knight's worldwide haul stood at a reported $997.6 million. Box office experts said that $1 billion, a mountain of money amassed by only three other movies in Hollywood history, was perhaps two weeks away.
"Dark Knight's at a trickle now with no new territories," Box Office Mojo's Brandon Gray said in an email. "[But] it's possible that it already has [hit the billion-dollar mark], as unreported grosses can suddenly come in."
Exhibitor Relations' Jeff Bock speculated that Warner Bros. was perhaps waiting for the right moment—like, oh, say, the movie's Dec. 9 DVD release—to spring the announcement.
As for the studio, when asked how far its movie had to go to reach $1 billion, its answer was: "Not yet."
The only three current members of Hollywood's billion-dollar club are Titanic, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. On the domestic side, The Dark Knight is, with Titanic, one of only two movies to pass $500 million. (Titanic, of course, also topped $600 million to claim its box office crown.)
After setting box office land-speed records in the summer, The Dark Knight has spent the last several weeks gutting out five-figure days. By comparison, at the same point in its run, Titanic, even with 1998 ticket prices, was still capable of $1 million days.
In an apparent attempt to spur on its marathon runner, Warners is boosting The Dark Knight's release by 200-plus theaters this weekend.
Even (almost) billionaires can use a hand.
"Buzz Lightyear" impersonator socked in the kisser
A man garbed as "Toy Story" cartoon hero Buzz Lightyear was punched in the face while heading home from a fancy dress party, the British Broadcasting Corporation reported Thursday.
The 26-year-old was attacked at about 12:15 a.m. local time Sunday by youths while waiting for a taxi in Rubery, Worcestershire, England. He was accompanied by a friend dressed as a jack-in-the-box.
The unnamed man was taken to hospital, where he was treated for a broken nose and black eye.
The attack took place in New Road, near the social club. West Mercia Police said that they wanted to talk to a female witness.
There was no word on the fate of the jack-in-the-box.