Friday, January 30, 2009

News - 01/30/08...

The Tale of Despereaux DVD in March

DVDActive reports that Universal Home Video has announced DVD and Blu-ray releases of The Tale of Despereaux for the 17th of March. Extras on this release will include a Tale of The Tale of Despereaux: A (Mostly) Non-Fictional Making-Of featurette, an interactive map of the Kingdom of Dor, the Top Ten Uses for Oversized Ears, games, and a sneak peak of Curious George 2: Follow That Monkey. The Blu-ray release will also include deleted songs, and additional BD-Live and U-Control features.

Aardman Secures Licensing Deals for Timmy Time

Aardman has signed a number of new licensing deals for its preschool stop-motion animated series Timmy Time.

The company has signed a number of partnerships in the United Kingdom, including: Golden Bear for wooden toys, Cooneen Textiles for nightwear and underwear, DNC UK for tableware and drinkware, Character World for bedding, RJ Jarret for children’s footwear, Roy Lowe & Sons Ltd for children’s socks, William Lamb for children’s slippers and Wellingtons and Danillo for cards and calendars.

Other international agents include Super RTL for Germany, Kidz Entertainment for Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, Haven Licensing for Australia and TF1 for France.

Vivid Imaginations has already been secured as master toy partner and will be launching products for fall and winter 2009. Egmont has picked up U.K. and Commonwealth publishing rights, and Titan Magazines will produce a monthly comic for the U.K. and Ireland.

Aardman has also a strategic relationship with HIT Entertainment in the United States, which has been expanded to include the consumer products roll-out of Timmy Time in North America in all key categories.

Face 2 Face Voting Closes Jan. 30

The last day to vote for your favorite entry in Animation Magazine's Face 2 Face contest is rapidly approaching, the polls close at 5 p.m. PST on Friday, Jan. 30.

Contestants were able to enter up to two facial models in the game resolution or film resolution categories. Entries fell into one of the subcategories: realistic male, realistic female, realistic child, nonhuman humanoid (orc, goblin, etc.), nonhuman (reptile, insect, etc.), or cartoon/stylized character.

The submissions were judged by a panel of professional animators and visual effects experts, including Rob Coleman of Lightstream Pictures; Cesar Dacol Jr., a veteran freelance character designer; Richard Taylor of Weta Digital; and Paul Debevec of USC's Institute for Creative Technologies.

Nearly $10,000 in prizes have been awarded to the top three entries in each category.

Film Category Winners:
First Place
Artist: Tony Reynolds
Model: “Casey McManus”

Second Place
Artist: Taehee Lee
Model: “Rosa”

Third Place
Artist: Max Edwin Wahyudi
Model: Lynda

Game Category Winners:
First Place
Artist: Sanket B. Khedekar
Model: “Rajasthani Old Woman (Dadi)”

Second Place
Artist: James Jean Pierre
Model: “Barack Obama”

Third Place
Artist: Christian Van Meurs
Model: “Fishie”

To view the entries and vote for your favorite, please visit

PassmoreLab First to Convert Claymation to 3-D

The short film Slim Pickings is being converted to 3-D — the first time a claymation film has undergone the process.

The work is being done by San Diego-based PassmoreLab in cooperation with Spike & Mike.

Directed by Anthony Lucas, the Australian short was released in 1999 and earned many awards. Slim Pickings is the first conversion in Passmore’s plans for a library of 3-D shorts.

Passmore also has been working on a 3-D conversion of the cult horror film Night of the Living Dead, due for release April 1.

Videogame Sales Outgross DVD for First Time in 2008

Worldwide retail sales of videogames for the first time outsold DVD and Blu-ray discs combined in 2008, according to a report from Media Control GfK International reported on

While sales of packaged media grew 6 percent last year to $61 billion, games sales grew 20 percent to $32 billion while DVD and Blu-ray sales fell 6 percent to $29 billion.

Games growth is attributed to the popularity of the Nintendo Wii, and is expected to continue in 2009.

3-D Terra picked up for May 1 release

Snoot Entertaiment’s 3-D animated feature Battle for Terra has been picked up by Lionsgate and Roadside for a May 1 release.

The movie will be released in both 2-D and 3-D formats, according to Variety. Story features aliens whose planet is invaded by humans fleeing a dying Earth.

The film had its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, and earned honors at the Ottawa International Animation Festival, the Heartland Film Festival and Giffoni Film Festival.

Bridge funding puts Astro Boy film back in works

Astro Boy's week-long launch delay is over, thanks to bridge financing that finally arrived.

Production on an American film adaptation of the cult 1960s Japanese anime series had been halted for a week because the money hadn't become available on time, Imagi Entertainment's United States president, Erin Corbett, said Tuesday.

However, provisional funding will see the company through until funding from private equity firms arrives next Tuesday, Corbett told Variety.

Directed by David Bowers, Astro Boy has Nicolas Cage, Bill Nighy, Freddie Highmore, Eugene Levy, Donald Sutherland and Kristen Bell in its voice cast. October 23 is the scheduled release date; Summit Entertainment is the film's United States distributor.

The film is based on Tetsuwan Atom, which aired in Japan from 1963 to 1966 and gained a strong following when it was broadcast in the U.S. as Astro Boy. The cartoon centered on a robot boy and his scientist "father." It was created by Osamu Tezuka, whose studio, Tezuka Productions, is a co-producer on the film.

Poll of adults names "Shrek" best film for kids

"Shrek" was named by a British polling firm Monday as the best kids' film ever -- in a survey of adults.

The DreamWorks film, which hit the big screens in 2001, was one of seven animated movies chosen by viewers as among the top 10 children's flicks as found by online market research company OnePoll.

Despite initially appealing to children, the computer-animated movie's adult-orientated gags meant that
Shrek soon became a firm favorite with older viewers. And now the poll of 3,000 adult movie fans named it the kids' film that they most enjoy watching.

is a great film, whether you are five or 50," said a OnePoll spokesman. "It has the simple plot, and colorful characters keep the children entertained, but the jokes and adult humor make sure that it also keeps the older generation happy."

Third place went to Pixar-Disney classic
Finding Nemo
, which tells the story of clownfish Nemo, who is stolen from his coral reef home by a diver to add to his fish tank in Sydney. Another Pixar-Disney film, Toy Story, was at number four.

Weepy Disney favorite
The Lion King was voted into sixth place, while Pixar-Disney's Monsters, Inc. came eighth.

Blue Sky Studios'
Ice Age and Aardman Animations' Wallace & Gromit: The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit were in ninth and tenth place, respectively.

The only non-animated films in the top 10 were
Pirates of the Caribbean (#2), Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (#5) and Mrs. Doubtfire (#7).

Other animated films to be included in the top 20 were
(#11), WALL•E (#13), A Bug's Life (#14), Ratatouille (#17), The Incredibles (#18), Bambi (#19) and The Little Mermaid

SPI president Tim Sarnoff parts ways with studio

Tim Sarnoff, president of Sony Pictures Imageworks since 1997, has left the firm and will no longer be replaced at the animation and visual effects studio.

The grandson of RCA and NBC founder David Sarnoff made the announcement Wednesday afternoon to employees at SPI's headquarters in Culver City, California.

In a separate development, Sony announced Thursday that its net profit plunged 95 percent in the October-December quarter, with sales in the pictures division falling 21.8% to $1.9 billion.

Sarnoff is now the second top executive to leave Sony's digital production units in under a year. Sony Pictures Digital president Yair Landau left last April to pursue independent animation ventures.

Under Sarnoff's presidency, SPI became one of the industry's major CGI shops, responsible for all of Sony's CG animated features.

A new executive will come to SPI to supervise operations. Debbie Denise, the company's executive vice-president for production, will continue to manage production teams. Longtime visual effects supervisor Ken Ralston will stay as leader of the creative side of operations.

They will report to Sony Pictures Digital Productions president Bob Osher, who is also chief operating officer of Columbia Pictures Motion Picture Group.

Sony Pictures Imageworks has been recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences with Oscars for its work on the CG-animated short film The Chubbchubbs!, as well as nominations for Surf's Up and Monster House. Other notable credits for Imageworks include Beowulf and The Polar Express

Imageworks is currently in production on
Open Season 2 and Sony Pictures Animation's animated feature Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, due for release this year.

With over 1,000 employees, Imageworks, has facilities in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Novato, California and Chennai, India, in addition to its Culver City headquarters.

Prior to his affiliation with Imageworks, Sarnoff joined Warner Bros. in 1989 to set up Steven Spielberg's animated series
Tiny Toon Adventures. During Sarnoff's tenure, Warner Bros. Animation grew from four employees to more than 300, became a separate business unit of Warner Bros., and completed numerous animated TV series, including Tazmania, Batman, Animaniacs and Superman

Erin Esurance Carves Up the Competition

While the Esurance team may be distracted by their recent coupling with the upcoming Star Trek movie, they haven’t stopped pumping out adventures for pink-haired Erin Esurance. This latest ad, titled Mission Savings, takes Erin to the slopes - on skis. We were pretty certain she favored snow boarding, but she’s apparently fond of both. The animation is overseen by Wildbrain.

"Hulk Vs." Interviews: Frank Paur, Fred Tatasciore & Steve Blum (UPDATED)

Newsarama's Animated Shorts has posted the first part of an interview with Frank Paur, director of the new Hulk Vs. direct-to-video animated movie as well as several other Marvel direct-to-video efforts and shows such as Gargoyles and Batman the Animated Series. Among other topics, Paur discusses how Hulk Vs. began as an "Ultimate X-Men vs. Ultimate Avengers" movie, how responsibilities were split between the "Hulk vs. Wolverine" and "Hulk vs. Thor" portions of the movie, what it was like to work with veteran voice actors Steven Blum and Fred Tatasciore, and how overseas animation studio Madhouse contributed storyboards to the "Hulk vs. Wolverine" segment of the movie.

Tatasciore, the voice of the Hulk, is also interviewed at's PULSE News, where he discusses how he views the Hulk as a character, how his audition for Thor turned into a read for the Hulk (and eventually being named "Hulk for Life" by Craig Kyle), and how the role differs from his performance as Beast in the new Wolverine and the X-Men series.

UPDATED January 30, 2009: Part 2 of Newsarama's interview with Paur has been posted, where he discusses the massive, cosmic-scaled Asgard in "Hulk vs. Thor" and the powerful influence of Jack Kirby's art on the original Thor comics. He also discusses how this segment of the movie was done differently from "Hulk vs. Wolverine," in a manner that is described as "the ‘toon equivalent of the Marvel Method - plot and art first, full story second."

Comic Book Resources has also posted an interview with Steve Blum about being Wolverine in the Hulk Vs. DTV, where he details how he got into voice acting almost by accident, where he finds Wolverine's character in the recording booth, how his friendship with Fred Tatasciore affected their performances in "Hulk vs. Wolverine," and the unusual amount of prep time he had for playing Wolverine here and for Wolverine and the X-Men.

CNN Interviews Dick Van Dyke on "Mary Poppins"

CNN has posted an edited transcript of an interview with Dick Van Dyke, focusing primarily on his work on Mary Poppins. Van Dyke discusses how he landed the role of Bert the chimney sweep due to an interview he gave regarding entertainment of the era, the ribbing he gets for his Cockney accent in the movie (noting "they had given me a [voice] coach who turned out to be an Irishman, and his Cockney wasn't much better than mine"), how the hybrid live-action/animated sequences were filmed without blue-screen or CGI technology, and what it was like to work with comedy veteran Ed Wynn.

The Mary Poppins 45th Anniversary DVD is available now.

How Battlestar's Ron Moore will 're-imagine' The Thing

Universal has hired Battlestar Galactica executive producer Ronald Moore to write a prequel to John Carpenter's classic 1982 sci-fi horror movie The Thing, Variety reported, confirming an earlier scoop by

Moore will write the script, and commercials director Matthijs Van Heijningen will direct the re-imagining. The new project reportedly borrows heavily from the John W. Campbell Jr. short story "Who Goes There?," the basis of the Carpenter film and the 1951 Howard Hawks original movie The Thing From Another World.

The prequel is set in a Norwegian camp and chronicles how the shape-shifting alien was first discovered and overcame the inhabitants of that camp.

Why J.J. Abrams doesn't sweat Star Trek details—plus a tiny spoiler!

In one of his first long interviews on his upcoming Star Trek movie, director J.J. Abrams reiterated to the Los Angeles Times that he's going to remain true to the spirit of the franchise, if not all of its details. And he promised a couple of surprises (minor spoilers ahead).

Following are some quotes from the two-part Q&A, which will appear on the Times blog today and tomorrow.
"The trick is how do you use a ship like that, uniforms like that, characters who look like that and the name Star Trek and make it feel relevant and legitimate. The challenge is to take the familiar—for better or worse—and embrace the elements that make it unique but be sure the master you're serving is the making of the most entertaining movie possible. You can't look backward and try to make sure that every decision you're making is true to the past. That's not to say that we weren't true to the past, but that wasn't our guiding principle."

"The movie at its core is not only inspired by what has come before, it's deeply true to what's come before. The bottom line is we have different actors playing these parts, and from that point on it's literally not what they've seen before. It will be evident when people see this movie that it is true to what [creator Gene] Roddenberry created and what those amazing actors did in the 1960s. At the same time, I think, it's going to blow people's minds, because it's a completely different experience than what they expect."

"There is a tribble in there. But you have to look for it. And there's that other surprise I told you about, but please don't write about that one."


Star Trek opens May 8.

Who's behind a reboot of Masters of the Universe!

Warner Brothers and producer Joel Silver have set Kung Fu Panda co-director John Stevenson to make his live-action directing debut on Masters of the Universe, a re-imagining of the signature Mattel toy line, Variety reported.

He-Man is a brawny prince who transforms into a warrior who becomes the last hope for a magical land called Eternia, which is being ravaged by technology and the evil Skeletor.

Silver is producing through his Silver Pictures banner. Mattel's Barry Waldo will be executive producer.

WB acquired the property in 2007, and Justin Marks wrote the first draft of the script based on a story he developed with Neil Ellice.

The Mattel property became iconic by way of the 1980s cartoon series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, and the property was previously turned into a campy flop by Cannon Films in 1987, with Rocky IV's Dolph Lungdren as He-Man and Frost/Nixon star Frank Langella as the villainous Skeletor.

New "Batman: The Brave And The Bold" Scheduled For February 2009 On Cartoon Network

Cartoon BoldNetwork has released information on the four new Batman: The Brave and The Bold episodes slated to air in February 2009, including the first two-part storyline for the series.

Below is a official description and respective airdate for the new episodes of
Batman: The Brave and The Bold slated for February 2009 on Cartoon Network.

Friday, Febuary 6th, 2009 - "The Eyes of Despero!"
The Green Lantern Corps is MIA after a battle with Despero and Batman must team with G'Nort, Guy Gardner and Sinestro to defeat Despero before he turns the living Green Lantern planet into a weapon.

Friday, February 13th, 2009 - "Return of the Fearsome Fangs!"
Batman and a reluctant Bronze Tiger fight to prevent Fox, Vulture and Shark from invading an ancient Chinese temple and stealing the sacred animal totem from within.
Friday, February 20th, 2009 - "Deep Cover for Batman!"
Batman swaps places with Owlman -- his criminal counterpart in an alternate Universe -- to stop the Crime Syndicate from taking over the world.

Friday, February 27th, 2009 - "Game Over for Owlman!"
On Earth, Owlman has been perpetrating crimes disguised as Batman and assembled all the villains to join him.

Batman: The Brave and The Bold
airs every Friday at 8pm (ET) on Cartoon Network.

Batman: The Brave and The Bold episode “Journey to the Center of the Bat!”
, the next all-new episode of the series, premieres this Friday, January 30th, 2009. For further details on the new episode, click here!

Check out the Batman: The Brave and The Bold subsite at The World's Finest for a complete collection of Batman: The Brave and The Bold coverage. Stay tuned for further updates, including exclusive content and news.

Could 'Ghost Rider 2′ Be Officially In The Works?

It’s been quite a while since we’ve heard any scuttlebutt from the “Ghost Rider” sequel camp — in fact, last we heard was way back in September of ‘08, when Nicolas Cage said he’d be up for “Ghost Rider 2″ and that he was in talks with Columbia Pictures about potential storylines. However, his “Ghost Rider” co-star Eva Mendes seemed to have no desire to return for a sequel.

If a recent report on is to be trusted, though, it looks like Marvel fans will have yet another feature film to look forward to in the coming years. According to the post, Columbia Pictures is officially reaching out to possible screenwriters, and Nicolas Cage has signed on to reprise his role as Johnny Blaze (a.k.a. The Ghost Rider).

Since there’s no official word from Columbia or Cage’s representatives, not to mention the fact that the first “Ghost Rider” film was critically panned and barely made a profit. Yet, given its relatively strong DVD sales and licensing possibilities, that may be reason enough to revisit the franchise. Stay tuned for further developments.

Harry says that the new animated WONDER WOMAN is a wonder!

Harry Knowles from Aint It Cool News reviews the new animated Wonder Woman DVD -

WONDER WOMAN - Animated Feature!!!

Harry here... I just got finished watching the action packed HULK VS Blu Ray. The two abbreviated films were indeed fun. However, they were short films. Exciting, fun... but not as satisfying as a feature film. So imagine my joy when today I opened up my mail and found a very early... hot off the presses dvd of WONDER WOMAN, the animated feature that's due out March 1st on DVD and BLU RAY. What I saw was a standard def version of the feature alone. None of the extras, and certainly not the early look at the upcoming GREEN LANTERN feature that will be on the eventual final product.

Whomever is looking at making a feature film of WONDER WOMAN, they should look at this, the first animated Wonder Woman feature for inspiration. It is directed by Lauren Montgomery (SUPERMAN: DOOMSDAY) and she has out done herself with WONDER WOMAN.

The film begins with an amazing battle with all sorts of bizarre mythological creatures and what the viewer would think was the Amazonians and Wonder Woman. The battle is furious and brutal. Head lobbings, arm dismemberments... well, you get the idea, it's a war. And the woman that I thought was Wonder Woman... that was Queen Hippolyta (voiced by Virginia Madsen) in her prime. She has that headband thing Wonder Woman wears and the golden lasso. It is... both are used more brutally than I've seen before.

Soon, she's fighting the big baddie of the war, none other than Ares, God of War, himself. Ares is wonderfully voiced by Alfred Molina. The battle rages - and right as Hippolyta is to behead Aries, Zeus (voiced by Man from U.N.C.L.E. agent, David McCallum) interferes and Aries is bound by arm bracelets that keep him from thriving on the energies associated with the suffering of war. At the same time, the women in Queen Hippolyta's charge are to be taken to a sacred secret island where she and the women with her would be kept safe forever in a tropical paradise.

Essentially this is a Wonder Woman origin story, but the origin is told quickly and concisely - all while introducing us to all the wonderful characters. You have Keri Russell as Wonder Woman, Rosario Dawson as Artemis and the latest inhabitant to the island is crashed pilot, Colonel Steve Trevor voiced by Captain Malcolm Reynolds, who was played by Captain Hammer, but is known by geeks as Nathan Fillion.

Nathan's Trevor is textbook Fillion. He's annoyed by Diana's assumption of male chauvinism - though he does admit to being a bit of a womanizer. But he isn't a joke character. Trevor is Wonder Woman's look at a modern man, not the brutal barbarian's that her mother knew.

After Diana wins the mission to take Trevor back to his homeland - and track down Ares, who due to the usual bad guy treachery - is loose upon the world causing mayhem. And just wait till you see Oliver Platt's Hades... classic stuff.

The film is more adult than you would expect. Nothing overtly wrong for a kid, I feel... but more than enough to maintain a story and a feature that would entertain all adult comic fans.

This is really a great flick. As with NEW FRONTIER and DOOMSDAY, the DC Animated Video titles continue to be vastly superior to the Marvel entries. This is one I can't wait to see on BLU-RAY - if only so I can better appreciate the animation, but also I can't wait to check out all the special features, especially our first look at GREEN LANTERN!

(Thanks Aint It Cool News)

FOX to screw up IRON MAN 2's Black Widow? Sadly, it looks like it! Or does it?

It seems that FOX has some sort of contract agreement with Emily Blunt left over from her time on THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA, which could be exercised by FOX Films to keep her from being the astonishingly ravishing Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow in IRON MAN 2.

Variety has the story - and it seems there's a chance that it'll all work out, but there's also a chance that our lovely Natasha will be a Lilliputian princess that Black's Gulliver wants. They've also announced Jason Segel as Gulliver's Lilliputioan best friend, Horatio.

Taken Tries to Tackle Fans Away from Super Bowl

The list of films looking to lure viewers away from this weekend’s Super Bowl is led by Taken, a new thriller from Fox starring Liam Neeson that opens on more than 3,100 screens.

Also opening this weekend are
The Uninvited, a remake from Paramount/DreamWorks of a Korean horror film, hitting about 2,300 screens; and the Renee Zellweger comedy New in Town, coming to around 1,900 screens courtesy of Lionsgate.

Those films will be looking to topple
Paul Blart: Mall Cop, the Kevin James comedy that has topped the box office for two weeks straight and has taken in more than $68 million to date. Action film Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, last weekend’s second-place finisher, also will be in the hunt.

Expanding this week are Oscar nominees
Milk, The Reader, The Wrestler and foreign-language film The Class

Isla Fisher Joins Cast of Rango

Actress Isla Fisher will jump from the world of shopping into animation.

Variety reports the star of the upcoming Confessions of a Shopaholic will voice the lead female character in Rango, an animated feature to be directed by Gore Verbinski at Paramount.

Already on board the voice cast are Johnny Depp, Abigail Breslin, Ned Beatty, Alfred Molina, Ray Winstone and Harry Dean Stanton.

Fox Picks Up Narnia

20th Century Fox has signed on to co-finance the next film in the Chronicles of Narnia series with Walden Media.

Disney, which co-financed the first two films in the series, dropped out a month ago on the third film, Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

According to Variety, Fox and Walden will split production costs on the film, with Walden in the process of selecting a writer to follow up drafts by Richard LaGravenese, whose availability going forward is in question.

Torrence Joins Animax as CEO

Animax Entertainment has hired Corey Torrence as its new chief executive.

Torrence, previously president of Prodigious Worldwide, will over see daily operations and plan for the company’s growth with president Michael Bellavia.

Founded in 2001 by Andrew K. Bain and writer-actor Dave Thomas, Animax specializes in Flash animation and has created content for clients including Disney, ESPN, Warner Bros., National Geographic, Sesame Workshop and WWE.

The Dark Knight Re-Release IMAX Locations

A friendly reminder to all the fans of the The Dark Knight that the movie returns to theaters TODAY. Here is the official IMAX press release and worldwide locations:

IMAX Corporation and Warner Bros. Pictures today announced that the box office smash hit The Dark Knight, which has grossed more than $997 million at the worldwide box office since its release on July 18th, 2008, will return to IMAX® theatres for an encore presentation. Starting January 30th, the film will open in 143 IMAX screens domestically, and 29 screens internationally. Last year the film opened day and date in 94 domestic and 15 international IMAX theatres and went on to become the highest grossing live-action Hollywood IMAX release, generating $63 million as it continued to be released throughout the IMAX network.

The Dark Knight: The IMAX Experience features six sequences filmed with IMAX cameras, which marks the first time ever that a major feature film has been even partially shot using IMAX cameras.

"The Dark Knight is a crowning achievement in every sense of the word," said Dan Fellman, President of Domestic Distribution, Warner Bros. Pictures. "We want to provide one more opportunity for moviegoers to experience it on the big screen as it was meant to be seen. We're also very excited to give more fans in new markets an opportunity to experience the film in this special way, thanks to the continued rapid growth of the IMAX theatre network."

"As audiences discovered over the summer, The Dark Knight is not only a phenomenal film, but an extraordinarily unique experience in IMAX," said Veronika Kwan-Rubinek, President of International Distribution, Warner Bros. Pictures. "With the multitude of accolades it has received this season, we wanted to bring this amazing film back to theaters to give audiences another chance to see it on the big screen and in the expanded IMAX locations around the globe."

"We are grateful to Chris Nolan and Warner Bros Pictures for incorporating IMAX into such a wonderful cinematic masterpiece, and we're honored to bring it back to our theatres," said Greg Foster, Chairman and President of IMAX Filmed Entertainment. "The anticipation surrounding the initial IMAX release reached beyond the markets where we had IMAX theatres and we're delighted that moviegoers in many of those markets will now have the chance to Experience it in IMAX."

One of the most celebrated and successful films of this or any year, The Dark Knight has been hailed by both critics and audiences since its original release last July. The film garnered widespread acclaim for its artistic and technical achievements, culminating with the film being named on more than 150 critics' lists of the year's top-ten films.

In addition, the filmmakers behind The Dark Knight have been honored by their peers, with Christopher Nolan receiving a Directors Guild of America Award nomination; producers Nolan, Charles Roven and Emma Thomas garnering a Producers Guild Award nomination; and a Writers Guild of America Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay going to Chris Nolan, Jonathan Nolan and David S. Goyer. Cast member Heath Ledger received a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination, and has also won a Golden Globe, Critics' Choice Award and numerous other critics groups' awards for Best Supporting Actor.

The Dark Knight also won the Critics' Choice Award for Best Action Film, and swept the People's Choice Awards in five categories, including Favorite Movie and Favorite Cast.

The Dark Knight: The IMAX Experience is scheduled to play at the following locations starting on January 30th.



Mesa - Gateway 12 IMAX Theatre
Phoenix - AMC Deer Valley 30 with IMAX
Tempe - IMAX Theatre at Arizona Mills


Little Rock - Chenal 9 IMAX Theatre


Anaheim - The Movie Experience 14 at Anaheim Gardenwalk
Arcadia - AMC Santa Anita 16 & IMAX
Burbank - AMC Burbank 16 & IMAX
Cathedral City - Desert IMAX Theatre
Dublin - Regal Hacienda Crossings Stadium 21 & IMAX
Emeryville - AMC Bay Street 16 & IMAX
Fresno - Edwards Fresno Stadium 22 & IMAX
Irvine - Edwards Irvine Spectrum IMAX
Los Angeles - AMC Century City 15 & IMAX
Los Angeles - AMC Universal CityWalk Stadium 19 with IMAX
Los Angeles - IMAX Theatre at The Bridge: cinema de lux
Monterey - Cannery Row IMAX Theatre
Ontario - Edwards Ontario Palace 22 & IMAX
Sacramento - Edwards Fairfield Stadium 16 & IMAX
Sacramento - Esquire IMAX Theatre
Sacramento - Regal Cinemas El Dorado Hills Stadium 14 & IMAX
San Diego - Mira Mesa Stadium 18 & IMAX
San Jose - AMC Eastridge Mall 15 & IMAX
San Francisco - AMC Loews Metreon 16 with IMAX
Simi Valley - Civic Center Stadium 16 & IMAX
Stockton - Regal City Centre Stadium 16 & IMAX
Torrance - AMC Del Amo 18 & IMAX


Colorado Springs - Cinemark Carefree Circle IMAX Theatre
Denver - UA Colorado Center Stadium 9 & IMAX
Westminster - AMC Orchards of Westminster 12 & IMAX


Manchester - IMAX Theatre at Showcase Cinemas Buckland Hills
Norwalk - IMAX Theatre at The Maritime Aquarium


Altamonte Springs - AMC Altamonte Mall 18 & IMAX
Aventura - AMC Aventura 24 & IMAX
Fort Lauderdale - AutoNation® IMAX® Theater at Museum of Discovery
and Science
Fort Myers - Regal Gulf Coast Town Center Stadium 16 & IMAX
Jacksonville - AMC Regency 24 & IMAX
Orange Park - AMC Orange Park 24 & IMAX
Orlando - Pointe Orlando 20 & IMAX
St. Augustine - World Golf Hall of Fame IMAX Theatre
St. Petersburg - Muvico Baywalk 20 & IMAX
Tallahassee - IMAX Theatre at the Challenger Learning Center
Tampa - AMC Veterans 24 & IMAX
Tampa - Channelside Cinemas IMAX
Tampa - IMAX Dome Theatre at MOSI
West Palm Beach - Muvico Parisian 20 & IMAX


Augusta - Augusta Exchange Stadium 20 & IMAX
Buford - Regal Mall of Georgia Stadium 20 & IMAX


Boise - Edwards Boise Stadium 22 & IMAX


Batavia - Randall 15 IMAX
Chicago - Navy Pier IMAX Theatre
Lincolnshire - Regal Lincolnshire 20 & IMAX
Woodridge - Cinemark Seven Bridges IMAX Theatre


Evansville - IMAX Theatre at Showplace Cinemas East 18
Indianapolis - IMAX Theatre at the Indiana State Museum
Indianapolis - Kerasotes ShowPlace 16 & IMAX
Noblesville - Hamilton Towne Center 16 + IMAX
Portage - Portage 16 IMAX


Davenport - Putnam Museum and IMAX Theatre
Des Moines - Science Center of Iowa & Blank IMAX Dome Theater


Olathe - AMC Studio 30 & IMAX


Louisville - IMAX Cinema De Lux 20: Stonybrook


Harahan - AMC Elmwood Palace 20 & IMAX
New Orleans - Entergy IMAX Theatre, Audubon Aquarium of the Americas


Baltimore - AMC Loews White Marsh 16 & IMAX
Columbia - AMC Columbia 14 & IMAX


Boston - New England Aquarium's Simons IMAX Theatre
Natick - Verizon IMAX 3D Theater at Jordan's Furniture - Natick
Reading - Verizon IMAX 3D Theater at Jordan's Furniture - Reading


Dearborn - The Henry Ford IMAX Theatre
Grand Blanc - NGC Trillium Cinema IMAX Theatre
Grand Rapids - Celebration! Cinema IMAX Theatre
Lansing - Celebration! Cinema IMAX Theatre
Sterling Heights - AMC Forum 30 & IMAX
Ypsilanti - Showcase Cinemas Ann Arbor IMAX


Apple Valley - Great Clips IMAX Theatre


Kansas City - AMC BarryWoods 24 & IMAX
St. Louis - Wehrenberg Theatres Ronnies 20 Cine IMAX


Las Vegas - Brenden Theatres and IMAX at the Palms Casino Resort
Las Vegas - Regal Red Rock Stadium 16 & IMAX
Las Vegas - Regal Aliante Stadium 16 & IMAX

New Hampshire

Hooksett - Cinemagic IMAX Theatre

New Jersey

Atlantic City -Tropicana Casino and Resort IMAX Theatre
Cherry Hill - AMC Loews Cherry Hill 24 & IMAX
Hamilton - AMC Hamilton 24 & IMAX

New York

Albany - Regal Crossgates Mall 18 & IMAX
Deer Park - Regal Deer Park Stadium 16 & IMAX
Garden City - Grumman IMAX at Cradle of Aviation
New Rochelle - Regal New Roc City 18 & IMAX
New York City - AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13 & IMAX
New York City - AMC Empire 25 & IMAX
Rochester - Cinemark IMAX Theatre at Tinseltown USA
West Nyack - IMAX Theatre at Palisades Center
White Plains - IMAX Theatre at City Center: Cinema De Lux 15
Williamsville - Regal Transit Center 18 & IMAX

North Carolina

Raleigh - Wachovia IMAX Theatre at Marbles Kids Museum


Springdale - IMAX Theatre at Springdale 18: Cinema De Lux
Columbus - AMC Easton Town Center 30 & IMAX


Tulsa - Cinemark IMAX Theatre at the Tulsa


Tigard - Regal Bridgeport Village Stadium 18 & IMAX


Bensalem - AMC Neshaminy 24 & IMAX
Harrisburg - Select Medical IMAX Theater at The Whitaker Center
Homestead - AMC Waterfront 22 & IMAX
King of Prussia - UA King of Prussia Stadium 16 & IMAX
Philadelphia - Tuttleman IMAX Theatre at the Franklin Institute
Reading - RC Reading Movies 11 & IMAX
Tarentum - Cinemark IMAX Theatre at the Galleria Pittsburgh Mills

Rhode Island

Providence - Providence Place Cinemas 16 & IMAX


Knoxville - Regal Pinnacle Stadium 18 & IMAX
Nashville - Regal Opry Mills 20 & IMAX


Austin - The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum IMAX Theatre
Colleyville - Colleyville Cinema & Grille IMAX Theatre
Dallas - Cinemark IMAX Theatre at Cinemark 17
Fort Worth - Fort Worth Museum Omni Theater
Houston - AMC Gulf Pointe 30 & IMAX
Houston - Edwards Houston Marq*E 23 & IMAX
San Antonio - Santikos Palladium 18 IMAX Theatre
Sugar Land - AMC First Colony 24 & IMAX
Tomball - Santikos Silverado Station 18 IMAX


Sandy - Megaplex 17 IMAX at Jordan Commons


Alexandria - AMC Hoffman Center 22 & IMAX
Chantilly - Airbus IMAX Theater at Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
Hampton - Riverside IMAX Theater at the Virginia Air & Space Center
Virginia Beach - AMC Lynnhaven 18 & IMAX
Woodbridge - AMC Potomac Mills 18 & IMAX


Lacey - Regal Martin Village Stadium 16 & IMAX
Seattle - Pacific Science Center Boeing IMAX Theatre
Spokane - Riverfront Park IMAX
Tukwila - AMC Southcenter 16 & IMAX

Washington DC

Washington DC - Samuel C. Johnson IMAX Theater at the National Museum of
Nat. History


Fitchburg - Kerasotes Star 18 & IMAX

Thursday, January 29, 2009

News - 01/29/08...

Bart Simpson Promotes Scientology

Nancy Cartwright, the voice of Bart Simpson, has taken Bart out of Springfield and plopped him into the real-world by using the iconic character to promote her personal religious causes. Below is a robo-call in which she uses Bart’s voice imploring people to attend a Scientology event. All I can say is it’s extremely uncomfortable hearing Bart in this context.

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

Twilight in 30 seconds

Thirty Second Bunnies have come up with their own version of the teenage vampire drama Twilight which can be watched here.

Imagi Debunks Rumors of Halt to Astro Boy

Amid reports of financial problems plaguing Hong Kong-based Imagi, president of the company’s U.S. operation Erin Corbett denied in an interview with that the Astro Boy feature film has halted production.

Corbett told the site that the studio has the money to finish the film, due out in October through Summit Entertainment, which she says is about 50 percent rendered and completed.

The company did have to temporarily shut its U.S. offices for a week while it awaits its next round of financing to kick in. The company had sought a bridge loan to fund the interim but was unable to secure that financing.

The closure will have a minimal impact on the film, Corbett said. While U.S. operations were put on hold for a week, the main studio operation in Hong Kong was already scheduled to be closed during this period to celebrate Chinese New Year.

Clotiaux to Head Up Frantic’s Global Efforts

Terry Clotiaux, a 20-year veteran of the visual effects industry, has signed on with Frantic Films, a division of Prime Focus Group, as senior VP and COO of visual effects worldwide.

Clotiaux will work out of Frantic’s Hollywood office and is responsible for building up the company’s international visual effects operations. He will also work to establish the company’s offices in Los Angeles, Winnipeg and Vancouver as the North American bases for Prime Focus.

He comes to Frantic from Digital Domain, where he worked on films such as the upcoming G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Speed Racer and The Golden Compass. Prior to Digital Domain, he worked at Sony Pictures Imageworks, was a vfx producer on such film as the sequels to The Matrix and Independence Day, and served a stint with the Chandler Group. He also has worked at Showscan Film Corp. and Robert Guenette Productions.

Tintin Starts Production, Casting

The final pieces have been put in place for The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn, the first film in Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson’s 3-D motion-capture trilogy adapting the classic European comic book series.

Joining the cast are Jamie Bell (Peter Jackson's King Kong, Defiance, Jumper) as the titular hero and Daniel Craig (Quantum of Solace) as Red Rackham, reports Variety.

The film, due out in 2011, began principal production this week in Los Angeles. The film is being co-financed by Paramount and Sony, with Spielberg directing the first installment and Jackson set to helm the second.

Hulk Vs. Leads Week’s DVD Releases

A newly animated Hulk takes on both Wolverine and Thor in this week’s batch of DVD releases.

Hulk Vs. (Lionsgate) includes two animated features from Marvel and is available in a regular widescreen edition ($19.98), a widescreen special edition ($24.98) and on Blu-ray ($29.99).

Also new this week is
Open Season 2, a direct-to-DVD sequel to the Sony Pictures Animation’s debut 2006 feature, available in widescreen DVD ($28.95), UMD ($24.94) and Blu-ray ($39.95) formats.

Other new animated titles out are
Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! Vol. 1: A Monster Catch (Warner Bros., $14.97), SpongeBob SquarePants: Spongicus (Nick/Paramount, $16.99), You’re a Good Sport, Charlie Brown! (WB, $19.98), Pink Panther and Friends Classic Cartoon Collection (MGM, $69.98), Tom and Jerry Tales: Vol. 6 (WB, $14.97) and The All-New Superfriends Hour Season 1 Vol. 2
(WB, $26.99).

Ninja Turtles Celebrate 25th with New Wave of Licensing

4Kids Entertainment International has announced a number of new licensing deals to mark the 25th anniversary of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

The new international licensing agreements are with: J.L. Fontes in Portugal for flip flops, slippers, clogs and umbrellas; New York Zero in Italy for apparel; Passion Secret in Spain for boys boxer shorts, underwear and t-shirts; Zorluteks Tekstil in Turkey for bedding; Rubies Masquerade for children’s Halloween costumes across select European territories including Russia and in South Africa; and Paxos for back to school products covering Greece, Cyprus and Malta.

Additional deals have been signed in Israel with Shoshi Zohar for children’s Halloween costumes and Mitos Novelties for apparel and footwear.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles first appeared in a 1984 comic book series from creators Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman. It since has become a worldwide phenomenon, spawning cartoons, toys, movies and merchandise of every type imaginable.

The Secret is Out On Kells Feature

Cartoon Saloon, the Irish animation team behind Skunk Fu!, are finally seeing their animated feature to the screen. The Secret of Kells, co-directed by Tomm Moore and Nora Twomey, will hit Irish cinemas on March 6th (distribution by Buena Vista International), and while most of the film is traditionally animated (long live the 2D feature!), there are a number of Flash-animated shots in the film. You can see some stills from a Flash sequence or at Alessandra Sorrentino’s blog. Here’s the latest trailer:

Scooby-Doo may help in real-life Fla. murder case

A CD case bearing cartoon mystery-solver Scooby-Doo's image may provide the clue in a murder trial that began Tuesday in Miami.

Baron Moore, 27, is accused of killing 28-year-old Keith Culbertson in August 2003. He is charged with second-degree murder and grand theft auto.

An ardent Scooby-Doo fan, Culbertson, a Homestead, Florida bartender, had his Toyota 4Runner filled with many Scooby-themed items, including seat-belt sleeves, a steering wheel cover, decals and a CD case.

According to prosecutors, police found the incriminating Scooby-Doo CD case inside Moore's house.

Prosecutors say that Moore shot Culbertson in the face, then stole his SUV. Moore drove the vehicle around for several days, then allegedly dumped Culbertson's body in a Homestead field. Police found the SUV parked in front of an abandoned house near Moore's residence.

The Miami Herald reported that Culbertson was a life-long Scooby-Doo lover who awoke to a Scooby alarm and collected Scooby boxer shorts.

His body was found 28 days after he was last seen. It was clad in Scooby boxers.

5 voice actors nominated for Canada's ACTRA awards

Five nominees for outstanding voice performance were announced Tuesday by ACTRA Toronto, the union representing Toronto's over 15,000 professional film, TV, radio and new media performers.

The five -- all starring in animated TV shows -- are Emily Hampshire and Adrian Truss, both for Ruby Gloom; Rob Tinkler for Cyberchase; Joanne Vannicola for Toot & Puddle; and Jamie Watson for Peep and the Big Wide World.

Nominated for outstanding female performance are Rosemary Dunsmore, Megan Fahlenbock, Sarah Gadon, Karen LeBlanc and Shauna MacDonald. For outstanding male performance, the male nominees are Nicholas Campbell, Jonas Chernick, Daniel J. Gordon, Joris Jarsky and Clark Johnson.

The awards for exceptional performances will be presented February 20 at The Carlu in Toronto. Peter Keleghan will be honored with an ACTRA Award of Excellence.

"Slim Pickings" becomes first claymation 3-D film

PassmoreLab, in cooperation with Spike & Mike, has converted Anthony Lucas' short film Slim Pickings into the first-ever clay animation 3-D film.

The film is one of many shorts that PassmoreLab is planning to convert from 2-D to 3-D in the coming months.

"We're building a library of 3-D shorts with widespread audience appeal in preparation for the upcoming rollout of mass media 3-D," company president Greg Passmore said Wednesday. "When 3-D television and video on demand make their way into mainstream entertainment, PassmoreLab will have a collection ready. This short 'claymation tragedy' was a perfect fit for this effort."

"Slim Pickings worked well because clay animation already has a 3D feel," said PassmoreLab stereographer Nina Page. "There were a lot of shots that allowed for us to pull things out of the focal plane to achieve a more desirable 3D effect."

Australia's Slim Pickings was first released in 1999. The film won the Creative Excellence in an Australian Short Film Award from the Melbourne International Film Festival in 1999, and that same year was nominated for an AFI Award from the Australian Film Institute. It has also been screened at Spike and Mike's Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation, which occurs annually in La Jolla, California.

Slim Pickings focuses on an unnamed, slightly forlorn creature and his friendly pet-like tomato plant. The creature has seemingly run out of food after eating his last remaining can, labeled "One Old Pea," and faces the moral dilemma of whether or not to eat his trusting plant.

The film tells its story without dialogue, employing a creative combination of expressions, music, and a few squeaks from the creature and plant. Lucas used one shot of the creature's feet early on in the story to establish that he walked, and then afterward included only shots of him from the waist up to make filming more efficient.

Lucas' film titles also include animation shorts The Mysterious Geographic Explorations Of Jasper Morello (a 2005 Oscar nominee) and Holding Your Breath.

PassmoreLab's other recent projects include a 3-D conversion of the cult classic Night of the Living Dead, which is scheduled for release April 1.

"Teen Titans" to Debut on Boomerang on February 2, 2009

Cartoon Network has just issued a press release stating that Teen Titans will begin airing on the Boomerang network starting Monday, February 2, 2009. The show about a quintet of DC Comics teenage superheroes will air Monday-Friday at 10:30 PM (Eastern/Pacific) as part of the "Boomeraction" programming block, which also includes Justice League and The Batman.

Nathan Fillion Discusses Voicing Steve Trevor in "Wonder Woman"

Warner Brothers Animation has released another interview in conjunction with the upcoming Wonder Woman direct-to-video animated movie. This latest interview is with Nathan Fillion, the actor who plays Col. Steve Trevor in the movie. Fillion discusses the challenges and preconceptions he had in bringing Trevor to life, noting that, "I think I’ve carved out a niche for myself in playing the not-so-hero," but that Trevor "is a real guy – he’s very natural, he’s very honest." Fillion also reveals the secret behind his co-star Keri Russell's performance as Wonder Woman: "...she has a jet. It’s not invisible, but it’s close. And she does wear a tiara. Not all the time – you’re not going to see her walking down the street in it. But she’s got it. And it looks good. She wears it well." Among other topics, Fillion also discusses his prominence in sci-fi roles, his past life as a comic-book fanboy, and whether he expects to suffer from the "William Shatner 'Get a Life'" syndrome in the future.

To read the full interview, which is accompanied by more 2 high-definition screenshots from the movie, read the press release here.

Anthony Daniels on Being C-3PO in "Star Wars: The Clone Wars"

Lucasfilm has released an article talking with actor Anthony Daniels about being C-3PO, the stiff protocol droid and stalwart companion of R2-D2 and two generations of Skywalkers. Daniels will reprise his role as C-3PO in the upcoming "Trespass" episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, making him the only actor to play the same role in every on-screen version of the saga. However, rather than feel like the droid is a burden, Daniels stated, "There was a time many years ago when I thought I should move on to other things, but then I thought that was stupid. I'm very fond of Threepio." In the article, he also goes into the freedom that voice-over gives him and the working relationship he has with supervising director Dave Filoni.

"Trespass" premieres this Friday, January 30, 2009, at 9:00 PM (Eastern/Pacific) on Cartoon Network.

Ratings Roundup: "Wolverine & the X-Men;" Cartoon Network/Adult Swim

* Nicktoons Network has issued a press release noting that Wolverine and the X-Men was the highest-rated premiere the network has ever aired with kids and boys. [Press Release]

* Cartoon Network has reported ratings results for January 2009, scoring double-digit growth compared to January 2008, with aid from the all-day Powerpuff Girls marathon on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. [Press Release]

Yost on IRON MAN

HULK VS scribe runs the show on ARMORED ADVENTURES

Last week Mania talked to Chris Yost, a staple writer over at the animated branch of Marvel Entertainment. While that conversation was largely about 'Hulk Vs', Yost also gave a preview of coming attraction for upcoming Marvel animate fare, including the new toon show 'Iron Man: Armored Adventures'. Yost told us that he's well acquainted with that program, which airs here in the U.S. later this year.

Here's our Q & A with Mr. Yost:

Yost: I was the story editor and head writer for 'Iron Man: Armored Adventures'. That's coming in, I want to say, April.

Mania: Speaking of fan complaints, fans have definitely noticed Tony Stark being a teenager in that one. What what the decision to go so young with Tony?

Mandarin concept design for Iron Man Armored Adventures
© Marvel Entertainment

It was really to make the character a little more approachable for younger kids. If you look at Tony Stark: He loves the ladies, he loves a little drinky here and there. He's a weapons maker. He's not the most kid-friendly character in the world.

So that was one of the instances where, how do you make that character more approachable for children?

They'd done this before with
'X-Men: Evolution' and that worked out alright. I think by the end of that show we had a really good following.

I think 'Iron Man: Armored Adventures' really speaks to the character of Tony Stark. He's recognizable. He's still dealing with Star Industries. He's still got Pepper and Rhodey there. Still an obsessive character. Still hunting down technology. You're going to recognize him.

Mania: Will we see a lot of Marvel Team-Ups?

You'll see a few.

Blizzard as he appears in Iron Man Armored Adventures
© Marvel Entertainment

You're also going to get, in my opinion, one of the best translations of the Iron Man rogue's gallery. I think visually the characters are stunning. We throw 'em at you dude.

Mania: Which villains will we see?

Yost: Name 'em. Living Laser, Killer Shrike, Blizzard, Mandarin, Dreadknight. Literally a slew of characters.

Mania: I didn't hear Fin Fang Foom in that list...

I didn't list off 20 characters. I'm not saying he's in there. I'm not saying he's not!

Any Iron Man fan is going to be pretty pleased with the representation of the rogues gallery.

Mania: Are there any Marvel character that you'd love to work on but haven't had a chance too yet?

There's probably 4000.

Whiplash as he appears in Iron Man Armored Adventures
© Marvel Entertainment

Mania: What's at the top of your list?

Yost: The majors are pretty well covered.

The great thing about Marvel is you'd love to see them branch out know, like an Adult Swim
'Daredevil' series would be amazing. Or a super-young 'Power Pack'.

There's a lot of places that Marvel Animation has yet to go, that hopefully will be coming soon, you know?

Hopefully with the success of the
'Hulk Vs' DVD it'll bring in a bigger audience. You can see the possibilities.

A lot of it depends on the Film side too. What's the film side doing that we want to support?

You're going to be seeing a new
'Thor' series. You're going to be seeing an 'Avengers' series.

Mania: Do you have plans to work on the feature film side?

Yost: I wouldn't say no, but to be honest with you I'm working on the
'Avengers' series right now and I could not be happier. I think that show is gonna just be amazing.

Promo art for 'Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes' the new TV show from Marvel Animation
© Marvel Entertainment

Mania: Is it the classic roster...the roster for the movie?

Well, they released an image that has Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Captain America, Ant-Man and Wasp on it. It's pretty classic to me.

The roster will grow as the Avengers rosters will do.

Mania: Is Spider-Man trapped in some sort of alternate reality because of licensing? I keep waiting for the new Spider-Man animated DVD movie.

Yost: I know that 'Spectacular Spider-Man' is a pretty great show.

Mania: Anything else in the pipeline from Marvel that we haven't heard about?

Yost: Frank Paur, who directed 'Hulk vs Wolverine', is handling 'Planet Hulk' and from what I hear it's amazing.

Johnny Rico & The Federation Want You To Help Stomp Out Child Abuse!! Would You Like To Know More??

Here's a look at a series of odd spots involving STARSHIP TROOPERS.

Casper Van Dien returns in the Johnny Rico role (from
STARSHIP TROOPERS #s 1 & 3) for a campaign aimed towards the awareness and prevention of child abuse.

The following press release will tell you more:

Actor Casper Van Dien suits up as “Johnny Rico” to tackle child abuse in series of PSAs for Childhelp

Starship Troopers star urges people to join him in fighting back against child abuse

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (January 28, 2009) – Johnny Rico, lead character in the hit movie Starship Troopers, is suiting up once again to fight back against the evils of the galaxy. Hollywood actor Casper Van Dien has reprised the combat savvy character for Childhelp to talk about fighting a different war – the war against child abuse. Two new public service announcements (PSAs) were filmed for Childhelp, one of the leading organizations dedicated to the prevention and treatment of child abuse, and recently made their debut online.

The PSAs were put together by an all star team including Academy Award winning visual effects directors Robert Skotak and Dennis Skotak, with the assistance of their brother Jeffrey Skotak who is now also working in visual effects. Robert and Dennis Skotak won Oscars for their visual effects work in the movies
Terminator 2, Aliens and The Abyss. The filming was done by John Murlowski, who filmed Starship Troopers 3, and the editing by Kevin VanHook, who has worked on many blockbusters including I, Robot and Daredevil.

“Everyone jumped at the chance to come together and support such a great cause,” said Casper Van Dien. “Four children die every day in this country because of child abuse and neglect, and we all need to do whatever we can to help children in need.”

The PSAs can be viewed on the Childhelp website at

About Childhelp

In 2009, Childhelp commemorates 50 years of bringing the light of hope and healing into the lives of countless children. CEO and Co-Founder Sara O’Meara and President and Co-Founder Yvonne Fedderson started Childhelp in 1959 , establishing it as a leading national non-profit organization dedicated to helping victims of child abuse and neglect and at-risk children. Childhelp’s approach focuses on advocacy, prevention, treatment and community outreach.

The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline, 1-800-4-A-CHILD®, operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and receives calls from throughout the United States, Canada, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Guam. Childhelp’s programs and services also include residential treatment services; children’s advocacy centers; therapeutic foster care; group homes and child abuse prevention, education and training. Childhelp also created the Childhelp National Day of Hope®, held each April during National Child Abuse Prevention Month, that mobilizes people across America to join the fight against child abuse.

Here are the Rico vids:

What's Up? Take a look at the new onesheet

Disney/Pixar has released a new onesheet for
Up, its upcoming 3-D animated comedy adventure, about 78-year-old balloon salesman Carl Fredricksen, who finally fulfills his lifelong dream of a great adventure when he ties thousands of balloons to his house and flies away to the wilds of South America.

Carl discovers all too late that his biggest nightmare has stowed away on the trip: an overly optimistic 9-year-old Wilderness Explorer named Russell.

Up features the voices of Ed Asner, Christopher Plummer, John Ratzenberger, Delroy Lindo and Jordan Nagai.

The film, from Academy Award-nominated director Pete Docter
(Monsters, Inc.), will be presented in Disney Digital 3-D in select theaters and opens May 29.

Why Coraline director Henry Selick doesn't want to be Pixar

Henry Selick, writer-producer-director of the upcoming 3-D stop-motion-animated feature
Coraline, told SCI FI Wire that he's mulling several movies as his next project, including Paranorman and a big-screen version of Philip Pullman's children's book Count Karlstein. Both are in keeping with Selick's offbeat aesthetic sensibility: He tells us he doesn't want to be another Pixar.

For now, Selick has nothing lined up at the moment, but he addessed both potential films during a recent exclusive interview about
Coraline, which will open nationwide on Feb. 6. Following are edited excerpts of the conversation.

What is Paranorman about, and how far along is that?

Paranorman is something that I am not going to direct. But I will be the creative producer on it. My head story artist is a young guy named Chris Butler. It's his own original story and something I believe in. It's kind of a funny zombie tale [about a teenage boy leading his town's fight against an influx of the undead]. I'm helping him put together the team and looking for partners with our studio [Laika]. So my first effort is going to be to help him put the team together. Paranorman is moving quite well. There's a second draft of that screenplay that's just about finished. I have hopes for that. There are some characters designs, and we're talking about talent. So that's really starting to heat up.

And what about Count Karlstein?

That's on the back burner. It's a Philip Pullman kids' book from before The Golden Compass and His Dark Materials. A friend of mine and I, we basically cooked up a story for it a few years ago, and now I've been able to option it. Count Karlstein, it's sort of a re-imagining of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. What I love about it is that the hero is an incredible liar. And instead of being the boy who cried wolf and being punished for that, it turns out it's a great gift. And it's the thing that is her weapon against evil. So that's something where I already have worked out a film story, but I haven't written the screenplay yet.

Do you actually have a next project, or is it all pretty much riding on what happens with Coraline?

There's a huge amount riding on what happens with [Coraline]. I don't know if it will be black and white. The investors, they don't need their money this week, but as long as they see that through the theatrical release to the DVD release, and all those revenue streams, that they can pay for the film, they'll be happy. So, yeah, a lot is riding on it. But a lot of it is riding on it just in terms of creativity. Can we [Laika] go our own path and not just be another Pixar or DreamWorks wannabe animation studio? That's a huge part of this, because I'd like us to keep doing a little more unique projects and subject matter.

Samuel L. Jackson wants you to kick butt in Afro Samurai

Samuel L. Jackson and Kelly Hu, who provide voices for Afro Samurai/Ninja Ninja and Okiku in the new
Afro Samurai video game, told reporters they enjoyed putting M-rated violence in players' hands. Jackson, who also produces the TV series on which the game is based, felt violence was imperative to the Afro Samurai experience.

"I just wanted to make sure the game was true to the spirit of the series itself," Jackson told a group of reporters on Tuesday in Hollywood at the game's red-carpet premiere. "That it was sexy, that it was hip and had the elements of old and new and that the violence was of a level that made people really want to play it."
Okiku is a non-playable character in the game, but she still fights in the background and in cinematic sequences. Hu had to provide more grunts and huffs than a normal episode of the show requires.

"It's a lot more fighting, I think," Hu said on the red carpet. "A lot more fighting noises and stuff like that that you have to do for the game, but pretty much the same thing. I use the same voice. It's the same character."

Though she has not played the final game yet herself, Hu hopes that the player can actually kill her.
"That would be fun, though, wouldn't it?" she said. "It wouldn't be the first time I died in a video game though, you know."

Jackson noticed no difference between recording voices for the game and the show.
"Not at all," he said. "Same as on the series. I still do Afro Samurai and Ninja Ninja, the two characters, him and his alter ego or audience member that travels around with him."

The actor and samurai enthusiast added that video games are not his strong suit:
"Not a big gamer, no."

The Afro Samurai game is in stores now for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

Check out the final poster for Watchmen!

Yahoo! Movies has debuted the final Watchmen onesheet poster, which we've helpfully reproduced for you after the jump.

Watchmen, from director Zack Snyder, is based on the classic graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. It opens March 6.