Tuesday, January 6, 2009

News - 01/06/09...

Monsters Vs Aliens to get 3D Super Bowl promo

The Associated Press reports that a 3D advertisement for DreamWork’s upcoming Monsters Vs Aliens will be aired during the Super Bowl. The 90-second sneak preview will have the largest audience of any 3D telecast, with Jeffery Katzenberg pegging it as “perhaps the biggest media-advertising event in history.” About 150 million pairs of 3D glasses will be given away at various Pepsi/SoBe Life Water displays around the country in preparation for the event, and a television ad promoting the sneak peak can be seen here. Monsters Vs Aliens opens in traditional as well as 3D-compatible theaters on March 27th, 2009.

Animated films made up 4 of 10 domestic champions

Four of 2008's 10 highest-grossing films in the United States and Canada -- and three of the top eight -- were animated releases.

Pixar-Disney's WALL-E and Paramount/DreamWorks' Kung Fu Panda and Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa each exceeded $175 million at the domestic box office.

Distributed by Buena Vista,
WALL-E was the top grosser among family films in North America, earning $223.78 million in the United States and Canada for fifth place.

In sixth place was
Kung Fu Panda with $215.43 million. However, its $631.90 million international gross made it the top family film worldwide.

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa was in seventh with $175.13 million.

Tenth place was held by
Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who! (Fox), which made $154.53 million.

The year's domestic (and, for that matter, international) box-office champion was the live-action
The Dark Knight
. It made $530.91 million in North America alone.

Disturbing Kids Cartoons

Too violent, too scary, too depressing and no longer suitable for kids! On Tuesday January 13th, at 8pm I’m returning to the Silent Movie Theatre in Hollywood with a full program of classic cartoons no longer shown on television and not on DVD.

This time the theme is cartoons originally made for children, but no longer deemed appropriate for the small fry, whether it’s because of the violence, cross dressing, smoking, sexism, or just straight-up bizarre ingredients contained within. If your childhood wasn’t already perverted by hours upon hours of unhinged animation, this show will make it up to you. Ultra-rare 16mm and 35mm prints will be screened–bring your kids at your own risk. For more details, check the Silent Movie website.

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

2009 Animation Book Preview

While the Internet has killed off the print animation magazine (or at least the demand for such publications), it hasn’t yet diminished our thirst for print animation books. To the contrary, there are more and better quality animation books being published today than ever before. This new year promises to be no different with a lot of interesting books slated for publication. Here is Cartoon Brew’s look at some of the forthcoming titles.

Let me put this one front and center. The book that I’m most looking forward to in 2009 is, without question, John Canemaker’s dual-biography of Disney story artist Joe Grant and Pixar story artist Joe Ranft. Two Guys Named Joe: Master Animation Storytellers Joe Grant and Joe Ranft will be released in Fall 2009 from Disney Editions. According to the official description, “This book explores the interplay between personal creativity and the craft of animation storytelling, as seen through the lives and art of two of its most inventive and imaginative practitioners, Joe Grant (1908 -2005) and Joe Ranft (1960 - 2005).” It’s a novel setup. Looking at Grant and Ranft through the same prism should shed fresh insights into the common storytelling values that have made classic Disney and Pixar such successful enterprises. Combined with Canemaker’s always infallible research, this book should be a real gem. No online pre-order info available yet but we’ll be posting plenty more about this book in the coming months.

British Animation:The Channel 4 Factor takes a look at the glory years of Britian’s Channel 4 and their dedication to bringing quality animation to television. Since 1982, they’ve aired works such as The Snowman, When the Wind Blows, Street of Crocodiles, Girls Night Out, Feet of Song, The Village, Creature Comforts, Screenplay, Bob’s Birthday, Abductees, City Paradise, Rabbit and Peter and the Wolf. In addition to this amazing line-up of animation, the channel also set up the Animate initiative with the Arts Council of England, and backed the animator-in-residence program hosted by the British Film Institute’s Museum of the Moving Image. The book, which will be published in February by Indiana University Press, should offer plenty of insider details because it’s written by Clare Kitson, who was the commissioning editor at Channel 4 from 1989 until 1999. Channel 4 is one of the bright spots in TV animation history and I’m looking forward to learning more about the people and circumstances that made their artistic approach to TV animation possible.

If you want to get your own animation onto the air, don’t get your hopes up for a supportive forward-thinking broadcaster like Channel 4. But that shouldn’t stop you from trying. David Levy’s Animation Development: From Pitch to Production will guide you through the icky process of getting a TV show produced nowadays. It’ll be out in September from Allworth Press. Levy is an industry veteran, president of ASIFA-East, and proprietor of this fine blog. His first book Your Career in Animation: How to Survive and Thrive is packed with solid common-sense advice from successful artists working in the biz. I know he’s interviewed a lot of people for this new book and I’m sure it’ll be a valuable handbook for anybody who wants to create their own TV shows.

Two Pixar art books are coming out courtesy of Chronicle Books. The Art of Up by Tim Hauser presents all the artwork from Pete Docter’s new film. The Art of Pixar Short Films is by yours truly and it’s scheduled for release later this month. The book, which is a companion piece to this dvd, documents the studio’s shorts going back all the way to the 1980s. Because of its historical nature, there’s more text than the typical Pixar art of book. I haven’t seen the finished item yet but I’m really looking forward to seeing how it turned out. My experience working with the publishing team at Pixar was one of utmost smoothness and efficiency. Everybody went out of their way to make sure it turned out right, and I’m hoping the results reflect everybody’s hard work on the project.

And there’s more ‘art of’ books. Coraline: A Visual Companion is officially released this week though I hear it’s already in some bookstores. The Art of Monsters vs. Aliens is out in February. Also, later in 2009, Disney’s The Princess and the Frog will receive ‘art of’ book treatment from Chronicle Books.

Mickey Mouse, Hitler, and Nazi Germany: How Disney’s Characters Conquered the Third Reich by Casten Laqua has quite the eye-catching cover. It was originally published in the early-1990s in German. This English translation is eagerly anticipated by Disney book expert Didier Ghez which means that it’s probably worth picking up.

Disney Editions is releasing a bunch of Disney-related art books: A Disney Sketchbook 1928-2008, Disney’s Neglected Prince: The Art of Disney’s Knights in Shining Armor (and Loincloths), Hippo in a Tutu: Dancing in Disney Animation. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting much from any of these books until I saw a recent book by Disney Editions called Disney’s Dogs. It’s a mini-book designed for kids and Disney fans, which means they could have put together a slap-dash collection of cheesy film still artwork, but instead they turned out a wonderful volume packed with carefully chosen and never-before-seen artwork from Disney’s Animation Research Library. If that’s any indication of the new direction Disney Editions is taking with their animation-related books, then all three of the above books should be worth a look.

If Disney is not your bag, then be sure to check out The 100 Greatest Looney Tunes (working title) by fellow Cartoon Brewer Jerry Beck. The book will be out in the fall from Insight Editions. More importantly, the online community is currently helping to choose the titles that’ll appear in the book. Submit your choices for the book on this special Cartoon Brew page.

From University Press of Mississippi comes Iwao Takamoto: My Life with a Thousand Characters, which is the story of the late Hanna-Barbera art director and Disney artist Iwao Takamoto. The text is in his own words, with editorial collaboration from historian Michael Mallory. University Press of Mississippi deserves credit for publishing a number of animation artist bios in recent years though they’ve been a mixed lot; I was disappointed with the depth of research and quality of writing in last year’s Maurice Noble biography but the Martha Sigall memoirs they released a few years back were charming and fun. Here’s to hoping the Takamoto text reaches to the standard of the Sigall book.

Students, get out your credit cards: Focal Press is releasing two volumes of the legendary lecture notes by Disney in-house instructor Walt Stanchfield. Here are the Amazon links to Volume 1 and Volume 2 . Photocopies of these notes have been passed around animation schools for decades. It’ll be nice to have them collected in one place. The series is edited by Disney producer Don Hahn.

The other big how-to book of 2009 is focused on a long-neglected aspect of the animation process. Elemental Magic: The Art of Special Effects Animation by animation veteran Joseph Gilland is also from Focal Press, the publisher of the Stanchfield books. According to fx animation guru Michel Gagné, the book is “fantastic.” Gagné wrote on his blog recently that, “I can assure everyone that this will be a ‘must have’ reference for animation students and those interested in the art. The book will feature step by step demonstrations covering all the main categories: liquids, fire, smoke, explosions, magic, transformations, and spiritual entities. In addition to Joe’s art, the book will display photographs, diagrams and artwork from various artists in the field.” Joe Gilland has also started a blog about the book.

Finally, one comics-related pick that I had to mention: The Art of Harvey Kurtzman: The Mad Genius of Comics. Kurtzman is one of the few uncontested geniuses of the comic world, and his achievements are impeccable both artistically and editorially. This book draws upon his vast archives and spans everything from his early Hey Look! and EC war comics to Help and Playboy’s “Little Annie Fanny”, as well as including comic layouts, illustrated correspondence, and vintage photos. It’ll be out in April from Abrams and on my bookshelf shortly thereafter.

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

When to Expect Miyazaki's Ponyo in Theatres and Afro Samurai: Resurrection on TV

Anime News Network notes that Nikkei is reporting the Hayao Miyazaki's Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea is slated to appear on North American theaters in summer 2009.

Disney's John Lasseter (Toy Story, Cars), will produce the North American release as he had for Miyazaki's Howl's Moving Castle and the Oscar-winning Spirited Away.

In November, GhibliWorld reported that Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy will produce the English localization of Hayao Miyazaki's Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, with a cast that includes Matt Damon, Tina Fey, Cate Blanchett, Liam Neeson, Lily Tomlin, Betty White, Fankie Jonas, Noah Cyrys and Cloris Leachman.

IMDB currently lists Madison Davenport in the role of Kumiko, while Nausicaa.net speculates that the cast break-down will be

Matt Damon: Koichi
Tina Fey: Risa
Cate Blanchett: Granmamare
Liam Neeson: Fujimoto

(Video grabbed from Toys R Evil

For watchers of Miyazaki's home base, Ghibli, the studio is preparing to work on Isao Takahata's (Grave of the Fireflies, Pom Poko) first film since 1999's My Neighbors the Yamadas.

Spike TV has announced that the network will premiere Afro Samurai: Resurrection in a two hour block on Sunday, January 25th at 10 pm (ET, PT), and split into four episodes on Friday, January 30th at 1:30 am.

FUNimation plans will released the feature on DVD and Blu-ray on February 3rd.

Samuel L. Jackson will reprise the role of Afro (and Ninja Ninja), opposite Lucy Liu as new nemesis Sio.
Additional casting includes Mark Hamill as Bin, Sio's manservant and protector and Yuri Lowenthal as Kuma, the teddy bear-headed warrior from the original "Afro Samurai" series.

A few years have passed since Afro's nemesis Justice was finally defeated on Mt. Shumi. Afro is back in his Swordmaster's dojo meditatively carving statues as penance for those he has murdered. The blood cycle is broken - the wearer of the "No.1" headband shall rule the world and only the "No.2" shall challenge the "No.1," but Afro holds both headbands and so there is no challenger. The fragile peace Afro has created is shattered as ghosts from the past appear and wreak havoc in Afro's dojo, escaping with the No.1 headband and also with the remains of Afro's father.

Afro is forced once again to take on the burden of the No.2 headband and go back out into the world in search of the No.1 and his father's remains. The power of the two headbands is felt in the world once more, the world is once again painted with blood and the spiral of violence begins once again.

Malaysia's The Star Online has an interesting article about character design for the upcoming Astro Boy.

WHEN they saw the initial designs for Astro Boy in the upcoming computer animated flick, the one thing that the Japanese owners did not fancy was the size of his rear end.

They found it too small.

Recalled Ken Tsumura, executive vice president of Imagi Animation, the Hong Kong company behind the project: “We had discussions of how round and curvy his body proportions are and we designed him more lean.”

Blake added to THOR?

About a year back, when we reviewed Mark Protosevich's screenplay for 'Thor', resident Maniac Chad Derdowski said felt less like a superhero movie and "more like 'Lord of the Rings' or 'Beowulf'." Indeed the consensus across the web was that the film would leverage the Asgardian mythology and play as a fantasy film.

Yet, Marvel has made
Thor part of their 'Avengers' initiative, indicating that the character would show up in the mega-movie. Some fans wondered how that would work if the Thuder God's movie would eschew Midgard for Asgard.

IESB.net now has word from a "reliable source" that there's been a recent tweak to the
'Thor' movie script, that has Dr. Donald Blake showing up near the end of the movie. Fans know well that Dr. Blake was the original Earthly host for Thor, having discovered the God's hammer in a mountain cave and being worthy to lift it. Blake's connection to Thor has been severed in the past, but in the current comics their fates are once again intertwined.

IESB claims that introducing Blake in the film is directly essential to tying the continuity into the
'Avengers' film and bridging the gap between the classical fantasy setting of the 'Thor' movie and the contemporary, Earthly setting of the team pic.

My Maniacal guess? The movie will contain a small coda (a la
'Iron Man' and 'Incredible Hulk', in which the Don Blake actor discovers the hammer in the cave.

IESB also hears that director Kenneth Branagh will also act in the film, but it may be a bit part in the vein of Jon Favreau's Happy Hogan in
'Iron Man'.

Further, they're debunking rumors that current
Thor comics writer J. Michael Straczynski is doing rewrites on the script.

will rain down on movie theatures June 2010.

Madagascar Holds Overseas B.O. Lead

DreamWorks Animation’s Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa had a great holiday run, leading the foreign box office for a third consecutive week. The sequel has now taken in roughly $340 million in overseas markets, outdoing its predecessor by $2 million, according to Daily Variety. The film did particularly well in France this past weekend, holding strong with $5.1 million. Another $3.5 million came from Germany, where attendance was down only 17% in its fourth week. The CG comedy debuted in Poland to $3.8 million, marking the country’s second best opening ever.

With kids out of school for the holidays, other animated releases enjoyed brisk business overseas as well. Still rolling out internationally, Disney's Bolt earned approximately $11.9 million in 25 markets, bringing its international gross to roughly $64 million. In South Korea, the film enjoyed the biggest opening ever for a Disney animated feature, fetching $2.4 million. Fellow Disney toon WALL•E saw a 180% bump in Japan, earning $3.7 million in its fifth weekend to top the country’s box-office chart. The Pixar production has now made approximately $298 million overseas. Meanwhile, Universal’s The Tale of Despereaux added $3.4 million to bring its early overseas gross to roughly $13 million.

Disney's family fantasy-comedy
Bedtime Stories took in an estimated $21.2 million in 22 markets over the holiday period, bringing its international total to about $44 million. Fox's sci-fi remake The Day The Earth Stood Still
earned another $12.1 million, bringing its overseas cume to an estimated $128.6 million.

Universal Has Best Year with Mummy, Wanted, Hulk

The vfx-driven fantasy The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor and the comic-book adaptations Wanted and The Incredible Hulk contributed greatly to giving Universal Pictures its biggest year ever at the worldwide box office. The studio’s domestic take of roughly $1.12 billion combined with an estimated $1.714 billion earned overseas to bring global theatrical grosses to approximately $2.834 billion in 2008. This is the second year in a row that Universal has broken its own record for box-office returns.

Despite getting little love from critics,
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor turned out to be the highest-grossing entry in the trilogy starring Brendan Fraser. A worldwide gross of more than $393 million all but assures a fourth chapter in the saga, which many had written off. The third film opened at No. 1 in 38 territories and scored Universal's biggest opening ever in Russia, Spain, Ukraine, Korea, Latin America and Thailand, among others. Stateside, the film opened to $40 million on its way to $102 million.

Based on a cult-favorite Top Cow comic,
Wanted opened over the summer and eventually hit moviegoers for more than $350 million worldwide. The film delivered the biggest opening ever for star Angelina Jolie, and the biggest R-rated opening ever for the month of June. Universal sees the film as the start of a new action franchise.

Marvel Ent.’s
The Incredible Hulk also opened in June and went on to gross roughly $262 million worldwide. This second attempt by Universal to capitalize on Stan Lee’s classic comic-book property outperformed director Ang Lee’s 2003 effort starring Eric Bana, successfully rebooting the property as a big-screen franchise. While it’s numbers pale in comparison to those of fellow Marvel Ent. production Iron Man and Warner Bro.’s Batman thriller The Dark Knight, it did well enough to get Marvel and Universal talking about sequels.

It wasn’t all testosterone driving Universal’s best year. The musical
Mamma Mia! was actually the studio's biggest earner of 2008, raking in about $144 million domestically and a whopping $428.5 million internationally. In addition, the hit comedies Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Baby Mama and Role Models
were all produced with modest budgets and grossed more than $60 million apiece domestically.

Gromit Special Scores Big for BBC

Aardman Animation's new television special Wallace and Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death brought The BBC a merry Christmas. According to Daily Variety, the stop-motion adventure drew in an estimated 14.3 million viewers for a 53.3% share, making it the year's most-watched U.K. show. The Oscar-winning 2005 movie Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit aired earlier in the day to 7.2 million viewers (39.8% share).

A Matter of Loaf and Death, Wallace & Gromit have started a new bread baking business called Top Bun, and have converted 62 West Wallaby Street into a granary with ovens and robotic kneading arms. Business is booming and Wallace finds himself in love with former beauty and bread enthusiast Piella Bakewell. Gromit discovers his master’s life is in jeopardy after a dozen local bakers disappear, and turns sleuth to solve the escalating murder mystery.

Leading up to the broadcast debut, Wallace and Gromit served as the face of BBC One in a series of station idents created and produced exclusively by Aardman at its studios in Bristol. The on-air campaign ran throughout the holiday period.

In a victory over commercial competitor ITV, public broadcaster BBC claimed nine of the top ten slots over the holidays. The
Doctor Who Christmas
special was the second most watched program with 11.7 million viewers.

PULSE News Speaks with David McCallum on Being "Batman: The Brave & the Bold" Merlin

Comicon.com's PULSE News has spoken with actor David McCallum (NCIS) about his role as Merlin in Batman: The Brave and the Bold and as Zeus in the upcoming direct-to-video movie Wonder Woman. McCallum discusses how his first regular cartoon voice-over job as the car in Disney's The Replacements has led to more voice work, what he enjoys about cartoon voice-over acting, and how his earliest work in radio prepared him for acting in cartoons.

New DVD Artwork For "The Zeta Project," "Wonder Woman" Animated Feature Releases

Warner Home Video has released the back cover artwork from the upcoming The Zeta Project: The Complete First Season and Wonder Woman animated feature DVD releases.

To view the back cover art, click on the thumbnails below.

Check out the Wonder Woman subsite here at The World's Finest for further coverage and information on the upcoming Wonder Woman direct-to-video animated feature. The direct-to-video Wonder Woman animated feature hits DVD and Blu-ray on March 3rd, 2009.

Also, more information on The Zeta Project can be found at out The Zeta Project subsite here at The World's Finest. Warner Home Video has set a $26.99 MSRP for the March 17th, 2009 DVD release of The Zeta Project: The Complete First Season.

‘Watchmen’ Director Zack Snyder Wants A Shot At ‘The Dark Knight’?

The past few months haven’t been easy for “Watchmen” director Zack Snyder. Between catching flack from the fanboys for dramatically altering the ending in the film from the comic, to “Watchmen” co-creator Alan Moore offering up some choice words for Snyder’s production — oh, and something about a lawsuit that could delay the film’s release — it’s no wonder that, when asked what his dream comic book project would be, Snyder mentioned a franchise that’s a proven blockbuster…and one in which character ownership is a bit more concrete.

“I’m interested in Frank Miller’s [graphic novel] ‘The Dark Knight,’ said Snyder in an exclusive interview with iFMagazine.com. “That’s really my favorite comic book. However, the studio has this massive franchise and I don’t think they’ll let me make a Batman movie where he’s 50 years old and Ronald Reagan is president.”

What often comes in as a runner-up on most hardcore comic fans lists of “best comics of all time” (behind “Watchmen”) Frank Miller’s “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns” ushered in a new era for DC’s Caped Crusader in the late 1980’s, and arguably paved the way for films like this year’s box office champ, “The Dark Knight.” Miller — who both wrote the story as well as supplied the art — told the tale of a 50-year-old Bruce Wayne/Batman who is forced out of retirement after a vicious street gang begins terrorizing innocent citizens of Gotham. However, the reemergence of Batman also wakes up his original rogues, and things quickly escalate from there.

Believe us: There isn’t enough room in this post to give this story justice — so if you haven’t read it, seriously, run out and get it now!

Toon Tuesday : Disney tries to figure out why "Bolt" missed its box office target

Jim Hill shares what he's heard coming out of Walt Disney Animation Studios. Which suggests that executives there are puzzled as to why a movie that was as well reviewed as "Bolt" was still managed to under-perform domestically

This past weekend, "Bolt" -- for all intents & purposes -- ended its domestic box office run. With the kids now back in school after Christmas break, the potential US audience for this new Walt Disney Animation Studios production has moved on to other things. And while there will still obviously be some tickets sold to this Chris Williams & Byron Howard film in the coming weeks (plus -- of course -- all of the money that "Bolt" will eventually make overseas as well as DVD sales) ... Here in the good ol' USA, this new Disney dog has had his day.

Copyright 2008 Disney. All Rights Reserved

So was "Bolt" a good dog or a bad dog? Well, if you're going just by reviews, this new WDFA production was a very good dog indeed. Rotten Tomatoes gave this animated feature a 85% freshness rating. Which puts "Bolt" well ahead of Disney's last two animated films: 2005's "Chicken Little" (which only got a 37% freshness rating) and 2007's "Meet the Robinsons" (which got a freshness rating of 66%).

But if you're going by domestic box office take, "Bolt" isn't exactly the pick of the litter. "Chicken Little" actually out-grossed Disney's latest animated feature by over $25 million (i.e. $135.4 million versus the $109.9 that "Bolt" has earned domestically to date).

And then when you compare "Bolt" 's domestic box office take to the other animated features that were released in 2008 ...

Title /Domestic box office take

WALL-E $223.3 million
Kung Fu Panda $215.4 million
Madagascar : Escape 2 Africa $177.0 million
Horton Hears a Who $154.5 million
Bolt $109.9 million

... this new Disney dog is 'way back in the pack. Currently occupying the No. 19 spot on Box Office Mojo's 2008 Domestic Grosses list, "Bolt" will be soon be knocked out down to the 20th position on this list by yet another dog-based movie, Fox's "Marley & Me" (which -- since its stateside release on Christmas Day -- has already earned over $106.6 million).

Okay. I know. Opening on the exact same day as "Twilight" undoubtedly hurt '"Bolt" domestically. From what some senior Mouse House officials have told me, going head-to-head with that box office phenomenon may have actually cost Disney's latest animated feature $15 - $20 million in ticket sales over its opening weekend.

Copyright 2008 Summit Entertainment, LLC. All Rights Reserved

But what really bothers the suits back in Burbank is the huge monetary gap between what "Bolt" earned domestically and what "Panda," "Madagascar 2" and "Horton" pulled in during their stateside runs.

"Coming in second to Pixar, I can live with. They're the best in the business, after all. Besides, we own them. So all of that money still goes into our pocket," said one unnamed Disney Studio exec. "But to have 'Bolt' earn less than the latest Blue Sky & DreamWorks animated features? That's kind of tough to take."

Especially given the ambitious promotional campaign that Walt Disney Pictures put together for WDAS' latest project. Which even involved John Lasseter, who -- in a particularly memorable appearance on "The Bonnie Hunt Show" -- actually slide down a fire pole in an effort to get would-be moviegoers excited about "Bolt."

Copyright 2008 Disney. All Rights Reserved

But in the end, a significant portion of the audience that should have come out for Disney's latest animated feature opted to stay home instead. Whether it was because of bad weather or the lousy economy or just because these folks decided to wait 'til
"Bolt" came out on DVD later this Spring ... Who can say?

Now where this gets interesting is -- when you talk with people who work on the Marketing side of the Mouse House about what happened with Disney's latest animated feature ... Well, these executives have some very definite opinions about why
"Bolt" missed its domestic box office target. To wit:

Copyright 2003 Disney. All Rights Reserved

"It's those g**-d****ed Home Premieres. For the past 10 years, we flooded the market with those things and now we're paying the price for them. People just doesn't consider a new Disney animated feature to be all that special anymore. Our films are no longer an event the way the latest Pixar movie is or the newest DreamWorks movies are. We have to figure out how to make moviegoers excited about our pictures again, make Disney's animated features seem special again."

Which you'd think -- given that
"The Princess and the Frog" will be WDAS' first hand-drawn animated film since "Home on the Range" was released back in 2004 -- would really work in favor of Disney's Christmas 2009 release. But given that there's so much riding on "Princess" 's success (i.e. the revival of hand-drawn animation at Walt Disney Studios) coupled with the fact that "Enchanted" didn't do as well last year as Mouse House officials had hoped it would ... The folks who work in Disney's marketing department are really sweating right now when it comes to mounting just the right campaign for "The Princess and the Frog."

Copyright 2008 Disney. All Rights Reserved

I mean, when a movie like
"Bolt" -- which got great reviews as well as solid promotional support from virtually every division of The Walt Disney Company -- still manages to under-perform, coming in 5th behind "WALL-E," "Kung Fu Panda," "Madagascar: Escape to Africa"
and "Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who"
... Well, what's it going to take to make Disney's new animated features seem special again? Make these films seem like new Pixar pictures? As in: movies that you have to see on their opening weekend in theaters?

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