Thursday, January 22, 2009

News - 01/22/09...

Third Monsters Vs Aliens featurette

A third featurette for the upcoming animated comedy Monsters Vs Aliens can be viewed on Comingsoon’s website. To watch the video, scroll down to the section of the page that reads “Featurette 3 (1.20.09)”. Monsters Vs Aliens stars the voice talents of Reese Witherspoon, Hugh Laurie, Will Arnett, Seth Rogen, Rainn Wilson, Stephen Colbert, Kiefer Sutherland, and Paul Rudd, and is set to hit traditional as well as 3-D compatible theaters on March 27th.

Briefly: Al Jazeera Animated Series; McGruder on Obama; 3-D TV @ CES

* Al Jazeera Children's Channel (AJCC) is working on a 3-D animated television series titled Salaheldine, set for release next year in English and Arabic in Qatar and later worldwide. [The Peninsula Qatar]

* Boondocks creator Aaron McGruder spoke at Earlham College in Indiana, stirring up some controversy among audience members by commenting on the then-pending Barack Obama presidency and stating that Obama is not black because he was not the descendant of a slave. []

* Several exhibitors at this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas showed off technology for TVs that would support 3-D, the lack of which is often cited as an obstacle for widespread adoption of 3-D in feature filmmaking. [CNET]

Cartoon film "Goat and Wolf" rakes in Chinese cash

"Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf" has broken the domestic box-office record for a Chinese animated film, collecting 30 million yuan ($4.39 million U.S.) during its opening weekend.

The movie made 8 million yuan last Friday, its first day of release.

According to Tuesday's Beijing News, the weekend's revenue was well ahead of the previous record holder for domestic animation, Storm Rider - Clash of Evils, an adaptation of the Storm Riders comic. That brought in 25 million yuan in two weeks when it was released last summer.

Describing Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf as a "dark horse," Zhao Jun, general manager of China Film South Cinema Circuit Co. Ltd., predicted that the film would make at least 60 million yuan in total box-office revenue.

In order to meet popular demand, a manager of the Beijing-based Stellar International Cineplex said, the movie theatre has reassigned a big hall, which had been scheduled to screen Red Cliff II, to show Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf instead. Red Cliff II, an historical epic, is directed by Hollywood-based Hong Kong director John Woo.

China's Xinhua news agency quoted unspecified "insiders" as crediting the cartoon's success to the large pool of potential filmgoers who had seen a 500-episode TV cartoon series that had been broadcast for three years.

Based on the series, Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf stars the same characters. It tells how several goats and their old nemesis Big Big Wolf join forces to defeat their common enemy: bacteria.

Characters in Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: Big Big Wolf (front left), Big Red Wolf (front right), Pleasant Goat (second line right), Ebullient Goat (second line left), Lazy Goat (back left), Beautiful Goat (back middle) and Slow Goat (back right).

Miyazaki's "Ponyo" up for three Asian Film Awards

Japanese animation master Hayao Miyazaki's "Gake No Ue No Ponyo" ("Ponyo on the Cliff") has been nominated for three Asian Film Awards, including best film.

Rumored to be Miyazaki's final film, Gake No Ue No Ponyo features a five-year-old boy whose character is based on the director's grandson. Miyazaki also wrote the screenplay.

The list of nominees was released Wednesday in Hong Kong.

Miyazaki and Frank Marshall were jointly nominated for best director for Ponyo on the Cliff. Veteran music man Joe Hisaishi was nominated for best composer for his work on the Studio Ghibli film.

Also nominated for best film are the live-action Forever Enthralled (China), The Good, the Bad, the Weird (South Korea), The Rainbow Troops (Indonesia), Red Cliff (China) and Tokyo Sonata (Japan/Netherlands/Hong Kong).

About a bounty hunter, a bandit and a train robber who vie for a treasure map in 1930s Japanese-occupied Manchuria, the action film The Good, the Bad, the Weird is the front-runner with eight nominations.

Winners will be announced at a March 23 ceremony in Hong Kong. A panel chaired by former Bond girl Michelle Yeoh will choose the winning films.

Los Campeones

Eddie Mort and Lili Chin (Mucha Lucha!) have returned to the cartoon wrestling arena to create a full length flash feature, Los Campeones. The movie opened theatrically in Mexico back in October. It has no U.S. distributor yet, but will be screening in Los Angeles at the Egyptian Theatre on Thursday February 5th. Eddie and Lili will be there to introduce the film and show off original art at the 7:30pm show. For more details check the Campeones MySpace or the Fwak blog.

Also check the Fwak! website to see some juicy images from other projects they’ve developed, like the retro-flash animated Hanna Barbera promos for Boomerang…

…and check this line-up (below) for La Familia Gonzales an aborted attempt by Warners and Cartoon Network to revive and update Speedy Gonzales:

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

Takashi Miike and Sho Sakurai Premiere "Yatterman" at NY Comic Con

The 2009 New York Comic Con will be hosting director Takashi Miike and actor/pop star Sho Sakurai in conjunction with Miike's movie Yatterman, based on the classic anime series by Tatsuo Yoshida. Miike will be a Guest of Honor at the con and Sakurai will be a Special Guest, with both hosting a panel on Friday, February 6, 2009, at 4:00 PM, where they will be presenting a 7 minute clip of the movie. The world premiere of the movie will be at 8:00 PM later that night at the New York Directors Guild Theater, at 110 West 57th St.

For more details, read the press release here.

Hope we can believe in - Tarantino talks Kill Bill redux

Quentin Tarantino confirms here that his planned complete DVD cut of the 'Kill Bill' saga will arrive sometime and features a whole new animated section that was originally planned but had to be cut for time.

“We’ve actually added some things to it. We did a whole little chapter that I wrote and designed for the animated sequence, that we never did, because we figured, back when it was gonna be one big movie, it was going to be too long, so we didn’t do it. So when we were talking about re-releasing it, they asked is there anything you can put in, and I said no I put everything in there, but… there’s one sequence that we wouldn’t even have to shoot! So we got together with Production IG and did it, and it’s really cool. So it’s this little seven minute sequence, it’s really cool, it’s in the O-Ren chapter.”

Razzie nominations announced, and sci-fi movies get their share

Several sci-fi movies got the dubious honor of getting nominated for "Razzie Awards," which annually recognize the worst in the previous year's cinema. The nominations were announced today, and the awards will be unveiled in ceremonies on the eve of the Academy Awards, Feb. 21, in Hollywood.

The Worst Picture nominees include Disaster Movie, Meet the Spartans, The Happening, The Hottie and the Nottie, In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale and The Love Guru.
Dungeon Siege's director, Uwe Boll, meanwhile, has been selected to receive the Worst Career Achievement Razzie.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull will be "honored" with an award for worst prequel, remake, rip-off or sequel. A full list of nominees can be found here.

Rourke Offered Just $250K for Iron Man 2?

Variety has posted an interesting article on how the studios are being cautious about spending money for movies in 2010 and 2011. Here's a surprising bit:

Then there is comeback kid Mickey Rourke, who is poised to follow his Golden Globe-winning performance in "The Wrestler" with an offer to play the main villain in "Iron Man 2" — but at a lowball opening offer of $250,000 from Marvel; Marvel's tactics have already prompted Samuel L. Jackson to swear off playing Nick Fury because of a similarly low offer.

$250,000 sounds pretty darn good to you and us, but when you think that Iron Man earned $582 million at the worldwide box office, plus DVD sales, then something doesn't seem right. Let's hope Mr. Rourke ended up getting a much better deal.

The Golden Age: The Best TV Animation of 2008

Newsarama presents their 'best of' list for 2008. Some interesting choices, to be sure...

It was an interesting year for televised animation. Part of this was due to the introduction of new platforms for the field. The other is, quite frankly, that there’s some interesting new blood entering the arena. Add the two together, and we repeat our regular claim – we are living in the new golden age of animation, where animation is being fully embraced as a medium, not a genre.

First things first, while the impact of the new platforms—whether internet, cel phone or what-have-you—is not a yet major force in animation, the implication is it probably won’t take much longer. Comedy Central certainly got a leg up with the second season of Lil’ Bush. Rough animation from “best of the web”-type shows display lots of potential. Organizations such as Adult Swim and Frederator admit they are combing the Net constantly for the next Mike Judge, Parker and Stone. Could another, more updated version of MTV’s old Liquid Television be far off in the future? Here’s hoping.

As for the new blood, it’s coming both in the forms of radical young talents and major organizations. Cartoon Network is getting theirs both ways. New shows like CH Greenblatt’s Chowder, Jay Stephens’ Secret Saturdays and Jennifer Pertch’s Total Drama Island and 6teen representing the young innovators. That’s not to say that it’s all newcomers - on the big guy front, there’s Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: Clone Wars. All these shows have been giving CN some incredible ratings boosts, especially the last half of the year. Also, don’t think Nickelodeon is taking this lightly. Based on previews, Dreamworks’ The Penguins of Madagascar has hit written all over it.

As for 2009, fans of the superhero genre should be ecstatic. In 2008, two of the big new hits were
Spectacular Spider-Man and Batman: Brave and Bold. The spandex onslaught will go full bore with shows like Wolverine & The X-Men, Black Panther, Iron Man
and many more on the horizon.

In the meantime, with this year’s list we’ve divided the shows into two groups; shows specifically aimed at kids K-12 years of age and more “adult” content. That said, here’s some of the best of 2008 had to offer.

All Ages

Avatar: The Last Airbender (Nickelodeon) – If you have to go, you can’t ask for a better way to end a series. The final confrontation between Aang and the Fire Lord was a tremendous bit of animated choreography and the build-up of the last five episodes to this climatic event were both mind-opening and incredibly detailed. Best of all, there are still plenty of story left to tell. Already on my short list for best of the decade.

Batman: Brave & Bold (WB/Cartoon Network) – This kid-friendly version of the further adventures of the not-so-dark Knight have been a pleasant surprise. James Tucker and company have put together a solid action show with a much younger age orientation, and pulled it off with finesse and skill. Also, it’s fun to see many of DC’s lesser known superheroes get their day in the sun.

Ben 10: Alien Force (Cartoon Network) – This latest incarnation of the show continues to impress. Master animator Glen Murakami and script editor Dwayne McDuffie have given Ben Tennyson, his cousin Gwen and colleague Kevin Levin some serious depth and an overall plot that is sure to keep one intrigued.

Chowder (Cartoon Network) – CH Greenblatt’s first TV series is, one can’t help but say it, a truly fresh and tasty entrée in the CN mix. Not only does his mix of animation styles never cease to impress, but his unendingly inventive scripts keeps kids and parents glued to the screen. All one add is let’s hear it for the master chef. We’ll gladly take seconds, thirds, as much as he can dish out.

Foster’s Home For Imaginary Friends (Cartoon Network) – Animation master Craig McCracken proved he has a lot more stories to tell with this year’s holiday special. That there are around a dozen more shows slated for 2009 is also great news. If you ever need proof that imagination is a key to a good show, look no further.

Jane & The Dragon (WETA/qubo) – There’s just something about this girl-friendly show that I find refreshingly charming. Let’s hope there’s more tales of the adventurous young knight Jane and her jovial partner the Dragon.

Naruto (Cartoon Network) – This season of “filler” material was supposed to be the weakest part of this enduring anime series. Guess what? I found many of the miniarcs every bit as good as the original first series. The fact that the second “true” series, Shippuden, is now in production tells me there’s still a lot left in the tale of the young knuckleheaded ninja with dreams of becoming hokage.

Phineas & Ferb (Disney) – Another truly inventive show that takes what should have been a rapidly exhausted formula and milks it for all it’s worth. Just the idea that creators Dan Provenmire and Swampy Marsh come up with at least two new songs per episode is impressive enough. Then there are the further adventures of Perry The Platypus constantly being woven in on top of P&F’s never-ending ways of entertaining themselves each way. The only bad news is, sooner or later, Provenmire and Marsh will hit 104 adventures. Thank god there are more seasons to the year.

Shawn The Sheep (Aardman/Disney) – The Aardman crew manage to take a Wallace and Gromit side character and fill him with enough charm and looniness to keep you entertained for hours on end. Barnyard antics have never been so much fun.

Spectacular Spider-Man (Culver Entertainment/4Kids) – My pick of superhero series of the year. This retconning of the Webslinger’s mythos has managed to captivate and enthrall for its first season of 13 episodes, with never breaking the reasons why we love Mr. Parker and pals to begin with. Informed sources say the show will shortly be moving to Disney, where the second and nearly completed third season will spearhead a new superhero block. Sounds like there’s still plenty of juice left.

Spongebob Squarepants (Nickelodeon) – What can you say? Ten years in and the square yellow invertebrate still manages to hold his own.

Star Wars: Clone Wars (Lucasfilm/CN) – The series that managed to remember that Star Wars is supposed to be fun is doing pretty well, all things considered. I’ve been especially enjoying the side stories revolving around Yoda, the Clones and Kit Fisto, and understand we’ll soon see series stars Ahsoka and Anikin come into their own. No matter what, I know what I’m doing every Friday night. You should, too.


Aqua Teen Hunger Force (Adult Swim) – The diet-conscious trio continues to pack in the calories with stream-of-conscious humor, absurd situations and the greatest skewering of New Jersey this side of the Atlantic. One view and it’s easy to see why the Force is now [AS] flagship show.

The Drinky Crow Show (Adult Swim) – Tony Millionaire’s madcap creations have made a truly indelible mark on my consciousness. The further tales of the lovelorn crow, his sex-driven monkey pal Gabby and the rest of those who sail on the good ship Maakies please!

King of the Hill (Fox) – It must be great being Mike Judge. This year he has proven without a doubt that one can produce an intelligent, soft-spoken, mature show about suburban life, and no network can stop him. His coming to Adult Swim starting this January should finally establish the show as the true classic it is.

Lil’ Bush (Comedy Central) – Talk about giving the soon-to-be-past administration all the respect it deserved! This series shows that there’s a ton of black humor to be gained from the Bush administration. The only crime here is the series had to end because Obama starts this January. That said, Donnick Cary’s take on the Bushes will be the only thing I miss about the past administration.

Metalocalypse (Adult Swim) – This absolutely brutal take on all things heavy metal may infuriate the hardcore, but sure does rock the worlds of those with a sense of humor. Here’s to a great third season.

Moribito: Spirit Of The Guardian (Production IG/Adult Swim) – First things first: Shame on you Adult Swim for not giving this intelligent anime series the same time and space you give to such borefests as Bleach. This is a beautifully rendered, thoughtful tale of a woman commissioned to protect the life of a child. The only catch is the child is a son of Japan’s emperor and pops wants him dead. A superlative take on feudal Japan. Now give it the proper, and stable time slot it so richly deserves.

Robot Chicken (Shadow Machine/Adult Swim) – Every new episode manages to come up with something that makes one’s jaw drop to the ground. Let’s hope these boys with too many toys will continue to entertain for many more years to come.

The Simpsons (Fox) – The #1 citizens of Springfield have managed to produce another season of delights and derangement. With the record-breaking 21st season around the corner, this animation institution still manages to impress.

South Park (Comedy Central) – Parker & Stone’s misanthropic minors also still continue to jab their pointed parodies into the eyes of an ever loving public.

The Venture Brothers (Adult Swim) – Jackson Publick and company pulled one hell of a trick with the end of last season. How the Ventures, the Monarch, the League and everyone else involved will handle the new rulers of the underworld is something I can’t wait to see.

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