Wednesday, February 4, 2009

News - 02/04/08...

Madagascar 2 Escapes to DVD This Week

Leading the DVD releases this week is Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa. The DreamWorks Animation title, which stars Ben Stiller, Chris Rock and Jada Pinkett Smith, is due Friday in four formats: fullscreen DVD, widescreen DVD and Spanish DVD ($30.99 each) and Blu-ray ($39.99).

Other major releases this week include
The Secret Life of Bees (Fox Searchlight, $29.98 for widescreen DVD, $39.99 for two-disc Blu-ray), Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist (Screen Gems, $28.96 for widescreen DVD, $24.94 for UMD, $39.99 for Blu-ray), Zack and Miri Make a Porno (The Weinstein Co., $29.95 for DVD, $39.99 for Blu-ray) and Bottle Shock (Freestyle Releasing, $27.98 on DVD).

Other releases of note include
Berenstain Bears Springtime Surprises (Sony, $12.99), Clamp School Detectives Complete Collection (Bandai, $49.98), Clifford Puppy Days: Practice Makes Perfect (Lionsgate, $9.98), Ghost Slayers Ayashi Part 1 (Bandai, $39.98 regular, $49.98 limited edition), Lone Wolf & Cub TV: Volume 6 (Media Blasters, $24.99), Strawberry Shortcake: Happily Ever After (Fox, $14.98) and Tom & Jerry Tales: Volume 6
(Warner Bros., $14.97).

Disney Is Tops with Kids in 17 Territories

Disney Channels Worldwide ranked as the top children’s programming channel in 17 territories last year.

The company extended its winning streak in several territories, topping the charts in the United Kingdom for the second consecutive year, Australia for the third year, Argentina for the fourth and New Zealand for the fifth.

Disney also drew more viewers in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, growing its audience share in nine nations.

ARRI Taps Kennel As Technology Head

Glenn Kennel has joined camera maker ARRI in the new post of chief technology officer.

Kennel, most recently VP/GM feature film at Laser Pacific, will oversee digital intermediate digital camera technologies and supporting workflow from the company’s Burbank offices.

He began his career at Eastman Kodak in 1980 and has since worked as director of technology and business development at Texas Instruments DLP Cinema.

Reed Adds Comic Con in Chicago

Reed Exhibitions today announced it will hold its first Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo April 16-18, 2010.

The company also announced its New York Comic Con will move to permanent dates in the fall at the Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan. The 2009 NYCC is set for this weekend, with the next edition now planned for October 8-10, 2010.

Reed officials stated in a press release that clients and customers of the New York show have been asking for a similar event in Chicago. They also stated they will be aiming for a big launch in Chicago, with an event that will cover everything from comics and celebrities to anime, toys and videogames.

How Teri Hatcher voiced multiple moms in Coraline

Teri Hatcher got to explore many different sides of motherhood as the voice of Mother and Other Mother in Henry Selick's upcoming stop-motion-animated movie Coraline — and her real-life daughter got in on the act as well.

"I think of it as three [characters]," Hatcher said in a group interview in Los Angeles last week. "There's the real Mother, the Other Mother and then the evil mother. Henry [Selick] actually calls it four."

Although Hatcher admits that there are definite advantages to voice work—no makeup, jeans and a T-shirt, hair in a ponytail—she also says that the physical aspects of her performance were important to the way Selick and his team created the look and movement of the characters. "For the real mom, I put my hair up in a frumpy way and stood slumpier so that I felt heavy and exhausted to find that voice. The other mother was much more postured and mannered. There was still physicality to it, even though you're not in front of a live camera."

Hatcher adds: "Initially, they did the animation against my voice, which is why it was so important for Henry to get the expression he wanted."

The voice sessions were videotaped as a reference for the animation team. When Hatcher recently screened the film with her daughter, Emerson, and a group of friends, the actress says that she may have detected a few of her own movements in her stop-motion likeness. "I think I did some kind of creepy head-tilt thing in the [evil] voice," Hatcher says with a laugh. "I might have even cracked my neck." Hatcher demonstrates with a small popping sound, much to the chagrin of a few members of press.

Since Coraline, based on Neil Gaiman's story, centers on a little girl (voiced by Dakota Fanning) and her mother (or mothers), it was only appropriate that Hatcher's little girl tag along to Portland, Ore., with mom for some of the voice sessions. "She came up to Portland to go to the studio with me," Hatcher says. "She was very intrigued with the story of Coraline. She loves ghost stories, and we're big fans of The Nightmare Before Christmas."

Emerson even got the chance to contribute a few voices herself during the session. "Henry asked her if she would like to record some lines," says a beaming Hatcher before promising that she has no plans to throw her daughter into the business anytime soon. Still, the sessions were a success, and Selick wound up using them in the final cut. "[She is one of the] characters in the picture frame and some other random characters," Hatcher says. He recorded her saying, "Coraline, Coraline, what's wrong, Coraline?"

Spider-Man And Barack Obama: ‘Amazing Spider-Man’ #583 Team-Up Hits Fifth Printing

Last month, Marvel Comics was practically printing money with its Barack Obama-inspired cover to “Amazing Spider-Man” #583, with copies of the issue flying off shelves as fast as fans of the new fanboy-friendly US President could snatch ‘em up. Well, the issue is still a big hit with the “collectors item” masses, as Marvel announced today that the ever-lovin’ ASM #583 is headed to a fifth printing with yet another variation of the Obama/Spidey cover.

We’ve posted the full cover image for the upcoming printing after the jump, but you can pick it up for yourself on February 18. Politics and comic books have never been friendlier, it seems.

According to Marvel, the new printing offers readers a “chance to experience the story uniting Barack Obama with the character that, in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, he named his favorite super hero!”

Here’s the new cover image for the issue, featuring art by Phil Jimenez, which hits shelves February 18:

‘Spider-Man 4’ Filming In Michigan, Says Sam Raimi

“Spider-Man” franchise director Sam Raimi will be bringing a few cameras back to his home state of Michigan for “Spider-Man 4″ next year.

“I’ll be looking at Michigan for our second-unit photography on the new ‘Spider-Man’ film,” Raimi told The Oakland Press. Born in Royal Oak, Michigan, Raimi also has plans to shoot his new thriller “Room 205″ in Michigan during 2009. However, “second-unit” photography likely won’t bring along any of the upcoming Spidey cast members, such as the mystery “Spider-Man 4″ villain.

Raimi is producing “Room 205,” which is a remake of a Danish horror film coming out from his company Ghost House Pictures. He has a stacked schedule ahead of him before shooting begins on “Spider-Man 4.”

Nevertheless, Spidey fans everywhere will have their ears open in 2009 awaiting story details. Raimi has remained mum thus far, brushing aside speculation that Dylan Baker’s character Curt Connors may transition into becoming The Lizard and take center stage.

Tuesday Studio Roundabout ...

At Film Roman, work proceeds apace with the current season of the Yellow Family. As staffers said to me:

"We're just past our production peak now, and things will start winding down and artists will start getting laid off." ... "We had fewer episodes this season because there were holdovers from last ..."

A couple weeks back, The Simpsons crew bid adieu to a line producer who was let go after a decade and a half of employment on the show. These days, everybody is fungible, no matter how long and honorable or lengthy your service ...

There is also buzz that scripts for a new Simpsons season are being worked on, although no new show episodes have been officially greenlit. (And what does an "official greenlight" mean anyway? Eight months ago, a third season of My Friends Tigger and Pooh was greenlit, and we know how that worked out: eight weeks later, everybody is laid off when Disney reverses itself.)

I'm told by artists that Simpson producer-writers over the hill like seeing paper storyboards before the animatics reach them; this allegedly conflicts with high execs who want everything digitized front to back ("who needs paper boards?"). Happily, the writer-producers are getting their paper storyboards. (Leverage is leverage. (Plus it's cheaper to have boards on wood-pulp sheets than an extra animatic.)

And there is buzz around the studio that scripts for a new Simpsons season are being worked on (over the hill, by those producer-writer guys), although no new show episodes have been officially greenlit. (And what does an "official greenlight" mean anyway? Eight months ago, a third season of My Friends Tigger and Pooh was greenlit, and we know how that worked out: eight weeks later, everybody is laid off when Disney reverses itself in its brilliant way.)

At Cartoon Network, Chowder, Flapjack, and Ben 10 continue on their merry way; Foster's is at an end but five episodes are still unseen by the general public.

The Cartoon Network Shorts program, called "Cartoonstitute" by those in the know, continues along. And a new series, Adventure Time, is up and in production. (AT is out of the Frederator shop. I remember seeing it as a short when it was part of Random Cartoons down at Nickelodeon. Edgy. An artist I talked to said it's a challenging show to draw because the characters are ... rubbery. Probably easier for Ub Iwerks to draw, since a lot more rubbery cartoon characters were being drawn in 1929 than now.)

On the Imagi front, there is no news. Since I got back into town, I've gotten a stream of phone calls from ticked-off employees. Some of them, apparently, are ticked off about quotes like this:

[Imagi U.S. President Erin] Corbett explained "We had this money secured in the late fall. We had bridge money to take us through February, when we knew that bridge money was not going to [materialize]... we could not have people come in and not be sure [we'd be able to pay them.)"

As one artist said to me: Didn't want us to come in? We came in and they still haven't paid us for the week!"

They're also griped that they are owed pay in lieu of notice of layoff, and vacation pay. Who'd have thought?

Tuesday was the date the company told employees they'd inform them about when (and if) they were returning to work. But no dice. Imagi execs weren't returning phone calls.

I tried twice but got no answers. Employees told me all they got were recorded messages. I'm still hoping management's assertion to Variety that Imagi has secured financing is true, but I'm not laying down bets on it.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

La-La-Land Records Reports "Batman: The Animated Series" Soundtrack Release Sold Out

La-La Land Records has confirmed that the recent Batman: The Animated Series soundtrack release is sold out.

Matt Verboys of La-La-Land Records, the label responsible for releasing the first Batman: The Animated Series soundtrack, has confirmed for The World's Finest that the soundtrack release has sold out at the label. Verboys says that the since the soundtrack has officially sold out for the label, another Batman: The Animated Series soundtrack release is very possible.

While the soundtrack is officially sold-out, Verboys states some copies of the Batman: The Animated Series soundtrack could still be available at partnering online soundtrack outlets. However, due to the very limited quantity, any interested parties should act fast in order to acquire a copy of the soundtrack.

The record label intends to go ahead with a second release, pending approval from Warner Bros. Verboys says that nothing has been finalized yet, but further details are forthcoming about future DC Animation-related soundtrack releases.

The first Batman: The Animated Series soundtrack release was officially shipped out on December 16th, 2008, and was an out-of-the-door hit for the label. Both fan and critical response has been overwhelmingly positive, allowing the release to sell out in under two months. The soundtrack had a limited edition print run of 3000 copies. La-La-Land Records is run by Michael V. Gerhard and Matt Verboys.

Details on the soundtrack can be found here. Stay tuned for further updates.

UPDATE: Did Terminator Salvation's Christian Bale drop nuclear F-bombs? reported last summer that Terminator Salvation star Christian Bale went ballistic at director of photography Shane Hurlbut while filming a scene in New Mexico—and today the site posted what it says is the actual F-bomb-laden audio of that fracas.

The audio, if genuine, is not for the squeamish and certainly not suitable for work. It features what sounds like Bale ranting about a ruined scene and berating Hurlbut and director McG.

But some, including the New York Post, question the audio's authenticity, suggesting that it's a put-on. Bale, after all, is a good actor.

Real or fake, Bale's Terminator Salvation opens May 22.

[Update: Bruce Franklin, an assistant director and associate producer on Terminator Salvation, appears to confirm the authenticity of the audio and tells E! News that Bale, a "consummate professional," just had a bad day:

"If you are working in a very intense scene and someone takes you out of your groove ... It was the most emotional scene in the movie. And for him to get stopped in the middle of it. He is very intensely involved in his character. He didn't walk around like that all day long. It was just a moment and it passed. ... This was my second movie with Christian, and it has always been a good experience with him. He is so dedicated to the craft. I think someone is begging to make some noise about this, but I don't think it's fair. The art of acting is not paint by numbers, it's an art form."]

[Update 2: What Would Tyler Durden Do? has posted the inevitable remix of the Bale audio, set to music by Los Angeles-based DJ RevoLucian.]

[Update 3: Ain't It Cool News' Harry Knowles weighs in with what he says is behind-the-scenes context.]

"Batman: The Brave and the Bold" Panel at NY Comic Con on Friday, Feb 6, 2009

The 2009 New York Comic Con will host a panel on Friday, February 6, focusing on Batman: The Brave and the Bold from 4:45 - 5:45 PM. The official description of the panel is:

Learn all the secrets of Cartoon Network's Batman: The Brave and The Bold from the talents that make it happen! Spend an hour with series Producer James Tucker and Story Editor Michael Jelenic as they share what it takes to reinvent classic characters for today's television audiences. Ivan Cohen from DC Comics and Phil Morris (Hex) join TV Guide Sr. Editor Rich Sands for an inside look at the business and passion of animation. A exclusive "First Look" screening of the two part episode “Deep Cover for Batman!” introducing "Red Hood" will follow the panel.

Later that evening, Jelenic will also be appearing on a panel after the world premiere of Wonder Woman, along with director Lauren Montgomery, producer Bruce Timm, and DC Senior Vice President of Creative Affairs Greg Noveck.

The New York Comic Con will be held from February 6-8 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City. For more details, visit the New York Comic Con website.

First 50 Minutes of "Up" to Screen at NY Comic Con

The New York Comic Con will host a special screening of the first 50 minutes of Disney/Pixar's Up on Saturday, February 7, 2009, at 6:30 PM in the IGN Theater. Up director Pete Docter and producer Jonas Rivera will be introducing the screening. Seats are extremely limited, and attendees are recommended to arrive at 5:30 PM for a security check-in. For full details, read the press release here.

Docter will also be participating in a panel from 2:30 - 3:30 PM that will preview Up and Disney's The Surrogates.

The New York Comic Con will be held from February 6-8 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City. For more details, visit the New York Comic Con website.

Fleischer’s Superman Feature???

Peter Rosenberg of Cartoon Crazys, the folks restoring Gulliver’s Travels, as I mentioned in this post, wrote this on our Comments thread:

…we are planning on doing all 17 Max Fleischer’s Superman episodes later this year as well as using Max Fleischer’s original notes to re assemble them into the full length movie he had originally wanted to do and had planned on doing at a later date when he did the cartoons for Paramount.

Huh?? I never heard this before… and I don’t buy it. You’re telling me Max wanted to assemble the 17 Paramount Superman cartoons “into the full length movie he had originally wanted to do”??? Can anyone not connected to Cartoon Crazy’s confirm this? Methinks this is major B.S. - but then again, what do I know about Superman?

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

Slumdog Star Patel Joins Airbender Cast

Slumdog Millionaire star Dev Patel has signed on to play Zuko in M. Night Shyamalan’s feature-film adaptation of the animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender.

Patel steps into the role after Jesse McCartney bowed out due to a scheduling conflict between his musical career and the martial arts training camp required before the film starts shooting in March, Variety reports.

The film stars newcomer Noah Ringer in the lead role of Aang. Also starring in the film are Nicola Peltz (Harold), Jackson Rathbone (Twilight) and Jessica Jade Andres. Paramount is producing in conjunction with Nickelodeon, which produced and aired the animated series. The Last Airbender is set to premiere July 2, 2010.

Wunderkind Little Amadeus Secures First Licensors

GATEWAY4M International, producers of the animated series Wunderkind Little Amadeus, has announced licensing deals with The Games Co., Naxos of America and Playgo Inc.

The Games Co. will produce an interactive game for the Nintendo DS platform, while Naxos has the rights to release DVDs and soundtrack CDs in the United States. Playgo’s deal covers the creation of a series of musical toy instruments.

The animated series, which is designed to foster a love of classical music in children, is a hit in its native Germany and airs in 81 nations. It has been airing for two months in the United States on public television.

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