Tuesday, March 17, 2009

News - 03/17/09...

Comic-Con 4-Day Passes Sell Out

Four-day passes to Comic-Con International: San Diego have sold out, the convention’s website reports.

It has only been in the past couple of years that limits were put on the number of passes sold to the popular event, held this year July 22-26 at the San Diego Convention Center. And while four-day passes sold out last year, they did so within a few weeks of the show’s start.

That four-day passes, which include admission to a Preview Night on July 22, have sold out so early indicates interest in the show is continuing to grow. That should only add to the anxieties of folks waiting for the convention’s hotel reservation system to go online this Thursday. In past years, the scramble for hotels has seen all available rooms scooped up within hours, if not minutes, of their becoming available.

According to the daily updates posted at Comic-Con.org, one-day passes still are available for each day of the show. Based on sales in previous years, these passes also should sell out in advance of the show.

New Line Prepares Second 3-D Journey

New Line has committed to a sequel to last summer’s Journey to the Center of the Earth in 3-D.

The Hollywood Reporter says the film will see director Eric Brevig return and take a hand in developing the script. Also returning are producers Beau Flynn and Tripp Vinson, along with Walden Media and Charlotte Huggins. Actors Brendan Fraser and Josh Hutcherson are expected to return as well.

The script is being developed from a spec fantasy script by Robert Outten, that will be adapted to the characters from the first Journey.

New Line will finance the sequel without the help of Walden Media, which co-financed the original.

Geronimo Will Be the Big Cheese at MIPTV

Atlanytica Entertainment and Moonscoop will be offering a sneak peek at their eagerly anticipated new series Geronimo Stilton at MIPTV this year. Based on the Elisabetta Dami’s best-selling children’s book series published by Edizioni Piemme in Italy and Scholastic in English, the (26x 22) 2-D animated show follows the adventures of the head of a media empire (The Rodent’s Gazette) and his fearless young nephew Benjamin in New Mouse City, Mouse Island.

"We have taken great care in bringing what is so loved about the Geronimo character to the screen," says Caterina Vacchi, Atlantyca's senior manager and executive producer of the series. "I think we have succeeded in visually capturing the amusing chronicles of Geronimo Stilton's fun-filled adventures.”

"From the moment we announced the start of production on Geronimo Stilton, there has been a level of interest from broadcasters which is higher than anything I’ve seen in a long time," added Lionel Marty, the president of worldwide distribution for Moonscoop. "We're looking forward to giving everyone at MIP a sneak peek at this incredibly fun new series."

The show has already been pre-sold to Radio-Canada and will premiere on Italy’s Rai TV this fall. In early 2010, Geronimo will begin its European rollout with France’s M6. Giochio Preziosi will handle the famous mouse’s licensing plans.

For more info about Geronimo, visit www.scholastic.com/titles/geronimostilton/index.htm

The Stubborn Cowboy (1967)

When Shamus Culhane took over the creative controls of the Paramount Animation Studio in 1966, he clearly understood the opportunity he had in front of him. As head of a small animation studio, he was charged with producing a slate of cartoons for the dying theatrical shorts market. But unlike Warner Bros. who had The Road Runner and Daffy Duck, or Universal with Woody Woodpecker and DePatie Freleng’s Pink Panther, Culhane’s studio had no established characters. This handicap gave him the chance to try some original ideas, and he knew it.

Possibly the best of shorts he produced there was My Daddy The Astronaut (1966), but the idea of a kid narrating a cartoon drawn in a child’s scrawl wasn’t new. UPA had done it (The Family Circus, Baby Boogie), Porky Pig (Porky’s Preview) and Popeye (Cartoons Ain’t Human) tried it, even Paramount under the previous creative director Howard Post did it - adapting Jack Mendelsohn’s comic strip Jacky’s Diary in several shorts.

My Daddy The Astronaut, according to Shamus’ autobiography (Talking Animals and Other People), was a success with audiences and was supposedly booked with first run engagements of 2001: a Space Odyssey. Culhane decided to do a series of cartoons based on the same kid drawn concept. In his book he says they were all popular, but in my opinion the two sequels, The Stuck-Up Wolf and The Stubborn Cowboy are not as clever as the original.

As far as I know The Stubborn Cowboy never played on TV. Nickelodeon didn’t run it due to the use of now-considered-negative stereotypes of native Americans (aka Indians), references to drinking, gun violence and a parody of a cigarette commercial. Culhane wrote it and Chuck Harriton directed it. Al Eugster animated the whole film from Gil Miret designs. Listen for a gag-reference to veteran Paramount animator William Pattingill. It’s cute and rare - and worth a look:

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

Send a Canadian to CalArts

A lot of young artists apply to CalArts and get rejected. But what happens if you’re accepted into the prestigious program and can’t afford to attend? That’s the situation that 25-year-old Canadian artist Dan Caylor finds himself in after receiving a letter of acceptance last week.

Dan writes on his website, “Unfortunately, my family isn’t rich, and being from Canada, I’m not eligible for any government loans or funding. With a price tag of $200,000, I’ll need all the help I can get. I’m doing everything I can to make my dream a reality, including asking everyone for anything they can spare. Desperate times call for desperate measures. If enough people can help me, I can turn my bittersweet acceptance letter into the beginning of a dream come true. Every penny counts.”

After looking at his blog, it’s obvious that Dan is not only a talented artist, but that he’s also a passionate student of animation, its history, and understanding the individual elements that comprise successful filmmaking (storytelling, shot selection, staging, movement, design, etc.). His blog is also a nice resource for other artists offering excerpts from Don Graham’s classic book Composing Pictures and high-quality video of Michael Caine discussing his acting techniques.

This is the first time I’ve ever seen a student post a public appeal for funds to attend CalArts. And it would be a shame if he couldn’t attend, especially after reading about all the effort that Dan made to get accepted into the program. So Cartoon Brew is not only going to encourage donations, but on behalf of Jerry and myself, we’re throwing $40 into the pot to get Dan started on the road to Valencia. Find out how to give a few bucks to the cause at OnAnimation.com.

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

Hollywood Anime/Manga Adaptations

Via Anime News Network
International Herald Tribune reports that Cerenzie-Peters has invested US$20-30 million to launch Cerenzie-Peters Productions, a buisness that will acquire the rights to produce film adaptations of videogames and "Asian manga books." Cerenzie-Peters Productions was founded in 2007 by its namesakes, producers Michael Cerenzie (Deuces Wild, City of Ghosts, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead) and Christine Peters (The Out-of-Towners, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days). The company has raised over US$200 from Swiss, Japanese, and Indian investor million with plans to finance movies at US$20-30 million each.

Twitch reports that Chris Nahon's live action adaptation of Blood: the Last Vampire received an R for “strong bloody stylized violence” by the MPAA.

The Anime Business

Asian and Asian American popular culture magazine Giant Robot's Silverlake LA will be closing on March 28th. A sale began on Tuesday, 3/10 with 20% off, and 5% on already marked down items. Publisher and co-editor Eric Nakamura stated on his blog

1) We actually went past three years there. That duration is past what our sublease originally stated, and we decided to move on.
2) I can't say it's a victim to the economic downturn. That's actually unfair to say. It's smaller, there's less merchandise, although it does rotate a lot. It would still be easy to keep it running until the end of time. If all we did was a Giant Robot Silver Lake store, then you'd see us sitting at in that exact shop a year from now. But when an exit strategy presented itself, we decided to take it. So, no it's not only "the economy" in this particular case. Some economists would argue, it wasn't good enough from the get go-over three years ago. Yet we chose to keep it open because we like Silver Lake.
3) This doesn't mean we do not want open another shop in a different location in Silver Lake or elsewhere. If a great space is available, tell me or show me.
4) At the moment, we're working on Giant Robot issue 59 in our fifteenth year, we have our shops running in West LA, SF, and NYC, and gr/eats in West LA.

Alt Japan collects perspective on the woes of working in the Japanese anime industry

Bear in mind that as these blogs are anonymous, there is no way to verify the veracity of the claims. But they are a fascinating counterpoint to the "soft power"/"Japan cool"/"otaku utopia" rhetoric often espoused by foreign journalists.

New and Upcoming in Japan


Fullmetal Alchemist (a fourth promo is streaming)
Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: Ragan-hen (Lagann Chapter) the second compilation movie - new footage
A leaked trailer of the next Evangelion movie


Variety reports that Studio Ghibli is working with Toyota to open a "Ghibli West" studio in Toyota's R&D center in Aichi Prefecture . 20 new hires will begin a two years course in animation, with exposure to robotics and Toyota technologies. The newcomers will make short toons to screen at the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka City, Tokyo.

Level 5's soccer RPG Inazuma Eleven has been adapted into anime

Via Anime News Network
Bandai will be commerate the 30th anniversary of Gundam with a "Real G" full sized a 18-meter-tall (59-feet-tall) statue of the original RX-78-2 Gundam robot in Shiokaze Park on Tokyo's artificial Odaiba island, the "Feel G" Gundam Big Expo August 21 to August 23 at the Tokyo Big Sight convention center on Odaiba and the "Soul G" commemorative live concert, but not a new Gundam anime series. The second season of Mobile Suit Gundam 00 end on March 29th. According to Bandai President and CEO Kazunori Ueno "there are no plans to broadcast [another Gundam] television series in 2009.

Sato Fujiwara's comedy manga about a boy who manga grant does not grant 100 wishes from cats, he will turn into cat himself, Nyan Koi!, will be adapted into an anime series.

Girl transported to fantasy world series Munto will receive a theatrical finale, running in theatres in Tokyo and Kyoto from 18 to May 1. The film will feature a director's cut of the climactic scenes with new footage.

Nippon Animation will be adapting Jean-Philippe Arrou-Vignod and Olivier Tallec's Rita et Machin picture book series into anime series.

Anime Vice reports that the new Evangelion movies have changed the name of pilot Asuka from Asuka Langley Soryuu to Asuka Langley Shikinami


Via Anime News Network
Jamie Lano, an American artist and columnist who has been living in Japan since 2004, is assisting Takeshi Konomi on his New Prince of Tennis (Shin Tennis no Oji-sama). ANN look at Lano's work here

Shogakukan will be publishing a complete collection of works of the late Doraemon co-creator Fujiko F. Fujio, including Doraemon, Obake no Q-Taro, Paaman, ESPer Mami, Kiteretsu Daihyakka, Bakeru-kun, Umi no Oji, and amoung other titles. The wide A5-size volumes will average about 300 to 600 pages each. Releases, which commence in July 2009 will include 33 volumes in the first year.

Monthly Shonen Sunday will be featuring new manga by Kekkaishi creator Yellow Tanabe, Blazing Transfer Student creator Kazuhiko Shimamoto, Mitsuru Adachi (Touch, H2, Cross Game) and Harunokuni creator Hiro Nakamichi

Rumiko Takahashi (Ranma 1/2) and Mitsuru Adachi will collaborate on a new manga called "My Sweet Sunday" in the next issue of Weekly Shonen Sunday on March 18. The 30-page one-shot manga will help commemorate the 50th anniversary of the magazine, which is on March 17.

A Shin Mazinger Zero mecha manga series from writer Yoshiaki Tabata and artist Yuki Yogo (Akumetsu, Wolfguy) will launch in the the June issue of Champion RED magazine on April 18. The Shin Mazinger Shogeki! Z-Hen anime series will commence on April 4th. A bit more here

The next stop of mecha series Jinki:Extend will be Dragon Age. An announcement will be made in the April issue the magazine. The restarted manga will feature a new heroine named Akao Hiragi. The work was previously published in Enix's Monthly Gangan Wing from 2000 to 2001, Mag Garden's Monthly Comic Blade magazine from 2002 to 2006, and MediaWorks' Comic Dengeki Daioh magazine in 2008. The Comic Dengeki Daioh run of the renamed Jinki -Shinsetsu- manga ended last October.

Someday's Dreamers Kumichi Yoshizuki and Kurozuka Takashi Noguchi are launching new manga serializations in the April issue of Shueisha's bimonthly Oh Super Jump seinen magazine on March 17.

Yoshizuki's Kimi to Boku no Ashiato ~Time Travel Kasuga Kenkyusho~ (Your and My Footprints: The Time Travel Kasuga Laboratory) will collect short time travel romance stories

Noguchi's Sanctuary will adapt Tow Ubukata's (Le Chevalier d'Eon, Pilgrim Jäger, Mardock Scramble) story of the samurai cadre known as the Shinsengumi.

Bimonthly "shojo manga magazine for boys" will be ending with its next issue. The anthology carried San-bun no Ichi from Inukami! creator Mari Matsuzawa, Toshihira Arata's Maho Shojo Isuzu-san Full Throttle, and Aki-Eda's Junshin Miracle 100%.

Live Action

At a Sky Crawlers event, director Mamoru Oshii announced that has two live actions planned that will be made on a low budget one after another, to be released as soon as this fall. Other plans include a live action action-adventure epic of "eroticism and violence" and a new anime film.

Canned Dogs report hiring is being done for a new Toki wo kakeru shoujo (Girl Who Leapt Through Time) live action movie, set in the year 1974. The anime movie was the most recent in a line of adaptation of a novel, that included a previous movie, a TV series and a TV movie.

On North American TV

News has filtered out that Power Rangers RPM will be the final Power Ranger series. After the series airs on ABC Kids, the omnibus adaptation of sentai shows is due to be cancelled.


ICV2 reports that Cartoon Network will be integrating live action into its Adult Swim block with The Mighty Boosh. The show, which debuts on March 29th at 1am (ET, PT) features surrealistic sketches by comedians Julien Barratt and Noel Fielding, some some animated sequences.

No new episodes of Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R2 will be shown on Cartoon Network's Adult Swimg block for the currently scheduled future. Instead, two episodes will be repeated Saturdays at 1:30. New episodes of Bleach will be shown at 12:30 and 1:00


Verizon's FiOS TV has signed a deal with Turner Networks to offer on-demand contents from channels including Adult Swim, Boomerang, Cartoon Network, CNN, TBS, TNT, TruTV and Turner Classic Movies.

Worth Checking Out...


Matt Alt presents the story behind the Toei live action Batman

Malaysia's The Star profiles Helen Mccarthy (the Anime Encyclopedia)

Alex Leavitt at Department of Alchemy looks at Animated Fan Production in the Anime Fandom

On Otaku USA
Boxing anime Hajime no Ippo/Fighting Spirit
Dragon Ball GT
Baccano character guide

Satisfactory Comics takes an extended look at Lone Wolf and Cub

A survey of CLAMP's Tokyo Babylon

Tim Maughan on Sky Crawlers and Rideback

Twitch has a Q and A with Azur and Asmar's Michel Ocelot

From Anime Hell New Ozone Commandos Trailer! (props for Arcadia of My Youth references)

FUNimation has launched a site for violent samurai anime Shigurui

Let's Anime presents Gigantor: the eternal struggle

Interview with Monsters vs. Aliens Co-Director Conrad Vernon

After talking to some friends privy to early screenings, I can safely say the buzz on Monsters vs. Aliens is very strong, but we’ll give the full scoop after our preview screening in a week. Both co-director Conrad Vernon (Shrek) and DreamWorks Animation boss Jeffrey Katzenberg are quizzed in this interview for the Sydney-based Cumberland and Courier Newspapers - mixed in with some EPK footage. Vernon answers the eternal question - why does animation take so long (answer: it’s the story, stupid)? Around the 4:00 mark, there’s an airport sequence that I hadn’t yet seen. Monsters vs. Aliens opens in the US on March 27th, and in dozens of other countries on April 2nd.

A WBA Project

In the early and mid-eighties, Warner Bros. Animation was pretty much a boutique studio, turning out the occasional short or compilation of shorts at a small office in Toluca Lake.

Then in 1989 WGA entered a partnership with Steven Spielberg and began a major Renaissance (and a move to new spaces in the Sherman Oaks Galleria), turning out Tiny Toons, Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain, and a raft of other product that was pretty much the gold standard for television animation in the first half of the 1990s ...

The quality Warners cartoon staff was kept on even when production was slow, and times were good.

Now, of course, times have changed. WBA is a much smaller version of its former self, and headquartered in two sites on the Warners (formerly Columbia) Ranch. Daffy, Bugs and Yosemite Sam have given way to comic book super heroes:

This time it is SUPERMAN/BATMAN: PUBLIC ENEMIES based upon the Jeff Loeb and Ed McGuinness comic series. Bruce Timm is the Executive Producer on the film and is currently actually in production ...

Of late, Warners Animation has been home to various spandexed crime fighters, in both direct-to-video features and t.v. episodics. "We keep getting close to adding a couple of new series to the production slate," one staffer told me, "but so far we've just done the Batman series and a string of dvd features. I keep hoping it's going to be more. We're sure trying ..."

It would be nice to return to those halcyon days when WBA artists worked year 'round and were carried during thin periods. But I'm sure the board artists, directors and model designers would settle for two or three newer series.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Transformers 3 gets 2011 release date; Thor moves again

Paramount and DreamWorks are forging ahead with Transformers 3 and have set a release date of July 1, 2011, Variety reported.

It's the first official word of the project. Paramount insiders told the trade paper that the studio wanted to claim the date before another studio did, and that this isn't an official announcement that Transformers 3 is a go. No writer has been hired.

DreamWorks and Paramount executives weren't immediately available to confirm whether director Michael Bay and stars Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox are set to return for the third installment in the franchise.

The second installment, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, debuts on June 24, 2009.

Paramount, meanwhile, has moved the release of Marvel Entertainment's Thor for the second time in less than a week, to May 20, 2011, from June 17, 2011.

"Family Guy" Wins Court Case Over Song

Reuters reports that the creators of Family Guy did not infringe any copyright to the Oscar-winning song "When You Wish Upon a Star" according to a U.S. District Court judge.

Bourne Co., the U.S. copyright owner of the song made famous in Walt Disney's "Pinocchio," sued Fox Broadcasting Co., creator Seth MacFarlane, producers and Cartoon Network in October 2007 for copyright breach. Bourne claims the parody song "I Need a Jew" from the episode "When You Wish Upon a Weinstein" was nothing but an "anti-Semitic" parody and had done damage to the original.

According to U.S. District Court Judge Deborah Batts, the lyrics and the tone of the song was "strikingly different."

The episode was originally pulled by Fox because of the controversy. The episode first aired on Cartoon Network in 2003 during its Adult Swim programming block.

"Variety" on Nickelodeon Rebranding

Variety has taken a look at the long-expected rebranding of the Nickelodeon networks, where Noggin will be renamed Nick Jr. and the N will become TeeNick. The announcement was made officially at last Thursday's Nickelodeon upfront, which also hosted a preview of Michael Eisner's new stop-motion animated series Glenn Martin, DDS.

(UPDATE) Warner's "Saturday Morning Collection" Coming to DVD

Tvshowsondvd.com reports that Warner Bros is releasing 2 Saturday Morning cartoon collections from the 60s and 70s.

Saturday Morning Cartoons - 1960s Volume 1 is a 2-disc set containing 15 cartoons from shows such as The Bugs Bunny Show, The Porky Pig Show, Quick Draw McGraw, and Top Cat.

Saturday Morning Cartoons - 1970s Volume 1 is a 2-disc set containing 11 cartoons from shows such as The Flintstones, Funky Phantom, Laff-A-Lympics, and The Batman/Tarzan Adventure Hour.

Both collections will hit stores on May 19th, 2009.

UPDATE January 26th:

Tvshowsondvd.com has posted the covers for Saturday Morning Cartoons - 1960s Volume 1 and Saturday Morning Cartoons - 1970s Volume 1. You can see the trailer here.

UPDATE January 29th:

Cartoon Brew reports which shows are now part of Warner's Saturday Morning Cartoons - 1960s Volume 1 & Saturday Morning Cartoons - 1970s Volume 1.

Saturday Morning Cartoons - 1960s Volume 1

Disc 1:
Top Cat
Atom Ant/Precious Pup/Hillbilly Bears
The Peter Potamus Show (With Breezly & Sneezly, Yippee, Yappee, and Yahooey)
Secret Squirrel/Squiddley Diddley/Winsome Witch
The Flintstones
The Porky Pig Show
Quick Draw McGraw/Snooper & Blabber/Augie Doggie & Doggie Daddy

Disc 2:
The Jetsons
Marine Boy
Space Ghost & Dino Boy
The Herculoids
Frankenstein Jr. & the Impossibles
Magilla Gorilla

Bonus features:
Another episode of Quick Draw McGraw, and documentaries on Quick Draw McGraw, Magilla Gorilla, and Frankenstein Jr. & the Impossibles.

Saturday Morning Cartoons - 1970s Volume 1

Disc 1:
The Jetsons
The Batman/Tarzan Adventure Hour
Hong Kong Phooey
Goober and the Ghost Chasers
Speed Buggy
Wheelie and the Chopper Bunch

Disc 2:
Yogi's Gang
The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan
Roman Holidays
Josie & the Pussycats
The New Scooby Doo Movies
Funky Phantom

Bonus Features:
Documentaries on Josie & the Pussycats, The Chan Clan, and Funky Phantom.

Both DVDs will hit stores May 19, 2009.

UPDATE March 16:

Tvshowsondvd.com has reported that the 1960s and 1970s versions of Warner's Saturday Morning Cartoons Collection has been pushed back a week. The sets will hit stores on May 26, 2009.

Soon, The SciFi Channel Shall No Longer Be Called The SciFi Channel...

Beginning July 7, the SciFi Channel will no longer be identified as the SciFi Channel.

Instead, the network...and all things related to it...will be summarily rebranded Syfy.

Syfy -- unlike the generic entertainment category “sci-fi” – firmly establishes a uniquely ownable trademark that is portable across all non-linear digital platforms and beyond, from Hulu to iTunes. Syfy also creates an umbrella brand name that can extend into new adjacent businesses under the Syfy Ventures banner, such as Syfy Games, Syfy Films and Syfy Kids.

...says a newly issued press release.

Perhaps I'm being dense (more so than usual), but I'm struggling to grasp the conceptual distinction between "SciFi" and "Syfy"...or is one even intended?

Forrest J. Ackerman has a message for you from beyond the grave

Forrest J. Ackerman—the sometime actor, literary agent, magazine editor and full-time bon vivant who discovered author Ray Bradbury and was widely credited with coining the term "sci-fi,"—left a video farewell for his fans, filmed just a few days before his passing last year. You can watch it below.

The video was unveiled to friends and mourners at his memorial service in Hollywood earlier this month. (You can read DreadCentral's account of Ackerman's memorial.)

In it, the 92-year-old "Uncle Forry" says good-bye in a serene voice, ending his brief farewell with the word that made him famous: "sci-fi."

Sam Raimi lets slip a few tidbits about Spider-Man 4

Spider-Man director Sam Raimi told MTV.com that he's working out ideas for an expected fourth Spider-Man movie.

"The writers, producers and I are working out what the story will be, but we haven't been talking in terms of part four and five," Raimi told MTV News. "I've read that [about Spider-Man 5] also, but right now we're just working on the story for Spider-Man 4, just that one film."

Raimi added: "We're definitely talking about working from all the material in the comic books and nothing [invented] outside of that. All the characters or villains or villains, whatever we decide to do will be from Stan Lee's creations or those that came after him."

Villians? "I do have a pretty good idea, but I'm just not at liberty to say yet," he said coyly.

Both Raimi and Kirsten Dunst have expressed interest in her returning as Peter Parker's unattainable girlfriend, Mary Jane Watson. The filmmaker says he's currently unsure of her participation status and he's not privy to those negotiations.

"I can't imagine making a Spider-Man movie without Kirsten," Raimi said. "Of course it can be done, because Spider-Man has existed without the character of Mary Jane, but she's one of my favorite parts, and it would be a shame not to have her in the picture. I'm hoping she'll be in it, and I'm planning on having a story with her in it."

Marvel announced last week that Spider-Man 4 will come out on May 6, 2011.

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