Tuesday, May 12, 2009

News - 05/12/09...

New The Princess And The Frog Teaser Poster

Click the picture below to see it full-sized.

Venice to Debut 3-D Toy Story Pics

The Venice Film Festival will play host to the world premiere of Pixar’s 3-D versions of Toy Story and Toy Story 2.

The screenings complement the festival’s presentation of lifetime achievement honors to John Lasseter, chief creative officer for Pixar and Disney Animation Studios, as well as four Pixar directors: Brad Bird, Pete Docter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich.

Lasseter will be presented with the award, known as the Golden Lion, at a ceremony during the festival, which runs Sept. 2-12.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

MGM Brings Bunyan and Babe to U.S.

MGM has signed on to release in the United States Exodus Film Group’s animated feature film Bunyan and Babe, reports Variety.

The feature stars the voices of John Goodman and Kelsey Grammer in a modern take on the classic story of the famous lumberjack and his ox companion. The film is directed by Tony Bancroft and Jim Rygiel, and was written by Michael Nickles and Julia Wall.

"What Exodus has with Bunyan and Babe is a new spin on a classic story," Erik Lomis, MGM's prexy of worldwide theatrical distribution, home entertainment and acquisitions, told Variety.

Exodus, based in Venice., Calif., previously produced the feature film Igor.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Let’s Do Nothing! by Tony Fucile

Apparently it’s the season for children’s books by animation artists. A couple weeks ago, we wrote about the new kids’ book by Tom Warburton. This week marks the release of a title that really excites me: Let’s Do Nothing! by animator superstar Tony Fucile. Tony has created a funny animated book trailer that is viewable below, and there’s also an interview with him here (click on “download an article”).

Click here to order the book on Amazon.

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

Changes At Imagi

I visited Imagi the end of last week; word is out and about that the studio will continue to exist, fuction, and produce new product (a good thing).

One of the execs there said changes would be happening at the top of the company ... and now, whaddayknow, here they are:

Douglas Glen, the chairman and CEO of Hong Kong-based Imagi Intl. Holdings Ltd., has resigned.

In an announcement Sunday, Imagi said it's begun a search for Glen's replacement and that board member William Courtauld has become acting CEO.

Glen joined Imagi in late 2006. Most recently, he oversaw the studio's
"Astro Boy," which will be released in October ...

Mr. Glen was the man in charge when Imagi's west coast studio abruptly laid off all its staff when a cash flow problem cropped up several months back. The California studio suddenly found itself in problems because the crew went without paychecks for several weeks, hardly a good thing for a film company aspiring to be a major player.

I think it's a safe assumption that Mr. Glen's departure is related to the fustercluck that occurred earlier this year. Probably other things, too, but I'm wagering the layoffs and unpaid salaries didn't help Douglas Glen's cause very much.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Coraline Watch

Okay, we're tracking MvA and other big titles in feature animation, but what about the little girl from Portland, Oregon?

Coraline, after a respectable $75 million gross in the U.S. of A. (and Canada) is now rolling along in foreign venues:

UPI’s animated release Coraline opened in nine territories and took $4.9m from 1,423 venues in 14 overall for an early $15.2m running total. The film launched in third place in the UK on $3.7m (£2.5m) from 392. There are 34 territories to go over the next five months.

More often than not, the big domestic releases take in half their money stateside, half their money from the other parts of the world. (This obviously varies widely from film to film.) But if the "normal" pattern for animated features holds, then the little girl should see anywhere from $50 million to $100 million in additional box office.

Not at all bad.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Disney, MacFarlane, Trek on DVD

From beloved classics to online humor to the final frontier, there’s plenty to satisfy the animation and VFX fan in this week’s DVD releases.

Fans of Family Guy and American Dad! will want to pick up Seth MacFarlane’s Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy (Fox, $22.98 DVD, $24.99 Blu-ray), collecting nearly an hour’s worth of the popular online shorts.

More classic animated shorts come to DVD with the release of three new volumes in the Disney Animation Collection:
The Tortoise and the Hare, Wind in the Willows and The Reluctant Dragon (Disney, $19.99 each). Each contains about an hour of classic Disney shorts from the 1930s.

The new
Star Trek beamed into theaters last weekend, and now classic Star Trek movies are coming to DVD and, for the first time, to Blu-ray. The Star Trek: Original Motion Picture Collection (Paramount, $104.99 Blu-ray) collects all six original-crew films, while Star Trek: The Motion Picture Trilogy includes Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home into one package (Paramount, $29.99 DVD, $48.99 Blu-ray).

And if that’s not enough
Trek, then consider the DVD releases The Best of Star Trek (Paramount, $14.99) and The Best of Star Trek: The Next Generation (Paramount, $14.99), each containing four episodes on two discs.

This week’s animation releases include:
Bleach, Vol. 16 (Warner Bros., $24.92), Case Closed, Season 5 (FUNimation, $49.98), Curious George Goes Green! (Universal, $16.98), Speed Racer: The Next Generation — Comet Run (Lionsgate, $14.98) and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Season 7, Parts 1-4 (Lionsgate, $14.98 each).

Also out this week are the sequels
S. Darko: A Donnie Darko Tale (MGM, $22.98 DVD, $29.99 Blu-ray) and Underworld: Rise of the Lycans
(Sony, $24.94 UMD, $28.96 DVD, $39.95 Blu-ray).

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

"Forbes" on Growth of Animated Feature Films

Forbes magazine has posted a brief look at the growth of animation at the multiplexes, quoting industry veteran Terrence Masson that "there are 45 or 50 fully 3D feature-length, computer-animated films in production today, ready for release over the next couple of years." Although the article begins by saying that "kids have it so good" as a result of this growth, it does also note that "Adults are flocking to theaters as well, as storylines have become more mature." It also adds that the line between live-action and animated movies is blurring as special effects start using more and more animation to bring characters like Spider-Man or Gollum to life.

LA Times on the Making of "Up"

The Los Angeles Times has posted a feature article about the making of Disney/Pixar's Up, discussing how an image of a grouchy old man holding a set of balloons evolved all the way to the feature film which will debut on May 29, 2009. The article discusses the first screening of the movie at Pixar, as well as the changes that were made afterwards, the decision to make the movie in digital 3-D, it's prestigious position to open the Cannes Film Festival and the Venice Film Festival, and the more complex and adult sentiments that drive the movie's plot. The article contains minor spoilers for the movie.

LA Times on the Origins of "The Zula Patrol"

The Los Angeles Times has profiled Deb Manchester, the Ohio audiologist who quit her job and went to animation school, eventually producing the intergalactic educational space adventure The Zula Patrol for public television. The article digs into her decision to go to animation school in 1994 ("I always told myself that if I stopped having fun with my job, I'd become an animator"), what role a torn Achilles tendon played in creating the Zula Patrol, and how she recovered from a devastating slate of rejection from all the networks in 1999.

Disney Studios exec delivers an "Up" lifting Mother's Day present

Nancy Stadler for JHM, reports in from Hartford, CT. Where Donald Evans – SVP of Marketing for Walt Disney Animation Studios – hosted an advance screening of Pixar’s latest film

What with it being the Mother’s Day weekend and all, Donald Evans wanted to do something special for his mom, Claire.

Of course, when you’re the senior vice president of Marketing for Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios, you don’t have to just settle for sending candy & flowers. You can do something truly spectacular. Like – say -- arrange for “Up” to have its unofficial world premiere in your old hometown of Hartford, CT.

Donald Evans, senior vice president of Walt Disney Animation Studios & Pixar Animation Studios.
Copyright Disney. All Rights Reserved

Well, okay, this new Peter Docter film will have its really-for-real world premiere this coming Wednesday night at the 62nd Festival de Cannes. Which is a really big deal considering this is the first time an animated feature has ever been selected to be this prestigious film festival’s Opening Ceremony movie.

But as Evans stated this past Saturday afternoon in front of a packed house in the Aetna Theater at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art,
“this is technically the world premiere of ‘Up.’ The first time this film has been screened for members of the general public.”

And having already seen this new Pixar film at least 20 times while it was in production, Donald said it was gratifying to hear how “real”
people react to “Up”
; to see which moments made them laugh & cry.

Copyright 2009 Disney / Pixar. All Rights Reserved

Mind you, the other reason that Donald enjoyed being back in Connecticut is that he brought samples of his work. As in trailers for upcoming Disney & Pixar animated films. Which Evans joked “… will finally make my mother understand what I do for a living.”

Among the clips this audience got to see was the teaser trailer for “Toy Story 3.” Woody supervises the construction of a logo for this 2010 Pixar film, built entirely out of items found in Andy’s room. Only to then have his logo upstaged by the slick, hi-tech version that Buzz Lightyear has built all on his own.

In addition to the
"Toy Story 3" teaser, the crowd at the Antheneum got to see the new “The Princess and the Frog”
trailer. Mr. Evans also showed a featurette for this new Ron Clements / John Musker movie that’s sure to make animation fans smile once it begins popping up on the Web. With the high point being when Andreas Deja does a happy dance when he recalls the moment that he learned that Walt Disney Animation Studios would actually be getting back into the hand-drawn animation business.

Copyright 2009 Disney. All Rights Reserved

After “Up” was screened, Evans returned to the stage at the Aetna and fielded questions from the audience. He talked about the many challenges that Disney & Pixar faces when marketing their movies overseas (EX: Because France is extremely protective of its home-grown film industry, it refuses to allow non-French motion pictures to be advertised on television. Which is why, when the Mouse is launching a new movie in that country, it’s forced to spend most of its promotional dollars on outdoor advertising like billboards, posters, etc).

Donald also talked up some of the other films that Disney & Pixar had in the works, including Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland.” Which, according to Evans, will feature a spectacular sequence of Alice tumbling down the rabbit hole that mixes live action, CG, stop motion as well as hand-drawn animation.

When asked about any upcoming sequels, Donald admitted that he knew which films Disney & Pixar had in the works through 2013 but wasn’t at liberty to talk about any unannounced projects. But that said, Evans insisted that it wasn’t a co-incidence that the two sequels that were already in the works (i.e. “Toy Story 3” and “Cars 2”) were based on John Lasseter movies.

Copyright Disney / Pixar. All Rights Reserved

“Pixar is a director-drive studio. And we only go forward with sequels if the person who originally created that film then comes up with an idea that they're really passionate about,” Donald explained. “And John, he really knows those characters. He’s got lots of other stories that he wants to tell that are set in the worlds of "Toy Story' and 'Cars.'

And speaking of "Cars" ... Since Pixar insists on changing genres whenever it makes a sequel, you shouldn’t expect that same-old-same-old with “Cars 2.” Whereas the first “Cars” was a kind of a fish-out-of-water story, the “Cars” sequel (which is set on the international racing circuit) will have an entirely different style and tone.

Saturday’s event ended with Evans wading out into the auditorium and then having his picture with friends & family. Many of whom had made a special trip into the city just to attend this screening of

And as Donald met with these folks after the screening, Claire stood by his side. Clearly thrilled to be sharing her very special Mother’s Day present with the people of Hartford.

New Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Wallpapers

Hasbro has posted new wallpapers for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, coming to conventional and IMAX theaters on June 24. Directed by Michael Bay, the sequel stars Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, Kevin Dunn, Julie White, John Benjamin Hickey, Ramon Rodriguez, Isabel Lucas and John Turturro.

You can download the wallpapers here!

Catwoman suit from Hollywood Wax Museum auctioned for $8.2K

The costumes worn by the statues in the Hollywood Wax Museum were sold off for more than half a million dollars, with Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman costume from Batman Returns and Jason Voorhees' mask and outfit from Freddy vs. Jason among the top money-makers.

Last week's auction brought $8,260 for Pfeiffer's Catwoman outfit, the most for any single outfit. More than 200 figures were auctioned off online, including items depicting the Last Supper and the Beatles, as well as Michael Jackson's
"Bad" outfit. (Jesus and the 12 Disciples brought in more than $15,000, and the Beatles brought in nearly $13,000 for their multiple-costume lots.)

Jason's mask and costume from
Freddy vs. Jason also brought in $8,260 from the museum's collection, which was on Hollywood Boulevard for 44 years.

Bruce Willis' clothing from his role as Dr. Malcolm Crowe from
The Sixth Sense went for $4,800.

Profiles in History president Joe Maddelena, who ran the auction, said,
"Millions of people from all over the world have visited the Hollywood Wax Museum and seen these amazing wax figures, each of them a piece of art in itself."
Now they are in the hands of the fans, each with a certificate of authenticity from the Hollywood Wax Museum. A new wax museum is opening near Grauman's Chinese Theatre.

Past Profiles in History auctions have sold the Cowardly Lion costume from
The Wizard of Oz ($805,000); a full-scale model T-800 endoskeleton from Terminator 2: Judgment Day ($488,750); a King Kong six-sheet movie poster ($345,000); the command chair from the U.S.S. Enterprise ($304,750); the original Robot from TV's Lost in Space ($264,500); Luke Skywalker's Star Wars lightsaber ($240,000); the Black Beauty car from The Green Hornet ($192,000); George Reeves' Superman costume from The Adventures of Superman
($126,500); and more, publicist Marc Kruskol said.

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