Friday, May 15, 2009

News - 05/15/09...

Fox Kills Sit Down, Shut Up!

Fox has canceled the animated comedy series Sit Down, Shut Up! and reportedly will not air any further episodes.

A repeat of
King of the Hill is slated for Sit Down’s normal Sunday at 7 p.m. time slot.

Ratings on the series have been low, with the most recent episode earning a poor 0.7 rating/3 share among adults 18-49, according to Variety.

Developed by executive producer Mitchell Hurwitz of
Arrested Development fame from a live-action Australian sitcom, Sit Down, Shut Up!
mixed animated characters and live-action backgrounds in following the lives of teachers at a typical high school. The series features the voices of Will Arnett, Henry Winkler, Jason Bateman and Will Forte.

Only four episodes have aired, leaving the fate of the remaining nine completed episodes up in the air.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Comedy Central Picks Up Ugly Americans

Comedy Central is betting on animation to bring in the laughs, giving the green light to seven episodes of David Stern’s new series Ugly Americans and developing animated projects from Jamie Foxx, Judah Friedlander and Dan Vebber.

Ugly Americans is based on an idea from illustrator Devin Clark about an alternate New York in which a human social worker helps creatures from horror, fantasy and sci-fi movies adapt to life as ordinary citizens. Stern, a former producer on The Simpsons, developed the project and will serve as executive producer.

"During these tough economic times our viewers need a good laugh now more than ever," said Lauren Corrao, the channel’s president of original programming and development. "With the pick-up of Ugly Americans, our viewers will be able to escape into a fantasy world like they've never seen before."

Ugly Americans is set to premiere in the first quarter of 2010.

Comedy Central also announced a trio of animated projects it’s developing, including:

The Foxxhole, a workplace comedy from Jamie Foxx based on his satellite radio program.

Gypsy Cab, in which Judah Friedlander of 30 Rock fame plays a wacked-out taxi driver.

• And The Invadersteins, a series from Futurama and American Dad! producer Dan Vebber about a family of aliens who stay behind on earth after a failed invasion.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Angels & Demons Looks to Topple Trek

Angels & Demons will try to bring Star Trek back down to Earth this weekend.

The Ron Howard thriller, a sequel to 2006’s
The Da Vinci Code, will open in more than 3,500 theaters this weekend. The film would love to repeat the performance of Da Vinci, which opened three years ago with a $77 million weekend. It went on to gross $217 million domestically.

Based on Dan Brown's best-selling book, the movie features some nice vfx-driven set pieces and an eye-popping climactic sequence showcasing a helicopter, a night-time explosion and a parachuting priest. CIS Vancouver, Moving Picture Company, Plowman Craven & Assoc. and Senate handled the film's visual effects.

Star Trek
continues to look strong heading into its second weekend. Its opening weekend gross turned out to be just a bit higher than originally projected, taking in $79.2 million from its May 7 evening debut through May 10.

Also still in play is
X-Men Origins: Wolverine, now entering its third weekend of release, and holdovers Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, Obsessed, The Soloist and the resilient Monsters vs. Aliens.

Angels & Demons
will only have six days as the sole new major release before Terminator: Salvation arrives Thursday, May 21, followed a day later by Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian and the comedy Dance Flick

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Henry Selick's Stop Motion Coraline Comes to Home Video in 3-D

It wasn't that long ago that we found ourselves in the cinema, dazzled by Coraline in 3-D on the big screen. Well, in a couple months time, July 21st to be exact, we'll be able to re-live our experiences as best as current home theatre tech will along when Henry Selick's stop motion adaptation of Neil Gaiman's story comes to Blu-ray and DVD in 3-D!

While the DVD versions will no doubt suffice, we recommend the Blu-ray edition for added clarity and definition as well as a host of exclusive special features such as deleted scenes, tours and voice sessions, and animatic picture-in-picture.

Get all of the details of the Coraline Blu-ray here: The Blu-ray Blog

A plug for Mo Willems

One person who doesn’t need a plug on Cartoon Brew is Mo Willems. Successful animator turned popular children’s book author, Willems now returns to animation with two new short films based on his books.

This Saturday afternoon at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Mass. Mo will be premiering two new animated shorts based on his books, produced by Weston Woods: Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! - animated by Pete List with Willems voicing the Pigeon and Jon Scieszka as the Bus Driver; and Knuffle Bunny Too - animated by Karen Villarreal with the voices of Willems, his wife and daughter as the family. For more info on this Saturday’s film screening and book signing, go to the museum’s website.

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

Mixed Reviews for Fleischer’s Superman

John McElwee over at the Greenbriar Picture Shows blog has posted a fascinating overview of Paramount’s Superman cartoons. Despite the wide acclaim and Oscar nomination that greeted the first short, McElwee finds quotes from regional theatre managers who just couldn’t take the character - and the idea of dramatic adventure cartoons - seriously. The piece is liberally illustrated with trade ads, pressbook pages and news clippings even I hadn’t seen before. Well worth a look.

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

Christmas Carol one-sheet online

A new poster for Disney’s motion-captured adaption of The Christmas Carol can now be seen on Yahoo! Movies. The one-sheet gives us a look at the character of Scrooge, who is portrayed by Jim Carrey. The retelling of the classic story is set to hit theaters on November 6th, 2009.

Insider launches Kutcher’s Blah Girls

Blah Girls, a series of short interstitial animated shorts co-created by Ashton Kutcher’s Katalyst production company, will use the syndicated entertainment news show The Insider as a launching pad for a potential TV series.

The series, which will run in short one-minute segments, began airing on The Insider this week, Variety reports.

The goal is to spin off Blah Girls into its own half-hour series to run on first-run syndication or on a cable outlet.

The series, created by Katalyst and David & Goliath, features pop culture-obsessed teens Krystle, Tiffany and Britney talking about all the latest gossip.

Kutcher told the trade paper the Blah Girls indicated “Katalyst's intent to further develop social content with an eye toward cross-platform reach.”

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

4Kids Gets Arthur Sequel Licenses

4Kids Entertainment has acquired the licensing and merchandising rights for the Nordic territories to the upcoming animated feature film Arthur and the Revenge of Maltazard and Arthur and the War of the Two Worlds.

The two films are sequels to the 2006 film
Arthur and the Invisibles. Besson directed the film, which featured the voices of Freddie Highmore and Mia Farrow. It grossed $15 million in the United States, but was much more successful overseas and earned a worldwide gross of $113 million.

The licensing deal covers the territories of Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Iceland and Norway.

Arthur and the Revenge of Maltazard
has a budget of $65 million and is set to open in the Nordic region on Dec. 4, 2009. Arthur and the War of the Two Worlds
will follow in 2010.

“We anticipate a very strong positive response to these sequels along with the wide range of licensed products we’ll bring to market in support of this franchise,” said Sandra Vauthier-Cellier, Managing Director of 4Kids Entertainment International.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Atom Finds Waverly’s Fuzz Arresting

Comedy Central and its web partner have picked up The Fuzz, a new five-episode animated web series from Waverly Films, a team of seven filmmakers based in Brooklyn who met at New York University. Created by Christopher Ford, the show mixes puppetry, live action and animation to deliver a spoof of procedural cop series. Comedy Central will eye the project as a potential pilot for on-air pickup.

Atom and Waverly previously collaborated on the Webby Award-winning series Stickman Exodus, which centered on a band of stick figures struggling to reach the “promised page” in a high school kid’s notebook. The show debuted on in 2008 and it has passed the 500,000 play mark to date.

You can enjoy a taste of Stickman Exodus here:

To learn more, visit

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Nickelodeon Hungry for Kung Fu Panda Series

Following a record-breaking ratings premiere of Nickelodeon's newest animated series based on a Dreamworks film The Penguins of Madagascar, Nickelodeon today announced that it has ordered 26 episodes of its second co-production with DreamWorks Animation: Kung Fu Panda: The Series- a new CG animated comedy series adapted from the studio's 2008 blockbuster film. Today's announcement, which strengthens the strategic alliance between two of the world's most prolific producers of television and feature film animation, was made by Brown Johnson, President, Animation for Nickelodeon and MTVN Kids & Family Group.

Today's announcement comes just six weeks after Nickelodeon's unprecedented March 28 debut of the hit CG-animated series The Penguins of Madagascar, which ranked as the most-watched series premiere in the network's history, drawing 6.1 total million viewers (P2+). The half-hour premiere also delivered more kids 6-11 than any other Nick animated series premiere, averaging an 11.0/2.3 million K6-11. Since then, The Penguins of Madagascar has already become a top program with kids on all of broadcast and cable television, averaging nearly 13 million kids 2-11 each week and also averaging nearly 28 million total viewers (P2+) every week. The series is currently the #2 program (live action or animated), only behind only SpongeBob SquarePants, with kids 2-11 and 6-11 and is the #2 kid-targeted program (live-action or animated) among total viewers (P2+) on all of broadcast and cable television.

"Our seamless collaboration with DreamWorks Animation has now reached an anticipated 78 half-hours of unparalleled television CG animation," said Brown. "With the pick-up of Kung Fu Panda: The Series, we are thrilled to be bringing to our audience the rich stories and energy-packed character and action sequences Po the panda delivered on the big screen."

"We are thrilled to extend our ongoing collaboration with Nickelodeon, whose creative expertise in producing hit TV series is second to none,"
said Ann Daly, Chief Operating Officer of DreamWorks Animation.
"The characters and worlds we originally created for Kung Fu Panda are particularly well-suited to be further developed and explored in new and exciting ways."

Kung Fu Panda: The Series
, is based on DreamWorks Animation's hit feature film, Kung Fu Panda which has grossed over $630 million at the worldwide box office and became the studio's most successful original feature film ever. Kung Fu Panda garnered an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature Film of the Year and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Animated Feature Film.

The series will chronicle the further adventures of Po, the energetic, enthusiastic, always hungry martial arts panda. He is aided by his mentor Shifu and the Furious Five: Tigress, Mantis, Crane, Monkey and Viper. Anointed "Dragon Warrior," Po protects the Valley of Peace from threats of all kind.
Kung Fu Panda: The Series will be executive produced by Cheryl Holliday (King of the Hill, Still Standing, Father of the Pride). The show is being produced at the Nickelodeon Animation Studios in Burbank, California, currently the largest producer of television animation in the U.S.

Kung Fu Panda: The Series
joins Nickelodeon's successful slate of animated series including pop culture phenomenon and number one ranked SpongeBob SquarePants (coming up on its 10th Anniversary this July), Emmy Award-nominated The Fairly OddParents from animation veteran Butch Hartman, The Mighty B! co-created by and starring actress/comedian Amy Poehler and Back at the Barnyard
from the creative mind of box-office chief Steve Oedekerk.

New ‘Toy Story 3’ Character Hidden In ‘Up’ Trailer?

FROM MOVIES BLOG: Immediately after reading Larry’s post revealing the cameo appearance of a new “Toy Story 3″ character in Pixar’s soon-to-be-released “Up,” I tracked down the teaser trailer so I could see the image myself. Can you find it?

See it? No? Well, keep reading. I went and did the hard work for you.

Find out exactly where the new “Toy Story 3″ character appears in the “Up” trailer over at

‘Green Lantern: First Flight’ Director Lauren Montgomery Breaks Down The Film’s Voice Cast

There’s no doubt that the upcoming live-action “Green Lantern” film is hogging online attention lately, but don’t discount “Green Lantern: First Flight,” the DC Universe animated movie heading to DVD and Blu-Ray in July. Focused specifically on Hal Jordan’s space-oriented mythos, the cartoon adventure is sure to boast plenty of laughs, sci-fi goodness and action thanks to the watchful eye of Lauren Montgomery.

As the director of the March-released “Wonder Woman” animated feature, Montgomery has some experience with what makes the DC Universe tick from both a storytelling and visual standpoint. And if you asked the talented animation maven herself, she’d tell you that the voice actors behind “First Flight” have a similar level of understanding and ability.

“Christopher Meloni is a very serious actor and really got into the character to understand all the little nuances of exactly what Hal was thinking at every moment,” Montgomery said of the film’s leading man. “He would ask very interesting, detailed, unexpected questions so he could totally get the mind set, and in doing so he was able to deliver an incredible performance that that really defines Hal as a confident hero, but not cocky or a jerk.”

There’s also Victor Garber, who previously spoke of his performance as the villainous Sinestro. Montgomery described his performance as intimidating and confident, saying: “He gives Sinestro a very believable sense of suave sophistication. Sinestro is not your typical evil villain, and Victor Garber makes him seem like an incredibly intelligent, worldly guy who believes he is doing the right thing, even though he might not be doing it the correct way.”

While the film is certain to focus on the conflict between Meloni’s Hal and Garber’s Sinestro, there’s a plethora of supporting characters in the Green Lantern Corps that will share the spotlight — namely Michael Madsen’s Kilowog and Tricia Helfer’s Boodikka.

“Kilowog is this big, hulking creature and he needed a voice that was really recognizable and had a strong presence,” Montgomery said of the poozer-hating alien. “Michael Madsen was able to give us these line readings that we really didn’t expect — you can’t help laughing at his intonations — and he ends up with some of the funniest lines in the whole script. He even did some fake burps that are just ridiculous — you’ll actually hear a couple of those in the movie. It was just a match made in heaven, really.”

“Boodikka is not just your doe-eyed, token female — she has strength and believability without losing the feminine qualities of our primary female character,” the director added regarding the film’s female lead. “Tricia Helfer has a really sympathetic quality to her voice that captures the quieter side of Boodikka, but Tricia also has this amazing strength in her voice. She was able to make Boodikka this wonderful, relatable, three-dimensional character.”

A DreamWorker's Thoughts

Today I rambled around the DreamWorks Animation campus ... and an employee shared his views on the performance of Monsters Vs. Aliens.

Me: MvA is doing pretty well, isn't it?

Oh, it's done really well domestically. Better than Madagascar II, and they're happy about that. But the studio's been disappointed how the picture's done overseas. It's underperformed compared to Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda.

Me: Why do you think that is?

It's very American. The girl's American, an American go-getter. There's the U.S. military, the President. And it's set in San Francisco. I don't think foreign audiences are tuned into those kinds of things, it's too U.S. of A ...

As I listened to what he said, I thought: Yeah, makes sense. Why didn't I think of that?" And the more I turned it around in my head, the more compelling the explanation became, because there's a lot of circumstantial evidence to support it. Just look right here:

Kung Fu Panda
Domestic gross $215,454,591
domestic 34.1%; foreign 65.9%
Worldwide gross: $631,908,951

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa
Domestic gross: $180,010,950
domestic 30.3%; foreign 69.7%
Worldwide gross: $594,889,020

Monsters Vs. Aliens
Domestic gross: $187,151,273
domestic 56.7%; foreign 43.3%
Worldwide gross: $330,151,273

The percentages are pretty compelling, don't you think? A 30/60 split for the previous two features, but a 55/44 split for the present release.

The DreamWorker's explanation makes sense to me.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Links for Mid-May

Spring linkage ... with the dust whisked off.

Maybe everybody should start doing character teasers.

“There’s a shot where a little girl is in her room and the house goes by,” [Pixar] producer [Jonas Rivera] said of a seemingly simple reaction scene near the beginning of the film, in which a young girl is surprised by the flying house soaring past her bedroom. “She’s playing with her toys. She’s playing with her little plane. She gets up, and she looks [out the window] – under her bed is one of the new stars of ‘Toy Story 3’.”

(Rotten Tomatoes tabulates critics' reactions to Up. And the Nikster weighs in on the Cannes screening here.)

Amazingly, it isn't just J. Katzenberg who thinks that the future of cinema is 3-D. Other execs are getting in on the act:

"I really think we are at the tipping point where we'll have the ability to release a movie in 3-D only," said Disney Motion Pictures Group prexy Mark Zoradi.

I really don't have an opinion about whether, in the next year or three, my eyeballs will be seeing all 3-D all the time. I haven't given it a hell of a lot of thought, actually.

Wade Sampson presents a history of The Firehouse Five Plus Deux.

“The band never, repeat, never rehearsed! We never played any of our repertoire twice the same way. I insisted on a simple beat—tuba and bass drum on 1st and 3rd—snare, banjo and piano left hand accenting 2nd and 4th beats. Most of our work was for big dances playing jazz, waltzes, rumbas—you name it! Crazy textures, slide whistle, soprano sax duets, ‘duck call’ choruses, and harmonica solos. For concerts we upped the tempos. I guess you could call it all SIMPLICITY! Let ‘em hear the tune.” -- Ward Kimball

Ashton Kutcher takes time away from tweeting to jump into 'toonland:

Ashton Kutcher's Katalyst shingle is looking to turn the animated Web series "Blah Girls" into a TV property -- and has found an unusual launching pad for the show.

"Blah Girls" will debut on TV as a series of one-minute interstitials on the entertainment newsmag strip "The Insider" starting today ...

Moving further down the food chain, interviews the Madtwinz (independent animators Mark and Mike Davis) about animation and comic book creation:

... Our career just naturally evolved into for us. We were always bouncing stories and characters back and forth to each other, since we were both in the womb.

Mike: It was never really like, “Yo, i want to do comics and animation.” I just knew that I liked the idea of being able to create stories and images that people could relate to. Stories and characters that me and dudes around my way could look at and be like “I feel that,” that was the most important part. To capture the detail and nuances from the culture we was raised in.

Since Penguins of Madagascar is a hit, why not make it two?

In just six weeks [The Penguins of Madagascar] is reaching nearly 13 million viewers age 2 to 11 a week, according to Nielsen Media Research. Among cartoons only “SpongeBob SquarePants” delivers stronger ratings for Nickelodeon.

Now the channel is adding
“Kung Fu Panda: The Series,” a program built around the DreamWorks smash film from last June. The series, planned for a premiere early next year, will chronicle the further adventures of Po ...

Have a most excellent Friday and weekend.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Disney Music Mavens Movie

Boy, do I feel like a lame son. The sons of legendary, Academy Award-winning songwriters The Sherman Brothers have directed a new feature-length documentary about their dads. the boys: the sherman brothers’ story peers into the prolific duo behind such classic Disney animation tunes like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, I Wanna Be Like You, Chim Chim Cher-ee and Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. As you can see in the trailer below, heaps of Hollywood folks comment on the Sherman Brothers’ influence. Julie Andrews, Roy E. Disney, John Landis, John Lasseter and Dick Van Dyke all add their two cents. Ben Stiller also appears on camera, and this Hollywood legacy was also an Executive Producer on the project. The trailer doesn’t hint at the darker side of the film which plays off the theme that “the next generation shouldn’t suffer for the sins of the father.” The film opens in a few theaters on May 22nd.

The Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show - Warner Stretches Out and Announces a 4-DVD Complete Collection

September release includes extras with participants such as Tom 'SpongeBob' Kenny

This show was shown right after The Superfriends on the ABC Network. It featured various adventures of the DC Comics superhero Plastic Man. This show featured many adventures in different segments: Plastic Man, Baby Plas, Plastic Family, Mighty Man & Yukk, Fangface and Fangpuss, and Rickety Rocket.

We've known it was in the works, and now it's officially on the release schedule! Warner Home Video has announced this morning that The Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show - The Complete Collection is coming to DVD on Sept. 1st. The 4-disc set running 583 minutes will be presented in full-frame video, English mono audio and French subtitles. Cost is $44.98 SRP. The studio hasn't sent out the package art so far, but they have provided the below list of contents, including some very cool-sounding bonus material. Here's the info provided directly by Warner:

The Weed / Dr. Irwin & Mr. Meteor
Wham Bam, Beware of the Clam / The Day the Ocean Disappeared
The Horrible Half-Ape / Hugefoot
The Miniscule Seven / Moonraiders
Superstein / Dogmaster
The Diabolical Dr. Dome / Honeybee
The Dangerous Dr. Dinosaur / Spider Takes a Bride
Empire of Evil / The Corruptible Carrot Man
The Maniacal Computerhead / The Hippotist
Badladdin / Toyman
Ghostfinger / High Brow
The Kitty Katt Caper / The Colossal Crime of Commodore Peril
Terrible Five and One / Joggernaut
Dr. Duplicator Strikes Again / Thunderman
Count Graffiti Meets Plastic Man / Sale of the Century
Plastic Mummy Meets Disco Mummy / City of Ice

Plastic Man Meets Plastic Ape (Season 2)
The Crime Costume Caper (Season 2)
The Royal Gargoyle Foil (Season 2)

DVD Features:

PLAS-tastic: A Brief History of Plastic Man
It's not hard to find a stretchy crime-fighter...but the original elastic wonder first appeared in Police Comics #1 in August 1941. Plastic Man's distinctive physical presence and tongue-in-cheek nature has made him a favorite of many modern-day comic book writers and animation industry icons. DC Comics' writer MARK EVANIER, famed cartoon voice actor TOM KENNY, and revered animation producer JAMES TUCKER are just a few of PLASTIC MAN'S most ardent supporters. The 67 year journey of PLASTIC MAN takes center stage as an informative and entertaining historical featurette with something for the uninitiated bystander and the hard-core PLASTIC fan.

Puddle Trouble
Never-before aired (and rarely seen) pilot for what might have been a Plastic Man animated series on Cartoon Network. {"Watch as our elastic hero captures the crooks, confounds the cops, and learn of his secret origin and history as a hood himself!"}

"Madagascar" director Darnell speaks in Vancouver

Fresh from the success of "Madagascar 2," one of DreamWorks Animation's bright lights, director-writer Eric Darnell, comes to Vancouver next Wednesday, May 20 to celebrate the sixth anniversary of Vancouver ACM SIGGRAPH.

Darnell will speak on "Directing Madagascar" at Vancity Theatre, 1181 Seymour Street (at Davie).

The DWA feature film director (Antz, Madagascar, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa) will share his thoughts on directing, animation and developing one's own vision and career. In this open and far-ranging session, he will talk about his early days as an animator, show some rarely shown early films and behind-the-scenes development clips, and share stories from the front lines of the films he has directed.

Start the evening in style at 6:30 p.m. mingling at the licensed industry mixer with free snacks and drinks. The first 50 through the door receive a free movie poster. Darnell will be on hand at the mixer signing copies of the book The Art of Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa for sale.

At 7:30 p.m., get set for the main presentation. A question-and-answer session will be held (with door prizes) at 8:30 p.m. At 9 p.m., there will be a free screening of Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa.

All ticket holders are automatically registered to the industry mixer and screening. To register to the mixer or screening only, e-mail with your contact information.

Darnell has been with DreamWorks Animation since 1995. He directed DreamWorks' first animated feature, Antz, and then went on to direct and share writing credit on Madagascar and Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa. He is currently developing the third and final installment in the Madagascar series.

Before coming to DreamWorks, Darnell was with Pacific Data Images, where he helmed numerous commercial and film projects. His in-house animated short, Gas Planet, garnered international recognition, including the Ottawa Animation Festival Special Jury Prize.

The Ahmanson Foundation and the Princess Grace Foundation funded two of Darnell's experimental film projects, Grasslands and Filter Gallery, which have been shown at venues around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He also directed a music video for REM's Get Up Off of the Green release.

Darnell earned a BA in broadcast journalism from the University of Colorado in 1984 and an MFA in experimental animation from CalArts in 1990.

Regular admission is $25. For groups of five or more, the price is $20; group pricing is available only through on-line advance sales. Vancouver ACM SIGGRAPH members are admitted for $15.

To register, visit

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