Thursday, June 18, 2009

News - 06/18/09...

Ghibli’s Ocean Waves DVD release in UK

Anime News Network reports that Studio Ghibli’s Ocean Waves has been scheduled for a dvd release by Optimum Home Entertainment on August 17 in UK. The 72 minute animated movie, which premiered as a television special, is the last Studio Ghibli feature to get a dvd release in an English speaking region. Tomomi Mochizuki became the first director besides Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata to direct a Ghibli feature when he adapted the Umi ga Kikoeru high school romance novel by the late Saeko Himuro in 1993. Ocean Waves and another Ghibli feature, Grave of the Fireflies, were not a part of Disney-Tokuma deal in 1996. Buena Vista has since released every film from its Tokuma Shoten deal on dvd in North America, except for Only Yesterday. Optimum released Only Yesterday in the United Kingdom in 2006.

Interview with Pixar animator Guiherme Jacinto

Examiner has an exclusive interview with aspiring Pixar animator Guilherme Jacinto whose works includes movies such as WALL-E and Up. The young animator shares his journey from Brazil to Pixar, and also talks about landing a job at Pixar, his inspirations, and working on Up and WALL-E.

"WALL-E" wins seven honors at 38th Key Art Awards

The animated "WALL-E" won seven awards Friday night at the Hollywood Reporter's 38th annual Key Art Awards, which honor film marketing.

WALL-E's awards included a best in show citation for home entertainment, new release packaging.

The awards ceremony was held at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA in Los Angeles. Eleven best in show awards were chosen from awards presented in nearly 60 categories.

Eclipse Advertising and Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment were also honored with best home entertainment print -- new release packaging for their role in promoting Pixar-Disney's WALL-E.

The film also brought awards for theatrical A/V -- animation/family TV spots (CMP and The Walt Disney Studios), best online banner advertising (Deadline Advertising and Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment), best digital campaign (Deadline Advertising and Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment), home entertainment print -- animation/family DVD packaging (Eclipse Advertising and Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment), theatrical A/V -- animation/family trailers (CMP and The Walt Disney Studios) and home entertainment A/V -- animation/family TV spots (Open Road Entertainment and Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment).

In Category Awards, the honor for animation/family print went to BLT & Associates, Inc., DreamWorks Animation and Paramount Pictures for Kung Fu Panda.

The award for home entertainment A/V -- animation/family trailers was given to The Cimarron Group & 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment for Horton Hears a Who!. The Dr. Seuss retelling also won both companies an award for home entertainment A/V -- video box animation.

Midnight Oil Creative and Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment were honored for home entertainment -- electronic print/jumbotron for their promotion of the direct-to-video Tinker Bell.

The Nightmare Before Christmas won two awards: home entertainment print -- catalog titles packaging for Ivy Hill and Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, and home entertainment print -- special packaging/boxed sets for Shorewood Packaging/Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment.

With “Toy Story 3,” “Cars 2” and “Monsters, Inc. 2” now in the works, why no “Incredibles 2” ?

Jim Hill’s back with even more tales from the 2009 Licensing International Expo. This time around, he talks about what’s been holding up development of an “Incredibles” sequel

Earlier this week, it was kind of ironic that – in a headline that talked up how well “Up” was doing at the domestic box office – Variety mentioned “The Incredibles.”

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc and Pixar Animation Studios.
All Rights Reserved

“Ironic how?,” you ask. Well, in a time where this Emeryville-based animation studio is well into production on “Toy Story 3” & “Cars 2” (And – very quietly – begun initial development on “Monsters, Inc. 2”), what’s the one Pixar sequel that isn’t in the works right now? “The Incredibles 2”

“And why is that?,” you ask. Well – to answer that question – you have to understand how the creative culture works up there in Emeryville. Pixar truly is a director-driven animation studio. Which means that no sequel can be put into production unless the director of the first film gives the thumbs-up and/or is on board in some sort of creative capacity on that project.

Which is why it really isn’t a coincidence that the sequels that were initially greenlit after The Walt Disney Company acquired Pixar Animation Studios back in 2006 were based on John Lasseter films. While John won’t actually be directing either of these follow-ups (Lee Unkrich is riding herd on “Toy Story 3,” while Brad Lewis is behind the wheel on “Cars 2”), Lasseter has been very hands-on. As chief creative officer of both Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, John has been heavily involved in all phases of production of these two movies. Signing off on everything from the initial story ideas to the vocal casting of new characters.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc and Pixar Animation Studios.
All Rights Reserved

And as for “Monsters, Inc. 2” … While it’s not yet certain whether Pete Docter will actually be directing this sequel or just serving as the project’s producer, he too reportedly plans on being very hands-on when it comes to the further adventures of Mike & Sulley.

Whereas Brad Bird … In a 2007 interview with the Associated Press, Bird admitted that he’s actively thought about an “Incredibles” sequel:

“I love the world. I love the characters, and if I could come with a story that was as good or better than the original, I'd go there in a second. I have pieces of things that I would love to see in a sequel. But I haven't got them all together yet. And I certainly wouldn't want to come out there with something that is less than the original.”

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc and Pixar Animation Studios. All Rights Reserved

And because Brad – to date – hasn’t been able to come up with a workable concept for an “Incredibles” sequel, there’s been no real work done on a follow-up film.

Of course, some Emeryville insiders have suggested that the main reason that “The Incredibles 2” isn’t in the works is that Brad just doesn’t like sequels. I mean – back when he was doing press for "Ratatouille” – Bird was pretty clear about how he felt. Again – while being interviewed by the AP in 2007 – this Academy Award-winner said:

“Sequels are not part of the business plan at Pixar. It's all about the filmmakers being passionate about going somewhere.”

So now that sequels have become a key component of Pixar’s overall business strategy … Well, that’s gotta be rubbing Brad the wrong way.

Mind you, Disney veterans that I spoke with at this year’s Licensing Show in Las Vegas said that once Bird gets “1906” under his belt he’ll most likely revisit the idea of doing an “Incredibles” sequel. And given that Pixar’s first live-action film – Andrew Stanton’s “John Carter of Mars” – is gearing up to begin shooting in Utah this November, it’s only a matter of time now ‘til production of Brad’s Great San Francisco Earthquake movie finally gets underway.

Which brings us to the other great unasked question that’s currently floating around in the Pixar-related ether: After Stanton & Bird have dabbled in live-action, is it really going to be possible to persuade these two talented fillmakers to return to animation? Because (to be blunt here), if there’s one movie that Disney’s board of directors would like to see go into production more than “The Incredibles 2,” that would be a follow-up to Andrew’s 2003 hit, “Finding Nemo.”

But – again – that ain’t happening unless Stanton signs off on a sequel and/or takes an active part in the development of a new “Nemo” movie. After all, that’s just the Pixar way.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc and Pixar Animation Studios. All Rights Reserved

So how do you folks feel about this? Me personally, I find it refreshing that -- in an age where Hollywood seems to churn out nothing but sequels – what’s stalling production of a Pixar follow-up film isn’t the details of the deal (i.e. who gets what cut of the profits). But – rather – can we come up with a story that’s actually worthy of the first movie?

Trident Chews on a Little Piece of Happy

Cadbury’s Trident Gum has released a new viral campaign that features several animated segment. The campaign, which is titled A Little Piece of Happy, is being led by JWT New York. Here’s two of the ads.


All Tangled Up

Burke’s Studies End With Journey

If Daniel Burke’s short film feels a bit dreamlike, that’s becuase he was trying to capture “the beauty, imagination and freedom of childhood and our dreams.” Journey was Burke’s final project from his studies at the University of Cumbria.

Flash Anime – Cooking Sama

We rarely feature Flash anime here, but I spotted this unusual piece over at Newgrounds and had to share. It’s titled Cooking Sama and it was created by Misaki Watanabe at Studio Hasai. It gets sexually suggestive around 2:50, but there’s nothing worth hiding from your boss.

1st Science Animation Awards being held in China

Honoring the works of visual wonder that depict what science perceives beyond our eyes, the 1st Annual International Science Animation Awards are being presented August 8 in Guiyang, China.

The ISAA "Sci-An" will be awarded for 2D and 3D works that demonstrate both the highest achievements in scientific and medical communication and superb attention to aesthetic, creative and technical presentation.

This year marks the first in what will be an annual juried salon, bringing together in China the work of scientific animators from around the world. Professional and student work is welcome, and will be judged separately.

The event will include presentations and panels with industry leaders from across Asia, the United States and Europe.

The two judging categories are commercial and educational, in short form of under three minutes' run time. Long-form work and compilations from longer projects may be entered and will be evaluated separately.

"The need for recognition in this dynamic emerging field has grown to the point of launching this inaugural event," said founding co-chairman Sander Johnson, who, with founding co-chair David Bolinsky, initiated the concept for this international forum at last year's Guiyang Animation Festival. That festival is the launch for this year's Sci-An Awards, which will next year become an independent event.

"Hosting this unique forum and awards ceremony in China truly invites pan-Asian and East-West interaction with leaders in the industries and major universities." said Bolinsky, a leading American creator of 3D scientific animation for Harvard University Medical, the Smithsonian, most major pharmaceutical companies, NOVA and additional broadcast clients. "And it promotes further advances in these various industries of science and animation."

ISAA general secretary Liuyi Wang, founding director of China's Asian Youth Animation and Comics Contest, sees great benefit in highlighting achievements in these advanced new fields of science animation as 21st-century career paths for talented young computer animators. "This is an industry that will grow exponentially with the compounding demands from various science sectors in the years ahead," said Wang.

ISAA "Sci-An" Awards will be given to first, second and third place, plus awards of merit and best in show. The judges this year will include Bolinsky, XVIVO scientific animation partner; Jane Hurd, Hurd Studios founder; and Elizabeth Rega, chief anatomical consultant for Walt Disney Feature Animation and SONY Pictures Imageworks, with prominent Asia judges to be announced soon.

The submission deadline is July 15, and entries cannot be returned. In welcoming all applications, there are no entry fees required with submissions.

Applications can be downloaded from

For further information, contact Bolinsky at (860) 721-9848 or david (at)

Why Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs is more of a family affair

Queen Latifah, who provides the voice of Ellie in Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, told reporters that audiences will meet a different mammoth from the one she played in the previous animated movie, Ice Age: The Meltdown: This third installment begins with Ellie and Manny (Ray Romano) expecting their first baby mammoth.

"Ellie has grown so much since the last movie," Latifah said in a press conference earlier this month in Marina del Rey, Calif. "She's married now. She's got a baby on the way. She grows so much between the last film and this one, because the last one she thought she was a possum. She was kind of like a big kid. She wanted to play with her brothers all the time, and she hung from a tree by her tail, for that matter. Now she's a little more mature, so it's really about kind of making sure she had that nurturing warmth in her voice, and she seems to be a voice of reason, really pushing [Manny] to go make up with Sid [John Leguizamo]. If things are wrong, she's always trying to push people back together, so it was really just trying to bring that kind of love to the character."

Having that sort of female influence in the boy animals' club reminded Romano of his old sitcom days. "The dynamic, not to bring up my show, but Everybody Loves Raymond, my show, was like I was the voice of reason, because there were crazy characters," Romano said during the same press conference. "The brother, the mother, they were all nuts, and I kind of had to keep that glue together. But then the wife was really the overall voice of reason, because then I was the crazy one, which is kind of the same [in Ice Age.] I thought [Sid] was crazy; it was about me trying to keep him [in check], but then you kind of reel us all in."

If the series continues, a sequel could take the mammoths to the next level of family as parents of a young mammoth girl, whom they name Peaches at the end of Dawn. "I think that there's a lot to play with us having a daughter now," Latifah said. "Kids grow up so fast in these movies, so I definitely would like to see some fun happen around that."

Romano expects mammoth daddy issues to resemble human ones. "Peaches won't want anything to do with me," Romano said. "Yeah, I guess the natural progression is the kids will get older. We don't want to be grandparents."

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs opens July 1.

Could ‘Batman 3’ Lose Christopher Nolan?

Not even a full year has passed since the worldwide release of “The Dark Knight,” but that doesn’t stop the rumor mill from churning like mad. Some of these reports are fun to read — if only because of how surprising they are — but others? Not so much.

Case in point is the latest rumor on the “Batman 3” front, which says that Christopher Nolan might not return for another installment. Batman-On-Film has heard from a trusted source that Nolan’s attachment to a third outing is far from a sealed deal, and may in fact be a long shot.

The source cites the 2008 death of Heath Ledger as one of the driving factors in Nolan’s potential departure from the franchise. Not only was the Joker supposed to return for a third “Batman,” according to the report, but Ledger’s passing “rocked Mr. Nolan hard” and convinced the director that “['The Dark Knight'] was going to be it for him and Batman on film.”

But even were Nolan to direct the untitled “Batman” sequel, the source says the film wouldn’t be in theaters until at least 2012, adding: “And that is only an early estimate at best right now. They are even saying it might not be until 2013.”

Clearly — and even as the typically trustworthy Batman-On-Film points out — this rumor shouldn’t be taken as fact. Until an official announcement is made one way or the other, there’s no reason to assume that Nolan’s departure is a certainty. On the other hand, there is likewise no reason to assume that his return is a certainty.

Given the critical and commercial success of “The Dark Knight,” it’s a foregone conclusion that Nolan’s departure from the series would be disappointing to many. Still, it’s hard to deny that Nolan wouldn’t be going out on the top of his game — after the disaster that was “Batman and Robin” in the late ’90s, did you ever imagine that you’d witness a “Batman” film that earned an Academy Award for an actor’s performance?

So, what’s our official stance? Well, for now, we’re not getting our capes in a bunch until we hear more. Even if the worst case scenario pans out, the Splash Page crew would offer a salute, best wishes and our price of admission to Mr. Nolan and his future endeavors. After all, the guy has already given the “Batman” movie universe more gravitas than we’d ever dreamed possible — if he’s ready to tap out, he’s certainly earned the right.

New clips from Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Two new clips from Michael Bay's Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen have gone live, and you can view them after the jump.

The first is from Yahoo Movies; the second from Moviefone. The sequel opens June 24.

Producer Frank Marshall: Bourne 4, yes; Jurassic 4, maybe; Neverending, we'll see

Producer Frank Marshall told reporters that he's still developing another Bourne movie, but was less sure about future installments of Jurassic Park and The Neverending Story. Marshall spoke to reporters in Philadelphia on Tuesday.

Marshall said that his development company has about 10 projects on the front burner, including the next Jason Bourne film.

"I am moving it forward," Marshall said of the Bourne franchise in a group interview. "We'd like to shoot next year, but it's trying to get everyone's schedules in the right place and getting the script right. We have done pretty well with these scripts that are loosely put together, but I would like the script to be really solid this time before we go forward, so we are spending a lot of time on story."

As for a proposed fourth Jurassic Park sequel? "We'll have to see if they can come up with a story," Marshall said. "We don't have a story yet."

When asked about the rumored Neverending Story remake, Marshall laughed in some frustration. "We love the book," he said. "We've always thought there was an opportunity there to tell a lot of elements that were in the book that weren't in the [original] movie. It's another one where we are still working on the rights. Once we get that, we'll bring on a writer. But it's off in the distance, but it's a great story."

Marshall said a new deal with Sony will soon be another resource for development ideas. "It's been very exciting, because we are looking at their old libraries and looking at things they have that have stalled out and we may get back on track," he said.

Top 10 reasons why Star Trek is suddenly cool—plus the chart that proves it!

Who would have thought that Star Trek would suddenly be cool?

Used to be that if you referenced dilithium crystals, could utter the traditional Klingon greeting or knew the difference between a Romulan and a Reman, you were scorned and ridiculed and advised to move out of your mother's basement and get a girlfriend.

Well, no more. Like a time incursion that upends history, the phenomenal mainstream success of J.J. Abrams' new Star Trek movie (now the top-grossing film of 2009) has changed things. With the abruptness of a Vulcan nerve pinch, Star Trek is now hip.

Consider the evidence:

1. Star Trek is suddenly sexy, at least judging by the attention devoted to its cast in glossy fashion magazines and national publications. Eric Bana (Nero) can be found on the cover of Details. Chris Pine (Kirk, above) models suits in GQ. Zoe Saldana (Uhura) graces the cover of Women's Health.

From The New York Times

2. President Obama, perhaps the coolest chief executive ever, orders a special screening of Star Trek in the White House. Obama himself is compared to Spock: multiracial, unflappable, supremely logical, really big ears. And POTUS himself admits to being a Trekkie: "I used to love Star Trek," he told Newsweek. "You know, Star Trek was ahead of its time. There was a whole—the special effects weren't real good, but the storylines were always evocative, you know, there was a little commentary and a little pop philosophy for a 10-year-old to absorb."

3. With a constellation of hot young actors newly inhabiting the bridge of the starship Enterprise, many celebrities are finally coming out of the closet, revealing their true Trek roots. They include Rosario Dawson, Megan Fox, Spider-Man's Kirsten Dunst (who actually appeared in an episode of The Next Generation) and even Tom Hanks (above, on the new Tonight Show; he talks about Star Trek at 3:15.)

4. Even manly men admit to being Trekkies, such as Karl Urban, the new Dr. McCoy, who appears on Access Hollywood explaining the genesis of Gene Roddenberry's original vision. Karl Urban! Who knew that Eomer was a Trekkie?

5. Footage from Star Trek was part of Andy Samberg's opening sketch for the MTV Movie Awards. That's gotta be a first. And did we mention that Chris Pine was one of the presenters? Or that he's dating The Hills' Audrina Patridge? When was the last time a Star Trek captain was gossip fodder??

6. Star Trek is featured on the May 4 cover of Newsweek, which has a story: "We're all Trekkies now." "Star Trek is way cool. How'd that happen? Because the geeks have inherited the Earth and the White House."

Trekkies Bash New Star Trek Film As 'Fun, Watchable'

7. Many longtime Trek fans, perhaps sensing that their playground is suddenly being invaded by the cool kids who tormented them for so long, have been openly rebelling against the popularization of their beloved franchise in the form of Abrams' movie (just read any of the many comment boards on SCI FI Wire for evidence). We're not the only ones to see this phenomenon: The Onion lampoons Trek fans' futile resistance in the video above.

8. Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto appear on Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update.

9. Wired magazine's June 2009 "Strategist" feature notes the seismic shift in which Trek overtakes Star Wars for coolness.

10. Star Trek is the top-grossing movie of 2009 domestically, at least until Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen opens this week.

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra TV Trailer Online!

An extended TV trailer for Paramount Pictures' G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra has hit the internet. Opening August 7th, the Stephen Sommers-directed big screen adaptation stars Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Christopher Eccleston, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Byung Hun Lee, Sienna Miller, Rachel Nichols, Ray Park, Said Taghmaoui, Channing Tatum, Marlon Wayans and Dennis Quaid.

You can watch the trailer here!

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