Friday, July 31, 2009

News - 07/31/09...

Aliens Faces Uphill Box Office Battle

The studios continue their run of releasing films either packed with animation and VFX or family fare —both elements embodied by Fox’s Aliens in the Attic.

The goofy family movie's visual effects were created by CIS Vancouver, Rhythm and Hues, Gentle Giant Studios and Soho VFX.

Attic, a mix of live-action and animated aliens directed by John Schulz and starring Robert Hoffman and Ashley Tisdale, opens in some 3,100 theater this weekend. It edges out by a mere 100 venues the R-rated Judd Apatow comedy Funny People, which stars Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen.

Aliens in the Attic enters a crowded field and will have to do strong business to take on last week’s top-grosser, G-Force, as well as holdovers Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs.

Also out this weekend is Freestyle Releasing’s horror film The Collector, opening in 1,500 theaters.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Jim Lee, Marv Wolfman Talk DCU Online Game

Video games and comic books have been crossing over for years — both in terms of content and via the growing gaming presence at Comic-Con — but few things are coming as close to exciting fans as the chance to play in the original comic book universe in Sony Online Entertainment’s upcoming DC Universe Online.

The MMO game was being demonstrated at the annual comic book confab and we got to take a look at both the game and talk to comic book legends Jim Lee and Marv Wolfman about making the game.

The game lets each player create his or her own hero or villain and enter the DC Universe as an auxiliary member of either the Justice League or the Legion of Doom. Players take part in missions alongside the likes of Superman, Batman, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman on the good side, and Lex Luthor, Joker, Sinestro and dozens of other baddies on the not-so-good side.

The demo level featured an extensive mission in STAR Labs, with characters able to define their own powers, power source and how they move (flight, super speed, etc.), as well as their own look. The game allows each player to pick their own color palette, with any objects or modifications they pick up automatically conforming to that color scheme to avoid the “hobo” look other games have encountered.

The players work alongside the established characters of the DC Universe and attempt to create their own legacy — earning enough credibility through completing missions and defeating enemies an invitation to the Justice League or Legion of Doom.

The game also will allow PC and PlayStation 3 players to run off the same server — and be in the same world.

What’s still a mystery is when the game, which has been in development for several years now, will be released.

Lee, the blockbuster artist who defined the X-Men, created the WildC.A.T.s and Wildstorm Studios, and of late has been defining Superman and Batman for a whole new generation of DC comic book readers, was the lead designer on the game. He likened the process — now four years of work since he started — to weight training.

“It’s hard work, but at the end of the day you come out better, stronger for it,” he said. “It’s been a real learning experience — not just learning about how to build an MMO, but also learning about the DC universe.”

Designing the characters involved breaking down all the powers in the DC universe for the players to choose from and use in the game, a process that Lee says gave him a new appreciation of DC.

“I never really thought about what kind of material these costumes are made out of, I never though about the environments, I never thought about what the neighborhoods of Gotham City and Metropolis looked like,” he said. “Having those answers, I feel much smarter as a DC fan than I ever did before.”

When it comes to animating characters that he’d previously only drawn for the comic book page, Lee says he turned, as always, to a bit of research.

“In some sense, it’s the same. When I draw certain things, I’ll actually stand up and pose it out. I’ll be looking in a mirror or having someone take a photograph,” he says. “Even standing up and posing, and feeling how your body feels at that time —it helps you convey that when you draw it.”

Lee says he designed hundreds of DC characters for the game, including “almost every major, secondary and tertiary hero and villain.” His favorite, however, was one he had a hand in creating for the comic book page.

“Hush actually looks really cool,” he says, adding the character’s facial bandages were a challenge to make good looking. “That’s the thing about DC villains, is they all have a weird element to them. Like you’ve got a big question mark on your head or bandages on your face.”

Having put so much work into the game, Lee says he thinks it will follow him for the rest of his life. He also says he’ll be playing the game and likely playing a villain first.

“I’ve almost always done everything hero-centric in terms of the stories, and it would be fun to create a villain and see the DC universe from their perspective,” he says. “That’s not something that’s been explored a lot in comics, at least for me.”

Lee says the game has afforded him the ability to make an impact on a lot of characters he likely will never get a chance to do in comic books simply because there’s not enough time.

“But now I’ve drawn characters like Egg Fu or Ambush Bug,” he says. “I drew Doomsday and the first time I drew Doomsday was for the game.”

He also says he’ll be getting back to comics soon, having two scripts ready to go from Frank Miller for All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder. “It’s been absolutely my fault why the book’s late and I’ve obviously been working hard on the game,” he says. “Right now, the plan is to have several issues in the drawer, come back out with the second half of it, the back half of it, and get it wrapped up soon so I can do something besides just draw Batman. But it’s good stuff and it will hopefully be worth the wait.”

To say Marv Wolfman is an accomplished writer is to say nothing new. But while fans may know Wolfman’s credits on such hit comics as Tomb of Dracula for Marvel and The New Teen Titans and Crisis on Infinite Earths for DC, the process of writing video games is a harder concept to grasp.

Wolfman has worked as a writer on many games and says each experience has been different. “I’ve been brought into games very late, where what you’re doing is essentially just organizing the game they’ve set up and writing dialog, and I’ve been brought into games before the first thinking process is done,” he says. “I’m not writing the game, per se, the playing part. I’ll lead up to it. I’ll come up with the basic stories that you are playing.”

That means coming up with material that the game designers can then run with to break down into missions for players to work through. “It might be something that’s a paragraph long or a page long, and they’ll spin out endless variations that accomplish that goal.”

Wolfman says he is definitely a gamer and has been so from the days of Pong through the Atari and Coleco Vision days through to computer games like Wolfenstein, Doom, Myst and current games on PCs, PS2, PS3 and Wii.

He says Sony Online Entertainment is committed to making the game as true to the DC Universe as possible — and hiring folks like himself, Lee and Green Lantern writer Geoff Johns only proves it. “The characters will act in character, the little things that make the DC Universe will be there, almost everything is absolutely DC,” he says. “This isn’t a game — and I’ve written some — that sort of just touches on the characters. This is, pure and simple, DC Online.”

The amount of work required to pull all this off is far from minimal. “This is comparable to writing 150 novels all the size of Lord of the Rings,” he says. “Fortunately, I’m not writing thousands of pages. I’m writing: here’s the concept for this mission or this story and here are a few twists and turns. And they’ll turn it into 40 missions. And that’s the best way to do it because I’ll come up with the DC stuff, I’ll come up with the stuff that can only be done with those kinds of characters. Then they will turn it into great video game stuff because that’s what they know best.”

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Fox Drops Abortion Episode of Family Guy

The Fox television network has announced it will not air a planned Family Guy episode that deals with abortion.

Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane mentioned the episode — titled “Partial Terms of Endearment” — Saturday at a Comic-Con panel devoted to the show, saying it was unlikely the episode would air on Fox but would appear on the DVD release, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Fox released a statement stating: “Fox will not air the ‘Partial Terms of Endearment’ episode of Family Guy, but we fully support the producers' right to make the episode and distribute it in whatever way they want."

This would be the second episode of the long-running series rejected by Fox for a network airing, the first being “When You Wish Upon a Weinstein,” which later appeared on both DVD and in syndication.

Family Guy, which Fox has canceled on two occasions only to revive it based on strong DVD sales and cable ratings, has been nominated for a best comedy series Emmy Award.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Monsters vs. Aliens on Sequel Bubble

DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg says it’s a tossup right now over whether there will be a sequel to its 3-D animated feature film Monsters vs. Aliens.

Katzenberg addressed analysts and journalists Tuesday about the film, which grossed an impress $197 million domestically, but fell short overseas with receipts of $177 million.

"This is the first movie we've had that's right on the bubble," Katzenberg told The Hollywood Reporter. The film did well in some territories, and flopped in others.

DreamWorks plans to discuss the possibility of a sequel on its worldwide marketing tour before coming to a decision. In the meanwhile, the studio is proceeding with a holiday special for the franchise, titled Monsters vs. Aliens: Mutant Pumpkins From Outer Space. The special is scheduled to air on NBC.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Four Pics on Tap From American Original, Titmouse

American Original — the new production company formed by producer, comic book writer and former studio executive Jeff Katz — has signed a deal with Titmouse Animation to produce four original animated feature films.

Up first is the horror film Special Dead, based on a 2006 horror-comedy short film by Jared Tweedie and Thomas Phillips. The short tells the story of Camp Special, a ranch for the mentally and physically handicapped whose campers and counselors fight back against a zombie horde.

Katz, whose credits include X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Freddy vs. Jason, Snakes on a Plane and the DC Comics series Booster Gold, formed American Original earlier this year to develop content across multiple platforms.

American Original will produce the films in the agreement, with Titmouse president and co-founder Chris Prynoski serving as executive producer.

“I'm a longtime fan of alternative animation and am honored to be working with Titmouse, who are really in a class by themselves in this field,” says Katz. “I greatly look forward to working with Chris Prynoski, Keith Fay and company to make some eclectic, commercial and - most of all - original material.”

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Dead Space Features Targets Caruso

EA’s Dead Space is most recent video game to score a deal for a motion picture.

The sci-fi and horror project has D.J. Caruso of Eagle Eye attached to direct. The game recently spawned a direct-to-DVD anime-style feature titled Dead Space: Downfall.

Caruso and EA, which is producing the movie with Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey of Temple Hill, are listening to pitches from screenwriters and plan to take the project out to the studios once they find a take they like, reports Variety.

The game is set in deep space during the 26th century, following an engineer who must fight off corpses reanimated by an alien virus.

The game launched last year and EA is working on making it a trilogy.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Why is Foghorn Leghorn Racist?

How did we ever manage to answer these burning animation history questions before the existence of Yahoo! Answers?

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Composer John Ottman keyed in for "Astro Boy" film

Imagi Studios has signed composer John Ottman and sound designer Richard Anderson for the studio's animated feature film Astro Boy scheduled for domestic release via Summit Entertainment on October 23.

The announcement was made Thursday by Astro Boy producer Maryann Garger.

This will be Ottman's debut working on an animated film. He has received numerous awards throughout his career, including a BAFTA Award for The Usual Suspects. Most recently, he received a Saturn Award for his work on Superman Returns.

Ottman's credits include a variety of motion picture and television projects, including Valkyrie and films in the Superman Returns, X-Men and Fantastic Four comics-genre franchises.

Anderson's work has been nominated for two Oscars, including winning a Special Achievement Award for his work on Raiders of the Lost Ark. Anderson has worked on numerous blockbusters, including Shrek the Third, The Lion King, Star Trek and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

His other animation credits as a supervising sound or sound effects editor include The Nightmare Before Christmas, Anastasia, Antz, Brother Bear, Shark Tale, Madagascar, The Madagascar Penguins in a Christmas Caper, Over the Hedge, Flushed AItalicway and Shrek the Halls.

Imagi Studios is currently in post-production on Astro Boy, produced by Garger and directed by David Bowers (Flushed Away). Set in the future, the CG-animated feature film is about a young robot with incredible powers and is based on the iconic character which has enjoyed great acclaim and success around the world for over 50 years.

Astro Boy features the voices of Freddie Highmore, Kristen Bell, Samuel L. Jackson, Nathan Lane, Eugene Levy, Matt Lucas, Bill Nighy, Donald Sutherland and Nicolas Cage as "Dr. Tenma." Summit Entertainment will distribute Astro Boy worldwide except for Imagi's reserved territories of Japan, Hong Kong and China.

Fantastic Mr. Fox Trailer

Trailer is out today for Wes Anderson’s first animated feature Fantastic Mr. Fox. Maybe it’s just me, but the dialogue delivery sounds stilted and leadfooted throughout the trailer. On the other hand, the production design looks fantastic indeed. Like Coraline, we’re seeing another stop-motion feature that is pushing the boundaries of mainstream feature animation design and searching for an original look. That’s never a bad thing.

(Thanks cartoon brew)

New Disney Strike footage

The folks at the John Basmajian Collection have just unearthed - and posted - a reel of rare 8mm film footage of the infamous 1941 Disney animators strike. This is new stuff and incredibly rare. They even did a nice job of adding sound effects to bring it to life. Tom Sito points out, when watching the footage, to look for these highlights:

• The first man shown speaking on a microphone is Animator Art Babbitt.

•We see a shot of Walt Disney standing in the guard shack, hat on head and white shirt open at the neck, watching the strikers outside his gate.

• The second closeup of a man using a microphone is actor John Garfield, a matinee idol of the 1940s.

• The next shot is Walt Disney going through the picketline in his fashionable Packard.

• The next person driving his car through the disapproving pickets is director Ham Luske.

• The group carrying the Guillotine is the Warner Bros unit, led by picket captain Chuck Jones- the young man to the left in the black shirt. The effigy in the Guillotine was supposed to be of Disney’s attorney Gunther Lessing.

The footage is posted here.

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Florida Linkorama

No, these are not Ub Iwerks' old roughs.

A monster thunderstorm rattled and boomed through Diz World a little while ago; a good time to huddle in the hotel room and throw a festival of links.

Chris Meladandri, late of Fox-Blue Sky Animation, is teeing up a second animated feature for Universal (Despicable Me being the first):

“Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax” will be co-directed by Chris Renaud and Cinco Paul & Ken Daurio, with Paul & Daurio writing the script

A breathless article about the 3-D version of the Mouse's oncoming Beauty and the Beast reveals the secrets! ...

Creating a Disney Digital 3-D version of "Beauty and the Beast," ... will be handled entirely in-house at Walt Disney Animation Studios, and will utilize innovative proprietary software, along with the latest techniques and advances in 3-D technology.Overseeing the project from the creative end will be the film's original team of acclaimed filmmakers

Kind of true. Except that the work has been ongoing for the better part of a year. The 3-D (what I've seen of it) looks pretty good.

And DreamWorks Animation is still ... according to the New York Times ... is still puzzling out the reasons for Monsters Vs. Aliens foreign underperformance. (But didn't we answer this question already?):

(And it didn't stop the company from doing pretty well on Wall Street ...)

... Mr. Katzenberg had hoped the movie would spawn the company’s fourth franchise behind “Shrek,” “Madagascar” and “Kung-Fu Panda.” But the movie’s soft performance in certain overseas markets (like Germany and France) has given the studio pause. Some international markets were “very big misses for the film and we don’t fully understand why,” he said. Will there be a sequel? “We don’t have all the information in hand to come to that decision,” he said ...

Science Magazine profiles a French exhibit on the prehistory of cartoons ... back around half a kazillion years ago:

... [A] special exhibit in the south of France claims that the origins of the cartoon can be traced back much further, to the earliest known cave art more than 30,000 years ago. The exhibit, at the prehistory center of the Pech-Merle Cave in the Lot Valley, is titled “Préhistoire de la Bande Dessinée et du Dessin Animé” ("Prehistory of the Cartoon Strip and the Motion Picture Cartoon"). It was mounted by prehistorian and filmmaker Marc Azéma of the University of Toulouse in France. Azéma argues in nearly 30 beautifully illustrated panels that early cave artists used some of the same animation techniques that cartoonists use today ...

(Truth to tell, this was touched on in an old Disneyland episode from the 1950s.)

Variety projects that Up will soon be going like gangbusters in foreign lands:

Two months after its domestic launch, Disney's finally launching "Up" in several major overseas markets this weekend including France, South Korea, Spain and Taiwan with an additional 1,200 locations. Demand's likely to be particularly strong in France, where the Pixar toon received an enthusiastic response at Cannes ...

Lastly, top-drawer story artist Ed Gombert blogs about top-drawer story artist Vance Gerry. Ed has already had everybody and his brother link to his tribute, so I'm being redundant here, but since I worked with Vance and knew him to be one of the world's great human beings, I also link up. (Call me a sheep, I don't care.)

Mr. Gerry (on right) with unidentified geek -- circa 1982.

Have yourself a weekend you can be proud of.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Make Contact With Clausen’s Alien

Danish director Henrik Bjerregaard Clausen borrows a famous space alien for a few shots in his 2008 CG short, simply titled [ALIEN] - but the concept is 100% original. Modelling and animation were handled by Søren Andersen and Michael la-Cour.

Pardee Prepares an Unreal Chadam

As I watched this new trailer for Alex Pardee’s upcoming, short-form, animated series Chadam, I thought to myself, “this looks a bit like a video game.” Now I know why - it was created with Unreal Engine 3, a game engine. The series was produced by HDFilms for distribution by Warner Bros. 2.0.

Quantum Quest Details Revealed

Although some of the more over-hyped animated features and vfx projects were hogging the spotlight at Comic-Con last week, a smaller indie 3-D, CG-animated large-format feature also revealed some interesting details during an entertaining panel. The underdog feature was Quantum Quest, an action-adventure film which uses actual space imagery from seven ongoing NASA and NASA/ESA space missions to tell its sci-fi/fantasy story.

Directed by Dan St. Pierre and Dr. Harry Kloor and written and conceived by Kloor, the feature also has the distinction of featuring the two actors who’ve played Captain Kirk in Star Trek—William Shatner and Chris Pine—as well as the two Darth Vader’s (James Earl Jones and Hayden Christianson) from the Star Wars Saga on the voice cast list! The top-notch cast also includes Tom Kenny, Doug Jones, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Picardo, Sandra Oh, Jason Alexander, Brent Spiner, Neil Armstrong, Abigail Breslin, Garay Graham and Janina Gavankar.

Quantum Quest is described as a “simulated solar safari,” a sci-fi action film which offers a scientifically accurate rendering of the solar system in 3-D stereoscopic. The project blends computer animation with the images captured during recent NASA space explorations including the international Cassini Huygens mission. Slated to debut in February 2010, the feature is animated by Taiwan’s Digimax and produced by Kloor's Jupiter 9 Productions. NASA's JPL has cooperated with the producers to ensure the scientific accuracy of the physics concepts, the correct engineering depiction of the Cassini spacecarft and Huygens probe, and the representation of NASA images.

The central character Dave (Chris Pine), is a photon who lives in the sun and is drawn into a galactic battle between The Core (William Shatner, the embodiment of the Sun, representing life and knowledge) and The Voice (Mark Hamill, the embodiment of Nothingness, who wishes for total destruction of the universe).

During the Comic-Con panel, Kloor and actors Doug Jones, Robert Picardo, Janina Gavankar and the film's composer Shawn Clement (Open Season, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) talked about the project, showed a clip from the movie and offered a pre-taped interview with Armstrong. The crowd went absolutely wild when Chris Pine called the director’s iPhone to greet the fans. He talked about the joys of doing voice-over work for an animated feature and the importance of introducing young audiences to science in an entertaining way.

Kloor, who began on the project about 12 years ago, said that he had actually come up with the idea that photos “surf” the solar winds two years before NASA proved it as a scientific fact. “Our purpose was to advance science and space literacy in a way that would appeal to kids and adults who have little interest in such subjects.” Kloor’’s previous sci-fi writing credits include Star Trek: Voyager and Earth: Final Conflict.

For more info, visit

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Nickelodeon To Unveil New Logo in Fall

Children’s network Nickelodeon has announced it will celebrate its 30th anniversary and fall rebranding of its networks with a new logo.

The current orange splatter logo, which the company has used since 1984, will be replaced with a new visual identity that will connect all the company’s networks, according to Variety.

The rebranding of the Nickelodeon family of channels includes changing in September its Noggin channel to Nick Jr. and The N to TeenNick in order to get the word “Nick” in the name of each channel.

Each channel — including NickToons and Nick at Nite — will be connected by the new branding, according to execs at the company.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Glenn Martin DDS To Premiere Aug. 17 on Nick

Glenn Martin DDS —the first TV series from former Disney chief Michael Eisner’s new Tornante Animation company –will premiere Aug. 17 at 8 p.m. on Nick at Nite.

The stop-motion animated comedy about a dentist and his family who ditch life in the suburbs to live life on the road will follow up its premiere with new episodes airing Aug. 18-20 at 8 p.m. It will move into its regular time slot of Mondays at 8 p.m. starting Aug. 24.

In the premiere episode, titled “Amish Anguish,” Glenn decides to stop for a few days in an Amish village after his family is too absorbed in their cell phones and iPods to appreciate Niagara Falls. His plan backfires when the family enjoys life in the village more than Glenn does.

More information is available on the show prior to its launch at the series website,

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Venice to Screen 3-D Toy Story, Rintaro’s Penguin

Attendees at the 66th annual Venice Film Festival will get the first chance to see the 3-D versions of Toy Story and Toy Story 2.

The Pixar films, due for general release from Disney as a double feature in October, will be screened as part of a lifetime achievement honor the festival is bestowing on John Lasseter and the Disney/Pixar directors.

Lasseter, currently chief creative officer of both Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, directed the first Toy Story and co-directed the second. Toy Story, released in 1995, was the first feature-length CG-animated feature and Pixar’s motion-picture debut.

The festival also will screen out of competition the new 3D anime feature film from Japanese director Rintaro, titled Yona Yona Penguin.Produced by Japanese anime studio Madhouse and French company Denis Friedman Productions, Yona Yona Penguin is billed as Madhouse's first CG-animated anime film. The bulk of the actual 3D animation is done by the French animation studio Def2shoot, the Thai studio Imagimax, and the Japanese studio Dynamo Pictures, with Madhouse providing direction and storyboards.

Yona Yona Penguin

The film's storyline revolves around a brave little girl who gets sucked into a fantasy world populated by goblins who believe that their savior will be a penguin.

The Venice Film Festival which announced its lineup today, is one of the most prestigious in the world and will run its 66th edition from Sept. 2-12.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Autodesk Plans Full Slate of SIGGRAPH Events

Autodesk will be demonstrating its latest creative technologies via a number of live events at the SIGGRAPH 2009 conference, set for Aug. 3-7 in New Orleans.

Among the company’s planned events:

1. Computer Animation Festival: Urban Planning Talks is a daylong event Aug. 4 featuring four presentations from urban planning professionals. More info can be found at

2. "Fun with Maya" Tech Talk, an exploration of some of the more surprising behaviors of the industry standard animation software. The panel, set for Aug. 5, will be hosted by one of Maya’s creators, Oscar-winning scientist Duncan Brinsmead.

3. Project Showcase, a series of daily presentations at the Autodesk booth highlighting the use of the company’s tools in such projects as Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, 9, Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning, and various commertials. More info can be found at

4. Autodesk also is supporting several SIGGRAPH events, including FJORG!, GameJam!, The Studio activities and the SIGGRAPH Student Volunteer session.

5. Autodesk Professional Excellence Program: Instructor Training and Certification Workshop will be held in advance of the conference, from July 31-Aug. 2. It is a three-day workshop to train and certify candidates seeking Autodesk Certified Evaluator and Autodesk Certified Instructor status for Autodesk Maya, Autodesk 3ds Max and Autodesk Softimage software.

6. Autodesk MasterClasses also will be held online, offering tips and tricks for using the software. For more information, go to

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

WALL-E cited as laid-off Pixar janitors protest

A group of laid-off janitors and their supporters adopted the title robot from WALL-E as their poster child as they protested Thursday in front of Pixar Animation Studios headquarters in Emeryville, California.

In January, nine out of a staff of 21 janitors were let go when Pixar entered into a contract with a new janitorial firm, Preferred Building Services Inc., which has offices in San Francisco.

"As soon as they switched, they laid off the workers, took away health care benefits for the remaining ones, and left them making $9.25 an hour," said Sylvia Ruiz, political director for Service Employees International Union-United Service Workers West, which represents the janitors. "It's pretty ironic that WALL-E was a janitor, and they can profit by a cartoon janitor, but they can treat human janitors like trash."

For months, said union officials, SEIU has sent petitions and launched letter-writing campaigns to Pixar, demanding that the studio work with the union and rehire the laid-off employees.

Pixar said that it declined to comment, as the dispute is between the other two parties. Calls to Preferred Building Services from area news media were not returned Thursday.

MoMA unveils 'Tim Burton' exhibit plans, and Burton is there

Ron Magliozzi, the MoMA film department curator (left), with director Tim Burton at MoMA

It's been said that Tim Burton's films—OK, maybe not Planet of the Apes—are like pieces of art, and Burton is also known for his colorful doodles, so it's perfectly appropriate that he'll be celebrated with an upcoming exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Set to run from Nov. 22 through April 26, 2010, "Tim Burton" will span the filmmaker's life, from his youth in Burbank, Calif., to his early work at Disney to the upcoming feature film Alice in Wonderland. Attendees can expect to see 700-plus pieces on display, including maquettes, storyboards, previously unseen drawings, scripts, costumes and puppets, as well as retrospective screenings of Burton's shorts and films and also showings of films that inspired Burton. The exhibition is sponsored by Syfy.

Burton—clearly humbled and jazzed—attended a press briefing yesterday at MoMA. Those on hand watched a slideshow of pieces to be included in the exhibit and clips from several films, among them Mars Attacks!; Doctor of Doom, a 1980 black-and-white short starring, written and directed by Burton; and Hansel and Gretel, the filmmaker's long-lost live-action adaptation of the Grimm story, which originally aired as a Disney Channel special.

"Dating back now, really, to the beginnings of the museum, to 1929, when we opened 'Georges Melies: A Film Pioneer,' MoMA has had distinguished gallery installations on the art and artists of the cinema," Glenn Lowry, director of MoMA, said during his opening remarks. "In the years following our first retrospective of a filmmaker, the museum has been the site of over 80 exhibitions of works of film studios and filmmakers, such as D.W. Griffith, Alfred Hitchcock, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Roberto Rossellini, Ernie Gehr, John and Faith Hubley and David O. Zelznick, among many others.

Alice in Wonderland

"And with 'Tim Burton,' we put on our largest-yet, most comprehensive monographic show to date on a filmmaker who has distinguished himself internationally as among the foremost auteur voices of his time," Lowry continued, adding: "The gallery exhibition will provide access to personal, virtually unknown work that Burton has kept to himself until now. We are extremely fortunate that in addition to being a director, producer, artist, photographer, author, collector and pop-culture enthusiast, Tim Burton is also a remarkable archivist and has held onto virtually everything from his career. We are honored to be the first institution to introduce the majority of these works to the public."

Following his remarks, Lowry introduced Ron Magliozzi, the MoMA film department curator who led the team that worked with Burton on the exhibition. Lowry introduced the clips from Doctor of Doom and Hansel and Gretel, and then introduced Burton, who spoke briefly before answering questions from the audience.

"It's hard to imagine that on the Disney Channel," Burton joked of Hansel and Gretel upon stepping up to the microphone. "I think they showed it once at 3 a.m. on Halloween night. I just want to say thank you and thank Ron and everybody here for making it such an amazing experience for me. It's such a surreal thing to me. A lot of this stuff was just for projects and [part of] the thought process. I hadn't really gone back and looked at all this stuff [until] Ron came, so it was a really interesting thing for me to go back. I thought I'd left certain images [behind] a long time ago, but then you realize that you're still obsessed by certain things. It's just been a real re-energizing thing for me and I'm very honored and appreciative to have this ... whatever you want to call it. Thank you."

During the Q&A, Burton noted that he could see bits of Sweeney Todd in Doctor of Doom and nuggets of Batman imagery in Hansel and Gretel. Sharing one particularly amusing anecdote, he joked that he wasn't exactly immersed in a museum culture as a kid, that his first museum experience was the Hollywood Wax Museum and that he "probably got more out of The Beverly Hillbillies than Monet."

Jon Favreau Wants To Go 3-D For 'Iron Man 3' Or 'The Avengers'

At the recently concluded Comic-Con, there seemed to be one number and one letter on everyone's lips: 3-D. Directors like Tim Burton and Robert Zemeckis unveiled new footage flaunting it, James Cameron and Peter Jackson held panels praising it, and Hall H was equipped to show it for the first time. Now, filmmaker Jon Favreau is eager to bring it into his hugely successful "Iron Man" series.

"I really love the 3-D," the "Iron Man 2" director told us at Comic-Con, echoing the recent sentiments of Marvel Studios honcho Kevin Feige. "I think 'Up' was probably my favorite movie I've seen this year."

As fans of the franchise know, Marvel has plans to make at least one more "Iron Man" film, as well as an "Avengers" flick in 2012 that will feature Tony Stark. If Favreau has his way, he'd like at least one of those films to be three-dimensional.

Jon Favreau Exploring IMAX for 'Iron Man 2'

Jon Favreau wants to make either “Iron Man 3” and/or “The Avengers” in 3D. What could be cooler than that? What could be even bigger than the notion of seeing Tony Stark and his supersuit flying off the screen, launching repulsor beams at your face?

Well, nothing’s bigger than IMAX, right?

“IMAX is also very compelling,” Favreau revealed to us over the weekend at Comic-Con, saying there’s a good chance that “Iron Man 2” will be released on IMAX screens much like “The Dark Knight” before it. “[I like the idea of] either shooting in the IMAX format, or blowing it up to IMAX.

As Favreau explained it, James Cameron himself met up with the actor-turned-filmmaker months ago and dazzled him with advance footage of “Avatar.” He was so impressed, in fact, that Favreau went back to Marvel and attempted to talk them into letting him shoot “Iron Man 2” in 3D. Obviously, those plans never panned out, and Favreau wasn’t able to shoot the “Iron Man” sequel with IMAX cameras, either.

Nevertheless, he’s making plans to blow-up some (if not all) of “Iron Man 2,” and release it on IMAX screens.

“Both of those are looking really good right now,” he said of IMAX and 3D. “And we’re looking into doing an IMAX release as well.”

The move would make sense for the “Iron Man” sequel, which will undoubtedly be an event flick as huge as “Dark Knight,” “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” and other films like them which have had lucrative IMAX releases. The movie is due in theaters May 7, 2010, which gives Favreau and friends plenty of time to adapt “Iron Man 2” for the bigger screens. Stay tuned, as we’ll have further details on both the IMAX and the 3D details, as the future of Iron Man becomes bigger, better, and more dimensional.

Producers tease Smallville season nine

Way back in 2001, when the creators of The CW's Smallville, Al Gough and Miles Millar, first introduced their take on Clark Kent's origin story before he turned into Superman, the pair laid out a very stringent mandate—"no tights, no flights." They held fast to that edict until they left the show in 2008, and now, two seasons later, there's going to be a bit of a crack in that hard-and-fast rule. (Major spoilers ahead!)

Yes, Clark Kent (Tom Welling) is finally donning a super suit, though it's not the iconic yellow, blue and red suit the world has come to recognize. Rather, it will be more of a snazzy black and silver number. But according to season nine show runners Kelly Souders and Brian Peterson, it's a step closer.

Promoting the upcoming season at San Diego Comic-Con last week, the pair told a small group of reporters, including SCI FI Wire, that the time was right to see Clark slowly inch closer toward his superhero identity this year.

"He isn't a guy who is going to put the tights and the boots on yet," Souders said. "He hasn't gone as far as Green Arrow or Black Canary. He's still on his path to becoming that man. But he is definitely recognizing that there is a second identity for him. As much as he knows what Clark Kent looks like, he needs to figure out what the Superman part looks like. So it might not be the costume everybody is used to seeing, but it is one step closer to that."

The suit represents just one part of Clark's acceptance of his otherworldly origins this year. "Up until now Clark has seen himself as human, and he's seen his Kryptonian identity as something to hide," this year. Peterson said. "This year he's embracing his Kryptonian identity and seeing himself solely as a hero, almost to the detriment of living as a human. It's really the pendulum swinging a little too far in the other direction as he finds his ground and balance between the two identities. He's really going to be pulled back into being Clark Kent by the realization that he loves Lois Lane. It's the crux of the year, his burgeoning love for Lois and the love triangle of Clark loves Lois, but Lois loves Superman."

There's also the Zod factor, with the full-on integration of the Kryptonian villain into the seasonal arc. Played by actor Callum Blue, "Zod brings a new dynamic into the show, because we are introducing him as Major Zod before he ever turns into General Zod," Peterson said. "We get to see his trajectory. We have never had a Kryptonian living on Earth with Clark for an entire season, and we'll see how that affects his journey."

Yet they are quick to point out that this Major Zod will not be the authoritative and dominant character that actor Terence Stamp played in two Superman films. Blue's Zod will be less in command and more uncertain about his purpose on Earth. "There is a reason he doesn't know much, and when people tune in to the first episode, they will be surprised at the situation that he finds himself in," Souders hinted. "So along with the fans, he will be unraveling what the overarching mystery is."

Could that mystery involve Clark's dad, and Zod's archenemy, Jor-El?

The producers just smiled at that query. "Without trying to do too much time-jumping and alternate universes [in the first six episodes], we are going to try and explore the relationship between Zod and Clark, and what if that were different, and what if Zod and Jor-El had been different in the past," Peterson said. "And the great thing is that we do have Terence Stamp back as the voice of Jor-El."

When asked if perhaps Jor-El could also make a visit in the flesh this season, their smiles only got broader. "You might have to just tune in for that one," Souder teased. Smallville returns to The CW on Sept. 25.

HBO announces early renewal of hit True Blood

True Blood season two returned less than a year after season one began and has only been airing for a little more than a month, but it's doing so well that HBO executives announced today that they have already picked up season three and that the plan is to return again in June 2010.

"I think one of the reasons we brought it back as soon as we did is we always felt it felt like a summer show," said Michael Lombardo, president, programming group and west coast operations, in a press conference today in Pasadena, Calif., at the Television Critics Association summer press tour. "So the hope is to bring it back next summer."

The third-season pickup comes as a batch of renewals for HBO Sunday night, including the new series Hung and the showbiz comedy Entourage. "We have picked up all three shows that are on Sunday night," Lombardo said. "True Blood ... will be coming back next summer. We're very excited about it, so stay tuned for next June."

HBO co-president Richard Plepler added that high ratings gave them the confidence to renew the show again. "The size of these shows has really broken through into the popular culture in a way we haven't seen before," Plepler said.

The executives were cagier about specific details on upcoming episodes. As fans await Evan Rachel Wood's debut as the lesbian Vampire Queen of Louisiana, Lombardo only confirmed his own satisfaction with her footage.

"It totally delivers," Lombardo said.

As for the extent of Wood's involvement in the newly ordered third season, Lombardo honestly could not specify. "We actually haven't sat down with [series creator] Alan [Ball] and heard his plans for season three yet," Lombardo said. "I'm sure we're going to be surprised and excited about it."

Plepler felt confident that series creator Ball would reveal more new casting surprises when he begins constructing season three. "Knowing Alan, probably yeah," Plepler said.

True Blood airs Sunday nights at 9 p.m. on HBO.

Check out Alice's 'Tea Room' at Comic-Con

Disney turned a warehouse into a "Tea Party" at this year's Comic-Con in San Diego, where people could see some of the props, costumes and sets used in Tim Burton's upcoming 3-D Alice in Wonderland film, and we have a bunch of images from that exhibit, after the jump.

Among the images: The Mad Hatter's (Johnny Depp) Tea Party, the Hatter's hat, costumes for the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter), White Queen (Anne Hathaway), the throne room for the Red Queen.

Alice in Wonderland opens March 5, 2010. Click on the images to enlarge. (All photos by Enzo Giobbe).

Thursday, July 30, 2009

News - 07/30/09...

Planet Hulk...Ka-BooM!

Have you been wondering where that animated 'Planet Hulk' movie is? It's coming out next February. Here's the first trailer...

DreamWorks’ Numbers Slips 7% in 2Q Report

DreamWorks Animation beat analysts’ expectations with a 7% drop in revenues and profits for the second quarter.

Those results — revenues of $132 million and a profit of $27.5 million — do not reflect the box office success of the 3-D film Monsters vs. Aliens, which was released in late March. The film still generated about $10 million in revenue on a video game deal with Activision.

“Our solid second quarter results were driven primarily by the continued performance of our 2008 films, Kung Fu Panda and Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa,” said Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of the company, in a statement.

Monsters vs. Aliens has grossed just under $200 million at the domestic box office and more than $377 million worldwide. Katzenberg is expected to address what is seen as its underperformance internationally during a conference call next week.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Academy Remembers Animator Beckett

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will honor animator and visual effects artist Adam Beckett at a special program Aug. 17.

The program, titled Infinite Animation: The Work of Adam Beckett, will be presented at the Lindwood Dunn Theater in Hollywood and includes a screening of Life in the Atom, a film Beckett was working on at the time of his death at age 29.

Visual effects artist Richard Winn Taylor and Pamela Turner, Beckett’s biographer, will host the event. The program will include screenings of several of Beckett’s films and include a panel discussion with his friends and colleagues, including David Berry, Richard Edlund, Chris Cassady, Beth Block, Roberta Friedman and Pat O’Neill.

Beckett worked on both experimental art films, as well as commercial movies such as Star Wars, on which he was the head of the rotoscope and animation departments. He died in a fire in 1979.

Tickets cost $5 for the general public and $3 for Academy members or students with a valid ID. Tickets are available for purchase by mail, at the Academy box office, or online at All seating is unreserved.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Henson Gets Emmy Engineering Honor

The Jim Henson Co. will be honored at the Primetime Emmy Engineering Awards, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences announced.

The honor is in recognition of the Henson Digital Puppetry Studio animation system. The company will be receiving one of four engineering Emmys given out this year at a special ceremony on Aug. 22 at the Renaissance Hotel.

The academy also will bestow at the ceremony its Philo T. Farnsworth Award to NASA, in honor of the 40th anniversary of the first manned moon landing.

The other engineering Emmys are being given to the Fujinon Precision Focus Assist system, Litepanels LED lighting products and the Dolby DP600 Program Optimizer.

Receiving and engineering plaque is Grip Trix Electric Motorized Camera Dolly.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Pioneers ask SIGGRAPH Attendees to Make It Right

With SIGGRAPH set for next week in New Orleans, a group of computer graphics professionals is asking members of the creative community to donate to the Make It Right Foundation, which benefits survivors of Hurricane Katrina.

The SIGGRAPH Pioneers Group, which includes scientists, engineers, artists and industry professionals active in computer graphics, has adopted a house being built by the foundation and is seeking monetary donations of any amount to help out.

"We have had wonderful experiences in New Orleans for the SIGGRAPH conference,” said Kathleen Maher, VP, Jon Peddie Research and a member of the SIGGRAPH Graphics Pioneers. “However, the devastation Katrina left in its wake is unfathomable, and unless you’ve seen it firsthand, it’s really hard to imagine. The SIGGRAPH Pioneers encourage the graphics community to band together and help support the victims of Hurricane Katrina by helping New Orleans return to its former glory.”

Make It Right is a collaboration between actor Brad Pitt, Graft Architects, Cherokee Gives Back and William McDonough + Partners to build 150 energy efficient and storm resistant homes in the lower ninth ward of New Orleans.

Progress on the group’s adopted house — which can be seen at — will be announced at the show.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Hayao Miyazaki/John Lasseter Press Conference

I had an opportunity to join selected journalists at a Hayao Miyazaki-John Lasseter press conference held yesterday (7/28) before their appearence at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences last night. I also shot some video (sorry for the shakey hand held camera work, and the low audio) and thought it was worth sharing with our readers. In this first part below Miyazaki talks about using (or not using) CG and his chances of making a film in 3-D. Lasseter discusses the process of dubbing a Miyazaki’s films. Interesting to note they’ve already dubbed Tales From Earthsea.

In the second part, Lasseter discusses 3-D animated films; Miyazaki talks about what’s happening with his son:

In the third part, John Lasseter discusses his admiration of Miyazaki’s films, his reaction to the first one he saw, Castle of Cagliostro, Miyazaki’s influence in Pixar films, and why he wants to bring Miyazaki’s films to the US:

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Vance Gerry Tribute Blog

Story artist Ed Gombert has started a blog dedicated to the work of Disney storyman Vance Gerry, who passed away in 2005. Gombert writes on the blog, “Fortunately, the geek in me started making copies of his work and instead of sitting in a folder in my personal archive I want to share these drawings with as many people as possible. If you look long enough at these drawings and paintings you will be able to see the kind, funny, humble and generous man that was Vance Gerry.”

The Gerry blog joins a growing number of blogs, sites and Facebook pages dedicated to individual artists from animation’s Golden Age, including:

Abe Levitow
Homer Jonas
Chuck Jones
Irv Spector
Ward Kimball
Claude Coats
Jack Bradbury

(Thanks, Mark Kennedy)

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Happy Birthday, Bud Luckey!

As a change of pace, here’s some happy news about a veteran animation artist: today is Bud Luckey’s 75th birthday. Luckey’s career stretches from Quartet and Format Films in the 1950s to design and story work on most of the Pixar features and the short Boundin’, which he directed. And, of course, he will always be fondly remembered for the many catchy Sesame Street segments he wrote, performed and animated, like “The Ladybugs’ Picnic,” “The Alligator King,” “The Old Woman Who Lived in a Nine,” and this one:

UPDATE: Animation artist Phil Rynda wrote a post about Bud Luckey’s influence on him and drew this birthday tribute with Luckey’s character, Donny Budd. Awesome!

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Spang Ho!

Welcome to Cartoon Brew - where rejected pilots from Cartoon Network come to play. Here’s another one:

Here is what the creator, Lincoln Peirce, had to say about it:

Spang Ho is the latest of several pilots of mine Cartoon Network has rejected over the years. No, it wasn’t for Cartoonstitute; that program hadn’t officially been launched when CN bought Spang Ho. Frankly, I’m not sure exactly why they bought it, since nobody there seemed too sanguine about its prospects as a CN series. There was a lot of turmoil g on in the CN programming and development depts at the time (as there continues to be), and CN actually fired Spang Ho’s in-house producer when we were about halfway done without telling us. (When I say “us” I’m referring to myself, my director Rich Ferguson-Hull, and the crew of Global Mechanic, the house that did the animation.) But they allowed us to finish it, and then they focus-grouped it. The kids were only luke-warm about it, and that was the end of that. It was likely my last TV writing stint for awhile, since I’m working on some kids books for Harper Collins right now featuring my comic strip character, Big Nate.”

(Thanks, Joshua Bailey)

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Mary Blair Exhibit at Tokyo’s Museum of Contemporary Art

“The Colors of Mary Blair” is a major new exhibit of Mary Blair’s artwork that has opened at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo, Japan. Over five hundred pieces of original artwork are on display, including her animation work, book illustrations, package designs, watercolors, and personal artwork. The show’s website is in Japanese, but there is an English section with basic address and admission details. These photos on Flickr (HERE and HERE) give a sense of the exhibit’s scale, and this image shows that the exhibition is accompanied by merchandise and a catalog. The show runs through October 4.

(via Disney History)

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Born Under Fire, Documentary about War in Colombia

Powerful trailer for Born Under Fire, a documentary about the on-going war conflict in Colombia that uses voices from children who have witnessed the events and incorporates their drawings into the film. It is directed by Jairo Eduardo Carrillo with animation produced by Oscar Andrade at his studio Jaguar Digital. It was originally a short, Pequeñas Voces, that has been reworked into a full-length film. Visit the website

(Thanks, Carlo Guillot)

(Thanks cartoon brew)

San Diego Comic-Con 2009:"Green Lantern: First Flight" Roundtable Interviews

Following the sneak preview of Green Lantern: First Flight on Thursday at Comic-Con, the following day, members of the press were given access to select members of the cast and crew in attendance at the convention including the movie's director Lauren Montgomery, voice over director Andrea Romano, voice actress , and producer Bruce Timm. Please note that not all the questions asked on these sessions are ours. The Toon Zone questions will be marked by TOON ZONE or TZ. Also be forewarned, that some of the questions in these questions go at length into discussion on events that occur in the animated movie, so please note the spoiler warning.

Click on any image to enlarge.

Lauren Montgomery (Director)

Director Lauren Montgomery previously directed episodes of the TV series, Legion of Super Heroes, after starting as a storyboard artist for such shows as Justice League and Ben 10. Lauren then went on to direct the animated features Superman/Doomsday and Wonder Woman before Green Lantern: First Flight.

Toon Zone: So how did you get the job?

Lauren Montgomery
: I just finished Wonder Woman and Green Lantern was coming up and I was there. It was pretty much the rule. "You want Green Lantern?" And I said OK. And that was pretty much how it happened. Nothing fancy.

TZ: Were you a fan of Green Lantern before the movie or was it more daunting to take this project on?

I do a fair amount because I worked on Justice League. I was more familiar with the John Stewart Green Lantern, so I had to get a little bit familiar with the Hal Jordan version but I knew the general what makes Green Lantern, Green Lantern. So it wasn't a complete "Oh my God, what does this hero do?" I was familiar.

TZ: The Green Lantern comic is better than ever. Why do you think this character is pretty much everywhere?

I don't know why but I think it’s about time because I definitely see his appeal to people, just because he is an every man but he gains these powers and he's in space. There's not a whole lot of super heroes out in space, policing space. And there's a lot of different territories you can explore with him. He goes to all these different planets. So I'm so glad he's just finally getting his time in the spotlight because I guess he's never really been as popular as Superman and Batman who already are everywhere. I'm hoping he gets there because he's a really fun character and there's so much you can do with it.

What inspired you about Green Lantern?

Just the variety of what you can do with him and all the planets and the aliens and the vastness of the universe you can explore with him. That's what excites me. You can have a completely different adventure with him every time.

What were the things you took away from Wonder Woman that helped Green Lantern work?

Well, definitely one of the biggest differences is that they are so different as far as the movies themselves, like the settings and what they do. Wonder Woman was much more grounded in our movie. It all took place on Earth and had historic tools and all the things you've seen before aside from the Invisible Jet. But with Green Lantern we had to come up a completely new universe. Completely new alien characters, completely new alien environments. We couldn't draw anything from an existing reference. The biggest similarity is the humanity of the characters. It’s another story, you have to treat it the same way you treat every story and just approach it. But they are definitely two completely different stories.

TZ: I liked seeing new characters like Arisia who we hadn't seen animated before. Arisia herself is a character in the comics that is hot for Hal. Was there anything more you wanted to do with Arisia in the story you didn't get around to?

I have no idea. I know that in the script she was always a second-tier character and I think they even kind of boosted her role a little bit just because they needed to bring some extra characters for the purpose of Hal's character development. But, honestly after doing this experience I think she animated the best and so she's my favorite from all the characters. She just looked great through the whole movie. So I'm now a big fan of Arisia. And Ch'p too. Ch'p actually had his own action beat against the Yellow Lantern in the original storyboard, but he ended up getting taken out by the Yellow Lantern in a way that would've actually killed him. So we kind of had to for continuity take it out, so I was kind of sad to see him not get his action bit after all.

TZ: I would've been OK with seeing Ch'p get killed.

Awww. I thought he was cute.

TZ: You can bring in G'Nort instead. So for the DC animated movie model, is the door open to make sequels to some of these stories, or will they stay sort of self-contained stories for now?

You know, I think there is opportunity for them to continue. We have not yet seen a direct sequel to any of these, but I don't think anyone is going to completely throw that out the door. I'm certain that they will make more Green Lantern films. I guess by direct sequel I mean will they be using the same characters, same style, and I think there's opportunity for that. But I also think there's opportunity to make a Green Lantern film in a different style. So it can go both ways. I think there's opportunity for both. New takes on Green Lantern, and continuations on existing takes.

Who is your favorite character in this movie?

Just visually, Arisia, because she was cute. Substance wise? I just really like Sinestro. I think he was an awesome villain. He was a layered villain. You kind of saw that he thought he was being right. He actually thought he was doing right things, and that's what draws him to me even moreso than Ares, the villain in Wonder Woman. He's cool, but his controlling motivation is "I'm the God of War. I have to be." Sinestro, he had motivation, and that makes him a deeper character for me.

TZ: Victor Garber played him with such delicious calculated intent.

Yeah and he also made him sophisticated in a way. He wasn't just some little guy. He was intelligent and educated. And that makes him more dangerous to me.

How do you approach the alien characters since there were so little human characters in the movie?

The vast majority of it was all done by an artist named Jose Lopez. And he just has a crazy imagination. And a lot of those, he looked at the Green Lantern reference and tried to interpret as many Green Lanterns as he could, but anything else he just pulled it out of his head. Because God knows I wouldn't be able to design that many crazy aliens. I just don't have that imagination. But he does, and that's why its really good to have an artist like that working for you and making your universe so vast and different and give it another level of believability project.

TZ: Where was the main portion of the animation done for the movie?

It was done in Japan by TMS, who did the Batman Beyond: Return of The Joker movie. I think that was the last time Warner Bros. worked with them, so it had been like a big gap of working with Japan, and we decided to re-open the door with them and work with TMS again.

TZ: What is your next animated project?

I don't think we are allowed to say. I know that next is Public Enemies, but beyond that we aren't really allowed to talk about it.

Was there any good surprises with the actors where they brought something unexpected to the roles?

Well, the actors are always bring surprises because there are so many of them whether I am familiar with their work or not, I will go in expecting a regular line read, but they'll always give it something more and they'll always make the characters so much more impressive and so much deeper than I ever expect because I'm not an actor.

TZ: So from a lady's perspective, Hal Jordan: charming ladies man or chauvinist misogynist?

A little bit of both I guess. There's charm in his humor, but when the humor goes a little too far you just want to slap him.

Lauren Montgomery hopes to work on an animated Aquaman feature at some point.

Juliet Landau (Voice Actor - Labella)

You might previously remember Ms. Landau as Drusilla from Buffy: The Vampire Slayer and Angel. As a voice over actor, Landau has also put time in as Helen on Ben 10: Alien Force and Tala in Justice League. In Green Lantern: First Flight, Landau portrayed the sultry alien informant, Labella. Labella has only one sequence in the movie, but it’s definitely one of the most tense and memorable ones in the flick for sure.

Toon Zone: How did you get your role in the movie?

Juliet Landau:
Basically I worked with Bruce Timm and Andrea Romano a lot. I worked with them both on Justice League Unlimited and with Andrea on Ben 10: Alien Force, so they sent me the script and I loved the character immediately so I said, yeah I'm in . The script is written very beautifully, and the character is very colorful. Immediately, between the text and the drawing they sent, this voice sort of came to me and I said that's how she has to sound. And usually if I come up with a voice that's sort of bold and I have to come up with something that's not necessarily on the page, I come up with a back-up in case I go into session and they are like, "We don't want that." But I could not think of a second [voice], I was just like this is how she has to sound. So I went and figured if they didn't like it, I'll play in the moment and come up with something else, but they really liked it.

TZ: Is that orb like having too much of a good thing?

Yeah, exactly.

TZ: That was disturbing. It freaked me out.

It is. It’s disturbing, right? It's dark. It’s got an edge to it, which I thought was interesting.

When you are doing a scene like that, there's a lot of energy and the other actors are not recording anywhere near, right?

No, we did actually, but in this only some of the actors. We didn't have all of the actors, but some of the actors we were working with directly because it makes it so much easier because you are directly playing off of another actor. It depends. Also on Ben 10, we do do that, and it’s so fun because you basically sit in a semi-circle with actors and you play and bounce off each other, and its completely a sort of fluid, creative experience. But often you are in a booth by yourself and doing that as well.

What do you think when you finally sat down and watched this movie?

Its so fun to actually see the end product because you are in the process and you have a sort of vision of what you think its going to be and then you see your work and it coming together and being married. It’s actually a really fun thing to see in a really full blown way that you didn't anticipate.

TZ: Do you go to conventions or Comic Con a lot?

I've never been to Comic Con before. This is my first experience here. I'm loving it. I'm actually having a really good time, but its a little bit daunting in terms of the size. I mean its just so incredibly massive.

Were you into coBoldmics and super heroes before you started doing this work?

Not so much comics, which is weird because I just wrote two issues of the Angel comic book which continued the Angel and Buffy series in comic book form after they left the air. Basically they approached me, "Will you co-write two issues about your character?" And it’s been really fun and creative. And so when they asked me to do that, I had read all the Angel and Buffy comic books but I hadn't read that many other comic books prior. But I really got peaked by writing this. So now I'm interested in this whole thing.

TZ: Even though Labella was an alien, I dunno, I thought she had something going on. What did you think of Labella's look?

She had something . . . I thought it was great. It was funny because at the same time I was doing Ben 10, it’s a character that's actually an alien, lizard sort of looking character too. It was the same week I was recording that, and then I got this and I was like, what am I, getting typecast? And it didn't sound at all alike, but when you look at the drawings, I was like I'm Lizard Alien Woman. It was really funny. All I'm getting offered is lizard aliens. But they were really both incredible parts. I thought the look was great. It almost has an alien version, light Amy Winehouse kind of feel. It was really cool.

TZ: I thought Labella was hot.

Yeah, she's got a little seductiveness going on.

What do you think of the talk of Buffy becoming a movie again without Joss Whedon?

Its strange because Buffy is Joss in terms of, basically he did the whole series because he did the film and wasn't so happy with that and said I want to do with it what I really saw with my vision and his stamp is so completely him its hard to imagine it without him.

Bruce Timm (Producer)

Bruce Timm is a man that needs no introduction. After having wrapped the Justice League series, Timm moved onto spearheading the DC Animated direct to DVD productions and has had a hand in all of them thus far.

Toon Zone: I was asking Lauren Montgomery earlier, but I also wanted to ask you. Do you see this model of the DC animated movies having sequels or will they stay as one-off movies for now?

Bruce Timm:
Eventually. In fact, one of the scripts that we're working on right now is actually a sequel to one of our prior projects which I can't talk about.

Did the film live up to everything you wanted it to be?

They always fall a little bit short in my eyes. Like you never get exactly what you want because there's not enough time -- literally not enough time. If we had enough time we could make everything just right, but you know, so I mean yeah there's all minor stuff. But its all 90% there but I wanted it to be.

TZ: When did you decide you wanted everyone in the room to do the Green Lantern Oath at the sneak preview?

A couple days ago. We had four thousand people reciting the Green Lantern Oath last night, it was awesome.

Would you prefer to be doing these movies or a linear television series?

Its apples and oranges. When doing a TV series, you have a chance to kind of get better at the show as it moves along. With the characters you have more time to develop the relationships and what not and you can get into a groove where it gets comfortable and you get excited about taking the storyline some place else whereas these are all very compact, one story, you're done, move on to something else. Also each one of these has a unique look to it. So it’s not like you can re-use standing sets or characters. Its literally like every time you have to draw everything over from scratch. That's fun, but there's also sometimes not enough time to do that properly. So its apples and oranges. I enjoy doing both.

TZ: One of the subtle things I really liked about the character designs in the movie. I really liked the costumes; they looked more like armor than the typical spandex costumes. Was that an intentional art decision?

Right. That was definitely a deliberate decision. What we really wanted to do was embrace the sci-fi of it all. So starting with the Green Lanterns, we really wanted to make their uniforms look less like spandex and more like futuristic body armor -- and still skin tight, but we wanted to segment it a little bit to give it a little bit more pizzazz so it wasn't just tights because why would intergalactic space cops be wearing tights? And we did that all across the board. In the comics, the Guardians are basically short, little blue guys. And even Abin Sur is just a pink human with pointy ears. So we wanted to make sure all the aliens looked genuinely alien, and we wanted to embrace the whole science fiction aspect of it.

TZ: With Warner Bros. developing a live action feature for the movie, was there any internal pressure to hold back on this one?

No. We started this one probably a year and a half ago before the live action one. We knew the live action movie was in development but nowhere near being green lit yet. Of course we had to clear it with the feature people, is it cool just to go ahead and do this, not going to be stepping on your toes? They said no, it’s fine, we're not going to be doing it for a while. So its not a problem.

I just have one quick silly fanboy, obsessive question.

Maybe. You can ask it. I may not answer it.

Is the red warp that the Green Lanterns go through in the movie meant to be The Bleed?

Oh, no. I haven't thought of that because when we do a movie like this, literally we're trying to figure out the color designs; it can't be green because the Green Lanterns are green. It can't be yellow because we have the Yellow Element in it. So it leaves you with blue and red and purple. And you're like which one is going to look best? Red. That's all it was. But that's a pretty good question.

TZ: Would Hell have to freeze over before we see a Justice League vs. Avengers animated movie?

Probably. Probably.

And now that you've given Hal his moment, do you really now owe it to Guy Gardner too?

I don't owe Guy Gardner ****.

TZ: What about G'Nort?

I dunno. Maybe someday.

TZ: Is there any movement on the Teen Titans project right now?

No, not at the moment, but we hope someday.

Green Lantern: First Flight is now out on DVD and Blu-ray.

(Thanks Toon Zone)

What will Cars 2 do now that Paul Newman is gone?

Paul Newman voiced the wise old Doc Hudson

Cars was a modest hit by Pixar standards, topping out around $200 million instead of the more typical $300 million-plus, and critics and fans were lukewarm about it, but it was John Lasseter's baby, so he's doing another one. But with the recent passing of Paul Newman, the proposed Cars 2 faces a tough choice.

Newman provided the voice of Doc Hudson, the patriarch of all the cars in Radiator Springs. Lasseter is faced with the dilemma of repurposing earlier recordings of Newman to keep him in the sequel or just letting him go out of respect.

"We haven't really [addressed it yet]," Lasseter said in a group interview today in Beverly Hills, Calif., after a press conference for the upcoming animated release Ponyo. "We're still working on that."

Cars centers on hotshot racer Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson), who has detoured to the small town of Radiator Springs. He learns to take his time instead of racing to the finish line. For Cars 2, the whole Radiator Springs gang will hit the open road.

"It's Radiator Springs, and then the characters go to other places as well," Lasseter said.

Pixar rocked Comic-Con last weekend with the announcement that famous male doll Ken would join the cast of Toy Story 3. Lasseter, who directed the first two installments, sung Ken's praises.

"He makes it," Lasseter said. "He's fantastic, and Michael Keaton's doing the voice for him."

By part three of the successful family franchise, one would expect toy manufacturers would be lining up to license their characters for Toy Story adventures. With the promise of many more new characters to be announced, Lassster kept the focus on Ken for now.

"With Ken, we're really excited about that one," he said.

Toy Story 3 opens June 18, 2010. Cars 2 is scheduled for 2011.

Universal adapting The Lorax as a 3-D CG toon

Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment are joining forces to turn the Dr. Seuss book The Lorax into a 3-D CG-animated movie, Variety reported.

Here's the trade paper's report:

Dr. Seuss' The Lorax will be co-directed by Chris Renaud and Cinco Paul & Ken Daurio, with Paul & Daurio writing the script.

Though published in 1971, The Lorax has a timely "green" theme. It is narrated by a greedy entrepreneur who, despite warnings from the tree-loving Lorax, strips a forest of its stock of Truffula trees to manufacture clothing.

The results are catastrophic as all the animals leave and nothing's left.

The picture is targeted for a March 2, 2012, release, which falls on the birthday of Theodore Geisel, who died in 1991.

New Dr. Tran Episode - Fruit Hat

At Spike and Mike’s 2009 Comic-Con screening, the latest Dr. Tran episode premiered. Fruit Hat is a twisted, gum-filled installment that’s been in the works for nearly 2 years, and it now awaits your eye lookings. Dr. Tran is the creation of Breehn Burns and Jason Johnson, and along with a whole slew of other animators, Mark Salisbury helped bring this one home in time for the big San Diego premiere. Me and my pal John Evershed at Mondo Media also helped with this one. Want some backstory on the chicken and his gum fetish? Watch more Dr. Tran here, and then go buy stuff.

Hughes’ Backwards Love Story

Aaron Hughes, an adjunct professor at New York University and Pratt Institute, is going about his career all backwards. Well, at least for this film. Backwards is a new animated short produced by Lisa LaBracio and directed by Hughes that looks at a love story in reverse. And yes, there is a reveal at the very end, so watch it all the way through.

Charlotte From Princess and the Frog

A new clip from Walt Disney Animation Studios’ upcoming 2D feature The Princess and the Frog has emerged. This low-resolution, :40 second vignette gives us our first extended look at Charlotte, Tiana’s best friend (and eventual rival), who grows up to be a spoiled, southern debutante. Princess and the Frog will be in theaters December 11th.

World Leaders Snack on Cranberry Raisinets

To promote their new Cranberry Raisinets product, Nestlé teamed up with World Leaders Entertainment on a series of Flash-animated webisodes about this antioxidant-rich snack. The first episode, titled Talking ‘Bout Cranberry, sees the Original Raisinets questioning whether or not the Cranberry Raisnet really exists (hint: she does).

"Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs" in IMAX 3D

"Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs," an adaptation of the best-selling children's book written by Judi Barrett and illustrated by Ron Barrett, written for the screen and directed by Christopher Miller and Phil Lord, will be released to IMAX theatres simultaneously with the film's wide release September 18, Sony Pictures Animation and IMAX Corporation announced Wednesday.

The special IMAX 3D release will be digitally remastered from Sony Pictures Animation's Stereoscopic 3-D master into the state-of-the-art image and sound quality of The IMAX Experience with IMAX DMR (Digital Re-Mastering) technology. The film is produced by Pam Marsden.

"Cloudy with A Chance Of Meatballs is a fantastic animated motion picture that will play extraordinarily well in 2-D, but in IMAX 3D, audiences will practically be able to feel the food landing in their laps," said Rory Bruer, president of worldwide theatrical distribution for Sony Pictures Entertainment.

"Sony's new title is a great family story, and we believe the 3D storytelling will resonate with IMAX audiences worldwide," said IMAX CEO Richard L. Gelfond. "Our growing commercial theatre network will enable us to share this special title with more audiences worldwide, and we're pleased to partner with Sony to deliver a brilliant film in IMAX 3D."

"Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs is a great addition to our fall 2009 film slate," added Greg Foster, chairman and president of IMAX Filmed Entertainment. "This all-star cast of talent and animation artists combined with a wonderful story will transport moviegoers from their seats right into the fantasy world that is Swallow Falls."

Inspired by the beloved children's book, the film focuses on a town where food falls from the sky like rain.

Bill Hader, star of Saturday Night Live and Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, will voice Flint Lockwood, a young inventor who dreams of creating something that will improve everyone's life. Anna Faris, who recently turned heads as the star of the comedy hit The House Bunny, takes on the role of Sam Sparks, a weathergirl covering the phenomenon who hides her intelligence behind a perky exterior. James Caan plays Tim Lockwood, Flint's technophobic father.

Andy Samberg plays Brent, the town bully who has plagued Flint since childhood. Bruce Campbell plays Mayor Shelbourne, who figures out that Flint's invention can put the town, and more importantly himself, on the map and Mr. T plays by-the-rules town cop Earl Devereaux. The film also features the vocal talent of Neil Patrick Harris.

'Torchwood' Star John Barrowman Wants 'Captain America' Role

The leader of television's "Torchwood" team appears to have his eye on leading an entirely different set of heroic operatives: The Avengers.

At last weekend's Comic-Con International, "Torchwood" star John Barrowman attended a special panel for "Torchwood: Children of Earth," the recent third miniseries in the BBC franchise. Comics Alliance reports that during a Q&A with the audience, the onscreen Captain Jack told the audience that he'd like to play another popular Captain -- namely, Steve Rogers.

"You know what I want to play? Captain America," Barrowman proclaimed to the wildly receptive crowd, before adding that it "so won't happen."

Still, Barrowman's appeal has at least one supporter. An audience member later went to the microphone to tell the actor, "I think you're the only one who could play Captain America."

Comics Alliance notes that Barrowman's chances for the role of Rogers in "The First Avenger: Captain America" aren't terribly high, but I'm not as convinced. Sure, his odds are as good as anybody's right now, but the idea that a famous actor needs to fill these iconic roles -- Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man or Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, for instance -- has been effectively shot down with the casting of relative unknown Chris Hemsworth as Thor.

Barrowman certainly has the build, charisma and acting chops to play Captain America, and he's also got enough geek credibility to his name with starring roles on both "Torchwood" and "Doctor Who." It seems to me that Barrowman's appeal for Rogers isn't unlike the petitions for Nathan Fillion as Green Lantern. Even though that fan-favorite casting didn't work out, there is convincing video evidence that Fillion would've nailed the role.

Megan Fox Says 'Fathom' Script Drafted, Still Not A Fan Of Wonder Woman

During a recent press event for her upcoming horror film "Jennifer's Body," Megan Fox offered an update on the other comic book movie the "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" and "Jonah Hex" actress is attached to star in: an adaptation of Michael Turner's "Fathom" series.

"They just wrote the first draft of the script, and everybody's really happy with it," Fox told MTV News. "I haven't read it yet, but the studio's really happy with it and there's growing excitement around the project."

While Fox already made a case for her geek cred during Comic-Con, she admitted that there isn't any other comic book roles she's really looking to take on right now -- and that includes Wonder Woman, a character she famously shot down a while back.

"I feel like that's a hard adaptation to make into a live-action film," said Fox. "She flies around in an invisible jet and she has a lasso of truth... It's going to be a hard movie to make live action."

Wolfman delayed again; Universal announces dates

Universal Pictures announced it was pushing back The Wolfman again, to Feb. 12, 2010, part of several release dates announced on Tuesday.

The movie, a remake of the classic horror tale, has been pushed three times before, with Nov. 6 its most recent date.

Meanwhile, Universal announced an Oct. 23 release date for The Vampire's Assistant (previously called Cirque du Freak), a Nov. 6 release for the Milla Jovovich thriller The Fourth Kind and an April 16, 2010, date for MacGruber, based on the Saturday Night Live sketch.