Tuesday, July 7, 2009

News - 07/07/09...

Transformers 2 is No. 1, breaking holiday weekend tie

The big frakkin' robots appear to have won out over the woolly mammoths after all. Updated studio estimates released today show that Paramount's Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was No. 1 in the photo-finish race for box-office supremacy this weekend, topping the domestic pack with $42.4 million, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

We reported yesterday that Transformers and Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs were tied for the top spot when preliminary box-office estimates for the July 4 weekend were released.

But morning updates from various studios consistently showed Ice Age in second place with less than $42 million in Friday-Sunday box office. On Sunday, both Paramount and Fox estimated their pictures had taken in a chart-topping $42.5 million in box office over the three-day Fourth of July weekend. Final official data from Nielsen EDI will be released midday today.

Sunday estimates showed Transformers with a cumulative $293.5 million for its first 12 days in domestic release. The Ice Age three-quel boasted a $67.5 million since opening Wednesday.

Anime Expo Draws More Than 40,000

Anime Expo 2009 is reporting strong attendance at the four-day event, which wrapped up Sunday at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

More than 40,000 unique attendees reportedly have attended the annual event, with Saturday night’s Masquerade Main Event drawing a standing-room only crowd even with some 7,200 seats available.

Among the announcements that came out of the show, FUNimation announced the release in September of full-season DVD sets of Dragon Ball as well as the English-dub cast for the series Slayers Revolution.

The event also saw the announcement of the winners of the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation’s 2009 Industry Awards. The winners are:

• Best Voice Actor (Japanese): Kappei Yamaguchi, Death Note, “L”

• Best Voice Actor (English): Kyla Hebert, Gurren Lagann, “Kamina”

• Best Voice Actress (Japanese): Junko Takeuchi, Naruto, “Naruto Uzumaki”

• Best Voice Actress (English): Michelle Ruff, Bleach The Movie: Memories Of Nobody, “Rukia Kuchiki”

• Best Casting Director: Jaime Simone, Bleach

• Best Character Design: Masaru Kitao of Madhouse, Death Note

• Best Mechanical Design: Yoh Yoshirari, Gurren Lagann

• Best Male Character: “L,” Death Note

• Best Female Character: “Rukia Kuchiki,” Bleach The Movie: Memories Of Nobody

• Best Mascot Character: “Mokona,” xxxHOLiC

• Best Background Design: Minoru Nakamura of Studio Pierrot, Bleach

• Best Original Video Animation: Lucky Star OVA, Bandai Entertainment

• Best Feature Film: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Bandai Entertainment

• Best Television Series: Gurren Lagann, Bandai Entertainment

• Best Original Score: Death Note, Yoshihisa Hirano and Hideki Taniuchi

• Best Original Song: "Tonight, Tonight, Tonight," Bleach, Beat Crusaders, Aniplex Inc.

• Best Director (Japanese): Tetsuro Araki, Death Note

• Best Director (American): Karl Willems, Death Note

• Best Manga – Action: Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, Del Rey Manga, CLAMP

• Best Manga – Comedy: Fairy Tail, Del Rey Manga, Hiro Mashima

• Best Manga – Drama: Monster, VIZ Media, Naoki Urasawa

• Best Publication: Shonen Jump, VIZ Media

• Best Full Motion Video in Video Game: Final Fantasy IV, Square-Enix

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

WB Completes Midway Assets Purchase

Warner Bros. has completed its purchase of the assets of Midway Games, including the rights to such well-known gaming franchises as Mortal Kombat, Spy Hunter and Joust.

The studio picked up the assets in bankruptcy court for $33 million in a deal approved last week by the judge, reports Variety.

Warner’s acquisition did not include two of the company’s development studios, one in San Diego and the other in England.

Midway filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this year. Warner Bros. did not comment on its plans for Midway.

Thanks Animation Magazine)

Weinstein Co.’s Escape Delayed

The Weinstein Co.’s 3-D animated feature film Escape From Planet Earth has been delayed, with production shut down until August and its release pushed back to January 2011 at the earliest.

The problems with the film are mostly creative, with script problems prompting the shut down that idled 150 animators at Vancouver-based Rainmaker, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Escape from Planet Earth is not the only film from The Weinstein Co. to be delayed. The studio, run by Harvey and Bob Weinstein, recently brought in financial consultants to help them re-organize their debt and finances.

The delays have hampered the bottom line for Rainmaker, which reported a 31 percent first-quarter drop in animation revenues due to the production delays. But Warren Franklin, the company’s CEO, says the issues are being sorted out and expects the film to get back on track.

"The production schedule is being sorted out," he told the Times, adding that the delays are "very normal for an animated film."

Thanks Animation Magazine)

Losses Bump Gonzo Stock Listing

Japanese animation company Gonzo’s ongoing financial issues have forced it to delist from the Mothers section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange, effective July 30.

The decision was made according to the rules of the exchange, which state that a company must prepare for delisting if its been in the red for two straight years.

The company reported that its debts exceeded it assets for the fiscal year that ended in March. It is currently restructuring and plans to cut its creative staff from 130 to 30 in the next five years.

Gonzo is best know for the series Afro Samurai and its feature follow-up Afro Samurai: Resurrection.

Thanks Animation Magazine)

John Helps Jackson Say Goodbye to London

South African artist Murray John conceived and directed this mixed-media music video for the Luke Jackson. The track is titled Goodbye London and John, now based in London, shot all the photos of the city and then composited the 2D animation using After Effects.

Trunk Animates Mitchell & Webb For BBC

UK-based Trunk Animation brought this Mitchell and Webb comedy sketch to life for the BBC Comedy Extra website. The short is titled Morning temperature knob! Is he fiddling with you again?

Don Bluth and Ralph Bakshi discuss animation (1982)

Here’s a rare treat. Ralph Bakshi and Don Bluth discuss the future of animation on Nightcap, a literary roundtable hosted by journalists Studs Terkel and Calvin Trillin.

Here Bakshi and Bluth are joined by Larry Elin, who represents computer animation. All have great things to say, much of it still relevant — except for Elin, who essentially claims that computer animation will never create real characters. It’s a great peek into the animation mindset of 1982. What a blast to see Bakshi and Bluth on the same set, grilled by two of America’s most noted writers, talking about, among other things, Saturday morning cartoons. It’s also a reminder of how intelligent talk shows used to be — and perhaps, could be again.

Nightcap aired weekly on the forerunner of A&E, ARTS - when the channel aired as the nighttime programming block of Nickelodeon (pre-Nick-at-Nite)! The whole show is about 26 minutes. I split the episode into three parts for YouTube, but for your viewing pleasure, I’ve compiled them into a playlist below:

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

Marshall Preps The 3 Amigonauts’ Mission

We began following Canadian animator Kyle Marshall’s new project The 3 Amigonauts back in February, when we saw a walk test. Today Marshall delivers a little musical trailer for the project.

The 3 Amigonauts trailer from kmarshall on Vimeo.

Lane Beams Out Backyard Courtesy Short

Ben Lane, a storyboard for The Simpsons, has revealed another backyard theater short, which he screens prior to the feature presentation. This one urges courtesy to your neighbors.

"Daria" Coming to DVD in 2010

TVShowsOnDVD reports that an early screener DVD of MTV's The State reveals that the animated series Daria will be released on DVD in 2010. The spinoff from Beavis and Butt-head ran on MTV from 1997 - 2002, and centered on the cynical, misanthropic high school teenager Daria Morgendorffer. It is not known if the series will be released with the original music from the series, as the 2 Daria TV movies currently on DVD had licensed music removed.

680News on Tom Kenny as "The New Mel Blanc"

680News has dubbed Tom Kenny "the New Mel Blanc" in a profile article, where the voice actor for SpongeBob SquarePants discusses that role and his many others in the voice acting business, with roles in Rocko's Modern Life, Camp Lazlo, The Powerpuff Girls, Transformers Animated, and Dilbert. The article discusses how Kenny got the gig as SpongeBob and notes the upcoming plans to celebrate SpongeBob's 10th Anniversary.

Asian American Comic Con in NYC on July 11, 2009

The first Asian American Comic Con will be held on Saturday, July 11, 2009, at the Museum of Chinese in America at 215 Centre Street in New York City. The con will be open to all and will include some of the comic industries leading Asian American creators examining "the unique contemporary rolehistorical legacy of Asians in the world of comics and cartoon art." Special guests at the convention will include Larry Hama (G.I. Joe), Greg Pak (Planet Hulk), and William F. Wu (Hong on the Range).

For full registration and programming information, visit the official AACC home page.

"Saturday Morning Cartoons" Vol. 2 Coming in October

According to Home Theater Forum, the second volumes of Saturday Morning Cartoons: 1960's and 1970's come to DVD on 10/27/09 for $26.99 each. Both sets will contain two discs and special features include Saturday Morning Previews similar to the first volumes'. Included episodes have yet to be announced.

Why Hollywood stuntmen think The Matrix changed everything

Matrix producer Joel Silver changed the rules of the game and made Hollywood stunt history when he traveled to China to beg reluctant action director Yuen Wo-Ping to choreograph the fighting for the film, according to an informal poll by author Kevin Conley.

Conley, who went behind the scenes with the stunt performers who make sure our favorite stars don't break their necks to research his book The Full Burn: On the Set, at the Bar, Behind the Wheel, and Over the Edge With Hollywood Stuntmen, wrote in Salon that "Wo-Ping set ridiculous demands in the hopes that Silver would just go away: a huge budget, a ridiculous salary, and six months of training with the actors and stuntmen. Much to his surprise, Silver agreed to everything, and when the series became a blockbuster, the practice of hiring stuntmen for lengthy training and rehearsal periods took off."

Other flicks admired by Hollywood stuntmen include Crank, the three installments of the Bourne trilogy and the Thai action movie Ong-Bak.

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