Thursday, July 9, 2009

News - 07/09/09...

UPDATE - Magoo’s Christmas Carol book

I’m pleased to report that Darrell Van Citters’s book on the making of Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol has now gone to press. If all goes well, advance copies will be available at the 2009 San Diego Comic Con, July 23-26 with a wide release in the fall. Darrell has been at work on this labor of love for several years and when he couldn’t secure a satisfactory publisher, he decided to go the self-publishing route. Events to support the book launch are in the works on both coasts with the intent to reach as wide an audience as possible. I will certainly keep you posted about it on Cartoon Brew — I can’t wait to get this!

(Thanks cartoon brew)

UPDATE: The book is now available at

A sneak peak into Coraline DVD

Sneak peak into some of the bonus features from the upcoming dvd releases of Coraline have been made available online. Making of Coraline, Teri Hatcher/Dakota Fanning Voice Session, Dakota Fanning/Robert Bailey Jr. Voice Session and Teri Hatcher Voices Character are some of the bonus features that will appear on the Coraline dvd and Blu-ray releases which will hit stores on July 21. Details on these releases can be found here.

Monsters Vs. Aliens DVD in September

DVDActive reports that Paramount Home Entertainment have announced 1-disc DVD, 2-disc DVD and Blu-ray releases of Monsters vs. Aliens for the 29th September. Extras on the 1-disc DVD will include a filmmaker commentary, featurettes, 3 deleted scenes, a DWA Music Video Juke Box, and Top Secret Sneak Peak Files. The 2-disc DVD and Blu-ray releases will include all that, along with a disc containing 2D and 3D versions of new adventure B.O.B.’S BIG BREAK. Four pair of 3D glasses will also be included, as well as a Karaoke Music Party feature, and more.

The Astonishing Work of Osamu Tezuka DVD in July

AnimeNewsNetwork reports that Kino International have announced the dvd release of The Astonishing Work of Tezuka Osamu, a collection of 13 anime shorts by the anime pioneer Osamu Tezuka, on July 28. The English subtitled DVD will feature many of Tezuka’s most experimental shorts. Osamu Tezuka is better known for anime projects, such as Astro Boy, Kimba the White Lion, and Phoenix.

Ponyo tops DVD charts in Japan

Within its first week of release, Hayao Miyazaki’s Ponyo has easily become the bestselling DVD of the year so far in Japan. According to AnimeNewsNetwork, 502,228 copies of the dvd were sold in just its first week of release. Ponyo is seventh Miyazaki film to claim the top spot in the weekly DVD sales charts in its first week.

International poster for A Christmas Carol

Collider shares a new international poster for Disney’s upcoming 3D motion-capture flick A Christmas Carol. Directed by Robert Zemeckis and featuring Jim Carrey as Ebenezer Scrooge, A Christmas Carol will hit theatres on November 6th.

Warner Bros. Animation Planning Animated Shorts Series Based On DC Comics Characters

While Warner Bros. Animation currently has no comment, The World's Finest can confirm that the animation studio is producing a series of animated shorts based on DC Comics characters, including Jonah Hex and more.

The first in a series of animated shorts based on DC Comics characters, produced by Warner Bros. Animation, is expected to appear within the first half of 2010, with more appearing during the year. The DC Comics character Jonah Hex will be featured in the first animated short, written by Joe R. Lansdale, slated to appear on an upcoming DC Universe Animated Original Movie DVD/Blu-ray release. The animated shorts will also tentatively spotlight other DC Comics characters and be similar in tone to the DC Universe Animated Original Movie titles. Multiple animated shorts are currently in production. Please note that schedule and content details are subject to change. Expect an official comment and announcement from Warner Bros. Animation in the future.

Warner Bros. Animation currently has seven different direct-to-video animated projects in different stages of production, the majority of these direct-to-video projects headlining characters from DC Comics. Expect more announcements soon.

Up No. 1 on Yahoo!’s Top 30 List

Disney/Pixar’s Up has landed on top of the list of top 30 animated films of all time, compiled from ratings posted by Yahoo! users. Directed by Pete Docter, the tenth animated feature from Pixar has been setting new records at the box office this summer, generating over $265 billion domestically and $35.3 million in foreign territories (as of July 6).

Although like most Best of lists, there is huge room for arguments here (Where’s Pinocchio? No Wallace & Gromit? Transformers, really?), the top position bodes well for Up’s chances as an Oscar contender!
Here is Yahoo!’s complete list:

1. Up
3. Bolt (2008)
4. Kung Fu Panda (2008)
5. Spirited Away (2002)
6. The Lion King (1994)
7. My Neighbor Totoro (1993)
8. Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
9. Toy Story (1995)
10. Beauty and the Beast (1991)
11. Howl’s Moving Castle (2005)
12. Ratatouille (2007)
13. Princess Mononoke (1999)
14. Finding Nemo (2003)
15. Coraline (2009)
16. Aladdin (1982)
17. Monsters vs. Aliens (2009)
18. The Little Mermaid (1989)
19. Mulan (1998)
20. Monsters, Inc. (2001)
21. Lady and the Tramp (1955)
22. Shrek (2001)
23. Cars (2006)
24. The Incredibles (2004)
25. Cinderella (1950)
26. Shrek 2 (2004)
27. Ice Age: The Meltdown (2006)
28. Happy Feet (2006)
29. The Simpsons Movie (2007)
30. Transformers: The Movie (1986)

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Wallace & Gromit to Shine on Blu-ray This Fall

Aardman fans should mark September 22 on their calendars since that’s the date the new Wallace & Gromit: The Complete Collection Blu-ray comes out. According to the, the new disc from HIT Entertainment will include four of Nick Park’s award-winning shorts—A Grand Day Out, The Wrong Trousers, A Close Shave and the most recent project, A Matter of Loaf and Death, which won an Annie and a BAFTA award earlier this year.

A Matter of Loaf and Death made its U.S. debut on June 5 as part of the U-verse TV On Demand library as well as AT&T’s wireless devices through CV-Video. In this latest outing, which premiered last Christmas on the BBC, our heroes have opened up a new bakery business and have to track down a deadly “cereal” killer who is murdering all the bakers in their charming town.

By the way, this is not really the “complete” Wallace & Gromit collection, since it doesn’t include the movie The Curse of the Were-Rabbit nor the web collection Cracking Contraptions, but, hey, we’re happy HIT is offering this awesome release this fall anyway. The pre-order price on amazon is $19.99.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Ontario Invests in Toronto Ubisoft Studio

Video game giant Ubisoft is coming to Canada, announcing plans to open a major video game studio and create 800 high-quality jobs over the next decade.

The studio will open in Toronto, which the company chose for its competitive tax environment, talent pool and connections to the film industry.

The move comes with the government of the province of Ontario investing C$263 million over the next ten years in the company. Ubisoft will put up more than a half-billion dollars for the studio, which is set to open later this year.

This is the company’s third operation in Canada — Ubisoft has studios in Montreal that opened 12 years ago and just opened a facility in Vancouver earlier this year.

"The best jobs require creative minds, innovative technology, a positive investment climate and a government that supports the industry,” said Sandra Pupatello, Ontario's Minister of Economic Development and Trade.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Garrett Develops Dumb Bunny at Sony

Actor Brad Garrett, star of the Fox comedy series ’Til Death and Everybody Loves Raymond, is developing Dumb Bunny and a Jackass as an animated comedy series at Sony Pictures TV.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the project is based on the work of Bill Kopp, who created Eek! The Cat and Toonsylvania, and will be an R-rated series that will be shopped to appropriate cable outlets.

The series is about two of the most popular cartoon stars in history whose careers are in decline.

Garrett will provide a voice for one of the lead characters and serve as an executive producer along with Glenn Robbins and Doug Wald. Kopp will be a co-executive producer and the show will be produced through Garrett’s Mope Productions.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds Sales Go Global

Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s is set to land in multiple new territories across Europe, Latin America and in the Middle East thanks to a series of new deals cut by 4Kids Entertainment.

Outlets picking up the series for broadcast include CITV in the United Kingdom, Network Ten in Australia, AB Group in France, Mediaset in Italy, RTL2 in Germany, VAS in Latin America, TV2 in Denmark, Digiturk in Turkey, Children’s Channel in Israel and MBC in the Middle East.

The first season of the spinoff series airs in the United States on The CW4Kids and on Cartoon Network.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Kroyer Elected Academy Governor

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has elected four new governors in its branch elections — one of which will oversea the short film and animated feature branch.

Bill Kroyer will join John Lasseter and Carl Bell — neither of whom was up for election this year — as governors of the branch. An animation director, Kroyer’s credits include directing the animated Ferngully: The Last Rainforest, visual effects on The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and writing and character design on Click and Clack’s As the Wrench Turns.

Also new to the academy’s governor ranks are James D. Bissell, Art Directors Branch; Lynne Littman, Documentary; and Robert G. Friedman, Public Relations.

A tie in the directors branch between candidates Gil Cates and Edward Zwick will lead to a runoff, with ballots due back from Directors Branch members by July 29.

Re-elected to their posts are incumbents Caleb Deschanel, Cinematographers Branch; Rob Epstein, Documentary; Tom Sherak, Executives; Mark Goldblatt, Film Editors; Bruce Broughton, Music; Mark Johnson, Producers; Kevin O’Connell, Sound; Bill Taylor, Visual Effects; and James L. Brooks, Writers.

Governors who were not up for reelection this year are: Annette Bening and Henry Winkler, Actors Branch; Rosemary Brandenburg and Jeffrey Kurland, Art Directors; Owen Roizman and Vilmos Zsigmond, Cinematographers; Martha Coolidge and Curtis Hanson, Directors; Richard Pearce, Documentary; Jim Gianopulos and Robert Rehme, Executives; Dede Allen and Donn Cambern, Film Editors; Leonard Engelman, Makeup Artists and Hairstylists; Charles Fox and Arthur Hamilton, Music; Kathleen Kennedy and Hawk Koch, Producers; Sid Ganis and Marvin Levy, Public Relations; Carl Bell and John Lasseter, Short Films and Feature Animation; Curt Behlmer and Don Hall, Sound; Craig Barron and Richard Edlund, Visual Effects; and Frank Pierson and Phil Robinson, Writers.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Late Night Synchrolux

TAG President Kevin Koch holds forth at Synchrolux and here. He's far more immersed in the animation biz than I am at present ... (I'm the union rep; he's the president working in the cartoon industry) ... so we share some of his recent posts. (Click the links below for the full articles.)

Story Development in Animated Features

... The story building process typically lasts two or three full years for an animated feature, but there’s a lot of variation, and in some cases it stretches out much, much longer. That’s 2-3 years of dedicated work by a team that usually involves a director or two, a few writers, a team of story artists, and several visual development artists and character designers (at least at the big studios). Often that several-year period of intense development work is preceded by more years of development by one person or a few people who either originated the concept or are trying to make the concept salable or ready for full development ...

Partly Cloudy and G-Force

... Partly Cloudy. This Pixar short seems to have gotten a lot less attention than previous Pixar shorts. Maybe it’s because Partly Cloudy hearkens back to Dumbo and a seemingly simpler and gentler style. If you ignore the technical accomplishments, it is a lot less showy than most short-form animation these days. But that’s what blew me away — the submersion of very difficult and impressive technological accomplishments into a beautiful, evocative piece that never showed off its technical merits for their own sake, but instead told a layered, heartfelt story....

WALL-E: When Theme and Plot Get Out of Sync

... [L]et’s start with a film that many called the best film of 2008. It was not only glowingly reviewed, but it won the Oscar for Best Animated Picture, and was nominated for Best Original Screenplay. I enjoyed the film, but found it flawed. Given the reviews and success, I’m clearly seeing a problem where most others don’t, but bear with me.

My issue, put simply, is that the film’s theme was revealed and resolved early, robbing the remainder of the film of meaning. Put another way, by climaxing and resolving the theme about half way through the movie, it ended up feeling like two distinct, shorter episodes welded together, with the first one quite a bit more compelling than the second. ...

(Thanls Animation Guild Blog)

Grickle Offers a Change of Scenery

More Grickle goodness has arrives by way of the talented Graham Annable. Enjoy Change of Scenery and then spend your change on Grickle stuff.

Sony Plunges Into Chipmunks Territory

This has been in Sony's hopper for awhile. When I've walked through the Imageworks' campus, there has been artwork and storyboard festooning the walls. But not the company is moving forward with the Blue Crew:

Raja Gosnell has been tapped to direct Sony’s live-action/animated “Smurfs.”

The film will be released in 3-D and 2-D formats on Dec. 17, 2010.

“Smurfs” will be produced by Jordan Kerner (“Charlotte’s Web”). J. David Stem and David N. Weiss (the second and third “Shrek” pics) and Audrey Wells (“George of the Jungle”) penned the script; the logline’s being kept under wraps.

Gosnell started his career as an editor on
“Home Alone,” “Pretty Woman” and “Mrs. Doubtfire” and broke into directing on “Home Alone 3.” He most recently helmed “Beverly Hills Chihuahua.”

Sony announced in June 2008 that it had launched the
“Smurfs” movie project after obtaining film rights ...

A while ago, when I ambled through Sony Pictures Animation big white building in Culver City, there was jawing among the artists about how realistic/live action or stylized/animated the Smurfs were going to look in the new feature.

You'll be amazed at this, but the artists were pushing for more of a cartoon look. (What possessed them?) And one of the producers on board was pushing for a live-action approach to the the little blue people.

Shocking, but there it is.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Pixar's "Up" among nominees for Teen Choice Awards

Pixar-Disney's "Up" is one of five nominees announced Wednesday in the "Choice Summer Movie: Comedy" category of the Teen Choice Awards.

Up is competing in the category alongside the live-action Bruno, Funny People, The Hangover and Year One.

Teen Choice 2009 will air from 8 to 10 p.m. (ET/PT) Monday, August 10 on FOX.

Three-time Grammy Award winners The Black Eyed Peas are set to perform their newest single, "I Gotta Feeling," from their No. 1 album, The E.N.D., at the awards.

Fans ages 13 to 19 can vote once each day for all of their favorite nominees at

Hosted by the Jonas Brothers, Teen Choice celebrates the hottest teen icons in film, television, music, sports and fashion in a star-studded two-hour event featuring appearances by Kristen Bell, Jordana Brewster, Ashley Greene, Vanessa Hudgens, Shawn Johnson, Daren Kagasoff, Kim Kardashian, Sean Kingston, Taylor Lautner, Jennette McCurdy and Emma Roberts. Additional performers and presenters will be announced soon.

The International Linkomatic

This time, let's not link to animation from the U.S. of A., but range farther afield. Below are a few articles and overlooks at toonage in other parts of the globe ... beginning with the animation biz of Singapore:

... "Since the launch of the Media 21 blueprint in 2003 to chart growth for Singapore's media sector, the industry has experienced steady growth with revenues increasing to S$19.5 billion (US$12.26 billion) ... Today, international giants such as Lucasfilm, Electronic Arts and Ubisoft are based in Singapore, working in partnership with Singapore companies and talents to produce and distribute media content and services for the their customers worldwide ... To date, there are more that S$1.3 billion (US$818 million) worth of media funds based in Singapore, covering the TV, film, animation, games and distribution sectors. The figure is a cumulative total, as a result of private capital injected by banks, financial institutions and strategic Investors over the past few years ...

I wouldn't have guessed that a c.g. animated feature would come our of Palestine, but hey. A c.g. feature has now come out of Palestine.

And yet another animation studio (it's for games, but it's still animation) is going into Toronto:

French interactive game maker Ubisoft on Monday unveiled plans to open a Toronto development studio, with the Ontario provincial government pitching in $226 million over 10 years to create 800 jobs.

The move follows the Ontario provincial government in May announcing it will invest $20.5 million into the Starz Animation Toronto 3D cartoon studio over the next five years to create and retain high-tech jobs locally ...

San Diego's Comic Con will be getting more than its usual herd of Hollywood producers and stars this year:

... [Hayao] Miyazaki ... has agreed to address a room full of 6,500 admirers at the San Diego comics, fantasy and film convention on July 24. That is a prelude to his planned appearance the next day in Berkeley, where Mr. Williams’s center will present Mr. Miyazaki with its Japan Prize, awarded annually to a person who has brought the world closer to Japan ...

And there are other things from Japan to celebrate. A big, cartoon robot has a birthday:

The animated sci-fi series "Mobile Suit Gundam" first aired in 1979. It was set 100 years in the future amid a space war between the Earth Federation and hostile space colonies. The show's popularity quickly skyrocketed and further Gundam series, comic books, video games and films were spun off ...

To mark the 30th anniversary of
Gundam's launch, a massive replica of the robot is being erected at Tokyo's Odaiba seaside park. It is scheduled to be unveiled Saturday and can be viewed until Aug. 31 — part of Gundam's birthday celebrations ...

Animation World Network reports in detail on the glories of Annecy:

... This year Annecy spotlighted Germany's contribution to the world of animation with numerous special screenings, including a presentation of Lotte Reiniger's 1926 classic The Adventures of Prince Ahmed with live musical accompaniment. Stuttgart's renowned Studio Film Builder, celebrating their 20th anniversary this year, was saluted with a screening of their films and Throwing Light on Works in the Shade took us deep into the archives of German animation from the 1920s to the 1960s along with interviews with surviving witnesses of the dynamic German avant-garde film scene ..

Lastly, we present to you "the Pokemon of Russia" (duly noting that even the original Pokemon isn't what it used to be ...):

... Gogoriki was created by a gentleman named Denis Chernov. He did it under mandate from the Russian government to develop a series that had no “negative” characters amongst the cast. Instead, plots would revolve around “not on the battle of opposing forces but on the unexpected situations which the animated characters stumble upon in their lives.” Launched in 2004, the series is now considered the “Spongebob” of the former USSR, and has also taken off in Germany....

So what is it, exactly? Pokemon or Sponge Bob? Have a zesty week; you're more than halfway through.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

How Blood's vampire star Gianna kicks ass, takes names

Korean model/actress Gianna Jun, the star of the upcoming live-action Blood: The Last Vampire, tried to bring to life the intense, 400-year-old vampire from the 2000 anime movie and subsequent manga on which the new film is based.

"When I first saw her, she looked very mysterious, unfriendly and gloomy," Gianna said in an exclusive e-mail interview on Monday. "It was kind of shocking, but very attractive."

Gianna plays Saya, a "halfling," or person with a human father and vampire mother. Though she is centuries old, she looks like a schoolgirl, which allows her to infiltrate her enemies. She works with a secret organization, which cleans up after she goes all slayer on evil vampires. Ultimately, she hopes to find and destroy head vampire Onigen to avenge her father's death. If we've learned anything from revenge movies, finding peace is never that simple.

"I wanted to portray Saya's inner pain and her charm through more action scenes," Gianna said.

The film's fight scenes, in which Saya takes on hordes of vampires in forests and back alleys, live up to the title. Gianna did not know quite how bloody the film would be, because a lot of the splatters were added in post-production.

"I myself was pretty surprised when I watched the finished product," she said. "It was much bloodier than I had imagined while filming. I didn't realize I had killed so brutally. Ha ha."

Gianna has starred in such Korean movies as My Sassy Girl, Windstruck and Il Mare (the basis for the American remake The Lake House). In this, her first action movie, Gianna felt empowered by her newfound abilities. "I was a little shy to be daring and violent as a female actress, but now I've become even more daring and strong," she said.

As in Hollywood movies in which pretty boys learn kick-ass martial arts, Gianna had to undergo rigorous fight training. "I trained from basic physical training to kickboxing, sword fighting, fighting on wire, etc.," she said. "Every movement was difficult. If I had to pick the easiest, [it was] probably running."

Even the film's simpler action scenes required days of exacting choreography. One sequence has an American student watch as Saya fights vampires in the school gymnasium. The audience only sees snippets of the fight through the student's eyes, but Gianna still had to spend two to three days performing the moves.

Saya is a Japanese character from the Japanese style of anime, but the Korean Gianna felt a broader connection to her. "I didn't approach the role as a Korean or as Japanese, but as an Asian," she said.

Blood: The Last Vampire also afforded Gianna the opportunity and responsibility to learn English. "I started to learn as I began to prepare for Blood," she said. "I don't get nervous while speaking. I learned that with great effort, you can achieve anything."

Blood: The Last Vampire opens Friday.

Why Potter VI is 'sex, potions and rock 'n' roll'

Daniel Radcliffe (from left) as Harry Potter, Matthew Lewis as Neville Longbottom, Emma Watson as Hermione Granger and Bonnie Wright as Ginny Weasley (Jaap Buitendijk for Warner Brothers)

The sixth Harry Potter movie is finally here, after a delay of almost eight months, and viewers can expect a bit more humor, some teen romance and a rousing match of Quidditch, even as the threat of evil looms in the background, building up to the upcoming seventh and eighth movies that will cap the franchise. And you won't believe just how much those kids have grown.

Director David Yates, who returns to captain this film after the previous Order of the Phoenix, has described it as Potter's version of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll.

Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley and Jessie Cave as Lavender Brown

"Yeah," Yates said in a group interview on the film's set outside London in January 2008. "I want to amend that. It's actually about sex, potions and rock 'n' roll. ... It's a wonderfully fun, slightly rebellious, quite naughty stage of teenage life, when you're kind of discovering the opposite sex. ... In the previous film, it was about the first kiss. This film is a bit more sexualized than that. You know, in a way. We don't see sex, but it's kind of in there. And the relationships are a bit more complicated and romantic and convoluted. So we're pushing into new emotional and kind of physical territory for Harry Potter, you know, in a way, so it's quite playful and fun." (Spoilers ahead!)

The sixth film feels like the first act in a final trilogy (the upcoming seventh and eighth films will split J.K. Rowling's final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows). In Half-Blood Prince, Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) enlists the help of Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) to befriend the new potions teacher, Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent), to weasel out a crucial bit of information that may help in the coming battle against Voldemort. Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton), meanwhile, is tasked by the Death Eaters with a sinister assignment. But as the students return to Hogwarts, romance is in the air, with Ron (Rupert Grint) dealing with the attentions of Lavender Brown (Jessie Cave), much to the chagrin of Hermione (Emma Watson), and Harry himself aware of new feelings toward Ron's sister, Ginny (Bonnie Wright).

Yates promises a lot more humor than the dark installment that preceded it. "Very much so," he said, adding: "We really enjoyed making the last film. ... I liked the intensity of the story that we did last time. ... This has intensity, but it's very playful, and there are some terrifically funny scenes. And six is a much lighter, more playful book than five was. It still has some tremendous intensity at the end of the story, but it's got lots of laughs, too, and for me, as a director, what's lovely is to change gears a little bit, and that's why I wanted to do it. I didn't want to make a kind of film about teenage angst, I wanted to make a film about teenage romance. And so, when I took over for Mike Newell [director of the fourth film], I said, 'You [fancy] doing the kind of teenage love side of things?' And so now I've got a bit of that to do, and it's really fun to come back and do it."

Such themes are natural for the cast, who have literally grown up before our eyes: Radcliffe turns 20 shortly after Half-Blood Prince opens; Watson, who plays Hermione, is now 19; and Grint turns 21 later this summer. Even Wright, who plays Ron's red-haired little sister, is 18.

The stars have also grown as actors and really get to shine this time around, Yates said. "Emma has become much more confident," he said. "I mean, she was confident before, but ... her acting ... is becoming more effortless. Dan's been off and done Equus and some television things, a television film, and he's grown a lot more confident and matured a wee bit. And they're all getting a wee bit older, and the material allows them to take a few more turns. ... They're getting better, as they should be as they get older, you know, so it's encouraging and enjoyable to see the whole [evolution]."

Director David Yates (left) discusses a scene with the cast. (Jaap Buitendijk for Warner Brothers) (Click for a larger version)

Radcliffe and Wright found it a tiny bit awkward to take Harry and Ginny's relationship to a new level in the movie. "It's slightly odd, though, with Bonnie, because when Katie [Leung] came into play Cho [Harry's love interest in] the fourth film, it was very much the case when she came in, we always knew she was going to be as a love interest," Radcliffe said. "Whereas, of course, when I first met Bonnie, she was just another character. She was, I think, ... 9 [or] 10 years old when I first met her, and so it's very strange. I've sort of grown up with Bonnie, and now suddenly having to play love interest scenes is very—it's kind of odd."

Wright agreed: "It was quite, obviously quite weird, I guess, after you've known someone for quite a long time," she admitted. "It's quite a weird thing to get to do. But, no, it was fine. It wasn't too bad. ... It was better than I expected."

SCI FI Wire was among a handful of reporters on set to watch the filming and speak with the cast and crew in winter 2008. We toured the movie's sets, including the hallway of the orphanage where Dumbledore first meets the young Tom Riddle (Hero Fiennes Tiffin), a scene that takes place in flashback. The walls are paved with brown "tile," and Riddle's narrow cell is bare and bleak.

We also visited a new set representing the interior of the Weasley house, a ramshackle farmhouse interior without a single right angle: The low ceiling, timbered walls and floors are all canted in weird ways, as if the house hasn't quite settled. But it's very cozy, with overstuffed ratty furniture, a grandfather clock and a big fireplace in the center of the room.

We also observed the filming of a scene in the Great Hall, which is filled with Hogwarts students at breakfast (big platters of sausages, racks of toast). It's the day of Ron's big Quidditch match, and he's nervous as heck. Ron enters the hall, kitted out in full Quidditch gear.

We also previewed the film last week and found it to work wonderfully well. After six installments, it was apparent that all involved have settled so expertly into their roles that the magic comes almost effortlessly, both behind and in front of the camera. This film in particular showcases many brilliant performances, beginning with the three principals, who find new depths in their familiar characters, and extending to the smallest part. Most noteworthy is Alan Rickman's Snape, who is deliciously arch, and the veteran actor finds a way to stretch his character's lines nearly to the point of absurdity without going overboard. New cast member Broadbent, meanwhile, finds a way to make Slughorn at once ridiculous and heartbreaking. And longtime cast member Felton shows us that there's a lot more to Draco than a sneer.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince opens July 15.

‘Kick-Ass’ Movie To Feature Animation & Significant Differences From Comic, Says Co-Creator

For a film without a release date and a comic without a strict publishing schedule, Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.’s “Kick-Ass” continues to intrigue fans of over-the-top crime fighting. Now, as both projects proceed toward their respective conclusions, Romita has started to open up regarding how the source material and the adaptation will likely diverge.

In an interview with Comic Book Resources, Romita offered an update on his current comic book progress stating that he was almost done with issue #7 and into issue #8 — the series’ final issue. That being the case, Romita said he’s well aware that what he draws might not match up perfectly with director Matthew Vaughn’s ending for the film.

“Things have to be independent because, as [Millar] made the great point, we don’t want to look like we’re ‘demagoging’ the film and trying to capitalize on it. We didn’t want to do that,” said Romita.

Romita’s artwork won’t be limited to the “Kick-Ass” comic, though, with his style being animated for flashback sequences in the film. That particular process involved Romita visiting the set of the film this past winter as well as getting to read the screenplay. His response seemed enthusiastic, differences and all.

“Matthew Vaughn is a fan of the comic, and that’s where the flashback animation sequence comes from. He wanted an homage to the comic. He was a fan of my pacing and storytelling and used as much as he could along those lines,” Romita said, “As long as you get along with people professionally and don’t get too abrasive, generally you’re going to find the happy medium.”

Despite its current ambiguous schedule, there seems to be a clear vision the end of “Kick-Ass” in one medium or another. With the announcement-filled San Diego Comic-Con International just a few weeks away, there’s a good chance fans will have a better idea of how and when “Kick-Ass” will conclude in comics and premier in theaters.

EXCLUSIVE: A Superman Cameo In ‘Green Lantern’ Movie? Marc Guggenheim Weighs In On Rumor

When MTV Splash Page spoke to “Green Lantern” movie co-writer Marc Guggenheim last month about his Oni Press comic book series “Resurrection” (as well as the “Green Lantern” movie, of course), they somehow managed to leave out a small chunk of the conversation that could be of interest to fans of Hal Jordan — and a certain “Man of Steel,” too.

While Guggenheim couldn’t get into specifics regarding plot points of the live-action “Green Lantern” movie, they did ask him about his comments late last year regarding a potential cameo from Superman (or rather, Clark Kent). Was a crossover still on the table for DC’s Green Lantern of Sector 2814?

“Honestly, it changes on a daily basis. Whatever information I gave you today would be obsolete in a week, and maybe come back again in two weeks,” said Guggenheim. ”And even if it wasn’t in flux at the script stage, it would still be constantly in flux because you can film it, put it in the original cut, and eventually it could end up on the editing room floor.”

However, he didn’t deny that the Superman’s alter ego would be making an appearance during the big-screen debut of “Green Lantern” — so there’s still hope for fans hoping to get Hal Jordan and Clark Kent on the same screen at the same time.

“I will say, all the Easter Eggs and the cameos that I put in, I couldn’t even begin to predict at this point which ones will stay and which ones will go,” he said. “I’ll be as interested as anyone else to see what we end up keeping and losing by the time the picture is actually locked… and that’s pretty far away from now.”

So there you have it, Green Lantern (and Superman) fans. Make of it what you will. Who knows? Maybe Brandon Routh will get to put on the cape again!

News briefs: New District 9 trailer; Dollhouse delayed

District 9

Yahoo! Movies has posted a new trailer for District 9, the new alien-refugee movie from producer Peter Jackson and director Neill Blomkamp, which gives us a much better look at the film's story and visual effects. District 9 opens Aug. 14.

Fox has pushed back the second season premiere of Dollhouse a week, to 9 p.m. ET/PT on Sept. 25 from Sept. 18, to give the production more time, HitFix reported; Entertainment Weekly, meanwhile, reports that series creator Joss Whedon will write and direct the season premiere.

Monsters vs. Aliens drops on DVD and Blu-ray on Sept. 29, featuring the world premiere of B.O.B.'S Big Break, a new 3-D adventure featuring Seth Rogen's character; the 3-D release will include four pair of 3-D glasses.

Ashok Amritraj's Hyde Park Entertainment Group and Platinum Studios announced that principal photography has wrapped in New Orleans on the gothic thriller movie Dead of Night.

Zak Penn Talks The Avengers

CraveOnline talked to Zak Penn about his work on Marvel Studios' upcoming films and here's an excerpt:

CraveOnline: How is working for autonomous Marvel different from working under the studio collaborations?

Zak Penn:
Pretty much night and day. Marvel, everyone there has read every comic. They’re big fans of it. We’ve kind of moved past the normal fights that you have and just talk about what would make a cool movie. Here’s the thing though. Once you get into the process of making a movie, compromise is like your life. Everything is a compromise. Even if everyone has the best intentions setting out on a movie, you can make a total piece of sh*t. I’ve learned this the hard way. It is really damn hard to make a good movie. If you ever manage it, be proud of yourself. It’s so damn hard. Even though we all have the best intentions, it still might suck but it is at least a relief to not be fighting with people as much. We’re all kind of on the same page.

CraveOnline: How do you start writing The Avengers before Captain America and Thor are done?

Zak Penn:
My job is to kind of shuttle between the different movies and make sure that finally we’re mimicking that comic book structure where all of these movies are connected. It used to drive me crazy at Fox not being able to interweave. Why couldn’t we have Fantastic Four in this movie? Why couldn’t we do this? Now we will. Thor and Captain America will lead right into the Avengers movie, and Iron Man 2 as well.

CraveOnline: Do they give you a place to start or do you have to wait to find out where you pick up?

Zak Penn:
We are learning it as we go and it’s pretty complicated. I have a meeting at Marvel this week to catch up on continuity. There’s just a board that tracks “Here’s where everything that happens in this movie overlaps with that movie.” It’s just what they do in the comic books. Think how complicated it is when you’ve got all the titles those companies do. Someone’s got to keep track of all that. What’s Wolverine wearing this week? Are his claws bone or [adamantium]? Yeah, it’s going to be really difficult. The only thing I can say is I’m pushing them to do as many animatics as possible to animate the movie, to draw boards so that we’re all working off the same visual ideas. But the exigencies of production take first priority.

CraveOnline: Should Wolverine have been R?

Zak Penn:
That was our frustration. He’s got razor sharp claws and you can’t show blood. So what does he do? In every scene, he’s running around blocking, hitting you with the claws and not cutting you. Where do you go with that? There’s no way to do it.

You can read the full interview here.

$300 Million in 14 Days for Transformers Sequel

After only 14 days in release, the worldwide hit Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen became the second-fastest film in movie history to earn $300 million in U.S. ticket sales, eclipsing the previous record-holder Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, by two days. From director Michael Bay and executive producer Steven Spielberg, the Paramount Pictures release trails only The Dark Knight in this record-setting achievement.

"Moviegoers everywhere propelled the film to this great success, paving the way for a phenomenal run," said Paramount Pictures Vice Chairman Rob Moore.

2007's Transformers earned $319.2 million in its theatrical run, and more than $700 million worldwide. The sequel has already taken in over $600 million worldwide to date, conquering several records including:

* Biggest Wednesday-Sunday opening of all time.
* Biggest Wednesday opening of all time.
* Paramount's biggest international opening of all time.
* 3rd biggest worldwide opening weekend of all time.
* 4th biggest international opening of all time.

Gary Ross to Rewrite Spider-Man 4

Gary Ross, who directed Tobey Maguire in Seabiscuit and Pleasantville, has come aboard to rewrite the script for Spider-Man 4, reports Variety.

Sam Raimi will again direct the Columbia Pictures and Marvel Studios project that will go into production early next year.

The Spider-Man 4 script was originally written by James Vanderbilt, and then rewritten by David Lindsay-Abaire.

The fourth installment is scheduled for a May 6, 2011 release.

No comments: