Thursday, July 16, 2009

News - 07/16/09...

Oblivion Island: Haruka And The Magic Mirror

The trailer for Production I.G’s first foray into CG animated film Oblivion Island: Haruka and the Magic Mirror has arrived at their official site. In addition to the trailer, we are also hosting the featurette and a second teaser on our Twitch player. The verdict? As I mentioned many times before, Production I.G has shown why its the most innovative animation studio in Japan and this is no exception.

Your favourite teddy bear. That model kit that took so long to complete. The picture book you used to read over and over again. The shining stone you found that day in the park. Where do all your childhood’s treasures go when you grow up? In this story, we meet fantastic creatures that gather all these little objects that fall into oblivion as they are forgotten by their owners when they step into adulthood. These creatures sneak into our world from a different dimension, and unseen by humans, they take all the ditched and forgotten “treasures” into their world. Here, they use their booty to build their own city, a fairy tale-like place called… Oblivion Island!

The theatrical release date is on August 22nd. You’ll find the trailers and the featurette after the break.

Note - Ignore the "Preview unavailable" - they all work.



Teaser 2

Teaser 1

Related Links
Official site

(Thanks twitch)

Paramount Plays with Max Steel Movie

Max Steel is looking to join Transformers and G.I. Joe in the growing trend of toys-turned-cartoons jumping to the big screen.

Paramount has teamed up with producer Joe Roth to option the rights to the Mattel property — about an extreme sports athlete who gains superpowers — for a feature film adaptation, Variety reports.

Max Steel began life as an action figure first released by the toy company in 1999. He starred in an animated series that ran three years starting in 2000, first on Kids WB and later on Cartoon Network.

The character since has appeared in five direct-to-DVD animated features produced by Rainmaker. Only one of the movies was released in the United States — the rest are available in Latin America, where Max Steel is the top-selling action figure.

Max Steel joins a host of Mattel toy properties that have been set up as feature films recently, including He-Man: Masters of the Universe, Hot Wheels, Major Matt Mason and View Master.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

E1 Picks Chang for Development Post

Swin Chang has joined E1 Entertainment as the company’s director of development for kids and animation.

Chang will be based in Toronto and be responsible for bringing new properties into the company and overseeing projects currently in production. She will report to Los Angeles-based Frank Saperstein, senior VP kids and animation.

She comes to E1 following a stint as executive in charge of production for Family Channel and Playhouse Disney in Canada.

E1’s current projects include the series Majority Rules, set to debut this fall on Teletoon in Canada.

"E1 is a dynamic, fast-growing company that's poised to become a leading player in kids’ entertainment," said Chang. "I look forward to helping them achieve this goal by working with them on their exciting development and production slate."

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Decode Sells Super WHY! Into Asia, Oz

Super WHY!, the award-winning literacy building show, has picked up new markets in Asia and Australia.

Decode Enterprises has signed a deal for the show to air on Tooniverse in Korea, TV 12 in Singapore, Astro TVIQ in Malaysia and Indonesia, and Nickelodeon Australia.

The program airs in the United States on PBS KIDS and is produced by Out of the Blue Enterprises in conjunction with Decode, which has worldwide TV rights excluding the United States.

“There is always a demand for strong preschool programming that balances entertainment with learning, but it’s a challenging genre,” said Josh Scherba, VP distribution of Decode Enterprises. Super WHY! has a proven track record on channels in the U.S. and internationally and it’s no surprise that further broadcasters are snapping up the show.”

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Astro Boy Stars Play for Game

Freddie Highmore and Kristen Bell, the stars of the upcoming CG-animated movie Astro Boy, will reprise their roles for D3 Publishing’s tie-in Astro Boy: The Video Game.

As in the movie, Highmore plays boy robot Astro Boy while Bell plays Cora in the game, which takes players on an epic adventure to save Metro City.

Astro Boy: The Video Game will be released for the Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS, PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable systems on Oct. 20, right before the movie opens on Oct. 23.

Astro Boy: The Video Game is a prime representation of the deep and wide-ranging partnerships we have lined up in all major licensing and promotional partner categories,” said Erin Corbett, president of Imagi Studios U.S. and chief marketing officer worldwide.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Despicable Me teaser

Next summer, from a lot of people who brought you Horton Hears a Who (but not Blue Sky Studios), comes the first release from Illumination Entertainment - the new Universal Pictures animated feature film division. Here’s the first teaser trailer for Despicable Me.

(Thanks Iain Robbins)

(Thanks cartoon brew)

"Grinch" and "Horton" Specials Coming to Blu-ray

The beloved 1966 Christmas special Dr. Seuss' "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (directed by Chuck Jones and Ben Washam) comes to Blu-ray on 10/6/09. Special features haven't yet been announced.

Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who, the 1970 special also directed by Jones and Washam, will also get a Blu-ray release on the same day. Special features include "In Search of Dr. Seuss", a sing-along music video "You Can Heart Horton, Horton Can Hear You!", and two other animated Dr. Seuss shorts: "The Butter Battle Book" (directed by Ralph Bakshi) and "Daisy-Head Mayzie".

Actress Tricia Helfer Discusses Her Work On "Green Lantern: First Flight" Animated Feature

Warner Bros. has released a new studio-conducted interview with actress Tricia Helfer, the voice of Boodikka in the upcoming direct-to-video Green Lantern: First Flight animated feature.

The World's Finest continues its series of presenting studio-conducted interviews, provided by Warner Home Video, for the upcoming Green Lantern: First Flight direct-to-video animated feature.

Tricia Helfer eschews trademark red for exciting new hue in Green Lantern: First Flight
Battlestar Galactica’s Favorite Number Discusses Voicing Boodikka for DC Universe film

If you liked her in red, you’re going to love Tricia Helfer in green.

Boodikka raises her powerful ring in the next DC Universe animated original movie, Green Lantern: First Flight, which is set for distribution July 28, 2009 by Warner Home Video. Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica) provide the voices of Boodikka.

Battlestar Galactica’s visually stunning centerpiece shifts to another space-based destination as the voice of Boodikka in Green Lantern: First Flight, the next DC Universe animated original PG-13 movie coming to DVD on July 28, 2009.

Since taking the Sci-Fi world by storm as Number Six in Battlestar Galactica, Helfer has seen her star rise on the entertainment front, scoring a key role throughout the second season of USA Network’s hit series Burn Notice, being featured in NBC’s Chuck and the upcoming Human Target, and dipping into the super hero realm as the voice of Black Cat in The Spectacular Spider-Man.

Helfer expands her voiceover career with her first feature-length film role as Boodikka, the most prominent female member of the Green Lantern Corps. Helfer joins Christopher Meloni, Victor Garber and Michael Madsen as the core quartet of voices in the film, supported by fine performances from Juliet Landau, John Larroquette, Kurtwood Smith and a host of others.

Warner Premiere, DC Comics and Warner Bros. Animation are set to release the all-new Green Lantern: First Flight in a Blu-Ray™ Hi-Def edition, a special edition 2-disc DVD, and a single disc DVD. Warner Home Video will distribute the action-packed movie, which will also be available OnDemand and Pay-Per-View as well as available for download day and date, July 28, 2009.

Green Lantern: First Flight will also have its world premiere at Comic-Con International in San Diego on Thursday, July 23.

Helfer is as genuine as she is beautiful, and she shared her thoughts on a variety of subjects in a Q&A following her final recording session for Green Lantern: First Flight. The topics of conversation included psychology, rod weeding, an unfulfilled mastering of Frogger, a Star Trek-based fear of earwigs, and … well … read it for yourself.

QUESTION: What did you seek to convey vocally as Boodikka?

Boodikka’s a fighter, a protector. She is very honorable in that she does what she thinks is right, even if some things go against the grain. She’s certainly not an evil character per se, but she does things that she thinks are good for society. She’s not really sexy in terms of her personality, so she’s not trying to reel Hal in – that relationship is more like comrades. So I wanted to play Boodikka both strong and sweet.

QUESTION: Are there aspects of Boodikka that are familiar to you?

I think there are some aspects of Boodikka in other characters. I wouldn’t say she’s like Number Six at all, really, but there’s some clones of Six that are similar. I’d kind of say she’s a little bit like Natalie from the fourth season of Battlestar because she’s a bit of a leader in her own way, she’s strong and intelligent, and she does what she thinks is right when she feels very strongly about certain things – as Natalie did taking sides against her Cylon counterparts.

QUESTION: This is only your second voiceover role. Was there anything particularly special that enticed you to accept the role?

What made me say yes to doing the movie and voicing Boodikka was that I just thought it was a really sweet story. I didn’t really have any preconceptions of the role or the story. I’m not very well read in comics, so I went into this with a completely open mind. I loved the script – there was no flipping through it. It was a good, solid story.

QUESTION: Were you familiar with “Green Lantern” at all?

I did a little research, but not too much. I grew up without a television on a farm in the middle of nowhere, so I really didn’t see hardly any movies or TV series, and no cartoons. So I kind of have to go into things with a really blank slate, an open mind, and I think sometimes that’s good actually for voices because you don’t go in with anything really preconceived. I never feel like I have to fit a certain (type) because I’ve seen this character played that way before. I can read the script and go in feeling with my own gut instinct. And then (she laughs) you have a nice room full of people that tell you if you’re messing up or to try it different way.

Boodikka gives Hal Jordan the full some background on the Corps in Green Lantern: First Flight, an all-new DC Universe animated original movie set for distribution July 28, 2009 by Warner Home Video. Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica) provide the voices of Boodikka, opposite Christopher Meloni (Law & Order: SVU) as Hal Jordan.

QUESTION: What did you do out in the “middle of nowhere” for entertainment?

I worked a lot. I was a farm hand, so I grew up driving tractors and fixing farm machinery and picking rocks out of fields and driving. I rod weeded and disked and harrowed and that kind of stuff. I was a tomboy. Between that and school and being big into sports, that was kind of my life. So I can change my oil and fix a flat tire, but I can’t really get into a pop culture discussion.

QUESTION: How do you go from rod weeding to walking the runway to starring on television?

I was planning on going to university to study to go into psychology. And that’s when, as they say, I was discovered by a model scout. I’d have never thought of being a model. Or acting. But I’d been modeling for eight years, and thought I needed more of a challenge. So I took an acting class to help with commercial auditions. The first class was like hitting me over the head with the passion bat. I just loved it. I said, “Okay, I’m going to try this – I’ll study for two years while I’m still having pictures taken of me.” Then I moved out to LA and, a year later, got Battlestar. It’s just kind of been rolling and I’ve been taking little steps up. Now I’ve started doing voiceover work and it’s so much fun.

QUESTION: What is the internal joy of acting for you?

I think it stems back to me wanting to go into psychology as a kid. Acting is essentially the study of character. It’s getting inside the character’s head. Who is this person? What makes her tick? What makes her angry? What makes her happy? I think that was the attraction for me immediately. I was terrified in my first acting class, but it was also like I’d had an amazing work out and a therapy session at the same time. I tend to be the kind of person that bottles everything up, so to be able to go out and release all these emotions in the name of a character was tremendous. It’s not me, Tricia, going crazy and being an idiot. It’s Boodikka. So acting, for me, is fun and a great release.

QUESTION: Okay, Dr. Helfer. Analyze Boodikka?

Well, going very Psych 101: Boodikka is completely messed up (she laughs)

QUESTION: What do you enjoy most about voiceover work?

It’s going to sound simple, but really, voiceovers are a lot of fun. You get to go in and really play. You can show up in your pajamas if you want to. I wouldn’t, but I could. It’s just freeing in that respect, especially when you’re used to being on set in some of the things I’ve filmed. Number Six was so much about the look – I’ve got a wig and the curls just have to be right and the makeup – all of that can be kind of exhausting in its own right. So to be able to come into a booth and only have to put on the headphones, it’s more like playing than being on set as an actor.

Plus, with voices you don’t have to be boxed in by what you look like. So far the characters that I’ve done in live-action tend to be along the sexy route, and even voicing Black Cat was in that vein. But voiceovers definitely give me the chance to play away from that – and it’s great fun to do something that’s not typical of what people would expect. I’d like to play somebody silly and fun and goofy. Most of the stuff I’ve done has been much more along the lines of serious and sexy or serious and smart. I think it would also be great fun to just be wacky and crazy and funny, too.

QUESTION: You’re a fairly recognizable part of the Battlestar universe, and Sci-Fi fans can be very passionate. Has the fanboy attention been a positive experience for you?

I think Sci-Fi fans are fantastic. They get a bad rap and I think that’s unfair. It’s a genre that draws intelligence and creativity because you have to have a mind that can go to these outer reaches and digest the information. Some fans can get a little crazy, but they can do that in any fan situation. The conventions are a lot fun – I like getting out and meeting the fans. My favorite part is actually doing the stage Q&A, getting the questions and hearing what they want to know. Half the time I don’t know the answers, but you get a great perspective on the fans’ view of your show.

What’s funny is that without the white hair and the red dress, most people at conventions don’t really recognize me from Battlestar. When I first started doing conventions, I’d literally have to have a name plate on my table. I’m starting to get a little less anonymous. Fans actually are kind of shy around me – I think I scare some of them because of my Number Six character. She’s quite strong and mean sometimes, so people are usually very polite around me and kind of nervous about coming up to me. Maybe that will change once people know that I’m actually nice and I’m not an evil robot.

QUESTION: Are you a fan of Science Fiction?

I’m a fan of Science Fiction in that I grew up without a television and rarely went to movies, but what we did see were the Star Treks and the Star Wars and Superman films. My dad was a Science Fiction fan, so we’d go to see those big event movies. I can’t really necessarily remember details to the level of most fans, but I do remember seeing them, and I loved them when I was a kid. Although earwigs (in Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan) scared the b-Jesus out of me. I was very young and I remember that scene, and it really had a frightening effect on me.

We drove out from Alberta, Canada to British Columbia to the orchards to get peaches, and we were driving back and a peach bug – I think that’s what they’re called, and they look like the earwigs – crawled over the seat from the boxes in the back and bit my sister. I was terrified. I wouldn’t sleep the entire ride home, and it was a 15-hour drive. I sat in the back and literally white-knuckled on the seat because I was terrified that an earwig was going to get me. Maybe I’ve been a little scarred by that incident – maybe that’s why I don’t really see anything any more. I’m scared of the earwigs. Hmmm …

QUESTION: Do you have a reference point when you're playing Buddika?

For me, because I didn’t have the animation to look at, playing Boodikka was all about my imagination. So it's important for me to know the entire script. I've heard of some actors that just read their lines and that's it, but for me to really understand the context of the story, I really want to know what is going on with the entire picture. If you're playing a cop or something like that, you have much more reference to go on. But when you're a super hero, you don't have a lot of reference to go on. I mean, I can't really fly. I can’t really construct a huge Saran Wrap to wrap a guy up and catch him. It’s all imagination and fun. So you just kind of have to let it go and pretend. At the same time, you can't be silly with it unless it calls for being silly. You have to put a seriousness to it, to make it believable.

Hal Jordan is flanked by fellow Green Lantern Corps leaders Kilowog (left) and Boodikka. Green Lantern: First Flight, an all-new DC Universe animated original movie, is set for distribution July 28, 2009 by Warner Home Video.

QUESTION: So now you’re going to voice a role in the next version of Halo. Are you much of a gamer?

I played Frogger on our first family computer. I only made it to the second round. I got past the stream and made it to the highway. Squish. I never got past that, so I quit. There's definitely coordination and a skill involved in video games that I just don't possess.

QUESTION: You have cats. You voiced Black Cat. You’ve said that you favorite comics character is Catwoman. What is this attraction to cats?

Aside from the fact that they're soft and cuddly and kissable, I love their personalities. I love the differences in them. I'm an animal lover across the board, and I love dogs – but I find them a little needy. I find cats a little bit more like my personality, where sometimes I want to be needy and be cuddled and sometimes I’m like “You come near me, you're gonna get your head bitten off.” I feel like I have a lot of moods and sides of my personality and I kind of feel that cats have that, too. They are who they are and they they're not afraid to show it.

For more information, images and updates, please visit the film’s official website at

On Sheet Timing

A commenter writes:

Spoke at length with a veteran director a few weeks back and discussed the rates for sheet timing that have not moved for several years. Any particular reason this rate doesn't change? Thanks Steve-

The rates for animation and timing directors in the TAG Collective Bargaining Agreement have gone up 3% a year over the past three years. Here are the current rates:

Disney Animation Director (journey hourly rate): $44.846
Disney Timing Director (journey hourly rate): $42.995
Sheet Timer: (journey hourly rate): $36.058

Like I say, these rates have increased each year for as long as I've been here. They go up again on August 2.

Anyone who's being underpaid on an hourly, daily or weekly basis -- the rates that are listed in the CBA -- should contact me. I'll be happy to file a grievance.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

The New TAG Contract -- 2009-2012

As I mentioned below, TAG reached agreement on a new three-year contract last night. The Readers Digest summary of the deal is as follows:

Contract Term: August 1, 2009 to July 31, 2012

Wage and Pension and Health Increases: 2% wages, 1 1/2% pension and health benefits (As per the IA Basic Agreement -- total yearly increases: 3 1/2%.)

There are some other small changes, but that's the gist of it for people working under the deal. And now ... a few answers to questions ...

Q: Didn't the unions in the IA West Coast Bargaining Unit (editors, cinematographers, electricians, grips ...) get 3% wage increases when their deal was negotiated last year?

They did. The Basic Agreement's negotiations commenced in April of 2008, shortly after the WGA strike, and the IA secured at that time a commitment for 3% annual bump-ups.

TAG, during the same month the IA concluded negotiations for the Basic Agreement, also secured a 3%, 3%, 3% deal from Nickelodeon Cartoon Studios, which had a different contract termination date that ended last Fall.

What a difference a calendar year makes.

In 2009, the IATSE ... and TAG ... found that 2% bump-ups were the best they could achieve. In the past seven months, our mother international has negotiated two sizable contracts with 2% annual increases; other IA guilds with which we've checked are also negotiating 2% deals.

So. What are the cash differences (2% vs. 3%) going forward? Here's one example for the journey minimum rates (weekly) for animators, designers, background and layout artists, and animation writers under the two computations:

2% -- 2009-10: $1,565.33 2010-11: $1,596.64
3% -- 2009-10: $1,580.68 2010-11: $1,628.10
Weekly differences -- 2009-10: ($15.35) 2010-11: ($31.46)

Q: Why didn't you hold out? Try to get a better deal?

The committee talked about doing that. Back in May, the committee thought we'd be negotiating past the contract expiration of July 31 and "hanging tough" if we didn't get the deal we wanted.

But there were a couple of problems with that.

One. We were informed by the IA and two directors of the Motion Picture Industry Health Plan, that if we didn't secure a new deal that included additional contributions into the Plan, TAG participants would begin paying a $950 deductible for health services as of August.

(This doesn't mean that anyone would be slapped with a bill on, say, August 1st, but individuals who used the Plan's medical coverage after the start of August would be required to pay a deductible for services up to a cap of $950.)

Two. After we checked with other IATSE unions and guilds, it became clear that 2% wage increases were what the conglomerates and studios were going with ... had been going with ... since January. And that the 2% formulation was unlikely to change absent major, huge leverage.

Three. We didn't have major, huge leverage.

Thus, the above was where we ended up. The conclusion to the negotiations wasn't awful, but it wasn't where we expected ... or originally hoped ... to touch down for a landing. (We will be reviewing the entire contract package at the August 4th General Membership Meeting at our new digs in Burbank. So if you're a member, be there.)

Here's an overview of TAG contract talks of the distant past ...

And the negotiation of three years ago.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

On the Subject of Contract Rates ...

Since we are talking contracts and negotiations right about now, it might be useful to trip back a few years and see what a few TAG minimums were, back in the day. (The day being February 1, 1965.)

Animator, Storyman, Background, Layout
Hourly: $5.365 Weekly: $214.60

1st Assist. Animator, Assist. Background, Assist. Layout
Hourly: $4.021 Weekly: $160.84

It's good to remember that in early '65 (when this contract went into effect), the entire Federal budget was a hair north of $100 billion, America was just starting to warm to the task of pissing away billions in Southeast Asia, and a dollar went a whole lot further than now.

According to the intertubes' Inflation Calculator, a wage of $160.84 in '65 would be worth $1086.61 in 2008.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Justice League Flashback One: Adam Brody talks costumes and regrets

Movieline chatted up Adam Brody about the new horror flick 'Jennifer's Body'. They also worked in a few questions about the defunct 'Justice League' feature film. Fans recall that Brody was cast to play The Flash in the movie, before it collapsed under various pressures. Here's an interesting exceprt:

Movieline: I wanted to broach Justice League with you…I interviewed the Mulroneys a little while ago, and Michelle said, “I’ll talk about Justice League, but I need a drink first.” It’s got to be a little painful to have this huge movie that was so close to shooting get cancelled.

I wouldn’t say “painful.” It was a totally positive experience in my life, for a number of reasons. Also, I was never convinced it was for sure going. We were in Australia, so we were halfway there, but sets hadn’t been built yet, things still felt on the fence. So it wasn’t a big shock to me when it didn’t go. Before it, even, I totally understood the reasons for doing it and not doing it. I got both sides. At the time, I was like, “If they don’t want to do this and they don’t want to mess with Batman, their golden goose, then I totally get that and that’s probably the right call.”

That said, cut to this summer, and it would probably be coming out this week. I’m like, [groans]. That’d be so exciting. I probably miss it more now than I did then. I’m curious: Armie Hammer, who’s like the real-life Bruce Wayne, if he would have played Batman, would that have gotten in the way of Christian Bale’s [performance]? I don’t know. Would it have diluted Batman 3 a little? Not sure.

Movieline: Did they let you keep the costume, at least?

Oh God, no. [Laughs] I had it on, but it was only kind of halfway there, you know? It was a preliminary version. There’s some pictures somewhere of me making funny poses in a half-done Flash outfit. That said, after seeing the movies this summer, it could have been great. The Mulroneys did a really good job, and George Miller — I was so curious. I think everybody couldn’t wait to see what he was gonna do. But it was a good experience. I got to be in Australia for a month, we all got paid a little bit, and I got to hang out with George Miller.

Movieline: What was that like?

He’s just, like, the coolest hippie ever. We spent two weeks talking superhero love — it was this huge superhero roundtable."

Click through for the complete interview...

Justice League Flashback Two: The Screenwriters Look Back

Speaking of 'Justice League', Movieline also spoke with screenwriters Kieran & Michele Mulroney earlier this month about the script they wrote for the film. Here's an exceprt:

Movieline: Speaking of projects that were almost about to happen, Justice League came this close to shooting, and then…

Pardon me, I need a drink if we’re going to talk about Justice League. [Laughs]

Kieran: It was a fantastic experience. The movie needs to get made, and it will.

Michele: Yeah, we’re not at liberty to discuss too much about Justice League for various reasons, but all I can say is that we had an incredible blast writing it. To get to write for Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman…I mean, it doesn’t get any better. We had a phenomenal time working with George Miller on this.

Kieran: We ran into the writers strike. A lot of projects that should have been made, didn’t get made. And this was a strike that we fully supported. Things happened, and it’s postponed for the time being. But it’s a great big movie that’s gonna get made.

Movieline: Have you done any more work on it since the strike?

We haven’t personally done any work on it in a little while, and I don’t think anyone else has. It’s just sitting there in its little cocoon, waiting for the right moment in the superhero canon.

Kieran: There’s a Batman movie that people are very eagerly anticipating that will get its due. Everything else [the studio is] working on will proceed in a bit. I don’t think the world’s done with superheroes yet.

Michele: Look, we work for Warner Brothers all the time…in fact, we’re working on something right now that we’re not even allowed to talk about. We love those guys, they’re awesome. Justice League is all good.

Kieran: But it is an odd through-line. From Paper Man, our “welcome to Hollywood” script, to Justice League by way of [Paper Man’s] imaginary superhero Captain Excellent who lies around on couches and complains all the time…it was interesting. Coming after Justice League and all the time we spent on that movie, maybe we’ll stay away from people who can fly for a while.

Click through for more from the screenwriting duo...

Check Out The New DVD/BD Art For Micheal Dougherty's Terrific TRICK 'R TREAT! Plus News On The Comic Con Panel & Screening!

A word of advice to all Comic Con attendees regarding Thursday: pace yourself. For reasons that have nothing to do with the fans and everything to do with taking advantage of the Friday news cycle, most of the big ticket presentations at this year's soiree have been crammed into Day One. So do whatever you've got to do to make sure you've still got something left in the tank for 10:00 PM, because you cannot afford to miss the big screening/panel for one of the best horror films in recent memory.

Michael Dougherty's supremely entertaining TRICK 'R TREAT may seem like a throwback to the anthology horror style of classics like CREEPSHOW and the Amicus TALES FROM THE CRYPT, but it's a little more cohesive than those films. I love it. And I'm really excited for the film to screen in the convention center's massive Ballroom 20 late at night with the lights out and the volume jacked up, because I can pretty much guarantee that everyone in that room is going to walk out with a new holiday classic to place alongside Carpenter's HALLOWEEN and THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS.

The Comic Con schedule has the presentation/screening listed for 9:30 PM, so while I'm being told it definitely starts at 10 PM, you might want to get there on the early side just in case. The post-film panel, which is being moderated by Gunnery Sergeant Harry Knowles (one of five AICN-ers who'll be at Comic Con this year - collect them all!!!), will include Dougherty, Anna Paquin, Brian Cox and Tahmoh Pinikett. Paquin will certainly attract the TRUE BLOOD horde, so, again, GET THERE EARLY!

Also on Thursday, from 2:30 PM to 3:30 PM, there will be an autograph signing at the WB booth.

The DVD/BD will hit stores this October (exact street date TBD). The first image above will be on the cardboard cover, while the spooky second pic will be on the actual case.

(Thanks Ain't It Cool)

Trailer for Peter Jackson's District 9

We've got a better look at the new full trailer for the upcoming sci-fi alien internment drama District 9, from producer Peter Jackson and director Neill Blomkamp.

The movie takes place in a South African refugee camp for extraterrestrials. It opens Aug. 14.

Potter 6 opens huge with $22.2M midnight take

Forget giant robots, drunken groomsmen and Vulcans: The real hero of the summer will be a boy wizard if the preliminary box-office figures for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince are any indication, according to Variety:

The movie easily scored the biggest midnight gross of all time in earning $22.2 million as it unspooled in 3,003 runs at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday.

That figure beats the $18 million earned in midnight runs by Warners' very own The Dark Knight and the $17 million earned by 20th Century Fox's Star Wars: Episode III—Revenge of the Sith.

There's a lot of pent-up demand among Potterphiles, who have had to do without an installment in their beloved franchise for two years. The last chapter, 2007's Order of the Phoenix, grossed $12 million in midnight runs on its way to a $139.7 million five-day debut.

Half-Blood Prince officially opens today.

Video: Lost Disney Wild Things Test Clip

We've all seen the trailer for Spike Jonze's film adaptation of Maurice Sendak's classic children's book Where the Wild Things Are, and it's hard to imagine anyone doing anything better.

But someone once tried: None other than Toy Story creator and now Disney animation executive John Lasseter, back in 1983. Also lost in the mists of time is an early animation test Lasseter did for Disney for the adaptation, until now: Monsters and found it on YouTube, and you can view it below.

Here's how the site describes the clip:

... Lasseter and [animator] Glen Keane were interested in combining traditional, hand-drawn animation with CGI backgrounds, so they shot the following test film featuring Max, the lead character of Wild Things. The studio rejected the idea because they said it was too expensive, and Lasseter was fired soon after.

But Lasseter ended up doing pretty well for himself. Getting the ax from Disney freed him up to get started in the new field of computer graphics. He would go on to be the head honcho of a little company called Pixar, directing
Toy Story and other blockbuster hits... Before he eventually returned to Disney in 2006, as chief creative officer. ...

Anyone know what TV show this clip comes from?

In case you've forgotten, here's the trailer for Jonze's movie for comparison.

The movie stars Catherine Keener, Max Records, Mark Ruffalo, Lauren Ambrose, James Gandolfini, Catherine O'Hara and Forest Whitaker and is slated to open on Oct. 16.

Gerard Butler on what makes Gamer a winner

Gerard Butler (left) and Michael C. Hall in Gamer

Gerard Butler always talks a good game, but the 300 star sounds truly jazzed about his upcoming sci-fi action movie Gamer, in which humans manipulate other humans in mass-scale, multiplayer online games. The film won't be released until Sept. 4, but Butler just screened it, and he swears it's super-cool, with amped-up action and violence in keeping with its R rating.

"It's what you'd expect if you lived in that world," Butler said in an exclusive telephone interview a few weeks ago while promoting his latest film, The Ugly Truth. "It doesn't stop. It really doesn't let up for a second, even in terms of the drama. I saw it for myself a few weeks ago, and I was blown away. I was so happy with how it turned out."

Butler said the film also delivers on other fronts. "It's a riot," he said. "It's very funny as well. That's what's cool about it. It has the ability to send itself up and not take itself too seriously. But at the same time it gives us a poignant message about the dangers of where entertainment and technology can take us."

Written and directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, the guys behind the Crank films, Gamer stars Butler as Kable, a guy imprisoned within a first-person shooter game called "Slayers." Kable is the game's stud, controlled by a kid who routinely leads Kable to victory. But Kable wants out, and he also wants revenge against the elusive and reclusive creator of "Slayers," Ken Castle (Michael C. Hall). Other co-stars include such familiar genre names as Amber Valletta, John Leguizamo, Milo Ventimiglia and Alison Lohman.

"Kable is actually in a prison, where they've instituted this new game, where pretty much nobody survives," Butler said. "And within the parameters of the game we are controlled by the gamers. This is watched globally. So I'm trapped in that and, meanwhile, trying to make my way through the game without being killed and, at the same time, down the system so that I can get back to the family I have. Gamer is a wild trip. I don't think people will have seen anything much like this before."

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