Friday, October 9, 2009

News - 10/09/09...

Another Reason They Make Animation

In our recent negotiations, the studios asserted (and I every so slightly paraphrase):

"DVD sales have taken a real hit. You've got to give us some relief because we're hurting here, bro."

They got some relief, but then there is this:

"Monsters vs. Aliens," the DreamWorks Animation film ... easily captured the top spot on all three home video charts the week ending Oct. 4.

A Warner release, the direct-to-video animated feature
"Superman/Batman: Public Enemies," debuted at No. 3 ...

It's true that DVD sales are down from the heady days of ... oh ... 2003. But animated features have held up considerably better than your garden variety live-action epics.

Which, of course, provides studios with plenty of motivation to produce animated product.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Picket lines likely at Ottawa animation festival

Visitors to the Ottawa International Animation Festival next week will probably encounter picket lines following Wednesday night's breakdown of talks between one of its venues and striking employees.

Some screenings of the festival, which runs from October 14 to 18, take place at the Canadian Museum of Civilization. The facility also hosts the 10th international meeting of La BD de Gatineau, a comic book and graphic novel conference, which runs from Friday to Monday.

Picketing continued Thursday outside the Museum of Civilization and the Canadian War Museum. About 400 workers at both centers have been on strike since September 21, mainly over wages and job security.

OIAF managing director Kelly Neall said Wednesday that she hadn't yet told any foreign delegates that they will need to cross a picket line to get inside. However, the festival will offer stickers to festival-goers to wear if they want, "just to show their support for the unionized workers," she told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

"I think the union realizes that we really don't have any choice as to a place to move, and the Museum of Civilization is also a very generous sponsor of ours."

Melissa Ferland, one of the picketers Wednesday outside the museum, said she appreciates what the OIAF has done to express support.

Talks between the employer and the Public Service Alliance of Canada broke down a few hours after resuming Wednesday afternoon. Discussions halted after museum management asked the PSAC to pull a demand for protection against the contracting out of jobs, the union said.

Gaumont, DQ Team Up for Galactik Football

French animation company Gaumont-Alphanim has signed a co-production deal with India’s DQ Entertainment, a studio that works on animation, gaming and live action projects.

The deal kicks off with production of a third series of Galactik Football, which follows two previous successful co-productions between the two companies, Delta State and Potatoes and Dragons.

One of the goals of the agreement is to raise more money to fund production through broadcasting and pre-sales agreements. The companies are discussing three more projects, including a live-action TV series.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Pocoyo Comes to U.S. in Spanish, English

BAFTA-winning animated series Pocoyo is brushing up on its languages, as a trio of deals will bring the show to the United States in English and Spanish.

ITV Studios Global Entertainment and Zinkia announced that Univision has acquired seasons 1 and 2 and the Pocoyo Space Circus Special for airing in Spanish in the United States. WGBH Boston also picked up the first two seasons in English for syndication to American Public Television markets, also in the United States.

Also, Playhouse Disney has renewed its license to broadcast both seasons in Asia.

“We are very excited to welcome Pocoyo to his new Univision home and have him be part of our Planeta U children’s programming block,” said Otto PadrĂ³n, senior VP of programming and promotions at Univision. “We are certain that Hispanic families across the United States will fall in love with this delightful character.”

Pocoyo is an animated series for preschoolers starring a captivating and inquisitive character that promotes creativity, self-awareness and self-confidence by learning through laughter and play.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Telescreen Series Score at MIPCOM

Dutch company Telescreen has scored deals at MIPCOM for its animated children’s series Frog & Friends, Miffy, Moomin and Dibo the Giftdragon.

Frog & Friends has sold home entertainment rights to its 26 seven-minute episodes to Beyond Magma in Australia and Edel Kids in Germany.

Also selling are broadcast rights to Miffy to SVT in Sweden, while Iceland’s RUV has picked up Moomin and Norviy Disk has acquired home entertainment rights in Russia to Dibo the Giftdragon and Moomin.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Anime Studio Adds Facebook, YouTube Tools

Upgrades to Smith Micro Software’s Anime Studio Debut and Anime Studio Pro allow animators to share their work on such popular web sites as Facebook and YouTube.

The upgrades also include versions in French and German.

Anime Studio Pro 6.1 lets artists create movies, cartoon animations, cutouts, full-length films and video, offering HD video support, professional quality output and powerful features such as motion tracking, built-in lip-syncing, vector-based drawing tools, bone-rigging and the ability to import scanned drawings and images.

Anime Studio Debut 6.1 offers a comprehensive set of easy-to-use animation tools that help hobbyists, artists and students create animations and cartoons for home videos, school projects or websites, as well as allows them to easily share creations via popular social networking sites such as Facebook and YouTube.

Current owners of Anime Studio 6 can update to version 6.1 at no cost by visiting The MSRP for Anime Studio Debut 6.1 is $49.99, with upgrades from previous versions priced at $19.99. For a limited time, owners of Anime Studio Debut can upgrade to Anime Studio Pro 6.1 for $129.99. The MSRP for Anime Studio Pro 6.1 is $199.99, with upgrades from previous versions priced at $129.99.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

2009: Five Features for Oscar??

I was going to write a post about this, but my friend Pete Hammond at the L.A. Times beat me to it. This has been a pretty good year for animated features and by my count we have fifteen films that are technically qualified for an Academy Award nomination. In order to qualify for five nominees (as opposed the usual 3) the producers of all fifteen of these films must enter their features for nomination. Then a 16th (or better yet, a 17th and 18th) film must qualify - the rules state that five animated features can be nominated if 16 films qualify. Here are the fifteen that already played (or will play) theatrically for at least one week in Los Angeles in 2009:

1. CORALINE - Focus Features.
2. MONSTERS VS. ALIENS - Dreamworks
3. BATTLE FOR TERRA - Lionsgate.
4. UP - Pixar.
5. ICE AGE: DAWN OF THE DINOSAURS - 20th Century-Fox.
6. PONYO - Walt Disney Pictures.
7. 9 - Focus Features.
9. EVANGELION: 1.0 - YOU ARE (NOT) ALONE - Funamation.
10. MARY AND MAX - Sundance Selects/IFC.
11. ASTRO BOY - Summit Entertainment.
13. THE FANTASTIC MR. FOX - 20th Century-Fox.
14. PLANET 51 - Tri-Star.

What, if any, other features are likely to open before now and the end of December? Perhaps The Secret of Kells, which had only one festival showing in LA. but no U.S. distributor that I know of. Perhaps the stop-mo A Town Called Panic, which recently played in NYC, will be given a run in LA? Maybe Disney, who are playing the direct-to-video feature Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure for one week at El Capitan in Hollywood, CA, next week, will submit it for Academy consideration? With ten (most likely all live action) films being nominated in the Best Feature category, it only seems fair that the animated feature race is upped to five contenders. Personally, I thought there were more than enough good films this year worthy of a shot at the prize.

(Thanks cartoon brew)

The new ass-kickin’ Michelin Man!

AdWeek is reporting on a new Michelin Tires ad campaign that transforms their 111 year old rubber-man mascot into an ass-kicking, tire tossing super hero. Psyop produced the new TV spot (below) for the TBWA\Chiat\Day agency. Have a look:

(Thanks cartoon brew)

"Prep & Landing" Preview and Stills On-line

Daemon's TV has posted a preview of Disney's Prep & Landing holiday special, which focuses on the unit of elite elves of the title whose mission is to ensure homes around the world are prepped in advance for a visit from Santa Claus. A video clip and two stills are included.

Mandy Moore on Voicing Disney's "Rapunzel"

Mandy Moore has spoken to the Rotten Tomatoes website about her role in the upcoming Disney animated feature film Rapunzel, in which she will play the title character. Moore discusses the work she's done for the movie so far, why it's such a thrill for her to be the next Disney Princess, and what she thought her chances were at her audition.

New "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" Video Clip from "Children of the Force"

Lucasfilm has released a new video clip from "Children of the Force," the upcoming new episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars that will premiere on Friday, October 9, 2009, at 8:00 PM (Eastern/Pacific). Click the link below to play the clip (requires QuickTime):

The full press release follows:

The True Architect of Evil Emerges in an All-New Episode of


(click to enlarge)

As STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS launched its second season, ruthless bounty hunter Cad Bane was wreaking his maliciously distinctive brand of destruction upon the heroes of the Republic - but he was merely a pawn in the greater game for galactic supremacy. In the thrilling conclusion to the events set in motion by Bane’s treachery, the ultimate architect of evil emerges to threaten the “Children of the Force,” in an all-new episode of STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS, airing at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT Friday, October 9 on Cartoon Network.

After outwitting his Jedi foes and escaping with the Holocron, bounty hunter Cad Bane sets into motion the next stage of his nefarious assignment: to find Force-sensitive younglings and take them to Mustafar for Sith training.

But Bane is merely the instrument of evil, a deadly distraction to occupy the Jedi while the true source continues to plot from the shadows. While he has been glimpsed in previous episodes – and in his seemingly benevolent double-role as Supreme Chancellor of the Republic – Darth Sidious emerges in “Children of the Force” as a direct threat to the galaxy’s future.

“He’s all the hidden secrets most of us have,” says Ian Abercrombie, who provides the smooth and silvery voice of the Janus-faced Sith Lord. “Palpatine is the face, and Sidious is the dark soul. When people are that bad, they cannot change. Somewhere in the back of my head, I know that Sidious is always there and that he will take over. Evil often does.”

For Abercrombie – perhaps best known for comedy roles such as Seinfeld’s doddering Mr. Pitt – providing the voice of THE CLONE WARS’ central villain has been a delicious departure – and a unique career challenge.

“Somebody told me once that when you play a villain, you must try to find a redeemable quality,” says Abercrombie. “I haven’t found it. He’s cold and completely shut down. So, in my head, it’s stillness; he’s very precise. He’s authoritative, he knows everything that’s going on, and so often he’s pulling the strings. It’s difficult to play, but it’s also interesting, because you can’t predict what he’ll do. I love it.

While embodying the evil of such an iconic character may be new to the venerable British actor, the Star Wars universe itself was not – though he could not have predicted that he’d be portraying the subversive driving force of that “galaxy far, far away.”

“It’s quite something, as they say. I was at the very first screening in May 1977 at Grauman’s Chinese Theater. The first Star Wars movie ever! I can’t even believe it, because I never stand in line like that,” he recalls. “But someone sold me on it, and that’s why I did. I never imagined I’d be a part of it. It’s an actor’s dream, playing something bigger and larger than yourself. You can have a field day.”

And with the outcome of the Clone Wars a foregone conclusion and his character’s triumph inevitable, Abercrombie can let his dark side run rampant and have a field day, indeed.

Fantastic Behind The Scenes Featurette

I love it when the Behind-the-Scenes material focuses on the artists and technology behind an animated film, as opposed to the voice cast. Actors are critical, but their involvement is minimal compared to the animators and craftsman toiling on the project for years and years.

Here’s a new featurette for Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox which does just that. We meet producer Jeremy Dawson (The Darjeeling Limited, The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou) and animation supervisor Mark Waring (Corpse Bride) who detail the “the Fishcat Method,” developed by Fish and Matthew Kitcat (Chicken Run). The system allowed director Anderson to approve the framing of a shot from anywhere in the world. Fantastic Mr. Fox is in theaters on November 25, 2009.

Andic Composes Rhapsody with James

Rok Andic, an Animation Mentor student, has released his latest short film, Rhapsody with James. It follows an unusual creature who struggles with a split personality.

Terry Gilliam Weighs In on Best Animated Films

Along with help from Terry Gilliam (who started his career as an animator), Time Out London has entered their list of 50 Greatest Animated Films. Much like Rotten Tomatoes’ list, this one is sure to create controversy (for instance…. Antz ahead of Ratatouille? And where’s Toy Story 2?). Gilliam didn’t help pick the list, but instead offers his comments throughout the piece. If you’re too anxious to click through the whole list – click here to see the #1 film.

'The Flash' Movie Back On Track?

Earlier this week, “The Dark Knight” producer Charles Roven publicly disclosed his departure from “The Flash” feature film, causing rumors to fly about whether the movie would even be made.

However, in a statement to IGN, Dan Mazeau—the previously announced screenwriter of “The Flash”—reassured fans that the fastest man alive was still moving forward.

“’The Flash’ has not been hobbled. Everything is moving forward as planned," said Mazeau. "I'm still writing the script. Geoff Johns is still consulting. Flash fans have no cause for concern, and—IMO—lots to be excited about."

Despite being one of DC’s iconic heroes, “The Flash” has had a difficult time escaping development hell. The addition of longtime “Flash” scribe Geoff Johns to the writing team was greeted by fans as a step in the right direction, following the departure of director Shawn Levy.

In the context of DC’s recent reorganization into DC Entertainment, it’s possible that Roven’s removal from “The Flash” came as the company recalled the film rights to several of their major characters. At around the same time, producer Joel Silver was taken off of the “Wonder Woman” film after years of false starts.

Given the latest comments from Mazeau, it’s reasonable to assume that a new “Flash” producer is already in place. If that is the case, we may hear more about potential casting and directors in the near future.

Video: Where the Wild Things Are exclusive interviews

Go behind the scenes with Max Records, Forest Whitaker, Lauren Ambrose and the rest of the cast of Where the Wild Things Are. Director Spike Jonze's film adaptation of Maurice Sendak's beloved children's book stars hits theaters Oct. 16.

SPIDER-MAN 4 Writer to direct VENOM?

Gary Ross to direct VENOM?

Gary Ross, who wrote and directed 'Pleasantville' and 'Seabuiscuit', and is the latest writer to lend his pen to the 'Spider-Man 4' script, has been tipped as the new scribe working on the 'Venom' spin-off movie. Both Variety and The Hollywood Reporter filed reports on the news that would see Ross reworking the current script from 'Zombieland' writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick.

Most interestingly, Ross is eying the project as a potential directing vehicle.

Reports are vague as to if and how the movie will tie in to 'Spider-Man 3' which provided a disappointing introduction to the character for movie fans. Venom was played by Topher Grace in that one and there's no word as to whether plans call for Grace to reprise the role for the spin-off.

Ross will also produce the movie, along with Avi Arad and Marvel Entertainment.

If 1 million fans demand Paranormal Activity, you'll see it

Paramount is letting you decide whether their scary indie film Paranormal Activity gets a nationwide release. They're using the Eventful Web site to create a voting system where anyone can submit a request (aka "a demand") to have the film shown in their area. Paramount says if they get 1 million demands, they'll "open nationwide"!

Over on Entertainment Weekly they're comparing this idea to the brilliant marketing campaign behind another low-budget horror film, The Blair Witch Project, but this one seems more like straight-up marketing to us. Nevertheless, it's kind of fun to make it seem like we have some control over what films we get to see in the theaters.

The vote is already over 600,000 as of this writing, so our guess is you'll get to see Paranormal Activity before Halloween if you want to.

EXCLUSIVE: Eliza Dushku On 'Iron Man 2' And Her Black Widow Fan Campaign

Way back in February, long before many of the major players in "Iron Man 2" had been cast, "Dollhouse" actress Eliza Dushku made a public plea to play Russian spy Natasha Romanoff, a.k.a. Black Widow. And I have to admit, we were all pretty psyched about the idea around Splash Page HQ.

Cut to eight months later and Scarlett Johansson can be seen slinking around in the character's signature skin-tight, black costume. So, what happened?

"I think it went straight to Miss Thing," laughed Dushku when she dropped by to promote the current season of Joss Whedon's latest fan-favorite science-fiction series.

"I get it, you know? I get it. She's pretty fierce," said the actress.

Asked whether she ever heard anything from the studio after making her public call to fans, Dushku said she got the impression that things had already been settled behind the scenes at that point.

"I had read about it—I'm a huge [Robert] Downey Jr. fan and also [Jon] Favreau—but I think they had it packaged up at the studio," she explained.

So, while we're certainly looking forward to seeing Johansson make her debut in "Iron Man 2," we can't help but wonder about that alternate universe where Dushku's fan campaign won her the role—and audiences were already looking forward to seeing her take on the sexy Soviet super-spy in May 2010.

How you can watch NASA bomb the moon

NASA is planning to drop a spent rocket motor into the Cabeus crater on the moon Friday morning as part of the search to find lunar water. The motor is a leftover piece of the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite that includes a "shepherding spacecraft" which will follow behind the rocket motor before it too smashes into the moon. Ouch.

It's not that NASA hates the moon, it's just that creating two more craters on the already pock-marked lunar surface will stir up regolith plumes that should let scientists figure out if there is water trapped below the surface. We found a lot of details over on MSNBC, including pointers on how you can watch the event if you own a telescope.

For us non-telescope-owners, NASA TV is going to broadcast the whole thing live starting at 7:30 a.m. ET and we're guessing they'll archive the footage in case you don't get up early.

We're not quite sure how but we're expecting Michael Bay will want to work this into the "story line" for Transfomers 3.

1 comment:

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