Monday, October 19, 2009

News - 10/19/09...

'Wild Things' delivers $32.5M box-office rumpus

Movie fans are eagerly making the journey to "Where the Wild Things Are."

The live-action adaptation of Maurice Sendak's beloved picture book led the box office with a $32.5 million opening weekend.

"Where the Wild Things Are" was followed by Jamie Foxx and Gerard Butler's vengeance thriller "Law Abiding Citizen," which debuted with $21.3 million.

Expanding into wider release, the low-budget horror sensation "Paranormal Activity" moved up to No. 3 with $20.2 million.

"Paranormal Activity" outdid the premiere of the big studio fright flick "The Stepfather," which played in nearly four times as many theaters but managed just a No. 5 opening with $12.3 million.





'Superman/Batman' Animated Sequel In The Works

Hot off the heels of the recently released animated film “Superman/Batman: Public Enemies” comes word that a sequel is already on the way.

According to Mania, Warner Premiere is so pleased by the performance of “Superman/Batman: Public Enemies”—which sold close to 200,000 copies in its first week—that they are actively looking to make ““Superman/Batman 2” the first sequel produced for their line of popular DC animated films.

While no further details have been revealed at this time, popular speculation has centered on at least two of the subsequent storylines by comic scribe Jeph Loeb: “Absolute Power,” which finds Superman and Batman raised as dictators by three time-traveling supervillains from the 31st century; and “With A Vengeance,” which features Superman and Batman trapped in an alternate reality and hunted by the Maximums—the heroes of that Earth who were obvious analogues of Marvel’s “Ultimates” and “The Avengers.”

However, "The Supergirl From Krypton" would probably work best as the sequel to “Public Enemies”, since it directly followed “Public Enemies” in the original “Superman/Batman” comic and set up the subsequent storylines. As the title suggests, "The Supergirl From Krypton" reintroduced Supergirl into the modern DCU and followed Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman’s quest to train Supergirl and save her from Darkseid.

Given the early nature of this project, it will probably be at least a year or two before the film is released. The next DC animated DVDs will be the previously announced “Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths” film and the new line of DC Animated short features.





Australian beer ad features Snow White drifting

The Seven Dwarfs' chant of "Heigh-Ho" has turned into "Hi, ho," courtesy of an Australian beer advertisement.

The campaign for Jamieson's Raspberry Ale shows the not-so-virginal Snow White -- renamed "Ho White" -- blowing smoke rings as she lies back in bed alongside seven half-clad dwarfs.

Brewing company The Foundry launched the ad this week online, as well as in liquor stores and on bar coasters. Instead of Sleepy, Happy and Doc, three of the wee cartoon men are named Filthy, Smarmy and Randy -- supposedly to depict different kinds of drinkers.

Creators of the ad said it was designed to show Australian drinkers that the fruit-flavoured beer is "anything but sweet."

Reportedly, campaign has angered entertainment giant Disney, which licenses the Snow White character. However, Disney, which released the feature film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937, was not immediately available for comment.

The Foundry acknowledged that it had had "a little bit of contact" with Disney over the depiction, Sydney's Daily Telegraph newspaper reported.

Now this risque version of the fairytale favourite, renamed "Ho White" to promote a local beer, has drawn the wrath of Disney.

Although The Foundry's Web site had featured pictures of "Ho White," links to the campaign appeared to have been disabled. As well, the campaign's official Web site, anythingbutsweet.com, was inaccessible.

The blockages may be caused by a copyright infringement, Australia's Food Week Web site suggested.










Jamieson's take on the Disney tale: suddenly, the Seven Dwarfs don't seem so small.





Hasbro Studios Hires Steiner, Licht

Hasbro Studios continues to fill its executive ranks, naming to new positions Linda Steiner and Lisa Licht.

Steiner comes to the post of head of girls and preschool programming most recently from Warner Bros. Animation, where she was senior VP for creative affairs. She previously worked in senior roles at the children’s entertainment division of ABC Entertainment and at Cartoon Network.

Licht has been named general manager of Hasbro Studios, a promotion from her previous post as general manager entertainment and licensing for Hasbro. Her previous posts include senior roles at Twentieth Century Fox and Mattel, where she managed the Barbie brand.

Both will report to Hasbro Studios president Stephen J. Davis.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)





Chaotic Products Set for France, Israel

A pair of deals forged by 4Kids Entertainment and Chaotic USA will bring the Chaotic trading-card game and TV series to broad lines of licensed products in France and Israel.

The deal in France is with Tennessee S.A., which will produce a back-to-school line of Chaotic-branded products including backpacks, school bags, DJ bags, pencil boxes, pilot bags and handle bags. The TV series launched earlier this year on Gulli TV and has built a strong following.

In Israel, Mitos International will produce a line of branded apparel and footwear that includes pants, sweatpants, tops, sweaters, sweatshirts, shirts, coats, jackets, t-shirts, tank tops, shorts, boots, sneakers, casual shoes, sandals, winter slippers and flip flops. The line is scheduled to launch in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza in the first quarter of 2010.

The series has been airing in Israel on Noga TV.

“These latest deals are evidence of the growing popularity of Chaotic in France and Israel,” said Sandra Vauthier-Cellier, managing director of 4Kids Entertainment International. ”We look forward to building on this success and further developing the brand across all sectors locally and globally.”

(Thanks Animation Magazine)





Color stylist Derdad Aghamalian remembered Oct. 25

A commemoration of color stylist Derdad Aghamalian, who worked for DiC, MGM, Universal, Disney, Marvel and New World since 1984, will be held from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Sunday, October 25.

Aghamalian died September 10. His age was not immediately available.

The remembrance of his life and art will take place at Brand Library Recital Hall, 1601 West Mountain Street, Glendale, California.

The commemoration will include live music by ANI String Quartet and a slideshow. Aghamalian's paintings will be on display. A reception will follow.

For more information, call Tamara at (818) 209-0030.

Aghamalian was a color stylist for Rainbow Brite (1986) and a character color stylist for Long Ago and Far Away (1991).

He was a color designer for Dinosaucers and Hello Kitty's Furry Tale Theater (both 1987) and Captain N: The Game Master (1989). In addition, for the 1990 series Captain N & the Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3, he was the color designer for the "Captain N" character. Aghamalian was a color key designer for the 1988-89 Alvin & the Chipmunks TV series.

Aghamalian was a color key artist for The Real Ghost Busters (1986), Maxie's World (1989), Captain Planet and the Planeteers (1990-91) and Spider-Man (1994). He was a color artist for Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego? (1994).

In direct-to-video movies, he was a color key stylist for The Secret of NIMH 2: Timmy to the Rescue (1998) and Tom Sawyer (2000).

He appeared as himself in the 2008 video Animating "The Real Ghostbusters."





Man smashes TV with hammer while kids watch toon

Police in Seneca Falls, New York accuse a 25-year-old man of smashing a TV screen with a hammer while three children watched a cartoon.

Junior A. DeOliveira of Clay, New York was arrested Wednesday. He was charged with criminal mischief, a felony, and three counts of endangering the welfare of a child.

DeOliveira smashed the screen October 5, police said. Seneca Falls police chief Fred Capozzi could not say Friday morning which cartoon the kids were watching, their ages or their relationship to the accused, the Syracuse Post-Standard reported.

In lieu of $20,000 cash or $40,000 bond bail, DeOliveira was arraigned and sent to the Seneca County Correctional Facility. He must appear Tuesday for a felony hearing.





Pups of Liberty trailer

From Bert and Jennifer Klein (The Chestnut Tree) a handsome new short, Pups of Liberty. Here’s the trailer:



(Thanks cartoon brew)





Ted Turner wants Cartoon Network back…






…but that ain’t gonna happen, though part of me wishes it could.

Turner made this statement in an interview today with Bloomberg News. Unfortunately Ted would remove Superman and run Captain Planet in prime time. But at least he’d return cartoons to the channel.

Watch the video of Turner’s statement here.

(Thanks cartoon brew)





John Ortved on Fox's Hurdles to "Simpsons" Unauthorized History

Vanity Fair reporter John Ortved has written an article for the Daily Beast documenting some of the troubles he had writing The Simpsons: An Uncensored, Unauthorized History, the book based on a similar article he wrote for Vanity Fair. Among other topics, Ortved details how Fox and Simpsons producer James L. Brooks reacted negatively to his article and book and attempted to shut both down, also noting the dissatisfaction that several former and current Simpsons staffers have with Brooks and Simpsons creator Matt Groening and how Fox's efforts to kill the book probably made it more thorough in the end. (NOTE: Ortved's article contains language you won't hear on The Simpsons.)

The Simpsons: An Uncensored, Unauthorized History is on sale now.





TELETOON Pilot Project to Begin Online Streaming on October 23, 2009

TELETOON has announced details for the on-line broadcast of the selections from the TELETOON Detour Pilot Project, which accepted over 200 submissions from the Canadian animation community in competition to find new programming for TELETOON's evening and night-time programming lineup. One pilot title per week will appear starting Friday, October 23, 2009, with standard definition streaming on either thedetour.ca (English) or ledetour.ca (French) and WebHD streaming on Teletoon.Sympatico.ca (English) or Detour.Sympatico.ca (French).

The full press release follows with details on pilot titles, plot synopses, and premiere dates:

ONLINE LAUNCH FOR TELETOON DETOUR PILOT PROJECTS

Straddling a wide range of topics, style of animation and comedy sensibilities, the ten pilot episodes created through the TELETOON Detour Pilot Project are set to roll out on Sympatico.ca and thedetour.ca from October 23. Aimed at adults aged 18 to 34, the ten pilots were selected from over 200 submissions for the TELETOON Detour Pilot Project initiative that launched in fall 2007 in an effort to encourage new comedic voices in the Canadian animation community and possibly find new programming for TELETOON’s evening and night time line-up.

“The audience for the style of comedy found in these shows is online. To be able to interact with them and learn what kind of content they want to see is a unique opportunity for both us and the show producers,” said Athena Georgaklis, Manager, Original productions, TELETOON. “To launch the Pilot Projects through a medium where fans can comment, vote and leave feedback is an exciting prospect and I can’t wait to see what the reaction will be.”

Beginning Friday, October 23, one pilot title will premiere each week across the online platforms. The English language versions of the pilots will be available for WebHD streaming on Teletoon.Sympatico.ca as well as SD streaming on thedetour.ca. The French language pilots will be available for WebHD streaming on Detour.Sympatico.ca as well as SD streaming on ledetour.ca. The ten pilots come from established producers, some that have worked with TELETOON before, as well as companies just starting in the industry. TELETOON invested nearly one and a half million dollars across the ten pilots with additional funding available to many of the pilots from the Canadian Television Fund Production Incentive Pilot Program. The TELETOON Detour Pilot Project has helped producers to create a finished pilot they can take to the international marketplace.

In addition to the online airings, the TELETOON Detour Pilot Project titles will also screen at the Ottawa international Animation Festival. Animation fans can catch the showcase of surreal and irreverent comedy on the nights of Thursday October 15, Friday October 16 and Saturday October 17 beginning at 11:30 pm at the Arts Court Theatre.

The TELETOON Detour Pilot Project Premiere Schedule

October 23
Ninjamaica

Production Company: Lenz Entertainment
Director: Cal Brunker
With a cutting edge graphic look and a creative team made up of hot new comedians and musicians, Ninjamaica melds animated action adventure with biting comedy and a bumping musical soundtrack. An amnesiac Rasta with extraordinary fighting powers and an insatiable appetite sets out to rebuild his memory and reclaim his life, all while dodging bullets from his many enemies and possibly making time for a Twinkie. OIAF Screening Friday, October 16.

October 30
Angora Napkin

Production Company: Mugisha Enterprises
Directors: Troy Little and Nick Cross
A unique musical bubble-gum pop trio, Angora Napkin is a band unlike any other composed of three sexy girls Beatrice, Molly, Mallory. Attracting trouble along with the macabre, the girls always seem to come out on top with the help of their impromptu peppy songs and inability to see the dark side of any situation, no matter how menacing. OIAF Screening Thursday, October 15.

November 6
Dunce Bucket

Production Company: A Nunchucks Pilot Inc. Production for Fresh TV Inc.
Director: George Elliott
Dunce Bucket is a half hour adult sketch comedy show featuring Canada's hottest new sketch troop. Comedy geniuses Lori Elliot, Terry McGurrin, Christian Potenza, Adam Reid and Renee Percy join forces to create some of animation's most memorable and insanely funny characters including Fifi & Bobo, politically incorrect chess pieces and neurotic talking stick figures. A wide of animation styles and break-neck pacing make Dunce Bucket a guaranteed gigglefest. OIAF Screening Friday, October 16.

November 13
Nerdland

Production Company: Cuppa Coffee
Director: Nev Bezaire
Full of sharp pop culture references and with a scathing sense of humour, Nerdland follows the misanthropic adventures of a group of obsessive nerds as they try to achieve pwnage and survive in a decidedly nerd-unfriendly society. OIAF Screening Thursday, October 15.

November 20
Drop Dead Gorgeous

Production Company: CINEMARIA
Director: Caroline R. Maria
Animated in a distinctive anime-inspired style, Drop Dead Gorgeous is fast-paced morality tale with a bloody, absurdist twist as four luscious, sex-hungry, fashion-gorged college girls moonlight as an elite troop of hired assassins. Into fashion, music, hot guys and tabloid gossip, the girls are as ruthlessly selective about who is in, as they are about who is taken out. OIAF Screening Saturday, October 17.

November 27
The Wireless Family
Production Company: Encore Television
Director: Michel Courtemanche
The Wireless Family is your typical dysfunctional and crisis prone suburban family. Ordinary challenges soon develop into extraordinary situations however, as they become unintentional participants in the Middle East peace process, an assassination attempt on the Pope and a character assassination in the NHL. OIAF Screening Thursday, October 15.

December 4
Celebutard Nation

Production Company: Nelvana
Director: Dean Outschoorn & Darin Bristow
Celebutard Nation places the undeserved spotlight on the scandalous exploits of four over-exposed 20-something celebrities as they stumble headfirst into the pitfalls of unwarranted fame and unearned fortune. Budding movie-star Paisley, heiress Terra, rock star spawn Kimberly and billionaire Baron, are blissfully unaware that the whole world mocks them, pities them and occasionally, in their darkest moments, wonders what it is like to be them. OIAF Screening Friday, October 16.

December 11
Space Knights

Production Company: Fatkat Animation
Directors: Andy Coyle and Gene Fowler
Space Knights is a parody of super hero cartoons of the late 90’s. A group of slightly outdated superheroes who drive Honda Accords that when linked together, can transform into a variety of giant robots, from a pterodactyl, to a giant T-Rex, to a saber tooth tiger, the Space Knights use these and other powers to stop a never ending stream of bizarre creatures and insane villains. The irreverent comedy follows the misshapen adventures of the crime fighting team who must battle bickering and in-fighting almost as much as the external foes they face. OIAF Screening Saturday, October 17.

December 18
Chinatown Cops

Production Company: Portfolio Entertainment
Directors: Howie Shia and David Wolfe
A crime wave has hit Chinatown, enshrouding everything from the mom and pop laundromat to the giant dim sum restaurant in a dangerous veil of crime and corruption. Sadly, nobody cares but Officer Jay Walker and his partner Rick Xia: sexy, sensitive super cops of the Chinatown beat. They will brave any danger and suffer any humiliation to inflict their specialized brand of Ginseng Justice in order to save their home from the talons of mysterious new crime queen-pin, Honey Moon. OIAF Screening Saturday, October 17.

December 25
Fugget About It

Production Company: 9 Story Entertainment Inc
Director: Vadim Kapridov
It's hard for a quick-tempered goodfella who's used to always getting his way to settle for suburban life in Canada. Powerful New York under-boss, Jimmy Falcone and his family try unsuccessfully to fit in the suburban life in the witness protection program in sleepy Oakville Ontario. OIAF Screening Friday, October 17.

TELETOON is where cartoons live – all day, every day. Available in both English and French in 7.7 million Canadian homes, TELETOON brings kids, youth and adults the best in animated entertainment. Too hot for daytime, from 9 pm ET/PT TELETOON airs fearless and irreverent cartoons aimed at teen and adult audiences. TELETOON is also available on teletoon.com as well as On Demand, on Mobile TV and iTunes. Founded in 1997, TELETOON Canada inc. is owned by Astral Media Inc. (50%), and Corus Entertainment Inc. (50%)





The Girl is Numero Uno

The gift to Diz Co. that keeps on giving:

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment's new 70th anniversary edition of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" topped the national video sales chart its first week in stores ...

Eight years ago, when
"Snow White" was first released on the then-nascent DVD format, the release set a new one-day sales record for DVD of 1 million units ...

Snow White was released in December, 1937, became an immediate hit, and made Disney a major force in Hollywood. It also grossed $8 million. While this seems paltry today, it made Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs the highest grossing feature in Hollywood's (then) twenty-five year history*.

SW has been making big money ever since. Its theatrical gross, after re-releases that extended from the 1940s to the 1990s, totals $184,925,486.

And that, of course, is only part of the cash flow. There have been millions from merchandising and hit records, millions more from video releases. SW, rolled out on VHS in 1994, sold fifty million video cassettes worldwide. It sold millions of DVDs in 2001, and now hits the top of the charts yet again with its Blu-ray release.

There's only one other film from the 1930s that has had similar success to Snow White, and that's the big-budget Civil War epic titled Gone With the Wind. Outside of the Clark Gable picture, no other live-action film comes close.

Not bad for an 86-minute film that has no flesh-and-blood actors in it.

* Not counting Birth of a Nation, which probably made more, but for which there is no definitive accounting.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)





Birdo Team Frees Teenage Girl

Check out this new spot for Sempre Livre Teen, a sanitary napkin product by Johnson & Johnson, Brasil. This 2D ad, which looks and moves beautifully, was animated enitirely in Flash and was directed by Luciana Eguti and Paulo Muppet at Birdo Studio. I spotted this on the blog of an animator on the project, Pedro Eboli, who was joined by animators William Iamazi Ferro and Bruno Hamzagic. The agency overseeing the spot, titled My Life as a Teenage Girl, was Samurai.







Disney hits the reset button on Winnie the Pooh

Jim Hill talks about that new hand-drawn feature that Walt Disney Animation Studios currently has in development. Which will be done in the style of the "Pooh" featurettes of the 1960s & 1970s

It wasn’t exactly the news that animation fans were expecting. That Walt Disney Animation Studios would be following up “The Princess and the Frog” (i.e. The Company’s much anticipated return to hand-drawn animation) with a feature-length Winnie the Pooh project.

Ah, but there was method to the Mouse’s madness. After several years of experimenting with A.A. Milne’s much beloved characters (EX: Using virtual sets as well as the Japanese “Bunraku” puppeteering technique for Playhouse Disney’s “The Book of Pooh” show to make it appears as though this set of stuffed animals had actually come to life …










Copyright Disney. All Rights Reserved

… to the CG animated “My Friends Tigger and Pooh.” Which hoped to make Milne’s characters more palatable to contemporary audiences by giving the Hundred Acre Woods gang a few new playmates. To be specific a six-year-old girl called Darby and her pet dog Buster) …














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… survey work done by the Company showed that consumers weren’t all that crazy with the direction that Disney had taken with the Winnie the Pooh franchise. That – to be honest – they wanted the silly old bear that they remembered from their childhood. Not a version of Winnie the Pooh who dressed like a super sleuth and then solved education-based mysteries.

About this same time, “Meet the Robinsons” director Steve Anderson and “The Princess and The Frog” story supervisor Don Hall approached John Lasseter with what they thought was going to be a home premiere project. And what they proposed was almost startling: An old school Winnie the Pooh movie. Done in the style of the original 1966 featurette, “Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree”















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… where the characters in that animated film knew that they were living inside of a storybook …













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… More importantly, that they were all stuffed animals who belonged to one special little boy, Christopher Robin.














Copyright Disney. All Rights Reserved

But what Steve & Don didn’t realize was that John was a huge fan of the “Winnie the Pooh” featurettes of the 1960s & 1970s. That Lasseter loved virtually every aspect of these films – from their watercolor backgrounds …










Copyright Disney. All Rights Reserved

… to their whimsical style of storytelling. And here’s the really important thing: That John kind of resented what The Walt Disney Company had turned Pooh into over the past 33 years. That what had originally made this silly old bear so unique & distinct had been lost while A.A. Milne’s characters had been commercialized.

So Lasseter surprised Anderson & Hall but not only embracing to their old school Pooh idea but by also insisting that this proposed home premiere (which would just be called “Winnie the Pooh”) be a theatrical release. What’s more, John wanted this new hand-drawn film to be as close as to “Honey Tree,” “Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day” and “Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too” in style & tone as it could possibly be.

In order to do that, Steve and Don reached out to Disney Legend Burny Mattinson. Who – as it turns out – had actually worked on the original “Winnie the Pooh” featurettes. Not to mention giving a very young John Lasseter one of his first jobs at Walt Disney Productions back in the late 1970s. Which was animating several characters for “Mickey's Christmas Carol.”

Anyway ... Anderson, Hall & Mattinson put their heads together and came up with a suitable feature-length storyline for “Winnie the Pooh.” FYI None of the stories used in this film will be drawn from that authorized Winnie the Pooh sequel that hit store shelves last week, David Benedictus’ “Return to the Hundred Acre Wood” (Dutton Juvenile, October 2009). No, this new Walt Disney Animation Studios production will be based on the original source material. Five A.A. Milne’s stories from “Winnie the Pooh” and “The House At Pooh Corner” that hadn’t yet been used in any previous Disney Pooh projects.

“Which five stories?,” you ask. Well, the folks at WDAS haven’t officially announced this yet. But at least two of the tales being adapted to the screen this time around will be from Milne’s first “Pooh” book, 1926’s “Winnie-the-Pooh.” And they are Chapter IV (In Which Eeyore Loses a Tail and Pooh Finds One) and Chapter VIII (In Which Christopher Robin Leads an Expotition to the North Pole).














Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter at the Walt Disney Animation Studios / Pixar Animation Studios presentation at Disney's D23 Expo on September 13, 2009 at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim,California.
Photo by Eric Charbonneau
Copyright 2009 Disney Enterprises, Inc.
All Rights Reserved


Anywho … For those of you who are fretting that a feature-length “Winnie the Pooh” film may be a little cutsie-pooh … er … cutsie-poo to sit through while it's in theaters, Lasseter says not to worry. When he talked this project up at the D23 EXPO, John made a point of saying that this upcoming Walt Disney Animation Studios release is “ … not just for little kids.” More importantly that “ … you won’t believe how funny this thing is.”

Now where this gets interesting is that Disney Consumer Products is going to try & take advantage of this new “Winnie the Pooh” film. Use this old school take on A. A. Milne's characters as an excuse to hit the reset button on several Pooh product lines.

This past June at the Licensing International Expo in Las Vegas, DCP officials talked a bit about their plan to reposition Disney’s Winnie the Pooh franchise. Highlighting some of the language that will be used as part of this relaunch. As in:

“Wouldn’t be great if you and your child could return to that singular, golden place … The Hundred Acre Woods? Only Pooh can take you there. Join us on the journey.”

So look for a lot of these old school Pooh products to start turning up on store shelves in early 2011. Which – not-so-co-incidentally – is when this new WDAS hand-drawn feature-length project, “Winnie the Pooh,” will start popping up in theaters around the country.











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Gammill Meets Mell Lazarus

Animation writer Tom Gammill(The Simpsons, Futurama) visits with cartoonist Mell Lazarus (Miss Peach), and they check out his illustrated piano:



(Thanks cartoon brew)





Topics of Concern

Yesterday I was at one of the major animation studios when an industry veteran comes up to me. He says:

"Steve, end of the week I'm out of here. I've got a job offer from Blank, and I'm taking it. They want to do animated features and they're looking to hire people with experience.

"I just haven't fit in around here. I'm working for the same money I was making fifteen years ago. I'm back to doing support work. But I'm getting my hours, and I've been working the last ten months, so I can't complain. A lot of people haven't been had jobs ..."


Overall, the mood of the cartoon biz is ... tense. People who are employed hunker down and hang on to what they've got. People who aren't pick up freelance, cash their unemployment checks, and keep looking. I've been working with a group that's been pushing a non-union place to organize. One of these folks e-mailed me complaining that they'd heard I had mentioned their name in public, and "Please keep your mouth shut. I don't want anybody knowing I'm collecting rep cards ..."

At yet another studio, the old chestnut: "We're cutting staff, everyone has to work more efficiently, and by the way, we have no money in the budget for overtime" has circulated far and wide.

As I told several artists over lunch, "Studios are cutting costs in every direction. There's work out there, but nobody gets retained when it's done. The last scene or storyboard is turned in, they are out the door."

And I ran across a DreamWorks Animation employee who said:

"I'm getting laid off at the end of this picture. The rest of the guys in the department got picked up for new shows, but I didn't get slotted ..."

So even DreamWorks has the occasional layoff, even as new hires arrive in other departments.

Like I say. I've seen happier days.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)





South Park Wrestling is Awesome

Next Wednesday’s South Park episode, Wrestling is Awesome, goes into the squared circle of professional wrestling. Here’s a clip:







Book Review: South of the Border with Disney

The Three Caballeros will always hold a place in my heart. As a child of the 1960s and early 70s, at a time when my class mates were experimenting with mind-altering drugs, I was getting my high off screenings of early 30s Fleischer cartoons and Disney’s South American psychedelics. Is there anything trippier than the last 45 minutes of The Three Caballeros or the Blame It On The Samba sequence in Melody Time? I’ve always wondered what the thinking was behind these films and now, finally, I have all the answers.

J.B. Kaufman’s new book, South of the Border with Disney should be a permanent addition to your Disney or animation history bookshelf. It goes way beyond the basic information of Disney’s South American tour, as outlined in Ted Thomas’ recent film Walt and El Grupo. Thomas’ film was concerned with the trip, Kaufman’s focus is on the films. J.B. covers El Grupo’s tour more throughly and, more importantly, follows through to discuss each film that resulted from that initial trip, a complete examination from development to end product - from Saludos Amigos (1943) to Destino (2003).

The book explains things I had always wondered about (for example, why Saludos Amigos was also released under the title Saludos; or why Panchito was never used on screen again), and reveals new facts I had no idea of (such as definitive information on all the unfinished shorts and aborted feature concepts; and that half of the live action footage used in Saludos Amigos was actually shot in Burbank, months after the trip to South America). Kaufman (who has emerged alongside Canemaker and Barrier as a leading Disney historian) discusses in depth and in detail, not only the well know features and shorts, but the more obscure nontheatrical health films and rarely seen documentaries Disney made primarily for the Latin America markets. You will not find this information anywhere else.

The appendix includes a complete filmography, a discography and information on related South America themed Disney comic books. It’s not an “art book” per se, but there are ample color illustrations from the Disney Archive to illustrate the text, and overall a high quality job in all printing aspects. For me, this is the animation book of the year. A great read, and I highly recommend it.



(Thanks cartoon brew)





Animated Shorts: Directing DC - Public Enemies to Crisis







There’s an interesting trend going down at Warner Bros. Animation.

The first generation of talent at the studio started in the early 1990s with the likes of Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, Andrea Romano and Alan Burnett. These were the people who broke the TV animation world wide open with “Batman: The Animated Series,” then went on to do “The Adventures of Batman” and “Superman.”

Toward the end of the decade, one could say a new generation appeared. Trained by Timm, Burnett and Dini, their names included Glen Murakami, James Tucker and Dwayne McDuffie. This group raised the bar with shows such as “Teen Titans” and “Justice League.”

Now it looks like a third generation is starting to emerge. Spearheading this latest class of animators are Sam Liu and Lauren Montgomery. Montgomery has truly earned her bones with the direct-to-DVD releases “Wonder Woman” and “Green Lantern: First Flight.” Liu also deserves some mad props. This year he directed the Thor segment of “Hulk vs...” and now, “Superman/Batman: Public Enemies.”

“It’s kind of exciting in a way,” says Liu. “It’s also funny. I was talking to a close friend of mine about this. When ‘Batman: The Animated Series’ first came out, the style that Bruce created—the pacing and design—was so much more like a movie than a cartoon, it was a huge contrast to what was happening.

“There are so many other people coming up, too. Lauren and I just happen to be the directors of it, but all the people who work with us are very talented and have been working here for about ten years, give or take. We are all video and anime fans. We read information a lot faster than before. We grew up in the middle of geek culture. Now we’re putting in what we like. Even Bruce says the old Batman stuff is now so slow to him. He would love to go back and re-edit that stuff.”


Not that “Public Enemies” was an easy assignment for its director. There are a number of very interesting reasons the movie is one of the shortest in the DC Animated Universe library, clocking in at 66 minutes.

The first is that it was decided to try to stay as loyal to the comics the movie is based on. Say what you will, Superman/Batman #1-6’s artist, Ed McGuinness, is not the easiest style to animate. The iconic heroes are incredibly muscled, virtually ripped and sporting six packs under their iconic chest logos.

“That aspect of Ed McGuiness’ art, which is heavily muscled/muscles bulging everywhere, was important,” says Liu. “It’s kind of difficult to get some of it. The studio we used did do a pretty good job of keeping it, generally. From what I heard, it was a bit tough on them.

“The more lines, every line you have to put down, that’s one more line the animators have to draw as well. Then they have to those additional lines 24 frames per second, or as we do it, 12 frames. That’s a lot of drawings. Every extra line you have to draw is compounding the work that many times. That’s why animation tries to cut as many lines as possible. It makes the work load doable.”

Another element for the movie’s shortness is just the number of action sequences. No less an authority than Frank Paur (“Gargoyles,” “Hulk Vs.”) will boldly state that Liu is one incredibly good storyboard artist. Liu appreciates the compliment, but will also tell you“Public Enemies” tested his and his crew's storyboard skills to their limits.

“It’s interesting because the comic is pretty straightforward,” says Liu. “Stan [Berkowitz, the movies’ screen writer] probably knows more about this, but the idea was to keep to the elements that were important to the story.

“Even after that was buttoned down, it ended up being a lot of fighting. The first half involved its share of set-up, and then it becomes this fist fest through the rest of the movie while Luthor executes his plans. In the middle stretch there were like four big fights; there’s Star Labs, then there’s the business park, then Grodd controlling Mongol, then the government superhero agents. Then Hawkman and Shazam (ED: Captain Marvel) come.

“It was kind of rough. It ended up being one of those calls. There was so much fighting there really wasn’t that much more to say. There’s so much fighting it left us wondering if it would kill the audience overseas. Also, as a viewer, I was starting to wonder if all this fighting would end up boring, a little too much of the same thing.”


To help him through this, Liu called on a number of the best in the business. This included Montgomery, Eric Canete, Michael Goguen, Gary Hartle and a number of others.

“We had a lot of great fight choreography people,” Liu acknowledges. “We called upon everybody to look at their characters and not mimic what anyone else was doing. We asked what was each character’s power and how would they fight with it?

“It was a test because the schedule was a little bit shorter than usual. I think it was green lit a little bit late. So we ended up with a pretty down and dirty production. Thankfully I had a lot of top notch people.”

To compound matters, Liu had to work on a short deadline. He had six weeks less production time than any other DCAU project ever produced.

“Normally, you storyboard and then do animatics. In this case we didn’t have the time for an animatic,” he informs. “So in this case there was a lot of guessing as far as time was concerned.”

Working at this turbo-charged pace had its price.

“There was one scene in particular that I wish I could have included,” says Liu. “It was very difficult to cut and I just lamented doing it. It would have helped the immersion process. At the same time, cutting it made the pace go really fast.

“There was a scene we had before Superman and Batman go to Star Labs. We have Superman fly to see Lois. We kind of wanted it to feel like a man stopping to see his lover before going to war to say goodbye.

“We wanted him to pass by a Superman: Wanted poster. He was dressed as Clark Kent to avoid detection. He’s crossing a street and passes by posters with his face on it. People are huddled around a shop with all these TVs on. They are all watching the TVs and seeing the meteor coming. During this, we watch him sneak by.


“Once he gets home, he just sees the back of Lois’ head in front of a TV,” Liu continues. “On the TV are three voiceovers of people giving their reactions to Superman being a wanted man, whether they believe he’s turned evil and that kind of thing. The idea was Superman thinking how he was going to explain this one. Then when he gets in front of her, he sees she’s fallen asleep, with her laptop on.

“It was a touching little moment. It was a great textural kind of thing. We had boarded that. We passed the initial board, but due to time we had to cut it. Yet if I had to pick one sequence I would have put back, that was it.”


Another casualty of Liu’s brutal schedule was he couldn’t sit in on Kevin Conroy, Tim Daly and Clancy Brown’s recording sessions. He had to rely on the skilled ears of Andrea Romano and Timm for the pre-lays.

“I was extremely excited. They were the classic voices,” he said. “I expect to hear their voices when I work on something involving them. Unfortunately, because it was so quick and dirty I couldn’t sit in on their sessions. Normally I would have. In this case, there was so much work that it was just efficiency. My time was better spent trying to get the boards and designs down.

“Even though the story is simple, there are a lot of plot things that had to be smoothed out. I think we did most of them. So I dealt with the broad strokes and then got to as many of the finer ones that I could. That way I think the film didn’t end up feeling too clunky.”

The simple truth is “Public Enemies” should go down as one of the best DCAU DVD’s ever, in large part thanks to Liu’s work on the film. It is the true definition of action packed, flying at such supersonic speeds that one doesn’t realize how short the entire film is. Between the acting, action and overall just plain eye candy scattered throughout the project, it ends up a truly satisfying view.

Considering all that Liu went through to do this, he should be properly rewarded...and he has. He and Lauren Montgomery are sharing the directorial chair on the next DCAU project, “Crisis on Two Earths.”

“Lauren’s funny because I actually knew her from very early on in her career,” Liu said. “We ended up being really good friends and we have lunch together almost every day. In fact, she has the office next to mine. It’s frustrating knowing how talented she is. She’s also like my little sister and I love watching her grow up.

“We have different ways of dealing with things. I think that helps push each other. We’re doing editing on ‘Crisis’ right now. So when we get footage back from overseas, she would make notes on certain things, and I would make notes on other things. Even Bruce said we made more notes than he ever would have. But the end result is it really looks beautiful.”

As for the possibilities of another generation following him? Liu realizes it’s only a matter of time.

“The sensibility has changed. In part that was from video games. That’s what we have to compete against or people are not going to watch us. To them it would be boring. So the choreography has to be a little bit tighter. It’s less about big punches and more about combinations, like Hong Kong cinema.

“It has also made our lives more difficult because that takes more time. We’re cutting and editing a lot more. So we’ve made our work harder for us, but we’re also a lot more immersed in it. I know our people take a lot more pride of authorship in what we do, especially at Warner Bros. I know when I look at the work one person is doing, I’m constantly thinking I have to step it up even more.”

If that next generation can produce films as good, or even better, than “Superman/Batman: Public Enemies,” then fans will have something to really look forward to.

(Thanks Newsarama)





Kevin Conroy - A Dark Knight Returns for "Public Enemies"






“One time I took my car in to get serviced,” recalled Kevin Conroy, who was born in Long Island, New York. “I went to a mechanic I hadn’t been before but was recommended to me.

“When I met him, I told him my name was Kevin Conroy. He thought that was funny, saying that was the name of a big guy in animation. When I asked him what he meant, he said ‘That’s the guy who does Batman!’

“Then I told him that was me. At first, he said, ‘Get out of here! That’s bull!’ So I showed him my driver’s license. His reaction was ‘you’re THAT Kevin Conroy...what are you doing in New York!?’ Next thing I knew he called everyone out from the garage shouting that Batman was there.

“It always amazes me when people recognize the name. Voice acting is a very anonymous profession.”


Then again, in 1991 Conroy took on a voice job that has now branded him for the rest of his life, that of the Dark Knight, Batman. Ever since the Bruce Timm/Paul Dini/Eric Radomski version of the series first hit the air on Fox way back when, Conroy has been returning to the recording booth to recap the role he’s most identified with. He isn’t complaining, either.

“It was just the luck of the draw,” he admits. “I just happened to be the right person they were looking for when they were looking for that role. I am amazed at the longevity. Now kids have their kids watching the show. It’s second generation. I don’t take for granted at all.

“I get very impatient with actors who don’t know how lucky they are. The ones who can make a living at it sometimes just don’t know how good they have it. We are just the luckiest people alive. We get paid to do what we love to do.”


Not that voicing Batman is the easiest job for Conroy either. His actual voice is actually a bit higher and breezier than the Caped Crusader, more in line to when he’s voicing Bruce Wayne. He has to push down on his lower registers to make it work. To add to it, Conroy’s Batman is a character of really very few words.

“It’s an interesting balancing act. The actor really wants to hit a home run with every word because you have so few,” says Conroy. “You have to put that in check and trust that the script does that for you. If you put too much weight, you’ll kill the performance. You have to resist that temptation.

“It’s also sort of a tightrope walk. In doing all the various incarnations of the show that I’ve done, from ‘Batman: The Animated Series’ to ‘The Adventures of Batman’ to ‘Batman Beyond’ to ‘Justice League,’ the style is very naturalistic. They want to keep it very real, not cartoony. At the same time, you only have your voice to tell the story. Yet if it was totally real sounding, it would be very dull. It becomes so natural it sounds unnatural. It’s a delicate line you walk. Cross that line and you get very arch.

“In the first year we did ‘Batman: The Animated Series,’ I had never done animation before. I didn’t know how much time would be spent in the booth. I certainly didn’t know it would turn into a job that lasted as long as it did.

“I created the sound just improvising. Luckily, having been on stage, I knew to support my performance with my diaphragm. That’s because you usually have about eight shows a week. You have to learn how to perform for the long run, so you pick up tricks to support your voice.”


This experimenting had its side effects though, and it was Timm who was the first to find the problem.

“In an intimate booth and a mic I didn’t think that would matter. So I did it by really sitting down on my vocal chords. I really pushed it down, forced the sound down. After a few months of that, I started losing my voice. I couldn’t make the sound any more.

“Bruce got really worried. He actually went to me and said ‘You can’t lose your voice now! You have a number of performances in the can and we just can’t lose you!’ He told me that I had to learn how to do it properly. So I went to my earlier training so I could do it the right way.”

And the latest payoff is the direct-to-DVD release of “Superman/Batman: Public Enemies.” Conroy is in prime form as Batman. Even better, he’s been reteamed with old colleagues Tim Daly (Superman) and Clancy Brown (Lex Luthor).

“I’ve know Tim and Clancy for about 15 years. It was really easy,” says Conroy. “You get to skip a few steps when you are in the booth with people you’ve already worked with. You know how each other works. You have an already established report. So it was great being with them.

“Another thing, Warner Brothers insists on doing them like radio plays. A lot of the other studios don’t do that. It gives them a lot more control in post-production if each recording is completely isolated, but they don’t get as good a performance. Warner would rather have a harder time technically, and get a better performance. I think that’s why the Batman performances are much better.”

One thing that also comes across is the generosity the actor feels for his colleagues. The truth is “Public Enemies” is really a showcase for Brown. Luthor gets not only the largest share of screen time, but also many of the best lines in this animated adaptation of Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness’ graphic novel. Conroy doesn’t mind at all.

“I suppose some would be jealous,” Conroy laughs, “but everyone gets to be center stage one time or another. This was definitely Clancy’s script. He’s a terrific actor! It’s also fun to watch him work. He’s also Mr. Krabs on Spongebob and getting a lot of play out of that now. This was just Clancy’s turn.”

Conroy is equally generous when it comes to his pit bosses.

“Always having Andrea [Romano] around and the rest of the creative team also make it very easy,” Conroy says. “They now even trust me to have some input if I don’t think a line sounds exactly right. They even ask what I think should be said at certain times.”

As it stands, this isn’t the only reunion Conroy has participated in. In an upcoming episode of “Batman: The Brave and The Bold” he plays The Phantom Stranger. The kicker is, besides Diedrich Bader standing next to him as the latest version of Batman, the cast includes Mark Hamill as The Spectre, Adam West as Thomas Wayne and Julie Newmar as Martha Wayne.

“I think it was a little awkward for Diedrich,” Conroy opines. “It was like the first time I met Adam West. That was awkward for me. He had been Batman for years before me. Adam was very, very gracious though, and we had fun together.

“The producers loved having all those Batmen in one show: Three whole generations of them. It was fun. It was great being with Mark again. I don’t get to work with him enough. Playing the Phantom Stranger is very similar to Batman. He’s a man of great brevity. It’s also a very dark sound. I enjoyed doing it.”

As for Conroy’s favorite time putting on the Cape and Cowl? It wouldn’t surprise many familiar with the voice acting world.

“The episode ‘Perchance to Dream,’ Conroy responds. “I really loved doing that. That’s the one where Batman is drugged by the Mad Hatter, and went into this alternate dream state where I was doing Batman, Bruce Wayne and even the young Bruce Wayne, Thomas Wayne and Bruce Wayne drugged. So I was doing five different voices. I had a lot of work in that episode.”

It goes without saying that if he had another opportunity to play Batman, Conroy will probably be there.

“You know I’ve been doing it for so long it’s like a glove. It fits very easily,” says Conroy. “I’ve been doing it for 18 years. So I was happy to do it again. I also feel very lucky that they keep on asking me to do it.”

Fans should feel lucky indeed if he does.

(Thanks Newsarama)





"G.I. Joe: Resolute" DVD & "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra" DVD/Blu-ray on Nov 3, 2009

Paramount Home Entertainment has announced that G.I. Joe: Resolute and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra will be coming to home video on November 3, 2009. G.I. Joe: Resolute returns the Real American Heroes to animation in a grittier, more realistic version written by Warren Ellis and directed by Joaquim Dos Santos. The DVD will contain a "Now You Know" teaser promo, inteviews with the filmmakers, storyboards, and Joe Files, and will carry a suggested retail price of $19.99 ($22.99 Canada).

The live-action G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra brings Hasbro's iconic toy line to life, detailing the origins of the Cobra organization and the newest recruits to the heroic international G.I. Joe strike force. The movie will be available on 1-disc and 2-disc DVD and 2-disc Blu-ray, with bonus features including a commentary track by director Stephen Sommers and producer Bob Ducsay on all versions. The two-disc DVD and Blu-ray will also include documentaries on making the movie and the visual effects and a digital copy. Suggested retail pricing is $19.99 (1-disc DVD), $24.99 (2-disc DVD), and $29.99 (2-disc Blu-ray).

Click any thumbnail to enlarge the DVD and Blu-ray artwork:

























The full press releases follow:

ACTION-PACKED ANIMATED ADVENTURE DEBUTS ON DVD FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER







All Games End November 3, 2009 when the Animated DVD is Deployed, Armed with Filmmaker Interviews, Storyboards and More

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. – Experience G.I. JOE like never before when the action-packed G.I. JOE: RESOLUTE arrives on DVD for the first time ever November 3, 2009 from Paramount Home Entertainment. Featuring a more sophisticated animation style and story than prior animation and intended for the adult fan that grew up with the brand in the 80’s, G.I. JOE: RESOLUTE is an intense vision of the raging battle between the G.I. JOE team and the menacing COBRA organization. The G.I. JOE team is a highly trained, classified special operations unit that officially doesn’t even exist. This elite team fights a secret war as the first and last line of defense against forces that seek to plunge our world into chaos.

Hasbro developed the bold, state-of-the-art animation with executive producer Sam Register as well as a dynamic creative team including Joaquim Dos Santos, a veteran animation director, who worked closely with award-winning comic writer Warren Ellis, who penned the story. This highly regarded team brings an edgy, intense feel to the animation, which features the most popular characters from the G.I. JOE vs. COBRA saga such as DUKE, SCARLETT, SNAKE EYES and COBRA COMMANDER.

The G.I. JOE: RESOLUTE DVD includes illuminating interviews with the filmmakers, storyboards, G.I. JOE files, exclusive bonus footage and a “Now You Know” teaser promo. The DVD will be available for the approximate retail price of
$19.99 U.S./$22.99 Canada.

DVD:
The G.I. JOE: RESOLUTE DVD is presented in widescreen with Dolby Digital English 5.1 sound and English, French and Spanish subtitles. Special features are as follows:
“Now You know” teaser promo
Interviews with Filmmakers
Storyboards
JOE Files

About Paramount Home Entertainment
Paramount Home Entertainment (PHE) is part of Paramount Pictures Corporation (PPC), a global producer and distributor of filmed entertainment. PPC is a unit of Viacom (NYSE: VIA, VIA.B), a leading content company with prominent and respected film, television and digital entertainment brands. PHE is responsible for the sales, marketing and distribution of home entertainment products on behalf of various parties including: Paramount Pictures, Paramount Vantage, Paramount Classics, Paramount Famous Productions, Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central, CBS and PBS and for providing home entertainment fulfillment services for DreamWorks Animation Home Entertainment.

About Hasbro
Hasbro, Inc. (NYSE:HAS) is a worldwide leader in children’s and family leisure time products and services with a rich portfolio of brands and entertainment properties that provides some of the highest quality and most recognizable play and recreational experiences in the world. As a brand-driven, consumer-focused global company, Hasbro brings to market a range of toys, games and licensed products, from traditional to high-tech and digital, under such powerful brand names as TRANSFORMERS, PLAYSKOOL, TONKA, MILTON BRADLEY, PARKER BROTHERS, CRANIUM and WIZARDS OF THE COAST. Come see how we inspire play through our brands at http://www.hasbro.com. (C) 2009 Hasbro, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

THE NEXT GENERATION OF HEROES STORMS INTO ACTION ON BLU-RAY AND DVD IN THE WORLDWIDE BLOCKBUSTER









$140+ Million Domestic Smash Debuts November 3, 2009 in Two-Disc Sets Boasting Behind-the-Scenes Featurettes, a Digital Copy and More

HOLLYWOOD, CALIF. – The ultimate elite fighting force hit the big screen to defend the world and ended up conquering it in the worldwide smash hit G.I. JOE: The Rise of Cobra, which earned over $280 million at the global box office. The action-packed, visually arresting adventure based on Hasbro’s immensely popular action figures including DUKE, SNAKE EYES, STORM SHADOW and the BARONESS makes its eagerly-awaited Blu-ray and DVD debut in two-disc sets and a single-disc DVD on November 3, 2009 from Paramount Home Entertainment. Directed by Stephen Sommers (The Mummy), G.I. JOE: The Rise of Cobra stars a hot young cast including Channing Tatum (Public Enemies), Marlon Wayans (Dance Flick), Sienna Miller (Factory Girl), Joseph Gordon-Levitt ((500) Days of Summer), Rachel Nichols (“Alias”) and Ray Park (X-Men), as well as veteran actors Dennis Quaid (Vantage Point) and Christopher Eccleston (Gone in Sixty Seconds).

The G.I. JOE team travels the world from the Egyptian desert to the polar ice caps and the streets of Paris in a high stakes pursuit of COBRA, an evil international organization threatening to use a technology that could bring the world to its knees. Armed with the coolest hi-tech gadgets and weapons, including jaw-dropping accelerator and camouflage suits, G.I. JOE is the last line of defense against those intent on world domination.

The G.I. JOE: The Rise of Cobra two-disc Blu-ray and DVD include a digital copy of the film, commentary by director Stephen Sommers and producer Bob Ducsay, “The Big Bang Theory: The Making of G.I. JOE”, which takes viewers behind-the-scenes for a look at how the filmmakers turned the perennially popular action figures into a summer blockbuster and “Next-Gen Action: The Amazing Visual FX and Design of G.I. JOE”, which showcases the incredible work that went into creating over 1,650 visual effect shots and the challenges the filmmakers faced in bringing the world of G.I. JOE and COBRA to life. The film also will be available on a single disc DVD, which includes the commentary.

The two-disc DVD and Blu-ray packages will also feature augmented reality technology that will allow owners to participate in an exclusive 3D holographic G.I. JOE combat experience, utilizing their webcams and a special website. Fans will be able to choose between SNAKE EYES and STORM SHADOW, two of the most popular G.I. JOE and COBRA characters, and battle against their enemies one-on-one in an immersive 3D video game.

Two-Disc DVD & Blu-ray:
The G.I. JOE: The Rise of Cobra two-disc and single-disc DVDs are presented in widescreen enhanced for 16:9 televisions with Dolby Digital English 5.1 Surround, French 5.1 Surround and Spanish 5.1 Surround with English, French and Spanish subtitles. The two-disc Blu-ray is presented in 1080p High Definition with English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French 5.1 Dolby Digital and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital with English, English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles. The following special features are in standard definition:

Disc 1:
Feature commentary by director Stephen Sommers and producer Bob Ducsay

Disc 2:
Digital Copy

The Big Bang Theory: The Making of G.I. JOE— Join the G.I. JOE team as they set out to "Sommer-size" the summer action epic and bring G.I. JOE to the big screen.

Next-Gen Action: The Amazing Visual FX and Design of G.I. JOE— With over 1,650 visual effect shots, G.I. JOE was a truly massive endeavor. Showcasing the hard work and creativity of the film’s effects and design team, this piece looks at the unique challenges of bringing the world of G.I. JOE and COBRA to life, while immersing viewers in the incredible thrills and various FX challenges of the film’s major action sequences.


About Paramount Home Entertainment
Paramount Home Entertainment (PHE) is part of Paramount Pictures Corporation (PPC), a global producer and distributor of filmed entertainment. PPC is a unit of Viacom (NYSE: VIA, VIA.B), a leading content company with prominent and respected film, television and digital entertainment brands. PHE is responsible for the sales, marketing and distribution of home entertainment products on behalf of various parties including: Paramount Pictures, Paramount Vantage, Paramount Classics, Paramount Famous Productions, Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central, CBS and PBS and for providing home entertainment fulfillment services for DreamWorks Animation Home Entertainment.

About Hasbro
Hasbro, Inc. (NYSE:HAS) is a worldwide leader in children’s and family leisure time products and services with a rich portfolio of brands and entertainment properties that provides some of the highest quality and most recognizable play and recreational experiences in the world. As a brand-driven, consumer-focused global company, Hasbro brings to market a range of toys, games and licensed products, from traditional to high-tech and digital, under such powerful brand names as TRANSFORMERS, PLAYSKOOL, TONKA, MILTON BRADLEY, PARKER BROTHERS, CRANIUM and WIZARDS OF THE COAST. Come see how we inspire play through our brands at http://www.hasbro.com. (C) 2009 Hasbro, Inc. All Rights Reserved.





"Green Lantern" Not Shooting In Oz

With the strengthening Australian dollar headed toward parity with the weakening American dollar, Warner Bros. Pictures has officially pulled out of plans to shoot the "Green Lantern" project at Sydney's Fox Studios says The Hollywood Reporter.

The studio says "the current global economic situation, including fluctuations in currency valuation and overall costs. We have also had to reassess film projects in other countries as well. After working closely with our partners at the NSW Film and Television Office (Screen NSW) and examining every scenario, we have decided to move the production of 'Green Lantern'"

The production is now expected to setup shop in either Mexico or Canada for its shoot next year. Ryan Reynolds stars as the titular costumed hero.

And NO, the above pic is NOT an actual production photo.





Doug Jones Unsure Of 'Silver Surfer' Movie, Addresses 'Green Lantern' Rumors

From serving as the shiny messenger of a world-devouring alien in "Fantastic Four 2: Rise of the Silver Surfer" to drunkenly singing as Hellboy’s brainy bud Abe Sapien, actor Doug Jones has held some of the most coveted supporting roles in comic book film history. That’s why when rumors of the actor’s involvement in fan-favorite properties arise it’s easy to believe the hype.

Unfortunately, for those awaiting Jones’ appearance in certain cosmic roles, there might be a wait.

In an interview with Itsjustmovies, the upcoming "Legion" actor revealed that while things have been quiet regarding the Silver Surfer of late, he’d be happy to hang ten in either another Fantastic Four film or a self-titled spinoff.

“There are still a couple of years left on their option for two more pictures with me, as a three-picture deal is quite standard when starting a franchise-potential character. But with all the “re-boot” talk of the Fantastic Four, I have no idea where that leaves the Silver Surfer end of things. I would love to re-visit this character. I do love Norrin Radd,” said Jones.

Even though the surfer is unlikely to appear in the "Fantastic Four" relaunch being scripted by Michael Green, there’s an entire universe of space-dwellers to play—most notably a rumored role in the upcoming “Green Lantern” adaptation starring Ryan Reynolds. According to Jones, however, he’s yet to receive an offer.

“Am I going to play a part in the “Green Lantern” movie? I did hear such a rumor a couple of months ago, but no one has called me regarding this one yet. But if there’s a character I’m right for, I’d be quite interested to hear about it,” said Jones.





Sam Raimi Promises 'Spider-Man 4' Will 'Get Back To Basics'

Apparently, Sam Raimi sides with fans who argue that “Spider-Man 3” was weakened by having too many villains.

According to the Coventry Telegraph, Raimi told the print edition of DVD & Blu-ray Review, “I think having so many villains detracted from the experience. I would agree with the criticism."

Raimi also revealed that his experience making the horror film “Drag Me To Hell," which hit shelves this week, will also have a positive impact on the next “Spider-Man” film.

"I think I've learned about the importance of getting to the point and the importance of having limitations, and I'm hoping to take that into a production where I'm actually allowed to explore with more of the tools to pull it off with a little more splendor.”

"I hope I don't lose that edge that I've just found,” Raimi continued. “That would be my approach to ‘Spider-Man 4’: to get back to the basics."

Earlier this week, Raimi spoke with MTV News about a recent poll in which the Lizard was named the top choice as the villain for “Spider-Man 4.”

“"I love the Lizard," said Raimi. "There's a great story there in the Marvel comic books about Dr. Connors.”

Raimi also reiterated to MTV News his commitment to the “Spider-Man” films, but stopped short of committing to the intended fifth and sixth installments.

"Every time I make one of the 'Spider-Man' movies, I have to ask myself, is the character still intriguing to me? Do I love the character? Am I dying to tell the next story of Peter Parker and Spider-Man? And so far the answer has been yes."





Wolverine Creator Expects 'Noble Warrior' In Movie's Sequel, Comments On 'Watchmen' Ending

Wolverine co-creator Len Wein wants the forthcoming “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” sequel to reveal aspects of Logan’s character that have previously been ignored on the big screen—namely, his "noble warrior" side.

“I just want to see them explore the characters more,” Wein explained in an interview with Rotten Tomatoes. “I think the Japanese Story, if that's where they're going to go—and I imagine they are going there for the next story—is the perfect next choice. It gives you a whole other side of the character and allows you to explore aspects that have never been seen on film before—the noble warrior, as opposed to the berserker.”

The next “Wolverine” film has long been rumored to be based on the 1982 “Wolverine” miniseries by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller in which Logan faces off against a Japanese crime lord named Shingen Yashida and falls in love with his daughter, Lady Mariko.

Earlier this summer, the project picked up considerable momentum when “Usual Suspects” screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie was signed to adapt the script and both Bryan Singer and Gavin Hood expressed interest in directing the film.

During the interview, Wein also spoke out about his experiences with Alan Moore while editing the “Watchmen” comic book series.

“It certainly was a challenge,” Wein related. “I have gone on print and online as saying I never liked the ending, I felt it was a bit askew. I thought the ending in the film worked better, but Alan is Alan. You take the good with the bad. You want that work crafted, that ability to sculpt a line like nobody else's business, you put up with mismatched socks and an inability to spell... it works out splendidly!"





News via Aint It Cool News...

Who is up for the role of Sinestro in GREEN LANTERN? Someone Perfect!

Hey folks, Harry here with the most awesome - pretty reliable - rumor of the day. I'm putting this in the caveat as a rumor - as opposed to a rock solid, take it to the bank story. Right now, Martin Campbell is in the process of finalizing the rest of the cast for GREEN LANTERN to surround Ryan Reynolds with. And I'm not sure why, but I've just hit the point where I'm giddy and hopeful about a GREEN LANTERN movie. This story came from someone working on the film. That part is solid, what isn't - and won't be till it all gets finalized is the fact that JACKIE EARLE HALEY is leading the list to play SINESTRO!!! That's just about perfect in my book! Something that makes me absolutely giddy as all hell!

Oh... and according to my source, it's looking like SUPERMAN will be making a cameo, but that all depends upon how... other DC things go, but it is an indicator that DC is paying attention and taking note of what MARVEL is doing, which has excited all of us so much! But remember, you heard it all here first!





'X-Men Origins: Magneto' Producer Says Film Might Never Be Made

If you weren't a fan of my recent casting call for "X-Men Origins: Magneto," don't worry—it's very likely that none of those actors will get the chance to play the villainous mutant, as the movie itself might never get made.

"Magneto" producer Lauren Shuler Donner gave Empire Online an update on the highly anticipated "X-Men" spin-off, saying that while screenwriter David Goyer's script is "brilliant," it's likely that the film won't ever see the light of day.

"I'm not sure that film is going to be made," she admitted. "The studio has a wealth of potential stories, and they have to stand back and decide which ones to make. And Magneto, I think, is at the back of the queue. Maybe it'll get made in five years—who knows?"

Whether "Magneto" winds up on the big screen in the future remains to be seen, but one certainty is that Ian McKellen will not reprise his role as the Master of Magnetism, at least not for any prolonged amount of time.

"I can tell you that Ian McKellen won't be playing the character the whole way through," said Donner, echoing McKellen's own statements made earlier this week. "We used Lola technology in ['X-Men: The Last Stand'] to de-age Ian and Patrick [Stewart] for one scene, but it's very expensive. To do that for a two-hour movie would be prohibitive financially. And to find a younger actor to fill Ian's shoes, that's pretty daunting. It's not easy."





'X-Men: First Class' Will Use 'Harry Potter' Films As Model

What does the "X-Men" movie universe have in common with the "Harry Potter" films? Quite a lot, according to producer Lauren Shuler Donner.

Donner recently went into detail on the upcoming "X-Men: First Class" film in an interview with Empire Online, saying that the adventures of Professor Xavier's gifted youngsters would follow the example set by the later "Harry Potter" movies.

"Harry Potter is a bit of a role model for us, absolutely," she said. "But we want it to be like the recent, darker Potters. It should not be a kiddie movie—we're in the 'X-Men' world so you can't suddenly change the tone."

Even the film's cast of characters will follow Potter's footsteps insofar as getting into mischievous adventures that Xavier wouldn't approve of.

"There's nothing more interesting than a bad kid, and this is full of naughty children," said Donner. "Cyclops, for example—he's a tough kid that bobbed from foster home to foster home, until he ends up at the school and becomes the leader."

According to Donner, the Josh Schwartz-penned screenplay isn't quite finished yet. The producer said that Fox is being cautious about how to pursue "First Class," mainly because they see the young X-Men team's adventures as a possible new franchise.

"We want to make this a franchise, following these kids at the school, so the casting of the child actors will be all-important," she explained.





NASA unveils gorgeous new pics of the Andromeda Galaxy







NASA's Swift satellite has beamed back a new image of Andromeda, our neighboring galaxy, in one of the highest-resolution views of a spiral galaxy ever attained in the ultraviolet, the agency announced this week (click on the link or pic below for the full version).













NASA/Swift/Stefan Immler (GSFC) and Erin Grand (UMCP)

Known formally as M31 in the constellation Andromeda, the galaxy is the largest and closest spiral galaxy to our own. The image is really a mosaic of 330 individual images taken by Swift's Ultraviolet/Optical Telescope. The image shows a region 200,000 light-years wide and 100,000 light-years high (100 arcminutes by 50 arcminutes).

See if you can spot the following:

♦The insectoid aliens from District 9, which director Neill Blomkamp has said come from the galaxy, though it's not mentioned in the movie

♦The evil Kelvans from the original Star Trek series episode "By Any Other Name"

♦The evil aliens from John Carpenter's 1988 movie They Live

♦The starship captained by Dylan Hunt as it patrols the galaxy

Blake's 7' Liberator as it battles invaders from the galaxy

♦blancmanges from the planet Skyron

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