Monday, October 26, 2009

News - 10/26/09...

'Paranormal Activity' beats out 'Saw VI'

It was a rare event at the box office this weekend, as a "Saw" film debuted in the number two spot. "Saw VI" managed only $14.8 million, making it the lowest-grossing entry in the franchise (even the original "Saw" managed to debut with $18 million).

Beating it out this weekend was the low-budget horror flick "Paranormal Activity," which has slowly built up word-of-mouth as it has expanded to additional theaters. "Paranormal" finished the weekend with $22 million, bringing its overall gross to $62.5 million. It is an impressive total for a horror film, especially when you consider that "Paranormal" was shot on a budget of $15,000.

Last week's #1, the Spike Jonze adaptation of "Where the Wild Things Are," dropped over 50% and finished at #3 with slightly over $14.4 million. The other two new releases this week, "Astro Boy" and "Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant," finished out of the top 5. "Astro Boy," featuring the voice talents of Freddie Highmore and Nicolas Cage, was #6 with slightly over $7 million; "The Vampire's Assistant," however, only took in $6.3 million at #8 and will likely disappear from theaters soon after Halloween.

Sunday Funnies

(Thanks, Uncle Wayne)

(Thanks cartoon brew)

"Peanuts" 60th Anniversary

Maybe you haven't given this birthday much thought, since first and foremost it belongs to a comic strip, but let's linger for a moment anyway:

Jill Schulz: Because my Dad created over 18,000 comic strips touching on so many themes and covering every season ... we decided to celebrate for a full year ...

In November, the Gaylord Opryland Resort will unveil
ICE! A Charlie Brown Christmas, which is a colorful, interactive ice sculpture experience ... Also in November, we’re introducing Celebrating Peanuts: 60 Years, a commemorative coffee table book.

On the animation side of the "Peanuts" legacy, Bill Melendez's studio -- which produced almost all the animated product that had Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the rest of the gang for the past 45 years -- will not be doing future half-hours, since the Schulz family is (allegedly) unhappy with the studio's recent work.

I'm informed that another studio got the new "Peanuts" gig. And I've no idea what the future has in store for the Melendez studio (which is still doing some "Peanuts" commercials.)

Sadly, Bill M. and Charles Schulz have gone to their rewards, so what are you going to do?

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Mia, Kells, Niko Nominated for EFA Honor

Three films will vie for the best animated feature honor at the European Film Academy’s annual awards show.

The nominated films are:

Mia and the Migoo, an ecologically themed, 2D-animated French film directed by Jacques-Remy Girerd (Raining Cats and Frogs) that tells the story of a girl’s encounter with a mysterious creature while searching for her father.

The Secret of Kells, Tomm Moore’s festival-circuit favorite about a boy who helps defend 9th century Ireland from a Viking invasion.

Niko and the Way to the Stars, a Christmas tale about a young reindeer seeking his father, directed by Kari Juusonen and Michael Hegner.

The nominees were selected by a jury made up of producers Per Holst of Denmark and Antonio Saura of Spain, and Agnes Bizzaro, Enzo d'Alo and Joanna Quinn, all reps of the European Assn. of Animation Film.

Sadly none of these three acclaimed features have secured an official U.S. theatrical release to date. Niko was released as a direct-to-DVD feature by the Weinstein Co. last year with the U.S. title The Flight Before Christmas . The team at Cartoon Saloon recently told Animation Magazine that The Secret of Kells will be getting a theatrical release in the U.S. shortly.

The winner will be announced at the European Film Awards ceremony in Bochum, Germany, on Dec. 12.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

VES Awards Open for Submissions

Submissions are now open in 24 categories for the 8th annual Visual Effects Society Awards.

Deadline for submissions is Nov. 30, and the awards this year will be open for the first time to stereoscopic 3-D entries.

The awards will be presented Feb. 28 in a ceremony at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel in Beverly Hills.

“The annual VES Awards have become the gold standard in recognizing the amazing artistry of the visual effects world,” says Jeffrey A. Okun, chairman of the VES. “These awards not only recognize that artistry but also the nature of what we bring to the world of feature films, broadcast tv, commercials, games, special venues and the ‘up and comers’ in the world of student artists.”

The categories open for submission are:

1. Outstanding Visual Effects in a Visual Effects Driven Feature Motion Picture
2. Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Feature Motion Picture
3. Outstanding Animation in an Animated Feature Motion Picture
4. Outstanding Visual Effects in a Broadcast Miniseries, Movie or a Special
5. Outstanding Visual Effects in a Broadcast Series
6. Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Broadcast Program
7. Best Single Visual Effect of the Year
8. Outstanding Visual Effects in a Commercial
9. Outstanding Visual Effects in a Special Venue Project
10. Outstanding Real Time Visual Effects in a Video Game
11. Outstanding Visual Effects in a Video Game Trailer
12. Outstanding Animated Character in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture
13. Outstanding Animated Character in an Animated Feature Motion Picture
14. Outstanding Animated Character in a Broadcast Program or Commercial
15. Outstanding Effects Animation in an Animated Feature Motion Picture
16. Outstanding Matte Paintings in a Feature Motion Picture
17. Outstanding Matte Paintings in a Broadcast Program or Commercial
18. Outstanding Models & Miniatures in a Feature Motion Picture
19. Outstanding Models & Miniatures in a Broadcast Program or Commercial
20. Outstanding Created Environment in a Feature Motion Picture
21. Outstanding Created Environment in a Broadcast Program or Commercial
22. Outstanding Compositing in a Feature Motion Picture
23. Outstanding Compositing in a Broadcast Program or Commercial
24. Outstanding Visual Effects in a Student Project

Rules and procedures for submitting entries can be found online at

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Imagineer Rohde To Speak at SIGGRAPH Asia

Joe Rohde of Walt Disney Imagineering has been added as a special speaker at SIGGRAPH Asia 2009, set for Dec. 16-19.

Rohde, executive designer and senior VP of Walt Disney Imagineering is set to speak Dec. 19 on “Story Structure and the Design of Narrative Environments.” The talk will cover guidelines and principles for creating spaces that serve both the initial needs of the primary designer or storyteller and the needs of future audiences, who may seek to re-adapt the narrative to their own purposes.

Rohde is the creative lead for Disney's Animal Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla., and related new projects. He has led conceptualization, design, and production for Disney's Animal Kingdom since its inception in 1990. He also oversees creative development at Disney's newest luxury resort project in Hawaii, which is scheduled to open in 2011.

For more information on SIGGRAPH Asia 2009, go online to

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Orange Peels Toei Titles for VOD

Popular anime series Captain Harlock and Ken the Great Bear Fist (also known as Fist of the North Star) are coming to video on demand and mobile video on demand in French territories.

The deal was struck by rights holder Toei Animation Europe and Orange.

The VOD will be available on PC and IPTV formats through Orange’s 2424video. The mobile offerings include mobisodes — three- to five-minute shorts extracted from the TV series and offered for free to subscribers on the Orange World portal.

“The key titles of Captain Harlock and Ken the Great Bear Fist are very popular in France,” said Kanji Kazahaya, COO of Toei Animation Europe. “By proposing today this offer with one of the major French operators such as Orange, our anime fans will have the opportunity to rediscover their favorite series on TV as well as on their PC and mobile.”

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Disney treasures to come up for bid at S/R Labs’ Fall 2009 auction

Jim Hill shares some of the 237 story sketches, animation drawings & concept paintings that will be go under the gavel today & tomorrow in Westlake Village, CA

You’ve going to have to forgive any animation fans you know if they seem kind of distracted today.

You see, S/R Laboratories is holds its biannual animation art auction today and tomorrow. Which means that some incredibly rare pieces of animation history are about come up for bid.

“How rare?,” you ask. Well, how about a preliminary animation drawing from the aborted version of “Pinocchio” ? If you look closely at the image below, you’ll see that this early take on Pinocchio looked far like a puppet than this character in the finished Disney film did.

Copyright Disney. All Rights Reserved

Walt reportedly chucked six months worth of work on “Pinocchio” and started that production all over again because he felt that that film’s title character wasn’t sympathetic enough.

But that’s what Disney used to do back in the day. He’d entire cut sequences that were already in production – no matter how funny they might have been – if Walt felt that they didn’t further the story.

Such was the case with the bed-building sequence for “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” According to animators who worked on that part of the picture, this proposed sequence from “Snow White” was loaded with great business for the Dwarfs (like those two story sketches below. Which show Grumpy using a handy beaver to sharpen the pencil he’s using as that dwarf marks up a piece of wood). But because this comic construction sequence didn’t push along the plot, out it went.

Copyright Disney. All Rights Reserved

That’s the real beauty of S/R Laboratories’ biannual animation art auction. All of these items that were supposedly lost to the ages decades ago suddenly magically appear again. Albeit briefly. Until some animation fan with deep pockets comes along and snags them up away. Then back into the shadows these pieces go.

Which is why I always make a point of picking up a copy of the catalog for each of S/R Laboratories' auctions. That way, long after the bidding is over, I can still get a look at Mary Blair’s concept painting for “Alice in Wonderland.”

Copyright Disney. All Rights Reserved

Or – better yet – that sketch of a Peruvian girl that Ms. Blair did back in 1941. Back when Mary was touring South America with Walt & El Grupo.

Copyright Disney. All Rights Reserved

Me personally? I love the what-might-have-been stuff. Like this story sketch from the version of “Peter Pan” that Walt was trying to make in the late 1930s / early 1940s. Back when Nana was supposed to journey to Neverland along with Wendy, Michael & John.

Copyright Disney. All Rights Reserved

Though I have to admit that I also have a weakness for all the concept paintings that you’ll find in S/R Labs’ Fall 2009 catalog. Like the beautiful pastel below that Mel Shaw did for Disney’s “The Fox and the Hound.”

Copyright Disney. All Rights Reserved

Given that we’re just days away from Halloween, I thought that I’d close out today’s article with a scary concept painting of the Witch from "Snow White" ...

Copyright Disney. All Rights Reserved

... as well as two story sketches from Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”

Copyright Disney. All Rights Reserved

Which are just two of the 237 treats that will come up for bid today & tomorrow at S/R Labs’ Fall 2009 Animation Art Auction.

3 Dog Band by Paul Rudish

Worth checking out: a hi-res version of the Cartoonstitute short 3 Dog Band directed by Paul Rudish (Dexter’s Lab, Star Wars: Clone Wars). I wanted to like this short because there’s a lot to appreciate about it, including funny character movement, moments of visual inventiveness (the dj who flips his turntables into a bike), and a solid track at the end that is probably the best piece of music to ever accompany a Cartoon Network product.

At the same time, the characters have vague unappealing personalities, there’s little chemistry between the leads, and the attempts at humor fall flat (was the ending even supposed to be a joke?). It’s also a shame they couldn’t figure out what to do with the music. The last couple minutes come across as a fetishistic exercise in design and art direction that offers little in the way of entertainment value. By comparison, this is an example of how to properly end a cartoon with a musical sequence that rewards its audience.

In a shorts program, not every cartoon is going to be a homerun, especially when they’re produced in the completely nonsensical manner of allowing each director to only make one short. But when all is said and done, even the weaker shorts that I’ve seen so far from the Cartoonstitute program have their moments, and few appear to be offensively bad as so many TV animation pilots tend to be nowadays.

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Flintstones Stop-Mo

Here’s the way it should be: the stop motion sequence from Flintstones: On the Rocks (2001), by the gang at Screen Novelties.

P.S. Grab a higher quality download off the Screen Novelties website.

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Shrek the Musical Flops, Will Close Soon

Here’s a shocker: people aren’t willing to spend their hard-earned money to see a Broadway musical with a lead character that looks like this:

Variety reports that DreamWorks is shuttering Shrek the Musical early next year. Despite Katzenberg’s best efforts to milk the Shrek franchise, the musical has only been filling about 60% of audience capacity and dipping to as low as 49% capacity last month.

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Cartoon Network presentation reel (1991)

I was a consultant to the Cartoon Network shortly after it launched in 1992. Somehow back then I acquired a copy of this 1991 presentation video, which Ted Turner used to pitch the idea to cable operators and potential advertisers. It’s interesting to revisit this piece today — the channel’s current agenda is a far cry from its original stated goals. Also note, this was before CN created their checkerboard logo.

Cartoon Network held great potential — and still does. Perhaps posting this video will give someone the idea to revive it.

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Mr. Beaks's Day Of Disney! PRINCESS AND THE FROG Glimpsed! The Walt Disney Archives Visited! Disneyland Befouled!

I am thirty-five years old, and I am visiting Disneyland for the first time. Walking down Main Street U.S.A., I feel like an interloper, like a slightly suaver Peter Lorre casting ominous shadows on childhood memories being recalled or created. Everyone is so damn happy. I shouldn't be here.

But the fine folks at Disney are determined to evoke the history of their company in order to get myself and a small group of online journos excited about their return to hand-drawn animation with THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG, so here I am, prowling The Happiest Place On Earth in search of my inner nine-year-old - the one who never visited Disneyland. Later (after lunch at the ultra-exclusive Club 33), we'll be whisked off to Glendale for a tour of the Disney Archives, which houses sixty million pieces of original production art (dating back to 1928's "Steamboat Willie"). And then we'll conclude our trip at Walt Disney Animation, where we'll interview directors Ron Clements and John Musker after checking out select scenes from THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG.

But first, the park...

Mr. Beaks Does Disneyland

(Left to right: Bill Desowitz, Beaks, Peter Sciretta, Alex Billington, George "El Guapo" Roush, Lizerne Guitling. The Penitent Man: Todd Gilchrist)

Next time you go to Disneyland, I highly recommend that you arrive with an employee of Walt Disney Studios' publicity. Make sure you use the back entrance (which drops you off close to Space Mountain), and don't forget to flag down one of the park's hyper-knowledgeable tour guides. This way, you'll learn damn near everything about the conception and construction of Disneyland and get to ditch in line on every ride all day long. Trust me, the contemptuous glare you'll get from a father of five who's been baking in the Anaheim sun for two full hours waiting to get tossed around for maybe four minutes on The Indiana Jones Adventure - while you just waltzed in with your own personal tour guide - is incredibly worth it.

Walt Disney famously came up with the idea for Disneyland while watching his kids ride the Merry-Go-Round at Griffith Park. He wanted to create a place where families could escape their dreary suburban existence and experience the magic of his films firsthand - as well as cough up loads of money on concessions and souvenirs. Though I'm a terrible cynic when it comes to stuff like this, you don't have to walk very far into Disneyland to sense the genius of Uncle Walt. The forced perspective used to lend scale to the storefronts and Sleeping Beauty's Castle makes the park seem literally larger than life, while the absence of watering holes for bored parents ensures one's experience won't be tainted by dad trying to board the Black Pearl. Once you acclimate yourself to the rampant consumerism and the galling sight of able-bodied adults navigating the park on scooters WALL-E-style (not a widespread phenomenon, but frequent enough to cause alarm), the innocence of Walt's world view ultimately wins you over.

And it only takes a go-round on Space Mountain (tricked out with the spooky Ghost Galaxy overlay for Halloween) or a jerky jaunt through The Indiana Jones Adventure to remind you why adults keep coming back to Disneyland: these are some of the most inventively designed rides in the world. Even the synergistic addition of Johnny Depp, Bill Nighy and Hans Zimmer's music to The Pirates of the Caribbean can't detract from the elaborateness of the Imagineers' original vision (though, strangely, Eddie Murphy is nowhere to be found in The Haunted Mansion).

But, again, I was in a bit of a bubble during my visit, what with being led around the park by a cheerful tour guide named Dean (easily the most likable Disney-phile I've ever met), avoiding lines, nosing around the posh Dream Suite (where VIP guests can spend the night right next to the Pirates of the Caribbean), and dining at Club 33 (membership runs a paltry $10,000). The next time I drop in on Disneyland, I'll almost certainly have to rub elbows with the great unwashed - and won't that be a kick in the Grumpies.

Infiltrating The Walt Disney Archives

Speaking of Grumpy, did you know he was almost joined by a little fella named Deafy in Walt Disney's 1937 classic SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS? I mean, I've heard of Awful, Biggy, Blabby, Dirty, Gabby, Gaspy, Gloomy, Hoppy, Hotsy, Jaunty, Jumpy, Nifty and Shifty (thanks, IMDb!), but Deafy? And he must've been close to making the final cut, too, because the sketch I saw included the rest of the well-known Dwarfs, save for Dopey - which gives you an idea of what Walt Disney though about the hearing impaired.

This is just one of the many pieces of trivia I accumulated during a tour of The Walt Disney Archives, which is housed in a nondescript office building somewhere in Glendale. And while I quite enjoyed my first-ever visit to Disneyland earlier in the day, this was the absolute highlight of the press event. I can crawl down the I-5 to Anaheim whenever I want; gazing upon original, seventy-something-year-old pencil sketches of Snow White (as she utters the line "Maybe you know where I can stay")... that's not quite as accessible.

The Archive isn't the most dynamically-designed office space on Earth; in fact, if you walked in without any knowledge about the place, you'd probably think it was just some insignificant adjunct to the studio. It's not. Socked away in a drab, chilly file room is a treasure trove of sketches and layouts and backgrounds that essentially charts the eighty-plus-year history of American feature animation. Scanning the titles lining the shelves (VICTORY THROUGH AIR POWER, THE THREE CABALLEROS, SO DEAR TO MY HEART), I desperately wanted to throw on a coat ('cuz it really is cold in there), don a pair of white cloth gloves (a necessity when handling these items) and not emerge until I'd pored over every last piece of artwork for stuff like "Education for Death", "Der Fuehrer's Face", "Donald Gets Drafted" and an innocuous little film called SONG OF THE SOUTH (which yet lives on Splash Mountain).

For those of you who'd love to sift through the Archives, the good news is that its contents will ultimately be available online (currently being scanned and sorted by the staff). While that's great and all, there's just no substitute for getting to see this stuff up close with your own eyes. I want to go back right now.


Having skimmed through the history of Disney feature animation for a tantalizingly brief hour or so, it was now time to head back to Burbank to check out four scenes from the film that will hopefully usher in a new era of hand-drawn animation at the studio, THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG.

Directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, the duo that saved Disney's struggling animation unit twenty years ago with THE LITTLE MERMAID, THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG is a New Orleans-based retelling of the classic Grimm fairy tale "The Frog Prince" - and it promises to be more of a return to the Katzenberg way of doing things than an homage to Disney's Golden Age. Crafted by a dream team of veteran character animators (with some talented young upstarts thrown in to freshen up the 1990s style), it's essentially a big movie musical in the vein of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST and ALADDIN (the latter being Clements and Musker's other major smash). And while it's impossible to judge the film's overall quality from a handful of scenes, I'm definitely impressed by what I've seen so far.

The first sequence shown to us was the introduction to the tale's villain, Dr. Facilier (voiced by Keith David), a voodoo-practicing con man who tries to lighten hero Prince Naveen's wallet by claiming (in song, of course) to have "Friends on the Other Side". This lively Randy Newman-penned tune - which will make a fine show-stopper when/if the movie gets its Broadway spinoff - is backed up by some rather clever animation that finds Facilier's shadow accompanying its flesh-and-blood counterpart with a variety of snazzy dance moves.

This was followed by the scene in which Naveen - transformed into a frog thanks to Facilier - first encounters Princess Tiana, the strong-willed heroine who believes her dreams will come true through hard work. Naveen would like Tiana to kiss him in order to break Facilier's curse; Tiana, predictably, wants nothing to do with smooching a slimy amphibian. It's a meet-cute scene that ends with Tiana reluctantly planting one on Naveen - and getting turned into a frog for her trouble.

The third scene added goofy sidekicks Louis the alligator and Ray the lightning bug into the mix. Louis is a gifted trumpeter whose efforts to join a human jazz combo have thus far ended disastrously (his would-be collaborators can't be convinced he won't go gator on them); Ray is a cajun eccentric who helps Naveen and Tiana untie their elastic frog tongues after an unfortunate fly-catching accident. Both of these characters should be big hits with kids, but I'd be lying if I said they were anywhere near as memorable as Sebastian, Lumiere or the Genie.

The final scene found the gang linking up with Mama Odie (Jenifer Lewis), the voodoo priestess who Naveen and Tiana hope will undo their curse. Odie's prepared to help, but she informs the kids that "Unless you understand what you need, you won't get what you want." Then she launches into the gospel-infused "Dig a Little Deeper". Toes tap, spirits soar, and the curtain (presumably) falls on the second act.

Once the clips were finished, we headed down to a conference room to lob questions at Clements and Musker about their first Disney production since 2002's TREASURE PLANET. Here are some of the highlights from our chat:


Ron Clements: The history of this project is a little more complicated than some movies, but obviously this is very loosely based on the... Grimm fairy tale "The Frog Prince", which is a very short little story. Disney has actually been trying to do something with that story for years and years, going all the way back to the time of 'Beauty and the Beast'. More recently, in... I think it was 2003, Disney bought the rights to a children's book called 'The Frog Princess' by an author named E.D. Baker and in that story it was basically a kind of fairy tale with a twist. In that story the princess kissed the frog, and instead of him turning into a prince she turned into a frog. Then the two sort of went on an adventure together. It doesn't really bear a lot of resemblance to our movie except for that basic thing which was within that. And then Disney explored - in the earlier part of this decade, I think - versions of that with some writers and some treatments.

Musker: Parallel to that, Pixar had been exploring 'The Frog Princess' as a possible CG film. At first it was set in Chicago in the 1930s. And then I think John Lasseter suggested that they set it in New Orleans because... it's his favorite city. And being frogs and all of that made him say, "Why don't you set this in New Orleans? It's a great locale and a cool place." So they started developing the idea in New Orleans.

Clements: Their story wasn't really a fairy tale. At one point it was about a rock star.

Musker: Because [Lasseter] said "We don't do fairy tales."

Clements: (Laughs) It wasn't a fairy tale and it wasn't a musical. But it did have some elements [in common]. It had voodoo in it. When we got involved... we were gone from Disney for just for about six months. Then John Lasseter and Ed Catmull came to Disney and became in charge of Disney animation, and they sort of invited us back. We've known John for years and years and years.

Musker: I went to school with John Lasseter at Cal Arts. I was in the same class in '75. It was Brad Bird and John and I and various people.

Clements: Tim Burton was one year down.

On ushering in the new era of hand-drawn animation at Disney:

Musker: Certainly it was odd to start it up again because they kind of mothballed the CAPS system, which is what we used…

Clements: Although [THE LAST MERMAID] was the last film done with cels, the sort of traditional way. Every movie up to that point, the drawings were... Xeroxed onto celluloid, painted on the back and then filmed over painted backgrounds. And then Rescuers Down Under, which was the next film, was the first film to use the CAPS system, which was digital ink-and-paint, and everything was composited. That continued until things kind of went away.

Musker: Then when 2-D went away [at Disney], they kind of mothballed CAPS - and CAPS had been kind of band-aided and paper-clipped together. So we used a system on this film called Harmony, which is a product from a Canadian company called Toon Boom. We did something on this which we hadn't done on any of the films previous, which is, in effect - and it sounds like a simple thing but it really helped us to get richer sort of colors and more interactive backgrounds and characters - but our characters were painted almost in a neutral light before we picked the color they would be in a scene. This is not the way that we ever did it before. Before... with a scene that was okay to go to color, we'd have color models who would take a frame of the film and would paint the characters from the scene, and they would say, "That's what they're going to look like over those backgrounds." Then it would go off and be painted and come back - whether or not it was by hand or, in this case, on the computer. We'd get it, and that's sort of what we lived with rather than dialing it up or down in color timing.

Now, with this new system, the character is painted in these sort of neutral colors, and then, in our color model area, they can take those characters and adjust them for that background, and we can play it back in real time and see, "This is the way that character looks in that environment." We can actually play the scene as you'd see it on the screen. They can do all sorts of things interactively with that. They call it gradiance, where they can make the character brighter or darker

Clements: Almost like a painter would do.

Musker: Yeah. Very painterly.

Clements: I would say the mandate on this film, even when we started, and that came from John Lasseter, was to aim high. In every area there was animation, color, layout, backgrounds, and f/x. It wasn't so much doing something completely different than what we'd done before, but just to do it as well as it could possibly be done. I think that everyone really strived in all of their areas to really reach as far as possible.

Musker: There are two things that we did at John Lasseter's behest. One thing that they do up at Pixar is... they use animatics. We've always had story reels, which are basically the film storyboard drawings, and you play the tracks and that sort of thing; then we'd go into layout which is where you'd decide where the cuts happen.

Clements: The storyboards at Disney weren't really about staging. They were just about story and character, and not really worrying too much about the actual staging of the movie. Layout is where, from a cinematic standpoint, you go in and figure out exactly where you're going to put the camera - from cut to cut, how long the shot is going to be.

Musker: On THE LITTLE MERMAID and ALADDIN... we had what we called "work books", where they would just do little thumbnails and say, "Okay, here's a pan shot. We're going to use that there. We're going to be on a close-up."

Clements: It would go to animation, and it wouldn't really be seen on film until the animation was done.

Musker: So what John wanted us to do was... the more interactive thing like they do at Pixar, in that they have a reel where they block out the action, timed just the way the scene would be. In other words, even though the characters are not animated, they're like rolling figures in the Pixar world. There's Woody and Buzz, and they're going to walk from here to here, and the scene is actually going to take two seconds and yadda yadda. They do these wire frame models that sort of block out that scene, so you get a feeling of the cutting even though there's no animation there. We hadn't really done that in our process.

Clements: So we had this new innovation which we called the "layout animatics". We actually put it on film where we could watch it like a movie that goes beyond the story reels. There's still no animation, but it really feels much more like a movie because all the cutting is there and all the editing is there; the characters are still drawings, but the camera is moving. The lighting is there. It gives you a chance really to see the movie in a much more realized form before the animation is actually done. I would just say that there were a lot of benefits that came out of that.

On bringing together a team of veteran and rookie animators:

Clements: One of the really great things in terms of this movie was the opportunity to put a dream cast together, which couldn't have been done ten years ago because when hand drawn animation was at it's peak, everyone was getting spread pretty far around. Dreamworks was doing hand drawn animation, and other studios were doing it as well. And Disney split up it's own staff so that multiple productions were going on at the same time. No one worked on the same movie. You'd get a certain amount of really good animators, and the other animators would be off doing another movie. On this one, we were, with a few exceptions, able to get just about everybody that we wanted to get, partly because there were no other big hand-drawn features being done anywhere else. And even though many of the people were very successful doing this - most people made the transition and were working in digital animation or doing something else - I think that everyone who worked in this kind of art form really wanted to return to it. They missed it. So we got kind of a dream staff in terms of animators. We had a great crew.

Musker: We had people like Andreas Deja, whom we'd worked with before. But then we had a great animator like Bruce Smith, who we'd never worked with before, but who was a veteran and brought so much to the character of Facilier.

Clements: And Mark Henn, who at one time had relocated to Florida. He didn't work on films down here for a while. [He did Princess Tiana.]

Musker: He was in charge of her and the principle animation of her. But then, as you say, we got newcomers, too. We got people like Hyun Min Lee who worked with Art Goldberg and was a student right out of Cal Arts; he had been in Jules Engles's film graphics program. He's a wonderful character animator. Some of these people in their twenties... it was great that they were working alongside some of these veterans who were in their fifties. They really took to it. And it was great to see people embrace this who might otherwise have gone a different direction.

On the future of hand-drawn animation at Disney:

Clements: [The plan is for] every two or three years, which I think everyone would be happy with. I think it makes it more special. For a while, I think there was a period there where there were two a year coming out. For this kind of film, it's really hard to maintain that, and it doesn't really seem necessary. It makes the films more special.

On whether they have ideas for more films:

Musker: We do actually have an idea for another hand drawn film that we want to do after this.

Clements: And there's another hand-drawn film going on that we're not involved with. Even from the start... John and Ed, when we talked about bringing 2-D back, it was never talked about like, "Well, lets try it and see what happens, and then go from there." They were like, "We feel that Disney should be doing this. We want to bring it back and we want to continue to do it."

Musker: And obviously if this comes out and doesn't do well, there will be whatever pressures of some order to reconsider that possibly. But I think that John and Ed are very dedicated to it.

Clements: But not instead of digital. I think the plan is that Disney would do both, and maybe be the only studio that does both.

On whether their next film will be a musical:

Musker: That's under discussion. We love musicals, but some people are like, "I hate musicals." We are among the people who like them. But it's not a sure thing. We've got some projects cooking that are non-musicals and some that are.

Clements: But musicals are very fun to do. Certainly, animation and music seem to go together as if they were made for each other. It's fun doing a musical.

THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG opens in New York City and Los Angeles on November 25th. It will go wide two weeks later on December 11th.

Thanks to the gang at Disney for hauling my ass all over Los Angeles two weeks ago.

Faithfully submitted,

Mr. Beaks

(Thanks Aint It Cool)

"Superman/Batman: Public Enemies," "Batman: The Brave And The Bold" Soundtrack Update

The World's Finest has a first look at the package artwork for the recent Superman/Batman: Public Enemies and upcoming Batman: The Brave And The Bold soundtrack score CD releases from New Line Records.

To view images from the recent Superman/Batman: Public Enemies soundtrack release from New Line Records, now available to order as a compact disc release on Amazon or as a digital download through iTunes, please click on the thumbnails below. The Soundtrack From The DC Universe Animated Original Movie - Superman/Batman: Public Enemies score release features music composed by Christopher Drake.

Check out the Superman/Batman: Public Enemies subsite here at The World's Finest for further coverage and information on the Superman/Batman: Public Enemies direct-to-video animated feature. A co-production of Warner Premiere, DC Comics and Warner Bros. Animation, the direct-to-video Superman/Batman: Public Enemies animated feature is now available to own DVD and Blu-ray disc. The title is also available through OnDemand and Pay-Per-View.

Continuing, New Line Records has also provided The Worlds Finest with a first look promotional copy of the upcoming Batman: The Brave and The Bold - Mayhem of the Music Meister! soundtrack release, available as both an Amazon-only compact disc release or download and an iTunes digital download. The soundtrack release collects the entire score to the highly-anticipated Batman: The Brave and The Bold "Mayhem of the Music Meister!" episode, airing tonight, October 23rd, 2009 at 7:30pm (ET) on Cartoon Network. The Batman: The Brave and The Bold - Mayhem of the Music Meister! soundtrack will be made available the following day, October 24th, 2009, through the aforementioned outlets. Please click on the images below for a complete look at the promotional Batman: The Brave and The Bold - Mayhem of the Music Meister! soundtrack release.

For official press details on the Batman: The Brave and The Bold - Mayhem of the Music Meister soundtrack release, please click here. Further coverage on Batman: The Brave and The Bold, along with images and episode details for last Friday's highly-anticipated "Mayhem of the Music Meister" episode, are available at the Batman: The Brave and The Bold subsite here at The World's Finest.

In further Batman: The Brave and The Bold news, The World's Finest and New Line Records have teamed up to give fans the opportunity to recieve a free copy of the upcoming Batman: The Brave and the Bold - Mayhem of the Music Meister Soundtrack CD release from New Line Records, due for release October 24th, 2009. For a full week, from Monday, October 26th, 2009 to Friday, October 30th, 2009, The World's Finest will be giving away ten copies of the Batman: The Brave and the Bold - Mayhem of the Music Meister Soundtrack CD release to ten lucky recipients at the rate of two copies a day, courtesy of New Line Records.

To enter, simply send an email to, including your name, mailing address and phone number by Friday, October 30th, 2009. Please label the email "Batman: The Brave and The Bold CD Contest." Only one entry can be sent per person. From there, two entries will be chosen at random each day, from October 26th, 2009 to October 30th, 2009, to receive a free copy of the Batman: The Brave and the Bold - Mayhem of the Music Meister Soundtrack CD release from New Line Records. Please note this special giveaway is only available to residents of the United States.

Only those randomly chosen to receive a copy of the CD release will be notified via email. Please note the terms and conditions of this special giveaway are subject to change without notice.

Batman: The Brave and the Bold - Mayhem of the Music Meister soundtrack available on iTunes, Amazon and other Digital Music Outlets beginning October 24th, 2009. Official press details for the Batman: The Brave and the Bold - Mayhem of the Music Meister Soundtrack CD release from New Line Records are available here.

UFO Used To LaunchBold Rabbids on Wii

Back in June, we wrote up the new Rayman Raving Rabbids game – Rabbids Go Home. Here’s a new spot, titled Failed Attempts – UFO, which promotes the Nintendo Wii game, which was developed by Ubisoft and is available on November 5th 2009.

Dr. Tran Has a Time Machine…. We Think

In the 5th Dr. Tran Fan Mail episode, titled Time Machine, our eyes are opened to what appears to be parellel dimensions. Gasp!

Monsters vs. Aliens – Mutant Pumpkins from Outer Space

NBC is getting set to air a half-hour, Halloween-themed TV special based on the DreamWorks Animation feature Monsters vs. Aliens. The CG special, titled Monsters vs. Aliens: Mutant Pumpkins from Outer Space, was directed by Peter Ramsey who I believe is a first timer in this role. Here’s an assembly of clips from the project, which airs on October 28th at 8-8:30 p.m. ET, repeating from 8:30-9 p.m. ET.

DreamWorks et Disney

I wasn't planning to go to multiple studios today, but sometimes you do more driving than you want to.

At Disney By the 134, The Princess and the Frog, I was told by a Top Dog:

"We're completely done now. We just finished the color transfer, we've finished the music. Now we wait and see how the picture does. We're sandwiched between Avatar and the Chipmunks, so it's up to the audience now for how it does ...."

I told him I thought The Princess would open with good numbers. I am a positive, optimistic person ...

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Happy Duckling, Astronaut up for Scottish BAFTAs

Short "The Happy Duckling" and music video "Astronaut" have been nominated in the Animation category of this year's Scottish BAFTA Awards.

Nominations for the awards were announced Monday.

The Happy Duckling is an adventure set in a pop-up book world. The film was made by a team of nine students from two rival universities in Dundee, Scotland: Duncan of Jordanstone College of Arts and Design and the University of Abertay.

Accompanied by a whimsical original score from composer Mick Cooke of Belle and Sebastian, the film follows the antics of a young boy in his struggles against a stalking duck! In this pop-up world, expect the unexpected. Surprises aplenty behind every flap you open and every tab you pull...

Astronaut was directed and produced by Aaron Shrimpton of Napier University.

BAFTA Scotland director Helen Anderson announced the nominations for the awards, which celebrate the best in Scottish TV, film and multimedia. The announcement was made at Malmaison in Glasgow,

The political satirical film In The Loop received nominations for star Peter Capaldi (Acting in Film), Armando Ianucci (Director), and Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Tony Roche, Armando Ianucci (Writer).

New Town Killers, a thriller set in Edinburgh, also received three nominations: best feature film, best director (Richard Jobson) and best actor (James Pearsons).

Actor Stephen McCole was nominated for his role in the thriller Crying With Laughter, which is also up for the best feature film and best writer.

Winners will be announced Sunday, November 8 at a ceremony in Glasgow's Science Centre. The awards will again be Webcast, with the full ceremony streamed live at

"The sheer volume of films, TV and games produced in Scotland this year is staggering -- a real testament to Scotland's burgeoning industry," said Anderson. "There is some inspiring talent both in front of and behind the camera. I'm looking forward to next month's ceremony and announcing our winners."

"How People Got Fire" wins imagineNATIVE Award

"How People Got Fire," an animated short centering on Grandma Kay and the connection she forges with the village children through the oral tradition of their culture, won Best Short Documentary at Sunday Night's imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival Closing Awards Celebration in Toronto.

"It was beautiful, lyrical and with a mixture of playful visual motifs and wonderful characterizations," a member of the jury said of the National Film Board of Canada release.

Directed by Daniel Janke, the 16-minute How People Got Fire follows 12-year-old Tish in a work that brings to life the metaphor and magic of her grandmother's story.

Three other NFB films received prizes or honorable mentions at the awards ceremony.

CBQM, a short documentary in which filmmaker Dennis Allen pays tribute to the "Moccasin Telegraph," won the Alanis Obomsawin Best Documentary Award, with a jury member saying, "Through accomplished storytelling, [Allen] has deftly captured the small, yet transformative, moments that make up human experience." Reel Injun, an entertaining and insightful look at the Hollywood Indian by Neil Diamond, received Honourable Mention in the same category.

Inukshop, a short film by Jobie Weetaluktuk about the appropriation of his culture throughout history, received Honourable Mention for Best Experimental Film.

Running from October 14 to 18, imagineNATIVE celebrated the latest works by indigenous peoples on the forefront of innovation in film, video, radio and new media.

Scene from Daniel Janke's How People Got Fire.

Facing Champlain wins Tele-Quebec Multimedia Award

At the annual conference of the Societe des musees Quebecois, the Musée de la civilisation in Québec City received the Prix multimédia et audiovisuel Télé-Québec (Télé-Québec Multimedia Award) for the partly animated film Facing Champlain, A Work in 3 Dimensions.

Skilfully blending animation and fiction, Facing Champlain was directed by Jean-François Pouliot, with acclaimed actor Pascale Montpetit in the role of a young artist who is struggling to paint a portrait of Champlain even though no one knows what he actually looked like.

The award was accepted by Musée de la civilisation CEO Claire Simard in the presence of Carol Faucher, senior conservation analyst at the National Film Board of Canada.

The museum and the NFB have a long history of collaboration and made this innovative 3-D and stereoscopic production a memorable experience for thousands of viewers.

"The awarding of this prize provides an occasion to highlight the NFB's close collaboration with the Musée de la civilisation. By pooling our audiovisual knowhow and museum expertise, we have together succeeded in giving a broad spectrum of audiences the opportunity to immerse themselves in our history and enjoy a unique artistic experience through state-of-the-art technology in the NFB's tradition of innovation," said NFB executive producer Jacques Turgeon, project head of the Facing Champlain film.

Since the 3-D film and the exhibition opened at the Québec City museum's Centre d'interprétation de Place-Royale in May 2008, the center's attendance has increased by almost 10%.

A selection of behind-the-scenes films from Facing Champlain can be viewed at

More about the closure of Wild Brain San Francisco

It’s been a tough year in San Francisco. First, The Orphanage shut down, and then we reported earlier this month that Wild Brain is a goner. The Business of Animation blog, run by an anonymous industry vet, has posted more about why the Bay Area Wild Brain was shuttered. Apparently, it was at the urging of one particular female exec:

How did this happen? Well, I cannot say for sure. But the rumor going around is that when the previous CEO left, they brought in a woman to run the company. She was a TV producer down in LA and her big bright idea was to shutter the SF office. Supposedly she put the kibosh on any incoming projects, just to guarantee there was no work to support the studio.

The woman in question who was brought in to run the company is Marge Dean, and I’ve heard a similar tale from my sources that corroborates this version of the story.

Equally enlightening is a reader comment from the same post. It was written by an anonymous person who worked at Wild Brain in its earliest days. The comment is worth reposting in its entirety:

I guess the saying might be that they always took the opportunity to do the wrong thing, but that might be a bit harsh. They had, in the start, an esprit de corps, since I was one of the original 7 or so with the company.

“We few, we merry few…”

And yes, we took chances, we got creative, and we got things started and done since it was all of out asses on the line. Once it got too big, once money came into the picture, then you really could see the divisions, especially during the Dot-Com blizzard of cash and idiocy. Once the bottom fell out, so did all barnstorming and chance taking. The joy was sucked out of it. Wounds never healed. Backs remained stabbed.

We need that kind of company in the Bay Area again, like the early days of Colossal or the ‘Brain. Small enough to take chances and try new approaches, but egalitarian enough to avoid the layers of fat and mindless loyalties.

UPDATE: Reader “Judas P. Foxglove” offers another perspective in the comments about what’s happening at Wild Brain:

Wildbrain was not “shuttered” in the traditional meaning of the term. The studio moved to Los Angeles, the recognized epicenter of animation in this country. Anyone who is bemoaning a prudent business move (during a recession mind you) is probably someone who has a lot of sour grapes. All things change and everyone who lives and breathes in this world has suffered the consequences(or reaped the benefits) of change around them.

For what its worth, and what isn’t mentioned in this post, is that Wildbrain Studios in Los Angeles is as vibrant and creative a place as any that I have ever worked for - and I’ve been in the industry for over ten years in three different cities. And when the productions we are working on are released they are going to knock your socks off.

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Teletoon’s Detour pilots

I don’t know if these will be as exciting as CN’s unaired Cartoonstitute pilots we featured a while back, but Canada’s Teletoon network is releasing shorts from its pilot program, The Detour, one a week, every Friday online and on air. The first one up is Cal Brunker’s Ninjamaica, produced by Lenz Entertainment.

But I’m particularly looking forward to next week’s Angora Napkin by Nick Cross and Troy Little. Here’s why:

(Thanks, Cameron Archer)

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Toonbox Captures Jack the Ripper For Kaspersky

Paul Mountian and the Moscow-based Toonbox crew have created a new series of spots for Kaspersky Anti-Virus software. Back in June, Cold Hard Flash posted their Pushkin ad, and below is an action-packed Jack the Ripper spot. There’s also ads featuring Charles Darwin and Vasily Chapayev, a celebrated Russian soldier.

30 Second Bunnies Scare Up Wolf Man

With Halloween rapidly approaching, Jennifer Shiman’s 30 Second Bunnies Theatre has staged their rendition of the 1941 film The Wolf Man. The feature starred Lon Chaney, Jr. and Béla Lugosi and next year a remake, titled The Wolfman, arrives in theaters.

Tandem Fortifies CalciYum Spots

Simon Tofield’s Flash-animated Simon’s Cat series has become a verifiable worldwide hit – with millions of YouTube views, a new book and a future in comics. You can see the influence this series has had on a new campaign for CalciYum, a children’s dairy snack. The reason for this similarity is that it that Colenso BBDO, the agency overseeing the campaign, called upon the same team to produce them – London’s Tandem Films. Below is the spot titled Cat, which includes many of the charming (read: vicious), feline quirks that make Simon’s Cat so appealing. The ads are directed by Daniel Greaves with character design by Helene Friren and animation by Jeroen Jaspaert, Ginny Robertson, Laura Nailor and Wip Vernooj.

Animated Shorts 611: ASTRO BOY Flies Again!

Director David Bowers has every reason in the world to sound relieved.

After innumerable trials and tribulations his latest project, the CGI feature film version of “Astro Boy,” had its world premiere in Japan.

“It was very well received,” said Bowers, whose past directorial effort was “Flushed Away.” “It got praise and did some ridiculously powerful figures over there, which is always encouraging. When I was there, it was a very surreal scene. I mean I was there along with Astro Boy, and next thing I knew, the Honda Asimo robot walks on the stage. It was a night to remember, and I don’t think Honda had anything to do with the movie.”

Created as a manga by Osamu Tezuka in the early 50s, “Astro Boy” earned its stripes as the first Japanese anime series ever back in 1963. The TV series was imported to the U.S. by Fred Ladd back in 1963, where it quickly kick started the first anime revolution domestically. Over the years, Ladd would revamp the tales of the Mighty Atom in the early 80s, and Tezuka’s son Makoto would do another one with Sony the beginning of this century.

Still, no animation feature in recent years had as many problems getting off the ground as this one. A production of a new company, the directors attached to the film at one time or another included the likes of Genndy Tartakovsky (“Dexter’s Laboratory,” “Samurai Jack” and the first “Clone Wars”) and Colin Brady (“Everyone’s Hero”).

If that wasn’t enough, the world financial recession played into the movie’s production. Imagi had to fish for new backers due to losses on the global stock market.

“It was touch and go for a while thanks to the world economic crisis adversely affecting the film being made,” Bowers admits, “but it was made. The people who came in to help Imagi finish it thought they saw something special there. So seeing it made was a huge relief. Still, it’s nerve wracking”

As it happens, Bowers managed to get the job done. He managed to pull a fairly high caliber voice cast for the project, among them Freddie Highmore as Astro, Nick Cage as Tenma, Bill Nighy as Dr. Elephun and Donald Sutherland as new villain President Stone.

He also threw some bones for old time fans.

“Inspector Detector doesn’t appear,” Bowers acknowledges, “but. Professor Elephun and Mr. Mustachio play quite big parts in the movie. Mustachio was actually Toby’s teacher at the beginning of the movie. He then makes some major appearances throughout the movie.”

Bowers, who grew up in the British city of Manchester, acknowledges he came to Tezuka’s work in a non-traditional manner, at least for an animator.

“When I was growing up in England in the 70s and 80s, the show wasn’t on television and the manga wasn’t available,” Bowers recalls. “I came aware of him more as a design icon. When I was young, the image of Astro Boy flying appeared to be everywhere, especially in imported products in my native Manchester.

“So the more I dug into Astro Boy, the more I liked it. I especially went back to the original manga, which to me is the purest source of him. I also drew from the 80s TV show. I found the 60s TV show to be fantastic but also a bit strange. It was also quite violent.”

The basic plot follows the classic storyline. When Dr. Tenma loses his son Toby in a car accident, the robotic genius loses his bearings. He devotes himself to the creation of a robotic replacement of his child, named Astro. Yet in a twist on the Pinocchio legend, Tenma discovers no robot can replace his lost boy, he rejects Astro, making the robot homeless.

This is where Bowers’ tale starts to go in its own direction as opposed to Tezuka’s original vision.

“It’s a little bit nerve wracking in one respect,” says Bowers. “When you’re dealing with a character that’s so much beloved, you think twice before changing anything. People want things that have gone on before.

“Fortunately, Tezuka Productions encouraged me to go a little bit broader with the character and expand on the universal story that already existed. They actually gave me a lot of freedom. Without that, I might have worried about taking the movie into directions that I did.

“Times have changed. You can’t exactly do the Astro Boy they grew up with and loved. With that in mind, all you can do is hope they will like this one even more. The original manga is still there. All the other versions of Astro Boy are available on DVD. I haven’t spawned something that doesn’t already exist.”

One thing that Bowers had to balance carefully was keeping the film true to its roots while making sure it would work on the U.S. front.

“I think people underestimate kids and their abilities,” he states. “I mean I also look back at the films that I loved, like “Snow White” and “Bambi,” which are horrific and traumatic. The origins of Astro Boy is quite tragic, too. The original story is a brilliant scientist loses his son in an auto accident. So he creates a robot to replace him, but the robot can’t replace him. So the scientist throws the robot out.

“At its core, that’s the real drama of the movie. It’s what keeps the movie moving forward. Done right, it becomes interesting, exciting and engaging. So we kept that in and it does move. It’s not overly violent or overly graphic, but I also didn’t shy away from the things that made the story great and resonate. In fact, I would say that made the story last for over 50 years.”

Luckily for Bowers, all his modifications were done with the blessings of Tezuka’s son, Makoto.

“It was great. He was very collaborative,” says Bowers. “He was mainly concerned with design. He liked the story I came up with, so there were never any problems there. He was very keen that Astro Boy looked like the character everyone knew and loved. We made him a little older in the movie. In the past, he was about the height and looks of about an 8-9 year old. He looks a little younger than that because of his trademark big eyes and his body proportions.”

Other key changes are the introduction of the character of President Stone and the young girl Cora (Kristen Bell).

“He’s actually the president,” says Bowers, who is correcting false info given out on the IMDB. “There are actually quite a lot of new characters. President Stone is the villain and he’s actually quite fantastic. He’s playing against type. He isn’t supposed to act like a villain in the movie. I wanted him to be likeable as well. Luckily, Sutherland has plenty of warmth. So he gives a very nuanced performance.

“President Stone’s deal is he’s up for re-election, but he’s not that popular a president. He feels if he can create a phony war he could sway the populace of the Earth. I won’t say it’s ripped right from the headlines, but it should sound a bit familiar. You could say it was inspired by what went on.

“Cora is kind of this artful dodger girl that Astro bumps into. They form a great friendship, but he never quite tells her that he’s a robot. So when she does find out, she reacts. Robots are treated like second-class citizens in Metro City.”

Actually, the treatment of robots is a common metaphor for anyone familiar with Tezuka’s work. It not only was seen in “Astro Boy,” but also in his other works, such as “Metropolis.” Bowers adds his own twist to the matter though.

“Another set of new characters are a bunch of robot revolutionaries,” he notes. “They are very keen on overthrowing human slavery. They will do anything they can, no matter how shocking. Unfortunately, they are harnessed by The First Law of Robots, which states they can not directly harm any human or let any human come to harm. So the most they can do is write angry letters to the local newspapers...but they are very militant about it.”

Otherwise, the film does stick to one important subtheme of the original manga, that of Astro learning about himself while the readers learn about his world.

“We treat the movie through self-discovery for Astro,” he said. “In the beginning of the movie we do a little set-up to show what Metro City is like. It’s a fake documentary called ‘Our Friends The Robots.’ The documentary talks about how great they are, how helpful, all that. Then it ends with telling us how they are ultimately dispensable. They are treated with no more respect than kitchen appliances.”

In the meantime, Bowers is already at work on his next film. He won’t disclose it’s title or nature. Still, he’s glad to see his current movie hit the big screen this past Friday.

“It feels great. I’m really proud of the movie. So far it’s gotten a really great reaction from fans and people who are new to Astro Boy. You always wonder if people are going to like your baby when you bring it out to the world.”

If the Japanese reaction is any indication, the kid is going to do just fine.

(Thanks newsarama)

New Screenwriter For 'Ghost In The Shell' Adaptation

The long-awaited adaptation of Masamune Shirow’s futuristic police thriller “Ghost in the Shell” appears to be picking up momentum this week; as DreamWorks has hired Laeta Kalogridis to write the screenplay.

According to a Variety report, Kalogridis is stepping in to replace Jamie Moss, the writer who was originally attached to the project when it was announced last year.

The producers behind the planned 3D, live-action adaptation of “Ghost in the Shell” include Steven Paul, Avi Arad—who comic fans should recall for his role in bringing Marvel out of bankruptcy—and Steven Spielberg, whose personal interest in the story reportedly helped DreamWorks land the rights.

"'Ghost in the Shell' is one of my favorite stories," Spielberg explained last year. "It's a genre that has arrived, and we enthusiastically welcome it to DreamWorks."

“Ghost in the Shell” follows the exploits of Motoko Kusanagi, a covert operative whose cyborg nature causes her to question her humanity. It is widely considered to be one of the most influential manga of the last thirty years.

Since it was first published in 1989, “Ghost in the Shell” has been adapted into an animated TV series, three video games and three animated movies.

The forthcoming DreamWorks live action adaptation is tentatively scheduled for 2011.

Doc Savage Is Boldy Going Where Orci And Kurtzman Want Him To Go

I never got into Doc Savage growing up. Not because I didn't like him, but because I just never got into him. So I have no idea how a movie based off of his adventures could turn out. All I know is the only man tan enough for the role is Matthew McConaughy.

Ain't It Cool got wind of Orci and Kurtzman being involved in a live action film based off of the Doc Savage series of pulp fiction:

When I asked him what he was working on, he shocked me with the revelation that he was going to be writing a script for DOC SAVAGE, which Orci & Kurtzman (those STAR TREK, EAGLE EYE, TRANSFORMERS guys) were producing.

Click HERE to read the rest.

Alright guys, start your casting choices!

(Thanks Latino Review)

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