Monday, November 30, 2009

News - 11/30/09...

"Fantastic Mr. Fox" off filmgoers' scent, in at #9

Stop-motion animated movie "Fantastic Mr. Fox" is coming up nearly empty in its hunt for box-office dollars.

Distributed by (surprise!) 20th Century Fox, Fantastic Mr. Fox grossed a painfully small $7.02 million over the weekend -- its first in wide release -- to reach ninth place in estimated gross receipts.

Despite costing about $35 million to produce, Wes Anderson's adaptation of the Roald Dahl book has grossed only $9.5 million in North American theaters since Wednesday. With a voice cast led by George Clooney, the comedy has made $10.1 million in total, including strong results from limited distribution at four theaters the previous two weekends.

In its second weekend of release, the live-action The Twilight Saga: New Moon repeated its No. 1 performance, collecting an estimated $42.5 million.

Disney's motion-capture A Christmas Carol was in sixth place in its fourth weekend with over $16 million, buoying hopes the Mouse House's that the picture would show strong holiday results after its weak beginning.

Produced at a cost of almost $200 million, the digital 3-D A Christmas Carol saw ticket sales rise 30% over the weekend. That's higher than the 24% increase for 2004's The Polar Express, another 3-D holiday movie directed by Robert Zemeckis, whose results Disney had hoped to emulate.

In its second weekend, Worldwide Biggies/Ilion Animation Studios' Planet 51 came in seventh with $10.2 million.

Meanwhile, Disney's hand-drawn The Princess And The Frog showed enormous popularity in very limited release.

Giving the Brothers Grimm fairy tale The Frog Prince a new setting in 1920s New Orleans, the musical opened in two theaters with $712,000 over the weekend and $1.1 million since Wednesday. Abetting the box office was a combination of high demand and increased ticket prices for a motion-picture "experience" that offered activities beyond just seeing the picture.

The Princess and the Frog goes into wide release December 11.

The North American box office had record revenues over the five-day Thanksgiving period. Receipts between Wednesday and receipts reached an estimated $278 million, box-office analyst Paul Dergarabedian said.

Anika Noni Rose on "Princess and the Frog" at has spoken with Anika Noni Rose, who will play the first of the title characters in Disney's upcoming The Princess and the Frog. Among other topics, Rose discusses the criticisms that the movie has received well before its release, the hand-drawn animation of the movie, and her longtime dream to play a role in a Disney movie.

How the Grinch (and an ogre) Stole Christmas

On Monday night, ABC will air two animated holiday specials starting at 8pm/7c. First, the classic holiday cartoon How the Grinch Stole Christmas will recieve its annual TV airing. Following this will be the not as beloved but still ratings friendly Shrek the Halls, the DreamWorks animated special from 2007.

First look: Shrek Forever After

USA Today now has a first look at next summer's Shrek Forever After. Among other things, the article reports that this will be the "concluding chapter" in the franchise, which is interesting since a Shrek 5 had been reported earlier. The fourth movie starring the jolly green giant will involve its title character feeling as though he's become too domesticated for his own good. In search of an answer, he makes a deal with Rumpelstiltskin to see what the world would be like if he had never married Princess Fiona. Shrek Forever After hits theaters on May 21st.

Best Picture Oscar for an animated flick?

An interesting article on brings up the topic of a possible Best Picture Oscar nomination for one – or even several – of the animated films that were released within the past year. The story brings up several good points as to why this might be a possibility, gesturing towards elements such as the huge critical success of Up and The Fantastic Mr. Fox, as well as the low number of more traditional Best Picture fare normally released around this time of year. The article also briefly mentions a few science-fiction films, including Star Trek, District 9, and The Road, and evaluates their chances of a nomination as well.

Prep and Landing pushed back

Disney’s Prep and Landing, originally set to air on Tuesday, has been pushed back an entire week. The move was made by ABC because President Obama’s press conference is scheduled for that evening. Prep and Landing will now air on December 8th.

Animation studio said to lay off 100 without pay

Australian animation studio Ettamogah Entertainment is being investigated by the Fair Work Ombudsman in the state of Victoria for allegedly failing to pay staff wages due them -- some dating back nearly a year.

Animators, writers and voice artists claim that they're owed over $100,000 in unpaid wages. Allegedly, superannuation payments have not been made for several months, and some staff, mostly writers, have been unpaid since last December.

Ettamogah has laid off over 100 employees without pay at its Brighton animation production studio. Due to budget overruns on the Li'l Larrikins kids' series being produced for the Ten Network, managing director Leigh O'Brien ordered up to 50 staff to leave the studio October 21. Most of those left were laid off November 5.

Staff are struggling to pull through financially, as they had not been warned before being laid off, one animator, who asked not to be named, told the Australian newspaper The Age. "There's real desperation because people are having trouble keeping a roof over their heads and feeding their families, it's as simple as that," he said.

Employees have filed complaints, said Fair Work Ombudsman spokesman Craig Bildstien, adding that there have been discussions with the company and the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, a union representing animation workers.

"Our preliminary advice is that employees have not been terminated, but stood down [laid off] without pay," Bildstien said. "We will be investigating this matter to ensure all employees have received their proper entitlements and the company is fulfilling its legal obligations to its workforce."

The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance will take the case to Fair Work Australia, the country's national workplace relations tribunal, alliance spokeswoman Eleisha Mullane said. "'The main thing for the staff is that they're in limbo and don't know what's happening," she said.

Because staff remain technically employed by Ettamogah Entertainment, they can't apply for federal unemployment payments, Mullane added.

O'Brien denied that his company is in financial trouble. "No, definitely not. It's just an issue we had with the production, which we're trying to resolve," said O'Brien, a property developer.

"If you've got budget overruns, you've got to fix it up. We've created 120 jobs here and trained everyone in animation, and there's no financial problems whatsoever."

Last year, Ettamogah Entertainment opened a state-of-the-art production studio in Brighton. It began production on two children's shows that have not yet been broadcast.

Rare Footage of Bakshi working on Fritz the Cat

This 1970 German documentary on Robert Crumb contains rare footage of Ralph Bakshi in his studio during the making of Fritz the Cat. Young Ralph is shown in the studio, walking through New York and looking at one of his animators flip through drawings. The documentary was loaded onto YouTube in three parts (embedded below) and is NSFW (not safe for work, due to naked hippies). Bakshi first appears a little after 6:30 in part one:

(Thanks, Rogelio Toledo)

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Chuck Jones’s Influence in Disney’s Latest Pic

Oswald Iten has a sweet and short observation on his blog Colorful Animation Expressions about how Eric Goldberg is incorporating a bit of Chuck Jones’s drawing flair into his design of Louis in The Princess and the Frog.

(Thanks cartoon brew)

"Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" added to Grammy Hall of Fame

"Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah," heard in Disney's partly animated 1946 movie Song Of The South, was named Wednesday as one of the Recording Academy's newest additions to its Grammy Hall Of Fame.

It is among 25 songs just inducted to the list, which now includes 851 titles.

The version added to the Hall Of Fame was Johnny Mercer's performance on a 1946 Capitol single, which charted at #8 the following year. James Baskett, as Uncle Remus, sang "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" in Song Of The South. It won the Academy Award for Best Original Song.

The music for "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" was written by Allie Wrubel; Ray Gilbert wrote the lyrics.

For many years, the tune was part of an opening theme medley for TV's Wonderful World of Disney series. It has been used often in other Disney TV and video productions, and can be heard on many official albums.

The Hall Of Fame serves as a celebration and reminder of the triumphs and achievements of the recording arts. Selections are drawn from all categories of music, acknowledging the diversity of musical expression for which The Recording Academy has become renowned. The list and recordings now reside as a collection on display at the Grammy Museum.

"This year's GRAMMY Hall Of Fame inductees highlight a diverse array of masterpiece recordings that have had a profound impact on our musical history," said Recording Academy president and CEO Neil Portnow. "The selections are timeless staples that span six decades and represent a wide range of genres from comedy to rock, reggae, jazz and R&B. They all greatly deserve to be memorialized."

The selected recordings range from 1923's "Dipper Mouth Blues" by King Oliver & His Jazz Band to 1977's "Birdland" by Weather Report.

(ED Note: Is anyone else seeing the irony of a song being entered into the Grammy Hall of Fame, in which the movie it came from, may possibly never be seen on DVD?)

"Mary and Max" wins at Asia Pacific Screen Awards

Australia's "Mary and Max," produced by Academy Award winner Melanie Coombs, was named Best Animated Feature Film at the third annual Asia Pacific Screen Awards, announced Thursday night on Australia's Gold Coast.

Mary and Max is a claymated feature film from the creators of the Oscar-winning short animation Harvie Krumpet. It is a simple tale of pen-friendship between two very different people; Mary Dinkle, a chubby lonely eight-year-old girl living in the suburbs of Melbourne, and Max Horovitz, a 44-year-old, severely obese, Jewish man with Asperger’s Syndrome living in the chaos of New York.

Spanning 20 years and two continents, Mary and Max's friendship survives much more than the average diet of life's ups and downs. Like Harvie Krumpet, Mary and Max is innocent but not naïve as it takes us on a journey that explores friendship, autism, taxidermy, psychiatry, alcoholism, where babies come from, obesity, kleptomania, sexual difference, trust, copulating dogs, religious difference, agoraphobia and much much more.

Competing against Mary and Max were Perviy Otryad (First Squad: The Moment of Truth), a Russian-Japanese-Canadian collaboration, produced by Eiko Tanaka, Misha Sprits and Aljosha Klimov; Sukai Kurora (The Sky Crawlers), a Japanese film produced by Tomohiko Ishii; Samâ Wôzu (Summer Wars), produced by Nozomu Takahashi, Takuya Ito and Takashi Watanabe of Japan, and co-produced by Yuichiro Saito; and Russia's Pro Fedota-Streltsa, Udalogo Molodtsa (The Tale of Soldier Fedot, The Daring Fellow), produced by Alexander Boyarsky and Sergey Selyanov.

Acclaimed Australian film Samson & Delilah won the Best Feature Film Award. Produced by Kath Shelper and written and directed by Warwick Thornton, Samson & Delilah previously won the Camera d'Or prize at this year's Cannes Film Festival, six major awards at the recent Inside Film Awards in Australia, and has been nominated for 13 Australian Film Institute Awards. Representing the first time an Australian film has been nominated in the Best Feature Film category of the APSAs, Samson & Delilah competed against four films by renowned filmmakers from China (Chen Kaige, Lu Chuan), Iran (Asghar Farhadi) and the Palestinian Territories (Elia Suleiman) to receive the highest accolade in film in the Asia-Pacific region. Thornton was on the Gold Coast to accept the award.

Scene from Mary and Max, a winner at the Asia Pacific Film Awards.

Thanksgiving Leftovers

Here’s a couple of odds and ends I didn’t around to posting this past week. first up, Chris Jones spent six years making The Passenger and has a blog detailing everything about it.

Next, this short below by Christophe Lopez-Huici is Not Safe for Work (but that’s okay since most of us have the day off). I don’t know why I like it, but the combination of the music and crude stop-motion sorta works for me. More by this animator here.

And finally, this controversial commercial from the UK, created by Mother, for airline pollution activists, Plane Stupid:

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Early Animation Wiki

I am happy to announce the creation of a new resource for cartoon research: The Early Animation Wiki. This site is the creation of faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates at the University of Toronto, and is designed to collect data on the early days of film and television animation. Nic Sammond, Associate Professor of Cinema Studies at the University of Toronto, says:

“The goal of this wiki is to support a robust community of scholars, historians, and collectors of animation-as well as animators-who can share their wisdom and knowledge about this rich and amazing art form. The Early Animation Wiki is attempting to chart the beginnings of animation, with a focus on the careers of animators and the rise (and sometimes fall) of studios. That this leads toward the present day is inevitable, but our initial focus is on building a useful tool for studying the early days of animation.

“It may be a bit of an exaggeration to say the website is ready for use. The Early Animation Wiki is now online, but the first thing it needs is contributors. As you will see, many of its entries are incomplete, and there are quite a few entries missing as well. Also, it isn’t yet as open as other wikis. We hope eventually to add video content and more graphic features to what is, at the moment, a very text-based resource. What we need from you now is the benefit of your knowledge, expertise, and critical and constructive suggestions. I hope you will lend as much as you can.”

if you’d like to contribute, contact Sammond via the site.

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Heart by Laurent Clermont

A sweet little piece from Laurent Clermont

(Thanks cartoon brew)

The International Toy Story 3 Trailer

The International Toy Story 3 reveals some new twists in the storyline. The feature is due out in July 2010.


Someone asks about the age breakdown of working members of The Animation Guild, and I'm delighted to throw light on the subject.

Employed Active Members -- 87.1% (2,566 of 2,945)
Employed Active Members over fifty -- 29.5% (757 of 2,566)

Now, a few words about the above.

The employed percentage of active members appears quite high, but the statistic is usually higher still .... above 90%. So we look for total active membership to fall in coming months.

We have fifty more people working now than back in January. Then it was 2,506.

Going back further, in January 2008, employment was 2,271. (Click here for graphs about employment breakdown and trends in 2007-2008.)

What were the employment breakdowns five years ago? Ten years? We'll have to dig out old data, but my best estimates:

The industry has skewed young and male for a long time. If you use the handy search engine up in the left-hand corner, I'm sure you can dig up various posts that cover these subjects.

(I've harped on the maleness of the business previously; I won't bother doing it again here. But as to the youthfulness of the biz, I have several observations):

1) There's been a technological revolution in animation over the past fifteen years, and it's digital. Paper, pencils and paintbrushes don't cut it anymore. So the folks who were experts with those things are unemployable if they don't know the software programs that employers now require for animated production, and it's been tough for many to retrain.

2) Most artists and technicians who come into the business in their early twenties build a support network of fellow employees, most of whom are five to ten years older than they are. By the time these people reach their middle fifties, the long-standing support network they've relied on has retired ... and jobs (surprise!) become harder to come by.

3) Now as always, the business is ferociously competitive; younger and more energetic candidates pour into the field year after year. By the time you are in your forties ... or especially fifties ... you are competing against people who are decades younger than you are.

Animation might be youth oriented, but its a virtual haven for gray hairs compared to live-action work. In that sphere, you will find very few older workers.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Global Animation

Now with Add On.

Gee, I'm so old I can remember when only artists working in the East San Fernando Valley cared about toonage at all. But now there's this:

Research and Markets ... has announced the addition of Screen Digest's new report "The Global Animation Industry" to their offering.

... Many countries, in particular France and Canada, are reaping the benefits of an ecosystem of financial support programmes, tax breaks and broadcast quotas that serves to bolster their animation sectors. Even these industries are not immune to a weak international market, relying on co-production, pre-sales and licence fee revenue for a significant part of their funding ...

Glancing over the report's subject matter, it appears to lay out the obvious: There's lots of sub-contracting going on; license fees aren't what they once were, and there are some big American conblomerates which dominate the cartoon industry.

There's a surprise.

On a side note: There are currently several new "independent" animation studios cropping up in the San Fernando Valley. They are independent the way Charlie McCarthy was independent of Edgar Bergen, the way that Jeff Dunham's universe of dummies is independent of him.

Almost all of the indie companies out there, from Film Roman to Bento Box to Rough Draft to Wild Brain, are dependent on the Big Boys for their continued existence. They are job shops, and as I once said to a storyboard artist who proclaimed how much he loved working for a small, non-union studio free of the hammy hand of conglomerates:

"You kidding me? Everybody works for the big entertainment congloms. They either work for them directly ... and get paid union benefits ... or they work for them indirectly, and don't. But they all work for the same Goliaths ..."

It was true when I said it a few years back; it's more true now.

Add On: Speaking of global toons, here's one example of animation beyond American shores ... animation that Americans will likely never see.

Mexico's Anima Estudios has inked to co-produce animated feature "Gaturro," which is lead produced by Argentina's Illusion Studios and Toonz Animation India. Anima will take minority equity in "Gaturro," about a cat TV star, and carry out post-production.

Anima's boarding of
"Gaturro" advances a three CGI pic co-production alliance between Illusion and Anima, Latin America's foremost film/TV toon producers.

In production,
"Gaturro" will bow theatrically in Argentina and India second half 2010. Pic will also have a digital 3-D version ...

Lots of animated product is created in different parts of the world that the citizens of the U.S. never know exists (it ain't all Up and Kung Fu Panda), yet there are numerous animation gypsies flying around the globe to work on it.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Actor Hisaya Morishige may get posthumous honor

Late actor Hisaya Morishige, the voice of all the male characters in Japan's first color animated feature film, may be given the People's Honor Award, the Japanese government said Tuesday.

"He is like a grandpa to every Japanese and truly deserves the People's Honor Award," Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama told reporters. "I proposed it to the chief Cabinet secretary last week or so."

Morishige died November 10 at a Tokyo hospital of natural causes. He was 96.

The coveted award, which was inaugurated in 1977, has been given to baseball icon Sadaharu Oh and late singer Hibari Misora.

Morishige did many voice roles in Toei Animation's Hakuja Den (1958). This film has been described as the first modern anime. Hakuja Den inspired many Japanese, including young Hayao Miyazaki, to become animators.

Known in English under such titles as Legend of the White Serpent and Panda and the Magic Serpent, it was released in the United States in July 1961. This and Saiyu-ki were the first two Japanese theatrical animated features distributed in America.

Morishige voiced boar god Okkotonushi in Miyazaki's 1997 movie Mononoke Hime (Princess Mononoke), and was the voice of Dr. Kami Torino in the 2001 anime film Doraemon: Nobita to Tsubasa no Yushatachi (Doraemon: Nobita's Winged Heroes).

He was the opening narrator in the Japanese dub of Disney's Hercules (1997), and voiced Jim in the Japanese dub of Jimmy Murakami's 1988 British feature film When The Wind Blows.

Born in Osaka on May 4, 1913, Morishige began his film career after the Second World War. He became a star portraying a spoiled son from a rich family in the 1955 drama Meoto Zenzai. For his role, he won the Best Actor award at both the Blue Ribbon Awards and the Mainichi Film Concours the following year.

He also performing in comedy movies known as the "Shacho" and "Ekimae" series after their titles.

A successful singer and songwriter as well (his hits included "Shiretoko Ryojo"), Morishige was involved in stage plays and musicals. He set a record by performing Yane No Ue No Baiorin-hiki (Fiddler on the Roof)’ 900 times.

Morishige also performed in TV dramas and radio shows.

After becoming head of the Japan Actors Union, he sought to improve work conditions for actors. In 1991, the Japanese government awarded him the Order of Culture; he was its first recipient in the field of popular art.

His books included his autobiography, Morishige Jiden.

Former Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi was among the mourners at Morishige's funeral, held November 20 in Tokyo's Minato Ward.

Gatchaman Trailer

An evil presence threatens the Earth, so it's a good thing there's a brooding hero and a team of plucky volunteers to save us, in this early glimpse at the Gatchaman teaser trailer. I love the CG cityscapes and battles.

The Gatchaman teaser trailer showed at the Anime Expo in Los Angeles, and somebody was able to download their visual impressions into a digital storage device. Directed by Kevin Munroe (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) it looks pretty dynamic and exciting, at least as far as we can see from this low-res copy. Here's hoping we get to see more soon! Gatchaman, based on the 1970s Japanese series Science Ninja Team Gatchaman, is out fall 2010.

Want To See What Dr. Fate, Stargirl And Jack Knight’s Star-Staff Look Like In SMALLVILLE??

Entertainment Weekly has photos of Dr. Fate and Stargirl (and what appears to be the TV version of Jack Knight’s Star-Staff!) as they appear in the Feb. 5 “Smallville” TV movie “Absolute Justice.”

The magazine has also a nice shot of Michael Shanks as Hawkman handing a beatdown to The Green Arrow.

The movie centers on Clark Kent’s first encounter with the long-disbanded yet momentarily reconstituted Justice Society of America.

Rebooted Uhura says she's more than just a 'sex tool'

Zoe Saldana in the December issue of Details

Zoe Saldana, who played the new Uhura in J.J. Abrams' Star Trek and will voice a blue alien in James Cameron's upcoming Avatar, says she's not just a sex plaything.

Speaking to Details magazine, Saldana said: "I've always gravitated toward the Sigourney Weavers, the f--king Linda Hamiltons, the Angelina Jolies. I just love strong women that are in tune with their bodies—that don't just use their bodies as sex tools."

Saldana plays Neytiri in Avatar

She also talked about her new role as sci-fi leading lady and about gravitating toward action films, learning to kick ass in combat training and playing a computer-animated 10-foot-tall alien, for which she also provided a performance through motion-capture technology.

"Motion capture isn't like shooting Shrek," Saldana said. "You're in a suit with all these dots on you, and whatever you do, they get it. Sam [Worthington] and I did all sorts of stupid s--t. If you burp, your character burps. I'd shake my booty, and you'd see my character shaking her booty."

Avatar opens Dec. 18, and Star Trek is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.

(Thanks to the Huffington Post for the heads-up.)

UPDATE: Is Jeremy Renner Gonna Be Hawkeye?

Casting news for Kenneth Branagh's Thor has been hitting the internet news table hot and heavy for the past few weeks, but so far, it's all about the characters within Thor and Dr. Donald Blake's general circle of friends and foes. What about something to tie that into the planned (and already scheduled!) Avengers movie that's to follow?

In the latest Empire Magazine, actor Jeremy Renner was asked something during an interview to which his reply seemed to indicate that Marvel Studios is looking for an actor to appear, albeit briefly, as Hawkeye in Branagh's movie as a teaser for when all the Marvel heroes band together, similar to Samuel L. Jackson's cameo at the end of Iron Man.

"Hawkeye could be interesting," he told them. "They're going to send me some stuff on it, see what it is, but I think they're pretty awesome, trying to make superhero movies almost plausible and not just some fantasy thing."

Some may remember that when spoke to Renner much earlier this year, he had mentioned he was interested in doing a movie based on a graphic novel, and that he was looking at taking a part in Sylvain White's The Losers. (Remember that?)

That never happened, and yeah, this basically sounds like the same thing, which means that he hasn't gotten or taken the part as of yet, but anyone who has seen Renner in Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker will realize that playing a hotshot soldier on an Iraq bomb squad and playing a hotshot superhero with mad skills with the bow and arrow is not that far removed. Here's hoping this is one role he takes and gets, because we'd love to see Renner butting heads with Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man.

UPDATE: Looks like Empire has added a few more quotes from their interview with Renner on their website, including one of the questions we had above whether Hawkeye might appear in Iron Man 2:

“If I was a betting man, I would bet that Hawkeye would probably show up in Thor, and then be in The Avengers,” he told them, “But do I know for sure? I can’t say. But I’d love for that to happen. It’d be fun.”

Renner also revealed that he never had been inconsideration for
Captain America as some websites reported: “I don’t know if I’d be right for Captain America. I met with the Marvel guys, actually, but we didn’t talk about Captain America. But one of the writers, Zak Penn, we’ve become friends over time and he was thinking maybe Hawkeye could be interesting. He sounds like an interesting character.”

He's optimistic about getting a role in a Marvel movie but he's aware that nothing is set in stone until it's put in writing, “I’m just happy to get considered for big franchise roles like that.“I’m not [doing the] casting. If they see me that way, right on. If they don’t, I’m ok with it.”

You can now read the entire article from the magazine that did the interview over on
Empire Online.

Either way, Renner's comment does seem to point that we'll be seeing Hawkeye on the big screen very soon (and let's hope that Brian Michael Bendis doesn't suggest they kill him in one of those crazy Marvel movie production summit meetings we keep hearing about!)

Whether or not you've seen
The Hurt Locker, what do you think of Jeremy Renner taking on role of the Avengers' master archer?

Awesome New Wolfman Poster

A brand new Wolfman poster has emerged. I don't know from where but this is a pretty cool poster and The Wolfman seems to be pretty upset about something. It might be those tight jeans he's wearing.

Inspired by the classic Universal film that launched a legacy of horror, The Wolfman brings the myth of a cursed man back to its iconic origins. Oscar® winner Benicio Del Toro stars as Lawrence Talbot, a haunted nobleman lured back to his family estate after his brother vanishes. Reunited with his estranged father (Oscar® winner Anthony Hopkins), Talbot sets out to find his brother...and discovers a horrifying destiny for himself.

Lawrence Talbot's childhood ended the night his mother died. After he left the sleepy Victorian hamlet of Blackmoor, he spent decades recovering and trying to forget. But when his brother's fiancée, Gwen Conliffe (Emily Blunt), tracks him down to help find her missing love, Talbot returns home to join the search. He learns that something with brute strength and insatiable bloodlust has been killing the villagers, and that a suspicious Scotland Yard inspector named Aberline (Hugo Weaving) has come to investigate.

As he pieces together the gory puzzle, he hears of an ancient curse that turns the afflicted into werewolves when the moon is full. Now, if he has any chance at ending the slaughter and protecting the woman he has grown to love, Talbot must destroy the vicious creature in the woods surrounding Blackmoor. But as he hunts for the nightmarish beast, a simple man with a tortured past will uncover a primal side to he never imagined existed.

Check out the poster below.

(Thanks Latino Review)

Why Superman Is On Hold

We've talked about this on the site before, but here's a pretty good rundown on why the Superman franchise is in (inexplicable) limbo right now.

The project is on hold as the studio waits to emerge from legal limbo over the fate of the Superman heirs. It’s about who controls what divided rights going forward and who owes what to whom when. Warners may be trying to settle with the Siegel and Shuster families, who in 2013 will retrieve the copyright of the Superman material published in Detective Comics’ Action Comics Vol. 1, in order to merge all the Superman rights.

As the studio is waiting to resolve the legal dispute, there’s no movement on the project. Production execs at Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. have been culling the various pitches that have come in, and are eager to start development on a sequel. Who knew, when Brandon Routh played the Man of Steel in
Superman Returns, that fans would split so divisively? The 2006 movie, which paid homage to the Richard Donner Superman movies without completely updating the franchise the way Christopher Nolan did with Batman Begins, grossed $391 million worldwide off strong reviews for a genre sequel. But it cost more than $232 million. Warners felt it could have performed better with more action and a powerful villain—and no Superman kid. So Singer was taken off the franchise.

The debate continues to rage about what Warner Bros. should do with the DC Comics super-hero. Fans have been clamoring all over the web for a complete reboot. Warner Bros. execs believe that the last movie didn’t break the mold and wound up in some kind of middle limbo. They want to start over from scratch. While
Kick-Ass writer Mark Millar did pitch himself (to scant interest), WB in-house faves the Wachowski brothers and their protege James McTeigue were never approached. (It’s hard to imagine such hard-R types taking on what one blogger described as the “Big Blue Boy Scout.”)

The studio is still seeking the right direction. No writers are working on a Superman script.
“We’re working on a strategy for DC,” says one Warners exec. “Superman is the trickiest one to figure out.”

To me, it seems a sequel should've been in active development already. Way, WAY worse characters than Superman have gotten more than one movie, and WAY WAY worse movies than "Superman Returns" have gotten sequels. "Fantastic Four," "Ghost Rider," "Punisher." The list goes on. It seems like the legal issues are holding this back more than anything else.

And, what this "WB exec" said puzzles me. Is Superman really that "tricky"? I think he's one of the easier superheroes to get right, actually. It wouldn't be that hard to make a solid Superman movie. As long as they don't try to copy "Dark Knight" (since they are completely different characters), add in a Darkseid invasion or at least someone that Supes can fight (even Lex in a kyrptonite suit would do), and ignore Superkid, there's no reason why you couldn't make an exciting and more well received movie about the Man of Steel. Here's hoping they get there shiznit together, cause he's a great character and I'd love to see his cinematic adventures continue.

(Thanks Latino Review)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

News - 11/26/09...

Happy Thanksgiving!

More good words for Princess

As reviews start to pour in, The Hollywood Reporter describes The Princess And The Frog as “Disney brilliantly rediscovering hand-drawn animation and the value of story. The best Disney animated film in years, it dates back to the days when Walt Disney was a person, not a brand”.

Brutal Legend Jams With Dethklok at Titmouse

Titmouse Inc’s Edward Artinian directed and animated this spot below, which promotes the new Brutal Legend video game from Electronic Arts. The heavy-metal game features the voice and likeness of Jack Black, who plays a roadie charged with saving the world, and here he joins the cast of Metalocalypse. The spot was created to play during the Dethklok Tour 2009, which wound down last week. Most of the scenes in the spot were animated in Flash, while lighting was handled in After Effects.

Fortune on Albie Hecht's "Worldwide Biggies" iPhone Animation Initiative

Fortune magazine has taken a look at Albie Hecht's new Worldwide Biggies studio, which will debut a new animated character Bigby in an iPhone app rather than as the lead of his own animated television show. Hecht is a former president of Nickelodeon Entertainment, overseeing the production and development of SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer, and Blue's Clues, and sees the move as a step towards a new business model for developing animated properties.

Screen International Talks to Directors of Three "Best Animated Feature" Contenders

Screen International has spoken with three of the contenders for this year's Best Animated Feature Academy Award: Pete Docter (Up), Wes Anderson (Fantastic Mr. Fox), and Henry Selick (Coraline). Each discusses the origins of their respective films and digs into some of the difficulties they encountered in making their movies.

ASIFA-East’s Evening of Calendars and Films

What do PBS, NPR, The Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon and ASIFA-East all have in common? They all survive on donations in order to survive. Last week ASIFA-East held the first ever calendar fundraiser event featuring art from a number of NYC animation superstars.

On hand to sign the calendars and share their films were nine out of the twelve artists who contributed artwork. The audience was treated to a sneak peek of Bill Plimpton’s newest feature Cheatin. Michael Sporn showed a couple of his favorite shorts while Debra Solomon shared a few songs from her newest film for HBO, Getting Over Him in Eight Songs or Less. Candy Kugel brought her award winning piece Command Z and George Griffin shared a film he made 30 years ago as a younger man. Jen Oxley screened a couple of her latest shorts made for Sesame Street and Xeth Feinberg showed a few of his latest Xethtoons. Emily Hubley played one of her classic films Octave and Signe Baumane showed a few of her lesser known Teat Beat of Sex shorts which are always uplifting. Mo Willems, who was not in attendance, sent along a sneak preview of his newest short Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus.

In addition to the featured artists, Dick Rauh (President of ASIFA-East from the late 1960s through 1989) was there to lend his support and didn’t know why we hadn’t thought to do a calendar before.

Having all that talent in one place at the same time made for a fantastic event. The animation veterans were able to catch up with each other while those newer to the field were able to meet and get advice from artists whose work they have admired for years.

If you missed the event, don’t worry, there is still time to pick up one of our ASIFA-East full-color calendars (SRP $10) and have Mr. October (John Dilworth) autograph it for you by attending our December 9th event. So come out and show your support for ASIFA-East by buying a calendar or two for everyone on your holiday list. All proceeds go to ASIFA-East and count as a charitable donation on your taxes.

(Thanks asifa east)

Turkey Links

With Thanksgiving upon us, time for an early Holiday linkfest, starting with Samurai Jack traveling to the Big Screen:

STAR TREK director J.J. Abrams will be joining former Hanna-Barbera president Fred Seibert to produce a feature film version of the hit Cartoon Network animated series SAMURAI JACK. The $20 million film will use a combination of traditional cell animation and stereoscopic 3-D ...

Creative Talent Network's Animation Expo, held this past weekend at the Marriot across from the Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, was a well-attended success. Tina Price put in a lot of hard work to make the expo happen, and the event, based on eye-witness reports, came off wonderfully well:

The first Creative Talent Network Animation Expo kicked off Friday at the Marriott Hotel and Convention Center in Burbank, drawing hundreds of students and professionals for an exhibition in a region that is widely acknowledged as the animation capital of the world.

The event featured seminars from innovators like
“Hellboy” comic book creator Mike Mignola and entrepreneurial animator Don Bluth, who split off from major studios to create “The Secret of NIMH.”

The event was an opportunity for animators to learn from industry pioneers, while also promoting their own work, said Tina Price, who founded the Creative Talent Network.

TIME Magazine thinks highly of The Princess and The Frog.

Big Fun on the Bayou -- ...Musker and Clements, the New Old Men, have bucked the odds and made a cartoon feature that is true to vintage Disney traditions (like wishing upon a star) yet moves with a contemporary verve and bounce. In an amazing year for animation, The Princess and the Frog is up at the top. Go on, give it a big kiss.

Jeffrey K. explains his studio and ambitions:

"I say our movies always have to have five Wow Wees, " says Katzenberg, in something of a Botticelli moment. "What's a Wow Wee? You see it and you go, Wow. Wee." He explains how Chris Sanders, director of the upcoming How to Train Your Dragon, wanted a beast that could breathe fire under water. "I mean, what kind of particle physics would it require for that to happen? Fire in water?" asks Katzenberg. "Our tech team goes, 'Okay, we'll figure it out.' " He grins. "Did anyone here tell you Jeffrey's Law? More is never enough." ...

"I saw Rupert Murdoch the other day and said, Would you like to be Rupert Murdoch? And I went, No, I don't think so. Would I like to be Steve Jobs? No. I admire him like crazy, but I don't envy him. I don't want Mark Hurd's job at HP. I couldn't do Mark Hurd's job -- I don't have the talent or ability. ... Do I want to be Bob Iger? Bob is doing an outstanding job running Disney. I'm happy for him. ... But actually, I wouldn't want that job. No. I'm doing exactly what I want to be doing." ...

You think that hand-drawn animation has been neglected? What about the Ray Harryhausen school of movement?

From Prince Achmed to The Fantastic Mr. Fox: Great moments in stop motion animation: ... Stop motion was the domain of European animators in the 30s and 40s, and it wasn't until Hansel and Gretel: An Opera Fantasy (see above), released in 1954 by RKO, that American animators gave a go at a stop motion feature. However, the characters in the film, called "kineman", were very advanced, containing realistic attributes and magnetic feet - and they took fifteen years to develop ...

The powerhouse Disney Channel, which was born back when Rom Miller was Chairman of Diz Co. in the early eighties, names a new President.

Walt Disney Co. named Carolina Lightcap as the new president of Disney Channel Worldwide.

The new post puts Ms. Lightcap, 42 years old, in charge of a unit that has become increasingly essential to Disney's broader business. The Disney Channel has generated some of the company's most successful recent properties, including the
"High School Musical" series and its offshoots, and has served as the launching pad for pop-music stars Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato.

Artist Todd McFarlane discusses an animated Spawn:

What's the status on the Spawn animation?

The animation, we've put about a year and a half of work into it; ...then we got into a bit of a legal tussle. So it got boxed up and put into a corner. But at the end of this year, all that work and all those rights come back to me. So I'll have them in my hand on December 31st, and I'll walk into Hollywood probably the next month and start going, "Hey! Here's what we got!" And if anyone wants to bring the animation back, we're a year and a half into it. So we could literally hit the ground running. We don't have to develop it; it's done. We've got 90 minutes of it scripted, voiced, backgrounds, characters -- everything is done other than finding the studio to actually do the frame-by-frame ...

Enjoy your Fri ... oops ... Wednesday.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Death Star Attacked For Star Wars Uncut

More great Star Wars reinterpretations are emerging from the Star Wars Uncut project. Here’s Kiwi Chris Stapp’s take on scene 450:

Muppets’ Mission To Mercury: Bohemian Rhapsody

Of all the amazing musical guests who appeared on The Muppet Show during its 5-season run, somehow Freddie Mercury and Queen never appeared. This week, however, Mercury’s talent and memory live on in this new video from The Muppets. Animal, Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy and the rest of the gang tackle Bohemian Rhapsody. I suspect this was directed by longtime Muppet-man Kirk Thatcher, and Artie Esposito likely performed Kermit.

In related news, did you know you can design your own Muppet at the Muppet Whatnot Workshop at FAO Schwarz?

EXCLUSIVE: Ryan Reynolds On Green Lantern's Costume And Deadpool's Debut

All week long, we've brought you exclusive interviews with the actors and filmmakers we're most thankful for in 2009 — including "Star Trek" duo J.J. Abrams and Chris Pine, Quentin Tarantino (who told us about his comic book inspiration for "Inglourious Basterds"), and "Iron Man 2" actor Sam Rockwell. Heck, we even heard from Stan Lee about what he's thankful for this year.

Now, we're wrapping things up with an actor poised to have a very big year in the comics scene: "Green Lantern" and "Deadpool" star Ryan Reynolds.

In our extensive interview with Reynolds, he discusses his work on the upcoming comic book movies, his debut as Wade "Deadpool" Wilson in "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," and his critically praised performances in the romantic comedy "The Proposal" and indie film "Adventureland." But we all know which films you're here to read about, so here's what Reynolds had to say...

MTV: All these things we're talking about are things you set in motion. You pursued them, you kind of went after them. Does that make it a little bit more gratifying?

It's incredibly validating and gratifying when you can see that you can manifest something that you desperately want or a goal that you have. This is a difficult industry to get anything made, let alone a passion project, so when you see people understand what your vision is and come aligned with that common goal, it's pretty cool. I'm including all the creative types that are actually involved with "Deadpool" and "Green Lantern," because those guys want to make an authentic movie, and that's something a few years ago studios disregarded.

MTV: You have done everything from a publicity tour with Betty White to trying on the Green Lantern costumes. So, in looking back at the year, is there a moment that sums it up, that encapsulates what 2009 was about?

I think, seeing the prototypes for the Green Lantern costumes was a huge moment. It was a moment when I was like, "This is happening, and it's happening in the right way." That's a pretty cool, definitive moment for me.

MTV: Were you happy with the incarnation of Wade Wilson and Deadpool in "Wolverine"? Do you think you captured what you wanted to in the first look at Wade?

Yeah, I think the initial moment of the sequences that involve Wade, I think it did. It's always difficult to fully embrace something that isn't perfect, in terms of staying true to the source material. So it was a little bit frustrating. I really wanted to play Wade, and I really wanted to play Deadpool, and it would kill me to see someone else play them. I had a kind of ham-fisted attitude that it had to be perfect, but it doesn't. The movie's called "Wolverine," it's not called "Deadpool" or "Wade." I thought it was a nice little wink and tip of the hat to things to come. Finding the tone of that character alone is such a difficult prospect. I've been in so many meetings lately about "Deadpool" and meeting all these writers. Everyone is always looking for that one line, "What is that character?" and for me it's kind of like, "There's a guy, and he's in a highly militarized comedic fame spiral." That's not an easy thing to write -- an entire screenplay, let alone a franchise. I had a blast playing Wade. Every line I had in that was stuff I thought he would say. It wasn't something that a writer said to me. It was fun to really create that character, including everything he spits out of his awful mouth.

MTV: Does your love of "Green Lantern" and Hal Jordan go back far?

I've known about "Green Lantern" my whole life, but I've never really followed it before. I fell in love with the character when I met with [director] Martin Campbell. When I sat down with him, I really got what it is that this guy is all about. When you have a guy like Martin Campbell, part of his charm is that he has ba--s of titanium, and the other part is that he's slightly crazy, and you have to be to take on something with the scope of "Green Lantern." He's less of the director and more of a general. He just really knows strategies, he knows the intricacies, and his attention to detail! It's infectious. I sat down with him, and I could not even believe what he was saying. When I went to the meeting, I was entirely cynical. I thought, "What the hell, I'll see what they have to say," and I left the room with a completely different perspective.

To read our full interview with "Deadpool" and "Green Lantern" star Ryan Reynolds, head over to

King Kong's tiny metal skeleton sells for $218K

A 22-inch skeleton used in the climactic scene of the 1933 movie King Kong in which the giant ape climbs the Empire State Building has sold for about $218,000 at a London auction, Reuters reported. The figurine was sold as part of the Christie's popular culture sale Tuesday.

The armature, complete with aluminium skull molded from a wooden carving, was once covered with cotton, rubber, liquid latex and rabbit fur, but that has since rotted away. It is believed to be the only model of its kind.

The model survived thanks to film fan Eugene Hilchey, who set out to gather as many King Kong artifacts as he could from 1949 onward. He got hold of the auctioned model in 1967 when the miniature department where it was being kept was closed for demolition.

All of your questions about V's frustrating cliffhanger

Questions, questions, questions. You'd think we'd just finished watching the season finale of Lost or FlashForward instead of the fourth episode of ABC's V, but Tuesday night's "It's Only the Beginning" gave us plenty to contemplate after one mother of a cliffhanger.

While it's hard even to call it a midseason finale after a scant four episodes, we're guessing that's probably the best way to describe it, since you'll have to wait more than three months for the final nine episodes to appear in March 2010.

(Huge, mega, alien spoilers ahead!)

At the end of "It's Only the Beginning," we were left feeling that it might just be the end, judging by the size of the alien armada waiting to pounce on Earth. Our four freedom-fighting heroes don't seem to have a chance against the Vs, even with the Fifth Column in their corner. But it's fun to watch Anna (Morena Baccarin) squirm when things don't go her way.

Here's some of our thoughts—and yours, from's V forum—about the questions that popped up after the cliffhanger.

Will Father Jack survive?

Kingtycho thinks he knows better. "Will he make it? How did the one visitor survive the explosion, and how did he find Father Jack?? (he better survive, he's too much an asset to the show right now)"

Well, kingtycho, our best guess is that he'll make it somehow, since he's a star. But why the Visitor would escape the explosion and follow Father Jack (Joel Gretsch), and NOT CALL ANNA before he tries to kill him ... we're at a loss. What purpose does killing him serve when Jack could be used to find the other resistance fighters? We're thinking Anna is not going to be happy with that V, and she can be scary.

What's all this skinning business about?

And when are we going to get to see a what's underneath the Vs' human suits?

Ryan (Morris Chestnut) mentioned skinning in a negative way, like it was the worse thing ever for a V. And then one of the Fifth Column gets skinned by one of his own to protect another Fifth Column V named Joshua. It has to do with sharp blades, it seems to hurt a lot, and the Vs are very scared of it. But why it's a bad thing we don't know yet. It implies the human suit is not just a suit to the Vs.

Lost_Behrings wrote, "If we see Anna tap-dancing down the halls of the V ship with a brand new pair of alligator-type shoes, I think I know where they came from."

You are so right, Lost-Behrings. She is such a bitch.

Is Chad Decker (Scott Wolf) actually going to die?

Will the Vs help his brain problem, or are they just messing with him?

Apparently no one really cares if Chad's brain is about to explode. But did the Vs put something into his brain, OR was something there all along, OR is there NOTHING in Chad's brain at all? We think it's the last one, and they're just messing with him to get him to do their bidding.

What does Anna have planned for Tyler (Logan Huffman)?

Oh, this was a popular one. There's just so many possibilities from sfmacy's "Boy Toy!!!" to nagsmth's belief that "she wants grandkids."


bopper7373 added, "who cares, if we have to wait 'til March to find out..."

Bugaboojda wrote, "I think that Tyler is going to become the leader of the human Peace Ambassadors who will rally all of the youth to defend and protect the Vs."

And here's our favorite from Will_Casity, "Exploit for aggression testing to identify if humans can be controlled through their aggression, since bliss will not work on them. And if that doesn't work, then they will use him to make babies."

What's up with putting SOMETHING in our flu shots?

Ginmartini70 has issues with the plot that has the Vs tainting our flu-shot supply with something called R6. "Americans sure love there conspiracy theories. Look for the anti-vaccine crowd to start quoting V, and for millions to start the theory that vaccines are being developed by extraterrestrials."

Lostwarrior25 so does not agree. "Seriously? It's a show about aliens... SCIENCE FICTION. Nobody's gonna freak out about flu shots. They are not needed anyway, just eat healthy."

(We don't agree with this, BTW. We followed our doctor's advice and got the flu vaccines.)

Who is John May?

He's maybe a legend or the leader of the Fifth Column rebels, and the Web is abuzz with the possibilities as to who he is. Could he be Marcus, Anna's right-hand man? Or perhaps Ryan? Or maybe someone we don't know yet?

According to VickyVicious, she thinks it just might be Marcus (Christopher Shyer). "For some reason I have a feeling that he's a good guy. And maybe happens to be John May. There is just something about him that is off. And I feel like if he isn't a good guy after all then he is a bad guy, like really bad. Beyond bad. Evil."

As for 2Tizacuv, he wrote, "I am hoping that John May will be a cameo surprise, like Marc Singer, Michael Ironside or [Robert] Englund to play that part." For those of you too young to remember, they were stars of the original V miniseries.

Do we puny Earthlings have a chance?

Especially with a gazillion V ships waiting to pounce on us?

Well, Gitchee thinks, "The armada we saw at the end of the show was mentioned in other discussions, and some were wondering if it could be the Fifth Column. So, I went and re-watched the ending. Anna's last words were 'What you've seen today Tyler, is only the beginning.' Then she looked upward into the distance and the scene rapidly zoomed through the galaxy to the armada. That leads me to believe it is not the Fifth Column, but instead is the Visitor's invasion fleet."

We're going with an invasion fleet, otherwise they'd just pop by and blow up Anna. After all, there were way more than 29 ships in that fleet.

Will there be that half-alien baby after all?

Looks like we're in for a V/human child now that Valerie (Lourdes Benedicto) is preggers with Ryan's child. Think he's going to tell her he's an traitorous alien reptile bastard BEFORE she gives birth?

Aerosimms had a realization. "You know, I was thinking of this and then realized - it's Morris Chestnut! As long as he doesn't have to take off his human suit - she can hang out in denial. I definitely would. Because she's a psychologist, she can rationalize it by saying she's studying V psychology."

"Do we really know who Valerie's baby daddy is?" Tandona wrote. "What if she got pregnant while visiting the health center? Her boyfriend is a V and he is probably not going to be so irresponsible to get her pregnant without a plan."

Irresponsible baby daddy or not, we also think Morris should keep on his human suit and just take off his shirt more often.

When is someone going to eat a guinea pig?

"So much for another show with 5 years of interlocking mysteries with a 100 loose ends. If you want aliens here they are. Infiltrators and traitors don't blink. Even though 5th Column is the wrong term here, we have Ryan (not Gunn from Angel) taking on his own people, while Tyler is all set to kiss off human-kind for a cute blond. As the show was barreling fast down the road I was sure there was going to be a guinea pig sighting," wrote Lost_Behrings.

We can only hope.

Why is ABC making us wait until March to see more?

Wcman17 ranted, "What a crock of doo-doo that this won't be back until March of 2010...That's 4 months away....what gives? I'm sorry, I won't be watching in the 4 months I will have found something else to watch....ABC, you already do this with LOST.....why do you subject the public to this kind of game?"

"It's a little sad, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was the government that was getting this show cancelled," added conspiracy theorist seb_V.

Conspiracy theorist GGordonGoodgame commented, "Did I miss something? V was pulled off the air at the insistence of the White House. Look for next season to have a whole different feeling to it. The show was a great start...The head writer was fired for his parallel references to the current government attempt at a Marxist takeover...Look for next season to have a much more 'predictable' bad guy...A Sarah Palin look alike with a Wasilla accent...Wouldn't surprise me a bit."

wipurfield3 also ranted, "I hate you people! 4 episodes! Seriously! It's no wonder that network tele is losing to cable."

Well, we don't have a lot to add to those comments. Enough said.

And how did you feel about the "midseason" finale and the long, long wait for more V? Or have you lost interest completely?

V lives: Ratings halt their decline for midseason finale

Like an alien spaceship slowing for a landing, the ratings for ABC's V slowed their weeks-long decline last night for the show's fall finale, leaving a bit of hope for the show's fans that the alien-invasion saga would continue.

According to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed blog, the audience for the fourth and final installment of the year drew 9.2 million viewers and a 3.1 rating, matching last week.

This signal of potential stability—and the fact "V" is halting above the 3.0 watermark—makes it very likely that ABC will bring back the alien invasion drama in the spring. In fact, the network ran a promo at the end of the episode saying "V" will return in March, even as ABC's publicity department continues to say that no decision has been made.

Last week, we speculated that the show would not be back if the ratings continued to plunge. We're going to go out on a limb again and suggest that ABC will take a look at DVR viewing, which tends to bump up the numbers of sci-fi shows, and decide then whether it's worth bringing the show back.

V helped ABC edge out CBS for the win among the adult demographic, with CBS topping the night among total viewers.

Fox's 24, sci-fi series, get debut dates in January

Human Target

There's a raft of new and returning sci-fi/fantasy series coming to Fox in January, including Human Target and Past Life, and the network has finally set dates for their premieres.

On Sunday, Jan. 17, 24 returns at 9 p.m. ET/PT, with the first half of its two-night, four-hour season premiere, Variety reported. 24, which adds new cast members Freddie Prinze Jr. and Battlestar Galactica's Katee Sackhoff, will also air for two hours on Monday, Jan. 18, before settling into its normal 9 p.m. slot the following week, on Jan. 25.

The new series Human Target, which stars former Fringe cast member Mark Valley and features a guest role by Battlestar's Tricia Helfer, will then take over the Wednesday 9 p.m. slot starting Jan. 20.

In February, Fringe will take a hiatus after its Feb. 4 episode, leaving room for Past Life, a supernatural-tinged series, which will debut with a two-hour premiere on Thursday, Feb. 11 at 8 p.m., before settling into its 9 p.m. slot on Feb. 18, the trade paper reported. (As announced last May, Past Life was originally slated for Tuesdays at 9 p.m.)

Fringe will return on Thursday, April 1, after Past Life completes its run.

Dollhouse airs its series finale at 9 on Jan. 22.

Van Damme, Lundgren back in new Universal Soldier! (video)

We know this trailer's been out there for a couple of days, but I mean, seriously, how can we not watch it over and over and over?

It's the new trailer for Universal Soldier: Regeneration, a straight-to-DVD sequel to 1992's Universal Soldier and its follow-up, 1999's Universal Soldier: The Return, and it brings back not just the Muscles From Brussels himself, Jean-Claude Van Damme, but also his nemesis from the first movie, Dolph Lundgren.

Dolph Lundgren!

We have a special place in our tiny hearts for these cheeseball, sci-fi kick-ass action movies, and we're beside ourselves with joy about the reunion movie.

(And who remembers that 2012 director Roland Emmerich was behind the first one? Us neither.)

In this new sequel, some military group has to reactivate Van Damme's undead UniSol Luc Deveraux in order to stop a new Universal Soldier played by mixed martial artist Andrei "The Pitbull" Arlovski. The surprise is that Luc also has to deal with a resurrected Scott (Dolph).

Regeneration, which was originally subtitled A New Beginning (a la Friday the 13th?), is coming to DVD and Blu-ray in February.

Our favorite lines from the first one:

Veronica: I figured you had to be French or something because of your accent.

Luc: What accent?

Are you psyched??