Thursday, December 31, 2009

News - 12/31/09...

New Rapunzel image

SlashFilm points to a new image from Disney's upcoming animated fairy tale Rapunzel. It's hard to tell if the image is an actual still from the film or just concept art, but it's worth checking out either way. Rapunzel hits theaters next Thanksgiving.

Bomb Threat at DreamWorks

Some people at DreamWorks were sent home today because of a bomb threat at the studio. They later discovered it was just the trailer to the next installment of Shrek.

Seriously though, studio employees are writing about the bomb threat on Twitter.

UPDATE: According to Arthurk192, “Authorities have determined that the package was not a bomb. It was, in fact, a gift from overseas, officials said.”

UPDATE 2: The Glendale News Press has an article about the suspicious package at DreamWorks.

(Thanks, Scott)

(Thanks cartoon brew)

The Funtastic World of Hanna Barbera

We posted the centerpiece of this animation back in 2006, but here is an expanded version featuring the pre-show with Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera. Boy is this script corny, but the animation is fantastic, full (maybe too full) and at this point, quite nostalgic. The character animation for The Funtastic World of Hanna Barbera ride at Universal Studios Florida was produced at Sullivan Bluth Studios in 1990, and was directed by David Steinberg. The ride ended its run at the Orlando theme park in 2002. Thankfully someone had the foresight to photograph this bootleg video:

(Thanks, Matthew Gaastra)

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Help the Hodges Charity Auction

The son of animation artist Tim Hodge (Mulan, Brother Bear, VeggieTales) was in an auto accident last August. The situation is difficult for the Hodge family, whose son remains in a coma today. Tim explained on his blog:

As you may not realize, our short term insurance expired in September. The rest of the family could renew, but Matt became a pre-existing condition. So Matt’s healthcare since that time has all been out of pocket. Vanderbilt Hospital was gracious to us and forgave our six figure debt to them. But Matt’s ongoing care and future rehabilitation is still in the balance.

The help the family, the comics and animation community is rallying together to stage a massive eBay art auction beginning January 21st. The website has images and details about the donated artwork. It is an impressive collection that includes a diverse group of artists including Drew Struzan, Charles Schulz, Nick Park, Frank Thomas, Craig McCracken, and Nico Marlet (above). The list of artwork is growing by the day, and it all goes to a worthy cause so participation is encouraged. Should you wish to simply help the family without participating in the auction, the Hodges’ website also has details on how to make a fully tax-deductible donation to the family.

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Acker's 9 Battles Machines on DVD and Blu-Ray This Week

If you missed catching Shane Acker’s well-received CG-animated feature 9 during its theatrical run this fall, you can enjoy it this week on DVD and Blu-ray. Exec produced by Tim Burton and Russian helmer Timur Bekmambeto, this visually stunning pic centers on a band of doll-like “stitch punk” creatures who have survived a war waged between humans and machines.

Written by Acker and Pamela Pettler, the Focus Features release is based on an Oscar-winning short made by the filmmaker when he was a student at USC. The voice cast includes Elijah Wood, Jennifer Connelly, Crispin Glover, Christopher Plummer, John C. Reilly and Martin Landau. Toronto-based Starz Animation produced the film’s impressive animation.

The 80-minute DVD release is priced at $29.98, while the Blu-ray version sells for $39.98 (you can pick it up on amazon for $25).

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Jibjab Offers Animated Take on the Crazy Events of 2009

Over the past five years, the brilliant animators at Jibjab have spoiled us with hilarious animated takes on the notable and dubious achievements of each year. The good news is that they haven’t let us down again. Their awesome two-minute 2009 wrap is packed with witty lyrics and clever animated zingers about Tiger Woods, President Obama, Octomom and Jon Gosselin, to name a few.

The company, which specializes in e-cards and toon sendables, had a remarkable holiday season. According to Quantcast, the site registered 33 million unique visitors in the past month and was a top 50 destination in the U.S.! That's more people than, and combined.

You can check out JibJab’s “Never a Year Like 09” toon here:

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Avatar and Animated Features Picked as AFI’s Significant Moments

The American Film Institute has singled out James Cameron’s Avatar and the year’s wave of top-notch animated features as two of eight “moments of significance”of 2009.

AFI called Avatar a "pioneering effort to unleash the human imagination,” and added. “With an army of technological wizards at his side, writer/director/producer/co-editor Cameron called upon the forces of art and technology to create new tools for storytelling that are groundbreaking in both scope and scale. The magic of the motion picture—and the transfer of its power to television and now video games—has always found its truest power in its immersive qualities, and with Cameron's advances in CGI and 3-D, Avatar enters AFI's almanac as an achievement that will have profound effects on the future of the art form."

Seeing animated films as a single trend, AFI noted, “Though animation has been a genre of great impact since the dawn of the moving image, 2009 marked a year that saw a dazzling explosion of noteworthy work from many of the nation's finest artists, and in forms vast and varied—from classic hand-drawn stories like The Princess and the Frog to stop-motion splendors like Coraline and Fantastic Mr. Fox; to computer-generated creations like 9, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs and Monsters Vs. Aliens.

The other "moments" listed by AFI included Twitter, the tough economic climate, the debut of The Jay Leno Show in primetime, reality TV’s loss of boundaries, the end of analog TV, and Michael Jackson’s death and the concert film This Is It.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

UK Poll Names Top Animated Film

UK Pollster OnePoll have asked 4000 animation fans to name the top animated film of all time.... and the overwhelming response was.... Pixar's Toy Story. Interestingly, eight of the top ten are all modern films, with five being wholey computer animated. Eight of ther top ten were Disney (or Disney-related) films. here is the full list:

1. Toy Story
2. Shrek
3. The Lion King
4. Finding Nemo
5. Ice Age
6. The Jungle Book
7. Monsters, Inc.
8. Beauty And The Beast
9. Bambi
10. Aladdin
11. Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs
12. One Hundred And One Dalmatians
13. Who Framed Roger Rabbit
14. Watership Down
15. WALL•E
16. Fantasia
17. The Nightmare Before Christmas
18. The Little Mermaid
19. Cinderella
20. Alice In Wonderland

Elmer Fudd for Geico Car Insurance

(Thanks, William Skaleski)

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Dreamworks' How to Train Your Dragon trailer V.2

(Thanks, Iain Robbins)

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Mary Blair concept art showcased in “Walt Disney’s Peter Pan”

Jim Hill reviews the latest volume in the Disney Archives storybook series. Which is illustrated with paintings that this Disney Legend created for the Studio’s 1953 release

It’s always been one of the great what-ifs of Disney history. What if … All of the Studio’s overseas markets hadn’t been cut off by the start of World War II?

It’s well known that – as of the late 1930s -- Walt was well into development of full-length animated versions of “Alice in Wonderland,” “Peter Pan” and “The Wind in the Willows.” And had everything gone according to plan, feature film versions of these three projects would have been released to theaters during the early 1940s.

But WWII did derail Disney’s plans. And as a direct result, production of “Alice” and “Peter” were put off by more than a decade. And in the case of “The Wind in the Willows,” Walt’s animated version of this much beloved Kenneth Grahame story went from being a stand-alone project to becoming part of a package film, 1949’s “The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad.”

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

But given the storyboards as well as those pieces of preproduction / development art that have leaked out for the
David Hall version of “Peter Pan” (which shows that Disney Studios seriously considered producing a far darker take on J.M. Barrie’s tale) … In hindsight, maybe we were lucky that production of this animated feature was postponed ‘til 1953. So that Mary Blair could then rise up through the ranks at Walt Disney Studios and become a real creative force on the Animation side of things.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t as if this
Disney Legend actively steered clear of Neverland’s scarier aspects. Take – for example – Mary’s take on Skull Rock.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Or this concept painting of Captain Hook sneaking out of the shadows as he gets ready to run Peter through with his sword.

But what Blair really brought to Disney’s version of
“Peter Pan” was a visual sense of whimsy that – in large part – perfectly matched Barrie’s literary wit. Which then allowed Neverland to really come to life.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

I bring this up today because – last month – Disney Press just released the fourth storybook in its Archives series,
“Walt Disney's Peter Pan.” Which uses many of the concept paintings that Mary Blair created for this animated feature to illustrate this 64-page hardcover.

Copyright 2009 Disney Press. All Rights Reserved

Mind you, one of the other real pleasures of paging through
“Walt Disney’s Peter Pan” (besides Ms. Blair’s concept art of course) is the text that accompanies this imagery. Which was put together by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, the talented team behind the best-selling “Peter and the Starcatchers” series.

Barry & Ridley do a brilliant job of tailoring Barrie’s oft-told tale to Blair’s concept art. Which results in a concise but still very entertaining retelling of the Peter Pan story.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

So the younger members of the family are sure to enjoy
“Walt Disney’s Peter Pan” for its story, the older members of your clan (especially those who are animation buffs) are sure to marvel at this book’s illustrations.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Especially given how closely Walt’s artists & animators followed Mary’s vision when it came to how particular scenes & sequences were staged in this 1953 Walt Disney Productions release.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

A charming mix of strong illustrations and tightly written text (
“All of this happened before, and it will happen again. It could happen anywhere, but this time it happened in London ...”)

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

“Walt Disney’s Peter Pan” will make a fine addition to your family’s Disneyana library. Especially if you’ve already purchased the first three volumes in this Disney Archives series, Walt Disney's Alice in Wonderland, “Walt Disney's Cinderella” and “Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”

Hydra Captures Decaying Homunculus

Humble houses a “directing collaborative” they call Hydra, which is led by Sam Stephens and John Hobbs. They tackle projects that “fall outside the usual creative constraints of commercial work,” and below is just such a film. It’s titled Homunculus, which means “little human” in Latin. It includes time-lapse photography of decaying food stuff, mixed with CG animated characters created in Maya.

Belgians Bust Out Old Timey Animation

The Belgium-based duo comprised of Michélé De Feudis and Joris Bergmans recently directed this throwback music video for the band Team William. For lovers of old-timey animation from the likes of Max Fleischer and Ub Iwerks, this should satify your cravings. The track is titled You Look Familiar. [safe for work, but there's some ass-slapping and blurred out bits]

New Year's Linkage

Another round of animated news and factoids.

So how did I miss

... In an article published on Tuesday in L’Osservatore Romano under the headline “Aristotle’s Virtues and Homer’s Doughnut,” “The Simpsons” was praised for its “realistic and intelligent writing” (and rapped on the knuckles for “excessively crude language, the violence of certain episodes or some extreme choices by the scriptwriters”) ...

That's the Vatican newspaper that is praising the Yellow Family.

Give our fine conglomerates something that interests them, and they will come:

Global media giants including Disney, Viacom and Star TV will have their presence felt at the first China International Animation Copyright Fair opening on Wednesday in the southern city of Dongguan.

... [T]he fair, a top one in the country, would boost the protection of the copyright of animation works and promote trade and research with regards to animation products.

Seth M. provides
another interview about satire, prime-time entertainment, and other things.

... I always thought it would be funny to have the Parents Television Council write an episode of "Family Guy" and give them full creative control. Then see how good the episode is. That's something we've actually discussed in the writers' room. We haven't proposed it yet, but if somebody from the PTC reads this, it might be worth discussing ...

While we're on the subject of the Middle Kingdom, Shanghai list
touts the work of five indie animators:

China's animation industry is receiving a huge amount of support from the government in a push to develop China's creative industries. At the same time, many of China's emerging independent creatives are producing eye-opening work that more often than not doesn't make it into the mainstream media channels.

Below are 5 of our favorite indie animations from 2009. Even if you can't understand Chinese, you'll enjoy the visual feast ...

Click through and feast away.

In case you'd forgotten, that Marvel-Disney deal? It's ready (at last)
to consummate.

Marvel Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: MVL) is about to disappear. The Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) acquisition is set to close this week. Some have criticized this $4.2 billion cash and stock deal, but there is going to be more merit to this combination with Disney than just traditional M&A. That old strategic word comes up: synergies. For starters, Disney has a market cap north of $60 billion and that makes this a relatively small deal to carry out for the Mouse House ...

And the Motley Fool
tells us how Disney can maximize the value of its Marvel acquisition:

2. Pixar can render Marvel properly. If Disney had acquired Marvel before snapping up Pixar, this would have been a gutsy call. However, if anyone can turn some of Marvel's lesser-known heroes into animated art, it's Pixar's Brad Bird -- the guy responsible for Pixar's The Incredibles and cult favorite Iron Giant before that ...

Time Magazine's Richard Corliss
laments the taste of the American public:

... If the good doesn't drive out the bad, it should at least stir in young minds a healthy skepticism for movie mediocrity, and zero tolerance for crap.

Explain to me, then, why
Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel earned more than $75 million in its first five days of release. Was the boffo gross due to brand recognition after the 2007 movie about Simon, Theodore and Alvin was a hit? ...

Lastly, we wrap up with Slash/film's
article about How to Train Your Dragon and the latest trailer, complete with Brendan Connelly's usual sneering.

But the first commenter, who claims to have actually seen the film, says this:

I had a chance to see the unfinished movie a couple of weeks back. It was one of those marketing screenings and Katzenberg was even in attendance. It was easily their best movie yet. They may have a bit of a problem though with the eventual comparison to the "dragon" riding in Avatar, though this is obviously a completely different film ...

I know that the DWA crew is high on the picture, and I like the energy in the bits and pieces I've seen. We'll find out if it's a hit the end of March.

Have a terrific New Year.

Animation Guild Blog)

Which classic sci-fi film was just declared a national treasure?

Star Wars was already on the National Film Registry.

Star Wars. Alien. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Those are just three of the sci-fi films that the Library of Congress has added to its National Film Registry since 1989, meaning that they are "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant and must be be preserved for all time.

When Librarian of Congress James H. Billington announced today 25 more motion pictures worthy of inclusion on the list (and you can check that 1989-2008 list here to see the level of film we're talking about), only one sci-fi flick made it—1957's The Incredible Shrinking Man, directed by Jack Arnold and scripted by Richard Matheson.

If you're not familiar with the film about—well, what the title says—check out what Orson Welles had to say about it:

Also of interest to sci-fi fans—the 1911 short adapted from Windsor McKay's Little Nemo comic strip, 1979's The Muppet Movie, Sally Cruikshank's 1975 cartoon Quasi at the Quackadero, and Michael Jackson's 1983 music video Thriller.

Here's the complete list of this year's honorees:

1) Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
2) The Exiles (1961)
3) Heroes All (1920)
4) Hot Dogs for Gauguin (1972)
5) The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957)
6) Jezebel (1938)
7) The Jungle (1967)
8) The Lead Shoes (1949)
9) Little Nemo (1911)
10) Mabel's Blunder (1914)
11) The Mark of Zorro (1940)
12) Mrs. Miniver (1942)
13) The Muppet Movie (1979)
14) Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
15) Pillow Talk (1959)
16) Precious Images (1986)
17) Quasi at the Quackadero (1975)
18) The Red Book (1994)
19) The Revenge of Pancho Villa (1930-36)
20) Scratch and Crow (1995)
21) Stark Love (1927)
22) The Story of G.I. Joe (1945)
23) A Study in Reds (1932)
24) Thriller (1983)
25) Under Western Stars (1938)

Which films would you have added?

Grant Williams as The Incredible Shrinking Man

Freddy Krueger's claws (maybe) seized by UK customs officials

Looks like some poor UK horror fan ended up with a lump of coal in his stocking, because according to the London Telegraph, officials from the UK Border Agency seized a set of cool (but potentially deadly) claws it claims are similar to those worn by Robert Englund in Wes Craven's Nightmare On Elm Street films.

If you ask us, this sharp souvenir looks more like it was meant to be a Wolverine replica than anything Freddy Kreuger ever wore, but if you can't trust the UK Border Agency on sci-fi/horror neepery, who can you trust?

Tim Roth On Returning For Another 'Hulk' Movie: 'I've Talked About It With Marvel'

While 2008's "Incredible Hulk" only performed marginally better at the box office than its 2003 counterpart, many fans praised Louis Leterrier's take on Marvel's green goliath as a significant upgrade from Ang Lee's earlier film. One of the most notable improvements, according to many critics, was the addition of award-winning actor Tim Roth as the villainous soldier Emil Blonsky opposite Edward Norton's scientist-on-the-run Bruce Banner.

Even though [SPOILER ALERT] Roth's character was on the receiving end of a Hulk beatdown at the end of the film (despite becoming the mutated behemoth Abomination), the door was left wide open for a potential return. And as Hulk fans know, Blonsky is a regular presence among Hulk's rogues.

While chatting with Roth recently about "Lie to Me," the Fox television series in which he plays a human lie-detector of sorts, I managed to slip in a few questions about his experience battling one of Marvel's most iconic characters — and whether we'll see Emil Blonsky square off against Hulk again down the road.

"Yeah, we’ve talked about it — I’ve talked about it with Marvel," said Roth. "When you do your deal, you sign up for three [films]. So, I’ve done the one ... and basically, I don't know what they have planned, but they can bring me back."

"What they’re doing now is ... putting these characters together in different ways," he added. "With the Sam Jackson thing, and having [Robert Downey Jr.] come in at the end of 'Incredible Hulk' was the first clue to that — and I don’t know if they want to bring [Blonsky] back, but I told them I’m absolutely game for it. It would be so much fun to do it again. I’m in it for three."

Of course, Roth's willingness to return for another film seems like a given if the experience was even half as fun as he made it out to be.

"I had the best time ever with that one — more fun on set than anybody," he laughed. "I did it purely for my kids, so my boys can laugh at their dad and have fun with it."

"What’s been really interesting [about recent superhero movies] is, they're taking these heavy-weight actors and turning them into these characters, and populating a very bizarre world,
" said Roth of Hollywood's fascination with comic book movies lately. "They’re brilliant, but they also entertain the kids, and I think it’s a very smart move ... yet you’re still running around like a kid in them."

1 comment:

Maroussia said...

It will be great to watch Disney Live! Rockin' Road Show, i have bought tickets from looking forward to it.