Friday, January 1, 2010

News - 01/01/10...

Happy New Year!!

Worldwide box office for Avatar: $700 million in 12 days!

20th Century Fox’s Avatar has become a blockbuster on an epic scale…and at a very fast rate, too. According to the studio, the movie has already earned a jaw-dropping $700 million worldwide, with $250 million of that number coming from the US. Things have also continued to be good for Fox at the box office in the family department as well, with their Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel taking in over $100 million in the states since its release last Wednesday.

From Melancholy To Disappearance, Haruhi Suzumiya Heading To The Big Screen.

While there has been very little series anime that I've been excited by in the past couple years - note to self: new Masaki Yuasa series coming in early 2010 - one name that comes up repeatedly is The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. The show quickly built a large and loyal following and now is set to make the move to the big screen with its first feature film, The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya. In keeping with the film's title, the official website has gone totally blank but there is now a teaser for the film, which looks to be outstanding stuff. Check it below.

(Thanks Twitch)

First Glimpse at the next from Makoto Shinkai!

Japan's Makoto Shinkai - the independent animator behind Voices Of A Distant Star, The Place Promised In Our Early Days and 5 Centimeters Per Second - is a great favorite in these parts, his worked marked by a delicate sort of realism that gives his scifi tinged stories a good bit of emotional oomph. Shinkai has been quiet for a little while now but he's starting to make a bit of noise about his next project, as as-yet untitled affair that he promises to push his regular themes out to their natural extremes. After a string of short-features and an anthology project he also promises that this will be a proper feature length project. Beyond that he's not yet saying anything substantial about the plot but, as a gift to fans, he has released a pair of concept drawings from the project. You can find them here.

(Thanks Twitch)

There are good fan films. There are bad fan films. And then there's a Megaman fan film.

In the annals of fan film history - that strange and peculiar place where die hard fans create their own film versions of their favorite characters - there are films that scarcely deserve the label, films so poorly executed that they never should have been shown to the general public. And there are also films so well done that they have, at times, outdone the 'official' film versions of their subjects and gone on to launch professional careers. Which pole does Eddie Lebron's Megaman fall closer to? I leave that to you to decide.

(Thanks Twitch)

Ferrie Animates Bluesmen For Caisse d’Epargne

Damien Ferrie, one of the directors of the wonderful Jim Henson tribute short Over Time, directed this new spot for Caisse d’Epargne, the French banking group. The ad, titled The Three Bluesman, was produced by Wanda for Ogilvy Paris. Animation was handled by Michael Nauzin, Vivien Guiraud and Cédric Nicolas.

McLeods Cook Up Balance & Lunch For Fuggy

The this new Fuggy Fuggy episode, our hero solves problems the same way I do – he eats his way to victory. Here’s Balance & Lunch, the latest Brothers McLeod creation.

Sordo Brings Motionless To Life

As promised in May of this year, Paco Sordo has delivered another episode of his Flash-animated project. Inmóvil (Motionless) was created for the website and he had some help on the animation front fom Postoma Estudio. The characters speak in Spanish, and if you don’t, the story is rather easy to follow.

O’Hara’s Devilish 11 Second Club Submission

The December competition over at the 11 Second Club is winding down here in a few hours, and I spotted a strong, Flash-animated submission from Chris O’Hara. He’s an animator at Dublin-based Boulder Media and he calls this piece God, the devil and an xbox.

Toonbox Uncorks Happy New Year Animation

Being on the other side of the international dateline, the Moscow-based team at Toonbox Animation Studio will beat most of to the New Year. As they dive into 2010, they leave behind this animated short celebrating the transition. I believe it plays off the Chinese calendar – we’re leaving the year of the ox and heading into the year of the tiger. Happy New Year!

Meet Dan Lin, Clueless Producer of CGI Tom & Jerry Pic

The only thing worse than knowing they’re making a live-action/CG hybrid of Tom & Jerry is reading an interview with the film’s producer and finding out that he’s completely ignorant about the characters and animation in general. That’s the disappointing discovery I made when I stumbled across this interview with Dan Lin. He displays his lack of knowledge about the cat and mouse duo in his very first answer about the film:

My kids love the show. It’s two things-my kids love the show, I love the show. It’s really the originator of cartoon violence.

It’s hard to get two fundamental ideas wrong in such a short answer but he manages to do that. First of all, they’re making a movie based on characters that were established and became famous in theatrical shorts. To call it a “show” displays a profound lack of context and understanding of the history of these characters. It’s perfectly understandable though how somebody who doesn’t even know this basic fact about the characters would then make the outlandishly stupid claim that Tom and Jerry is “the originator of cartoon violence.” Somebody get this guy a copy of Leonard Maltin’s Of Mice and Magic…QUICK! It gets better. He then says:

And the way I view it is it’s almost like sibling rivalry. It’s the way my brothers and I fought growing up, Tom and Jerry fight.

I may be an only child, but even I know that sibling rivalry doesn’t typically involve high-grade explosives, disembowelment, and attempts to eat the other sibling. Tom & Jerry is a classic predator-prey setup with the survival of the characters at stake. Diluting their relationship into a wimpy sibling rivalry is a massive misunderstanding of the motivations of these characters and strays perilously close to Tom and Jerry: The Movie territory, which we know turned out all kinds of awful:

Then again, having Tom and Jerry be friends is possibly the only route Lin can go since he appears to be willing to bend over backwards and change the personality of the characters willy-nilly to appease the marketplace and the MPAA. His last comment in the interview is the most ominous of all:

So we really want to retain the spirit of the original Tom and Jerry. We’ll see how that changes as we go through the filmmaking process and also the MPAA process.

Note that it’s not “I’m going to fight to retain the spirit of these characters;” it’s “We’ll see how that changes.” Spoken like a true producer without creative principles or vision.

(Thanks, Virgilio, for the article link)

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Ricky Gervais to Star in Animated HBO Series

The Office creator Ricky Gervais will be teaming up with Stephen Merchant to make an animated series based on podcasts that the pair made with Karl Pilkington for The Guardian. The series will use animation to visualise the conversations recorded in the popular podcasts.

Top Flight Movement

Charles Solomon reflects on quality animation.


... Character animation — the art of making a figure move in ways that convey a unique personality — dates back to Walt Disney’s 1933 watershed cartoon
Three Little Pigs. ... [D]irector Chuck Jones commented, “Three Little Pigs proved it wasn’t how a character looked but how he moved that determined his personality. All we animators were dealing with after Three Little Pigs was acting.”

At a time when so many CG characters chatter nonstop, it’s easy to forget how many memorable scenes in animated films communicate feelings through pure movement, from the Seven Dwarfs weeping over Snow White’s bier to Chihiro riding the mysterious train in Hayao Miyazaki’s
Spirited Away. ...

Decades ago, I asked animator Ollie Johnston, "Of all the animated features you've worked on, which one's your favorite?"

I expected him to say "Bambi" or "Pinocchio" or maybe even "Lady and the Tramp." But he peered off into middle distance and said: "Robin Hood."

Stunned, I said, "Really? Why that one?"

He replied: "Because I really liked the characters I had in the picture. And the acting I did with them. Robin Hood's got some of the best animation."

Ollie might be right, although I think RH's weaker story and art direction undercuts the feature. But I take his point about animation acting. Film reviewers mention the quality of the acting in cartoon features not at all, yet it's with live-action pictures on a regular basis: "Daniel Day Lewis and George Clooney give knock-out performances in the new release Grand Emoting,...".

But you'll be old, feeble and residing in an assisted living facility before you'll see that kind of analysis regarding an animated feature. It just never happens. The quality of the acting isn't something mainstream reviewers think about or consider.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

'The Dark Knight Is Confused' Rap Is So Funny It Hurts

Earlier this week it was Superman romancing Spider-Woman in Bollywood, and now it's Batman rapping about plot holes in "The Dark Knight." Give me a break, folks — it's a slow week.

However, rather than explain why "The Dark Knight Is Confused" video posted on CollegeHumor is causing me physical pain right now, here's a sample of the lyrics:

As I ride on my bike at the end of 'Dark Knight,' there's a few plot points that don't feel right.

Like why the hell did I agree to take the rap? Harvey Dent killed those people. Who gives a crap?

And the Joker pulls crimes in such an orderly manner, he must write it down in an evil day planner.

His henchman are psycho and expendable — yet somehow completely dependable.

Better yet, why not just check it out for yourself:

Want to see Lost before anyone else? Here's how!

Don't want to wait until Feb. 2 to get your first glimpse of Lost's sixth and final season premiere? Well, Losties, you don't have to! All you have to do is be one of 815 winners of Lost's "message in a bottle" sweepstakes and you'll win an exclusive sneak peek at the first few minutes of the show's premiere.

The 815 winners will get a Lost bottle with a USB port that looks like Desmond's fail-safe key. That key has exclusive, never-before-seen video of the season premiere, along with scenes from last season's finale.

So what do you have to do to become one of the 815 ultimate Lost insiders? Figure out if blowing yourself up in the past will make you have a better future in the present? Discover who Jacob really is and if he's really dead? Determine if Locke really is the Smoke Monster or if the Smoke Monster is actually the four-toed statue?

Nope, all you have to do is go to and register by Jan. 17, 2010. Then answer six questions correctly (you can keep trying if you get them wrong) and you're entered. And just so everybody's got a real chance, we're going to give you the questions and the answers. (At least the ones we gave when we entered.) So stop reading if you want to figure out this yourself. Stop reading now. We mean it. Don't read another word ...

Here are the questions:

1) How many survivors were there from the fuselage section of Oceanic flight 815?

And the answer is: 48

2) Who are the Oceanic 6?

And the answer is: Jack, Kate, Hurley, Sayid, Sun, and Aaron

3) What game did Locke use to illustrate the battle of good and evil on the Island?

And the answer is: Backgammon

4) A surprising romance developed between which unlikely couple in season five?

And the answer is: Sawyer and Juliet

5) What was the name of the scientific organization that built the stations on the Island?

And the answer is: Dharma Initiative

6) Who is the first person to say, "Whatever happened, happened?"

And the answer is: Faraday

Prizes will be delivered on Friday, Jan. 29, which gives you gloating rights for a few days before the Tuesday, Feb. 2, Lost all-night event. The recap special starts at 8 p.m. ET/PT, with the two-hour premiere, "LA X" premiering at 9 p.m.

Russians to go all Michael Bay on approaching asteroid

Not content with sending robot-assisted monkeys to Mars, the Russians are looking into yet another mission that will bring sci-fi into outer space—an Armageddon-like plan to knock a large asteroid off course and reduce the chances of ... well ... armageddon.

Anatoly Perminov, the chief of Russia's Federal Space Agency, is assessing a mission to Apophis, a 885-foot asteroid discovered in 2004 that reportedly has a 1-in-37 chance smashing into Earth on its first flyby in 2029, Yahoo news reported. U.S. scientists say such a scenario is unlikely. NASA had estimated the chances that Apophis would hit Earth in 2036 at 1 in 45,000, and in October, after researchers recalculated the asteroid's path, the agency changed its estimate to 1 in 250,000.

Still, Perminov plans to move ahead. "People's lives are at stake," he said. "We should pay several hundred million dollars and build a system that would allow us to prevent a collision, rather than sit and wait for it to happen and kill hundreds of thousands of people."

After robots and monkeys and now this, what could be next for the spacefaring Russians? Going hunting for Aliens and Predators?

Trek's Patrick Stewart, Rings' Jackson knighted

Patrick Stewart

As we reported a while back, Star Trek: The Next Generation's Patrick Stewart will be knighted as part of Queen Elizabeth II's New Year honors list. That makes him Sir Patrick.

Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson, meanwhile, also becomes a knight under a separate honors list in New Zealand, the Associated Press reported:

Peter Jackson (right) directs Saoirse Ronan in The Lovely Bones

"This is an honor that embraces those actors, directors and creative teams who have in these recent years helped fill my life with inspiration, companionship and sheer fun," said 69-year-old Stewart, who recently returned to the British stage following a long career in Hollywood that included playing Professor Charles Xavier in three "X-Men" films. ...

Jackson, 53, was knighted in New Zealand, his native land and the filming location for the trilogy, which collected 17 Academy Awards. The New Zealand award is approved by the queen, the country's head of state.

Stewart played Captain Jean-Luc Picard in TNG on TV and in subsequent movies.

Jackson, who recently directed The Lovely Bones, is now producing the two-part Hobbit movie.

1 comment:

Maroussia said...

It will be great to watch Ricky Gervais, i have bought tickets from looking forward to it.