Monday, January 4, 2010

News - 01/04/10...

Avatar $ is closing in on Titanic

James Cameron's 3-D sci-fi epic Avatar again topped the box office, broke another record over the New Year's weekend and is closing in on Cameron's Titanic as the top-grossing movie of all time.

The movie took in an estimated $68.3 million domestically in the three days beginning Friday, setting a record for a film in its third weekend of release, distributor 20th Century Fox told The Hollywood Reporter, beating the record of $45 million was set by Spider-Man in 2002.

After 17 days, Avatar has grossed $352.1 million in the U.S. and Canada, placing it at number 15 among all movies in terms of ticket sales.

Worldwide, Avatar has now taken in more than $1 billion, joining only four other films: Titanic, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and The Dark Knight

Here's what The Hollywood Reporter said:

Cameron's 1997 drama "Titanic," the biggest film of all time before accounting for inflation, earned $601 million [domestically], followed by 2008's "The Dark Knight" with $533 million. "Star Wars" currently holds the No. 3 berth with $461 million. ...

"Titanic" could be threatened. When ticket-price inflation is included, that film had earned $241 million after 17 days, according to tracking firm Box Office Mojo.

Sherlock Holmes, meanwhile, placed second on New Year's weekend with an estimated $38.4 million domestically, for a 10-day total of $140.7 million.

'The Princess and the Frog' Nominated for Multiple NAACP Image Awards

In a Dec. 22nd interview with Keith David, voice of Dr. Facilier in Disney's The Princess and the Frog, the interviewer leaked news that the film had been nominated for "7 or 8 Image Awards," including one for David's performance in the film.

The 2010 NAACP Image Awards will not be officially announced until Friday, January 8th.

In related news, the African-American Film Critics Association ranked The Princess and the Frog #2 for "Best Film of 2009" and it also tied with Precious as the winner for "Best Screenplay." [Disney/Pixar's Up ranked #10.]

New Toy Story 3 sneak peek now has a brand new sneak peek at Disney/Pixar’s upcoming Toy Story 3. The featurette introduces a new character, Mr. Pricklepants, a hedgehog voiced by former James Bond actor Timothy Dalton. The anticipated sequel hits theaters next summer.

Mike Myers may be beamed up as Marvin the Martian

Known for his title role in the "Shrek" franchise, Mike Myers is among the stars whom producers are talking to as the possible lead voice in a "Marvin the Martian" film slated for Christmas 2011 release.

Alex Zamm has been signed up by Warner Bros. and producer Alcon Entertainment to direct the film, in which Marvin has a solo role.

Zamm is also signed on to direct Hong Kong Phooey, the film adaptation of the 1970s Hanna-Barbera series, which comes from the same producers.

There is no word on whether Bugs Bunny, who challenged Marvin in several shorts, will make a cameo in the new film, which combines computer animation and live action. As with Alvin & The Chipmunks, a CG-animated Marvin will be surrounded by live-action actors, the Los Angeles Times reported. Filmmakers are trying to do some of the visual work this year.

The plot remains unchanged since it was first announced in the summer of 2008. Marvin visits Earth in an attempt to destroy Christmas, but he gets trapped inside a gift box, scotching his nefarious plot.

TV veterans Paul Kaplan and Mark Torgove have been hired as writers. Writers and producers of such shows as Spin City, they also are scripting the upcoming CHiPS movie.

Archie, Beetle Bailey get U.S. stamp of approval

Comic characters turned TV animation stars Archie, Beetle Bailey, Dennis the Menace and Garfield will be among the subjects headlining the 2010 stamp program, the United States Postal Service announced Wednesday.

The Sunday Funnies stamp pane will also honor Calvin and Hobbes, who have never been shown in an authorized animated release. The stamps will go on sale in July.

Offering an idealized portrait of American adolescence, Archie existed only in comic-book form before debuting in newspapers in 1946. A typical small-town teenager with a knack for goofing things up, 17-year-old Archie Andrews is often torn between haughty brunette Veronica Lodge and sweet, blonde Betty Cooper.

A military strip with universal appeal, Beetle Bailey first appeared in September 1950. Possibly the laziest man in the army, Private Beetle Bailey is an expert at sleeping and avoiding work. His chronic indolence antagonizes Sergeant Orville P. Snorkel, who is tough on his men but calls them "my boys."

Dennis the Menace follows the antics of Dennis Mitchell, a good-hearted but mischievous little boy who is perpetually "5-ana-half" years old. His curiosity tests the patience of his loving parents and neighbors, guaranteeing that their lives are anything but dull. The comic debuted in March 1951 as a single-panel gag.

Garfield first waddled onto the comics page in June 1978. Self-centered and cynical, the crabby tabby hates Mondays and loves lasagna. He lives with Jon Arbuckle, a bumbling bachelor with a fatally flawed fashion sense, and Odie, a dopey but devoted dog.

Disney to re-release three Miyazaki films with Ponyo

MyTokyoBox reports that Disney will re-release Miyazaki's My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and Castle in the Sky on 2-disc special edition DVDs, alongside Ponyo, in March 2010. Studio Ghibli DVD re-releases will include, an interactive "World of Ghibli" experience, "Enter the Lands" and "Behind the Studio" features. Disc two will feature storyboard presentation of the entire movie. Details on the Ponyo DVD and Blu-ray can be found here.

Space Battleship Yamato trailer

It’s going to be a Happy New Year for fans of Star Blazers and cheesy Japanese live action science fiction flicks (which I am):

(Thanks cartoon brew)

The First 2010 Derby

The Nikkster reports New Year's Eve box office numbers to a breathless world.

1. AVATAR (Fox) [3,456 runs] Week 2 Wed $18.5M (+1), Thurs $14.9M (-19%), Cume $283.8
2. ALVIN SQUEAKQUEL (Fox) [3,700] Week 2 Wed $11.8M (-6%), Thurs $8.7M (-26%), Cume $120.7M
3. SHERLOCK HOLMES (Warner Bros) [3,626] Week 1 Wed $9.7M (-5%), Thurs $8.7M (-10%), Cume $102.3M
4. IT'S COMPLICATED (Warner Bros) [2,887] Week 1 Wed $4.4M (+3%), Thurs $5.3M (+22%), Cume $40.3M
5. THE BLIND SIDE (Warner Bros) [2,766] Week 7 Wed $3M (+2%), Thurs $3.4M (+13%), Cume $196.4M
6. UP IN THE AIR (Paramount) [1,895] Week 5 Wed $2.3M (+3%), Thurs $2.8M (+23%), Cume $33.6M
7. PRINCESS & THE FROG (Disney) [3,475] Week 6 Wed $3.3M (-1%), Thurs $2.6M (-21%), Cume $76M
8. MORGANS? (Sony) [2,718] Week 3 Wed $1.2M (-1%), Thurs $1.3M (+8%), Cume $20.4M
9. INVICTUS (Warner Bros) [2,160] Week 3 Wed $895K (+3%), Thurs $988K (+10%), Cume $44.6M
10. NINE (The Weinstein Co) [1,412] Week 3 Wed $1M (-1%), Thurs $864K (-15%), Cume $9.8M

Going into the first turn, animation hybrid Avatar continues its rampage at the top of the field, while its Fox hybrid cousin Alvin climbs past the master sleuth. The chipmunks have now earned themselves $120.7 million..

Downfield, hand-drawn The Princess and the Frog collects $2.6 million (a 21% drop, less than Alvin's 26%) and now has $76 million in the money bag.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

It's Official: Marvel Entertainment Stockholders Approve Walt Disney Company Deal

What has long been expected is now finally official — the pending merger between Marvel Entertainment and The Walt Disney Company is a done deal.

According to an official press release from Marvel Entertainment, a special meeting held this morning between Marvel stockholders resulted in the approval of the deal that was first announced at the end of August.

While the press release notes that the merger's completion "is subject to satisfaction of remaining conditions" of a previously filed statement by Disney, the hard part is certainly over. Barring something unforeseen and catastrophic, Marvel will be owned by Disney as soon as "today after the close of the market."

The earlier announcement that Marvel would be purchased by Disney was easily the biggest comic book news story of the year, if not the entire decade. Just the thought of Spider-Man, Captain America, Iron Man and more joining the entertainment juggernaut that houses Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and their pals is enough to provoke plenty of positive, negative and mixed reactions alike from the comic book community.

It's still far too early to know exactly how Disney's acquisition of Marvel will effect the comic book publisher and its many properties — even if some minor details are already public — but it's only appropriate that the last day of 2009 brought about the finalization of the biggest comic book news story of the year. Here's hoping that 2010 is similarly epic.

Nutella goes Looney Tunes

Heads up, Jarheads! Here’s the scoop from our roving reporter Dave Filipi, direct from a supermarket in Philadelphia. Nutella, the bread spread made from a “combination of roasted hazelnuts, skim milk and a hint of cocoa” is currently offering its product in glass jars adorned with images of four Looney Tunes stars. I love that Clampett-esque Daffy, I want ‘em all!

Dave snapped these pix with his iPhone (the first two from the left, below, click to enlarge) off a supermarket shelf in Philadelphia. A closer look at his photos shows these particular jars to be imported. Let’s hope these imports are making their way across the USA. I have no idea what Nutella tastes like, but I’m sold.

(Thanks cartoon brew)

The Permanence of 3-D, Part VII

I keep bumping into naysayers who tell me, "Three Dee is a temporary thing, it can't last ..."

And then I keep running across articles like this:

In 2008, Paramount topped the list with foreign boxoffice of $2.037 billion followed by Warner Bros. ($1.81 billion), Universal ($1.71 billion), Fox ($1.6 billion), Sony ($1.38 billion) and Disney ($1.37 billion).

2009's boxoffice bounty was shared by at least one independent, Summit Entertainment, which logged foreign revenue of $877.2 million, a 41% increase from 2008 ...

For Disney and other studios, the growth of 3D exhibition abroad was
"very, very important," said Marcoly. "If you look at our top five movies this year, four of those five had a 3D element to them." Disney top four films in 2009 were 3D releases: "Up," "G-Force" (overseas cume of $165.6 million), "Disney's A Christmas Carol" ($173.8 million) and "Bolt" (153.3 million).

"I think 3D has reinvigorated the marketplace as far as interest for a moviegoer," said Marcoly, who added that 3D locations have the added advantage of charging higher admission prices. ...

Mmm. Those higher admission prices. It makes a distributor's digits tingle.

And then, as The Reporter points out, there are those towering grosses from Avatar Three Dee, which have News Corporation vibrating with glee from top to bottom.

Stereo movie viewing. It's only going to get bigger.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Macro Employment, Animation Employment

This today from the Washington Post is pretty stunning:

... The past decade was the worst for the U.S. economy in modern times, a sharp reversal from a long period of prosperity that is leading economists and policymakers to fundamentally rethink the underpinnings of the nation's growth.

It was, according to a wide range of data, a lost decade for American workers ... There has been zero net job creation since December 1999. No previous decade going back to the 1940s had job growth of less than 20 percent. Economic output rose at its slowest rate of any decade since the 1930s as well ...

The above is pretty amazing to me, for a lot of reasons. When I was a teenager in the 1960s. the Great Depression was something they taught in schools, but seemed like ancient history. That kind of thing just couldn't happen anymore. We were all now much smarter than that now, with bank insurance and financial regulations and a social safety net that prvented people from having to sell apples on street corners or ride the rails looking for work. Even though it was only thirty years back in our history, it was -- to me -- long ago and far away, similar to a fairy tale from Hans Christian Anderson.

Uh, no.

The lesson I've gleaned from this (and older histories) is that human beings never permanently learn anything. The painful tutorials supplied by wars and depressions fade away, and a new generation that knows it's smarter, hipper, and all around more savvy than the old fuds around it says: "This time it's different! We're in a new paradigm now! Nothing can go wrong! We've had a major economic/cultural/wartime shift and the old numbers don't compute anymore!"

To which the smart response is to say, "Crap." I heard the same things during the dot-com bubble, I heard them during the real estate boom. I heard them about Vietnam and Iraq and Afghanistan. Conventional Wisdom yells out: "Don't worry! Everything's under control!" Except it isn't.*

Which brings us to the Micro part of the story: Toonville. On graph paper, animation employment has looked something like the internet boom of a decade ago, something like this:

Looks reassuring, yes? But inside the graph are the flesh-and-blood realities: Lots of CG animators and technicians thriving; many hand-drawn veterans struggling. Much project-to-project work and minimal long-term security. There might be robust employment numbers at any given moment, but two flops and three quarters of bad profit-and-loss numbers and the studio sheds 70% of its staff.

(I never forget that Walt Disney Feature Animation laid off hundreds of employees in 1958 ... 2001 ... 2002 ... and 2007. Or that Filmation was the biggest animation employer in 1985 and out of business in 1989.)

Beyond everything else, animation production and employment is market driven, and animation has had a hell of a run (with interruptions) since the 1990s. My take-away from everything up to now is just this:

1) Know your craft, improve your craft.
2) Be nice to people you work with (even the ones who drive you up the wall), because they can hurt you or help you when you least expect it.
3) Live below your means whenever possible. (I know a wildly successful director who drove the same old car for years, even when he could have afforded a five-car garage filled with Lexi. I consider him a smart, smart man.)
4) Understand that it's as Roger Miller sings. Nothing is forever.

* I know I'm whistling in the wind, but to the extent possible, let us refrain from "Bush ... Obama ... Liberals ... Conservatives ... are idiots and got us into this mess." My thesis is: Here we are. How do we deal with it? Thanks much.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

1 comment:

Maroussia said...

It will be great to watch Spider-man Turn Off The Dark, i have bought tickets from looking forward to it.