Tuesday, January 26, 2010

News - 01/26/10...

It's official: Avatar is now the highest-grossing movie EVER

It's official: As expected, James Cameron's Avatar on Monday officially pulled ahead of Cameron's other big movie, about some boat, to become the biggest-grossing movie of ALL TIME.

Twentieth Century Fox said that the sci-fi epic had amassed an estimated global total box office take of $1.8437 billion, just ahead of Titanic's worldwide total of $1,843,201,268, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The worldwide crown isn't adjusted for inflation, and Avatar's high grosses were certainly boosted by higher ticket prices overall and especially for 3-D and IMAX screenings. (Check BoxOfficeMojo for the full list of inflation-adjusted grosses.)

So if you haven't seen Avatar yet, you're the only one.

'Black Panther' Animated Series Intro Is Full Of Awesome

What is it about the musical intros to animated series lately? I loved the pop-punk of the "Spectacular Spider-Man" theme, and now Marvel Animation and BET's "Black Panther" offers up yet another intro tune I want to add to my music library.

The series is written and co-produced by Reginald Hudlin, and premiered this month on Australian children's channel ABC3. Djimon Hounsou voices Black Panther, king of the African nation of Wakanda.

Comics fans will certainly appreciate the John Romita Jr. art used in the intro (or at least, it sure looks like Romita's art) from the "Who Is the Black Panther?" story arc authored by Hudlin and Romita.

Along with Hounsou as T'Challa, Stan Lee provides the voice of General Wallace, JB Blanc voices The Black Knight and (wait for it...) Batroc, Kerry Washington voices Princess Shuri and Jill Scott provides the voice of X-Men member Storm.

The series currently has no air date/network set for the U.S., but let's keep our fingers crossed, shall we?

Aramaki Talks Halo Legends Episode

Much like The Animatrix and Batman: Gotham Knight before it, Halo Legends — due out Feb. 16 from Warner Home Video — will feature seven animated episodes set in the universe of the popular video game series created by top anime directors.

Among the contributors is director and designer Shinji Aramaki, who handled an episode titled “The Package,” produced in CG animation at Casio Entertainment. Aramaki’s credits include such innovative anime as Appleseed Ex Machina, designs on Robotech: Mospeada, Transformers, Bubblegum Crisis, Full Metal Alchemist and Naruto.


Aramaki says Halo is a perfect fit with anime. Halo belongs to the battle-action genre as well as to sci-fi, and most of its visual scenes look as exciting as the images from sci-fi illustration library,” he says. “One more point why I think Halo suits anime is that it is a story of a super hero named Master Chief in a vast background of Galaxy Wars which seems to be a grand epic.

Inspired by the design and look of Master Chief, Aramaki set out to create an episode in which the character is as invincible in the air as he is on the ground. He worked with Dai Sato, who wrote the script to create an episode he hopes fans will find a “non-stop action movie with a considerable density.”


Helping on the designs was Atsushi Takeuchi, whom Aramaki calls “the only mecha designer whom I can rely on to ask to design things which I cannot design.”

The final result will include some surprises for fans of the game series.

“The viewers will see other Spartans than Master Chief and a certain important character (you’ll have to watch and see),” says Aramaki. “The viewers will find out that a machine gun turret can come out from a very unexpected place. I hope that everyone will enjoy it.”

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Charlie Brown, Surrogates Come Home

Coming to DVD this week for the first time is Peanuts: You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown (Warner Bros. $19.98). This animated special first aired in 1985 and adapts the 1967 stage play of the same name. The special has been remastered for this release.

In visual-effects department comes Surrogates (Buena Vista, $29.99 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray), the sci-fi film that stars Bruce Willis and is based on the comic book series published by Top Shelf.

Children of the 1980s will surely be happy to revisit one of that decade’s biggest animated hits, with the release of The Real Ghostbusters, Vol. 2 (City Lights, $39.95).

For the kids, this week brings Go Diego Go: Lion Cub Rescue (Paramount, $16.99), SpongeBob SquarePants: Viking-Sized Adventures (Paramount, $16.99), Pokemon Elements, Vol. 7: Psychic (VIZ, $9.98) and Pokemon Elements, Vol. 8: Dragon (VIZ, $9.98).

Anime fans will be looking to add to their collections Blade of the Immortal, Vol. 3 (Media Blasters, $24.99) and Naruto Shippuden Collection 1 (VIZ, $49.99, $69.97 Special Edition).

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Fictory Animating Atomic Robo Short Film

The comic-book seriesAtomic Robo is being adapted into a short animated film by Pennsylvania-based Fictory.

The short film, titled Atomic Robo: Last Stop will be directed Joseph W. Krzemienski and will feature a new story inspired by the comics and done in CG animation.

The comic is the creation of writer Brian Clevinger, who wrote the first draft of the script, and artist Scott Wegener and is published by Canadian company Red 5 Comics. The series is described as a cross between Ghostbusters and Indiana Jones crossed with Nikola Tesla.

“While Atomic Robo: Last Stop isn't a direct adaptation, we've paid very close attention to the graphic novels and are determined to stay as true to the subject material as humanly possible. People love Robo too much for me to try and mess with the formula," said Krzemienski.

The Fictory is an awarding winning group based in Lancaster, Pa. Director Joseph W. Krzemienski leads a team of artists in the creation of animated films. The Fictory is sister studio to Postage, Inc. which covers most of the studio’s commercial work.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Toei Signs Latin American Deals for Dragon Ball, Digimon

Toei Animation has completed at NATPE deals that will bring popular anime series Dragon Ball and Digimon to Latin America.

Chile’s Megavision TV picked up the broadcast rights to Dragon Ball, while Rede TV in Brazil grabbed Digimon Frontier.

Additionally, DVD rights to Digimon Adventures were dealt to Five Stars in Brazil.

“We are delighted to have signed these contracts with our Latin American customers and we are looking forward to a long and productive relationship with them,” said Eduardo Lucio, sales manager for Latin America.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Kavaleer’s Garth & Bev Move to Cbeebies

Dublin-based Kavaleer Productions’ new animated series Garth & Bev has been picked up by the BBC’s Cbeebies. A co-pro between Kavaleer and Canada’s Copernicus Studios, the toon began its run on the BBC January 15 at 7:20 a.m.

Targetting four to seven-year-olds, the series follows the adventures of Garth and his sister Bev who can travel anywhere in time with a little help from their druid grandfather Lir. At the heart of the series lies the idea that nature is the primary source for invention, creativity and problem solving. Garth and Bev debuted on Ireland’s RTE in November of 2009 and secured a 33% share of the viewing audience.

“This charming series will answers questions for our youngest viewers through narrative and a little bit of magic!” says Kay Benbow, CBeebies head of production, animation and acquisitions. “I am sure the CBeebies audience will love following Garth and Bev as they travel through time making exciting discoveries.”

Garth & Bev was created by Kavaleer CEO, Andrew Kavanagh who also acted as executive producer of the show. Series is produced by Gary Timpson and directed by Stuart Shankly. For more info, visit www.kavaleer.com

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Mondo TV Adopts Puppy in My Pocket

Mondo TV Group is wagging its tail for toy property Puppy in My Pocket. The Italian toon powerhouse is producing an animated TV show based on Puppy, in conjunction with the creator, Giochi Preziosi. With an estimated budget of $7.3 million, the series will be co-produced with MEG and Preziosi and distributed by Mondo TV in Italy and abroad.

A new toyline will also be introduced in time for the launch of the animated 52 X 13 series, which is scheduled for Christmas of 2010 in Spain and Italy. Puppy in My Pocket (Cuccioli Cerca Amici) was first introduced in the early 1990s and has found a global following, especially in Italy where it is a leading toy property. Based in Rome, Mondo TV oversees one of the largest animation libraries in Europe with over 1,600 episodes of TV shows and 75 animated features, including Kim, Gladiators, Monsters and Pirates, Lupo Alberto, Angel’s Friends and Virus Attack For more info, visit mondotv.it.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Ballantine to Lead Flying Bark Studio

American animation veteran Jim Ballantine is the new managing director of Flying Bark Studio, the Australian animation studio of Studio 100. Ballantine succeeds Eric Claeys, who left for Australia over a year ago to carry out a one-year reorganization assignment.

Ballantine has held various management posts at Disney and Nickelodeon and exec produced Bambi 2 and Brother Bear 2 and worked on numerous animated features including The Little Mermaid and The Rescuers Down Under. He also produced The Ren & Stimpy Show for Nickelodeon. He comes to Flying Bark after a two-year stint as creative producer for Animation Lab in Israel.

Flying Bark Studio is currently putting the finishing touches to the 26-part half-hour series, Enyo, in co-production with its Danish partner Funkhauser Films. The second series of the successful Dive Olly Dive, a co-production with Mike Young Productions, is also nearing completion. Also on the studio’s pipeline is Santa’s Apprentice, an animated c feature co-produced with French studio Alphanim, slated for Christmas 2010. A relaunch of Blinky Bill, the cartoon icon of Australia, with a full-length feature film and a series of 26 episodes, is also in the works for 2010.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Doug TenNapel Talk about Storytelling

Comic and animation creator Doug TenNapel (Earthworm Jim, Catscratch) spoke earlier this month at the Art Institute Inland Empire about the topic of “Telling Your Story Through Art.” The 52-minute lecture is below. I haven’t watched it yet, but I know that TenNapel’s unique perspective on things is often very entertaining.

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Shatner to Host Annie Awards

The Annie Awards are setting their phasers on stun, having tapped William Shatner to host its 37th annual awards ceremony.

Shatner is best known as the original Captain James T. Kirk from the Star Trek TV series, animated series and movie franchise. He also has won two Emmys for playing eccentric attorney Denny Crane on The Practice and Boston Legal.

Shatner also has one Annie Award nomination, for his role as The Mayor in the series Osmosis Jones.

The Annie Awards, presented by ASIFA-Hollywood, honor the year’s best achievements in animation.

The black-tie ceremony, which includes a pre-reception and post-awards party, is set for Feb. 6 at UCLA’s Royce Hall.

Information on tickets can be found online at www.annieawards.org.

You can catch William Shatner in his own animated YouTube series, The Gavones here:

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Up Takes PGA Toon Award

The Disney-Pixar film Up added another notch to its awards belt by taking home the Producers Guild of America award for best animated feature.

Up beat out 9, Coraline, Fantastic Mr. Fox and The Princess and the Frog to take the honor.

The movie also was one of ten nominated for best picture, an award that went to the Iraq war drama The Hurt Locker.

The evening also saw the presentation to John Lasseter, chief creative officer at Pixar and Disney Animation Studios, of the David O. Selznick Achievement Award in Motion Pictures. Lasseter was given a standing ovation at the event, which saw stars such as Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Randy Newman and Sarah McLaughlin perform tunes from various Pixar films.

Lasseter is the first producer to win the honor for animation.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Moonscoop Secures New Slots for Chloe's Closet

New European broadcasters, including France Television, have signed on to air Moonscoop's animated preschool series Chloe's Closet.

Disney Channel and Playhouse Disney Spain were also among the new pickups. These channels join the U.K.'s GMTV, Playhouse Disney France, CBeebies Latin America, oktv of Singapore and TFO of Canada, among others, in acquiring the series. Chloe's Closet is produced in HD 2D animation. The story follows an imaginative little girl who discovers new worlds while playing dress-up in her closet.

Lionel Marty, the president of worldwide sales at Moonscoop, said: “We’ve seen a fantastic response to Chloe’s Closet from broadcasters all over the globe, and we’re pleased to be strengthening the European presence of the series with these deals in key territories.”

Run rabbit run: James Marsden joining "I Hop" cast

James Marsden has been signed to star opposite Russell Brand in movie comedy I Hop, a hybrid of computer animation and live action.

Co-produced by Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures, I Hop features Fred, a jobless slacker (played by Marsden) who injures the Easter Bunny (voiced by Brand) by mistake. As the rabbit recovers, Fred must take him in -- much to his regret, as he learns that the Easter Bunny doesn't make for the greatest houseguest. Eventually, the two learn the meaning of maturity.

I Hop's United States premiere is scheduled for April Fool's Day 2011 -- no fooling.

Director Tim Hill has experience with animated-live action hybrids, having helmed Garfield: A Tail Of Two Kitties (2006) and Alvin And The Chipmunks (2007). He was also a writer for 2004's The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie.

Marsden's last appearance was in Richard Kelly's The Box.

The actor appears in two upcoming remakes. He'll be in Neil LaBute's version of the 2007 British ensemble comedy Death at a Funeral, slated for release April 16. And Marsden stars in Straw Dogs, Rod Lurie's revamping of the 1971 Sam Peckinpah thriller, planned to come out in February 2011.

First Images from Cars 2, Toy Story 3

Walt Disney's newest Annual Report to its shareholders has more than financial data- it includes the first images from the next two Disney/PIXAR films. The first is concept art for Pixar's Cars 2 featuring Lightning McQueen in Tokyo, Japan with Mount Fuji in the background. The sequel, scheduled to hit theaters on June 24, 2011. The Annual Report also included an image from Toy Story 3, featuring Jessie, Buzz and Woody.

Both images are posted on the Additional IMages pages of the respective films.

Briefly: Plasticine in the UK; Gaiman to Guest on "Arthur"

* The BBC has taken a quick look at the contribution of plasticine to the work of Aardman Animation Studios, noting that the inventor of plasticine was William Harbutt of Bath, who invented it in 1897.

* Writer Neil Gaiman has stated in his weblog that he will be guest-starring in an episode of the PBS Kids cartoon Arthur.

Detailed Cast, Crew List For "Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths" Animated Feature

The World's Finest has a look at the full cast and primary crew list for the upcoming direct-to-video Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths animated feature.

The complete voice cast rundown and primary crew details for the Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths direct-to-video animated feature, as listed in the official credits for the direct-to-video animated feature, are as follows below.

William Baldwin as Batman
Mark Harmon as Superman
Chris Noth as Lex Luthor
Gina Torres as Superwoman
James Woods as Owlman
Jonathan Adams as J'Onn J'Onzz
Briam Bloom as Ultraman
Bruce Davison as President Wilson
Josh Keaton as Flash
Vanessa Marshall as Wonder Woman
Nolan North as Green Lantern
Freddi Rogers as Rose Wilson
James Patrick Stuart as Johnny Quick
Carlos Alazraqui as Breakdance
Richard Green as Jimmy Olsen
Jim Meskimen as Captain Super
Andrea Romano as Watchtower Computer
Bruce Timm as Uncle Super
Kari Wuhrer as Model Citizen
Cedric Yarbrough as Firestorm

Voice Direction by Andrea Romano
Editor Margaret Hou
Music by James L. Venable
Additional Music by Christopher Drake
Themes by Christopher Drake
Executive Producer Sam Register
Producer Bruce Timm, Bobbie Page
Co-Producer Alan Burnett
Written by Dwayne McDuffie
Directed by Sam Liu, Lauren Montgomery
Main Title Animation by Peter Girardi Wutitis Inc.
Animation by Moi Animation Studio

A co-production of Warner Premiere, DC Comics and Warner Bros. Animation, the direct-to-video Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths animated feature debuts February 23rd, 2010 on DVD and Blu-ray disc.

Craste and STUDIOaka Kick Off BBC’s Olympics Coverage

The 2010 Winter Olympics start up in Vancouver on February 12th, and the BBC has ordered up a little animation to help kick it off. Marc Craste at STUDIOaka crafted this powerful short that features Akiak’s “quest to find the missing head of Ilanaaq.” To find out exactly what that means, watch the short, then head over to the BBC website for a read.

Hitier Animated Promo For Forum des Images

For the upcoming Forum des Images event in Paris, Sabine Hitier directed this stylish promotional short. She helps announce Tout-Petits Cinéma, an event aimed at children 1 1/2 to 4 years old.

via fousdanim.org

Brace Yourself – Salty Returns in Knorr Ads

Sad little Salty sprinkled our hearts with his magic charm dust last year in a spot directed by David Hicks from Sons & Daughters. The little guy is back in a new series of spots for Sidekicks meals, which urge us to consider our salt intake – a topic that’s made news in NYC recently. This one is titled Neck Brace:

Joseph Gordon-Levitt Had 'Cool Conversations' With Marc Webb About 'Spider-Man'

In the days since Marc Webb become the directorial heir to Sam Raimi's big screen "Spider-Man" franchise, online speculation has suggested Webb could turn to some familiar talent to fill the shoes—and the spandex—of Peter Parker: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, whom he directed in "(500) Days of Summer."

On that particular rumor, Gordon-Levitt didn't have much to say when he stopped by MTV News' Sundance suite. Literally. The 28-year-old actor would only offer a series of shrugs and sly grins when the topic of taking over the role of Parker came up (hit play on the video and make of that body language what you will).

Gordon-Levitt was considerably more forthcoming when it came to the subject of Webb's take on the franchise. "I've had some really cool conversations about what he wants to do with it, and I think it's going to be a really good movie," he said.

Not everyone is as convinced. A few days earlier at Sundance, James Franco told us he's worried that not enough time has passed between the earlier franchise—starring himself and Tobey Maguire as Parker—and perhaps for the "viewers you want a little space so you can get the other stuff out of your head."

But Gordon-Levitt, who was nominated for a Golden Globe for his turn in "(500) Days," maintained that plucking Webb for "Spider-Man" was a brilliant move on the part of Marvel Studios and Columbia Pictures.

"I think it's the smartest thing they could have done because movies like that are good when they're not just big action movies, but when they have a humanity to them and a heart, like 'The Dark Knight' and 'Iron Man,' " he explained. "And Marc Webb, it's what he did with '(500 Days of Summer.' It's not just a romantic comedy, it's about two unique human beings, and it has a heart to it. I think he's going to make a really good movie."

Ryan Reynolds Knows Green Lantern Oath, Won't Recite It On 'National Internet'

In brightest day of Sundance's fog, does Ryan Reynolds know Green Lantern's song? That's the question that MTV News put to the "Green Lantern" star during the Sundance Film Festival this weekend — and sadly, the answer is sure to disappoint fans of the DC Comics franchise.

While Reynolds insisted that he knows the Green Lantern Oath by heart, the actor refused to recite it when requested by MTV's Josh Horowitz.

"I'm not doing the oath for you on national internet," Reynolds declared, staring directly into the camera's lens. "Of course I know the Oath — the Oath is very simple — but no, Josh, I'm absolutely not doing it."

If he knows the Oath, what's the problem? Did Reynolds suddenly have a brief case of stage fright? Was it a matter of the soon-to-be Hal Jordan coming down with vertigo? Perhaps it's simply a matter of contractual issues.

"It probably is, but I don't actually read the contracts," the actor joked. "I just show up where they tell me to."

Informed that his refusal would likely incite skepticism from the online fan community, Reynolds revealed that there are life-or-death stakes involved should he decide to recite the Oath.

"If I do that, some Warner Bros. snowstorm ninja is going to jump out of somewhere and stab me with my own sharpened bones," he said.

'One Tree Hill' Actor Rob Buckley Wants To Wield Captain America's 'First Avenger' Shield

Does Captain America hail from Tree Hill, North Carolina? If "One Tree Hill" actor Rob Buckley has his way, he just might.

In an interview with Popeater (relevant portions of the transcript seem to only be available on Geek Week at the moment), Buckley revealed his rarely spoken passion for comic books and related culture, including his affinity for Marvel's star-spangled superhero. During the conversation, the actor declared his desire to play Steve Rogers in "The First Avenger: Captain America."

"Well, hands down I would be Captain America," he said. "Yeah, it's kind of a no contest right there."

Perhaps Buckley is a better fit for Bucky, being just a few letters off from Cap's sidekick and eventual successor. But even if Buckley was passed on his desire to wield the shield, there are plenty of other comic book characters in the sea.

"Having said that, there are so many great books out there, that I'm going to go ahead and just... if Captain America didn't work out, there are a bevy of good choices out there," he said.

Two choices he won't be able to pursue are Hal Jordan in "Green Lantern" and Wade Wilson in "Deadpool," due to the fact that Ryan Reynolds is already playing both characters.

"How selfish is that," laughed Buckley. "He'd better have been chubby and awkward as a kid reading comic books while other kids were riding bikes and being cool, because otherwise that is just way too selfish for a good looking cool kid."

EXCLUSIVE: Martin Campbell Explains How Much Of 'Green Lantern' Will Occur In Space

Much of the current "Green Lantern" speculation focuses on whether Hector Hammond or Sinestro will be the first film's central villain, but there's another question fans are asking these days, too: how much of the movie is set in space?

Given the intergalactic setting of the "Green Lantern" mythology, it's a virtual certainty that the upcoming DC Comics adaptation will spend some time amongst the stars, but just how much otherworldly screen time we'll see remains up in the air.

While the "Edge of Darkness" director didn't have an exact percentage of the balance between space scenes and earthbound events, director Martin Campbell told MTV News that there would be plenty of action spent outside of Earth's orbit.

"I don't know what the percentage is, but there's quite a bit in space," said the director in an exclusive interview. "The initial trip up there, the training sessions he has to go through in order to become a Green Lantern. Then, of course at the end, he goes back up to Oa again."

That's not to say that "Green Lantern" won't spend significant time on Earth. If Hector Hammond is the film's central villain, there's bound to be a strong focus on the character's exploits on our planet. Further, Carol Ferris isn't likely to reach outer orbit — certainly not without the aid of Ryan Reynolds' Hal Jordan.

"There are a couple of bits [on Earth] in between [the space scenes]," said Campbell. "I think there will be enough [of a balance between space and Earth] to satisfy everybody."

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