Friday, January 29, 2010

News - 01/29/10...

Avatar Shoots for Seven; Panic Opens in L.A.

Will weekend No. 7 be lucky enough for Avatar to hang onto its crown yet again?

Avatar enters the weekend having claimed the crown of the world’s highest-grossing movie of all time. Attempting to knock it down a peg or two are two major new releases Edge of Darkness and When in Rome.

Darkness is a Warner Bros. thriller starring Mel Gibson that opens in more than 3,000 cinemas. When in Rome is a romantic comedy starring Kristin Bell and Josh Duhamel from Buena Vista that will screen in some 2,400 facilities.

Holdovers The Book of Eli and Legion also remain in the mix.

A Town Called Panic

Animation fans in the Los Angeles area will surely be interested in the Belgian film A Town Called Panic, which opens Friday at the NuArt Cinema and continues through Thursday only. Based on the cult TV series of the same name, the film has earned glowing reviews.

A Town Called Panic

Directed by Stephane Aubier and Vincent Patar, this feature-length stop-motion romp follows the adventures of plastic toys Cowboy, Indian and Horse who were introduced in Le Parti’s TV series of the same name in 2002. In the movie, Cowboy and Indian’s plan to surprise Horse with a homemade birthday gift backfires when they destroy his house instead. Last year, the movie was the toast of numerous festivals around the world, including Cannes, Annecy, AFI and Toronto.

The film, which is in contention for this year’s Oscar for Best Animated Feature, is playing at different times at different independent theaters across the country. A list of currently planned play dates for the film can be found online at:

A Town Called Panic

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Pigeon: Impossible hits YouTube

In production for over four years, Lucas Martell’s six-minute animated short Pigeon: Impossible has finally been posted to YouTube in its high definition entirety. Since May 2008, Martell has been posting monthly podcasts on the making of his film – about a “rookie secret agent faced with a problem seldom covered in basic training: what to do when a curious pigeon gets trapped inside your multimillion dollar, government-issued nuclear briefcase” – on his own channel, and now the very polished end result, complete with a Giacchino-styled musical score performed by a live orchestra, can be viewed in 360p, 480p or 720p HD alongside all 19 installments of his behind the scenes podcast.

Lucas Reportedly Planning CG-Animated Musical

Star Wars creator George Lucas is reportedly working on a CG-animated feature film that will feature fairy creatures, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

While Lucasfilm told the trade it was too early to reveal details on the project, the Reporter states the film is in preproduction and will be directed by Kevin Munroe, who helmed 2007’s CG-animated TMNT.

The script is reportedly by Elf and Spiderwick Chronicles writer David Berenbaum.

Lucas is finishing up work on Red Tails, a World War II film about the Tuskegee Airmen that he wrote and executive produced.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Seth MacFarlane to Host WGA’s West Coast Awards Show

Family Guy creator and all-around animation mogul Seth MacFarlane will host the 2010 Writers Guild Awards’ West Coast ceremony.

“I’m honored and humbled to be chosen as host of the WGAW awards,” says MacFarlane, who also is co-creator, executive producer and voice actor on American Dad! and The Cleveland Show. “I look forward to catching up with my strike buddies from 2007, and making some new strike buddies for 2011.”

“Everyone knows his extraordinary voiceover talents, but we’re only beginning to see him as a versatile live performer. He can sing, dance, spin plates … and we’re going to put him to work,” said WGAW show executive producer Spike Jones Jr.

The bicoastal awards ceremony is set for Feb. 20, with the West Coast edition to be held at the Hyatt Regency Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Okun Re-Elected Chairman of VES

Jeffrey Okun has been re-elected chairman of the board of directors for the Visual Effects Society.

Okun, whose credits include films from 1984’s The Last Starfighter through the recent remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still, will serve his second one-year term as chairman.

“I am honored to have been re-elected chair of the VES,” states Okun. “This is a pivotal year for the VES and I am pleased to lead our community of artists as their talents and influence are recognized within our industry across the board – in film, broadcast, special venue, commercials, games and animation!”

Also elected at last week’s meeting are VES founding member and PDI founder Carl Rosendahl as first vice chair; Richard Winn Taylor II, creative director of yU+Co, as second vice chair; Digital Arts Agency president Bob Coleman as treasurer; and Pam Hogarth, director of industry relations at the Gnomon School of Visual Effects, as secretary.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Kidvid Exec Carrington Leaves BBC for Turner

Michael Carrington is leaving his post at BBC to oversee all original series, co-productions and acquisitions for Turner Broadcasting’s children’s channels in the United Kingdom, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Currently controller of CBeebies for the BBC in the U.K., Carrington will take the title of chief content officer EMEA and replaces Finn Arneson, who left in October. He will assume the role in April, taking over from interim CCO Tina McCann.

Carrington has been with BBC since 2004 and in his post with CBeebies since 2006. During his stint, he has helped transform CBeebies into a multimedia brand. He also commissioned such programs as Charlie and Lola, In the Night Garden and Big & Small.

“Turner Broadcasting is renowned for its exciting production slate, world-class children’s channels and strong audience connections,” says Carrington. “It’s a tremendous opportunity and challenge to be asked to lead content development and original production and sustain Turner’s position as a leading children’s entertainment company. I’m really excited by the possibilities.”

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Feathers Fly in For The Birds Controversy

A bit of animation controversy was recently stirred up over at The issue is creative theft – and whether or not Pixar borrowed from a CalArts student. Stevie Wermers (now Stevie Wermers-Skelton), who recently worked as a visual development artist on The Princess and the Frog, was a first year student at CalArts. Back in 1993 when she produced Small Fry, a 2D short about birds on a wire. I’ll let Stevie explain the rest…

I made a student film at Cal Arts shown at the producers show attended several representatives from Pixar and Disney. My film won first place among over fifty other student films presented at the show. Pixar and Disney both cast votes for the best films of the show so I believe they have to have seen and enjoyed my film. A few years later I watched Monster’s Inc. and to my stunned surprise (Ralph Eggleston’s) For the Birds came on as a short before the film.

I’m not sure why this issue arose now, 10 years after the release of the Pixar short, but it’s interesting nonetheless. You’ve probably read about the Lion King/Kimba the White Lion controversy, and I don’t doubt creative theft, intentional or not does occur. That being said, there’s only so many truly original ideas out there, and I repeatedly see unintentional animated doppelgangers pop up all around the world. The audience at RottenTomatoes voted 2 to 1 in favor of Pixar – what’s your take? Sour grapes or a creative crime?

Small Fry

For the Birds

Organizing New Animated Series

David Spade is getting into animation.

TBS is partnering with David Spade to develop an animated version of his film "Joe Dirt."

The pilot script deal calls for the comic actor, Sony Pictures Television and Happy Madison Prods. to collaborate on a series following a
"mullet-sporting, muscle-car-loving loser with a heart of gold." ... This marks TBS' third animated project following Fox TV and DreamWorks' "Neighbors from Hell," and Lionsgate and Olive Prods.' "Good and Evel." ...

I've noticed of late that there is a lot of new product being made out there, some of it under a TAG contract, a bunch of it not.

For instance, when Sony was doing Sit Down, Shut Up last year, they didn't bother to send it to their in-house animation studio Sony Adelaide, but shipped it to Rough Draft, where it was done under a union contract reserved for some but not all of the jobs Rough Draft (Glendale) does stateside.

The last couple of years, Rough Draft has done the fine Fox/News Corp. animated series Futurama non-union, even as the writers and actors on that show were protected with WGA and SAG contracts.

How can this be?

The answer is sad yet simple. Rough Draft has its "union" and "non-union" sides, so that it can sub-contract work from the entertainment conglomerates under a variety of banners. "Non union" if they've got lower budgets; "union" if they've got higher budgets or some of the work is being done under a TAG agreement elsewhere (you can't split payroll on a project without getting into legal trouble. The work has to be on the union or non-union side of the fence; you can't be on both sides at once.)

Just now, there's a variety of work being done for the conglomerates around and about town: non-union Wild Brain, down from San Francisco, has been doing a Peanuts project tied to Time-Warner without benefit of a TAG contract, and they will shortly (my spies tell me) be doing a Hasbro project; the non-union facility Bento Box is doing Neighbors From Hell (a joint Fox and DreamWorks Animation project) and could soon be doing Bob's Burgers, yet another project from Fox/News Corp.

All of these television spectaculars have lots of TAG members working on them, and none pay TAG pension and health benefits, because no company has much interest in paying more money when they can get away with paying less. It's the way capitalism, even the pseudo-capitalism practiced in this country, generally works.

Unless and until the artists working at these places decide they want more rather than less, lower benefits and wages are what they'll get.

Happily, of late I've gotten a number of phone calls from pissed off artists who are not happy to be working without benefit of contract. Said one:

"You know, DreamWorks has brought in a bunch of artists to work on this project we're doing, they've got DreamWorks executives serving as producers, and we're all sitting here working unpaid overtime and getting skim milk benefits. Where are the rep cards?"

(Full disclosure: I gave him some cards.)

To let you know, we are presently working to organize a number of studios sub-contracting work from the majors. I always say: "Everyone works for the Big Boys anyway, you might as well get Motion Picture Industry Pension and Health Benefits while you're doing it." Whether we get enough representation cards ... and enough support ... to nudge these various job shops into signing TAG agreements remains to be seen.

But we're working on it. And we'll keep you informed about what's going on.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Details On Soundtrack Score Release For Lauded "Wonder Woman” Animated Feature

The World's Finest has a first look at artwork, the track list, and release date details for the highly-anticipated soundtrack score release to the acclaimed direct-to-video Wonder Woman animated feature.

Representatives for both La-La Land Records and WaterTower Music, formally New Line Records, have confirmed the score soundtrack to the direct-to-video Wonder Woman animated feature will be released on both compact disc and as a digital download. WaterTower Music will have Wonder Woman – Soundtrack From the DC Universe Animated Original Movie available to own as a digital download through iTunes beginning February 23rd, 2010, with La-La Land Records releasing a special limited-edition compact disc release on March 9th, 2010. Copies of this limited edition CD release will be available through the La-La Land Records website and other online supporting soundtrack specialty stores. The score for the animated feature is composed by Christopher Drake. Cover art and track details for the upcoming soundtrack score release, provided by WaterTower Music, are available below. Click on the thumbnail above for a closer look at the cover art.

Wonder Woman – Soundtrack From the DC Universe Animated Original Movie
Music Composed by Christopher Dake

1. The Battle / Origins
2. Sparring
3. Ares Imprisoned
4. Dog Fight, Part I
5. Dog Fight, Part II
6. Crash Landing
7. Manhunt
8. Let The Games Begin
9. Persophonie's Betrayal
10. Bracelets and Arrows
11. Computer Room
12. Alley Thugs
13. Demios
14. At The Gates Of Tartarus
15. Cept Hemo Laudus
16. Hades
17. Ospedale and Ares Rally
18. DC Battle
19 Ares' End
20. She Misses Him
21. A New Nemesis
22. Wonder Woman End Titles

Wonder Woman – Soundtrack From the DC Universe Animated Original Movie will be available to own as a digital download through iTunes beginning February 23rd, 2010, with a special limited-edition CD release from La-La Land Records to follow on March 9th, 2010.

Little person, big actress: Zelda Rubinstein dies

Diminutive character actress Zelda Rubinstein, the voice of Atrocia in The Frankenstones segment of 1980's The Flintstone Comedy Show, died early Wednesday at Barlow Respiratory Hospital in Los Angeles of natural causes. She was 76.

Rubinstein was hospitalized at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center about two months ago after suffering a mild heart attack, her agent, Eric Stevens, told the Los Angeles Times: "She had ongoing health issues, and unfortunately, they finally overtook her."

The 4'3" performer with the childlike voice was taken off life support at Cedars-Sinai on December 29 after several of her organs failed.

She was heard in TV-movies as the voice of the psychiatrist in The Flintstones: On the Rocks (2001) and Ralph's mother in The Mouse And The Motorcycle (1986). In the latter, she acted alongside another little person, Billy Barty (the voice of Uncle Lester).

In Grudge Match, a 1999 Hey Arnold! episode, she voiced Patty's mother. And she was Negaduck's mother in the 1991 Darkwing Duck episode The Secret Origins Of Darkwing Duck.

In live action, she was, perhaps, best known as clairvoyant Tangina in the Poltergeist films. In the first of the series, she was called in to rid a suburban home of demonic forces.

Her role earned her a Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1983 for Poltergeist and a 1990 nomination in the same category for Poltergeist III.

Born in Pittsburgh on May 28, 1933, she was a medical lab technician before beginning her acting career in her 40s. She debuted in movies as one of the little people in the 1981 Chevy Chase comedy Under the Rainbow. Later, she became a regular as Ginny Weedon on TV's Picket Fences.

An advocate for little people, she was an early AIDS activist. She told the Los Angeles Times in 1985 that she was trying to find a way to get involved in the fight against AIDS when she was asked to play the mother in the L.A. CARES (Los Angeles Cooperative AIDS Risk-Reduction Education Service) campaign, launched early that year.

In TV public service announcements, she portrayed the mother begging with an unseen son to "play safely." In videos produced for screening in gay bars, her sons appeared as bare-chested young men. The campaign also featured a series of ads in newspapers and on billboards and buses.

One ad had the words "Don't forget your rubbers" at the top. Rubinstein was depicted wearing an apron and talking to her son, who was wearing only shorts and holding an umbrella. "L.A. CARES . . . like a mother," the message at the botom read.

A friend of Rubinstein's died of AIDS the same day that she was asked to do the campaign.

"She was one of the very first Hollywood celebrities to speak out on HIV and AIDS," said Craig E. Thompson, executive director of AIDS Project Los Angeles. "It was the first AIDS education and prevention campaign in Los Angeles and one of the very first in the United States."

Calls to the organization's hotline "skyrocketed after the campaign came out," he added.

She was in the movies Frances, Sixteen Candles, Teen Witch, Anguish and Southland Tales.

Her part as Tangina in director Tobe Hooper's Poltergeist was written expressly for a little person. Co-writer Steven Spielberg, was also a producer.

"I thought it would be neat to show that someone's size had nothing to do with her psychic powers," Spielberg told the Los Angeles Times in 1982. "Good things can come in small packages, and that's certainly true of Zelda."

"Do y'all mind hanging back? You're jamming my frequencies," her character said while touring the house after the young daughter disappeared through a white light in her bedroom closet.

Rubinstein said she hoped Poltergeist would raise awareness of little people in show business. "Because I was born mouth first, it's natural for me to be a spokesperson," she laughed in a 1982 People magazine interview.

She became an activist on the set of Under the Rainbow, where little people portraying Munchkins were given comic-relief parts.

"It's absolutely despicable. You're not an actor if you're just a person that fits into a cute costume. You're a prop."

Following the movie, she formed the Los Angeles-based Michael Dunn Memorial Repertory Theater Company, a non-profit group made up of little people. She told the 16 actors in her company: "Become an actor and your world will get much bigger."

Rubinstein was the youngest of three children and the only little person in the family. She was called "Pigeon" by her classmates. "There was something attached to the nickname that froze me," she told People.

She "had a rough childhood, [but] I became very verbally facile.... I learned to meet everyone head-on," she told the Chicago Sun-Times in a 1992 interview.

Finally, as an adult, she came to terms with her sice. "I just decided it was a very interesting variation. I just consider myself rather condensed."

Rubinstein attended the University of California, earning a bacteriology degree at the University of Pittsburgh after winning a scholarship. For years, she worked as a lab technician in blood banks before becoming an actress. "I had to do something creative. It was an internal feeling that I was sabotaging myself," she told People.

She recalled that her first agent would send her on casting calls for dancing soup cans and happy pumpkins.

"I couldn't and wouldn't do those parts, which would have been degrading for anyone," she told the Los Angeles Times in 1982. "I began to emotionally armor myself for what I knew I had to do, and how very lonely out there it was going to be."

Zelda Rubinstein had no immediate surviving family members.

No funeral service is planned. However, a celebration of her life will be held at a later date.

Brittany Murphy's husband blames WB for her death

Blaming Brittany Murphy's firing from the sequel to "Happy Feet" for her sudden passing December 20 at 32, the actress's husband is "only days away" from filing a wrongful-death action against Warner Brothers, an online-only entertainment site reported Wednesday.

"She was devastated. They killed her," Simon Monjack said in an interview with The Daily Beast, a Web site run by former New Yorker editor Tina Brown.

Two weeks before she died, the studio fired her from Happy Feet 2, where she was to repeat her role as baby penguin Gloria, said Monjack, a screenwriter, director and producer.

Monjack and Murphy's mother Sharon told Daily Beast interviewer Gerald Posner that they're "convinced" that Murphy -- who also was the voice of Luanne Platter on King Of The Hill -- died of a heart attack from stress caused by the studio's cancellation of her contract. However, the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office has not released a final cause of death.

Murphy had said that she was "more than excited" about plans to fly to Sydney with actor Elijah Wood to begin production on the sequel to the 2006 hit animated feature film Happy Feet.

A month before being fired from Warner Brothers, the actress had been released from The Caller, a film shooting in Puerto Rico. She was replaced with Twilight star Rachelle Lefevre.

"It's a cruel town," said Monjack. "Warner Brothers relied on conjecture and hearsay about the Puerto Rico film for why they canceled Brittany's role in Happy Feet. You're disposable as an actress or actor."

Cartoon drugs not aimed at kids, smuggler claims

Sentenced last week in federal court to five years in prison for attempted drug smuggling, James DeShawn Riggins denies that he meant to harm young people with pills shaped like cartoon characters.

But Riggins, of the Seattle suburb of Mercer Island, Washington, admits that he was carrying drugs that look like Bart Simpson, Snoopy, the Smurfs and the Transformers -- as well as a real-life personality, President Barack Obama.

"Everybody watches cartoons. All my adult friends," Riggins told Seattle NBC affiliate KING-TV. "But yeah, they will appeal to kids, but that wasn't my intention. "If any kids have taken drugs of this kind, it wasn't from me directly."

Riggins called the station's news department after it reported Friday on his sentencing for smuggling the club drug BZP, also known as "bennies," to the United States from Canada. The drug is a less potent relative of ecstasy.

Hundreds of thousands of pills were sent across the border.

"They're making me look like the devil right now. This is crazy. I got to clear this up. That's when I called you," said Riggins.

"Stuff gets around. It's not my intention for it to get to kids," said Riggins, saying that he doesn't like being called a drug dealer who targets youngsters.

Last year, Riggins was arrested when border agents found a hidden compartment under his truck bed. "I designed that truck. I designed and built it myself," he said.

Although "bennies" are legal in Canada, federal agents think that he smuggled in such stronger drugs as ecstasy as well. Said Riggins: "I have no comment on that."

Sixteen-year-old Danielle McCarthy, of the Seattle suburb of Puyallup, Washington, died on New Year's Eve after an overdose of ecstasy. Her friend, Tia Jensen, doesn't accept Riggins' assertion that he never sold drugs to young people himself.

"He is responsible, because he's the one that's smuggling it into here and who's selling it to people who are selling it to kids."

Responded Riggins: "I understand. I probably did cause heartache and people to become addicts by my works (sic)."

Riggins contends that he's really a good person, but that he turned outlaw when the economic downturn hurt his printing business.

However, in court documents, federal authorities say that his circumstances were different. They allege that he was a major part of a large drug network, and that he had no legitimate source of income.

Sylvain Chomet’s The Illusionist Debuts in February

The Illusionist, the long-awaited follow-up feature from Sylvain Chomet (The Triplets of Belleville), will debut next month at the Berlin International Film Festival. This article from Scotland’s The Herald confirms that the hand-drawn film is Scotland’s most expensive film production ever, with a budget “significantly north of £10 million.” In US dollars, that works out to a modest $16 million, which would be considered a bargain by most studios. According to the article, the film was made primarily in Edinburgh at Chomet’s Django Films, with further work done by in Dundee, Scotland and another studio in Paris. Personally, I’ve heard that to get the film done, they farmed out large parts to service studios, including around forty minutes of assistant animation and clean-up to Sunwoo in South Korea.

To take advantage of Scottish film incentives, Chomet transposed the film’s action from Paris to Edinburgh and the Western Isles, which according to one person interviewed by The Herald, isn’t necessarily a bad thing:

Film-maker and critic Mark Cousins, who helped Chomet set up his Edinburgh studio, has seen several extracts of the film. “We should be very excited about The Illusionist,” he said. “Even though it wasn’t originally set in Scotland, the end result really is quite Scottish. It has a real feel of the marmalade and bracken colour of Mull in the autumn. The screenplay was one of the best that I’ve seen. This could be a classic of Scottish cinema.”

(Thanks, Martin Gornall and Florian Satzinger)

(Thanks cartoon brew)

See Through by Jokelate

We don’t see much independent animation from China - but you really need to see this one. After working on it alone for three years, a Chinese independent animator known as Jokelate has created this surreal anti-war themed animation titled See Through. It’s apparently a huge viral hit in China. It’s 16 minutes, uploaded in two parts on YouTube:

(Thanks, Yi Zhao)

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Send Your Love to Disney Legend Bill Justice

Bill Justice working on “A Symposium on Popular Songs.” From Miehana’s Flickr.

If you’re a fan of Disney legend Bill Justice, here’s your chance to show your appreciation. Disney historian Jim Korkis recently told

Bill Justice is getting ready to celebrate his 96th Birthday February 9th, but he’s been in a rehabilitation home for the last few years and visitation has been tightly restricted. A good friend of mine who is a talented Disney artist recently visited him and said Bill had difficulty remembering recent events but if the artist mentioned a name from the “Golden Age” of Disney, Bill perked up and his memories were clear as a bell.

Bill hasn’t been in the best of spirits so it has been requested that it would be nice for him to get some holidays cards and of course, some birthday cards, to let him know that he hasn’t been forgotten.

For those unfamiliar with Bill’s many accomplishments, he is probably best known for his animation on the characters Chip’n'Dale and for his early work programming audio-animatronics on such attractions as “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “Haunted Mansion”. He was the one who designed the recently closed attraction, the “Mickey Mouse Revue” and painted the huge mural of characters in Exposition Hall at Walt Disney World. Basically, his accomplishments were enough to fill a book…and they did in the limited edition self-published “Justice for Disney” book he authored. Bill has been a long time friend of the Disney fan community and has attended many conventions, cruise ship excursions, and other events often drawing Disney characters on paper plates and then tossing them like frisbees into the crowd.

It is being requested that Disney fans show their love by sending him a card or letter (remember that he won’t be able to respond or fill a request for artwork) and perhaps include a photo that may have been taken with him. Something to remind him of his impact and how he is still very much loved and appreciated.

Bill is one of the few remaining connections to people who actually worked with Walt and Bill’s contributions include not just animation but work at the Disney theme parks.

The address is:

Bill Justice
Arbor View Wellness & Rehabilitation Center
1338 20th Street
Santa Monica, CA 90404

(Thanks, Jason Groh)

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Chuck Jones Article by John Canemaker

This six-page article about Chuck Jones was written by John Canemaker in the late-1970s. I don’t remember how I got it or where the article was published (perhaps John can tell us himself), but I found the scans a few days ago and had to share them. Wouldn’t it be amazing if Chuck had written a book of drawing and animation advice like the kind that he shares with Canemaker in this piece?

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Saul Bass on Art and Commerce

(found via Alan Cook's page) --

Saul Bass:
"I want to make beautiful things, even if nobody cares"

This excerpt from a documentary about the legendary designer Saul Bass is worth watching several times. I haven't seen the whole documentary, but it now goes to the top of my list of DVD's to track down.

If you don't know who Saul Bass is you should find out.

You may have seen his title sequences on classic films and not been aware of his name:

(for a high-quality version of the Vertigo title sequence go to The Art of the Title Sequence web site: Art of the Title : Saul Bass titles for Vertigo

(Thanks David Nethery)

Hulk Confirmed For 'The Avengers,' But What About Edward Norton?

It's hardly a secret that Captain America, Iron Man and Thor will make up the core trio in "The Avengers," but is there room for the Hulk in Marvel's 2012 superhero team-up?

In an interview with SFX Magazine (posted by SuperHeroHype), Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige let the big, mean, green cat out of the bag, saying that the Hulk will indeed be a part of "The Avengers."

"It's three people — four including the Hulk; five including Nick Fury — who you've seen before in other movies, coming together for the first time," Feige explained of the roster for "The Avengers."

Feige's comments confirm what was widely speculated but can now be taken as official news, though it's still unknown whether or not the Hulk will be featured as a villain or as a member of the team. Also unclear is Edward Norton's involvement in the project, though Feige certainly hopes the actor will reprise his role as Bruce Banner.

"I think there's a chance," he said. "It's certainly our intention to use the same actors from film to film where we can."

Recently, "The Incredible Hulk" director Louis Leterrier told MTV News that he thinks Norton would return for another Marvel project if the material was worthwhile.

"If you find something interesting — yeah, I'm sure he would [be back]," he said. "He's a fanboy. He's as big a fanboy as you and me, maybe even more."

'Thor' To Be More Science Than Fantasy, Says Marvel Studios President

Fans that are worried about how the fantasy world of "Thor" and the high-tech reality of "Iron Man" will reconcile with one another, it turns out that there's nothing to fear — according to Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, "Thor" is more scientific in nature than you might initially think.

Superhero Hype caught an interview between Feige and SFX Magazine during which the Marvel executive spoke about "Thor" and its inclination towards science fiction rather than fantasy.

"We're not doing the blow-the-dust-off-of-the-old-Norse-book-in-your-library 'Thor,'" said Feige. "And in the 'Thor' of the Marvel Universe, there's a race called the Asgardians. And we're linked through this Tree of Life that we're unaware of. It's real science, but we don't know about it yet. The 'Thor' movie is about teaching people that."

Feige most likely isn't championing the existence of a true-to-life Tree of Life, but his comments are certainly revelatory towards the nature of "Thor." It's already known that the Kenneth Branagh-directed picture includes earthly characters such as Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and others, but getting the world of "Thor" to fit in with the more reality-based "Iron Man" universe seemed tricky to fans outside of Marvel's inner circle.

But the purported science fiction approach to "Thor" makes a bit more sense — in fact, it's eerily reminiscent to "Avatar," which seamlessly blended the lush fantasy world of Pandora with a thoughtful scientific logic to the moon's biology. If nothing else, Feige's words reinforce Brian Michael Bendis' previous assurances that "Thor" will easily coexist with "Iron Man" and "The First Avenger: Captain America."

"Having read the 'Captain America' movie script and the 'Thor' movie scripts and 'Iron Man 2' and everything, and seeing them all develop, nothing is more exciting to me than the 'Avengers' movie," said Bendis. "It's absolutely going to be something better than— different than—anything we've seen before."

How you can visit the real Pandora of Avatar

This mountain in China ...

If you're like the depressives who lament the fact that they can't actually download their consciousnesses into Na'vi aliens a la Avatar—or you'd simply like to see the landscape that inspired James Cameron's awe-inspiring Pandora—China wants you to know the real Pandora is in Hunan Province.

And they're renaming one of their mountains in honor of the movie.

... inspired these mountains in Avatar

The Daily Telegraph reports:

Tourism chiefs in central China have moved to cash in on the smash-hit popularity of James Cameron's sci-fi epic Avatar by renaming a peak the "Hallelujah Mountain" after the floating rocks in the film.

A 1,074-metre tall (3,523ft) column of rock in the Wulingyuan Scenic Zone in Hunan Province previously known as the Southern Sky Column was re-christened in a special ceremony this week involving hundreds of local people dressed in the region's ethnic Tujia costumes.

The park, a World Natural Heritage site, formed part of the inspiration for the floating mountains in the film, which this week officially become China's most popular film, grossing more than $100m at the box office.

Cameron's designers have acknowledged basing Pandora's floating mountains in part on the Chinese mountains.

"Pandora is far, but Zhangjiajie is near," Song Zhiguang, director of the Yuanjiajie Scenic Spot Administration, told the official Xinhua news agency. "Tourists are welcome to the 'Miracle tour to Avatar's floating mountains.'"

Are you ready to take a trip?

Tron Legacy light cycle races into our world

This model of the light cycle from ...

You know that model of the Tron Legacy light cycle we first glimpsed at Comic-Con, which was the basis of this concept test footage/trailer for the sequel?

... looks the same as this one we saw at Comic-Con last year

It's apparently making the promotional rounds on behalf of Toymaker Spin Master, which holds the license to toys from the upcoming follow-up to the classic 1982 sci-fi movie, according to

However, fans of the movie will be able to opt for a much smaller version in the autumn when it releases its new toy range of characters and vehicles.

The site snapped an image above of the touring cycle; click over to see more. You can check out our video from Comic-Con below as well.

Tron Legacy opens Dec. 17.

Could this be Daft Punk's new score for Tron Legacy?

One of the reasons we're psyched for the upcoming Tron Legacy movie, aside from the obvious, is that it will feature a score by the helmeted French electronic duo Daft Punk. So it's with great glee that we offer you what we think might be a new track from the sequel, below.

We heard a bit of Daft Punk from the Flynn's Arcade exhibit at last year's Comic-Con, and we've heard they also cameo in the movie in a club scene.

We haven't confirmed whether this really is from Tron Legacy, but whether or not this is an actual bit of score, we think it's creepy cool and very sci-fi, almost a Vangelis-in-Blade Runner vibe. What do you think? (Tron Legacy opens Dec. 17.)

(Thanks to UGO's Jordan Hoffman for the heads-up.)

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