Friday, February 26, 2010

News - 02/26/10...

Exclusive: Monsters, Inc. 2 A Go!

Monsters, Inc. was a huge hit for Pixar (kind of a dumb thing to say since all of their movies are hits) and Pete Doctor has been getting asked for a year now about a possible sequel. He's always skirted the question, but fans would love to see more adventures with Sully and Mike.

If you want, file this as a rumor for now, but I got wind from a very reliable source that Monsters, Inc. 2 IS in the production pipeline with a tentative release sometime in 2012-2013. Pixar is going sequel crazy with Toy Story 3 this year, Cars 2 in 2011, and Monsters, Inc. 2 hopefully hitting 2012, but an actual release date is a long way off so I'm just speculating.

No word on if Pete Doctor is going to be involved as a director or co-director on the project.

Like most studios when things are announced before they're ready to announce them, Disney/Pixar will probably deny it up and down (along with the websites who have nothing better to do than try and debunk our scoops). But from what I've been told, Monsters Inc. 2 is a go. The source is a very credible one in the Pixar know, so this is great news for Monsters, Inc. fans.

Now where is that Incredibles sequel?

(Thanks Latino Review)

Hero: 108 Begins Weekday Run on Cartoon Network

Fans who have been reading about the much-anticipated Moonscoop/Gamania animated series Hero: 108 in Animation Magazine for the past few years, will finally be able to enjoy the innovate toon as Cartoon Network U.S. will premiere the show on Monday, Feb. 28 at 7 a.m. The cabler will air 52 episodes of the show Mondays thru Friday.

Aimed at kids 6-11, Hero: 108 is the story of a group of young defenders set on ending a conflict between animals and humans in The Hidden Kingdom, caused by an evil villain called High Roller. The group is known as First Squadron, and includes the courageous Lin Chung (a.k.a. Panther Eye), Mighty Ray, Mystique Sonia and Jumpy Ghostface. Together, they battle fierce creatures such as fire-breathing ligers, magic lantern-wielding zebras and camels with really stinky spit.

Created by Gamania’s Phoenix Tarng, the show is loosely inspired by the 14th Century Chinese novel The Water Margin. Mike Young Productions and Kabillion CEO Bill Schulz and Rita Street (Radar Cartoons President) are the toon’s exec producers. Gamania’s Phoenix Tarng is show creator.

Gamania Digital Entertainment is launching a massively multiplayer online game this summer, while Playmates Toys is delivering an extensive toyline based on the property. For more info, visit or

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Star Cast Recruited for A Monster in Paris

Adam Goldberg, Jay Harrington, Danny Huston, Bob Balaban and Catherine O’Hara are among the voice talent signed up for director Bibo Bergeron’s much-anticipated period feature A Monster in Paris.

Written by Stephane Kazandjian and Bergeron (Shark Tale, The Road to El Dorado), the story is set in Paris in 1910 and follows a shy movie projectionist (Harrington) and an inventor who team up with a cabaret star (French singer Vanessa Paradis aka Mrs. Johnny Depp), an eccentric scientist and his monkey to save the city from a monster. However, the real villain turns out to be the ruthless police chief voiced by Huston.

The tone and style of the film is described as meshing the sensibilities of "King Kong" with The Triplets of Belleville. Europacorp, Bibo Films and France 3 Cinema are producing the feature, which was originally scheduled to open last year, but is now slated for 2010.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Showest Showers Pixar With Big Ten Award

Pixar will be honored with Showest’s Big Ten Award at next month’s exhibitor convention in Vegas next month. The award honors the studio for its unmatched successful record at the box office. During the event, which runs March 15-18, Disney will screen Pixar's upcoming 3D Toy Story 3 for exhibitors (only the 2D version will be previewed). Scheduled to open on June 18, Toy Story 3 is expected to be one of the year’s biggest blockbusters.

"Since bringing the first-ever computer-animated feature to moviegoing audiences with 1995's Toy Story, Pixar Animation Studios has continued to thrill audiences with outstanding stories on film that have captivated people of all ages all over the world," ShoWest managing director Robert Sunshine said.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

New Cars Toons Short to Debut on Disney Channel

A new Disney/Pixar Cars Toons short is set to premiere on Disney Channel Friday, March 12 at 8:55 p.m. Directed by John Lasseter, Rob Gibbs and Victor Navone, the new installment is titled Tokyo Mater and features a score by electronica composer BT.

The short finds Mater in Tokyo where he is challenged to a drift-style race against a nefarious gang leader and his posse of ninjas. With the help of his friend, "Dragon" Lightning McQueen, and some special modifications, Mater attempts to drift to victory and become "Tow-ke-O Mater, King of all Drifters."

The popular Cars Toons shorts debuted in October 2008 and reached 78.3 million unique total viewers in 2009, including 26.6 million among target age group kids 2-11. Later this year, Disney Online will launch the World of Cars Online (, a virtual world that allows fans to immerse themselves in Radiator Springs and interact with other players alongside Lightning, Mater and Doc. A new Cars Land attraction is also planned to open at Disney’s California Adventure in 2012, in time for the release of the feature’s sequel, Cars 2.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

James Woods on Being Owlman for "Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths"

Emmy award winning actor James Woods is the newest subject to be interviewed by Warner Home Video in conjunction with the release of Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, the newest direct-to-video animated movie available now on DVD, Blu-ray disc, On Demand services, and for download. Among other topics, Woods discusses how he constructed the character of Owlman for the movie, his favorite scene in the script, the joys of being a villain, how much of a superhero comic book fan he is, and whether he'd like to be a superhero in real life.

In addition, a new video clip from the movie has also been released, with a spotlight on Owlman and Superwoman. To view the new clip from the Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths direct-to-video animated feature in the Quicktime format, please click HERE.

In addition, producer Bruce Timm was interviewed by Comic Book Resources about the movie. Among other topics, Timm details the links between it and Justice League/Justice League Unlimited, his role in the production of the DC direct-to-video animated movies, and how character design was handled between the original JLU-based designs and the final versions in the movie, as well as providing a few more details about the next movie Batman: Under the Red Hood.

Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths is available now. The full press release interview follows. Click on any image to enlarge:


Two-time Emmy Award-winning actor James Woods, pictured at the World Premiere in New York City on February 16, is the voice of Owlman in Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, the next DC Universe animated original movie. The film is now available on Blu-ray, DVD, OnDemand and for Download from Warner Home Video.

Nobody captures villainy quite like James Woods. The two-time Emmy Award winning actor steals his every scene as the voice of Owlman in Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, an all-new DC Universe Animated Original PG-13 Movie now available from Warner Premiere, Warner Home Video, DC Comics and Warner Bros. Animation.

In Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, a “good” Lex Luthor arrives from an alternate universe to recruit the Justice League to help save his Earth from the Crime Syndicate, a gang of villainous characters with virtually identical super powers to the Justice League. What ensues is the ultimate battle of good versus evil in a war that threatens both planets and, through a diabolical plan launched by Owlman, puts the balance of all existence in peril.

Woods was the lone member of the cast not to record his lines in the presence of voice director Andea Romano and producer Bruce Timm, instead setting up shop in Providence, Rhode Island to record via ISDN line. You’ll never notice. In Owlman, Woods has crafted an affecting, subtly evil performance that brings forth a truly memorable villain in a film packed with the world’s most famous super heroes.

With two Emmy Awards and two Oscar nominations, Woods has drafted an impressive resume, capturing audiences’ imaginations with one memorable performances after another. In addition to Academy Award nods for his roles in Salvador and Ghosts of Mississippi, Woods’ list of films includes The Onion Field, Once Upon a Time in America, Against All Odds, The Hard Way, Diggstown, Casino and Contact, to name a few. Woods is featured in the upcoming remake, Straw Dogs. Woods’ television work has included his recent primetime series, Shark, as well as Emmy nods for Rudy: The Rudy Giuliani Story, Indictment: The McMartin Trial, Citizen Cohn and a guest role on ER. He received Emmys for his performances in My Name is Bill W. and the Hallmark telefilm, Promise.

Woods has spent more than his share of time bringing characters to animated life, parlaying his devilishly hilarious role as Hades in Disney’s 1997 film Hercules into its 65-episode television series follow-up. Since then, Woods has also voiced roles in animated film from Surf’s Up and Final Fantasy: The Spirit Within to Recess: School’s Out and Stuart Little 2. He has also had a recurring role on Family Guy and Disney’s House of Mouse.

Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths is an original story from award-winning animation/comics writer Dwayne McDuffie (Justice League). Bruce Timm (Superman Doomsday) is executive producer, and Lauren Montgomery (Wonder Woman, Green Lantern: First Flight) and Sam Liu (Superman/Batman: Public Enemies) are co-directors. The full-length animated film is now available from Warner Home Video as a Special Edition 2-disc version on DVD and Blu-Ray™ Hi-Def, as well as single disc DVD, and On Demand and Download.

Woods chatted after his recording session – and at the New York premiere of the film last week – about the collaborative aspects of animation, his aspirations to play villainous sidekicks, the importance of super heroes for today’s society, and his inclination never to develop a super power. Stick around, it gets better …

QUESTION: What makes Owlman a great character?

Owlman is a very, very modern character. He's really the doppelganger of Batman who, himself, of course, is a very Dark Knight, torn in his motivations, wanting to avenge the death of his parents. Ultraman is the leader of the Crime Syndicate, but he’s just a tough guy who solves things more with the blunt end of a bat. He’s all brute force. Owlman is the brains of the organization, and he is a thinker, which is ironic in that his greatest strength is really his ultimate undoing.

Owlman is a very calculating, dangerous individual because of his extraordinary brain power. And at the same time, it causes him to have incredibly dark, existential reservations about his acts. He’s very self-destructive and self-loathing. The whole future of the multiverse may be in his hands in our story.

Owlman fires a shot at Wonder Woman during an action-packed scene in Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, the next DC Universe animated original movie.

QUESTION: Knowing all of that, how did you choose to implement those characteristics into the vocal performance?

You know, this process of creating a comic brought to life is very interesting, especially a sophisticated comic like this story. I had a thought of his being a very sardonic, almost charmingly sarcastic character. But I started to think that that was a little bit like Heath Ledger's wonderful performance in The Dark Knight as the Joker. And I must say that Andrea (Romano) and Bruce (Timm) were very helpful in helping to interpret the character. We settled on a very existential, depressed man, almost like a Jacobian character, who sort of feels that nothing matters. And there's nothing more dangerous than a man who has his finger on the trigger and believes that nothing matters.

It's a wonderful character to work on because you have to do certain things with your voice. I'm a very passionate, animated actor. There are people like William Hurt, a wonderful Academy Award-winning actor, who are great at being very spare in the use of their voice. I am a guy who's a little more dynamic, so for me to repress myself, it leads to a kind of different character than I usually get to do. It's a lot of fun for me to play something that's not innately or instinctively what I would do. And then the great collaboration comes from these wonderful artists, including the director, the producer, the writer. Everybody has an artistic vision of how things should be and, when you work together, you come up with some confluence of ideas that creates a unique character. I really think we came up with something nice.

QUESTION: Can you elaborate on the romantic side of Owlman?

In our story, Owlman and Superwoman have this strange, power-hungry kind of, I won't call it love affair, but certainly a strange attraction. And it is the dark side of love, so it involves all kinds of power and domination. Owlman really makes her need him without giving her any kindness. That's the nature of a dark, dark character like this. So they have this really brutal, bitter kind of love. And to get that kind of tone into it was kind of strange, because it's not what love would be about. So you have to do things that are kind of counterintuitive, but it's fun to try it.

QUESTION: What's the joy for you in playing a villain, particularly this type of cerebral one?

Villains are the best characters to play because the possibilities are really quite endless. A hero has certain things that we expect of him or her, while a villain can be pretty far out there. Owlman wants to destroy everything, and yet is fascinated by how the world became so awful, in his mind. And he blames it on man and on choice.

All the things that we as civilized human beings celebrate – the freedom of being able to choose and to have free will – Owlman sees as the source of chaos throughout the universe and the alternate universes. He sees everything wrong in all of these universes as being a permutation of choice. I think most people would agree that choice has allowed people to create, to put man on the moon and write Hamlet. And people can aspire to do good. Owlman see the opposite -- he sees the celebration of evil as a way of asserting one's meaning in life, and the way to have meaning is to have things be meaningless. It's a strange, strange thought, but there are pretty sophisticated 20th century existential philosophers who've said the same thing. It’s pretty impressive to realize that comic books get that fundamental in terms of a philosophical understanding of the human condition. It's much more sophisticated than you expect when you get involved with doing an animated super hero movie.

QUESTION: Is that a direct reflection of why comics are so popular?

Comics have never really talked down to their audience. The comics have always respected what the audience wants. I have always said that one of the greatest faux pas made by the denizens in the film business is that they tend to want to put their own personal points of view – whether they be political, spiritual, religious, whatever – on their stories and promote their own agenda rather than respect what the audience is looking to hear and see. We should get into their wheelhouse and not be ashamed to sell a hero to people who love the idea of good versus evil. You know good versus evil worked great for Sophocles? It worked great for Shakespeare and it certainly works great for Batman and Superman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern … and Owlman.

Owlman flies into battle in Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, the next DC Universe animated original movie.

QUESTION: Was there a stash of DC Comics on your nightstand as a kid?

I don't know anybody in America who didn't read Superman and Batman. I was young enough that I actually watched George Reeves on television, and when he took off, I would believe it like any other kid. It was amazing that he was flying around in that black and white television. He used to hop and probably crash on a set of cardboard boxes right off the camera. But to me, there he was – Superman – flying around, saving the day.

I actually liked the idea of Superman because it was so pure. I liked the guy who was kind of away from his own home and, in a kind of way, a little lonely, but trying to do good in a place where he was always kind of an outsider. Batman always disturbed me because he was so dark and so full of sadness and rage. It's interesting because playing Owlman is full of an emotion that is actually probably less angry and vengeful, and almost demonic in its passion than Batman. Owlman’s darkness is such an empty void of soullessness.

And yes, I’ve always been a fan of the comics, especially in their reflection of the times. Our country has gone through enormous cultural changes in the past 50 years, and DC Comics was always very hip to those changes. They weren't afraid of them. They just wanted to ride with them. They know their audience.

QUESTION: Would you like to be a super hero?

I like the idea of being Owlman. He’s got it made. Think about it. The dark side of all these superpowers is that, as a super hero, you’re always inclined to use them for everybody else. What makes that so great? You're sitting around, the clicker in hand. You're in your nice old pajamas, you’ve got your Uggs on, you just settled in to watch Gladiator for the 58th time. You got some popcorn, the pizza just arrived – it's gonna be terrific. And suddenly it’s “Oh crap, they just blew up the U.S. Mint!” And I’ve got to put on that rubber suit – and don’t forget the talcum powder – and rush into action. Who wants to wear latex all the time? Harvey Fierstein? Not me. I don't want any superpowers. If they offer, I’ll politely decline.

QUESTION: You’ve played a lot of characters in both live-action and animation. What role are you still waiting for?

I would like to do a doofy henchman. I'm always the guy in control. I'm always going to destroy the universe and then I'm gonna go get a sandwich. (he laughs) I’d like to be the guy who says “Hey, I can go and get the sandwich for you while you destroy the universe, and then we can go get some key lime pie.” I'm so tired of being the “A” personality in the villainy department. Give me the goofy henchman. I think that would be fun.

QUESTION: When you portray real life figures like cops and lawyers, you can research, you can talk to cops, you can talk to lawyers. In playing a superhero, what kind of research did you do before you stepped into the booth?

That is an interesting thing that people don't understand about animated work. The voice actor does a lot to create the character. It's amazing. I mean, obviously the writers and the directors and the producers have set up months or years of work to prepare it. But I've been in situations where, unfortunately, maybe an actor was replaced, not because he was doing a bad job, but because it just wasn't working somehow. It's a very unique thing. For all these big animated movies, no matter who you are, you audition. Mel Gibson at the height of his career, had to audition. Everybody does – because they want to hear the voice, and sometimes you come in with a slant that will bring the character to life. I did a television series called Shark. I played a very sophisticated lawyer, a very dark guy. We had a former Dream Team district attorney as one our technical advisers. Five of the writers were lawyers. So we had all the resources to make the characters real. But there’s no place you can go to ask how a super hero behaves. You don't get to ask those questions. You kind of have to figure it out. So you go in with an open mind and things kind of just come to you.

Sometimes you really fall flat on your face, and I'm sure we all have. But by and large, usually everybody figures it out together. And it's fun. Really fun. I love doing these animated films because I think the actor has a great deal more input into the creation of the character than he or she does when you're doing a real-life film, even though there's a lot more acting involved when you're being photographed. In animation, you have the possibility of improvising. We work alone and use a great deal of imagination, and rely just on our instincts to create the character.

Owlman (voiced by James Woods) gets the upper hand on Batman (voiced by William Baldwin) in Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, the next DC Universe animated original movie.

QUESTION: Was there any particular scene in the script that stood out for you?

There's a wonderful sequence in this story where Owlman and his opposite spiritual twin, Batman, have a confrontation about the future of the multiverse, all the universes, all the earths that were created. And it was a very sophisticated conversation about the existential meaning of life. I'm reading this thing and thinking, “This is a comic book character talking?” I mean, it was very sophisticated, and I found myself wondering how you would do that.

I thought, this is like The Remains Of The Day with Anthony Hopkins -- it's that kind of character. He's a character speaking with such a loss of any ability to dream for anything good. It was all about a dark, empty void of the meaningless existence. When you read something that deep, you find yourself instinctively going to a better level of performance. So it wasn't a challenge so much as an invitation to be unique and maybe better.

QUESTION: Have you had any reaction from your fans – or the legions of fanboys – to your playing the role of Owlman?

They talk about fanboys and the Comic-Con audience and so on, calling them geeks and such. But I have to tell you – those guys know what they like, and they embrace the hard work that goes into these stories. And it's really fun to give them what they want, because I'm a fanboy at heart. I'm much older than the usual base, but I have to say – I love these characters. And I love being one of them. I would be Owlman forever. I love the concept.

QUESTION: Why do you think super heroes are important today to people?

I think there aren't a lot of heroes in the world today because there aren't a lot of clear cut battles. It's really hard to know who the enemy is today. I don't know who the enemy is. I know we are at war, but I don't know who the enemy is. And I don't think anybody else does. It's like the enemy is famine and despair and the banality of evil. In comparison, World War II was easy. Hitler was a good enemy – a dark character who did heinous things to millions and millions of people, and enlisted the help of others who may or may not have been inclined to do so until he inspired them to be at their worst.

But in this day and age, there are people who hate people that other people completely admire. And the people who admire that person are decent people. I think our politics are so divisive in this country and so bitter because I don't think anybody on either side of the political divide has a bad intention. I think they want things to be good, they just see a very, very different way of going about it. And yet they're so hard on each other. I'm always disappointed by how negative and petty people are on either side of the equation in politics. And that's a symbol of how disruptive our spirituality is right now in the world. I think that's why super heroes are important because, in the long run, at the end of Act III, their triumph is something that fills us with joy because their triumph is a clear cut victory in a world where almost nothing is clear cut.

For more information, images and updates, please visit the film’s official website at

Nicholas Cage, Ryan Reynolds to Star in DreamWorks' "The Croods"

Variety is reporting that Nicholas Cage and Ryan Reynolds are set to star in DreamWorks Animation's The Croods, scheduled for release in 2012. Cage is to be a caveman leading his clan to a new home who butts heads with a charming nomad, who will be played by Reynolds. The film will be co-directed by Kirk DeMicco (Space Chimps) and Chris Sanders (Lilo & Stitch, How to Train Your Dragon).

Bob Peterson Talks Dogs and Dug

Bob Peterson, the co-director of UP and voice of Dug, is interviewed by Glenn Close about his affection for dogs. He offers some good details on how he developed the personalities of the dog characters in UP.

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Explore New Toy Story 3 Characters

I think if any other feature film released footage this uninspired, I’d simply click onward. But it’s Toy Story 3, for crying out loud. I’d post footage of the Pixar render farm chewing through test shots. Here’s two character samples from new additions for the upcoming film, which hits theaters on Jun 18th.



Pleix Hatches Piu For Warm&Fuzzy

Piu is a new musically-driven short that weaves together shape-based character animation with live-action video. It was created by Pleix for the French production company Warm&Fuzzy. The animation isn’t terribly complex, but it’s damn stylish.

Osolya Turns Anima Festival Upside Down

Hungarian animator Bella Szederkényi’s 5-minute film, titled Osolya, introduces us to a woman who discovers a sudden change in her body that turns her world upside down. The film was produced as part of her studies at Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design in Budapest, and the short just won the top prize in the Graduation Film category at this year’s Anima Festival, otherwise known as the Brussells Animation Film Festival

Dutch Stop Motion Video is Grindin’

100% Halal director Rogier van der Zwaag moonlights as a DJ for the group Nobody Beats The Drum (along with Jori Collignon and Sjam Sjamsoedin). So it should be no surprise that he makes his own music videos, like this one below, titled Grindin’. And below that, check out the making of segment, which they shot at their studio in Amsterdam.

The making of -

The Disney Afternoon

I spent a portion of my post-lunch day at the Hat Building, doing my usual rounds. And the place was peaceful.

Tangled, the movie in production, is generally liked, although some departments on the first floor are still waiting for the production wave to hit at full force.

Winnie the Pooh (the next feature up) is going full-tilt in the layout department, although some animators don't have a lot of scenes yet. Meanwhile, animation staffers attended a meeting about new ideas for hand-drawn production. (The word is that the company would like to see The Princess & The Frog hit $300 million globally, the better to get into clearly profitable territory, and of course now it's below that magical figure. "But the merchandise has sold well.")

In the bigger corporate picture, Robert Iger is in an acquisitive mood:

Disney Chief Executive Officer Robert Iger, 59, is on a spending spree at the world’s biggest media company to transform his film studio, amusement parks and stores. In fiscal 2009, net income at Disney fell 25 percent to $3.3 billion -- the worst annual performance in Iger’s five-year reign -- and was almost flat in the first quarter of 2010 compared with a year earlier. ...

... In December, Disney completed its $4.3 billion purchase of Marvel Entertainment Inc., home of I
ron Man, Spider-Man and the X-Men, paying a 40 percent premium over the stock price. ... In December, S&P affirmed its earlier revised outlook on Disney’s debt to negative from stable, citing concerns about the company’s recovery, the growth in spending and threats from deep-pocketed rivals...

“Disney is going to be basically doubling what they are spending,” says James Tarkenton, a managing director at Lateef Investment Management ....

Looks to me like the Disney CEO is planning to do whatever it takes to goose Diz Co.'s profit margins. Some big buys and big bets going on just now. Here's hoping they pan out.

Add On: As long as we're on Disney, the Mouse is teaming with the Getty on a worthwhile preservation program.

... The Getty Conservation Institute said Wednesday that it is partnering with a division of Disney to study the deterioration that can occur in plastics -- specifically, the kind used in animation cels.

The study will be conducted as a partnership between the Getty Institute in Brentwood and the Disney Animation Research Library ...

Some of the cels already examined by the Getty show that paint is starting to come away from parts of the plastic, while others show signs of warping and yellowing ...

The Disney Animation Research Library houses an estimated 65 million pieces of animation created over more than 80 years by the Walt Disney Animation Studios. ...

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Lemming Watch

We should all celebrate the success of Alvin and the Chipmunks and sequel. Because it means that all over Tinsel Town, movie execs are shouting into their cell phones: Quick! What other cartoon characters we got out there?!"

And now we have our answer:

Speedy Gonzales is taking his folk hero status, incredible speed and signature red kerchief to the big screen, courtesy of New Line. "Garfield" scribes Alec Sokolow and Joel Cohen will adapt the classic animated Looney Tunes character into a live-action/CG hybrid feature. ...

We are fortunate that Warner Brothers Animation and other studios developed a variety of cartoon characters in the thirties, forties, and fifties. Because it gives Hollywood a lot of different choices as it populates the oncoming tidal wave of hybrid animated features.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Animated Review of Avatar

Nobody’s come forward to claim responsibility for this elaborate animated review of Avatar. I particularly like how they (I’m assuming more than one person made it) used the same performance capture animation technique as the film itself. Stats on YouTube show that the video is popular in New Zealand, but word on the street is that it’s not WETA. Hmmm . . .

(Thanks, Kim Hazel)

(Thanks cartoon brew)

'Iron Man' Costumes And Props To Be Auctioned At C2E2 Convention In April

If you've ever wished that you could be a bit more like Iron Man, you're in luck — in April, you'll have a chance to own some of Tony Stark's most prized possessions.

In celebration of the imminent release of Marvel Studios and director Jon Favreau's "Iron Man 2," Marvel Entertainment is planning to auction several props and costumes from the original "Iron Man" film at the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (C2E2) held from April 16 - 18, 2010. Propworx Inc. is producing the auction.

Among the 225 items being auctioned are the schematic drawings of the Mark I armor drafted by Tony while in captivity, Stark's very own pinstripe suit and Iron Man's crushed Mark II helmet.

Fans that aren't able to attend C2E2 can still participate in the auction through online means. After the live auction concludes in Chicago, other "Iron Man" collectible items will be available on eBay.

"It is always great to involve our fans in the making of our films and now we have the chance to allow them to take a piece home with them," Marvel Studios' Director of Production Operations Jordan Hudson said in an issued statement. "IRON MAN has already proven to resonate with moviegoers all over the world and now each of them has the chance to own some of the greatest items seen in the film just a few weeks before the continuation of Tony Stark's adventures in IRON MAN 2."

James Cameron explains: Why exactly do Na'vi have breasts?

The Na'vi aren't mammals, right? No need to breastfeed, no need for nipples. So how come Zoe Saldana's character, Neytiri, has a pair of pixelated breasts? James Cameron has already told Playboy that "Right from the beginning I said, 'She's got to have t-ts,' even though that makes no sense because her race, the Na'vi, aren't placental mammals."

But that still doesn't answer the question—why?

Turns out, according to Cameron, that it's all our fault.

As reported by The Huffington Post, when pressed for a better explanation by interviewer James Lipton during the taping of an upcoming episode of Inside the Actors Studio, Cameron said, "Because this is a movie for human people." Which he further explained basically means, "Let's focus on things that can create otherness that are not off-putting."

Freddy's way scarier in new Nightmare on Elm Street trailer

"One, two, Freddy's coming for you ... "

The new trailer has gone live on MySpace for the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street, and you can view its full awesomeness below.

The new trailer shows us a lot more of nightmare Freddy, played by Jackie Earle Haley, as well as the new kids on the Elm Street block, played by Katie Cassidy, Rooney Mara, Thomas Dekker and Kellan Lutz.

In particular, we get to see scenes that are straight homages to the original movie: The claws in the bathtub, the girl floating above the bed and Freddy stretching the wall, not to mention the iconic images of the fiery basement, the little kids skipping rope, the works.

Looks like the producers of last year's Friday the 13th have crafted a loving remake that is faithful to the original in some details, but completely new and a heck of a lot scarier.

What do you think?? Just speaking for us, we can't wait until April 30 ... if we can stay awake that long.

Fan pays $31,100 for a Doctor Who Dalek, is exterminated

Not really, but somebody really did pay $31,100 for a prop Dalek from Doctor Who at a London auction yesterday, and someone else paid nearly $24,000 for another one. reports:

The black painted prop mutant used in the 1985 edition of the BBC science fiction show raised £20,400 [about $31,100 U.S.] when it went under the hammer at Bonham's auction house in London. Another Dalek, a white model from 1988, made £15,600 [$23,784].

The exterminating aliens were the highest-earning items up for sale that day, which also included clothing worn by the show's characters, including two sets of pajamas and a French maid's outfit, both worn by Billie Piper—who played the Doctor's assistant Rose Tyler in 2005 and 2006—which fetched £1,000 ($1,525) each and £3,600 ($5,489) respectively. Click over to find out what else sold and for how much.

Would you have paid that much for a Dalek? We would have paid twice as much, but not $1 million, which we're saving for that Action Comics number one. Also, we think they're a little dangerous to have around the house, don't you?

A Speedy Decision Made On Who Is Directing The Flash

IESB got word about who is the top contender for The Flash, the DC comic speedy super hero. The project has been picking up steam now that Green Lantern is currently shooting.

IESB has more:

IESB has learned exclusively that WB is lining up a director for another high profile DC character; Greg Berlanti is the leading contender to helm "The Flash". The name should ring a bell or two, Berlanti wrote "Green Lantern" with one my favorites Marc Guggenheim and was once attached to direct the film before WB settled on Martin Campbell From what IESB is hearing WB is very high on Berlanti from his prep on "Green Lantern" and would love him to run with "The Flash".

Click HERE to read the rest.

I don't care who is directing it, just get it going! It's good news that WB and DC are going full steam ahead with all of these super hero projects. But what's up with Wonder Woman?

(Thanks Latino Review)

New Iron Man 2 Featurette

MSN's France branch has a brand new featurette of Iron Man 2. There are the usual clips of actors talking about how awesome the movie is. Mickey Rourke explains how Favreau only hires talened actors (nice to be humble) while Scarlet lets us know that the Monaco sequence is "off the hook."

There are a couple of new clips as well. Stark walking down the hall to meet Whiplash in a holding cell. I assume Tony manages to get his armor on when Whiplash attacks him during the race and manages to apprehend him.

Sorry, no new footage of War Machine.

You can check out the featurette by clicking HERE.

(Thanks Latino Review)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

News - 02/25/10...

Chuck Jones Interview

Eight years ago Tuesday, Chuck Jones passed away. In 1998, Jones recorded a 3 hour interview with Tom Sito for the Archive of American Television. It’s a perfect way to mark the occasion:

(Thanks, Chuck Arnold)

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Rudy Larriva (1916-2010)

Variety is reporting that veteran Warner Bros. director Rudy Larriva passed away last Friday Feb. 19 in Irvine, Calif. He was 94.

Larriva, an animator for nearly six decades, worked primarily at Warner Bros. in the 1930s and 40s, recieving animation credit on several cartoons including the seminal Chuck Jones cartoon, Elmer’s Pet Rabbit (1941). He later joined Disney (Song of the South, Melody Time) and spent the 1950s at UPA (Mr. Magoo). He is credited as the animation director for the opening credits of The Twilight Zone in 1959-60. He spent much of his later years toiling on TV series for Ruby Spears and other studios. His greatest claim to fame, unfortunately, was his direction of several low budget Road Runner cartoons for DePatie Freleng in the mid-1960s. Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m. March 1 at Eternal Hills Cemetery, Oceanside, Calif.

(Thanks, Joe Apel)

(Thanks cartoon brew)

James Cameron: “I’m not interested in being an animator”

In last week’s LA Times, James Cameron continued to assert his position that Avatar isn’t animation, though at least he’s acknowledging now that “a whole team of animators” is used in the process:

“I’m not interested in being an animator. . . . That’s what Pixar does. What I do is talk to actors. ‘Here’s a scene. Let’s see what you can come up with,’ and when I walk away at the end of the day, it’s done in my mind. In the actor’s mind, it’s done. There may be a whole team of animators to make sure what we’ve done is preserved, but that’s their problem. Their job is to use the actor’s performance as an absolute template without variance for what comes out the other end.”

In the LA Times, animation director Henry Selick also weighed in publicly for the first time on the issue:

“The academy has to come to terms with where [performance capture] goes. Is it animation? Is it a new category? I’m like the academy. I don’t know where it fits. I will tell you this, animators have to work very, very hard with the motion-capture data. After the performance is captured, it’s not just plugged into the computer which spits out big blue people. It’s a hybrid.”

In response to the recent article, Kristin Thompson at Observations on Film Art has written a thoughtful article about the hybrid nature of the performance and the disingenousness of Camerons’ claim that the creative work ends with his actors.

(Earlier Brew coverage about the amount of animation in Avatar can be found here, here, here, and here.)

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Writer Steve Niles Discusses "The Spectre" Animated Short, New Video Clip Released

Warner Home Video has released a new studio-conducted interview with Steve Niles, writer for the The Spectre DC Showcase animated short included on the Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths home video release. A new video clip from the animated short is also included.

The World's Finest presents the latest in a series of studio-conducted interviews, provided by Warner Home Video, this one for the The Spectre DC Showcase animated short included on the home video release of Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths. Continue reading below for the latest installment featuring The Spectre writer Steve Niles.

Writer Steve Niles Infuses Horror Into the Super Hero Realm with First-Ever Animated Take on The Spectre

Inaugural DC Showcase short appears on Blu-ray/DVD release of Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths

Steve Niles (30 Days of Night) is the screenwriter of The Spectre, which is being distributed February 23 by Warner Home Video as part of the Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths Blu-ray/DVD.

Renowned horror/comics writer Steve Niles adds his special touch of terror to the first-ever animated version of The Spectre, the initial entry in the DC Showcase series of animated shorts. The Spectre is being distributed February 23 by Warner Home Video as part of the Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths Blu-ray/DVD.

From the creative forces behind the DC Universe animated original PG-13 movies, DC Showcase puts the spotlight on favorite characters from throughout the annals of DC Comics in fascinating, short-form tales sure to entertain longtime and new fans alike.

The Spectre focuses on a detective story with an ethereal twist, featuring the otherworldly character originally introduced by DC Comics in 1940. The voice cast is led by Gary Cole (Entourage) as the title character and Alyssa Milano (Charmed) as Aimee Brenner.

Niles is one of the comtemporary writers responsible for bringing horror comics back to prominence. Named by Fangoria magazine as one of it’s 13 rising talents who promise to keep us terrified for the next 25 years, Niles is currently working for seemingly all of the top American comic publishers. His current ongoing series is "Simon Dark" for DC Comics with artist Scott Hampton, and "Batman: Gotham After Midnight" with artist Kelley Jones.

In 2002, the success of his "30 Days of Night" sparked renewed interest in the horror genre, and was developed as a major motion picture with Sam Raimi producing and David Slade directing. Niles co-wrote the screenplay. The film debuted as the No. 1 movie at the domestic box office. Also in development are adaptations of Wake the Dead with director Jay Russell, and Criminal Macabre and The Lurkers.

Niles got his start in the industry when he formed his own publishing company called Arcane Comix, where he published, edited and adapted several comics and anthologies for Eclipse Comics. His adaptations include works by Clive Barker, Richard Matheson and Harlan Ellison. IDW released a hardcover and softcover collection of Niles' adaptation of Richard Matheson's “I Am Legend.”

Niles has been nominated for multiple Eisner Comic industry awards and was the recipient of two Spike TV Scream Awards for Best Horror comic and Best Comic Adaptation. He also won the Scribe Award for Best Original Novel in 2007.

Currently his graphic novel “Freaks of the Heartland” is being developed for film by David Gordon Green. Niles is also writing a major videogame property that will soon be announced.

Niles took a pause from his daily marathon writing schedule to chat about
The Spectre. Here’s what he had to say …

A bit of romantic history flows between Detective Corrigan and Aimee Brenner in The Spectre, the inaugural entry within the DC Showcase series of animation shorts. Gary Cole (Entourage) and Alyssa Milano (Charmed) provide the voices of Detective Corrigan and Aimee Brenner, respectively. The Spectre is being distributed February 23 by Warner Home Video as part of the Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths Blu-ray/DVD.

QUESTION: How familiar with The Spectre were you entering this project?

My knowledge of The Spectre was fairly minimal. I had done a series called "Batman: Gotham County Line," where I had used a few of the supernatural c haracters. For that writing, I looked at Dr. Fate and Spectre, but in that case, I went with Phantom Stranger.

Within six months, I got a call from Todd Casey at Warner Bros. Animation asking if I’d be interested in writing this short, and that’s when I got really interested in him – and he does fascinate me now. I dove headfirst into all of the 1970s Spectre stuff, and the more I read, and the more I talked to Bruce Timm about the him, the more I fell in love with the character. Judge, jury, executioner. He kills. I wish I had been more into the character before because he’s perfect for me.

QUESTION: So The Spectre really hits home for you?

I have a big affection for crime and noir, and a big affection for horror, and The Spectre is the one character that I can literally combine them. He can be a detective when I need him and, then, when he gets the confession out of you, I can have him kill you. He’s very Ditko-esque, or even a kind of Rorschach. But I like The Spectre better in that, because he’s a dead guy and he’s haunted, you trust his judgment a little more. You figure he’s justified. That’s why Batman doesn’t kill – he can’t judge a living peson. But this is a guy who is dead, he knows how the system works, he understands the ramifications, so he figures he can save us all a dime … and kill them with a muscle car.

I remember as a kid reading The Spectre comic and the true fun of it was that this guy had a flair for the ironic in his retribution. There was this issue where a hairdresser gets killed by giant scissors. I loved that so much. It makes it such fun to write a character who gets to look into each bad guy, see what makes them work, and then turn that on them. It’s like he gets to give them a little taste of hell before he sends them to hell.

Detective Corrigan has a slight edge on most investigators in The Spectre, the first entry within the DC Showcase series of animation shorts. The Spectre is being distributed February 23 by Warner Home Video as part of the Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths Blu-ray/DVD.

QUESTION: You’ve worked in a number of mediums, but this is the first time in animation. How did that experience compare to comics, film, etc.?

I loved it. I find it really liberating working in other people’s sandboxes. Tell me what your rules are, and I can stay there and have fun, instead of just staring at a blank piece of paper. It was fun working with Alan (Burnett) and Bruce (Timm) and bouncing ideas off them. They say “too much dialogue,” I say “Okay, cut it out.” There can be no ego in this writing. And it was probably the easiest time I’ve ever had writing something. I’ve had lots of fun writing movies and comics, but this was just plain fun. The worst part of the whole experience was that we had to lose one of the killings, but that was no big deal. And that’s as bad as it got.

“No ego”? But you must still feel a certain amount of pride to finally earn your first “written by” credit for The Spectre?

Even 30 Days of Night was a “story by” credit and I had the “script” credit divided with three other people. This is the first time, love it or hate it, that I can watch the film and say, “That’s my freaking dialogue.” The Spectre is the most complete thing I’ve ever had go from script to screen, and that in itself is really exciting for me. Being able to see what you write actually get onto the screen is phenomenal and so hard in movies.

QUESTION: Did you work closely with Bruce Timm on this project?

I’ve been a fan of Bruce Timm for years, and we had never had an opportunity to meet. Ironically, I was doing last minute edits on the script on the way to Seattle for a Con and he was sitting right next to me – and that was the first time we met. He’s as big a nerd as me. We like the same comics, we both love the 70s … we’re both fans of guys like Herb Trimpe, Frank Robbins, Sal Buscema, Jack Kirby. We do the classic geek stuff, sitting around and talk about this stuff, and buying comics we’ve already bought before. Right now I’m on a major Spectre binge, buying every damn Spectre I can get my hands on. The Golden Age art looks insane, but fortunately the prices on those will keep me in check.

QUESTION: Will viewers find Steve Niles’ fingerprints all over this script?

There’s a lot of me in this script, and people that know me will see that quickly and throughout. If I could do a comics series called “Monsters and Muscle Cars,” I’d be a happy guy. I have a 1973 Nova that I keep running. When I’m not writing, I’m out driving in that. I love that damn car.

The Spectre makes his animated debut as the title character in the inaugural entry within the DC Showcase series of animation shorts. Gary Cole (Entourage) provides the voice of The Spectre, which is being distributed February 23 by Warner Home Video as part of the Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths Blu-ray/DVD.

I also have a big love for noir, so there’s an homage to, say, speech patterns that sound like Fred MacMurray from Double Indemnity. This script offered some great opportunities to throw a lot of this stuff I love into it. As well as to take a nice swipe at Hollywood greed, which is such an easy target, but still fun. The people who know me who have seen it say “Geez, why didn’t you just put yourself into it.” I guess I should’ve just had the Spectre kill me.

QUESTION: Did Warner Bros. ever curtail your freedom in creation?

The funny thing is that I was going to be more restrained. I thought, “Well, I can’t rip heads off.” And they were saying, “No, come on. Let’s see what you’ve got.” I think people will be surprised at how actually scary this thing is. It’s a good little horror story.

DC SUPER HEROES and all related characters and elements are trademarks of and © DC Comics. (s09)

For more information, images and updates, please visit the film’s official website at

Also made available by Warner Home Video, new The Spectre media has been released by the studio. To view the new clip from the The Spectre animated short, included on the Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths home video release, please click HERE. The clip is presented in the Quicktime format.

A co-production of Warner Premiere, DC Comics and Warner Bros. Animation, the direct-to-video Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths animated feature is now available to own on DVD and Blu-ray disc.

DreamWorks Walk Through

Around the time I was wandering the hall of DWA's Lakeside building today, Jeffrey Katzenberg was on the phone about DreamWorks Animation's March movie release in three dimensions:

QUESTION: Do you think you're going to be able to hold onto the majority of your 3-D screens post the release of "Clash of the Titans?"

So, on the 3-D screens issue, again I think ultimately it becomes the playability of the movies. We will have a very, very strong 3-D platform, to launch "Dragons" on. In particular, we have an exclusive arrangement for the vast majority of Imax screens. The only ones that are excluded are some of the ones that are in the educational market. And so, that platform is exclusive to us for a six-week run ...

How to Train Your Dragon will have a big opening if staffers opinions of the movie are right, because most people I've talked to really like the picture.

I guess we'll have to wait and see.

But Dragon is done. The focus of the board artists, animators, layout artists and surfacers I talked to today is now elsewhere.

"We're well into Kung Fu Panda: the Kaboom of Doom. We've got five sequences in work. There's still way more to do than we've already done, but it's moving right along ..."

I got a look at footage for DWA's Fall release Megamind, and the stuff looks good. Funny characters and attitudes abound. (Sadly, I didn't see enough to know how the picture fits together, so don't ask.) The animator who showed me said: "I think this feature is going to surprise people. It's witty and has lots of funny sequences and bits."

And a Puss in Boots story artist says story development has been robus. So robust that it's jumped ahead of another picture, coming out in 2011.

But don't think everybody is 100% satisfied. A development guy crabbed how the company needs more projects in work to keep the production pipeline filled. "There's a lot of movies going on here, but I think there should be more small teams taking properties the company owns, that are just sitting around, and seeing what they can do with them. Just throw up an outline board and see if it works. If it doesn't, move on to the next. If we're going to get up to three pictures a year and stay there, we're going to need more development."

But most aren't complaining. As a long-time employee said as I was walking out: "For me, there's always a picture to jump onto, always some kind of work. I like knowing I've got a job to come to."

Add On: DreamWorks Animation, in case you were wondering, had a pretty okay fourth quarter, business-wise:

... Reporting its fourth-quarter income for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2009, DreamWorks reported full-year revenue of $725.2 million and a profit of $151 million – up 12 percent and 10 percent respectively – driven by films including “Monsters vs. Aliens.” The company beat fourth quarter revenue forecast with $194.2 million. ...

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

The Permanence of Three Dee -- Part XI

Somehow I missed this:

Jim Cameron's "Avatar" shone brightly at the International 3D Society's inaugural kudos event Tuesday, copping a half-dozen Lumiere Awards and a People's Choice award for favorite live-action movie.

The International 3D Society? International 3D Society?

It seems like only yesterday that my dear father was a proud, card-carrying member of the International CinemaScope Society (The Robe. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea!) What the hell happened to that?!

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

George Lopez to voice Speedy Gonzales in live action/CG movie

From the story in today’s Hollywood Reporter:

“We wanted to make sure that it was not the Speedy of the 1950s — the racist Speedy,” said the comedian’s wife Ann Lopez, who will serve alongside him as a producer. “Speedy’s going to be a misunderstood boy who comes from a family that works in a very meticulous setting, and he’s a little too fast for what they do. He makes a mess of that. So he has to go out in the world to find what he’s good at.” That path becomes clearer once Speedy befriends a gun-shy race-car driver.

“The racist Speedy”? Pardon me, but the Speedy I know from the 1950s cartoons was a hero, a champion. I would suggest the writers watch a few of the cartoons before inventing a scenario from whole cloth.

(Thanks cartoon brew)

ASIFA-East Animation Festival Entry Deadline

The deadline to enter ASIFA-East’s 41st Annual Animation Festival is Monday, March 1. Entry forms are available on the ASIFA-East website.

Jury screenings take place in March at the SVA 3rd Floor Amphitheater (209 E. 23rd Street). They are free and open to all, though only ASIFA-East members can cast votes. Screening schedule is below (all of them start at 7pm):

TUESDAY, MARCH 9 - Student Films
THURSDAY, MARCH 11 - Commercials/Promos under 2mins
TUESDAY, MARCH 16 - Independent Films
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 17 - Sponsored Films over 2 mins (5th fl, rm. 502)

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Clips and Reviews of Sylvain Chomet’s The Illusionist

Sylvain Chomet’s The Illusionist easily tops my list for most anticipated animated feature of 2010 (sorry Tangled). The film premiered to raves last week at the Berlin International Film Festival, and the Pathé Distribution website lists a May 5, 2010 release date, which I believe is for France. Pathé is also handling UK distribution, though I haven’t run across a release date yet. ScreenDaily reported yesterday that the film has also secured distribution deals for Japan (Klockworx), Italy (Cinema 11), Greece (Nutopia), Benelux (Paradiso) and the Middle East (Phars Film) while “a US deal is expected to be announced shortly.”

The first clips from the film to appear online can be seen in this video interview with Sylvain Chomet. Here are three different reviews of the film from people who saw it in Berlin:

Screen Daily: “The imagery excels at depicting less-harried times: as a train chugs over a trestle bridge in the country, its reflection in the water below is as stunning as the changing light over Edinburgh. And somehow the animated rain seems more real than the wet stuff in live-action films. The deceptively simple story (which bears some scattered similarities to Chaplin’s Limelight) is anchored in nostalgia for bygone traditions. And yet the theme of dedicated craftsmen (a clown, a ventriloquist, a magician) made obsolete by changing tastes (not to mention age making way for youth) remains relevant.”

In Contention: “It took six days and an awful lot of films, but the Berlinale has finally turned up a masterpiece. Moreover, it’s a rare case of one of the fest’s most eagerly awaited titles managing to meet, and even subvert, expectations. The Illusionist . . . confirms a truly singular auteur sensibility, while revealing a more disciplined artist and storyteller within. A streamlined character study, less deliriously eccentric in tone and structure than his debut feature, The Illusionist nonetheless boasts an emotional heft that handsomely repays its creator’s restraint.

Variety: “The pic is a thrilling exercise in retro aesthetics, from the pencil-and-watercolor look to the 2D animation that harks back to mid-1960s Disney (especially “101 Dalmatians”) and the delicate lines and detailed backgrounds of Gallic animator Paul Grimault, to the details that perfectly evoke Scotland in the 1950s. All the same, the backgrounds here brim with little jokes that the long takes offer a chance to catch, such as the sight of lobster thermidor (with a fried egg on top and haggis) on offer at a fish-and-chips shop . . . Pace may seem a little slow for those reared on contempo animation, but for those immersed in the film, the rhythms are delicious.”

(Thanks to Martin Gornall, who worked on the film, for these links)

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Anima Boutique Publishes Newspaper Spot

Anima Boutique directors Kalle Kotila and Joonas Utti helmed this recent spot for Ilta Sanomat, a popular Finnish newspaper. Utti also served as the lead animator. Hasan & Partners lead the effort from the agency side.

Lerner Sets Pumaneko Loose in Tokyo For Puma

Partizan director Eric Lerner recently directed this CG/live-action composited short for Puma. The Tokyo-centered piece, titled Pumaneko, helps promote Puma’s line of shoes designed by Mihara Yasuhiro.

Steve Dildarian Talks "Life and Times of Tim" with New York Magazine

New York magazine's Vulture weblog has posted a brief interview with Steve Dildarian, creator and star of HBO's animated series The Life and Times of Tim, which began its second season last Friday. Among other topics, Dildarian describes how he moved from advertising (where he created the Budweiser lizards) to his own animated TV show, the lack of experience in the animation and the staff in general, how autobiographical the show is, and how the show was picked up for renewal despite relatively low ratings.

'Thor: Tales of Asgard' Concept Art Arrives Online

Last week at the Los Angeles premiere of "Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths", the producers were quick to praise the film's character designs by artist Phil Bourassa. And while Bourassa's "Justice League" movie hit stores yesterday, he also provided character designs for the "Planet Hulk" animated movie which was released earlier this month. Bourassa is also the character designer for one of the upcoming Marvel Animated feature films: "Thor: Son of Asgard."

Recently, Bourassa posted several early designs from "Thor: Son of Asgard" on his Deviant Art page (via Comic Book Movie). Bourassa also provided commentary for several of the pieces:

THOR: "I wanted to make Thor look really "level one" Viking/barbarian with lots of fur and layers. I gave him sort of a cocky self assured pose because that's his overall persona in the film. At the time I was pretty happy with this take and was kind of bummed that we went in a different direction with the outfit. The overall silhouette is still the same, although the details and colors are significantly changed."

ODIN: "Heres an early take on the all-father, Odin. I drew him significantly younger than we are used to seeing him since the film revolves around the trials of a teenage Thor and Loki. This is sort of Odin in his prime before losing his eye and what-not. I had a lot of fun designing this cartoon and working with the awesome staff and crew at Marvel Lionsgate."

FANDRAL: "In this concept sketch of Fandral, I tried to capture the dashing, swashbuckling, Errol Flynn thing. I might have also been thinking of Cary Elwes' character from 'The Princess Bride.' This is one of those rare cases in animation design where the first sketch pretty much ends up making it on screen in the final cut."

VOLSTAGG: "This was my first pass at Volstagg from the Warriors Three. I actually drew this before I ever received a script from Marvel and so, not surprisingly, I was shy of the mark. I had forgotten that Volstagg is typically depicted as the cowardly blowhard, [whose] goofy antics are often played for comedic effect. In the end, final model for this character was a bit more whimsical and comical."

Earlier this month, Marvel Studios and Lionsgate Home Entertainment released a new trailer for "Thor: Tales of Asgard." The film is scheduled to be released in 2011 to coincide with the live action "Thor" movie.

Getty Joins Forces with Disney Animation to Study Cel Artwork

The Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) and the Disney Animation Research Library (ARL) are joining forces in an effort to better understand deterioration that can occur in plastics, a material increasingly used by artists over the last 50 to 60 years. This collaboration is part of a long-term project already underway at the GCI to develop conservation strategies for objects made with plastics.

The ARL’s state-of-the-art storage facilities have extended the life of Disney’s animation art, but in addition to environment, the exact aging process depends on a number of factors, including the composition of the plastics, which vary. A number of cels already are showing signs of deterioration such as yellowing, warping, and cracking, as well as the artist’s paint visibly pulling away from the plastic support, including a cel of Snow White singing to the seven dwarfs from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and a cel featuring the evil god Chernabog from Fantasia.

The Disney Animation Research Library houses approximately 65 million pieces of animation art created over a period of more than 80 years by the Walt Disney Animation Studios division. The collection includes original plastic animation cels and backgrounds, as well as conceptual design work, animation drawings, model sheets, layouts, exposure sheets, models, audio and video tapes, reference photographs and books. The ARL is the world's largest archive of animation art.

For more info, visit


(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Little Prince Movie to Fly Again in 3-D

Last year, we reported that DQ Entertainment and Method Films were developing a CG-animated series based on Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s enduring 1943 children’s book The Little Prince. Now we hear that French producers Aton Soumache (Renaissance, Cosmic Quantum Ray, Le Petit Nicholas) and Dimitri Rassam are also prepping a stereoscopic 3-D feature version of the classic.

Variety reports that they have secured the rights from the Exupery estate for a €45 million ($60.8 million) movie, which means that the project will be one of the biggest European features of the year. The plotline will remain faithful to the book, which depicts the friendship between a downed pilot lost in the desert and a mysterious boy from another planet.

The feature will commence production next year. Saint-Exupery's great-nephew Olivier d'Agay is also on board to advise the producers."I'm a fan of Aton and Dimitri's past films, notably Renaissance and The Children of Timpelbach, I’m confident they have the necessary experience and creativity to give The Little Prince the modern treatment it deserves."

Soumache, who is also producing the animated TV series based on the property, told the trade that he wants the movie to have the same universal appeal, which is common in Pixar and Miyazaki movies.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Zagtoon and Gulli Move Ahead with Rosie

Paris-based studio Zagtoon has announced a co-pro deal with France’s children’s channel Gulli and Cabler AB for the new 102-1 series Rosie. Created by Raymond author Romain Gadiou, the toon centers on a mischievous young girl and her imaginary friend Blackie the sheep. The animation will be handled by Jean-Michel Spiner’s animation studio 2Minutes.

The announcement was made today by Zagtoon founders Jacqueline Tordjman and Jeremy Zag. “Jeremy and I are particularly proud of this series as it has not only been 100% financed in France but will be produced here too,” noted Tordjman.

Gulli’s Programme Director Karine Leyzin added, “Rosie is an irresistible little heroine. The series is cute, original and amusing and fits in perfectly with our scheduling requirements here at Gulli.”

The relatively newly established Zagtoon specializes in producing character driven, edutainment series for children for the international market and is a subsidiary of media holding company Univergroup.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

ACK, Animagic to Deliver Toons for Cartoon Network India

Indian comicbook creator-publisher Amar Chitra Katha Media and Animagic Studios will create two animated features and a 26-part half hour series based in classic Hindu myths for Cartoon Network India.

Slated to air on CN in late 2010, the first project is Tripura: The Three Cities of Maya, which is designed and directed by Chetan Sharma and will bring to animated life the battle between the gods and the demons for the ancient kingdom.

Sharma noted, Tripura has always been one of my favorite stories from the Amar Chitra Katha canon, and this was a unique opportunity, not only to pay tribute to all the great artists that inspired me… who were my first teachers in drawing… but also to reinvent the mythological film from an animated storytelling point of view, not just by jazzing up its exteriors, but by going deeper, back to the sources, exploring its rich layers of meaning."

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

A Healthy Q4 for DreamWorks Animation

Only a few weeks before releasing its much-anticipated 3-D feature How to Train Your Dragon, DreamWorks Aniamtion has posted its better-than-expected fourth quarter earnings. Although there was a 16% decline in profits (at nearly $44 million) and a 3% drop in revenue of $194 million during the last three months versus the same period a year ago, the numbers were higher than analysts had predicted.

The healthy performance of DreamWorks TV projects—NBC’s Monsters vs. Aliens: Mutant Pumpkins from Outer Space and Merry Madagascar, and Nickelodeon’s hit show The Penguins of Madagascar—which brought in about $50 million in revenue along with DVD sales of Merry Madagascar and Monsters vs. Aliens and other hits from the studio’s rich toon library contributed to the healthy year-end picture.

2010 will mark the first year that DreamWorks will have three animated titles—all of them stereoscopic 3-D projects—in theaters: How to Train Your Dragon (March 26) is followed by Shrek Forever After (May 21) and Megamind (Nov. 5). Dragon will have to fight for 3-D theater space with Warner Bros.’ Clash of the Titans and Disney’s Alice in Wonderland. Nevertheless, studio CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg told Variety that he believes there will be enough 3D theaters in the multiplexes that exhibition will be able to accommodate multiple releases. "It's not stopping us from getting played," he said. "We have a one time event here in the spring. In less than six months, this logjam at the local movie theater is going to go away."

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Beyond Yellow

The Animation Guild is hosting its second-ever art opening at its new Gallery 839, on Friday, March 5th, from 6 pm to 9 pm. The gallery is located in the new Guild building at 1105 N. Hollywood Way (between Magnolia and Chandler) in Burbank. The show is called Beyond Yellow and showcases the work of Simpsons animators doing what they do outside the realm of Springfield.

(The images above are not part of the show, but are the work of David Barton at

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Exclusive: David Goyer Hired To Write Superman: The Man of Steel

Today is huge comic book movie news Wednesday. With the Captain America finalists breaking over at Marvel, we got something from the world of DC.

Our notorious trusted source 'Pinche Taco' came up big for us...

I know a lot of you folks are going to ask "Isn't Goyer writing the third Batman film?" Goyer is only helping in the story, he ain't writing it. Just like The Dark Knight where he only helped with the story.

Without any further adieu..

Hola Chicos, Pinche Taco here with the latest blatherings de nada de los Ninos de Hollywood!

So you will believe un hombre can fly! Te Juro. The talented David Stephen Goyer, the man who made sure Nolan stuck to the legend of El Dark Knight, has been hired to write the next chapter. Here is what El Taco can tell all you ninos....

1: Thomas Tull, the head of Legendary, got tired of all the discussion and decided chingate, let's do it. So he went to Goyer and Goyer had an idea that actually takes the movies back to the John Byrne incarnation. Modern. Believable. FUN! So Tull got Goyer hired.
2: The film will not be called Superman and will be called THE MAN OF STEEL.
3: Brandon Routh will not star in the film.
4: Nic Cage will NOT star in the fllm (lol)
5: Bryan Singer is not expected to direct.

Conoces como Mark Millar walks around acting like he was going to write it? El Taco discovered that this was always B***S***. Paul Levitz hated the guy and he was never even discussed to write it. He made all that "almost" stuff up.

I can tell you that Goyer's story involves Luthor and Brainiac. It is NOT an origin and assumes audiences already know about Lois, Clark, Jimmy and Perry. I know the Daily Planet is struggling due to the internet. And I know it sets up a huge Kryptonian mythology.

El Taco is muy excited about this. This could be the Superman movie we deserve!

Yo soy El Taco y yo digo adios!

Stay tuned as the story develops.

(Thanks Latino Review)

Steven Spielberg Says 'Tintin' Made Him 'More Like A Painter'

While the release of "The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of The Unicorn" is over a year away, director Steven Spielberg is already speaking out about the advanced motion capture technology — recently featured in "Avatar" — that allowed him to digitally recreate the look of the original "Tintin" comics by Hergé on the silver screen.

"I just adored it,“ said Spielberg during an interview with the Los Angeles Times. “It made me more like a painter than ever before. I got a chance to do so many jobs that I don’t often do as a director. You get to paint with this device that puts you into a virtual world, and allows you to make your shots and block all the actors with a small hand-held device only three times as large as an Xbox game controller.”

Spielberg also elaborated on the reason he and producer Peter Jackson decided to use digital animation to adapt "Tintin" instead of simply shooting the story as a live action film. “It was based on my respect for the art of Hergé and wanting to get as close to that art as I could."

"Hergé wrote about fictional people in a real world, not in a fantasy universe," continued Spielberg. "It was the real universe he was working with, and he used National Geographic to research his adventure stories. It just seemed that live action would be too stylized for an audience to relate to. You’d have to have costumes that are a little outrageous when you see actors wearing them. The costumes seem to fit better when the medium chosen is a digital one.”

The "Tintin" comic series was created by Hergé (a pen name of artist Georges Rémi) back in 1929 and follows the adventures of an intrepid young reporter who travels the world during the early twentieth century. "Tintin" is one of the most popular European comics of all time, with an estimated 200 million copies sold to date.

"The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of The Unicorn" — the first film in a trilogy by Spielberg and Jackson — will star Jamie Bell in the title role, along with Daniel Craig, Simon Pegg, Andy Serkis and Nick Frost. It will be released in the U.S. on December 23, 2011two months after its release in around the world.

Are These Five Actors 'Captain America' Contenders?

"The First Avenger: Captain America" director Joe Johnston spoke about casting Steve Rogers earlier this month, saying that a casting decision was "weeks away." Well, weeks have passed, February is almost over and it appears the role has been narrowed down to five.

According to Deadline Hollywood, the five front-runners for the role of Captain America are Chace Crawford ("Gossip Girl"), John Krasinski ("The Office"), Scott Porter ("Friday Night Lights"), Mike Vogel ("Cloverfield") and Michael Cassidy ("Smallville").

All five actors have reportedly agreed to test deals with Johnston and Marvel Studios. Garrett Hedlund ("Tron Legacy") was allegedly sought for the part, but the actor has not reached a deal to test for the role. Additionally, Deadline reports that whoever lands Captain America must sign for nine other options, including potential sequels to "The First Avenger."

Fans are sure to have their favorites and least favorites amongst the contenders listed, but there is at least one aspect of the report that would be quite troubling if true. Deadline reports that Johnston himself briefly walked away from "Captain America" following a salary dispute. Although the situation was resolved, it's still discouraging to hear about an internal conflict over budget this early on in the production process.

Regardless of the reported woes, it does appear that Marvel and Johnston are getting ready to pull the trigger on their choice for Captain America. At this point, it's simply a matter of waiting to find out who gets to wield the shield.

Latest Avatar-inspired political protest? Save the apes!

All James Cameron wanted to do was blow us away with a bigger blockbuster. But based on the way activists have embraced the Na'vi and their defense of Pandora, it looks like he ended up creating something even bigger than he expected—a potent symbol of protest.

First it was Palestinian activists, who earlier this month marched as Na'vi characters to draw attention to their campaign against a controversial Israeli West Bank barrier. Now another group of protesters have dressed like something out of Avatar, this time to protect endangered orangutans.

Yesterday, a dozen activists from the Centre for Orangutan Protection donned makeup in Jakarta to stage a protest urging the Indonesian government to stop illegal deforestation and save orangutans.

According to Hardi Baktiantoro, COP's orangutan campaigner, "At least 1,200 orangutans left in cages of the rehabilitation centers are one proof of the Forestry Ministry's incapability to run the control. Most of the orangutans are evacuated from deforestation projects' fields, particularly in Central Borneo, where deforestation is done to make way for palm oil plantations."

We sense that these two will be but the first of many Avatar-inspired political protests we'll be seeing. What do you think? Will the Na'vi as symbol end up being bigger than Avatar?

2012's follow-up TV show is dead in the water

Remember last year, when 2012 director Roland Emmerich said that he planned a follow-up TV show called 2013 that would pick up the story of the survivors of the apocalypse?

Well, forget about it.

MovieWeb reports that the project is as dead as the Earth at the end of the Mayan calendar:

Sadly, the scope of the project proved too big for the constraints of serialized television. At this moment in time, the show is being put on hold. Emmerich revealed that pre-production on the purposed 2013 had halted while chatting with us about the upcoming DVD and Blu-ray release of 2012, which is set to hit store shelves on March 2nd, 2010.

Here's what he had to say about the now defunct concept:

It has been reported that you plan on turning 2012 into a television series. Where does production on that stand at this point in time?

Roland Emmerich:
We tried to do that. But the TV people soon realized what we really wanted to do with the concept. They said, "You cannot do this on television." So I said, "Let's not do it. It was just too big for TV. What we wanted to do."

So that TV show is dead in the water?

Roland Emmerich:
It's not totally dead. Mark Gordon is still trying to come up with an idea on how to make it cheaper. I don't think it will happen. I had a certain vision. We realized what kind of compromises we were going to have to make. Because of that, I said, "No thank you."

We were always skeptical that this would work anyway, as much as we kinda liked Earth 2, which this sounded an awful lot like. (Not to mention that if the world really does end in 2012, it won't be on long enough to reach a satisfying conclusion.)

What are the 10 most valuable comics in the world?

Remember that copy of Action #1 that went for a cool $1 million earlier this week, making it the most valuable comic in the world? That got us to thinking—if the first appearance of Superman is #1, what other comics would make up the top 10?

Luckily, The Telegraph was also curious, and rounded up info on the world's 10 most valuable comics ... well, if they could be found in mint condition, that is.

Here's what they came up with:

1) Action Comics No. 1 - $1,390,000
2) Detective Comics No. 27 - $1,380,000
3) Superman No. 1 - $671,000
4) All-American Comics No. 16 - $430,000
5) Detective Comics No. 1 - $405,000
6) Marvel Comics No. 1 - $367,000
7) Batman No. 1 - $359,000
8) More Fun Comics No. 52 - $316,000
9) Flash Comics No. 1 - $289,000
10) Amazing Fantasy No. 15 - $280,000

But considering that, for example, only 100 copies or so of Action Comics #1 have survived, with only two of those graded Very Fine or better, it might be that mint copies of many of these titles will never be found.

Since it's unlikely most of us will ever have a spare $5,887,000, though, I guess that's the least of our worries!

Visit The Telegraph for more info and a complete illustrated gallery.

New Trailer For M. Night Shyamalan's 'The Last Airbender' Hits TV

A new television spot for M. Night Shyamalan's "The Last Airbender" has arrived online. While it doesn't feature much new footage from the film, there are a few new shots of Avatar in action.

Oh, and Appa the Sky Bison? He's in there, too.

"The Last Airbender" is scheduled to hit theaters July 2, 2010.

Is David Goyer Writing 'Man Of Steel' Superman Movie? [UPDATED]

Superman's next big-screen adventure has a new writer and working title, and they should both be familiar to comic book fans. According to online reports, "Batman Begins" co-writer David Goyer will pen the screenplay for a film titled "The Man Of Steel" that will see DC's iconic hero fly back into theaters.

UPDATE: AintItCoolNews reports that Goyer is not a lock to write "Man of Steel," according to Legendary Pictures founder Thomas Tull.

Variety reports that Goyer's script will involve significantly more action than 2006's "Superman Returns," and will feature the hero battling Lex Luthor and Brainiac. Neither "Superman Returns" actor Brandon Routh nor director Bryan Singer are expected to return for the film.

The news first broke about Goyer's involvement on Latino Review earlier today, but the site indicated that Goyer will not be writing the film. Warner Bros. has offered no official confirmation of his attachment, duties, or any other details surrounding the film at this point.

According to the initial report, the film will not be a traditional origin story, though it will set up "a huge Kryptonian mythology."

The uncertainty regarding Goyer's status as the film's screenwriter or simply a helping hand with the story (a la his role in "The Dark Knight") raises a number of questions — namely, how he'll be able to juggle writing duties on both "Man of Steel" and the next Batman movie if he is indeed scripting both projects.

However, fans should take heart in the notion of Goyer having some involvement with the Superman franchise, as it makes a crossover with Batman significantly easier to orchestrate. "Justice League," anyone?

Coolest school mascot ever? Ole Miss wants Admiral Ackbar

It's a trap!

Or not: Students at the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) are considering making Star Wars' Admiral Ackbar—the lobster-headed leader of the Mon Calamari—their new mascot.

We kid you not.

According to Zap2It (and Access Hollywood), some students at the school want the rebel leader from Return of the Jedi to replace Colonel Reb, a controversial figure, who was retired in 2003. Rebel Nation, leader of the Rebel Alliance, get it?

Students get the final vote. And not to be shellfish, but George Lucas may have something to say about it as well.

Insert your own joke here about tiny forks and melted butter.

What do you think of this cool idea?