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?

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