Monday, March 1, 2010

News - 03/01/10...

Early review for Alice in Wonderland

Variety has one of the very first reviews for Disney's much anticipated Alice in Wonderland movie. The response, however, is lukewarm at best, with the critic saying that the film "has its moments of delight, humor and bedazzlement. But it also becomes more ordinary as it goes along, building to a generic battle climax similar to any number of others in CGI-heavy movies of the past few years." Many more reviews for the Tim Burton movie are sure to appear online over the next few days, with the film hitting theaters and IMAX screens March 4, 2010.

Final How to Train Your Dragon trailer

The final trailer for DreamWorks Animation’s How to Train Your Dragon can now be found online over at Yahoo! Movies. The animated adventure comedy, featuring the voices of Jay Baruchel, Gerald Butler and America Ferrera, is set to breath fire in theaters and IMAX 3D on March 26th.

Finalists named for Cartoon Movie 2010 Tributes

Directors and companies from France, Belgium, Sweden, Spain and Poland have been nominated as finalists for Cartoon Movie 2010 Tributes, the awards for outstanding contribution to the development of European animation over the last year.

The winners will be selected by the animation professionals attending Cartoon Movie 2010, the co-production forum for European animated feature films, making the awards one of the industry's most prestigious and respected honors.

Organized by CARTOON -- the European Association of Animation Film -- the prize winners will be announced Friday, March 5 at the Centre de Congrès in Lyon, France.

In line with previous editions, Cartoon Movie Tributes will select the Best Director, Distributor and Producer of the Year.

The list of nominees -- representing genres as varied as traditional tales, comedies and futuristic fiction and animation techniques ranging from stop-motion and 2D to stereoscopic 3D -- reflects the diversity and richness of European animation. Five of the six films nominated are co-productions between two or more European countries.

The list of the nominees includes:

Best European Director of the Year
Stephane Aubier & Vincent Patar for Panique au Village (Belgium)
Tarik Saleh for Metropia (Sweden)
Dominique Monfery for Eleanor's Secret (France)

Best European Distributor of the Year
Dreams World Sales (France)
Kino S'wiat (Poland)
Wild Bunch Distribution (France)

Best European Producer of the Year
Ilion Animation Studios for Planet 51 (Spain)
Herold & Family for The True Story of Puss'n Boots (France)
nWave Pictures for Around the World in 50 Years (Belgium)

In 2009, the big winner of the Cartoon Movie Tributes was the film The Secret of Kells -- a co-production between Ireland, France and Belgium recently nominated for the Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film -- which took Best Director (Tomm Moore) and Best Producer (Cartoon Saloon, Les Armateurs and Vivi Film) awards. France's BAC Films was selected Best Distributor of the year.

Cartoon Movie 2010 is organized with the support of the MEDIA Programme of the European Union, CNC (Centre national du cinéma et de l'image animée), the Rhône-Alpes Region, Greater Lyon and in collaboration with the Cluster Imaginove (Lyon). Since 1999, more than 140 projects with a total budget of 1 billion euros have obtained full financing, thanks to this annual forum aimed at strengthening the production and distribution of animated feature films in Europe.

Britain's Odeon chain averts boycott of "Alice"

A last-minute deal with Walt Disney resulted Thursday in Britain's largest theater chain reversing a previously announced boycott of the 3-D feature film Alice In Wonderland, just hours ahead of the film's royal world premiere in London.

Following talks that lasted late into the night, Odeon announced in a statement that after "detailed negotiations with the Walt Disney Company Ltd., an enduring agreement has been reached encompassing all the different aspects of both companies' commercial relationship." Neither Odeon nor the Mouse House would disclose terms of the agreement.

Tim Burton's fantasy adventure debuted late Thursday at Odeon's Leicester Square cinema. Audience members included Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.

Alice in Wonderland will now be shown in its theaters across the Britain, Ireland and Italy, as well as in previously announced movie houses in Spain, Germany, Portugal and Austria.

Earlier this week, Odeon announced that it would boycott the film in England, Ireland and Italy due to Disney's decision to release it on DVD only 12 weeks after it reached theatres. Usually, the delay is about 17 weeks.

Odeon felt that the move would set a precedent, hurting theater owners who had recently spent "considerable sums of money" to retrofit their cinemas for upcoming 3-D movies.

Cineworld and Vue, two competing theater chains, had agreed to a 13-week window between their debut of Alice in Wonderland and its release on DVD.

Starring Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, newcomer Mia Wasikowska and many veteran British stars, Alice in Wonderland opens in wide release Friday, March 5 across North America and Europe.

Simpsons up for 2 awards for mental health issues

Cartoon sitcom "The Simpsons" has been nominated for two Prism Awards, presented annually for outstanding accomplishments in the accurate depiction of drug, alcohol and tobacco use and addiction, as well as mental health issues.

A previous winner of the award, The Simpsons was nominated once again for comedy series episode. In this case, it was The Good, The Sad And The Drugly, which aired last April 19.

In "The Good, The Sad and the Drugly," while doing a report on Springfield in the future, Lisa becomes depressed at the fate of the world. She is cheered up by an anti-depressant for children, Ignorital, until Marge realizes that her daughter has lost too much touch with reality.

Also nominated in the comedy series category are Glee: "Vitamin D," How I Met Your Mother: "Last Cigarette Ever," Monk: "Mr. Monk Goes to Group Therapy" and United States of Tara: Season 1.

For his work in The Simpsons, Dan Castellanetta is one of the five nominees in the category of Performance in a Comedy Series. Hector Elizondo and Tony Shalhoub were nominated separately for Monk. Other nominees are Toni Collette (United States of Tara) and Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother).

The Prism Awards are presented by the Entertainment Industries Council, Inc. in collaboration with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, FX Network and News Corporation. This is the 14th year of the awards.

Nominees were announced Thursday by EIC CEO Brian Dyak. "This year's nominees are a remarkable mix of popular entertainment that also have a message," said John Landgraf, president and general manager of FX, and chairman of the Prism Awards Honorary Committee.

Oscar-nominated cartoon shorts coming to Canada

For the first time, Canadians will get to see Oscar-nominated animated and live-action shorts in wide theatrical release ahead of the Academy Awards.

Cineplex Entertainment, a theater chain with screens from Quebec to British Columbia, said that it plans three days of shorts leading up to the Sunday, March 7 awards ceremony.

In previous years, Academy Award-nominated shorts have sometimes been available online or at special screenings in advance of Oscars. However, according to Cineplex, this is the first year that they're being shows on the big screen on as wide a scale in Canada.

On Thursday, March 4, cinemas will screen the animated shorts French Roast (Fabrice O. Joubert, France), Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty (Nicky Phelan and Darragh O'Connell, Ireland), The Lady and the Reaper (La Dama y la Muerte) (Javier Recio Gracia, Spain), Logorama (Nicolas Schmerkin, Argentina) and A Matter of Loaf and Death (Nick Park, United Kingdom).

Live-action shorts will be screened Monday, March 1. Both animated and live-action shorts will be shown March 7, the day of the Oscars.

Cartoons in Cinemascope

Next Tuesday, at my usual monthly screening at The Silent Movie Theater, I’ll be running a great selection of 1950s cartoons in widescreen CinemaScope. I will be showing rare 35mm and 16mm prints - many in Technicolor. Among the titles being screened will be Ward Kimball’s Toot Whistle Plunk and Boom and the Donald Duck Grand CanyonScope from Disney, Tom & Jerry and Droopy cartoons from MGM, Mr. Magoo and Gerald McBoing Boing from UPA, and a slew of rare Terrytoons, including Flebus, Dinky Duck in It’s A Living, and many others including R.O. Blechman’s Juggler Of Our Lady (narrated by Boris Karloff).

Join us at 8pm, 611 N. Faifax Avenue (one block south of Melrose) in Hollywood. For more information or to reserve tickets check the CineFamily website - or join our Facebook page.

(Thanks cartoon brew)

A Free Animation Book Idea For You

Concept art from John Hubley’s Finian’s Rainbow

This repost of John Canemaker’s article about John Hubley’s unproduced feature Finian’s Rainbow reminded me of a book idea I’ve had for years. With my full plate of writing, editing, and creative directing various book projects, I know I’m never going to get around to doing this book, but I believe in the idea so I’m going to put it out there and hope somebody runs with it.

Here’s what I’d like to see: a richly illustrated coffeetable book that explores unproduced animated features. Kind of like Charles Solomon’s The Disney That Never Was minus all the dull-as-dishwater Disney projects. There’s a good reason why most of those Disney films were never produced! (An exception might be made for Marc Davis and Ken Anderson’s Chanticleer.) Looking past Disney, there is an extensive catalog of daring and colorful feature animation projects that were unrealized. It’s an eye-opening alternative animation history that spans some of the art form’s biggest names. Anybody who tackles the book should be sure to include:

* Orson Welles’ The Little Prince (developed with Hugh Harman and Mel Shaw)
* UPA’s The White Deer (developed by Leo Salkin and Aurelius Battaglia)
* John Hubley’s Finian’s Rainbow
* John Dunn and Vic Haboush’s Wolgalooly
* Richard Williams’ Thief and the Cobbler
* George Dunning’s The Tempest
* Fred Calvert’s Don Quixote (developed by Ray Aragon)
* Yuri Norstein’s The Overcoat
* Tom Carter Productions’ Huck’s Landing
* TMS’ Little Nemo: Adventures In Slumberland (with various crews that included Hayao Miyazaki, Chuck Jones, George Lucas, Isao Takahata, Ray Bradbury, Frank Thomas and Brad Bird)
* Ralph Bakshi’s Last Days of Coney Island
* Bill and Sue Kroyer’s Arrow
* Brad Bird’s Ray Gunn

The “what could have been” factor of these films is a persistent source of fascination for me. Any number of these projects had the potential to change the course of the art form. Imagine if Orson Welles had released an animated feature at the height of his influence, or if John Hubley’s vision of mature feature animation had come to fruition in the 1950s. Some of these films were indeed produced in bastardized forms (Little Nemo and Arabian Knight are examples), but most perished for a variety of reasons like financing, a director’s inability to finish, a director’s death, the Hollywood blacklist, or in the case of Huck’s Landing, the head of the studio being sent to prison.

Putting together this book won’t be easy. Whoever does it will have to do tons of research and detective work; it would even be wise perhaps to divide it amongst a cadre of historians and writers to ensure that the book is finished in a reasonable period of time. But if executed properly, I have no doubt it would be an entertaining, educational, and thoroughly unique contribution to animation literature.

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Bird Idol

If you thought this week’s Speedy Gonzales news was bad… Warner Bros. has now teamed with Bollywood to create Bird Idol:

(Thanks, Aaron Simpson)

(Thanks cartoon brew)

"VeggieTales: Pistachio - The Little Boy That Woodn't" Comes to DVD March 2, 2010

Big Idea, Inc. will be releasing an all-new VeggieTales DVD on March 2, 2010. Pistachio - The Little Boy that Woodn't will be a parody of the classic fairy tale Pinocchio, and is intended to teach children about the importance of family and listening to their parents. The DVD carries a suggested retail price of $14.98. The trailer for the new DVD is embedded below:

Big Idea is also running a sweepstakes for a free cruise from now until August 31, 2010. The cruise will run from November 8-12, 2010, from Miami, FL, to Nassau, Bahamas; CocoCay; and Key West. Visit their website for more information and to enter.

Reuters Speaks with John Lasseter About Animation

Reuters has posted a short Q&A with Disney Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter about a variety of topics, including whether he worries if a Pixar film will stumble, how he feels about last year's slate of animated movies, the changes he's instituted at Disney since becoming Chief Creative Officer, and what he thinks the secret of Pixar's success is.

Ben Stiller and Christine Taylor to Guest Star on "Phineas & Ferb" on March 8, 2010

Disney XD has announced that Ben Stiller and Christine Taylor will guest star in a new episode of Phineas and Ferb slated to premiere on Disney XD on March 8, 2010, with a re-broadcast on March 12, 2010, on the Disney Channel. The husband-and-wife duo, who are parents to Phineas and Ferb fans, will play a supervillain and his nagging wife who challenge Phineas and Ferb in the mistaken belief that they are superheroes.

The full press release follows:


Emmy Award-winning Ben Stiller and Christine Taylor guest star in an action-packed episode of TV's #1 animated series for kids and tweens, "Phineas and Ferb," premiering MONDAY, MARCH 8 (8:00 p.m., ET/PT) on Disney XD. It will also be presented Friday, March 12 (9:00 p.m., ET/PT) on Disney Channel. The real-life husband and wife are the parents of "Phineas and Ferb" fans.

In the episode entitled "The Beak," Stiller voices a super villain and Taylor plays his nagging wife. Stiller's character arrives in Danville to challenge Phineas and Ferb after the boys are mistaken as a superhero (while wearing an indestructible suit they designed to safely conquer their newly built extreme skate-track) known as The Beak. With the super villain wreaking havoc, it's up to Phineas and Ferb to thwart him while Dr. Doofenshmirtz tells the people of the Tri-State area that he is in charge, in hopes that they will actually just go along with it.

"Phineas and Ferb" airs on Disney XD and Disney Channels in more than 135 countries and in 26 languages around the world. In the U.S., "Phineas and Ferb" has ranked as TV’s #1 animated series among Kids 6-11 and Tweens 9-14 for two consecutive years. In addition, "Phineas and Ferb" is Disney XD’s #1 animated series in key demos. The series carries a TV-G parental guideline.

A Trailer For Matthew Talbot Kelly's Animated Short The Trembling Veil of Bones

A co-production of The National Film Board of Canada and The Irish Film Board, Matthew Talbot Kelly's animated short The Trembling Veil Of Bones not only has a fantastic title, it now also has a trailer.

The Trembling Veil of Bones is the story of an anachronistic clockmaker Bones whose stagnant life is thrown into disarray when a centaur postman robot delivers a package from an unforgotten love of thirty years ago. Opening the package drives Bones into a surreal outside world and triggers a series of surprising encounters with, among others, a crow and a blind man. Bones is caught between being human and puppet... between acting and being manipulated. The film is a hybrid of live action and animation.

Yes, the centaur robot postman appears in the trailer. Check it below.

(Thanks Twitch)

The Apocalypse comes in Stop Motion in German Short Omega

The nameless planet. A never-ending wasteland dominated by bizarre trash formations, dust and rock. But this desert of junk and toxic waste is not lifeless at all. Out of the scattered remains of a long forgotten culture crawl the most curious metallic creatures.

A stop-motion short produced by animation students in Germany, Omega is, simply enough, one very impressive piece of work. Stop motion remains one of the most expressive forms of animation when well done and it is very well done here, indeed.

Visit the official blog

(Thanks Twitch)

First Teaser from Yuasa's Yojohan Shinwa Taikei

Will I pretend to have any idea what this is actually about? Nope. Nor will I pretend to care. Yojohan Shinwa Taikei is the latest television offering from Mind Game director Yuasa Masaaki and that's all I need to know. Yuasa is one of the great talents of the animation world and any new material from the man is cause to take notice. The first teaser for this one has just arrived and, once again, it represents a radical shift in style for the director. Check it out here.

Visit the official site

(Thanks Twitch)

English Trailer for Koji Masunari's Welcome to the Space Show

Japan had a rather good year at this year's Berlin Film Festival with titles scattered throughout all programs. Turning up in the youth-oriented section was Koji Masunari's Welcome To The Space Show, a family friendly sci-fi adventure that reunited Masunari with his Read Or Die creative team. Here's how the festival described it:

A tiny mountain village in a remote woodland region. Five primary school kids have come together in this idyllic spot in order to spend their summer holidays at a camp. At first the children enjoy carefree days amidst unspoiled nature far away from adult supervision. But their life changes dramatically when they come across what they believe to be a small dog, badly in need of help. The creature - known as Pochi - turns out not to be a dog at all but an alien on an important mission. It seems there is a mysterious substance on earth that is coveted throughout the universe. Pochi had almost found it but was so badly injured during a fight that he had to give up his search. Thanks to the children's help, the alien survives - and decides to reward them generously. "Where would you most like to travel?" is the question Pochi puts to his rescuers. Their answer is prompt, if vague: "As far as possible!" Pochi suggests they try the moon first of all, and so, the alien whisks away the kids to the satellite next door. This marks the beginning of an absolutely amazing adventure. During the course of their travels they discover that the substance coveted throughout the universe is in fact also integral to Japanese cuisine - and it just so happens that one of the kids has some of this mysterious substance in his pocket.

An English-friendly trailer for the film has just been added to the official site and it's looking very good. Take a look below.

(Thanks Twitch)

Experimental Animator Eric Leiser Returns With Glitch in the Grid

Eric Leiser seems out of place in the USA. We first came across the talented animator with his feature film Imagination, an experimental fusion of live action, stop motion animation and other techniques as much at home in an art gallery - there are rumblings of future screenings at the MOMA - as in the theater. Leiser's work feel much more European than American in approach, which should probably come as no surprise since he honed his craft in Prague.

And now he's back with Glitch in the Grid, another fusion of live action with a variety of stop motion techniques. Leiser moves from fairly traditional model work to large scale manipulation of nature here to create something entirely unique. The cinematography on the live action parts could use a bit more polish but the animation is pretty stunning.

Visit Leiser's official site

(Thanks Twitch)

Fresh Offerings From Canadian Animator Leslie Supnet.

Back in August we pointed the way to a stellar short film by Canadian animator Leslie Supnet. Titled A Fair Trade it was a compelling fusion of cut out animation and trance inducing music. Well, Supnet has been busy in the months since, producing two more significant works - plus some shorter bits - since.

Of the two works we're posting here, Hang In There - pictured above - employs Supnet's signature style while Sun Moon Stars Rain takes her in a new, but just as impressive, direction. Check them below.


(Thanks Twitch)

How To Train Your Dragon One Month Away

Loads of new footage in the latest How to Train Your Dragon trailer. Some nice one liners from Jonah Hill’s character, Snotlout, and some pretty badass looking battle sequences. HTTYD arrives in theaters on March 26th.

Musclebeaver Gets Credit For Money PSA

The Munich-based graphic design and animation studio Musclebeaver produced this PSA for Green City Energy. Using angular and often isometric designs, the team illustrates what your money does when you’re not looking. It’s aptly titled How Your Money Works.

Cintiqs' Speed Traps

A member e-mailed me the following this morning:

I recently purchased a Cintiq, and really enjoy using it. My concern is, now that everyone is switching over to digital drawing, I think that the studios have unrealistic expectations as to the time savings. Studio X has cut a week off the storyboard schedules. ... Even though we're working on computers now, it still takes time to make the drawings, and the computer is just a different tool. I would like to see if other union members agree with me, or if they have found that using a computer really does speed up the process.

I've talked to a number of board artists who've jumped to Cintiqs, and almost all of them like it. They enjoy the fact they don't have to redraw everything or endlessly cut, paste and Xerox; they like the storage capabilities. But many get frustrated with new demands that they turn out more material at a faster pace when there is still a hell of a lot of drawing to do, drawing that still takes a hell of a lot of skill, concentration and time.


(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Becoming a Disney Writer

A commenter asks:

I hope to become a screenwriter for Disney, any tips?

Becoming a screenwriter at Disney Animation is a bit more complicated than when I did it back at the time James Garfield was President.

In the mid seventies, TAG Veep Earl Kress and I applied for positions in Disney Feature story department. Amazingly enough, we both got the nod. The company was looking for fresh blood and they weren't concerned whether you had a lengthy professional resume or not. (I had an unpublished novel and a few published magazine articles in my back pack. Big whoop.)

But amazingly enough, Earl and I ended up being staff writers, and were there for some years. But I don't think the route we hiked -- coming in as novice screenwriters -- exists anymore.

In the 1970s, Disney was a small studio, a sleepy backwater that mainstream Hollywood ignored. And what Hollywood really had no interest in, back in the day, was ninety minutes of hand-drawn animation. Because of that, the studio hired employees for its little cartoon department (led by former animator and Army Air Force pilot Woolie Reitherman and the last of the Nine Old Men) without regard to how impressive their previous Hollywood work was, or if they had any work at all. Most everybody was a newbie. Almost nobody came with a list of screen credits.

Today, however, the animation biz is HUGE, and hugely important to the conglomerates' bottom lines. None of the studios -- not DreamWorks Animation, not Disney, not Pixar or Blue Sky Studios or Sony Pictures Animation -- leave animation scripting to twenty-somethings with zero big league credits. All of them now use high profile writers from the live-action realm. From the corporate perspective, the stakes are too high not to.

Sometimes this approach works out fine, and sometimes studios spend a lot of money for a hundred twenty pages of deathless prose that even a team of seasoned board artists are unable to salvage. The newer reality is, if you want to write for Walt Disney Animation Studios or any of the rest, you better have a couple of high-grossing films under your belt, or they won't give you the time of day.

So here's my tip: Charge out there and get some credits that say: "Screenplay By." Then go write some animated features.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

With the Yellow Family

I spent half my morning at The Simpsons studio Film Roman, and learned one new fact I hadn't been aware of before ....

Though most everyone works on Cintiqs (see above), I noticed that layout artists were busy cutting pieces out of their layout setups and reworking them on paper. I wondered aloud why they were working with long white sheets when the Cintiq tablets were right at their shoulders. They answered:

"Rough Draft, the studio in Korea, doesn't work with the digital files, It uses paper. So we draw layouts digitally and print them out, work with them some more, cut and resize, hole punch the drawings and get them ready for shipping. It's the way it's always been with the overseas studio: layouts on sheets of paper ..."

Meantime, Bart and the rest of the brood march on through their 21st season:

On Sunday night original episodes of animated favorites THE SIMPSONS, THE CLEVELAND SHOW, and AMERICAN DAD grew significantly over their previous week’s performances.

At 8p
THE SIMPSONS posted a 2.9/8 among Adults 18-49, marking a +12% increase over the previous week.
THE CLEVELAND SHOW in the 8:30p timeslot delivered a 2.8/7 among Adults 18-49, gaining +17% over the previous week.

At 9:30p
AMERICAN DAD achieved a 2.8/6 among Adults 18-49, up +12% versus the previous week.

I hear Simpsons artists speculate on how many more seasons The Simpsons will keep going, and how long them might have jobs. I guess some of that depends on the next round of the voice actors' demands, but the ratings seem to be holding up.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

A Gathering Of Links

As we move to March, we give you another cluster of linkage to Cartoon News you can review and discard, as you see fit.

The New York Times details the wonder of the New York International Children's Film Festival:

New York International Children’s Film Festival

One of the most intriguing features in the New York International Children’s Film Festival is all about Oz. But this place has no Dorothy, no wizard, no Emerald City. And it’s even farther from Kansas.

Here Oz is a virtual universe controlling everything from traffic signals to nuclear missile codes. Its sudden, fateful hacking by the Love Machine, a rogue artificial intelligence, forms the plot of
“Summer Wars,” by the up-and-coming Japanese anime director Mamoru Hosoda ....

The Croods, in mid-stream story development at DreamWorks Animation, is filling its cast list.

Nicolas Cage and Ryan Reynolds have reportedly signed to play caveman in the CG-animated comedy The Croods.

According to Variety, Cage will voice Crug, a patriarch of a Neanderthal family who cautiously leads his relatives to a new land after their home is destroyed.

Reynolds is to voice a progressive-thinking outsider who challenges Crug ....

Reuters asks John Lasseter various questions:

"Toy Story," "Finding Nemo," "The Incredibles," "Ratatouille" "Wall-E" and now "Up" have all earned best screenplay Oscar nominations. What's the secret?

"I believe in research. Each movie at Pixar involves research with college professors or taking trips to learn as much as we can about a particular subject matter...I have met a lot of top chefs around the world during my travels. Each one of them has said "Ratatouille" is their favorite movie and the only movie that truly captures what they do. Auto Week called "Cars" the best car movie because the details were spot on."

A Yalie complains about the lack of dramatic animations:

There is not a single dramatic animated short up for an Academy Award this year. Not a single instance of animation defying the seemingly perpetual relegation of the medium to comedy — of animation that does not rely (at least in part) on slapstick humor to tell its story. Why?

Granted, I may be more insulted by this than most ...

Yes, I imagine you are.

Animated news, the next frontier (and Tiger Woods was just the beginning):

Animated news: blurring the line between fact and fiction?

Are CGI envisionings of a killer whale attack, Brown's alleged bullying and what goes on in the male brain the future of news?

First there was the animation of Tiger Woods's car crash, which went viral. Then came the video showing a perhaps exaggerated version of Gordon Brown's alleged bullying. Western journalists have been forced to take notice of animated news ...

And we can all rest easy, because the Big Mouse has worked out it's British theater chain problem:

Odeon/UCI cinemas has agreed to an eleventh-hour deal with Disney to show "Alice in Wonderland" in the circuit's U.K. theaters.

The agreement follows a separate deal with U.K. exhib Vue, ending a controversy that had threatened to squeeze Tim Burton's 3D pic out of the local theatrical market. The Odeon agreement was announced Thursday, as Disney prepared to stage the world premiere of
"Alice" in front of Prince Charles at the circuit's flagship cinema on Leicester Square...

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Mo Cap Manipulation

Bill Kroyer, director and animation veteran, has one of the better takes on motion capture:

"Pure motion capture is essentially another form of puppetry, and we don't consider puppetry, which involves real-time manipulation, to be animation," explains Bill Kroyer, an animation director at the Rhythm and Hues effects studio. "We've always defined animation as frame-by-frame filmmaking, which means the artist has the ability to go in and manipulate the action frame by frame.

"It gets tricky because it's all hybrid now, especially motion capture," he continues.
"You're starting with a real-time file, but in almost every film, the motion capture has been adjusted frame by frame. Even in 'A Christmas Carol' or 'Beowulf,' they couldn't capture eyes and mouths; those had to be animated."

The thing of it is, raw, unadorned motion capture, like live action photostats traced slavishly onto hole-pegged paper, doesn't grab audiences very much. Both look kind of floaty and bizarre if animators don't get in there and massage them.

Years ago, a DreamWorks staffer told me about a mo cap test for Shrek, early in its development:

"Jeffrey looked at it and said 'it doesn't work,' and everybody agreed that the picture was going to be animated. And we'd spent a bunch of money on the test ..."

This isn't, sadly, a new phenomenon.

Ralph Bakshi told The Times he rotoscoped his entire film of "The Lord of the Rings" "to get the total realistic motion that animation has never gotten before." But the results looked weightless, awkward and far less convincing than good freehand animation. The film elicits snickers when it screens today ...

Mo cap and roto are fine tools, but they don't work particularly well if there's no artistic brain working at the computer or light board, honing and shaping them into believable performances.

No matter what live action filmmakers say, they can't erase animators out of the process, because without them, the results neither convince nor compel audiences to accept the images up there on that big, wide screen..

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

The opening montage of Up

Up director Pete Docter discusses the film’s emotional opening montage with The Envelope. The largely silent sequence takes Carl and his beloved, Ellie, from childhood to old age, giving him a reason to fly his entire house to South America.

"Dora the Explorer" discovers win at Image Awards

A holiday episode of "Dora the Explorer" was named Outstanding Children's Program at the NAACP Image Awards on Friday during a ceremony dominated by the movie Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire.

The Dora episode "Dora's Christmas Carol Adventure" won out over other animated entries The Backyardigans: "The Action Elves Save Christmas" and Go, Diego, Go!: "Diego Reunites Hippopotamus and Oxpecker." All three shows aired on Nickelodeon.

The Princess And The Frog, Walt Disney Studios' first feature film with a heroine of African origin, lost to Precious in the category of Outstanding Motion Picture.

Also at the 41st awards in Los Angeles, Anika Noni Rose, who stars as the voice of Tiana in the Disney film, lost for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture to Gabourey Sidibe (Precious)

Caitlin Sanchez (Dora the Explorer) and LaShawn Jeffries (The Backyardigans) had been nominated for Outstanding Performance in a Youth/Children's Program (Series or Special). However, the winner was Keke Palmer for the live-action Nickelodeon series True Jackson, VP.

Other awards won by the live-action Precious were best independent feature, supporting actress (Mo'Nique), writer (Geoffrey Fletcher) and director (Lee Daniels).

"Batman: The Brave And The Bold," "Justice League" Schedule Details For March 2010

Details for upcoming Batman: The Brave and The Bold episodes scheduled to air in March 2010 on Cartoon Network are now available. Also, the Canadian network Teletoon has released schedule information for both Batman: The Brave and The Bold and Justice League episodes slated to air on the network for March 2010.

Cartoon Network has released schedule details for Batman: The Brave and The Bold episodes slated to air on the network during March 2010, including the premiere of the highly-anticipated "The Super-Batman from Planet X!" episode. The episode, originally scheduled to air in early February 2010, is now currently scheduled to air Friday, March 26th, 2010 at 7:30pm (ET) on the network. New episodes of the acclaimed Batman: The Brave and The Bold animated series are expected to then continue airing into April 2010. Schedule details for Batman: The Brave and The Bold installments slated to air in March 2010 are available below.

Friday, March 5th, 2010 at 7:30pm (ET) - "Sidekicks Assemble!"
Aqualad, Robin and Speedy have had it with being bossed around and demand a piece of the action, but they get more than they bargained for when they find themselves facing off against Ra's Al-Ghul and his flying island!

Friday, March 12th, 2010 at 7:30pm (ET) - "Clash of the Metal Men!"
Batman is introduced to a team of energetic androids known as the Metal Men. When their creator goes missing at the hands of the Gas Gang, Batman helps them track the villains to get him back.

Friday, March 19th, 2010 at 7:30pm (ET) - "A Bat Divided!"
A school field trip goes awry when Dr. Double X causes a lab explosion that fuses slacker science teacher Ronnie to his genius pupil Jason, creating the reluctant hero Firestorm...and unbeknownst them, it leaves Batman divided into three parts!

Friday, March 26th, 2010 at 7:30pm (ET) - "The Super-Batman of Planet X!" -- NEW!
Batman lands on this distant planet Zurr En Arrh and finds a doppelganger Batman, but more surprisingly, on this planet the Caped Crusader has super powers! Together they battle the mad genius Rhotul, who soon learns Batman's super weakness.

New installments of Batman: The Brave and The Bold are slated to air well into 2010 on Cartoon Network. Please note schedule details are subject to change without notice.

Continuing, The Canadian network Teletoon has also released March 2010 programming details. Below are official descriptions and airdates for episodes of the Batman: The Brave and The Bold animated series slated during March 2010 on the network. Please note the information listed below is provided by Teletoon.

Sunday, March 7th, 2010 at 9:00am (ET) - "Dawn of the Deadman!"
Deadman and Batman team up as spirits to stop Gentleman Ghost from raising an army of undead criminals.

Sunday, March 14th, 2010 at 9:00am (ET) - "Fall of the Blue Beetle!"
Blue Beetle traces his legacy back to the original Blue Beetle, which leads him to the dangerous Science Island.

Sunday, March 21st, 2010 at 9:00am (ET) - "Journey to the Center of the Bat!"
Batman is poisoned by Chemo, who is under the Brain's control, and Atom and Aquaman shrink down to fight the virus in his bloodstream.

Sunday, March 28th, 2010 at 9:00am (ET) - "The Eyes of Despero!"
The GL corps is MIA after a battle with Despero and Batman must team with G'Nort, Guy Gardner and Sinestro to defeat Despero before he turns the living Green Lantern planet into a weapon.

Batman: The Brave and The Bold airs every Sunday at 9am (ET) on the Teletoon "Action Force" programming block, with Sunday-premiering episodes re-airing Fridays at 7pm (ET) as part of the "Superfan Fridays" programming block. Please note Batman: The Brave and The Bold will be pre-empted on Friday, March 12th, 2010 and Friday, March 19th, 2010 due to special event programming on Teletoon.

In additional schedule updates, below are official descriptions and airdates for the episodes of the classic Justice League animated series slated for March 2010 on Teletoon. Once again, the information listed below is provided by Teletoon.

Friday, March 5th, 2010 at 8:00pm (ET) - "Fury, Part Two"
When a renegade Amazon named Aresia takes control of Lex Luthor's old gang, Wonder Woman and Hawkgirl must unite to stop her from destroying Man's World.

Friday, March 26th, 2010 at 8:00pm (ET) - "Legends, Part One"
During a fight with Lex Luthor, the superheroes of the Justice League are blasted into an alternate reality where they meet the Justice Guild of America, a group of old-fashioned comic book heroes.

Justice League regularly airs every Friday at 8:00pm (ET) on the Teletoon "Superfan Fridays" programming block. Please note Justice League will also be pre-empted on Friday, March 12th, 2010 and Friday, March 19th, 2010 due to special event programming on Teletoon. Click here for further details on Justice League.

Craig and Titmouse Prep Barko For a Festival Run

Big congrats going out to Allison Craig today – she finished her short film, Barko. This 7-minute short about a sad circus dog was produced at Titmouse Inc, and it’s now being prepped for the festival cicuit. Here’s the trailer:

Redl and Yang Orbit Around Globe Guy

Dave Redl, the artist behind the comic-turned-animated-series Family Pants, is feeling the globe’s pain. In a new Flash-animated PSA, titled Globe Guy, Redl illustrates what our planet might be thinking about our day-to-day activities up here on the surface. Redl directed, animated and edited, while James Yang designed the piece.

Partridge Joins the Twitter Tribe

Having a Twitter account can be embarrassing, uncomfortable or even downright painful. But now, thanks to Flash animation, you don’t have to suffer. You can simply announce the existence of your Twitter account without all of the typical side effects. Take Harry Partridge, for instance, who recently boarded the Twitter train

Gallant Harvests Juicy Cool Commercial

Canadian animator Jamie Gallant produced this TV spot last year for Juicy Cool, the stand-up pouch that comes with a straw inside.

'Madame Tutli-Putli' creators are back with Higglety Pigglety Pop! or There Must Be More to Life

The Oscar nominated directors of Madame Tutli-Putli are at it again with another whimsical short film Higglety Pigglety Pop! or There Must Be More to Life. Based on the book by Maurice Sendak it features the voice talents of Meryl Streep and Forest Whitaker. It will be featured as an exclusive short on the Where the Wild Things Are Warner Home Video Blu-ray out March 2.

The full press release is after the break.

The National Film Board of Canada and Warner Home Video present a new live-action/animated adaptation of Higglety Pigglety Pop! or There Must Be More to Life based on the book by Maurice Sendak. A film by the creators of the Oscar-nominated short Madame Tutli-Putli, Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski, features the voices of Meryl Streep and Forest Whitaker. Produced by Spike Jonze, Vincent Landay and Marcy Page.

Higglety Pigglety Pop! or There Must Be More to Life will be featured as an exclusive short on the Where the Wild Things Are Warner Home Video Blu-ray out March 2. On February 28, the film will have its world premiere at the Festival International du Film pour Enfants de Montréal (Montreal Children's International Film Festival) followed by a special presentation with the directors and the puppeteers. The NFB will distribute a DVD scheduled for summer 2010.

Higglety Pigglety Pop! or There Must Be More to Life tells the story of Jennie, who once had everything. She had two bowls to eat from, two pillows, and for cold weather a red wool sweater. She even had a master who loved her. But Jennie didn't care. In the middle of the night she packed everything she had in a black leather bag with gold buckles and looked out of her favourite window for the last time. Higglety Pigglety Pop! or There Must Be More to Life follows Jennie's surreal, suspenseful and unexpectedly moving journey to gain new experiences and realize her dream of becoming the star of the World Mother Goose Theatre.

Since 1997 Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski have formed the artistic partnership called Clyde Henry Productions. The pair have created award-winning films, ads, illustrations, comics, and music videos. Their first professional film, Madame Tutli-Putli, produced by Marcy Page for the National Film Board of Canada, received international acclaim - over 50 awards to date, among them the Best Short Film and Rail d'or prizes at the Cannes International Film Festival and an Academy Award Nomination in 2007. Lavis and Szczerbowski are currently working with the NFB and Silo Corporation on a feature film project entitled The White Circus co-produced by Lago Film (Germany) and Apple Film Production (Poland). In 2008 The White Circus was selected for development by the Sundance Film Institute's screenwriting lab.

Higglety Pigglety Pop! or There Must Be More to Life is produced by the National Film Board of Canada in association with Warner Home Video.

Higglety Pigglety Pop! official site


(Thanks Twitch)

Animation's Foreign Derby

Animation continues to be a red hot commodity around the globe. Specifics below:

20th Century Fox's "Avatar" on the weekend made it 11 straight stanzas in the No. 1 spot by grossing $36.1 million from 6,535 screens in 70 markets. ... Total foreign take by director James Cameron's 3D blockbuster now stands at $1.844 billion.... To date, its foreign gross is more than two-and-a-half times its domestic cume of $707 million..

Finishing fifth was Disney's
"The Princess and the Frog," which grossed $7.7 million from 3,203 screens in 36 territories for a foreign cume to date of $143 million. ... "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs," ... drew another $2.6 million on the weekend from 1,350 screens in 20 markets for an overseas cume of $112.5 million.

"Fantastic Mr. Fox," [earned] $22.8 million; ... Fox's "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel," $219 million.

For those of you keeping score (and who among us is not?) Green Froggy now has a worldwide total of $250 million, Cloudy Mit Meatballs has accumulated $237.4 million, and critics' favorite The Fantastic Mr. Fox stands at $43.6 million. Meantime, Alvin and Co. is up there at ten times Fox's number with $435.6 million.

Apparently the world community likes animated product pretty well, wouldn't you say?

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

R.I.P. Andrew Koenig: 'Growing Pains' Actor And The 'Batman: Dead End' Joker

For nearly a week now, the online world has been following the search for "Growing Pains" actor Andrew Koenig, whose body was discovered in Vancouver Thursday, according to various reports.

While most people recognize the 41-year-old Koenig as Richard "Boner" Stabone, the troublemaking buddy of Kirk Cameron in the ABC sitcom "Growing Pains," comics fans might know him better as the actor who played The Joker in the wildly popular fan-made film "Batman: Dead End." Made by Sandy Collora, "Dead End" starred Koenig as The Joker and Clark Bartram as Batman, and received high praise from critics and comic creators alike (including Kevin Smith and Alex Ross).

Along with his work on "Batman: Dead End," Koenig also provided several voices in the "G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero" animated series.

Check out "Batman: Dead End" below:

Batman Beats Superman In Comic Auction, 'Detective Comics' #27 Sells For $1.075 Million

Chalk one up for The Dark Knight in the eternal debate over whether Batman could beat Superman. Just a few days after Superman's debut in "Action Comics" #1 set a new record at the auction block with a winning bid of $1 million, Batman upped the ante with a $1,075,000 sale of "Detective Comics" #27, featuring the character's first appearance.

The sale was made via Heritage Auction Galleries, which has posted a video tour of the near-mint comic's cover and interior. The identity of the comic's buyer remains a secret.

So, despite "Action Comics" #1 pre-dating "Detective Comics" #27 by nearly a year and arguably having a much more important place in the growth of the comic book industry, it looks like Batman beats Superman yet again, folks. Still, when money's concerned, you'd be a fool to bet against Bruce Wayne.

Casting Captain America: Why 'The Office' Makes John Krasinski A Fine Choice For 'The First Avenger'

Of the allegedly final "The First Avenger: Captain America" contenders, John Krasinski — best known as even-handed prankster Jim Halpert on "The Office" — is easily the most polarizing actor of the bunch. In my "Secret Identity" column, I offered the Ryan Reynolds defense in support of Krasinski: who would have ever guessed that the same guy who starred in "Van Wilder" would portray both Green Lantern and Deadpool? But in all fairness, Krasinski should be judged on his own merits.

Still, even after reflecting on his performance on "The Office," I think Krasinski could work as Captain America — especially if he brings Jim's proven strengths to the role. I've weighed in on some of Krasinski's Captain America qualifications based on his "Office" performance.

Charisma: One of Jim Halpert's finest qualities is his outgoing and charming persona. Time and again, a simple wink and a laugh gets Jim out of trouble with his higher-ups. It's not exactly the shield-slinging approach that Captain America might take, but when it comes down to facing danger and getting away scot-free, Halpert's a pro.

Creativity: Another of Jim's best attributes? His ability to prank his co-workers in endlessly creative ways. From encasing Dwight Schrute's stapler in a jello mold to performing a dead-on impersonation of the uptight office worker – not to mention convincing Dwight that Dunder Mifflin's website has become self-aware – Jim's ingenuity as a prankster is comparable to Rogers' own resourcefulness on the battlefield.

Leadership: Although not in charge of his branch of Dunder Mifflin, Jim's many coworkers often look to him for guidance. His management skills have been put to the test many times before, notably during the "Office Olympics" episode of the show. If his natural gift for taking command of the workplace can translate to the front lines of World War II, Krasinski should have little trouble handling Cap's responsibilities as a leader of men.

Romance: Jim is a lover, not a fighter – though he's more than willing to throw and take a punch for his longtime love interest Pam. His devotion to his onetime office crush turned wife is easily one of the character's greatest strengths. If Krasinski can show that same amount of love for Pam towards his nation as Captain America, his heart will undoubtedly be in the right place.

Villains: If going toe-to-toe with Michael Scott, Dwight and the rest of Dunder Mifflin's cantankerous employees isn't enough proof that Krasinski can handle the Red Skull, Baron Zemo and hordes of Nazi soldiers, I'm not sure what is.

Are Christopher Nolan And David Goyer The Right Filmmakers For A 'Superman' Relaunch?

Weeks ago, Christopher Nolan was tapped to mentor, not direct, the newest "Superman" movie. Yesterday, David Goyer was reported as the writer for the superhero film, supposedly titled "The Man of Steel." For some fans, it feels like a match made in heaven.

But is it really? There's certainly no arguing the success of "The Dark Knight," but the Caped Crusader and the Man of Tomorrow work for entirely different reasons. So while neither Nolan nor Goyer are absolutely confirmed for the sequel, the very mention of their name begs an unpopular question: Is this the right team for the next "Superman" movie?

In hiring Nolan and Goyer for a movie with a title reminiscent of their 2008 collaboration, Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment are seemingly hoping to strike lightning in the same spot twice. In late 2008, word broke that studio executives were hoping for a "darker" reboot of the "Superman" franchise. If that's still their aim, and if Nolan and Goyer are the guys for the job, it's likely that they'll get their wish.

As undeniably talented and bankable as they are, Nolan and Goyer aren't exactly known for happy-go-lucky film fare. I'm not suggesting that Superman requires rays of sunshines and rainbow colored lollipops to work well on film, but the Man of Steel is supposed to embody hope. Whereas Batman utilizes fear to clean up Gotham City's streets, Superman leads by example. He inspires the people he protects to be better. He's not going to fly out of the shadows and scare some lowly thugs — he's going to fly through broad daylight and save the day.

Certainly, the next "Superman" film would benefit from the mature tone that Nolan and Goyer are known for, but not at the expense of optimism. If the movie's guiding principle is something akin to "do it like you did with 'The Dark Knight,'" I think that Superman fans are in for another big-screen disappointment.

That said, I do have faith in both Nolan and Goyer, two of the most talented filmmakers in the business. If they say they know what they're doing with DC's flagship character, I'm willing to trust them — but the second that Superman starts shouting "Swear to me!" in a gravely voice, I'm out.

Angelina Jolie Leaves 'Wanted 2,' Studio Cancels Film?

Last year, "Wanted 2" director Timur Bekmabetov not only said Angelina Jolie's character would return for the sequel, he also explained how she could reappear despite her [SPOILER ALERT] apparent demise at the end of the first film.

However, an unconfirmed report has emerged that Jolie has turned down a chance to reprise her role as the assassin named Fox in favor of starring in another movie.

According to New York Magazine, Jolie will instead star in "Gravity", a sci-fi thriller by director Alfonso Cuarón. The report also states that because Jolie has opted to leave "Wanted 2" behind, Universal Studios has "pulled the plug rather than recast the film."

It should be noted that the story has yet to be verified by Universal (requests for official comment did not receive a response at press time) and could simply mean that Jolie's character will not be used, rather than the film being shut down completely. Earlier this month, "Wanted" co-creator Mark Millar indicated that the "Wanted 2" script was almost ready. He also indicated the film's scope would be greatly increased.

"Wanted" star James McAvoy has also expressed his desire to return for the sequel. However, Jolie has previously indicated that she insisted that her character be killed off in the first film.

“In the original, she doesn’t kill herself,” said Jolie. “I actually changed the ending. I said, ‘If she was to find out she had killed people unjustly and was a part of something that wasn’t fair, then she should take her own life.’”

15-year-old creates stunning Stargate panorama out of LEGOs

When I was 15, the most I could make out of my LEGOs was a gun, and even then, you probably wouldn't have been able to recognize it. Luckily, some 15-year-olds are a heck of a lot more talented than I was, like Sven Junga, who used LEGOs to create not only a spaceship—the Daedalus from Stargate Atlantis—but also an amazing diorama of the ship landing.

And it turns out that's not the only sci-fi artifact re-created by Junga. Check out his Flickr feed for more of his awesome LEGO pics.

Watch as Serenity flies again (sort of) in this cool video

Remember that Big Damn Replica of the good ship Serenity from Joss Whedon's Firefly/Serenity that we told you about? Watch a video below

How awesome is this? It's got all kinds of lighting effects and mimics the look of the ship as it appears in Whedon's beloved TV show and movie.

And it'll only set you back $2,495. Better hurry: There's only 1,000 of them. Go here for more information.

(And the music? It's by Marian Call.)

The official announcement:

The First and Only Studio Scale, Film-Quality Replica of the Firefly-Class Transport, Serenity

Celebrated by millions of fans around the world, the titular ship of Joss Whedon's visionary movie masterpiece, Serenity, has existed in all its glory in digital form only - until now.

More than three years in the making, Serenity - The Big Damn Replica, has been painstakingly crafted to be absolutely screen-accurate in every aspect. Unlike most ships from science fiction, Serenity was designed from the ground up to be as realistic as possible, from her floor plan to her construction, using real-world components and manufacturing processes. As one of her creators observed, the idea was to make Serenity so real, fans could see themselves walking her decks. With such a sense of place and familiarity, viewers would never feel lost in this Firefly-Class Transport.

When it came time to develop this replica, we could do no less. Every bolt, every seam and every asymmetrical plate has been recreated with exacting attention to detail in this first and only screen-accurate replica of Serenity. Years of intense effort have gone into all aspects of this model, from the model sculpture built from the movie special effects master files to the paint job created to match not just the colors of the ship, but the materials as well.

Serenity - The Big Damn Replica is a professionally-crafted filming miniature made in the U.S.A. by Hollywood special effects model makers. Each ship takes over 46 hours to make, includes hundreds of parts, dozens of lights and and mulitple coats of paint.

This is how models are built so they can fool the eye on the big screen. And you can own Serenity for a fraction of what a movie production company would typically pay for a film-quality miniature of this caliber.

Some of the features of Serenity - The Big Damn Replica:

* One big boat. Our Serenity measures 19"x12"x7", or 1:180 scale. (display stand adds 4.5")
* Incredible complexity.The kit used to build Serenity consists of more than 250 parts, including resin, brass, aluminum and laser-cut acrylic. Many of the parts are custom-cut by hand, just for your replica.
* Film-quality build. Some 30 different colors, including flat and metallic paint, are used in the ship's multilayer paint job.
* Spitting image.Weathering, wear and other painting effects are used to exactly mirror the movie version of ship.
* Superior components. Surfaces are crafted to simulate real-world materials - metal, ceramic, even the mirrored surfaces of the solar panels.
* No decals. All graphics on Serenity are painted on by hand, even Serenity's logo.
* SFX Edition.Serenity - The Big Damn Replica incorporates some 32 lighting effects, including static, flashing, strobe and chase lights.
* Signature Edition. Nathan Fillion, Captain Mal himself, will be signing the builder's plaque that comes with each Big Damn Replica.
* Wireless remote. The SFX Edition replica includes a wireless remote control to operate lights with a special button for activating "hard burn." Lighting system automatically shuts down after 15 minutes to help protect the both the lights and model.
* Cool display. Serenity's display base/diorama looks like a landing pad straight out of The Verse. It comes with an acrylic cradle that shows Serenity in flight. Standard configuration features Inara's shuttle taking off while the other shuttle is docked in its bay. (If you prefer a different configuration, please make note of it in the "Special Requests" field above*).
* Big Damn Heroes.Crew members can be seen on the bridge.
* Pro Prop Crate. Each Serenity is shipped in custom-cut foam and stored in a hand-built wooden apple crate, just like what the pros use to safeguard their props.
* Jason Palmer Exclusive Art Print. Jason Palmer, one of the premier portrait artists working in entertainment today, was so taken with our girl that he's creating an special art print of Serenity only available with the Big Damn Replica.
As with all QMx Artisan replicas, Serenity - The Big Damn Replica is made to order in the U.S. Not only does this allow us to offer you a replica of great intricacy and beauty, it also allows you to make your Serenity uniquely your own.

Options available for customization* include:
* Engines pose (Crazy Ivan, anyone?)
* Shuttles in-flight or docked.
* Reactor shutters open or closed.
* Other special requests

If you want to request any of the customization options above - or if you have special request - please make note of it in the "Comments" field on the third page that appears when you check out. We can't promise we can do anything your heart desires, but a concierge will be in contact with you to discuss your ideas and see what's possible.

Customers purchasing Serenity - The Big Damn Replica are eligible for all the benefits of QMx Concierge Service, including a personal concierge to help you with your order and any customization requests.

Although every Artisan replica we make is, in a real sense, an edition of one, we understand having an edition number is very important to collectors. That's why we've set the edition size for Serenity - The Big Damn Replica at just 1,000 ships total.

Awesome 'Alien' sculpted from 1,200 lbs. of motorcycle steel

Three artists. 4,000 pieces of steel. 1,200 pounds of parts recycled from Yamaha motorcycles. One scary-as-hell 8-foot-tall "Alien Queen." $6,000.

Gotta love those numbers. (Well, all except that last one.) But still—we want one!

Want to know more about this creepy creation from the Irish company RoboSteel? Then check out the full story over at our sister site DVICE.

Director unveils huge Tron Legacy spoilers, awesome footage

Fans in Los Angeles were treated to the new 3-D IMAX trailer for Tron Legacy in Los Angeles on Saturday—not once, but twice—while director Joseph Kosinski answered questions and revealed a lot of spoilery plot points in a brief talk with original Tron director Steven Lisberger. Read our account below.

The L.A. trailer screening was the reward for fans who solved an alternate-reality game (at the viral site Flynn Lives) and was one of several held around the country and around the world for the much-anticipated sequel to Lisberger's groundbreaking 1982 sci-fi movie.

In a Q&A with fans, Kosinski revealed several spoilers:

"Tron [the character played by Bruce Boxleitner in the original movie] will be in it. I promise you. The film's called Tron."

♦What about Lora/Yori, played by Cindy Morgan in the original movie? "Her character is not in Tron Legacy, but that doesn't mean she's not in the world of Tron." Whatever that means.

"Daft Punk is in the movie. Their music is all over it." Does that mean they'll actually appear? Koskinski didn't answer.

Michael Sheen plays a character named Castor, who runs a nightclub in the Tron universe.

♦Will the Master Control Program or Encom executive Dillinger (played by David Warner) be in the movie? Kosinski was silent about Dillinger (and his virtual-world counterpart, Sark, who perished in the first film) but said, "The MCP was destroyed," adding that the technology he represented was obsolete. Instead, the film's virtual world exists on a new "server" and a new nemesis will be an updated version of Clu (played by a de-aged version of Jeff Bridges), "the next level of artificial intelligence."

"Clu is an exact duplicate of Kevin Flynn himself that he created in 1985" and a more advanced version of the Clu who came to a bad end in the first movie.

♦Will there be a counterpart of Bit, the small digital entity that aids Flynn in the original movie? "I'd say we do have an equivalent to Bit" in the person of Jarvis, the right-hand "information officer" to Clu 2.0, Koskinski said. "He kind of plays the same role."

All in all, Lisberger said he's pleased about the sequel. "We should all be really glad that it happened. ... It'll be great," he said.

As for the footage itself?

The 3-D trailer opens with Sam (Garrett Hedlund) speaking with an older Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner) atop the Encom Building. Alan says he received a text from Sam's missing father, Kevin Flynn, from a number that was disconnected 20 years ago. Bradley says Kevin was on the cusp of a technological breakthrough when he went missing and that he would never have left that behind or left Sam behind. Bradley then gives Sam keys to Flynn's Arcade. Sam speeds off on his motorcycle and arrives at the arcade, which we see has been closed for years.

Sam opens up the arcade, discovers a secret door behind a "Tron" game machine and discovers Kevin's lab. He wipes dust from a black-and-white screen, which is still active. The shot cuts to the glowing laser we remember from the first movie—the one that digitized Kevin Flynn the first time he entered the virtual world—and the screen goes black.

We are then in a fully realized- 3-D black-and-neon Tron world, with a giant lighted new-generation Recognizer, before which stand three tiny figures in lighted black suits.

We see Sam in a light suit ascending in some kind of round illuminated platform, then quick cuts of

♦Olivia Wilde's Quorra in a black light suit, reclining on a divan;
♦a light cycle speeding toward the horizon, with a massive lit-up Tron city in the distance;
♦a young-looking black-clad Jeff Bridges as Clu emerging onto a platform, accompanied by Jarvis and other programs;
♦combatants, including Sam, in light suits, flinging white-lighted discs at each other;
♦a skidding light vehicle (did it have four wheels??);
♦Michael Sheen as Castor in a white jumpsuit with a shock of white hair, playing air guitar on an illuminated white cane, standing atop a platform;
♦a white-suited combatant with two illuminated discs;
♦a blond woman in a tight white light suit (a siren?);
♦Sam walking up a ramp toward a bright light (a new Tron arena? Click on the image below for a larger version).

We hear Sam's voice:


Kevin/Bridges' voice: "Sam."

"Long time."

"You have no idea."

At the end, we see two light cycles smashing into each other at high speed, ending with a closeup of Sam's face as he speeds directly toward the camera.

The trailer was backed by electronic music composed by Daft Punk just for the 3-D teaser trailer, which will debut in front of Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland when it opens on Friday.

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