Thursday, March 18, 2010

News - 03/18/10...

The Illusionist trailer

The intertitles are in Russian, but we have to post it: the first full trailer for Sylvain Chomet’s The Illusionist.

(Thanks, David Nethery and Carlo Guillot)

(Thanks cartoon brew)

(ED note: Here's a translation of the titles - )

In life, there are just a few things that are worth doing.

But sometimes the world is not ready to receive

that, which we are able to offer it.

This story tells of the journey of one man

which enabled him to keep his magical gift

and to rediscover for himself

what is worth doing for him in life.

From the director of that masterpiece of European animation

"The Triplets of Belleville", Sylvain Chomet.

Based on the screenplay of the legendary Jacques Tati.

"The Illusionist"

The Boondocks are coming back to Cartoon Network

Perhaps the most controversial of all of the shows in Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim lineup, The Boondocks will be returning to television this summer after not airing a new episode for two years. Based on a comic strip of the past that cartoonist Aaron McGruder ended so he could concentrate on the TV series, The Boondocks will come back for its third season on May 2nd at 11:30pm (ET/PT).

Toy Story 3 debuts at ShoWest

Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story 3 was just screened to the public for the very first time at ShoWest. Although in rough cut form, the movie is already generating positive buzz, with providing a spoiler-free review. Interestingly enough, the reviewer admits to not having seen Toy Story 2, but that didn’t stop him from being impressed with the film. ”Like the best Pixar movies, it’s consistently funny, exciting and moving, sometimes all three at the same time.”

Another Toy Story 3 poster

Continuing their massive promotion of the film, Disney has released another poster for their upcoming Toy Story 3. This time, the poster features the characters standing around a day care center, which is a major element of the new movie's plot. Toy Story 3 opens in theaters everywhere this summer.

In the Attic Tops NYICFF Honors

The New York International Children’s Film Festival has announced its 2010 award winners, with six of the nine honors going to animated films.

Winning the Grand Prize for Features is In the Attic, a stop-motion film from Czech director Jiri Barta about a group of abandoned toys who try to rescue a kidnapped friend from a maniacal Cold War military bust.

Other animated films that won honors include Philip Hunt’s Lost and Found, Gili Dolev’s The Happy Duckling, Cordell Barker’s Runaway, Marc Craste’s Varmints and A Film About Poo by Emily Howells and Anne Wilkins.

The Grand Prize for Short Films went to the live-action film See You, directed by Jesper Waldvogel Rasmussen. See You also won the Audience Award for ages 8-14. The Jury Award went to the live-action short The Six Dollar Fifty Man.

The full list of winners follows:
• NYICFF Grand Prize Feature: In the Attic, Jiri Barta
• NYICFF Grand Prize Short Film: See You, dir. Jesper Rasmussen
• NYICFF Special Jury Award: Six Dollar Fifty Man, Albiston/Sutherland
• HSBC Environmental Film Award: Varmints, Marc Craste
• Audience Award, Parents: Happy Duckling, Gili Dolev
• Audience Award, Ages 3-6: Lost and Found, Philip Hunt
• Audience Award, Ages 5-10: Runaway, Cordell Barker
• Audience Award, Ages 8-14: A Film About Poo, Anne Wilkins/Emily Howells
• Audience Award, Ages 12-18: See You, Jesper Rasmussen

The jury included author and New Yorker contributor Adam Gopnik; actress Frances McDormand; associate professor of children’s media at NYU Tisch School for the Arts Lynne McVeigh; actor Matthew Modine; animation writer and director Michel Ocelot; Parents magazine editor in chief Dana Points; actress Susan Sarandon; writer and producer James Schamus; president of IFC TV and The Sundance Channel Evan Shapiro; actress Uma Thurman; actor John Turturro; producer Christine Vachon; and director Gus Van Sant.

The festival began Feb. 26 and runs through March 21. Information on the festival and the remaining screenings can be found online at

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Avatar DVD, Blu-ray Release Set for April 22

Avatar is coming to DVD and Blu-Ray on Earth Day.

The release will feature only the 2D version of the film and will be a bare-bones only release with no bonus features. According to the Los Angeles Times, the producers have decided to use the disc space normally allotted to special features to maximize the quality of the images and audio.

Fox is preparing a special environmental campaign for the release that reflects the ecological message of the film and tie it in to the release on April 22, the 40th anniversary of the original Earth Day, the Times reports.

A second, multi-disc ultimate edition of the film is reportedly set for release in November. The Times reports that release of the film in a 3-D format for home video is being held back until home 3-D technology is more advanced.

Avatar is expected to be released with a suggested retail price of $29.98 on DVD and $39.99 on Blu-ray.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Hub Adds Six to Executive Team

The Hub — the new kid-targeted network that’s a joint venture of Discovery and Hasbro — has added six people to it executive team as it nears its autumn 2010 launch.

The hires, announced by Hub president and CEO Margaret Loesch, include:

• Joshua Meyer, former co-general counsel and SVP of business and legal affairs at Cookie Jar, as senior VP of business & legal affairs.

• Jordan Beck will become VP of creative services and on-air promotions, coming to the network from posts at ReelzChannel and Fox Kids.

• Lou Fazio is the new VP of scheduling, acquisitions and planning. He was formerly VP of program strategy and acquisitions at Game Show Network and worked in scheduling and planning for Toon Disney and ABC Kids.

• Greg Heanue joins as VP of marketing and promotions. He formerly was with The Weather Channel and Cartoon Network.

• Fred Poston is named VP of operations, having previously worked in operations at ReelzChannel, TV Guide, ABC Family and the WB Television Network.

• Michael Ross is appointed VP of production & post-production. He served as head of production and executive producer for Baby Einstein and Disney Baby.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Season 2 of Dive Olly Dive! Presold to Four Major Markets

French distributor Moonscoop has sold the second season of its hit animated series Dive Olly Dive! into key territories.

The broadcasters who have pre-bought the 52 x 11 min. second season are France 5, SVT Sweden, Finland’s MTV3 and Al Jazeera Children’s Channel in the Middle East. Disney Asia, Univision, TVA Canada and co-producers KiKa have previously signed on for season two.

“It is testament to the popularity of Dive Olly Dive! that we have presold the second season to such a significant line up of broadcasters – we also have deals in the pipeline for Norway and Canada,” says Lionel Marty, president of worldwide sales at Moonscoop. “To achieve such a high viewership around the world is fantastic and we’re anticipating even more success with the new episodes.”

Dive Olly Dive! is a co-production of Mike Young Productions, Flying Bark Productions. of Australia, KI.KA, ARD of Germany, Telegael Teo of Ireland, Atlantyca Entertainment of Italy and GDC in China.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Bright Orange Air

The video for Bright Orange Air by Inlets (a.k.a Sebastian Krueger), directed by Benjamin and Stefan Ramirez Perez.

(Thanks, Doug Wallen)

(Thanks cartoon brew)

John Canemaker pays tribute to a guy named Joe

Jim Hill chats with this Academy Award-winning filmmaker and animation historian about why so many people in the industry still seem to miss Joe Ranft

You’ve probably seen a lot of Joe Ranft-related material popping up around the Web over the past few days. John Musker’s excellent story reel-based tribute to his old pal (who was tragically killed in an automobile accident back on August 16, 2005). No to mention the first installment of Leo Holzer’s two part interview with Joe’s widow, Su (which uses March 13, 2010 – the date that would have been Ranft’s 50th birthday – as an opportunity to reflect on Joe’s life & career).

So why is it – nearly 5 years after the fact – that so many animation veterans seem to still feel this loss so keenly? Continue to mourn this man?

To get an answer to this question, I turned to John Canemaker, Academy Award-winning filmmaker and noted animation teacher & historian. (Take a moment to go check out your Disney history library. If you look at the spines of those books, I’m sure that you’ll see John’s name repeated over & over & over …)

And given that Canemaker was good friends with Ranft for nearly 20 years, it turns out that Joe was the perfect guy to explain why so many people in the animation world still seem to miss Joe.

A very happy Joe Ranft at "The Fox & the Hound" wrap party.
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

“We actually first met in back in 1988,” Canemaker remembered. “I was putting together a panel for the AFI about storyboarding. And someone suggested that I get Joe – who had just finished working on ‘The Brave Little Toaster’ – to come take part in this panel.”

Well, as it turns out, one of the other people that Canemaker had asked to appear on this storyboarding panel was Disney Legend Bill Peet. Who was one of Ranft’s idols. And given that John had set up the event which allowed Joe to finally spend some time with Bill … Well, Ranft never forgot that and was always grateful to Canemaker for helping him to meet Peet.

And then – from there – we started corresponding. I got a note from him when he’d been made story supervisor on ‘The Rescuers Down Under,’ “ John continued. “I even got letters from him after he and Su had moved to Seattle for a while. After he was burned out from working at Disney and needed to regroup for a little while.”

Joe hard at work on "The Rescuers Down Under."
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

And with each of these letters, Ranft would share some treasure with this filmmaker & teacher. Be it a Xerox of a storyboard from “Dumbo” or something else that he’d come across that he thought the animation historian might enjoy.

“Joe was just so generous with his time and talent,” John said. “I remember him once calling me and saying ‘I’m coming into New York to record Paul Newman for ‘Cars.’ And Disney’s given me a pair of tickets to ‘The Lion King‘ – which had just opened on Broadway at that time – ‘Would you like to go see this show with me?’ And that’s how I got to see the hottest show on Broadway. As Joe Ranft’s guest.”

This sort of behavior was fairly typical of Mr. Ranft. Canemaker recalled how – when he was doing research for “Paper Dreams: The Art And Artists Of Disney Storyboards” – Joe & Su put John up for the night while he was out west.

“I remember one night how Joe and I took turns reading his son, Jordy a bedtime story,” John smiled. “’Count Nightwing,’ I think it was called. First he read a page, then I read a page. It was really quite sweet.”

But it wasn’t just Joe Ranft the person that interested Canemaker. As Ranft’s reputation as a master storyteller – one of the very best in the business, or so they say – grew, John enjoyed charting the course of his friends’ career.

“You have to remember that Joe started his career in animation very young. He was only 19 when Disney hired him. Recruiting him straight out of CalArts after they saw his student film, ‘Good Humor,’ Canemaker said. “Joe’s mother was furious with him for leaving college before he got his degree. But Joe insisted that he had to take this job. That being recruited by Disney was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Look at how young Joe Ranft & Tim Burton were when they first started working at Walt Disney Studios.
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

And Walt Disney Animation Studios executives must have thought that Ranft was really something special. Given that – rather than have Joe follow the usual path for new hires (i.e. spending two months completing test pieces of animation before then being assigned some studio vet to work with) – he went straight to Story.

“He really did have this amazing gift when it came to Story,” Canemaker continued. John Lasseter talks about how – in every Pixar film that Joe worked on – there was always some scene that went straight into production just the way that Joe had boarded it. Take the ‘Green Army Men” sequence from ‘Toy Story.’ What you see on screen is exactly what Joe boarded. It was perfect.”

Ranft was infamous – in animation circles, anyway – as being the guy who most wanted in the room pitching your boards to the suits whenever you were introducing them to a new character and/or a brand-new sequence in your film. And that was because Joe would give this full-blown, almost vaudeville-like performance that would then seal the deal. Which is why Ranft’s vocals (which was often used for scratch tracks) often would wind up being used as the final voice for the characters that he pitched for these Pixar directors.

“There’s a story that they tell about ‘A Bug's Life,’Canemaker said. “Where John Lasseter’s wife is looking at the animation tests that Pixar had done while they were struggling to find just the right name actor to voice Heimlich. And Nancy says ‘No one’s as good as Joe is.’ Which is how he wound up being the official voice of the caterpillar in that film.”

Given that Ranft really was the gold standard when it came to storyboarding, when Canemaker’s friend passed away, John really wanted to do something that would celebrate & protect Joe’s legacy. Which is why – three or four years ago – when this award-winning author was sitting down with his editor at Disney, Canemaker came up with kind of an unusual idea for a new book.

“This was just after Joe Grant died. Who was this 97-year-old who was also a giant of Story at Disney,” John explained. “And I talked about these two friends of mine. How one had been a young spirit while the other had been this old soul. And I told this editor about how I felt that there was a lot worth sharing about each of their careers as well as their life stories. And my editor immediately agreed to the idea.“

Copyright 2010 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

And this coming August, “Two Guys Named Joe: Master Animation Storytellers Joe Grant & Joe Ranft” will hit store shelves. This book contains full-blown biographies of both men. Not mention Canemaker’s keen insights into what made Ranft & Grant giants of the Story world.

I spoke with a number of people ay Pixar about how Joe was able to do what he did. Which is put you right in the head of the character that he was boarding. So you knew what they were thinking, what they were feeling,” Canemaker said. “I collected all that in a chapter entitled ‘Joe’s Rules.’ Which I’m hoping will help keep his legacy of great storytelling alive.”

Now you have to understand that – over the past five years – I’ve spoken with dozens of artists and animators. Each of which have these sort of stories about Joe Ranft. About this gentle giant of a guy always had the time to help his friends & colleagues. Who was always so generous with his talent and his spirit.

So is it any wonder that people like Canemaker (who still fondly remembers Ranft’s last visit to his apartment in NYC. Which was over the Fourth of July in 2005. Where Joe spent three hours on the floor, methodically going through John’s animation collection) still miss this man so much?

Ian McKellen confirms: The Hobbit begins filming in June

Peter Jackson told us in December that production on The Hobbit would begin sometime this year, and now, thanks to one of its stars, we finally know when.

Sir Ian McKellen revealed on his official site that the start of filming for the Lord of the Rings prequel is only three months away:

THE HOBBIT's, two films, start shooting in New Zealand in June. Filming will take over a year. Casting in Los Angeles, New York City and London has started. The script too proceeds. The first draft is crammed with old and new friends, again on a quest in Middle Earth.

The director Guillermo del Toro is now living in Wellington, close to the Jacksons' and the studio in Miramar.

The two-film adaptation of The Hobbit will be directed by del Toro, with Jackson producing and co-writing along with his partners Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens.

Pirates of the Caribbean 4: No breast implants allowed!

When Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides hits the screen, we'll be seeing sword fighting, swashbuckling and plenty of Johnny Depp. But one thing filmmakers want to make sure we won't be seeing?

Breast implants.

Moviehole has gotten its hands on the breakdown given to casting agents for the fourth film in the franchise, and one thing that description is quite clear about—natural breasts wanted.

Here's the attributes they're hoping to find in the extras for a few key scenes:

Beautiful Female Fit Models. Must be 5'7-5'8, Size 4 or 6 - NO BIGGER OR SMALLER. Age 18-25. Must have a lean dancer body. MUST have real breasts. Do not submit if you have implants. This is a show and tell of costumes with the director and the producers. Plan on an entire day of trying on clothes and being photographed.

Professional Dancers who are Swimmers. Females ONLY. Age 18-30. All ethnicities. YOU MUST have an extensive dance/swimming resume. We will be shooting in Hawaii.

Principal photography on the film, directed by Rob Marshall (Nine) and starring Johnny Depp, Ian McShane and Penelope Cruz, is supposed to begin in May or June, so casting agents—get to work!

Rose McGowan Joins 'Conan' Cast

On Monday, director Marcus Nispel's "Conan" reboot finally began filming at at Nu Boyana Studios in Sofia, Bulgaria — with actress Rose McGowan as the last member of the primary cast.

According to Variety, McGowan will appear as "an evil half-human/half-witch" opposite Jason Momoa's Conan. Rounding out the cast are Rachel Nichols, Stephen Lang, Bob Sapp, Leo Howard, Ron Perlman and Said Taghmaoui.

McGowan is perhaps best known for her roles in "Scream", "Planet Terror" and "Charmed."

Back in 2008, McGowan was signed to star in "Red Sonja" — another creation of Robert E. Howard that was re-envisioned as a contemporary of Conan's during the '70s by Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith.

"Red Sonja" director Douglas Aarniokoski even hinted that Conan could potentially make a cameo appearance in the film. However, more recent reports indicated that "Red Sonja" was delayed until after "Conan" was finished filming.

"To clarify press reports: 'Red Sonja' is delayed," wrote McGowan last August. "I pulled out of doing it in '09. Not permanently. Hopefully [it] will follow 'Conan.'"

"I am still contracted to do 'Red Sonja,'" added McGowan. "Hopefully Filming in '10 not '09."

It is currently unclear if McGowan's role in the "Conan" film will interfere with the production of "Red Sonja."

"Conan" is set to storm theaters in 2011.

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