Thursday, March 25, 2010

News - 03/25/10...

Kuky Returns

And now for something completely different: A trailer for a new Czech film Kuky Returns, an odd mix of stop motion, live action, and puppetry. Don’t ask me to explain what’s going on…

(Thanks, Elle Schneider)

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Don Hahn & Peter Schneider to host Q & A sessions this coming weekend during NY and LA screenings of “Waking Sleeping Beauty”

Jim Hill gives animation fans a heads up about a special event. Where the filmmakers behind this award-winning documentary will be taking questions from the audience at specific screenings in New York City, Century City and Burbank

For the past few months, JHM has been talking up “Waking Sleeping Beauty,” that terrific new documentary about the Second Golden Age of Disney Feature Animation. Well, this film goes into limited release this Friday in New York, LA, Chicago and San Francisco.

The 1975 graduating class of Cal Arts included future stars of the animation industry John Lasseter, Brad Bird and John Musker. Copyright 2009 Disney Enterprises, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

And if you haven’t yet made up your mind whether or not to check out “Waking Sleeping Beauty,”maybe this webisode (which the filmmakers were kind enough to share with JHM) will help seal the deal.

Still not convinced? Well, what if I were to tell you that – if you live in New York or LA – that this coming weekend, you’d have the chance to attend an extra special screening of “Waking Sleeping Beauty” where the filmmakers would be on hand afterward to answer your questions?

An editing session with director Don Hahn (L) and producer Peter Schneider (R) of "Waking Sleeping Beauty."
Copyright 2009 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

As for the Los Angeles area screenings, “Waking Sleeping Beauty” director Don Hahn will be at the AMC Century City on Friday, March 26th. Where he’ll be fielding questions after the 7:45 p.m. screening.

A caricature of then-Disney Studio head Jeffrey Katzenberg
Copyright 2009 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Then on Saturday, March 27th, Don will be setting up shop in at the AMC Burbank 16 (which is located at 125 East Palm). Where Mr. Hahn will be happy to answer queries from the audience after the 12:10 p.m. screening of “Waking Sleeping Beauty” as well as the 7:55 p.m. screening.

Copyright 2009 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Meanwhile on the East Coast, “Waking Sleeping Beauty” producer Peter Schneider will be spending much of the coming weekend at the Landmark Sunshine Cinema in New York City. On Friday, March 26th, Peter will be holding Q & As after both the 5 p.m. & the 7:15 p.m. screenings of this new documentary.

Then – on Saturday, March 27th – Mr. Schneider will answer questions from the audience at the 12 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 5 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. screenings. Then – on Sunday, March 28th – Peter will be on hand after the 12 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. screenings of “Waking Sleeping Beauty.”

Peter Schneider, Roy Disney & Jeffrey Katzenberg on a story retreat in the early 1990s. Copyright 2009 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Let me tell you folks that it’s rarer-than-rare to get the opportunity to talk with filmmakers like Don Hahn & Peter Schneider. Two men who played crucial roles in the creation of such Disney hand-drawn hits as “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Aladdin” and “The Lion King.” So if you have questions that you’ve always wanted to ask about that great string of animated features the Mouse Factory churned out from the late 1980s through the mid-1990s … Then you really owe it to yourself to attend one of this weekend’s extra-special screenings of “Waking Sleeping Beauty” in NY and LA.

For further information on this award-winning documentary, please click on this link.

NFTS 2010 Graduate Animated Shorts

The National Film & Television School 2010 graduate films have been released online, and I’ve included trailers for two of my favorites below. NFTS is a school in Beaconsfield, a city West of London.

The HenhouseElena Pomares

The Silence of SonsMagdalena Osinska

See all of the trailers on YouTube.

"Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths" Feature Debuts To High Home Video Numbers

The top seller for Warner Home Video in its debut week, the recent Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths direct-to-video animated feature premieres to over 200,000 DVD copies sold.

According to various home media retailing outlets and independent research, the recent Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths direct-to-video animated feature was the top performer for Warner Home Video in its debut week, outselling both the home video releases of Warner Home Video's The Informant! and The Box by roughly 50,000 units. The animated feature hit the DVD sales chart at #2 in its first week, selling an estimated 205,500 copies for the week ending February 28th, 2009. Additionally, the Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths Blu-ray release also moved nearly 60,000 estimated units in the same time period. Keep in mind the sales numbers above do not take into account rental numbers, OnDemand numbers, or legal download numbers.

To compare, the previous "DC Universe Animated Original Movie" title Superman/Batman: Public Enemies debuted with an estimated 198,000 DVDs sold during its debut week in September 2009.

Above is the cover art for all three separate home video releases for the direct-to-video Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths animated feature.

Time With the Mouse

Flynn Rider, the doll edition ...

Short post: I rambled around the first floor of the hat building today, pausing at different doors to talk to staffers. The lighting crew for Tangled is now immersed in the picture. (They are turning and burning to get a trailer out in short order.)

I had a chance to look at different Tangled images up on different computer screens, and trust me here, the picture is going to be great looking ....

The challenge for the crew is that there's a lot of work compressed into a short amount of time. Everyone is working at maximum capacity. Some are fretting about hitting the deadlines. One person said to me:

"I wish the studio was releasing this farther away from Harry Potter ..."

... And Mr. Rider's grandfather ... with the padre of the Skipper ("Gilligan's Island") there on the left ...

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Permanence of the Dees Times Three (Part XIV)

Mike Fleming at the Nikkster's site says:

Michael Bay and James Cameron Skeptical of 3D Conversions: "The Jury Is Out"

The chance to charge higher ticket prices has every Hollywood studio rushing to retrofit their 2D spectacles into 3D. Some directors are pushing back, concerned there's an imminent future of cheesy-looking 3D that will stunt the momentum created by
Avatar ...

Well of course there's going to be "cheesy looking" 3D. This isn't about artistry or a director's "vision" or a better and stronger America. It's about raking in extra money at the box office. (If the rubes want to come to your dark, muddy-looking Three Dee spectacular, you can't stop them ....)

I have mixed feelings about dimensional cinema. Some of it, I think, works pretty well, and some of it gives me eyestrain and a headache.

But sorry, James and Michael. The jury has already returned with the verdict. The congloms we love and admire are convinced 3D is an exciting new path to riches, and they are going to be pushing the good, the bad and the ugly out the door just as fast as they can. Despite what movie directors may or may not want.

At some point the crap retrofit Three Dee (think of it as the visual equivalent of Capitol Records ancient "Duophonic" technology) will start to drag down the box office like a lead anchor, and there will be (perhaps) a course correction.

In the meantime, brace yourself for lots of big unsightly glasses at your local multiplex. Like it or not, you'll probably find yourself sitting in the dark with the big lenses perched on your nose, squinting at the various planes of objects and action out ahead of you.

So enjoy.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

New Images from Batman: Under the Red Hood Animated Feature

Check out these new images of Batman, Red Hood and the DVD cover art; Plus, take a look at DC Directs sculpture based off of the animated film.

Warner Bros. recently released a few new images featuring the main characters of the upcoming direct-to-video film Batman: Under the Red Hood along with the film's official description:

Batman faces his ultimate challenge as the mysterious Red Hood takes Gotham City by firestorm. One part vigilante, one part criminal kingpin, Red Hood begins cleaning up Gotham City with the efficiency of Batman, but without following the same ethical code. Killing is an option. And when The Joker falls in the balance between the two, hard truths emerge and old wounds reopen.

DC Direct has also revealed their latest collectible sculpture of Red Hood, based off of the character from the animated film. The maquette is priced at $99.99 US and will be available for purchase July 7th, 2010:

The best part about this image is the close-up look it allows of the film's cover art; which also confirms the inclusion of a Jonah Hex animated short film:

Batman: Under the Red Hood is based off of the 2005 Batman storyline written by Judd Winick and illustrated by Doug Mahnke. Brandon Vietti directed the film; of which Winick himself wrote the screenplay. Providing the voices for the film are Bruce Greenwood as Batman, Neil Patrick Harris as Nightwing, and Jensen Ackles as Red Hood.

(Thanks comic book movie)

The Captain America Cartoon That Never Was

Did this 90s era cartoon have the potential to be as successful as the fan favorite X-Men Animated Series?

Marvel fans are sure to remember the X-Men cartoon that ran through most of the 90s. Especially since the entire series was finally released on DVD last year. What many are probably unaware of was the Captain America cartoon series Marvel was gearing to produce along with Saban Entertainment; who also had a hand in both the X-Men and Silver Surfer cartoons of the same era. Though Cap fans would love nothing more than to see the Star Spangled Avenger in as many entertainment mediums as possible, this series may have strayed too far from comfort.

The story was to be set during World War II but would not feature any Nazis as antagonists save for the Red Skull; which is a major oxymoron since the Red Skull WAS a a member of the Nazi Party. The centerstage heroes were to be Captain America, Bucky and a team of commandos outfitted with futuristic technology. It gets stranger, True Believers. Apparently Captain America's secret identity was Tommy Tompkins. Steve Rogers was a cover name assigned to him by the US Army.

Though the storyline might have been a bit unfamiliar, the show itself had several interesting aspects. For one, computer generated scenes and a bit of 3D graphics were to be used; which would have made it the first animated series to employ the technology.

Unfortunately the series never made it past the promo reel stage, due to Marvel's bankruptcy filing and management changes at the time. All was not lost, though. Thanks to the facility of modern information sharing we can at least get a glimpse of the Captain America show that never came to fruition.

Below you'll see a few storyboards courtesy of StoryboardPro. They were created by Will Meugniot; who was the artist for the TMNT and G.I.Joe: The Movie animated films (among many other projects) and also directed Ultimate Avengers 2.

And here, for your viewing pleasure, is the promo reel for the series. Many thanks go out to StoryboardsPro for sharing this information with us. Be sure to follow the included links to their site for a chance to see more storyboards and artwork.

(Thanks comic book movie)

'Avengers' Assemble: Now That We Have Captain America, Who's Left To Cast?

Now that Chris Evans has secured the coveted role of Steve Rogers in "The First Avenger: Captain America," the major players heading into "The Avengers" are all accounted for. But outside of the core four of Captain America, Iron Man, Thor and Nick Fury, there are several other characters that could easily find their way into Marvel Studios' unprecedented team up flick in 2012.

Between ancillary heroes, possible villains and unknown quantities, these are some of the comic book icons that Marvel can throw into "The Avengers."

TONY'S TEAM: "Iron Man" and "Iron Man 2" established not only Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, but also Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow and Don Cheadle as War Machine. That's four major players from Stark's neck of the woods alone. It's unclear how prominently Widow and War Machine will factor into "The Avengers," if at all, but smart money says they'll get involved at least in a passing capacity.

CARRYING THE S.H.I.E.L.D.: The "Iron Man" films also solidified the existence of S.H.I.E.L.D. in the Marvel movie universe, so they're bound to come into the forefront of "The Avengers." Aside from Fury and Agent Coulson, other possible SHIELD cameos include Sharon Carter, a longtime love interest for Steve Rogers, and Maria Hill, the tough-as-nails agent that briefly served as the agency's director.

OUTSIDE THE TRINITY: Aside from the main trio of Cap, Tony and Thor, there are other Avengers that we haven't seen on film just yet. "The Avengers" could be a great place to launch Ant-Man for Edgar Wright's planned adaptation, and if he's involved, Janet Van Dyne can't be far behind. Jeremy Renner brought the possibility of Hawkeye into the equation a few months ago, as well. Beyond that, there are plenty of players from Black Panther to Vision that could emerge in "The Avengers."

MISCHIEF MAKERS: Even though the villain of "The Avengers" hasn't officially been announced yet, there are several bad guys to choose from. Tom Hiddleston's Loki and Hugo Weaving's Red Skull seem like obvious picks to cause trouble for Captain America and his pals, but how about Ultron, Kang the Conqueror and other classic "Avengers" antagonists that haven't emerged on film yet?

HULKING OUT: Perhaps the greatest outlier is "The Incredible Hulk." Will Thunderbolt Ross find himself in "The Avengers" after his pep talk from Tony Stark? Will we see the consequences of Samuel Sterns' transformation into the Leader? Will Edward Norton play ball and rejoin the Marvel universe? The return of the Hulk is virtually guaranteed, but exactly how he and his surrounding cast will fit into "The Avengers" is another story altogether.

'Thor' Costume Designer Says Characters Are 'Fantastical But Not Superheroes'

With production on director Kenneth Branagh’s “Thor” well underway, further details about the film continue to come from surprising sources. While no photographs of the film's costumes have been publicly released thus far, Deborah Ambrosino — one of the costume designers on "Thor" — has spoken out about the look of the film's clothing.

In a profile on Costume Designers Guild, Ambrosino stated that the costumes in "Thor" are "strangely enough, very theatrical. There is a lot of fantasy in the different worlds that Thor lives in."

"The characters that populate that world are fantastical but not superheroes, which is great," she explained. "There is a heightened realism."

Ambrosino also indicated that she is utilizing her metalsmithing experience in the creation of the armor and jewelry.

Some of Ambrosino's previous projects include "Daredevil," "Avatar," "Alice in Wonderland," "Pushing Daisies," and the 2009 "Star Trek" reboot. Back in January, Marvel President Kevin Feige talked about the "Thor" costume tests prior to filming.

“We've done some costume tests and watching the Asgardians walk onto the sound stage takes me back to that first time I saw the X-Men on the set all together in Toronto," he said. "Only it was unlike anything we've ever put on film before!"

Actor Joseph Gatt has also effusively praised the film's costumes: “My costume is awesome and I get some seriously mean weapons! The sets are huge and truly beautiful, some of the best I’ve ever seen. All the characters have amazing costumes. The designers have done an extraordinary job at maintaining the traditional Marvel looks all the fans are expecting, but adding their own new style.”

“Thor” is set to be released on May 6, 2011.

New 'Iron Man 2' International Poster

A new international poster for "Iron Man 2" has hit the 'Net, featuring Iron Man, War Machine, Black Widow, Whiplash and the rest of the film's primary cast. The new poster debuted on Yahoo Movies, where you can check out a larger version of the image.

"Iron Man 2" is scheduled to hit theaters May 7, 2010.

James Cameron reveals new Avatar 2, Battle Angel secrets

James Cameron revealed a little bit more about his plans for a sequel to Avatar, the highest-grossing movie of all time. While promoting the upcoming DVD and Blu-ray release of Avatar, Cameron said he's holding on to at least one deleted scene that he can bring back in a second film.

"There's a scene that I'm specifically not putting in the deleted scenes in any form because it's a scene that I want to preserve for a future film," Cameron said in a group interview on March 23 in West Hollywood, Calif. "I'm not going to say what it is, but that's absolutely a consideration."

The April DVD and Blu-ray release is a movie-only edition. Cameron is planning a special-edition release for November with more bonus content. As far as that Avatar sequel, producer Jon Landau described what other characters, creatures and locations could find their way into the story.

"Jim envisioned a very rich world," Landau said in a separate group interview. "There are creatures in this world that we have designed that we didn't have time to put into the movie. There are characters that we had actually filmed some scenes with that we didn't have time to put in the movie. Not only did we only touch the surface of Pandora, there are 12 other satellite moons around Polyphemus that we haven't even gone to. So I think all those are true possibilities."

In Cameron's interview, the writer/director also touched on Battle Angel, the manga adaptation that could be his next project. Battle Angel could feature more practical sets and locations than the performance-capture Avatar. In fact, that's why he chose to do Avatar first.

"I sat down to write a scene so we could shoot a test the next day," Cameron said. "I thought, 'All right, what are the scenes in Battle Angel that are full CG scenes between two characters?' There weren't any, but I knew there were a couple in Avatar, a number of them. Battle Angel was more of a mix of CG characters in a live-action photographic world. There were a few full CG scenes, but they weren't dialogue scenes, they were action scenes. Just the physical parameters of the movie kind of dictated that our test probably needs to be Avatar. Then when we did the test, we got all into Avatar."

Now James Cameron has the high-class problem of too many opportunities. He's still deciding what his next film will be. "I've got to decide," Cameron said. "Do I want to go back and do Battle Angel and come back to Avatar later, or just plow on with Avatar? Do I want to go do something completely different like this Mars project that's been floating around out there for the last 12 years that I actually started making the 3-D cameras in the first place in order to shoot? There are a number of options. I haven't decided. Dive's another possibility. I've got too many possibilities, not enough time."

Avatar is available on DVD and Blu-ray April 22, Earth Day.

Tim Burton may give Beauty the Alice treatment

Alice in Wonderland broke box-office records, so Tim Burton can pretty much do whatever he wants for his next project. And what he wants to do next seems to be to turn the tale of Sleeping Beauty's evil queen into a live-action film, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The project, to be titled Maleficent, could team Burton back up with Linda Woolverton, who wrote the Alice screenplay, as well as Disney's Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King. Woolverton's script would tell the fairy tale from the point of view of the self-proclaimed "Mistress of All Evil," offering a new take on a classic story, just as she did with Lewis Carroll's Alice.

Burton grew interested in the character from the 1959 animated classic Sleeping Beauty when he was in post-production on Alice, though both Disney and Burton have been trying to keep a lid on the project.

No deal has yet been made with Burton, but the hiring of Woolverton is the first step in moving ahead.

What do you think of this possible project? Would you love to see Tim Burton get his hands on Sleeping Beauty? Or should he leave the classic Disney character alone?

Angela Bassett Joins 'Green Lantern' As Amanda Waller

Angela Bassett is putting director Martin Campbell's currently shooting "Green Lantern" in check by signing on as the newest cast member of the DC Entertainment film property.

According to Variety, Bassett will star in "Green Lantern" as Dr. Amanda Waller alongside Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan, Blake Lively as Carol Ferris, Mark Strong as Sinestro, Peter Sarsgaard as Hector Hammond and Tim Robbins as Senator Hammond.

Bassett is not the only cast member to have signed onto the film in recent weeks, as both Temuera Morrison and Taika Waititi recently enlisted as Abin Sur and (presumably) Thomas Kalmaku just last week.

The addition of Angela Bassett is interesting for a variety of reasons. To start, she's a reputable actress that reinforces Warner Bros.' previously established tendency to fill tent pole properties with high value names — even in Christopher Nolan's "Batman Begins," a secondary character like Carmine Falcone was played by the highly respected Tom Wilkinson. It seems that "Green Lantern" is following that example.

More importantly to DC Comics fans is the fact that Bassett is playing Amanda Waller, a character with plenty of history thanks to her involvement with Checkmate and the Suicide Squad. Will Bassett reprise the role in other DC related movie projects, including the developing "Suicide Squad" adaptation? At this point, anything is possible.

Recently, "Jackie Brown" actress Pam Grier portrayed Waller on The CW's "Smallville."

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