Tuesday, March 30, 2010

News - 03/30/10...

Bird Short-Listed for Mission: Impossible IV

Brad Bird, director of such popular animated features as The Iron Giant, The Incredibles and Ratatouille, is reportedly thinking about going live action to direct Mission: Impossible IV.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Bird is one of several contenders that producers Tom Cruise and J.J. Abrams are considering to direct the film for Paramount. The studio is eyeing a May 27, 2011, release, meaning work on the film needs to start this summer.

Other directors reportedly in the mix are Edgar Wright Jr., whose next film is the comic-book adaptation Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, and Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer.

The film would again star Cruise as agent Ethan Hunt and be based on the classic 1960s television series.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

DQ Entertainment Stock Rises on Release

India-based animation and games company DQ Entertainment officially listed its stock March 29 on the Indian capital markets, and posted surges in value as high as 75 percent its first day of trading.

The shares were initially offered at the price of 80 rupees (about $1.78 U.S.) and closed at 112.25 rupees (about $2.50 U.S.), an increase of about 40 percent.

The company raised about $34 million from its initial public offering and will use the funds to develop production ventures and invest in overseas joint ventures.

DQ has produced or co-produced animated projects featuring such iconic brands as Iron Man, Casper and Little Prince. Its current projects include a new animated series based on The Jungle Book, as well as visual effects and video game work.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Hallmark Preps Hoops & Yoyo Holiday Special

Hallmark’s popular online e-card characters Hoops and Yoyo will be starring in their own cable holiday movie this year. Variety reports that Hallmark Channel is developing a new animated movie featuring the cute, Helium-voiced pink and green duo as part of its effort to beef up its original programming fare.

The property was created by Hallmark artists Bob Holt and Mike Adair. Adair initially came up with the two characters when he was challenged to meet a 4th of July e-card animation for Hallmark several years ago, using only a firecracker. Up against a tight deadline, Holt started using a little green bunny he had previously created at home. He then transformed the bunny into a pink cat named hoops. Hoops eventually needed a pal and the original green bunny came back to life as yoyo.

What started as a single e-card created by Bob has now expanded to include everything from party supplies and gifts, to books and music. Almost 14 million hoops&yoyo e-cards and 200 online animations are sent annually, and their website receives over 3 million annual visits. Each Tuesday, the two Kansas City, Missouri-based artists pair up in a recording studio and record fresh audio without the help of a script (these sessions are performed in a stand-up, comedy act-like way) and come up with improvised material that’s eventually used in hoops&yoyo e-cards, their website, etc. For more info, visit www.hoopsandyoyo.com

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Aardman Animations Helps Launch Animation Academy in South Africa

The Guardian is reporting that the United Kingdom's Aardman Animations have helped launch South Africa's first animation academy at Khayelitsha township on the outskirts of Cape Town. The studio is aimed at training more animators for South Africa's home-grown animation industry (which failed to create a home-grown animated series last year) and address what Aardman perceives as "a worldwide shortage of animators," while also combating mass unemployment and rising crime in Khayelitsha and setting up a training center that does not require the tuition fees and transportation costs that prevent many non-white South Africans from attending film schools.

New Hampshire State Legislator Apologizes for Anime "Two Nukes" Comment

New Hampshire state representative Nick Levasseur (D) has issued an apology for a comment to Facebook where he stated, "anime is a prime example of why two nukes just wasn’t enough..." In a statement to Otaku Review and several other media outlets, Levasseur stated:

I would like to deeply apologize for the insensitivity of this post. It was a poorly thought out comment, posted jest on my private facebook page. It was never intended to be viewed by anyone other than friends. This, of course, does not excuse the comment. This type of statement has no place in public or private discourse. It does not represent any true opinion, political or personal. My record in the New Hampshire House shows a commitment to equality and social justice. It is a record of which I am most proud. This comment is a disappointment not only to the people of New Hampshire, whom it has been my privilege to serve, but also to my own beliefs and moral code.

Orson Welles to Narrate CG/Live-Action Hybrid Movie Posthumously

A recently discovered vocal narration track recorded by the late Orson Welles will be used as the basis for Christmas Tails, a 3-D live-action/CGI animated movie being produced by Drac Studios (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), according to a report in the Hollywood Reporter. Welles, who passed away in 1985, recorded the track as a favor to a friend, Christmas Tails author Robert X. Leed, but the tapes were kept at the author's home until Drac president Harvey Lowry tracked them down and restored them for use in the film. Plans are for a Christmas 2011 release.

Expanded Pixar Exhibition to Open at Oakland Museum of California in July 2010

An expanded version of the "Pixar: 25 Years of Animation" exhibition will open at the Oakland Museum of California from July 31, 2010 to January 9, 2011. The exhibit, which launched in 2005 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City (read Toonzone's review of the original show here) will show art and other materials used in the making of Pixar's movies, with new material added from the production of Ratatouille, WALL-E, Up, and Toy Story 3.

Onion A.V. Club Interviews Don Hahn on "Waking Sleeping Beauty," More

The Onion A.V. Club has posted a lengthy interview with Don Hahn, longtime producer for Walt Disney Studios (Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King), about his new documentary movie Waking Sleeping Beauty, which documents the period from 1984-1994 at the Walt Disney Feature Animation studios. Among the many topics discussed in the interview are how Hahn selected (and excluded) interview subjects from the movie, how the journalist Patrick Pacheco contributed to and shaped the movie, the surprises in the history and the opinions that were uncovered during production, his views on animation and filmmaking, and his upcoming projects like producing the stop-motion Tim Burton film Frankenweenie and his next documentary film Hand Held.

Vintage German ad for Felina lingerie

The animation isn’t so good, but the imagery - not to mention the live action ladies in their under garments - make this vintage German theatrical commercial well worth watching.

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Spongebob on Nightline

Nice segment, going behind the scenes of Spongebob at Nickelodeon, which aired last Friday on ABC:

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Gul by Adnan Hussain

Adnan Hussain’s short film Gul (Flower) draws the viewer in with its striking impressionistic CG imagery, but keeps the viewer engaged with its storytelling, which carries a clear and powerful message even as it verges on obliqueness. A Quicktime version of the film can be found on Adnan’s website.

I asked Adnan via email if he could share some details about the production of Gul. Here is what he wrote:

I’m a Los Angeles-based Pakistani-American artist working primarily in animation and live action vfx. Gul (Flower), an interpretive piece meant for the viewer to connect their own experiences, is my first short film. It is the culmination of personal art and skills learned as a technical director at Walt Disney Feature Animation, Sony Pictures Imageworks and other studios. It was created in a stack of sketchbooks, 3D Studio Max, Photoshop, Painter, Digital Fusion and Premiere. I studied non-photorealistic rendering papers and works by Egon Schiele, Bill Sienkiewicz and Kent Williams besides doing a ton of my own paintings to create the raw painted look of the film. Scripts were developed to repaint rendered frames layer by layer with custom settings to create the painted look efficiently.

By the end of 2007, I had built enough models, animation and pipeline to quit my job and finish it. I worked on the film, then back packed through Central Asia before finding my way to Jamshoro, Sindh, Pakistan to record the score of a yet to be colored version of the film. Thanks to incredible Sindhi Folk musicians lead by Ustad Anb Jogi on Dholak, Jairam Jogi and Nasir Jogi on Murli, Mohammed Buksh on Pakistani Banjo, Ibrahim Jogi on Tali and LA-based Brian Stroner on sound design, the film was completed in May 2009.

So far it has screened at Slamdance, Patios Human Rights, Mill Valley, Anim’Est, Maelstrom and Montezuma Film Festivals as well as winning Canada Film Festival’s Rising Star Award of Excellence and the Accolade Award of Merit.

Hussain tells me that he is currently in pre-production on his next short and is looking for freelance opportunities around the globe.

(Thanks cartoon brew)

How To Train Your Dragon Directors in HP Ad

As was predicted last week, DreamWorks Animation’s How to Train Your Dragon didn’t light the box office on fire. While it took the weekend with $43 million, that is many bags of gold short of the $59 million Monsters vs. Aliens transported back to headquarters last year. I suspect the film will have sustaining power though, as it’s scored so well with critics. Did you see the films’ director/writers, Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois, in this HP ad? The funny-man opposite them is Rhys Darby.

Toy Story 3 Cliffhanger Edition Arrives on Campuses in April

Wanna see Toy Story 3 two months early? Well, if you’re attending a major university in the US, you might just get that chance. If you bring your college ID to the screenings, which are in late April and early May, you’ll get to see the Toy Story 3 Special Cliffhanger Edition – 65 minutes of the film. If you’re not attending college, you’ll have to wait like the rest of us, but you DO get 3 new teasers for the highly-anticipated CG sequel:

O’Hara Suits Up for 11 Second Club

Only two days left in this month’s 11 Second Club competition, which relies on dialog from the football film Rudy. Dublin-based animator Chris O’Hara need not worry about the deadline, ‘cuz he’s done. O’Hara has finished in the top ten 3 of the 4 times he’s entered, and I’m guessing he’ll crack the top 5 with this Flash animated entry.

New York Animation News...


April 15th
ASIFA-East, Women in Animation and Women in Children’s Media present - ONE HUB PLUS - Animation in New York

We're back in NYC! This event is co-hosted by Lisa Goldman of Women in Animation, David Levy of ASIFA-East, and Sarah Wallendjack of Women in Children’s MediaThe One Plus Hub is an animation networking group which was launched in the fall of 2005 by Jill Gilbert of One Plus Productions. The One Plus Hub is comprised of over 900 members from the animation and related media communities at large. On a quarterly basis, animation producers, directors, writers, executives, agents, composers and managers in all media (films, television series, web, and mobile entertainment) come together to network and discuss the issues that surround the industry today and the future of animation from a business, creative and overall global perspective. No need to register or RSVP - Just show up!

April 21st
ASIFA-East Presents - Winning Selections from the 1st Annual Animazing Spotlight Festival

The first annual AniMazing Spotlight animated shorts festival was presented November 7-8 at the legendary Egyptian theater in Hollywood. ASIFA International has made special arrangement with AniMazing Spotlight to make its program of 14 award winning films available to ASIFA members in all international chapters. ASIFA-East is delighted to present this program to its members.Our thanks to ASIFA International and festival organizer Tee Bosustow for this special program.

From the Animationisti:

Animation Therapy
Are you working on a film project and feel like you need to share your progress on a regular basis with others to keep focused and motivated? This group might be just for you! Simple premise: Show what you are working on. Talk about what you will do next week. Get and give feedback on what you see. Every Fridays at 8PM. If interested, contact Tarik Cherkaoui: chertar@gmail.com

Visit http://asifaeast.com/ and http://asifaeast.com/ExposureSheet/ for details about all events.

to April 1st
Sunshine Cinema presents - Waking Sleeping Beauty

Waking Sleeping Beauty is no fairytale. It is a story of clashing egos, out of control budgets, escalating tensions... and one of the most extraordinary creative periods in animation history. Director Don Hahn and producer Peter Schneider, key players at Walt Disney Studios Feature Animation department during the mid-1980s, offer a behind-the-magic glimpse of the turbulent times the Animation Studio was going through and the staggering output of hits that followed over the next ten years.

Apr 10th - 11th
Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art Presents - MoCCA Art Festival 2010

The MoCCA Festival offers a unique venue to experience comics, mini-comics, web comics, graphic novels, animation, posters, prints, original artwork, and more. Each year, the Festival invites dozens of established and emerging creators, scholars, and other experts to participate in two days of lecture/discussion panels on a variety of comics and cartoon topics. For 2010, the panels and programs are being organized by Brian Heater (The Daily Crosshatch) and Jeff Newelt (Pekar Project, SMITH, Heeb, Royal Flush).

April 12
Woodstock Film Festival and IFC Centre present - Battle of the Sexes: Animated!

Screening will be followed by an exclusive Q&A with select animators and programmers.Famed animators and Woodstock Film Festival Animation Programmers Bill Plympton and Signe Baumane will square off toe-to-toe by showing the funniest, sexiest animated cartoons in a 5-round match to discover which gender makes the hottest cartoons!And get this - the audience gets to decide the winner! Yes! The paying public will end this age - old controversy, once and for all declaring the winner!

Apr 17th
The Jacob Burns Film Center Presents - Grave of the Fireflies
Two children lose their parents to war and must survive famine and other hardships on their own, with no help from the callously indifferent people around them. Loosely based on a true story, this is a somber, profoundly human story with an impact akin to that of Schindler’s List.

Apr 17th
Symphony Space presents - The Gustafer Yellowgold Show.
Created by singer/songwriter Morgan Taylor, minimally animated illustrations of Gustafer Yellowgold and his friends are accompanied by Taylor's catchy original story-songs for a truly remarkable and memorable multimedia experience.

Till April 26th: The Museum of Modern Art Presents - The Tim Burton Retrospective.
This major career retrospective on Tim Burton, consisting of a gallery exhibition and a film series, considers Burton's career as a director, producer, writer, and concept artist for live-action and animated films, along with his work as a fiction writer, photographer and illustrator.

(Thanks ASIFA East)

'Iron Man 2' Work Concluding, R.I.P. Dick Giordano, And A Lady Gaga Joke In Today's Twitter Report

Dick Giordano, the former DC Comics VP and executive editor, as well as one of the most recognizable comic book artists of the modern era, passed away over the weekend, and memories abounded on Twitter from his former colleagues and those whose work he inspired.

Elsewhere, "Iron Man 2" passed another landmark as Jon Favreau revealed that this would be his last weekend working on the film. The Twitter Report feed won't be the same without his editing updates. Savor one of the last work posts you'll see from him for a while after the jump. There, you can find out what "Goats" anniversary is coming up this week, as well as what Brian Michael Bendis' found out about Lady Gaga over the weekend and which premiere Edgar Wright got an invitation to attend.

It's all in the Twitter Report for March 29th, 2010. Read more here...

Hollywood Takes Another Crack At GODZILLA!

Beaks here...

Following up on a report from Bloody Disgusting in August of '09, Variety has learned that Legendary Pictures has secured the rights to Toho Co.'s Godzilla, and hopes to return the iconic giant lizard to the big screen at some point in 2012.

For those of you dreading another Emmerich-level betrayal of the character, Legendary honcho Thomas Tull is saying all the right things. "Our plans," he tells Variety, "are to produce the GODZILLA that we, as fans, would want to see. We intend to do justice to those essential elements that have allowed the character to remain as pop-culturally relevant for as long as it has."

There are no creatives attached to the project yet (that we know of), so who knows what this new American Godzilla will look like. My guess is that it will a) be another CG monster, b) take place in one of America's fine coastal cities (I vote for Hilton Head), and c) Maria Pitillo will be nowhere in sight. However, given that we've nothing to go on but Tull's vaguely encouraging statements, I reserve the right to be spectacularly wrong on all counts.

The Toho Godzilla has been MIA since 2004'S GODZILLA: FINAL WARS, so, if nothing else, it's good to know the big fella's coming back.

Warner Bros. will distribute.

(Thanks AICN)

Superman comic sells for $1.5M, setting record

In this comic book cover photo released by ComicConnect/Metropolis Comics, a copy of the 1938 edition of Action Comics No. 1, featuring Superman's debut, is shown.

The record price for a comic book, already broken twice this year, has been shattered again.

A copy of the 1938 edition of Action Comics No. 1 sold Monday for $1.5 million on the auction Web site ComicConnect.com. The issue, which features Superman's debut and originally sold for 10 cents, is widely considered the Holy Grail of comic books.

The same issue sold in February for $1 million, though that copy wasn't in as good condition as the issue that sold Monday. That number was bested just days later when a 1939 comic book featuring Batman's debut sold for $75,000 more at an auction in Dallas.

There are about 100 copies of Action Comics No. 1 believed to be in existence, and only a handful in good condition. The issue that sold Monday was rated slightly higher than the one that sold in February; it had been tucked inside an old movie magazine for years before being discovered.

The issue was bought from a private collector and then sold by Stephen Fishler and Vincent Zurzolo, the co-owners of ComicConnect.com. It was bought minutes after being posted Monday at the asking price of $1.5 million by "a hardcore comic book fan," Fishler said.

"There's been a lot of attempts to acquire this book over the last 15 years," he said. "The recent activity, I guess, did the trick."

Fishler speculated that the sudden burst of record-priced sales are due to "pent-up demand." Issues of such prized comic books rarely become available for purchase. Rarer still are issues in such good condition.

"I can't imagine another book coming on the market that exists that would top this," Fishler said. "This may be the final say — at least for the next 10 or 20 years — for a record price of a comic book."

'GaiKing' And 'Shogun Warriors' Movies Planned, New Comic Series On The Way

Back in the '70s, Mattel released a toyline called "Shogun Warriors" which was made up of several imported Japanese toys that were based on a popular anime series. "Shogun Warriors" was later adapted into a 20-issue comic book series by Marvel Comics, featuring writer Doug Moench and artist Herb Trimpe.

While the franchise has been dormant for several years, word has emerged that "Gaiking" and the rest of the "Shogun Warriors" may be heading to the big screen in the near future.

According to Ain't it Cool News, a "Gaiking" film is being planned for 2012 release date by director Matthew Gratzner and special effects artist Jules Urbach, with a potential "Shogun Warriors" film planned as a sequel. While the report didn't indicate which giant robots from "Shogun Warriors" would appear in the films, it did offer some insight into how the robots will be brought to the big screen, and some impressive test footage created to promote the project.

"We are building the robots life size," wrote Urbach. "Matt [Gratzner] is one of the last great practical effects guys in the business who can pull this off."

Urbach also stated that "We'll have more 'Shogun Warriors' than ever appeared in the Marvel Comics." The report also indicated that a new "Shogun Warriors" comic book series is coming from Dynamite Entertainment, with Alex Ross "mentoring on the project" and providing covers as well.

The report also promises that further announcements regarding the giant robots to be used within the film will be made at this year's San Diego Comic-Con International. However, the early word is that the action won't just be limited to Earth and will also take place on other planets in the "Shogun Warriors" universe.

Last (but definitely not least), the site offered up a look at some CGI footage created to showcase the look and tone they're envisioning for "Gaiking." We've grabbed a pair of stills from the video that you can check out here:

'The Avengers' Movie Poster Debuts (Sort Of)!

Okay, so it's not an official poster for "The Avengers," Marvel Studios' upcoming superhero team-up extravaganza, but what's a little Photoshop fun among friends?

Now that Chris Evans has been cast as Captain America, the final member of the team's core cast (or what we know of it, at least) has a face to go with the role. And while there are probably still a few more "Avengers" characters that need to be cast, we decided to try our hand at envisioning what a poster for the 2012 film might look like.

"Avengers" Assemble!

Many thanks to MTV's Andrew Ross-Rowe for the Photoshop skillz.

24 movie update, and will NBC pick it up?

More news today about Fox's 24, which was officially canceled last week, including that upcoming feature film and whether NBC will be picking it up.

From USA Today:

♦Billy Ray (State of Play) is writing the movie script, which will be set in Prague and will take place in a single day, not in real time, allowing Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) to travel across Europe. That hasn't been OK'd officially.

♦20th Century Fox tried to pitch the show to NBC, but NBC wasn't interested.

♦The current eighth season has 10 more episode after tonight's and will provide a more "definitive" ending than others.

24 airs tonight at 9 p.m. ET/PT; the two-hour season finale will air May 24 at 8 p.m.

(Why is 24 sci-fi? Read this.)

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