Thursday, June 3, 2010

News - 06/03/10...

Warner Bros. Animation Announces New "ThunderCats" Series for CN in 2011

Warner Bros. Animation has announced that it has begun production on ThunderCats, a new animated series based on the original 1980's cartoon about a tribe of fierce feline warriors battling against evil forces over the fabled Stones of Power. The series will be a creative collaboration between Warner Bros. Animation and Japan's Studio4°C, which has worked on The Animatrix, Batman Gotham Knight, and Halo Legends, and the series promises that its iconic characters Lion-O, Mumm-Ra, Panthro, and others will "spring off the screen with realistic cat-like characteristics."

The series will air on Cartoon Network in 2011. Sam Register (Teen Titans, Ben 10, Batman: The Brave and the Bold) is executive producer, with Michael Jelenic (Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Wonder Woman) and Ethan Spaulding (Avatar: The Last Airbender) producing.

The full press release follows, along with the first promotional image from the series:



(June 3, 2010 – Burbank, CA) – Warner Bros. Animation (WBA) has begun production on “ThunderCats,” an all-new animated series for Cartoon Network, based upon the iconic 1980s action classic. “ThunderCats” is the newest series from WBA, joining “Batman: The Brave and the Bold,” which was recently renewed for a third season, and the following forthcoming programs: “The Looney Tunes Show,” “MAD,” “Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated” and “Young Justice.” The announcement was made today by Sam Register, Executive Vice President, Creative Affairs, Warner Bros. Animation.

“In addition to being Warner Bros. Animation’s first anime series, ‘ThunderCats’ marks our most ambitious foray yet into fantasy,” said Register. “The realism and dynamic visual style we’ve achieved are sure to thrill viewers, and the cool weapons, vehicles and technology should help the show appeal to a diverse audience.”

The 21st century reimagining of the series marks a creative collaboration between WBA and Studio4°C, one of the most vibrant animation studios in Japan, with credits including “The Animatrix,” “Gotham Knights” and “Halo Legends.” WBA is working closely with Studio4°C, utilizing the latter’s expertise to give the “ThunderCats” characters a new cutting-edge look while remaining true to the compelling storylines and mythology of the original series.

(Click to see a larger version)

“We at Studio4°C are excited to be in this creative partnership with Warner Bros. Animation to bring ‘ThunderCats’ to life,” said Eiko Tanaka, President and CEO, Studio4°C. “This collaboration combines the strengths of our two companies – high production values and great storytelling – toward reintroducing this classic fan-favorite to a new audience.”

Roaring to life through WBA and Studio4°C’s use of the Japanese animated artistry of anime, “ThunderCats” characters Lion-O, Mumm-Ra, Panthro, Cheetara and others will spring off the screen with realistic cat-like characteristics inconceivable in previous incarnations.

The new “ThunderCats” will appeal to viewers who have loved the characters all their lives as well as young newcomers to the franchise. A sweeping tale combining swords and science and boasting ferocious battles with the highest of stakes, the grand origin story of Prince Lion-O’s ascension to the throne – and of those who would thwart his destiny at any cost – takes on epic dimensions in this sharp new telling. As the forces of good and evil battle each other in the quest for the fabled Stones of Power, Lion-O and his champions learn valuable lessons of loyalty, honor and mortality in every episode.

“ThunderCats” is executive produced by Sam Register (“Teen Titans,” “Ben 10,” “Batman: The Brave and the Bold”). Michael Jelenic (“Batman: The Brave and the Bold,” “Wonder Woman”) and Ethan Spaulding (“Avatar: The Last Airbender”) are the producers.

About Warner Bros. Animation
Warner Bros. Animation (WBA) has been producing award-winning original animation since 1930, when it released its first cartoon, Sinkin’ in the Bathtub. Since then, WBA’s characters have set the standard for innovative, quality animation. Producing for network and cable television, online, home entertainment and feature films both domestically and internationally, WBA is highly respected for its creative and technical excellence, as well as maintaining the studio’s rich cartoon heritage. WBA also oversees the creative use of, and production of animated programming based on, classic animated characters from the Hanna-Barbera and DC Comics libraries. WBA is one of the most honored animation studios in history, garnering a grand total of six Academy Awards®, 36 Emmy® Awards, the George Foster Peabody Award, an Environmental Media Award, a Parents’ Choice Award, a Humanitas Award, five Prism Awards and 20 Annie Awards.

About Studio4°C
Studio4°C is Japan’s leading animation studio. Led by producer Eiko Tanaka, Studio4°C is renowned for its ultra-energetic, cutting-edge feature films, progressive music videos, radical short films and numerous outstanding television commercials, promotional materials, video/computer games and TV series. Studio4°C was an early adopter of digital technology and is now a brand name with global recognition for its progressive hybrid visuals and funky crossover creations. In 2003, through a joint production with Warner Bros. Studios, Studio4°C created the revolutionary “The Animatrix.” Studio4°C’s crazily innovative feature film “Tekkonkinkreet” was a 2007 Oscar® nominee in the Animated Feature Film category. Taking its name from the fact that water is at its densest at four degrees Celsius, Studio4°C represents the creative manifesto to “create only works that are dense with substance and extreme quality.”

(Ed. note: For those who've forgotten, here's arguably one of the best openings for an American animated series - ever.)

New Pooh title?

In a recent discussion promoting Disney’s Princess And The Frog, posted at Animated Views here, co-director John Musker might have let slipped the title of the new Winnie The Pooh feature currently on animator’s boards. When asked about the Studio’s next film, he replied it would be “another hand drawn animated feature. It is the further adventures of Winnie the Pooh”. As a companion to the original 1977 feature The Many Adventures Of Winnie The Pooh, could The Further Adventures Of Winnie The Pooh be the new film’s perfect-fit title?

Alice in Wonderland, ’70s Peanuts Come Home

Disney’s billion-dollar baby, Alice in Wonderland, is coming out of the rabbit hole and onto home video.

The Tim Burton film, which was released in stereoscopic 3-D and stars Johnny Depp, recently crossed the billion-dollar milestone at the box office. Alice is being released in multiple formats: a single-disc DVD for $29.99; a single-disc Blu-ray for $39.99; and a three-disc combo pack that includes the film on DVD, Blu-ray and a digital copy for $44.99.

DVD bonus features include the featurettes “Finding Alice,” “The Mad Hatter” and “Effecting Wonderland.” Additional Blu-ray bonus features include “The Futterwacken Dance,” “Time-Lapse: Sculpting the Red Queen,” “Making the Proper Size,” “Cakes of Wonderland” and “Tea Party Props.”

Also out this week is Peanuts 1970s Collection, Vol. 2 (Warner Bros, $29.98), a two-disc set collecting a half-dozen of the decade’s Charlie Brown specials all with remastered sound and picture. The release includes the bonus feature “You’re Groovy, Charlie Brown: A Look at Peanuts in the ’70s.

Adult Swim fans will surely be looking for the latest taste of New Jersey’s strangest residents in Aqua Teen Hunger Force Vol. 7 (Warner Bros., $29.98), while anime fans have Naruto: Shippuden, Vol. 10 (VIZ Media, $24.92) and Digimon: Journey to Ice Ridge (Well Go USA, $8.98) to pick from.

In the kids aisle, new releases include Sesame Street: Firefly Fun & Buggy Buddy (Warner Bros., $14.98), Shaun the Sheep: One Giant Leap for Lambkind (HIT Entertainment, $14.98) and Thomas & Friends: The Greatest Stories (HIT Entertainment, $16.98)

Also out this week is the unrated director’s cut of Joe Johnston’s The Wolfman (Universal, $29.98 DVD, $39.98 Blu-ray).

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

What’s New with Our Pitch Party Winners

As the deadline for this year’s Pitch Party contest approaches, we thought it would be a good idea to check in with a couple of winners from last year’s edition to see what they’ve been up to over the past 12 months:

Last year’s top-prize winner Chelsea Gordon-Ratzlaff wrote to tell us that she’s recently graduated from Capilano University’s commercial animation program and is drawing everyday and considering going back to school to brush up on her 3D skills. She notes, “The best thing that came out of winning the Pitch Party was getting a chance to talk with Eric Coleman [senior VP of original series at Disney Animation], who gave me lots of awesome advice on pitching my ideas. It just really made me feel better about where I am right now and where I'm headed in the industry.” She also incorporated her Pitch Party character Clerence in an animation project. “Our task was to create a station bumper that had to be exactly 15 seconds long and focus on character animation,”she explains. "I was having trouble coming up with an idea on what to do and someone in my class suggested I do Clerence. I had a lot of fun with it.”
You can see her work at

Animation artist, author and teacher Stephen Silver placed second with his fun children’s pitch Jolly & Roger’s Misguided Adventures. He tells us that his concept generated interest, but unfortunately, the major studios had other pirate-themed projects in development. He is now developing a new intellectual property where he and his partners will be having creator-owned merchandise at the San Diego Zoo this summer. He adds,“I have personally been freelancing, developing my own art and teaching full time at, an online art school I have been associated with from its beginning.” Silver, whose two volumes of illustrations The Art of Silver and Passion for Life can be ordered on, says he has been working from his home studio and loving it.

Among other news about previous years’ winners: magician extraordinaire Nicholas Night, the winner of our first Pitch Party contest with his TV concept The Hair-Rising Adventures of Aaron & Ned, is now working on an upcoming CG-animated feature titled Pavlov’s Dog with the team at Exodus Film Group (Igor) and Melwood Pictures. The movie follows the adventures of an uptight flea from out of town that learns to adjust to a new, chaotic life with a big-city dog.

Animation artist and creator Chris Leathers, who won the 2004 Pitch Party with his clever pitch My Annoying Little Brother, also wrote to let us know that he’s developing a new animated series based on the life of a dolphin activist (and inspiration for the Oscar-winning documentary The Cove). Leathers pitched his Pitch Party show to Nelvana and he says they were really helpful, but the idea wasn’t ready for TV. Since then, he has worked on various Nickelodeon shows, as well as Kappa Mikey and Speed Racer: The Next Generation.

By the way, one of this year’s amazing Pitch Party judges, Kevin Gamble, VP of development at Disney, actually entered our contest seven years ago. “It was a series concept called Crashed that I ended up selling to Cartoon Network—I pitched it to Tramm Wigzel a year later and he put it into development,” he says. Although a regime change ended up putting the show on the back-burner, it just goes to show that you never know what will happen to your pitch once you enter our contest and send it out into the universe!

Best of luck to all of the talented, creative people who entered our Pitch Party over the past eight years. As we’ve said here before, just making an impression on the decision-makers is half the battle. If you’d like to find out more about this year’s contest and top-notch judges, visit

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Homer Tops EW’s 100 Greatest Characters

Homer Simpson has achieved something no other lazy, slow-witted, donut-munching, beer-swilling, irresponsible parent could ever dream of: He’s been named the greatest film or TV character of the past 20 years by Entertainment Weekly magazine.

The animated patron of Fox’s long-running cartoon sitcom beat out Harry Potter and Buffy the Vampire Slayer for the top spot in the survey, announced by the publication this week in a special anniversary issue.

Also cracking the list was SpongeBob SquarePants at No. 10, Shrek at No. 15, video game adventuress Lara Croft at No. 17, South Park’s Eric Cartman at No. 22, Toy Story’s Woody at No. 25, Beavis and Butt-head at No. 32, Gollum from The Lord of the Rings at No. 36; Stewie Griffin of Family Guy at No. 45, Halo’s Master Chief at No. 59 and toon rockers Gorillaz at No. 80.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Cartoon Network Unveils New Look

Cartoon Network has tweaked the familiar look of its brand as it attempts to broaden its appeal to a wider audience.

The company has streamlined its chessboard logo and added the new tag line “Check it.”

The network also has redecorated its offices and, according to Variety, given its staff black and white checkered Vans shoes in honor of the revamp.

The company says the new logo was intended to connect the company’s traditional animated content with its growing slate of live-action.

The changes became visible on the channel itself over the Memorial Day weekend.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Cuppa Coffee’s Shaheen Launches Saucer Sound

Cuppa Coffee Studios president Adam Shaheen is launching Saucer Sound, a new audio production facility that will service both Cuppa Coffee’s projects and the film and TV communities in Toronto.

The facility includes a high quality 5:1 mix studio as well as a second studio with a multivoice booth and control room. There are also edit suites, a Foley stage and integrated layback and machine room facilities capable of handling SD and HD workflows. The studio offers full audio staffing and production as well as sound design and music creative for short form, long form and advertising projects, but can also be booked on a per room basis.

Saucer Sound

"My desire to have sound in-house at Cuppa was one born of wanting the best control and quality,” says Shaheen. “We have always done our post-audio out of house, and it now makes sense to build a quality facility to not only serve our own needs but also to be a new alternative for the TV and film community here in Toronto.”

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Owners Put FUNimation On the Block

Navarre Corp. has announced it is seeking offers to acquire its anime subsidiary FUNimation.

The company has retained Houlihan Lokey to assist in the transaction.

In a press release, the company stated that FUNimation’s business results have “generally met expectations,” but has decided to focus more on its core business of computer software, home entertainment media and related products.

To grow, FUNimation needs to co-produce original anime content and exploit social networks and digital broadcasting — tasks better suited to owners experienced in those areas, the company stated.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Classical, UPA composer Benjamin Lees dies at 86

Renowned American classical composer Benjamin Lees, who scored two Oscar-nominated UPA cartoons, died Monday of heart failure at North Shore Long Island Jewish Hospital in Glen Cove, New York. He was 86.

Lees, nominated for a Grammy Award in 2004, composed the music for Man Alive! (1952), a UPA co-production with the American Cancer Society. Depicting the need for regular medical checkups from your doctor for symptoms that could lead up to cancer, Man Alive! was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary, Short Subjects.

Pink And Blue Blues, a 1952 Mr. Magoo cartoon that he composed for, was an Academy Award nominee for Best Short Subject (Cartoon).

Also for UPA, his works included the Jolly Frolic The Emperor's New Clothes (1953) and Bringing Up Mother (1954).

Born to Russian parents in Harbin, China on January 8, 1924, he arrived in the United States in 1925. He and his parents settled in San Francisco, where he began his piano studies at age five.

After military service in the Second World War, he attended the University of Southern California to study composition, harmony, and theory. Shortly after completing his studies, he was introduced to the legendary American composer George Antheil, and thus began almost five years of intense study in advanced composition and orchestration, during which the two formed a close and lasting friendship.

Throughout his distinguished career, Lees composed in a wide variety of genres. His works were commissioned and performed by ensembles and soloists throughout the United States and Europe, including the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and l'Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte Carlo.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum commissioned two of his works, Piano Trio No. 2 "Silent Voices" and "Night Spectres" for unaccompanied cello.

As a composer, Lees was especially renowned for his orchestral works, which are represented by five symphonies and numerous concertante works that feature soloist or small instrumental groups with orchestra. Writing in the August 2007 issue of The Strad, Robert Markow called Lees' Concerto for String Quartet and Orchestra "an outstanding model of the form." Other concertante works for small ensembles include concertos for woodwind quintet, brass choir, percussion ensemble, all with orchestra.

His many awards included a Fromm Foundation Award (1953), two Guggenheim Fellowships (1954, 1966), a Fulbright Fellowship (1956), a UNESCO Award for String Quartet No. 2 (1958), and the Sir Arnold Bax Society Medal, the first awarded to a non-British composer (1958). He also received a Grammy nomination in 2004 for his Symphony No. 5.

Lees' music was published exclusively by Boosey & Hawkes.

Asked about his approach to composition, he was quoted as saying, "There are two kinds of composers. One is the intellectual and the other is visceral. I fall into the latter category. If my stomach doesn't tighten at an idea, then it's not the right idea."

Commissioned to write pieces through his early 80s, he continued writing until his death.

Benjamin Lees is survived by his wife Leatrice, as well as by his daughter, Jan Rexon.

"Coonskin" cinematographer William A. Fraker dies

Cinematographer William A. Fraker, nominated six times for an Academy Award, died Monday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles after a battle with cancer. He was 86.

Fraker was the cinematographer for Ralph Bakshi's notorious 1975 movie flop Coonskin, which combined live action with animation. Also known as Street Fight and Bustin' Out, the allegorical tale about the status of blacks in America was accused of being racist and was withdrawn by its distributor within a week of its release.

By and large, Fraker was a success, however. He received Academy Award nominations in cinematography for Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977), Heaven Can Wait (1978), 1941 (1980), WarGames (1983) and Murphy's Romance (1985), in addition to a visual effects nod for 1941.

President of the American Society of Cinematographers for three terms (1979-80, 1984-85 and 1991-92), he received the ASC Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000.

Born in Hollywood on September 29, 1923, he was raised there as well. During the Second World War, he served in the United States Navy.

Aided by the G.I. Bill of Rights, he enrolled in film school at the University of Southern California, graduating from the USC School of Cinema-Television in 1950. In recent years, he taught at the school as well.

In 1981, Franker was made an honorary nember of the Society of Operating Cameramen, of which he was a founding supporter.

During the 1960s, Fraker became well-known in his craft, working on such films as the features Bullitt and Rosemary's Baby (both 1968) and Paint Your Wagon (1969).

"William A. Fraker, ASC, BSC (British Society of Cinematographers), embodied not only the consummate artistry that was necessary to become a legend in his craft but also the romance and glamour of making movies," ASC president Michael Goi said.

"His presence was a reminder that we in the motion picture industry exist in a world of privilege, a world where one's ability to visually depict the world as we would like it to be had value to an audience. His tireless devotion to informing and educating the next generations of cinematographers spoke to his desire that the industry never forget that we are dreamers, and that those dreams have significance. He will be missed but never forgotten."

"Billy Fraker was the epitome of a Hollywood cinematographer," ASC past president Richard Crudo observed. "He was immensely talented, handsome and charismatic, and he has a body of work that was the envy of us all. We are always going to miss him."

William A. Fraker is survived by his wife Denise. He was predeceased in 1992 by son William A. Fraker Jr., an assistant cameraman.

Disney background artist Daniel Read dead at 60

Daniel "Dan" Read, a background and visual development artist on several Disney Animation films, died May 25 following an 18-month battle with melanoma, Steve Hulett, business representative of The Animation Guild (Local 839 of IATSE), said Tuesday.

Read had just turned 60, and was surrounded by friends and family at the time of his death, Hulett added.

His most recent work for Disney was as a background artist on 2009's The Princess And The Frog. He was also a background artist on the feature films Hercules (1997), Fantasia 2000 (1999), The Emperor's New Groove (2000), Treasure Planet (2002) and Home On The Range (2004).

A visual development artist on Chicken Little (2005) and Bolt (2008), Read was a background artist on the 2007 Goofy short How To Hook Up Your Home Theater, which was nominated for two Annie Awards.

Read, a resident of the Los Angeles area, had been a lighter/compositor at Walt Disney Animation Studios as well.

Read worked for over 20 years in the United States and Italy as a painter and teacher of painting and figure drawing before joining Disney's Paris studio as a background painter on the 1995 Mickey Mouse short Runaway Brain.

He earned the Master's Degree from the University of California, Berkeley, where he studied under Elmer Bischoff and Joan Brown. He also attended the University of California, Davis, where he studied under Wayne Thiebaud.

His fine art has been exhibited in the United States, Scotland and Italy, and is in numerous private collections in the U.S., Great Britain, Switzerland and Italy.

"Dan was a fine artist, way beyond his Disney work," Hulett recalled. "He lived for some years in Florence, Italy refining his art and earning his living with big and small canvases.

"At some point, he decided it would be good to become one with a large American corporation and called me asking how he could get into Disney. I knew from mutual friends that he was a crackerjack artist."

Hulett remembered that Read thrived at Disney Animation, lasting through many management changes at the House of Mouse "because he was damn good at what he did, and the conglomerate knew it."

Jesus Christ, this animated TV series is offensive

Repent and broadcast no more, says a group of TV religious watchdogs preparing a preemptive strike against a possible Comedy Central cartoon series about Jesus Christ.

Although it doesn't have a script yet, JC may be green-lighted as a series. The concept revolves around Jesus trying to live an ordinary life in the Big Apple and trying to get out from under the thumb of his "powerful but apathetic father."

To protest the idea, a new group, the Coalition Against Religious Bigotry, is being formed by Media Research Centre president Brent Bozell, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, Catholic League president Bill Donohue and Parents Television Council president Tim Winter, along with Rabbi Daniel Lapin of the American Alliance of Jews and Christians and talk radio host Michael Medved.

On Thursday, CARB will hold its first news conference to urge advertisers not to back JC if it hits the airwaves.

Some Christian leaders are offended by what they view as a double standard. Recently, Comedy Central censored the cartoon sitcom South Park for depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

"After we reveal the vile and offensive nature of Comedy Central's previous characterizations of Jesus Christ and God the Father, we expect these advertisers to agree wholeheartedly to end their advertising on Comedy Central and discontinue their support for unabashed, anti-Christian discrimination," Bozell said in a statement. "Why should they be supporting a business that makes a habit of attacking Christianity and yet has a formal policy to censor anything considered offensive to followers of Islam? This double standard is pure bigotry, one from which advertisers should quickly shy away."

And Comedy Central said unto the press: Nothing. It had no comment.

Upcoming in Japan

Gundam Unicorn episode 2

A look at the upcoming Nausicaa blu-ray notes Marvel Entertainment and Animax announced an October 1 premiere for the Madhouse animated Iron Man anime.

Catsuka reports Studio 4°C has developed a short adaptation of Masamune Shirow's battle of religions, Orion to be shown at the Short Shorts Film Festival in Tokyo this June. Batman: Gotham Knight's Yasuhiro Aoki directed the 3D work

a 3D Doraemon short is also being unveiled reports that Ghibli is working on shirts
Yomiuri Online reports that Studio Ghibli is working on two new shorts titled "Pandane to Tamagohime" and "Takarasagashi" for the Ghibli museam

A secon season of Baka Test will air on Japanese TV next year

Keiichi Arawi's Nichijou gag comedy manga will be adapted by Kyoto Animation

Azure Konno's manga about voice actress in adult anime Koe de Oshigoto! will be adapted into adapted into anime

via Anime News Network
Hiroyuki Yamaga confirmed that Gainax has another series in the work beyond the very stylized Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt. the other will be "more refined" work set in Great Britain during the 20th century.

Britain's Got Talent's Susan Boyle has sung the theme song for Welcome to THE SPACE SHOW, the movie from the team behind Read or Die

Mobile Suit Gundam 00 the Movie: Awakening of the Trailblazer is scheduled to hit Japanese theatres on September 18th.

Flash animator FROGMAN (Eagle Talon) will produce a trailer for the Japanese release of Jackie Chan's Spy Next Door, to be released under the title Double Mission

Also, involved with Eagle Talon, DLE, will be animating a TV tie-in to Monster Hunter.

A limited edition XXXHOLiC OVA will be offered to readers who send in cards from the 25th issue of Weekly Shonen Magazine, sixth issue of Magazine Special, and July issue of Bessatsu Shonen Magazine

Tsutomu Mizushima is directing a second Production I.G produced adaptation of demonic comedy Yondemasuyo, Azazel-san

Upcoming in North America (and other English Speaking Territories)

The story of a live action adaptation of Mai the Psychic Girl has gone from legend to news again. Latino Review reports Tim Burton has re-acquired and re-started his film adaptation of MAI THE PSYCHIC GIRL, based on the manga by Kazuya Kudo and Ryoichi Ikegami. He first started this one in the late eighties

MAI had been bought 8 years ago by Sony Family Films. Then the Prez of Sony, Amy Pascal, killed it. Sony has been having serious money problems since October and didn’t want to make the film so they gave it all back to Burton. If it ends up making a BILLION dolares como Alice in Wonderland then Sony will not be seen as all that smart, eh?


The Hub will be broadcasting fantasy anime Deltora Quest, which was going to be released in North America by Geneon before its North American operations were shut down.

A Green Lantern animated series is slated for Fall 2011

4Kids has acquired to Ann Gutman & Georg Hallensleben’s Pénélope, including Nippon Animation's adaptation

Famous English dubbed edit of the first two Lone Wolf and Cub movies, Shogun Assassin, will be released on Blu-ray by AnimEigo July 30th

Directed by Academy Award-winner Robert Houston, the English dubbed SHOGUN ASSASSIN was created by editing together footage from the first two Lone Wolf and Cub (Kozure Ookami) films, SWORD OF VENGEANCE (Kozure Okami: Kowokashi Udekashi Tsukamatsuru, 1972) and BABY CART ON THE RIVER STYX (Kozure Okami: Sanzu no Kawa no Ubaguruma, 1972). It uses about 11 minutes of footage from the first film and 70 minutes of footage from the second. The Lone Wolf and Cub films are based on the original manga (story by Koike Kazuo, illustrations by Kojima Goseki), a 142-episode epic, which ran in Manga Action between September 10, 1970, and April 1, 1976.

In 2006, AnimEigo’s first official release of
SHOGUN ASSASSIN set the bar for high quality with its crystal-clear DVD picture. This time around, they once again reconstructed the film, this time using uncompressed 1080p 24p source materials.

But that’s not all! For this special edition of samurai slaughter, they’ve compiled some incredible exclusive extras, only available on this disc. For starters, there’s a must-see 10+ minute interview with Samuel L. Jackson about his fondness of
SHOGUN ASSASSIN and other samurai films, shot exclusively for this release in 2009. And to top it all off, AnimEigo gathered three of the original American cast and crew for a brand new, highly-informative, feature-length audio commentary. This new commentary features never-before-heard insider perspectives of the 1980 film’s creation from some of the key players who made it all happen: producer David Weisman, poster illustrator Jim Evans, and Gibran Evans, who provided the epic voice narration of Daigoro!

Beez Entertainment
Upcoming UK releases include urban mystery Durarara (streaming on Crunchyroll), Mobile Suit Gundam 00 Season 2, and the Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam: A New Translation movie compilation trilogy

Worth Checking Out...

Black Sun on Toei Doga's first color anime, Legend of the White Serpent and father of TV tokusatsu, Gekko Kamen

getting into Anno's head for Evangelion

Sci-Fi Japan on the well regarded Zeta Gundam

The Man Who Stole Evangelion 2.22?!

Mike Toole on black and white anime and The Dubs That Time Forgot

Japan's content regular laws aren't just about you

Japanese words of anime fans, by anime fans, for anime fans - heisa kuukan - " There is often an old saying; otakus have their own universe and stuck there all alone"

Any 5-Year-Old Can Tell You Why Summer Wars is Great

Production I.G has posted an English translation of a 2008 La Rebubblica interview with Oshii

Nihon review on Violence Jack, The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya and Cobra: The Animation

Buying Anime and Manga Art


annotated Akira animation

A Meeting About "On Call"

I spent the afternoon in a studio conference room, meeting with television board artists and others where a Labor Relations exec (who I happen to like) discussed the nuances of "On Call."

(For those who don't know, On Call is a kind of modified salaried position in the TAG contract. If you're at least 10% above union scale and exempt from overtime law, you can negotiate an On Call deal where you work Monday through Friday without additional overtime after eight hours -- such a deal. If you work an authorized 6th or 7th day -- usually Saturday or Sunday -- you receive additional "premium pay.")

The exec did most of the talking, with an occasional chime-in from me ...

The exec explained how:

1) Everybody gets credited with 56 hours in the Motion Picture Industry Pension Plan every week, whether they work 30 hours or 70 hours Monday through Friday.

2) TAG's On Call provisions are similar to other O.C. provisions in other IA contracts.

3) The On Call deals have been in the contracts 20-30 years.

There were complaints about the tight schedules and work loads. The exec allowed how it's pretty much the same on the live action and corporate sides of the business, where smaller staffs are doing more work. ("Take our office. I'm getting more work with less staff and the quality's dropped ....")

It was pointed out by the L.R. guy that everyone must have known they were doing an On Call deal, since they had to agree to it. (I countered that for most artists, agreeing to On Call is a requirement for getting hired.)

I made the suggestion (not for the first time) that artists should negotiate a wage under 110% of scale, thereby rendering themselves ineligible for On Call. (Stony silence. Then a background artist said the wage minimums were too low. In my experience, the wage minimums have always been too low.)

After the meeting, the L.R. exec and I lingered to talk to various people. The exec said the number of live-action pilots the studio is making per season has dropped from 20 to 12, (a 40% drop.) A short time later, one of the studio staffers under our jurisdiction, somebody who doesn't do uncompensated overtime, said to me:

"We've got some artists who just aren't fast, and they complain to me all the time. They just can't keep up with the pace, and they don't want to get laid off. And they're good artists, just slow."

And therein lies the rub. The fear. The uncertainty. The desire not to be unemployed because a deadline gets missed, therefore the all-nighters that wipe out health and higher brain function.

If I had a clear, simple solution to make these difficulties go away, I would bottle it and sell it at cost. The L.R. executive offered one of his own:

"Look, it gets to the point where you're going to crack under the workload, you've got to talk to supervisors, other management or me. Because if you don't communicate about the problem, it's not going to change or get better."

Just because he works on the corporate side of the tracks, doesn't mean he's wrong.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

"They Stole My Idea"

The Hollywood Reporter tells of a martial arts guy who claims he was ripped off by a large animation studio.

... Terence Dunn, who describes himself as a writer-producer-teacher-philosopher and says he "pioneered the practice of tai chi, kung fu and qigong in modern medicine," claims in a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court that he originated the idea for a movie about a "spiritual kung-fu fighting panda bear" and met with the studio months before it decided to make "Kung Fu Panda" without him. ...

The way this works is, somebody has a hot idea that may or may not be close to a hit movie that is later produced. The somebody pitches the idea to a studio functionary, and we go on from there.

In most cases, the studio insists that the story pitcher go through an agent or sign a release-from-liability waiver or something. Usually this kind of thing doesn't get done over the phone.

If Mr. Dunn has some verifiable evidence that he laid out all the magic elements to studio execs who later hosed him, then maybe Mr. Dunn will see some cash money out of this. And if not, not.

Me, I heard early development tales about KFP way before the feature saw the light of day. When a DreamWorker told me about a martial arts panda I recall thinking: "What a lame idea...".

Which shows you how brilliantly prescient I am.

Meantime, "Shrek IV" only had a 19% drop weekend to weekend, and now stands at $147 million domestic. Smells like a hit to me ...

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Buck Builds Buzz With Second Sherwin-Williams Spot

Buck is back with the second installment in their series of Sherwin-Williams spots that make gorgeous worlds out of color swatches. This one is titled Bees, and it was lead by Creative Director Orion Tait, Lead Art Director Ben Langsfeld and Art Director Joshua Harvey.

Midsummer Night Toons 2 Exclusive Trailer

For the second year in a row my good friend, Matt Lee, has out done himself again by organizing a night amongst friends, half priced drinks and animation. Here’s what Matt had to say about this years festival and it’s film makers:

As an avid watcher of animation fests, I thought it was a great idea to bring in some new blood for “Midsummer Night Toons 2,” names that you don’t usually see. The independent animators contributing have busted their asses and crafted hilarious and entertaining films. I hope this screening, much like the first one did, inspires others to make that film that’s been in the back of their minds.

Check out the trailer of films that will be screened at this years Midsummer Night Toons!

Varanese Realizes Stop Motion 8-bit Vision

San Francisco-based artist/animator Alex Varanese had a vision for a Lego-based 8-bit video game recreation, so he made it. The result is ” pretty much exactly what I envisioned when the idea first hit me,” according to Varanese, who titled the piece My Desk is 8-bit.

Frank Miller Unveils '300' Prequel, 'Xerxes'

Last year, Frank Miller revealed that he was working on "Xerxes," a prequel to "300" that may be used as a follow-up film to the hit movie by director Zack Snyder.

And while the project won't be released until next year, Miller has already begun to reveal more about the story itself and how "Xerxes" will differ from "300."

"The story will be the same heft as '300' but it covers a much, much greater span of time," Miller told the Los Angeles Times. "It's 10 years, not three days. This is a more complex story. The story is so much larger."

"The Spartans in '300' were being enclosed by the page as the world got smaller," continued Miller. "This story has truly vast subjects. The Athenian naval fleet, for instance, is a massive artistic undertaking and it [is] dwarfed by the Persian fleet, which is also shown in this story. The story has elements of espionage, too, and it's a sweeping tale with gods and warriors."

Miller also disclosed that "Xerxes" would be published as a six-issue miniseries by Dark Horse Comics in 2011. He also indicated that "Xerxes" will feature a more in-depth portrayal of the lead character than he received in "300."

"To me [Xerxes] is such a pivotal character and in this story I get to explain him so much more fully," explained Miller. "I do my best to crawl inside his head rather than have him be this iconic force that simply commands this huge army. There are many scenes with him alone or just with his people. There's an extended scene set in Persepolis, for instance, where he takes power and there are several scenes where he is going through his transitions and he's shown speaking to his mother and his wife and with all of that he becomes that much more interesting as a character."

"The story is very different than '300' in that it involves Xerxes search for godhood," continued Miller. "The existence of gods are presupposed in this story and the idea is that he well on his way to godhood by the end of the story."

According to Miller, two additional characters from "300" will return for cameo appearances: the misformed Spartan traitor, Ephialtes and King Leonidis. The story will also feature the Greek warlord Themistocles as the protagonist. Themistocles played a large role in the creation of the Athenian navy which will be seen in the climactic sea battle at the end of "Xerxes."

"There is an aftermath that is like an extension of '300' because '300' ended so abruptly with all of them getting mowed down by arrows," said Miller. "I do get into what happened after that and what the entire thing means to Xerxes. Xerxes is a megalomaniac and takes everything as a sign of his godhood. I've known people like that."

Captain America's Costume Revealed?

Earlier this week, a report hit the 'Net claiming to reveal details of Captain America's costume in director Joe Johnston's upcoming live-action movie based on the Marvel hero.

That report was followed by a batch of images arriving online (at an entirely different outlet) that offered a very interesting take on how soldier-turned-superhero Steve Rogers might look when he dons the red, white and blue suit.

Now, it appears that those images might actually be very real concept art from 2011's "Captain America: The First Avenger."

While nothing's official at this point, the author of the initial report has stated that the new art is indeed the imagery he was describing when he described the film's take on Cap's iconic suit.

Here's one of the images that were posted on AICN, as well as the initial report on JoBlo regarding the suit:

So, now the question becomes: if this is indeed Cap's costume, what do you think about it?

New Japanese trailer for Shyamalan's Airbender made of WIN

A new Japanese trailer for The Last Airbender has just been released, and you know what? It's making us think M. Night Shyamalan might have pulled this thing off after all. We won't know for sure until the film opens July 2, but there's enough martial-arts mayhem and eye-popping special effects to make us hopeful.

Check it out below!

The Last Airbender, written and directed by Shyamalan, stars Noah Ringer, Jackson Rathbone, Nicola Peltz and Jessica Jade Andres.

No comments: