Monday, July 06, 2015

Still More Fairy Tales

For Diz Co., there can't be too many fairy tales.

... The latest character coming to life on the big screen is Prince Charming, known among other things for courting the titular debutante in Cinderella and delivering the resuscitating kiss in Sleeping Beauty for Disney during the 1950s. Matt Fogel, who worked with the pre-Lego Movie duo of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller on 2009’s Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs, penned the spec script for the project. ...

When you produce and market a type of movie that makes half a billion dollars a pop, you're incentivized to make more of them.

Cinderella did well. Frozen was a blockbuster. Maleficent collected north of $700 billion in box office receipts. So Disney is looking for another vehicle to carry it to the land of big bucks. Maybe Prince Charming is The One.

... Plot details are vague, [but] sources say the point of view isn’t that of the prince himself but of his brother who never lived up to the family name.

UTA ... took the spec out to studios last week with several putting in bids for the property before Disney finally outbid all suitors.

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Blaine Gibson, RIP

The Disney animator and sculptor passed away July 5th.

Disney Imagineer Blaine Gibson, who sculpted everything from pirates to presidents, has died, according to the Walt Disney Family Museum, he was 97.

Gibson started his career with Disney as an in-betweener and assistant animator working on such classics as “Fantasia,” “Bambi” and “Peter Pan.” While working at the Disney Studios, he took evening classes in sculpture at Pasadena City College.

The story goes that one day Walt Disney saw some of his sculptures and assigned him to the Disneyland project. Eventually he became the head of then WED Enterprises (now Walt Disney Imagineering) Sculpture Department, where he sculpted figures like Abraham Lincoln for the 1964 New York World’s Fair, and dozens of pirates for Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland.

Other Disneyland attractions he worked on included the Haunted Mansion and the Enchanted Tiki Room. ...

Blaine Gibson was like a lot of staff at Walt Disney Productions in the Eisenhower era: He had skills outside of his 9-to-5 job, the owner/founder got wind of it, and whisked you away to another department and/or Disney subsidiary.

The same thing happened to Disney veteran Roland Crump. He was in charge of making sure all the dalmation spots stayed in the right places on the dogs while 101 Dalmations was being animated, and found the work a tad ... ahm ... tedious.

But Rolly wasn't just an assistant animator. He also made elaborate paper mobiles that he hung in his office. (Perhaps to break the monotony of all those spots?) Walt, roaming the studio corridors one weekend, came across Rolly's mobiles and reassigned Mr. Crump to WED, where he remained for decades.


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Sunday, July 05, 2015

Record Pace

The trades inform us:

... Disney has crossed $3B worldwide. The studio actually hit $3B earlier this week on June 30, significantly outpacing last year’s record which was set on August 5. The total worldwide box office as of today is $3.086B

The June 30 milestone came five days after Disney crossed $1B domestic — that one achieved in a record 174 days on June 25, beating the 188-day previous record set on July 8, 2012.

This is the 6th consecutive year Disney has reached $3B global and the 9th time ever for the studio. ...


Funny thing, after TAG's recently concluded negotiations, a person from the Other Side Of the Table conceded how it's a wee bit difficult for the friendly neighborhood conglomerates to push for concessions and roll-backs when they're making money hand over fist ... and receiving government subsidies into the bargain.

We'll see what stance they take three years hence.

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Animation in the Wider World

We know the domestic box office totals for animation; here's how receipts are shaping up overseas.

Foreign BOX OFFICE -- (WORLD TOTALS)

Terminator Genisys -- $74,000,000 -- ($129,655,404)

Jurassic World -- $42,000,000 -- ($1,385,067,275)

Minions -- $54,300,000 -- ($124,200,000)

Inside Out -- $18,600,000 -- ($363,460,932)

Ted 2 -- $8,800,000 -- ($94,311,050)

Avengers: Age of Ultron -- $6,500,000 -- ($1,383,499,252)

Minions, from Universal/Illumination Entertainment, is playing big in overseas markets but hasn't yet opened in the U.S. of A. The trailer U/IE is playing ahead of Inside Out is quite droll. Of course, they could have all the best gags crammed into the three-minute advertisement, but if it lures the crowds into the movie, what of it?

Deadline has its analysis of overseas box office:

... Year-on-year, looking at just the Top 3 films this week versus the Top 3 in the similar 2014 frame, grosses are up around 14%. In both the current and 2014 frames, the Top 3 pics were studio movies. Paramount has this week’s No. 1 title with Terminator: Genisys at $74M while it similarly was the weekend winner last year at this time when Transformers: Age Of Extinction added $96.6M in its 2nd frame.

Coming in at No. 2 this week, Minions added $54.3M while last year the No. 2 movie was also an animated affair with How To Train Your Dragon 2 swooping in on a $33.5M 4th frame. At No. 3 this go-round, Jurassic World chomped down on another $42M. Last year’s comparable session brought Maleficent’s entry into Japan which helped it score $19.4M and the 3rd place berth. ...

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Consolidation

Bigger and bigger.

Leading visual effects companies Cinesite and Image Engine have merged, giving the two entities a combined staff of over 525 VFX and animation staff at their studios in London, Vancouver and Montreal.

Cinesite, which opened its doors in London in 1994, has contributed BAFTA and Academy Award nominated and winning visual effects to films including “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” “Iron Man 3,” the Harry Potter series of films, and “The Golden Compass.” It is working on productions including “Now You See Me: The Second Act,” “Ant-Man,” “Spectre,” “The Last Witch Hunter,” “Gods of Egypt,” “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” and “The Revenant.”

Founded in Vancouver in 1995, Image Engine has built a strong reputation for producing high-quality visual effects for film and high-end television. Nominated for an Academy Award for its work on Neill Blomkamp’s “District 9” in 2009, the studio has gone on to work on such high-profile productions as “Elysium,” “Chappie,” “Jurassic World,” “Game of Thrones” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” Forthcoming releases include “Point Break” and “Straight Outta Compton.” ...

You will note that both companies have sizable presences in Canada, land of verdant forests, Mounties and lots and lots of Free Money.

It's the Free Money that's made Montreal, Vancouver and other Canadian burgs hot beds of of CG production. The minute citizens up north don't want to underwrite American Entertainment conglomerates and the sub-contractors who love them, the work will shift to other points on the globe. Trust me on this.


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Saturday, July 04, 2015

Weekend Box Office

Inside Out finally climbs over the dinosaurs to take the #1 slot.

Three Days of Box Office

1). Inside Out (DIS), 4,158 theaters (+26) / $12.5M Fri. (-17%) / 3-day cume: $30.04M (-43%) /Total cume: $246.4/ Wk 3

2). Jurassic World (UNI), 3,737 theaters (-461)/ $11.8M Fri. (-20%)/ 3-day cume: $28.9M (-47%)/Total Cume: $556.1M / Wk 4

3). Terminator: Genisys (PAR), 3,758 theaters / $10.7M Fri. / 3-day cume: $27.3M / Total cume: $42.8/ Wk 1

4). Magic Mike XXL (WB), 3,355 theaters / $6.2M Fri. / 3-day cume: $15.2M / Total cume: $30.2 /Wk 1

5). Ted 2 (WB), 3,448 theaters (0)/ $4.5M Fri. (-66%) / 3-day cume: $11M (-67%)/ Total cume: $58.2 /Wk 2

6). Max (WB), 2,882 theaters / $2.6M Fri. (-41%)/ 3-day cume: $6.5M (-47%) /Total cume: $25.3/ Wk 2

7). Spy (FOX), 2,387 theaters (-807%)/ $1.9M Fri. (-10%)/ 3-day cume: $4.9M (-38%) / Total cume: $97.3M / Wk 5

8). San Andreas (WB), 1,672 theaters (-948) / $1.05M Fri. (-29%) / 3-day cume: $2.6M (-52%) / Total cume: $147M/ Wk 6

9). Me Earl And The Dying Girl (FSL), 870 theaters (+516)/ $488K Fri. (+67%) / 3-day cume: $1.3M (+31%) / Total cume: $3.98M / Wk 4

10). Dope (OPRD), 863 theaters (-988) / $420K Fri. (-50%)/ 3-day cume: $1.06M (-62%) / Total cume: $14.08M /Wk 3 ...

Terminator Genisys, festooned with lot of CG effects, appears to be the weak performer on this holiday weekend. Paramount (Viacom) was expecting bigger things, but the movie-going public can be fickle. Having Arnold back in the mix apparently did not generate blockbuster numbers.

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The Lure of Free Money, Part VII

It's reported that ...

... Burnaby-based independent production company Bron Studios has opened up a new animation facility in Duncan on Vancouver Island.

Bron’s first full-length animated feature film, “Henchmen,” which will feature the voices of Bobcat Goldthwait, Rosario Dawson, James Marsden and Jane Krakowski, among others, will be produced in part at the Duncan studio. ...

Never under-estimate the power of free money.

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Friday, July 03, 2015

The Friday Steeple Chase

Led by the malcontents inside Riley's head.

... In matinees right now, all three other films — Disney/Pixar’s Inside Out, Universal Pictures Jurassic World and Paramount Pictures’ Terminator: Genisys — are basically doubling their grosses from yesterday. But, Magic Mike is down about 1%. The male stripper film got an A- CinemaScore by showing those legs, but will it have legs at the box office? ...

Inside Out currently counts $216.05M heading into its third weekend. Jurassic World has $527.2M prior to its fourth frame. ...

If you look at comparable stats between Inside Out and Frozen, you can see that the new Disney/Pixar entry is a contender for Diz Co.'s Billion Dollar Club. Over the course of the next several months, we'll see if that happens.

The only reason that I/O doesn't sit at the top of the box office Top Ten is because of the marauding dinosaurs. (But it's always something, innit?)

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Thursday, July 02, 2015

Best Picture

Awards prediction?

It is halftime for the 2015 Oscar race, but at this point only one movie released in the first six months of this year looks to make the list of Best Picture nominees. And no, with all apologies to Vin Diesel, it is not Furious 7. So with that in mind let me tell you that right now on July 1, Disney/Pixar’s Inside Out is leading the race for the Academy Awards. ...

My opinion? Beauty and the Beast should have won the Best Picture Oscar in the early nineties. But it didn't.

There's a reason for that. Academy members tilt heavily to live-action, which is their bread and butter. Animated features? Good for the kiddies, but not serious fodder for the Numero Uno Academy Award.

So put me down as somebody who believes that animated cartoons can secure Best Picture nominations, but never the big prize itself.

Inside Out will never win for Best Picture. As always, I hope my analysis is wrong. (Happily, the picture is doing great at the box office.)

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TAG's Recently Concluded Talks

As covered in the trades.

Deadline:

IATSE Animation Guild Local 839 and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers have reached an agreement on a new three-year contract. The tentative deal includes 3% annual pay raises, no rollbacks, and a 10% increase in pension benefits for those retiring after August 1, 2015. The contract talks, which started on Monday, concluded late Wednesday night. ...

The contract covers some 3,100 guild members working in various aspects of the animation industry, including animation writers and directors, story board artists, background designers, CGI animators, and layout artists. All the major animation companies are signatory to the contract, including Disney, DreamWorks, Fox Animation, Marvel, Universal, the Cartoon Network and ABC Studios. ...

Variety:

The Animation Guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers have reached a tentative agreement on a three‐year successor deal to the master contract for Hollywood animation writers, artists and technicians.

The deal — which covers more than 3,000 active members — was reached Wednesday night following three days of bargaining. If ratified by members, the successor deal will run from Aug. 1 to July 31, 2018. ...

The Wrap:

Animation Guild, IATSE and AMPTP reach agreement on pact that is in line with the other creative guilds’

The Animation Guild, Local 839 IATSE and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers reached agreement on a new three‐year collective bargaining agreement late Wednesday night after three days of bargaining.

The new pact will run from Aug. 1, 2015 to July 31, 2018, and follows the contours of the 2015 IATSE Hollywood Basic Agreement. The deal includes:

* 3 percent increases to contract wage minimums (compounded).

* Unchanged Health Benefits (including no increases to premiums for dependents)

* 10 increases in pension benefits for individuals retiring after August 1, 2015.

* An updated New Media Side Letter that conforms to New Media deals negotiated by SAG‐AFTRA, DGA, WGA, and the IATSE in earlier negotiations.

* Higher health and pension contributions for freelance storyboard artists and timing directors.

All of the Animation Guild’s current collective bargaining agreements are with employers in Southern California. Among them are Big Box Animation, Disney Toon Studios, Film Roman, DreamWorks Animation,Fox Television Animation, Hanna-Barbera Productions, Hasbro Studios, Nickelodeon Animation Studios, Sony Pictures Animation, Walt Disney Animation Studios and Warner Bros. Animation, ...

It's nice to be able to say "no rollback, only gains." But we can.

Add On: Today there is this on Cartoon Brew.

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Wednesday, July 01, 2015

New Three-Year Contract

*the 2015 Animation Guild Negotiation Committee

The Animation Guild reached agreement with the AMPTP at 11:00 p.m. on a new, three-year agreement that will run from August 1st, 2015 to July 31st, 2018.

The deal follows the contours of the 2015 IATSE Basic Agreement, which includes:

* 3% increases to contract wage minimums (compounded).

* Unchanged Health Benefits (no increases to $25/$50 per month premiums).

* 10% increase in pension benefits for individuals retiring after August 1, 2015.

* An updated New Media Side Letter.

There were no rollbacks in wage minimums, and TAG negotiated higher contribution hours for storyboard artists working under "unit rates", as well as improved hours for freelance timing directors.

Contract talks started on Monday and continued until late Wednesday night. Negotiations are never a walk through a flower-filled meadow, but this contract session was less rancorous than the 2012 talks, and achieved better results. The negotiation committee, which included President Jack Thomas and TAG organizer Steve Kaplan, did sterling work in side bar and the "big room." IATSE Vice President Mike Miller greatly assisted the committee on the final day of talks.

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Robert Downey and Pinoke

We're still deep in the weeds in Sherman Oaks, doing our labor-company negotiations. But we ran across this:

... The Master and Inherent Vice writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson has taken on a rewrite job scripting Pinocchio for Warner Bros. and Team Downey. Robert Downey Jr has long been passionate about his take culled from the classic 1883 children’s book by Carlo Collodi. ...

Paul Thomas Anderson is usually directing features that get a lot of Academy Award nominations, so what he will do with Pinocchio might be interesting.

If Robert Downey is interested in doing this movie, who or what will he be playing in it? Geppetto? The Cricket? Stromboli? Inquiring minds want to know.

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

More Netflix Cartoons

Netflix knows a good thing when it sees one. And acts accordingly.

Netflix is adding to its growing slate of original preschool content with three new animated series for premiere in 2016 and 2017.

Word Party, Kazoops! and True & The Rainbow Kingdom join preschool original series Cirque du Soleil – Luna Petunia and Puffin Rock announced earlier this month. The new series feature elements of language acquisition, problem solving and critical thinking throughout each episode, according to Netflix. ...

DreamWorks employees tell us that Dragons: Race To The Edge had a big, big debut on Netflix. (The service doesn't reveal specific numbers, so when word is circulated that the rollout was "big," everybody has to extrapolate from the brief description.)

But Netflix knows what works and knows what doesn't. That might be one reason it keeps ordering up more animated shows.

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Art Babbitt And His Separation From Disney

Hollywood unions were on the march in the late 1930s. I knew something about Art Babbitt and his pivotal role in organizing Walt Disney Productions in the Spring of 1941. But I learned new information about Mr. Babbitt and the Disney Company tonight. This:



Art Babbitt had a long, prolific career as a Disney animation, UPA animator, and an artist who worked at a plethora studios through over half a century. His last employer was the Bill Melendez studios.

Gunther Lessing was a Yale-trained lawyer hired by Walt Disney in 1929. He remained with Disney until 1964, when he retired. He passed away in 1965, fourteen months before Walt.

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Monday, June 29, 2015

Downtick

A hiccup in world markets.

... The Dow Jones U.S. Media Index fell 2.1%. By contrast, the Standard & Poor’s 500 declined 2.1%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 1.9%, and Nasdaq fell 2.4%.

Viacom (-3.1%) was hardest hit among Big Media companies. It was followed by CBS (-3.0%) Sony (-2.6%), Fox (-2%), Discovery (-1.9%),Time Warner (-1.8%), Comcast (-1.7%), and Disney (-1.7%).

In the broader media universe, big losers include Rovi (-9.9%), DreamWorks Animation (-5.9%), World Wrestling Entertainment (-5.8%), New York Times (-5.4%), News Corp (-4.9%), and Cablevision (-4.7%). ...

Greece has a lot of investors racing for the exits.


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Still More Toonage

The Journal gives details.

... Bugs Bunny and Scooby-Doo are coming off the bench later this year for a new mission: to make Time Warner Inc. a bigger competitor in the children’s television business.

New cartoons featuring the characters are part of a larger agreement between Warner Bros. Animation and sister company Turner Broadcasting’s Boomerang Network. As part of the deal, the studio will create about 450 half-hours of content for the cable channel.

“It is a Time Warner priority to grow a much bigger kids business,” said Craig Hunegs, president of business and strategy for the Warner Bros. Television Group. ...

The one thing you could rely on regarding Cartoon Network and Warner Bros. Animation? Year in and year out? Zero cooperation or coordination or mutual reinforcement between the two. CN was run out of the Turner Group in Atlanta; Warner Bros. Animation reported to the Warner Bros. studio in Burbank.

It was like the two entities were on different planets. And it made no sense. Warners people would complain to me that it took an act of Congress to get a WBA show on Cartoon Network, no matter what it was. Meanwhile, three miles away, the Walt Disney Company was making sure all its cartoon divisions worked together like gears in a Swiss watch.

So maybe it's finally dawned on Time-Warner that Disney has spent a couple of decades eating their lunch (and several desserts) when it comes to cartoons. Whatever the reason is, the divisions have finally, haltingly, started to help and reinforce one another to ... you know ... generate more profits.

Hell of a concept. And I'm pleased the company has turned the big ship around to make more cartoons.

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Talking

We are now in negotiations with cartoon studios represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producer (the AMPTP).

We will be in discussions with them tomorrow, and probably Wednesday. When a deal happens, we will let you know. ...

In the meantime, we're not popping off the the press and we're not writing anything specific about negotiations (except that we're having them).

If anyone is disappointed by this, don't worry. Your angst will be over soon.

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Sunday, June 28, 2015

Paramount Animation and the Subcontractor

From the trades:

... Spain’s Ilion Animation Studios ... is producing a fully animated 3D tent-pole feature for Paramount Animation. ... Paramount Animation out-reach to continental Europe comes after Universal Illumination Studios bought the animation division of Paris Mac Guff, creating Illumination Mac Guff which produced and animated “Despicable Me 2” and now “Minions.” More Hollywood studio deals with continental European studios look set to be announced later this year. ...

The way it work in Hollywood, when one company cuts a new route through the forest, other companies clamber along behind.

For a long time in the animation industry, the only business model for animated features that worked like gangbusters, box office-wise, was having a domestic studio with everything -- story, production, post-production, housed under one roof.

Disney Features in the early and mid nineties set the ace. Sure, pictures like Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Lion King were a little pricey, but they made mountains of money. Lower rent specimens like The Care Bear Movie or Once Upon a Forest were boarded in California but animated overseas and fell on their faces at the box office.

And it didn't make a lot of sense to make a cartoon at the bargain price of $10 million when it failed to recoup its production cost. Better to make them at a California studio, start to finish, and rake in bajillions.

That model was followed faithfully by 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros Feature Animation in the 1990s, and failed to work. New studios in Glendale, California and Phoenix, Arizona made cartoon features based on the Disney model and still came up with losers. But the model of having the whole production inside a single studio prevailed through the millennium, until former Blu Sky Studios chief Chris Meledandri showed that story could be done in one country (the U.S. of A.) and production in another (France) and a high-grossing animated feature could be created.

(Can we say Despicable Me? I knew we could.)

And so here we are, halfway through the second decade of the 21st century, and studios are eagerly following the Meledandri business model of "prep the picture in L.A., but make it somewhere else" with a carefree abandon. Now that Illumination Entertainment has shown the way to riches with its overseas supplier, expect other studios to become sedulous apes, tromping down the same road.


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We Get Letters

... on animation directing.

As many know, the Animation Guild negotiates with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers for a new three-year contract.

We've had a lot of input from members regarding what the guild should propose, what issues it should focus on, what goals it should pursue. Below are the thoughts of a veteran timing director on the challenges faced by directors in the age of animatics: ...

... I was unable to attend the May 26th meeting but would like to make my comments regarding Freelance rates for Timing Directors.

I'm sure that many have heard of my personal displeasure at the fact that there has been no REAL change to this rate for more than 30 years. Some studios do pay a little higher than others, but not at anything that would come close to matching inflation over that 30 year period.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics and their Consumer Price Index from 1984 to 2015 the US has had an average inflation rate of 2.75%. What this means is that the freelance rate of $3.00/ft paid in 1984 when adjusted for inflation to 2015 should be $6.95/ft. Given that studios use a formula of calculation that takes the gross figure of a freelancers invoice and divides it by one of the contract rates for that job description to determine hours and contributions, (sometimes it's Journeyman rate and sometimes it's Apprentice and sometimes it's inbetween ) as the annual contract rates increase the formula calculates less hours of contribution. All this means that freelance rates not only DO NOT keep up with inflation, but FEWER HOURS are credited and contributed to our individual accounts with pension and qualifying hours for medical, etc..

I understand the need of the studios to project costs for their projects. However to not make the necessary adjustments to their budgets is unconscionable. If the studios are not going to make the necessary changes to the footage rates we have, I think, 2 ways to explore:

1. Day rate ...... Freelancer and Line Producer/Producer make an advance agreement as to approximately how much footage can reasonably be expected to be done in an average day ( note: every project has "difficult" sequences and "simple" sequences ..... the Animation Timing Director and Producer will need to keep in close communication should any "difficult" issues arise that may compromise the situation for either studio or freelancer )

2. Continue with a Footage Rate....... however the footage rate MUST be raised to match inflation over the past 30 years and future footage rates MUST be tied to inflation. Calculations of gross invoice divided by hourly contract rates then become reasonable and definable by both parties.

Given the unpredictable nature of production schedules and the often frantic Production Manager mandated by their Executives to move things through an already late schedule...... freelancers are NEVER paid "overtime" to meet what is often a schedule that has been compromised long before the production pipeline brings things to the Animation Timing Directors.

It is long since time for the membership and TAG to get behind the dreadful situation that has made Freelance Animation Timing Direction an occupation that pays considerably less than the plumber who shows up at my house to rooter the main drain for a clog ( I do appreciate his skill set but as a Timing Director I may have a considerably more unique skill set ) ......and he gets DOUBLE time for a Sunday call! Perhaps it's my ego or sense of self worth that thinks that the unique skill set and creative contribution that Timing Directors give to a production should be valued as much or more than that plumber.

I generally suspect that there is a great deal of mystery surrounding Timing Direction, There should be a great effort to demystify that lack of view. When production for TV animation was first being organized, it was clear that people who had a great deal of experience actually animating or assistant animating, were the very talents needed to communicate to outsourced animation studios exactly what was required in terms of the artwork that should be produced. How many drawings and where and when in the time-line of the show they needed to be done, was a critical skill. Overseas studios could only project costs based on the count of how many drawings were likely to be needed and the domestic studios needed to maintain creative control over their properties. After all, these were the very properties and projects that were representing the studios and what they brought to the screen. Their reputations were invested in a quality product and that meant that experienced and talented people here were called upon to contribute to the process in a major way.

Over the years many Executives, Producers and Production people have lost the knowledge or foresight of what Animation Timing Direction contributes to the process. This is the point that the writing, design, voice talents, and the storyboard talents are supposed to come together into the final package to be delivered to the sub-contractor overseas….. with the expectation that the creative control has remained with the “parent” studio. Too often there are parts of the production process that have inexperienced or under qualified people in important decision making positions. Their lack of confidence in their own knowledge that they have hired the right creative people for the task at hand or their misguided desire to make creative changes that, while are seemingly incidental and of little or no cost to the budget or the schedule, have an extraordinary “domino” effect that compromises everything.

Another subject: (though not too far afield) Neither Editors or Storyboard Artists who have no animation experience should be “slugging” these productions (assembling a “Quick Time Movie” of the Episodes). Too often these Quick Times are done because there is someone in the production pipeline who cannot read a storyboard or understand that “too long or too short” on a panel in the Quick Time is more about communicating information to the artists and animators who will execute the work and not for someone who can not understand the real application of these Quick Times……a production tool and not an entertainment tool.

I’m sure that far too much of a production budget is spent on making these movies “pretty” and not the production tools they should be. As an Animation Timing Director I have frequently encountered scenes that are too long or too short. The “cutting” rhythm of a scene or sequences are awkward and often are contrary to the particular style of movement of any given character or “acting” moment. Slugging should be done by an Animation Timing Director ….. the editorial time saved in man hours will actually reduce that line-item cost and save the production money. We are all interested in reasonable costs for production. After all, if a show costs too much none of us work on it again because it is canceled…….

Key here is REASONABLE COSTS….. and they are based on a clear understanding of what is required of the process and the REASONABLE amount of time allocated to do those things. At any point when some part of the pipeline is delayed it cannot be expected that some other part will be required to make up that delay without increased costs or compromised production quality.

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The International Steeple Chase

Here's the usual short list of animated-type projects, and how they fared in lands beyond our shores.

Foreign Weekend Box Office -- (World Totals)

Jurassic World -- $82,500,000 -- ($1,237,557,975)

Inside Out -- $26,400,000 -- ($266,445,010)

Ted 2 -- $20,300,000 -- ($53,222,730)

Minions -- $36,000,000 -- ($51,700,000)

San Andreas -- $10,400,000 -- $439,670,513)

Mad Max, Fury Road -- $3,000,000 -- ($356,377,822)

As Deadline reports:

... Universal’s raunchy comedy Ted 2 cuddled up to 26 markets in its debut overseas frame for an estimated $20.3M.

Minions travels to key markets Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Argentina next weekend as it rolls out slowly across 50 more territories. It bows domestically on July 10.

Inside Out hits Poland next frame, followed by Korea on July 9 in a similarly spaced-out release pattern. Ted 2 is also expanding in a handful of markets, but won’t hit the UK until July 10. It gets to Japan, the 2nd best offshore market for the first film, in late August. ...

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Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Island of Dinosaurs and Teddy Bears

Seth M.'s latest won't outpace the dinosaurs. Or the little people insdie a girl's mind.

It's pretty freaking amazing when you think on it: animated dinosaurs, animated thoughts in a young girl's head, and animated dinosaurs dominate the Box Office Ten. (At least, it amazes me.)

Seth MacFarlane's R-rated Ted 2 is on course to gross in the mid- to-high-teens at the Friday box office, but that might not be enough to overtake holdovers Jurassic World and Inside Out for the weekend, according to early estimates.

Box office observers expect Pixar's Inside Out and Universal's Jurassic World to gross $50 million or more for the weekend, while Ted 2 is pacing to gross in the mid- to high-$40 million range, somewhat behind the $54 million opening of Ted in summer 2012. ...

The steeple chase as told by the trades:

DOMESTIC WEEKEND BOX OFFICE

1). Jurassic World (UNI), 4,198 theaters (-93)/ $14.7M Fri. / $22.5M Sat. (+53%)/ $17M Sun. (-25%)/ 3-day cume: $54.2M (-49%)/Total Cume: $500.1M / Wk 3
Industry calculation:$54.06M, $499.91 cume

2). Inside Out (DIS), 4,132 theaters (+186) / $15M Fri. / $21.1M Sat. (+41%)/ $16M Sun. (-24%)/ 3-day cume: $52.1M (-42%) /Total cume: $184.9/ Wk 2
Industry calculation: $52.7M, $185.6M cume

3). Ted 2 (UNI), 3,442 theaters / $13.3M Fri. / $11.2M Sat. (-16%)/ $8.4M Sun. (-25%)/ 3-day cume: $32.9M / Wk 1
Industry calculation: $33.1M

4). Max (WB), 2,855 theaters / $4.4M Fri. / $4.5M Sat. (+3%)/ $3.4M Sun. (-25%)/ 3-day cume: $12.2M / Wk 1
Industry calcuation: $12.2M.

5). Spy (FOX), 3,194 theaters (-364%)/ $2.1M Fri./ $3.4M Sat. (+60%)/ $2.3M Sun. (-33%)/ 3-day cume: $7.8M (-31%) / Total cume: $88.4M / Wk 4

6). San Andreas (WB), 2,620 theaters (-557) / $1.4M Fri. / $2.3M Sat. (+57%)/ $1.6M Sun. (-30%)/ 3-day cume: $5.3M (-39%) / Total cume: $141.9M/ Wk 5

7). Dope (OPRD), 1,851 theaters (-151) / $839K Fri. / $1.1M Sat. (+34%)/ $899K Sun. (-20%)/ 3-day cume: $2.9M (-53%) / Total cume: $11.8 /Wk 2
Industry calculation: $2.7M, $11.46M cume

8). Insidious Chapter 3 (FOC), 1,612 theaters (-941)/ $665K Fri. / $813K Sat. (+22%)/ $528 Sun. (-35%)/ 3-day cume: $2M (-50%) / Total cume: $49.8M / Wk 4

9). Mad Max: Fury Road (WB), 961 theaters (-463) / $440K Fri. / $740K Sat. (+68%)/ $555K Sun. (-25%)/ 3-day cume: $1.7M (-43%) / Total cume: $147.1M / Wk 7

10). Avengers: Age of Ultron (DIS), 1,097 theaters (-565) / $463K Fri. / $704K Sat. (+52%)/ $476K Sun. (-32%)/ 3-day cume: $1.6M (-42%) / Total cume: $452.4M / Wk 9


In almost any other movie environment, the Pixar offering would be at the top of the Top Ten. But animated dinosuars! (And Ted 2 under-performs the original by a considerable margin.)

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Kevin G. Exits Diz Co.

For the second time.


I'm speaking of Kevin Geiger, longtime Walt Disney Animation supervisor, also a longtime Animation Guild shop steward. (He's the broadly smiling gent in the middle of the picture, above.)

As Kevin says:

... Unexpected twists & turns have been characteristic of my path. I never thought that I would work for Walt Disney Feature Animation in 1995, and I never imagined that my departure from Burbank in 2007 – and my subsequent indie efforts in Beijing – would lead me back to Disney here in China.

In late 2012, I had the opportunity to found Disney’s Greater China Local Content team. Over the course of 2013 and 2014, we assembled a world-class Chinese content development team in Beijing, introduced Disney creative processes & standards, spoke at Chinese media conferences, engaged in community outreach with Chinese schools & institutions, consulted on local productions, developed 10 original & adapted local animation & live-action properties, created 4 high-performing pilots, and produced 3 popular local broadcast series. ...

And now Mr. Geiger moves on. I was surprised when Kevin re-upped with Disney, and I'm surprised that he's living. But Kevin is a man of numerous surprises, so good luck to him on the next challenge


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Friday, June 26, 2015

Antidote to "Microcosm"

For those who were troubled by this, wherein Hulett sniped:

... I'm old enough to remember Disneyland ticket books and $2 admissions. And when the parks were accessible to people without taking out second mortgages on their houses to do it. ...

There's been a rejoinder that points out how the cited article was a wee bit off. (And I should have noticed it myself). ...

... I had decidedly mixed feelings as I read an article in the Washington Post:

How theme parks like Disney World left the middle class behind
By Drew Harwell June 12

When Walt Disney World opened in an Orlando swamp in 1971, with its penny arcade and marching-band parade down Main Street U.S.A., admission for an adult cost $3.50, about as much then as three gallons of milk. Disney has raised the gate price for the Magic Kingdom 41 times since, nearly doubling it over the past decade.

This year, a ticket inside the "most magical place on Earth" rocketed past $100 for the first time in history. ...


But looking closer at the article, I found two math errors. ... Here is the letter I sent [to the Post].

Dear Reader Rep,

I am writing to call attention to the inaccurate (or at best misleading) story and graph in the story on Disneyland.

The story says:

When Walt Disney World opened in an Orlando swamp in 1971, with its penny arcade and marching-band parade down Main Street U.S.A., admission for an adult cost $3.50, about as much then as three gallons of milk.

This number is highly misleading because today's $99 admission includes unlimited rides, and the 1971 admission included no rides whatsoever. Instead, (when I was a kid) we had books of A- through E-tickets, or just E-tickets -- an additional amount that always totaled more than the amount of admission. ...

In the story's graph, the "price" jumps in 1982 because 1982 was when (according to Wikipedia) admissions included unlimited rides. So the 1982 price is not directly comparable to the 1971-1981 price. ... Estimates [are] that the actual net cost in 1971 was $10.25, or almost 3x as much as your newspaper reported:

So yes, Disney pushed through a 65% price increase ($59.88 to $99) in an era when the real price of air travel, computing, TVs and other products fell. (California and Northern Virginia real estate probably increased faster than inflation during this period).

Still, the claim the price went from $3.50 to $99 is inaccurate, since today's readers would assume the admission prices would include unlimited rides (as it has for the past 40+ years). ...

So does everybody get this?

The big D.C. newspaper neglected to factor in the cost of ticket books, part of the Disneyland park-going experience through 1981. "Pirates of the Caribbean" was an E ticket (top drawer ride experience); the horse-drawn trolley cars on Main street a lowly A (bargain basement ride).

The phrase, "That [fill in blank] is definitely an E ticket!" means something to older people. But you have to be a seasoned citizen for the sentence to have resonance.

So Drew Harwell, author of the Post article, was a bit wrong in his analysis. And we can now all sleep better knowing he's been called on it.


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Sixty-Six Years Ago

WDP released a cartoon with Darby O'Gill and the Little People. And it was this one.


Donald Duck in Mathmagic Land

I remember sitting in Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood and watching it. With my math-challenged ten-year-old brain.

I'm still math-challenged, and still decoding DDiMML.

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Active Vs. Passive

Since we haven't done this in a while, time for an investing post (aimed at those striving to put money away for retirement.)

Morningstar has data for participants in 401(k) funds ... and plain old investors.

... The Active/Passive Barometer finds that actively managed funds have generally
underperformed their passive counterparts, especially over longer time horizons
, and
experienced higher mortality rates (i.e. many are merged or closed).

In addition, the report finds that failure tends to be positively correlated with fees (i.e. higher cost funds are more
likely to underperform or be shuttered or merged away and lower-cost funds were likelier to
survive and enjoyed greater odds of success). ...

High costs = higher failure. Big surprise (not). ...

But it ain't just lower cost passive funds. Active funds with below-average costs are likely to outperform higher-cost active funds over the decade studied. (But whattayaknow? low-cost active funds still have lower average annualized returns compared with the average passive fund in nine of the 12 categories studied in the report.)

Morningstar goes on:

* Investors would have substantially improved their odds of success by favoring
inexpensive funds, as evidenced by the higher success-ratios of the lowest-cost funds in all
but one category.

* On the flip side of the coin, investors choosing funds from the highest-cost quartile of their
respective categories reduced their chances of success in all cases.

* The large value category is the most poignant example. The lowest cost funds in this segment
had a success rate that was 28 percentage points higher than the category average during the
decade ending December 2014. Meanwhile, their high-cost peers had a dismal success rate
of just 18.6% during this same span.

* Odds of success generally decreased over longer time periods with value-oriented funds being
the notable exception. ...

What we take away from the report is: broad diversification and low costs are keys for building up a stash that can carry you into retirement. The other part of the investing equation: When you set up an investment strategy and asset allocation plan, stick with them. Most people bail out when stock markets plummet (remember '08?). But in truth, down markets are the best opportunities for buying ... if only the average person had the stomach to do so. (Most don't.)

The axiom "Don't do something. STAND there" applies in long-term investing.

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Falling Records

Our entertainment conglomerates are prospering.

... Red-hot Universal Studios sped past $1 billion and shattered the domestic box office mark in record time three weeks ago, on the same weekend that “Jurassic World” broke the record for the biggest U.S. box office opening ever.

Walt Disney Studios crossed the $1 billion mark in domestic grosses in 174 days on Thursday, the fastest it has ever done so, powered by the Marvel superhero sequel “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” the live-action fairy tale “Cinderella” and Pixar Animation’s “Inside Out.”

Warner Bros., paced by “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “San Andreas,” should top the milestone this weekend, which will be a speed record, too. And it won’t be long until 20th Century Fox will soon do the same, behind “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” DreamWorks Animation’s “Home” and Spy.”...

Kindly note that animated dinosaurs propelled one conglomerate, and two animated features contributed to the booming bottom lines of two other movie companies.

What's amazing is that animation is now a major influence across Movieland. The live-action Cinderella is the direct descendant of the sixty-five-year-old animated version. And the Marvel franchises are loaded with animated special effects.

Animation used to be a small, sleepy corner inside the House of Entertainment. Now it's the Great Room on the first floor.

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The Con's Cartoon Schedule

Because you WILL be taking a train to San Diego and watch The Panels! The Panels! ...

Comic-Con -- The Animation

Wednesday, July 8 – Preview Night


6-10:00 PM, Ballroom 20
Warner Bros. TV Preview Night: Pilot screenings of Supergirl, Blindspot, Containment, Lucifer, Teen Titans Go!

Thursday, July 9


12:30PM-1:30PM, Room 6A
Disney XD’s Gravity Falls: Alex Hirsch, Jason Ritter.

1:00-2:00PM, Room ABC
Science Channel’s Raiders, Raptors, and Rebels: Behind the Magic of ILM: Surprise guests and exclusive footage along with a very special prize will be given away at this VIP experience where the science behind the movies is unveiled for the first time ever.

5:00-6:00PM, Indigo Ballroom

Crackle’s SuperMansion: San Diego Comic-Con debut with an exclusive first look at the new stop-motion animated comedy series. Join the cast Bryan Cranston, Seth Green, Jillian Bell, Matthew Senreich and Zeb Wells.

8:00-9:00PM, Room 7AB
2nd annual Adventure Time Ball presented by Cartoon Network ...

Friday, July 10

10:00-11:00 AM, Indigo Ballroom
Cartoon Network Presents: Regular Show & Uncle Grandpa: The panel features Regular Show superstars JG Quintel (Creator, Voice of Mordecai), William Salyers (Voice of Rigby), Sean Szeles (Supervising Producer), and Sam Marin (Voice of Benson, Pops, Muscle Man), alongside Uncle Grandpa mega-talents Pete Browngardt (Creator, Voice of Uncle Grandpa), Eric Bauza (Voice of Bellybag), and Kevin Michael Richardson (Voice of Mr. Gus).

10:30-11:30AM, Room 6BCF
Marvel Animation Presents: Join Stephen Wacker (VP, Current Series – Marvel Animation Studios), Cort Lane (VP, Animation Development & Partnerships), and Eric Radomski (SVP, Production & Creative Director, Animation) for exclusive first looks at the exciting new seasons of hit animated series: Marvel’s Avengers: Ultron Revolution and Marvel’s Ultimate Spider-Man vs. The Sinister 6, as well as Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy.

11:00-12:00 AM, Indigo Ballroom
Cartoon Network Presents: Adventure Time & Steven Universe: The panel features Adventure Time legends of Ooo Jeremy Shada (Voice of Finn), John DiMaggio (Voice of Jake), Olivia Olson (Voice of Marceline), and Adam Muto (Co-Executive Producer), alongside Steven Universe gems Rebecca Sugar (Creator), Zach Callison (Voice of Steven), Estelle (Voice of Garnet), and Ian Jones-Quartey (Supervising Director).

11:45AM-12:45PM, Room 6A
Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: EPs Ciro Nieli and Brandon Auman; voice actors Seth Green (Leonardo), Rob Paulsen (Donatello), Greg Cipes (Michelangelo), Eric Bauza (Tiger Claw), Fred Tatasciore (Rocksteady).

12:15-1:00PM, Indigo Ballroom
Adult Swim’s Aqua Teen Hunger Force Forever and Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell: Join co-creators Dave Willis, Casper Kelly and cast members Henry Zebrowski, Craig Rowin, and Matt Servitto as they discuss office politics in Hell, reflect on 13 seasons of Aqua Teen, and show clips from both new seasons.

1:00-2:00PM, Room 6A
Cartoon Network’s Go Titans Go!: Panel will be comprised of producers Michael Jelenic and Aaron Horvath and the voice cast.

1:15-2:00 PM, Indigo Ballroom
Adult Swim’s Rick and Morty: EPs Dan Harmon & Justin Roiland, and writer/producer Ryan Ridley invite fans for a sneak peek of the upcoming second season.

2:15-3:00 PM, Indigo Ballroom
Adult Swim’s Mike Tyson Mysteries: On tap for panel are Mike Tyson along with voice cast Rachel Ramras, and producer Hugh Davidson.

3:15-4:00 PM, Indigo Ballroom
Adult Swim’s Robot Chicken: Join co-creators/EPs Seth Green and Matthew Senreich, EP/co-head writer Tom Root, and actor/writer Breckin Meyer as they discuss their Emmy-winning series. DC Entertainment chief creative officer Geoff Johns will also be joining the panel for an early look at the upcoming third Robot Chicken DC Comics
Special.

4:00 – 5:00 PM, Indigo Ballroom
Fox’s Bob’s Burgers: Creator and executive producer Loren Bouchard, EP Jim Dauterive and voiceover cast including H. Jon Benjamin, Dan Mintz, Eugene Mirman, John Roberts, Kristen Schaal and Larry Murphy will attend.

5:00–6:00 PM, Indigo Ballroom
FX’s Archer: Creator Adam Reed and EP Matt Thompson with the voice cast of H. Jon Benjamin, Jessica Walter, Aisha Tyler, Judy Greer, Chris Parnell, Amber Nash and Lucky Yates.

8:00-9:00PM, Room 7AB
Cartoon Network’s Clarence & Friends Pajama Party

Saturday, July 11

10:00-11:00AM, Room 6A
Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob SquarePants: Panel featuring a live table read of the episode “Idiot Box” with Tom Kenny (SpongeBob), Bill Fagerbakke (Patrick Star), Rodger Bumpass (Squidward) and Dee Bradley Baker (all other Bikini Bottom citizens). The performance will be followed by a Q&A with the cast and creative director Vincent Waller.

12:00 -12:45 PM, Ballroom 20
Fox’s The Simpsons: Creator Matt Groening, EPs Al Jean and Matt Selman, Supervising Director Mike Anderson, long-time director David Silverman and the woman behind Bart Simpson, Nelson Muntz and Ralph Wiggum, Nancy Cartwright.

1:00-2:45 PM, Ballroom 20
Seth MacFarlane Animation Block: Family Guy, American Dad, Bordertown: Casts and EPs from each show, including: Seth Green, Alex Borstein, Mike Henry, Scott Grimes, Dee Bradley Baker, Wendy Schaal, Rich Appel, Steve Callaghan, Matt Weitzman, Brian Boyle, and from Bordertown — Missi Pyle, Nicholas Gonzalez, and Mark Hentemann.

2:00-3:00 PM, Indigo Ballroom
Hulu’s The Awesomes: Panelist include co-creators Seth Meyers and Mike Shoemaker, Taran Killam, Ike Barinholtz, Paula Pell, Emily Spivey, and EP Dan Mintz.

Sunday, July 11

1:45PM-3:15PM, Room 6DE
Nick’s Sanjay and Craig: Panel featuring a live table read followed by a Q&A with creators and co-EPs Jim Dirschberger and Jay Howell, and voice actors Chris Hardwick, Maulik Pancholy, Matt Jones and special guests. The panel will be moderated by Claudia Spinelli, Nickelodeon’s VP of current series animation. Fans will get a behind-the-scenes look at Sanjay and Craig, Harvey Beaks and the upcoming series Pig Goat Banana Cricket and The Loud House.



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Leverage

Now with Extra Lawsuit Add On.

First there was this:

... [Kelly] Wilson filed her lawsuit [against Diz Co.] in March of 2013 claiming that there were distinct similarities between her short film The Snowman and a trailer for the Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck- directed Frozen.

And then came this:

... Federal Judge Vince Chhabria agreed. “The sequence of events in both works, from start to finish, is too parallel to conclude that no reasonable juror could find the works substantially similar.” ...

Because of the judge's non-cooperatino with one of our fine, entertainment conglomerates, Disney twice failed to get the lawsuit tossed out of court. Which ultimately led to this:

... The two sides [Wilson and Disney] have reached a deal. “The Court was advised on June 10, 2015 that the parties have resolved this case,” wrote U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria in an order filed on Wednesday. “Therefore, it is ORDERED that this case is DISMISSED without prejudice”

The confidential settlement stops an October court date for the civil trial in its tracks, and I'm guessing that the settlement was worth Kelly Wilson's while. Because I'm guessing that the legal minds working for the Walt Disney Company believed it was important to make the lawsuit go away.

Leverage. Based on the above, I would say that's what Kelly Wilson had.

Add On: And an example of less leverage.

In late May, 2015, Royce Mathew, an Altamonte Springs, Florida, resident, filed a complaint with his local FBI office regarding alleged fraud and corruption perpetrated by the Walt Disney Company upon him and the other shareholders in that corporation. ...

And so it goes.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The New Rules

... to earn a little gold man.

... In the animated short film and live-action short film categories, a film qualifying via a theatrical release must now have a theatrical run in Los Angeles County for at least seven consecutive days, with at least one screening per day. The film must also appear in the theater listings along with the appropriate dates and screening times. In both categories, the number of nominees is now set at five. ...

That ought to pare the competition down. (It'll be no problem for Disney. The Mouse can always release its latest short at the El Capitan on Hollywood Boulevard. The company owns the venue.)

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Still More Cable Cartoons

Comedy Central snuggles up to more cartoons.

... Comedy Central is expanding its animation offerings by ordering “Jeff and Some Aliens” to series, it was announced today by Kent Alterman, President, Original Programming, Comedy Central.

“Jeff and Some Aliens” is executive produced and created by Sean Donnelly and Alessandro Minoli and executive produced by ShadowMachine’s Corey Campodonico and Alex Bulkley. A spin-off of the animated incubator series “TripTank,” the series’ ten-episode season will premiere in 2016. ...

Yesterday, as it happens, I got a call from a Comedy Central person, sniffing around for details of how TAG's contract works. I gave him a detailed rundown, and he said he might be talking to TAG later.

Shadow Machine is what's known as a "non-signator" studio, but that can always change, can't it?

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Dividend

When I was growing up, it was a joke around the house that Walt Disney Productions paid minimal dividends on its stock. When I was an adult, same thing. Three cents a share, maybe. Over time, a bit more. But now, this:

... [The Walt Disney Company has] announced that it will raise its dividend 15% to 66 cents a share, and begin paying it twice a year instead of once. ...

It's a fine way to get people to buy shares in your company, though Disney didn't need to raise dividends to do it. The stock has been on a tear for some time.

So to all those Walt Disney Company stockholders, congratulations. And to the poor souls who sold off their pieces of the corporation to soon, my condolences.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Shorts on Disney XD

New animated fare from the Mouse.

... Mike and Matt Chapman, creators of the series "Homestar Runner," will present the eclectic "Two More Eggs," a series of 40 original cartoon shorts, on Disney XD's Youtube Channel.

The series launches with three animated shorts. ... Each installment of "Two More Eggs" incorporates a variety of animation techniques, ... including flash, computer-generated imagery and animation mixed with live-action. ...

The Brothers Chaps have worked with Disney TV Animation on several projects. Matt Chapman wrote for the Emmy Award-winning "Mickey Mouse" cartoon shorts and "Gravity Falls," and voiced some characters for the latter and "Star vs. The Forces of Evil." Both Matt and Mike Chapman wrote for the Annie Award-winning "Wander Over Yonder." ...

And I get why Disney is doing this product out of Atlanta: wages are lower, the Chapmans reside in town, and there's the opportunity to get a bit of Free Money from the fine state of Georgia.

What could be finer?

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Backing Into Live-Action

So it goes like this ...

AwesomenessTV is acknowledging the growing importance of its movie business with the launch of a film division, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

The Brian Robbins-led digital media company has created Awesomeness Films and has hired Chapter One Films founder Matt Kaplan to build out the new division.

Kaplan will work closely with Robbins to release between 12 and 15 films for theatrical and digital distribution. Awesomeness Films is already in production on several projects and will look to produce and acquire additional young adult projects that combine traditional and digital talent. ...

And (as noted previously) DWA sidles further into live-action. ...

Awesomeness, of course, was purchased by DreamWorks Animation a year and a half ago for $33 million bucks, and 25% of it .

It was really DWA's first foray into live-action content since it split off from the live-action movie studio named DreamWorks (which is currently hanging on by its corporate fingernails at the Disney Co.). This is, when you take the whole deal over to the light and take a good look at it, a 21st century version of the playbook of Walt Disney Productions from seventy years ago.

Then, WDP edged out of the cartoon business and into live-action with hybrid live-action/animated features, then full-blown live-action product. Then television.

Now, DreamWorks Animation edges into the TV business through the internet, purchasing AwesomnessTV. Awesomness moves into the movie business, and voila! DreamWorks has marched down the old Disney path of long ago.

Naturally, there are differences. Jeffrey Katzenberg started out in live-action at Paramount, continued with live-action at the Mouse House in the mid 1980s, then got into animation in a big way. Walt mostly started as a cartoon guy ... but ... hey, wait! Walter Elias Disney did Alice in Cartoonland in the early 1920s! Well I'll be damned!

Parallels, parallels.

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