Saturday, June 30, 2007

The 'Toon Linkage of Our Lives

Yet another round of animation news from all points of the globe...

Sony Pictures Imageworks breaks ground on its brand spanking new Albuquerque studio, and New Mexico rejoices:

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson will speak at a groundbreaking ceremony today for a new studio for Sony Pictures Imageworks, the digital effects and animation arm of Sony Pictures Entertainment.

The 100,000-square-foot facility will be located in Mesa del Sol, a master-planned community development south of the Albuquerque International Sunport. The studio is expected to initially create 100 new jobs.

Hey. They're not building it in India...

And the MSM reports on the various handicapping on the box office opening of Ratatouille (this weekend's great parlor game):

SMH Capital analyst David Miller sees the opening weekend of "Ratatouille" slightly surpassing "Cars," with a $65 million debut and an ultimate global box office take of $572 million.

"For the CGI (computer-generated image) animated films, we are not going to place as much emphasis (on the debut) as the global ultimates," Miller said. "Our research shows that families of kids will skip the opening weekend," Miller said.

Deutsche Bank analyst Doug Mitchelson forecast an opening "lower than recent Pixar films" at about $50 million, but said strong reviews could boost its domestic box office take above $200 million.

The honcho of DWA rolls out the future of CGI:

His name is Jeffrey Katzenberg, he is the CEO of DreamWorks Animation, and he has come to announce both the death and the rebirth of cinema as we know it. “I can honestly say to you with every ounce of conviction in my being: I have seen the future of movies, and this is it.”

Katzenberg is talking about 3-D. Yes, I know, it’s been knocking around since the Fifties, mostly as a camp exercise in camera kitsch in movies such as Bwana Devil or House of Wax, or later as novelty value in Jaws 3-D, or later still in 3-D IMAX versions of “regular” blockbusters such as Superman Returns.

But this time, says Katzenberg, it’s different...

Just what a weary, troubled world has been waiting for. News of a Ninja Turtles sequel...

As of two weeks ago Imagi Entertainment (the TMNT movie animation studio) informed Mirage Studios that there was a 50-50 chance of a CGI film sequel. Last week they upped the odds to 70-30 in favor of a sequel, as talks between Imagi and their distribution partners Warner Brothers and the Weinstein Group seem to be heading in a positive direction....

And while we're on the Weinsteins (who co-financed the latest turtle flick), the Hollywood Reporter offers more detail on the W. brothers' 'toon alliance with the Korean government:

The Weinstein Co., animation management powerhouse Gotham Group and the provincial Chungcheongnam-do government of South Korea have joined forces to produce and distribute animated feature films.

The Weinstein Co. and Gotham Group also have entered a multiyear, first-look deal that will give the Weinsteins access to a steady supply of animation and family entertainment talent and content.

The movies will be based on work from Gotham Group's client list of more than 350 directors, writers and illustrators including Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black, the creators of "The Spiderwick Chronicles"; Doug TenNapel, who wrote and drew the graphic novel "Creature Tech"; and animation director Henry Selick ("The Nightmare Before Christmas"). Material also will come from outside sources.

The movies produced will be computer-generated, and while financial details were not disclosed, it is known that the money in place will ensure that six to 10 films in the $40 million range will be made for theatrical distribution... recounts the rise of Laika Animation from the ashes of the Will Vinton studio in Portland, Oregon. And profiles the people who made it happen -- Phil "running shoes" Knight and his son Travis:

After the advertising market plummeted following September 11, with Vinton Studios near bankruptcy, Phil dipped into his billions and saved the company. And Travis's job. Now the largest shareholder, Phil asked his son and a couple of Nike veterans to join the board of directors. Travis was relieved about Vinton, but uneasy about his new role. Not only was he now the boss's son, he was about to become his bosses' boss, whatever that meant. He feared what must be going through their heads: What the hell does this kid know?

The board met in a conference room at Vinton. There was Will Vinton himself, with his handlebar mustache, the creative genius who'd put the studio on the map in the 1980s with the California Raisins. (He'd be gone in a matter of months.) There was Phil, the new chairman of the board. And there was Travis, the youngest and quietest director, taking it all in, feet throbbing in his shoes.

"I said yes," Travis says of Phil's request to join the board. "But I didn't know what it meant."

New episodes of George of the Jungle roll out from Studio B in Vancouver, Canada...

The Man from J.U.N.G.L.E. is back. An updated version of George of the Jungle, produced by Vancouver's Studio B animation studio, makes its basic-cable debut tonight on the all-toons/all-the-time specialty channel Teletoon...

Purists have grumbled that the new version has none of the character or animation style of the original, but that's a natural reaction: the new George of the Jungle owes more to postmodern 'toons like Spongebob Squarepants than it does the golden era of Disney animation.

We'll end with a longer remembrance of animator/director Art Stevens, who passed away May 22:

Stevens started [at Disney] as in-betweener and was soon assigned to work on FANTASIA, and contributed his artistic talents to the "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor," "Pastoral Symphony," "Nutcracker Suite," and "Night on Bald Mountain" segments. He went on to in-between on BAMBI (1942), and several other features before achieving full character animator status on Peter Pan (1953). His credits also include ONE HUNDRED AND ONE DALMATIANS, WINNIE THE POOH AND THE BLUSTERY DAY, MARY POPPINS and the underwater sequence from the 1971 Disney feature, BEDKNOBS AND BROOMSTICKS...

Have a safe and sane July 4th weekend...


Anonymous said...

"the new George of the Jungle owes more to postmodern 'toons like Spongebob Squarepants than it does the golden era of Disney animation."

Does that writer imagine the original GOTJ owed ANYTHING to the golden era of Disney animation? I've seen a clip of the new one. Good or bad it's got more animation in 10 seconds than a whole episode of the original did.

Site Meter