Friday, September 18, 2009

The Links of Friday

Your end-of-week linkage.

The directors of Cloudy With Meatballs hold forth on their movie (which opens today):

We had actually come in on a meeting for a different project at Sony, and found out they had the rights to this book. It was our favorite kids book, both of us. We basically just grabbed them by the lapels and forced them to let us make this movie because we loved it so much ...

We kind of approached it like, what if this story were a Jerry Bruckheimer movie. How would a big Hollywood studio approach this thing. That's why, OK. If you're going to follow the disaster movie paradigm, they always have the scientist, they always have the reporter and the cop ...

(How did it work out? The New York Times reviews Cloudy ... and the Hollywood Reporter handicaps Sony's animated feature here. "An opening of $25 million-$30 million looks likely based on prerelease tracking surveys.")

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times provides an overview of Sony's hopes and strategies for its animation division:

... Seven years after launching its animation unit, Sony Pictures is still trying to find its footing in a fiercely competitive environment dominated by more established studios in family entertainment, notably Walt Disney Co.'s Pixar Animation Studios, DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. and News Corp.'s 20th Century Fox.

It's a segment of the movie business in which Sony, with rare exceptions, has never been much of a player. But in recent years computer-animated movies have become gold mines for the studios because they frequently attract broad-based audiences both in the U.S. and overseas. Interest in the genre has been spurred further by the potential upside from 3-D screenings.

Fred Seibert showcases Dave Levy's new book on animation development.

Dave has researched the development process completely, much of it with his own blood and sweat on the floor, and shares his findings with us ... [H]e covers the pitch, legalities, money, pilots, creative notes. Importantly, he also goes into detail about the roller coasters of ups and downs of the entire process. Personally, I relate to this most of all, having been around the business of creative for over 35 years, most of it in abject failure, only selling my first animated show 25 years into the biz.

The ASIFA-Hollywood animation archive gives us Mel Blanc on Mel Blanc.

The Wilmington Star News is clued in to the fact that "Animation is spared the wrath of the worldwide film slump".

Apparently I'm going to have to rearrange my 2010 holiday calendar:

Pulling out "Smurfs" from the crowded December 17, 2010 schedule, Sony pushed back the movie for about seven months to the July 29, 2011 release. With the new date given, this 3-D movie will be available in theaters a week after Marvel Studios releases "The First Avenger: Captain America" on July 22, 2011. ...

We hit on this subject before, but National Public Radio does a nice audio story of Walt Disney's South American adventure .. and the documentary which recounts it.

One last blast of sunny optimism from Jeffrey K. While the rest of Tinsel Town frets about the Red Kiosks renting flicks for a dollar, Mr. Katzenberg is jaunty:

For DreamWorks, Mr. Katzenberg said Redbox displays a “sharply higher conversion rate from rental to purchase” than other rental companies (Blockbuster, Netflix). In other words, Redbox is actually serving as a sales agent for the studio’s animated titles: People are renting films like “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa” for $1 and deciding they want to own them. DreamWorks can also rest easier about Redbox, Mr. Katzenberg said, because most consumers, even in a struggling economy, want to buy animated movies rather than rent them – the babysitting power is just too great.

He has a big test of these theories coming up: “Monsters vs. Aliens” arrives on DVD on Sept. 29.

Have yourself a fantabulous weekend.


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