Friday, July 27, 2007

The Friday Links Roundup

Another weekend, another linkfest, starting with the big animated flick that is today hitting a multiplex near you: The Simpsons Movie!!.

Rotten Tomatoes tracks the Simpson reviews, and finds that most of them are favorable:

Early reviews for The Simpsons Movie indicate that good things come to those who wait. The movie is currently at 92 percent on the Tomatometer;Brian Lowry of Variety quickly puts to rest any doubt that the Simpsons clan can entertain in a feature length film. "Put simply, if somebody had to make a Simpsons movie, this is pretty much what it should be -- clever, irreverent, satirical and outfitted with a larger-than-22-minutes plot."

France, that European country with universal health care and a distaste for freedom's march in Iraq, is now apparently one of the leading centers for computer animation:

A strange thing happened on the way to SIGGRAPH 2007. Its prestigious Computer Animation Festival, which, since 1999, has been an official qualifying festival for the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences Best Animated Short Film award, announced their 2007 awards, and two of the top three films come from students—and all of them from Europe.

...Francois-Xavier Goby, Edouard Jouret and Matthieu Landour — all students from Supinfocom in Valenciennes in France — won the show’s Award of Excellence for “En Tus Brazos”...for exemplary use of computer-generated imagery, animation and storytelling.

CNN's The Screening Room turns its eye to feature animation, and gives us a superficial summary of what's been going on in animation land. (All you need to know about how far behind the curve Screening Room is might be this title: To Disney and Beyond: the rise of animation.)

Apparently the Simpsons teevee show isn't the only animated television franchise that will find its way to the Big Screen:

ReBoot, the 1990s animated TV series that kick-started Vancouver's animation industry, will have a second life in feature films and online.

Rainmaker Animation this week announced plans to make a feature-film trilogy based on the popular TV series, which was the first computer-animated series in the world and pre-dated the computer-animated feature Toy Story by a year. The show, produced by Vancouver's Mainframe Entertainment, ran for four seasons on YTV in Canada, and ABC and Cartoon Network in the U.S. and its Thompson on Hollywood blog have a compilation of news items from Comic-Con and other interesting places...

Then there is this review of the DVD of the most popular cartoon character of the 1930s, and the one I grew up with on the teevee:

Popeye the Sailor has the distinction of starring in the longest running animated short subject series in the history of animation. The sailor�s library of theatrical shorts is 234 while approximately 500 cartoons were produced for television.

This first volume [of the new Popeye DVD release] contains the Fleischer Studios Popeye films produced from 1933 to 1938 (though not all of the cartoons produced in 1938 are included). The Popeye shorts begin with his first appearance in a Betty Boop cartoon titled, Popeye the Sailor (1933) and concludes with With Big Chief Ugh-Amugh-Ugh (1938). By watching the entire set of B&W films you can see the Fleischers experimenting with the first few films and settling into a pattern...

But wait! That's not all! There's also this new Woody Woodpecker digital disk release:

Cackling Woody Woodpecker, created by Walter Lantz, made his first appearance in the 1940 animated short "Knock Knock." Over the decades, he's headlined 200 shorts, received eight Academy Award nominations — even the hit "The Woody Woodpecker Song" from 1948's "Wet Blanket Policy" was nominated for best original song — and become the mascot for the Universal Studio theme parks. "The Woody Woodpecker and Friends Classic Cartoon Collection" features 75 digitally remastered and uncut cartoons starring the famous bird along with his friends Chilly Willy, Andy Panda, Wally Walrus and Buzz Buzzard...

Daily Variety has the specifics about three new "performance capture" films that are in the works at Sony Pictures Imageworks...

Producer Avi Arad has optioned film rights to James Patterson's young-adult bestseller "Maximum Ride" with hopes of turning the property into a major franchise...

Two other projects are being developed for Sony Pictures Animation. Director Jon Favreau and Jay Redd are developing the caveman comedy "Neanderthals," while Jerome Chen, the visual effects supervisor of "The Polar Express" and "Beowulf," is creating an untitled feature inspired by Japanese mythology. According to Landau, Chen's project will fall into the classic action realm of a film like "300."

Unlike Jim Hill, Sheldon Liber at blogging thinks that Disney's purchase of Pixar might have been pretty astute:

Disney's acquisition of Pixar was a very expensive and in some ways risky proposition, but top talent does not come cheap...I am not an advocate of overpaying for a company's stock, but I do believe there are times when a company might be forced to over pay for unique talent to create value. It appears Disney has done so with Pixar.

And we'll end as we began, with the Simpsons, and how the financial hopes are high for the Yellow Family over at Fox/News Corp.:

``[The Simpsons Movie] be huge,'' said Oscar Trevino, a 29-year-old graphics designer who drove from San Diego to Los Angeles to shop in one of a dozen U.S. 7-Eleven stores that have been converted to Simpsons-like Kwik-E-Marts.

News Corp.'s 20th Century Fox film studio is counting on fans like Trevino. The studio is in fifth place at the U.S. box office this year, with sales down 38 percent from 2006, according to researcher Box Office Mojo LLC. Total U.S. box- office sales are up 4.4 percent this year as of July 22.

``The film is important to News Corp. because they did so well last year,'' said Michael Morris, an analyst at UBS AG in New York. ``It's difficult for them to compete this summer.''

Have a happy and lucrative weekend


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