Sunday, August 12, 2007

Sunday Toon Links

Okay, it's a day late. Maybe two. But here's the usual 'toon news from various points of the globe...

In lieu of new ideas, Hollywood continues to mine its rich, deep history of boffo properties just aching to be remade:

Hollywood's search for toons-to-film has certainly intensified over the last year. Here's a rundown of all we know so far about the various live-action adaptations of cartoons currently in-development. We're leaving out The Simpsons Movie, as well as The Smurfs and Astro Boy, both of which are being developed as CG-animated features:

Alvin and the Chipmunks: This Fox-Regency live-action/CG-animated adaptation of the cartoon characters created by Ross Bagdasarian Sr. is due out in theaters December 14...

...He-Man and the Masters of the Universe: Speed Racer and Matrix producer Joel Silver and Warner Bros. are teaming for a new big-screen version of the cartoon/toy/comic book franchise...

Talking about animated features, here's one more interview from the godfathers of the top animated film now in the movie marketplace:

Groening: I always thought that the series would be successful. I thought if we could get it on the air, I thought kids would tune in for sure. I didn’t know if adults would give an animated prime time TV series a chance, but I thought kids would. And the fact is, adults did too. I would say that one of the interesting things about this whole process has been as famous and big as The Simpsons have been around the world for the last eighteen years, we were basically working in the dark...

And get on board for Pixar's Monopoly, coming to a Toys R Us near you?? (Nothing is sacrosanct...)

Variety reports that dubbing of major international movie releases -- both animated and live-action -- has turned into a major industry...and headache:

Hollywood tentpoles are primarily dubbed in London for European audiences, Bangkok for Asian moviegoers and Mexico City for Latin American viewers. Otherwise, dubbing takes place in the individual territories, with audiences in France, Italy, Germany and Spain the most avid lovers of such voiceovers.

But the pressure on dubbers is increasing as studios make 11th-hour CGI tweaks and delay delivery of the pics. To foil pirates, Hollywood majors have started to send over top-secret reels that are often very poor quality, likely to have scenes blacked out, boilerplate sound, no effects, and lots of watermarks -- besides being out-of-sequence...

DreamWorks (live-action and animation) is soon to rack up $1 billion in worldwide box office, a first for the entity. Of course, the live-action sleeve is now part of the Paramount-Viacom family, while DreamWorks Animation is a stand-alone company. But still...

It may have taken more than a decade, but Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen's DreamWorks finally leads in market share and is weeks away from crossing the $1 billion mark at the domestic box office.

...there's plenty for Geffen, Spielberg and Katzenberg to celebrate as they enjoy the sort of success that often eluded them as they tried to build DreamWorks into a major studio.

This year, their films have grossed roughly $980 million at the domestic box office, making up the lion's share of Paramount's B.O. bounty and turning Par into the market share leader at $1.1 billion, or 18.8%.

The NickToons Animation festival was on display at Nick's Burbank studio today. A report on it here:

"In its fourth year, the Nicktoons Network Animation Festival continues to grow in both scope and scale," Keith Dawkins, Vice President and General Manager, Nicktoons Network commented in a press article.

"Filmmakers and industry tastemakers from around the globe continue to recognize the festival as a vehicle for the development of truly original animated content and we are proud to be such a destination."

We overlooked this think piece from the Washington Post's Alex Remington, but since it's still relevant, we link to it now (and overlook Remington's tired -- and inaccurate -- swipe at Disney's "anti-Semitism"):

...why should the disappearance of hand-drawn animation from the big screen be mourned? The historic influence of American animation is impossible to overstate, which is why its decline has been so hard to swallow. Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny have informed directors from Sergei Eisenstein to Blake Edwards, Hayao Miyazaki to Jerry Zucker, and their cartoons stand, like Shakespeare, both as the most influential work in their medium and as its pinnacle. The Simpsons Movie will be the first major American two-dimensional animated film to hit the big screen in several years, and it is significant as a continuation of that tradition.

And this new animated series, outside the norm for Disney, has been taking shape at Starz Media on Hollywood Way:

ABC Family Channel, owned by the Walt Disney Co, is playing against type in a press kit to promote its edgy new animated series, “Slacker Cats.”

Disney, which is famous for its immaculate presentations of its G-rated products, sent out a booklet describing the new show with an apparent coffee stain on the cover and containing the un-Disney-like phrase “half-assed” to describe the antics of the two feline main characters.

We end with this item from the Seattle Times: "So Maybe Popeye Isn't PC," which ruminates on the sailor man (whose DVD set we noted earlier) being insensitive to the our times because he's still running on the cultural mores of the, ahm, 1930s. (How dare he.)

"The animated shorts you are about to see are a product of their time. They may depict some of the ethnic, sexist and racial prejudices that were commonplace in American society. These depictions were wrong then and are wrong today. While the following shorts do not represent the Warner Bros. view of today's society, these animated shorts are being presented as they were originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed."

Back at you, Warner: Thanks for not sanitizing history, but there's no need to be so sniveling about it. All of that goes without saying, except for morons.

Have a glorious week


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