Saturday, March 08, 2008

Beware the Links of March

Another weekend, another cavalcade of links.

What's allegedly one of the most expensive Swiss films ever made, the stop-motion animated feature Max & Co. gets reviewed by Variety:

Normally, derelict dads, genetic engineering and class warfare would not constitute the stuff of funny-animal fables, but in the freres Guillaume's impressive animated feature, social realism and critiques of capitalism amusingly enter the realm of the fantastic ...

Given the general tendency to consider animation a kiddie medium, "Max & Co" is difficult to pin down with its fairy-tale design and kid hero on the one hand, and its socially sophisticated storyline on the other. The art-film route charted by animated features like "The Triplets of Belleville" and "Persepolis" might merit distrib consideration ...

And yet another fine article on the resurrection of hand-drawn animation (which, of course, has never really gone totally away...):

"Wherever I went in the world and talked to students they always asked me `When is the next big Disney hand-drawn movie coming?'," Disney's LA-based master animator, Andreas Deja, recalling [the dark days of no hand-drawn product at Disney Feature Animation], said in an interview.

"For a while I had to say: `I just don't know where we are going. There are no plans right now, but we are working on it. I'm hanging in there."'

... "John Lasseter came in and said: `This is nonsense. Hand-drawn films are such a big part of Disney ..."

There's this sad news from Warner Bros./D.C. Comics: Teen Titans, once a multi-season series at WB Animation, won't become anything more than that anytime soon:

Warner Brothers and DC Comics have decided not to make Teen Titans: The Judas Contract one of the next DC Universe Animated Movies. Marv Wolfman, who wrote the Teen Titans comic for DC in the 1980s and is one of the scriptwriters for the animated feature recently told World's Finest Online that Warner Home Video has decided to delay the film at least until the completion of Batman: Gotham Knight and Wonder Woman ...

Mr. Katzenberg might not be doing as well as his fellow Captain of Industry one city over (see below), but he's doing pretty well:

Jeffrey Katzenberg, chief executive of DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc., received $11 million in stock and option awards in 2007, more than double his 2006 totals, according to a company regulatory filing Friday ...

Here's the Hollywood Reporter/Reuters take on the Disney stockholders meeting (which focuses on different topics than we did):

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Top brass at Disney were called on Thursday to defend their decision not to release the controversial miniseries "The Path to 9/11" on DVD and to justify CEO Robert Iger's $27.7 million pay package.

"Path," a 2006 ABC miniseries critical of President Bill Clinton's handling of terrorist threats, was so controversial that leading Democrats asked Disney not to air the program. Disney, after making some hasty edits, ran it commercial-free.

At Disney's annual shareholders' meeting in Albuquerque, N.M., one mutual fund portfolio manager said it was high time Disney turned "Path" into a DVD and recouped some of the $40 million it spent on the project ...

We'll end with one more article on Blue Sky Animation, Horton, and Fox-News Corp. savvy publicity campaign (of which this article is a part):

Winning approval from the Seuss estate and lining up such voice talent as Jim Carrey (Horton), Steve Carell (the Mayor of Whoville) and Carol Burnett (the meddlesome Kangaroo) was one thing. Translating the book's distinctive drawings filled with floppy foliage, tilted towers and insect-like Whos into computer animation was something else.

"When we started, we were all intimidated by Seuss," says Chris Wedge, Blue Sky co-founder, Ice Age director and an executive producer on Horton.

He and the rest of the crew were well aware that the animated gold standard of such adaptations is Chuck Jones' 1966 TV version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Addendum: The Boston Globe reviews fantasy movies derived from illustrated children's books, from Horton Hears a Who to Winnie the Pooh and books beyond:

... Using children's picture books and illustrated novels as inspiration is nothing new for Hollywood. Several of the most beloved early Disney animation features originated that way. Yet the past few years have seen picture books come to the screen as never before. As a source of family-oriented films they've been exceeded only by fantasy titles ("The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, the Harry Potter books, the "Narnia" series, "The Golden Compass").

Seussian cinema, as one might call illustrated-book-derived movies, has practically become its own genre: "The Cat in the Hat" (2003) and "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (2000), among others, preceded "Horton." No doubt this movie connection would please Seuss, who, as Major Theodor Geisel, headed the animation division of Frank Capra's Armed Forces Picture unit during World War II ...

Addendum II: Lastly, let's throw in this Andreas Deja interview from MovieWeb:

[101 Dalmations] is one of the best stories told. It's a very straight line story. It just flows along beautifully. I don't know if you were aware of this, but for the first time, they only had one story person developing the whole story. He drew all of the storyboards, he did the story treatment, and that was a man named Bill Peet ...


Anonymous said...

dr. seuss does not need jim and steve to make it great work. not only that, but they likely paid them far too much. why. there is no good reason. artists and animators do more than just 'copy' styles, for crying out loud - they can capture the spirit of seuss if given the opportunity. studios - let them capture it - stop tying their hands behind their backs with your inability to be real men and women and to stand up for the art.

and fire all the marketing staff and spend the money on something worthwhile - like the next art-supporting movie.

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