Thursday, April 22, 2010

A New Animated Feature! From Overseas!

Imagi might be kaput, but there's a newer animated feature from Hong Kong:

Local 3D animation feature “Little Gobie” is set to launch a new Christmas character in North America through The Weinstein Company at the end of the year. Producers are now in negotiation with distributors in Hong Kong and China for a December 2010 release ...

“Little Gobie” tells the story of a reindeer’s adventure to find his lost pet dragon through a series of Christmas-themed locales ... The filmmakers intend to create a series based on the “Little Gobie” characters with new releases every two years. In the meantime, T-Films will launch a new animated character at the upcoming Cannes market for a second series to alternate between “Little Gobie” releases.

The Weinstein Co. has been involved with Asian animation for some time now. They had good results with Hoodwinked Uno back in the day, but Hoodwinked Deux, according to people who worked on it, sits on a shelf awaiting release. ("The Weinsteins didn't have the dough to release it theatrically," claims one of the artists who worked on it.)

If the LA Times is to be believed, there might be some truth to that:

Kanbar Entertainment is feeling hoodwinked by the Weinstein Co.

The San Francisco-based movie producer has filed a petition in Superior Court to try to force the Weinstein Co. to begin arbitration proceedings to resolve disputes between the two companies over the production and release of the animated movie "Hoodwinked Too: Hood vs. Evil." The movie was originally going to be released Jan. 15, but in December the Weinstein Co. said it was postponing the release to February at the earliest. Since then, no new date has been unveiled.

Undaunted, the Weinstein Co. presses on. And here we are with yet another cartoon from abroad, going for the big brass ring of "Worldwide Hit." Will Little Gobie have that magical something?

Welll ... the great highway of animation is littered with the road kill of cartoon features with high aspirations and minimal box office. In fact, the subject came up recently with some artists working on Tangled. We talked about foreign animated features, and the ever-present question, "Is all the production work going to India?" cropped up.

I allowed as how most of it wasn't going there because:

1) Foreign job shops are in the business of quantity and lower cost, not quality. There's little financial incentive for Indian or Korean or Brazilian subcontractors to do the job better, but large incentives for making it cheaper. Therefore that's the way they roll.

2) Because it is quantity over quality, foreign contractors often lose their most talented employees, who desire to work on more ambitious and upscale projects and so jump ship, moving on to higher-end studios. (Can you say DreamWorks? Can you say Pixar? I knew you could!)

3) In theatrical animation, quality counts in the performance of feature films.

4) Ipso facto, because it is a quality issue, animated features created in foreign job shops often fail to make big bucks.

In the time I've been doing the biz rep thing, I've seen lots of animated productions pass through studios, and the high-end stuff (IMO) remains stateside because A) this is where a lot of the talent that delivers high-grossing product resides and B) it does companies little good to produce a $30 million CG feature if it only grosses $20 million.

Conglomerates, as lumbering and dense as they sometimes are, know that it's better to make a $100 million feature that grosses $500 million ... and as a result keep the production here.

So Brothers Weinstein? Good luck with Little Gobie, and I hope the Hoodwinked kerfluffle works itself out. But as for the low-end, foreign stuff hitting big at the box office, I'm not holding my breath.


Anonymous said...

Here you go:

That doesn't look very good or interesting. A blue magic reindeer in search of a dragon? Ladle on the faux emotion, some McKee talking points, a smidgen of Bruce Block Baloney, and a cheap looking production and you've got something we'll not hear much of any more. Thank god. Is this the same people who did AstroBoy? Looks it.

Anonymous said...

Astro Boy looked freaking better than that. But then, it was based on a good story and a good character, one that's been beloved worldwide for decades. This Gobie thing looks awful and contrived as hell. I don't get why people with no grasp of storytelling or character development keep getting cash to make animated films. I can only think that those who bankroll them have little respect for the art form other than the chance to make a buck. The relative success of Hoodwinked probably started the whole sorry mess. It looked like crap but supposedly made money. I'm glad its sequel has been suppressed. Good news for audiences and animation in general.

Anonymous said...

It's BLUE. Smurfs, tall and short.

Anonymous said...

Well I just watched the you tube clip that was posted above. I'm on board if the asian girls are in the movie.

Anonymous said...

Wow, it does look like astroboy Same cheap looking sets and lame, characterless animation.

Anonymous said...

Nah, it looks more like The Iron Giant to me.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Nah, it looks more like The Iron Giant to me.


I don't get that. Is it funny? It must be. You seem to have told us it was. But it still doesn't make sense. said...

the iron giant was a good movie... they need to remake that in 3d and make a wii game for it...

notanymike said...

How did Hunan GreatDreams's "虹猫蓝兔火凤凰" slip under everyone's radar? How has anything made by Hunan GreatDreams gotten past everyone's notice?

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