Friday, September 10, 2010

A Weekend of Linkage

You know you're playing on the Back Nine of the golf course when you're old enough to remember this:

It was 50 years ago this month, on the evening of Sept. 30, 1960, that America met the Flintstones, television's modern Stone Age family. That Friday night, kids couldn't wait. Parents were curious. And the ABC network executives pondered their gamble patiently. TV's first animated prime-time sitcom made history; well, they were history. ...

Set in the animated suburbia of Bedrock, Fred and Wilma Flintstone (voiced by radio veterans Alan Reed and Jean Vander Pyl) along with their genial neighbors Betty and Barney Rubble (Bea Benaderet and Mel Blanc), were meant as an amalgam of adult satire and children's amusement. ...

A huge animated hit. And forever after, Jackie Gleason regretted not suing for a piece of the action. ...

Screen Rant disrespects the new Megamind trailer.

Despicable Me is opening in New Zealand, and the islands' Herald relates Steve Carrell's take on his character:

... I'm a dad, that's one of the aspects I really related to. He adopts these three girls for his own evil purposes but he soon finds they're affecting him in an emotional way, against his better judgement. Kids do change your life and I think that's something parents can respond to." ...

Sony Pictures assists the Disney Co. in making money:

Sony Pictures Entertainment, a division of Sony Corp, will partner with Marvel Entertainment to animate characters such as Iron Man, X-Men and Blade in Japan and broadcast them worldwide ...

Warner Bros. is setting up a sizable animation studio for video games in Quebec? Can we guess why?

The WB Games division is ramping up its Montreal development studio ... Quebec, like rival provinces, ... has combined traditional film and TV tax credits with new rebates for computer-generated special effects or animation to get ... the effective tax credit for visiting producers to a potential 41.2%

Should we put this in the category of "not likely"?

... Brendan McCarthy ... author of "Spider-Man: Fever" says that a Pixar-produced Dr. Strange movie has in fact been discussed in the halls of Disney.

"I was over in Hollywood earlier this year mooching about, and I had a meeting at Disney and the conversation drifted around to Pixar animating a Dr. Strange movie... Now, wouldn't that be nice?"

On the other hand, since Diz Co. now owns the Marvel riches, is it out of the question that Pixar would develop one of the properties at some time or other?

Jim Hill and his Media ask: Why for did the Black Cauldron fail at the box office? And then says:

... To be honest, there are a lot of reasons that this animated feature (which was supposed to have been the "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" for that generation of Disney animators) went off the rails. ...

But I have a simple answer: It reeked. (Don't take my word for it. Ask layout artist Mike Peraza. He'll tell you.)

Add On: Let's end on a happier note. George Roush shares his pictures of the Disney/Tangled press party from Wednesday last:

... The day started off with a special early screening of Tangled in 2D. Even though the animation wasn't 100% finished, with some scenes still on storyboards to show what was happening, the music was fantastic (some of the best songs since Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast) ... After the screening we were shown a presentation on the evolution of a character. The biggest headache for the animators was dealing with Rapunzel's 70 feet of hair and the physics involved. ... We then traveled down to the basement, where the hallway was littered with art starting at Snow White on one end to Tangled on the other (It's a long hallway) ...

As is the workweek. Enjoy your respite from the grind. Sleep in tomorrow.


Anonymouse said...

It reeked.

Yes, but why did it reek? Sounds like internal turmoil had a lot to do with it.

But yes, box office-wise, it died because it reeked.

Steve Hulett said...

I could tell you long stories about why it ... turned out the way it did, but the memories are painful.

So I won't.

Anonymous said...

I was going to bring up Richard Rich's pre-"Swan Princess" direction, the inferior 70's-Disney character design, John Byner's nails-on-chalkboard voice for a heretical dumbing-down of the book character, and a generic feeling of the original books being progressively thrown out the window as the story troubles went on, but...Steve's right: Too painful to talk about.

Anonymous said...

Screen Rant disrespects the new Megamind trailer

The fan reaction seems to be "Uh, thank you, DW, for showing us EVERYTHING."
Guess marketing had no choice to spill the "surprise" up front, since rumors had been flying since the last trailer that DW was going to kill off Pitt's character early and was trying to hide it in the marketing...Well, nothing's "hidden" now, but the audience now feels they've seen the entire movie, so why pay for it?

Anonymous said...

So...Disney bought the Marvel characters, but is letting Sony animate them?

God...what the hell IS Disney nowadays? Just a clearing house for other company's products?


Anonymous said...

If you read Mike's articles about BC you don't get the feeling he felt it "reeked". I think that is Steve putting his own review on the film.
While it certainly wasn't a great film and suffered from multiple problems - the biggest (according to Mike, atleast) that it was butchered before it was released by Eisner and Jeffrey it wasn't as bad as even Oliver & Co. which not only suffered from really terrible direction, story telling and an even worse adaptation of a book than BC, but also had the worse animation in a film Disney ever released.
At least BC had some excellent animation in it - especially that sequence where the pig was being captured by those dragons.
My feeling about BC is it strived for something beyond typical Disney fair and didn't stand a cahnce of ever reaching it considering when it was still being made at Disney when they weren't a very good studio. Especially when you consider the Fox and the Hound had been the film right before it and the really bad Mickey's XMas Carol was being made by the pre Mouse Detective crew.
It's actually amazing the Black Cauldron was as good as it was.

Anonymous said...

Between this, the Rescuers and Detective, there was a feeling in the late Miller era that Disney had "run out" of fairytales/classics, and had to start looking at 20th-cty. children's stories--
I remember as a kid writing Lloyd Alexander and asking "...Did YOU like this??" Alexander pretty much shrugged it off, saying his grandkids liked it for an afternoon, but the story should have been done as live-action. Today, with WETA-envy, it probably would be.

Anonymous said...

Even in live-action the story would've needed a lot of work. These stories were no "Lord of the Rings" and no studio/director would've tried to make them as written. They were in many ways a hippie's weak attempt at writing a Rings-type story - pretty unsuccessfully.

Though I'm sure Alexander would've loved it to be a bigger hit to put more money in his pocket and helped his books sell a lot better.
Disney's Cauldron was a small enough blip on the radar that if someone really wanted to they could re-adapt his Prydain books into a live-action film(s). I don't see anyone scrambling for the opportunity - do you?

Anonymous said...

Even in live-action the story would've needed a lot of work. These stories were no "Lord of the Rings" and no studio/director would've tried to make them as written. They were in many ways a hippie's weak attempt at writing a Rings-type story - pretty unsuccessfully.

Alexander made a career out of giving real world mythologies an "educationally" packaged fictionalized nudge into standard children's-lit, and the Cauldron series was his deliberate stab at the Welsh Mabinogion. (Gurgi, for ex., represented the Welsh myth of the Wild Man, and seeing Disney turn the character into the Mild Ewok did not go down well with the book fans.)
Basically, most people of 'Boomer age remember that there was A Cauldron movie, albeit not a good one, which is why few have had the rush to fix it--But the books have their carved niche, having never fallen off of school reading lists.

Steve Hulett said...

Vance Gerry came in at the beginning of Cauldron and did some outstanding outline boards and character work of the whole movie. If they had stayed with Vance's concepts and story beats, the picture would have been a lot better.

Katzenberg didn't "butcher" it, in my estimation. The feature was pretty much done when E. and K. got into it. There were some editorial changes, but nothing drastic.

The picture has moments, and it seems to be building to something in the first thirty minutes, but it's mostly a misfire.

Unknown said...

The film is okay (if not a little clumsy) until it gets to the Fairfolk sequence. No matter what version or which director worked on it they could never get that sequence right. I tried, at one point, to convince them to remove it altogether (but still keeping Doli for whatever plot points were necessary - assuming they were necessary)and using the gained screentime to help flesh out other aspects of the film.
The film comes to a screeching halt at that point, but I will admit that sequence does work significantly better than other versions - though that isn't saying much.

Anonymous said...

Everyone here is assuming that Cauldron was unsuccessful because of the quality of the particles of the production. That's because several of us were part of the process and we know a little bit of the "inside baseball" stuff. OK, it could have been a better film, but in my experience, that's not why it failed.

At the the time, The Lord of the Rings trilogy was an incredibly popular phenomenon. Maybe it fell short of Harry Potter numbers, but it had a cultural resonance the Potter books never enjoyed. It was the favorite literature of the counter culture, right up there with The Profit, Be Here Now, and The Whole Earth Catalog. Ring fans were anxious to see the Disney animators sink their teeth into it and create a classic.

When Disney turned down the Ring and left it for Bakshi and Murkami Wolf, (good studios, but not Disney), it was like millions of kids being told there is no Santa Claus. That created a backlash. The public studiously ignored Cauldron because they saw it as a Ring impostor, a consolation prize, hamburger for steak. They might as well have called Black Cauldron, "Not the Ring, (but pretend it is)."

Anonymous said...

The Ring was virtually UNKNOWN outside of book fans in the mid-80's.
Apart from Ralph Bakshi's stab at it, which was considered "failed", but accepted as "Well, no one will ever do a better version without animation, and we've had our chance."

The Cauldron book series had come out in the late 70's, and was still, believe it or not, hot. It was THE fantasy literature for the fourth-grade set in an age when Harry Potter didn't exist yet--And post-Potter librarians found themselves having to recommend lists of "What else to read", and Alexander always topped the lists.
80's Disney "validating" the franchise's status by taking it on for a movie was a big, big deal in its day, and the audience saw them as dropping the ball big, BIG time. Book-fan friend of mine walked out of the movie at the end saying, quote "What a pointless waste of time", and I've never heard the movie's aimless story problems summed up better.

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