Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Warner's Lego Super-Villain

From the trades:

Zach Galifianakis is in final negotiations to voice the villain in Lego Batman , Warner Bros.’ spinoff of The Lego Movie.

Galifianakis will voice Batman’s classic archenemy, the Joker, joining Will Arnett, who is reprising the role of the Caped Crusader he originated in Lego Movie. Michael Cera recently came on board to voice the hero’s sidekick, Robin. ...

The fans of Mark Hamill in the role will be chapped, but that's show biz.

If you haven't kept up, Warner Bros. has a newer animation division for the new theatricals it's doing called The Warner Animation Group (WAG). Unlike Warner Bros. Animation, which is headquartered on the Warner Ranch (formerly the Columbia Ranch), WAG occupies a two-story building on the main lot, and presently has several features in development.

WAG is using a modified Chris Meledandri/Illumination Entertainment feature animation model, wherein writers, board artists and designers do pre-production in Burbank and the production is then done overseas. (Paramount Animation, a tenant on the Paramount lot in Hollywood, is using the same basic production model. It works well in certain hands; we'll discover how well it works for Paramount.)

American animated feature production is starting to splinter: Some studios like Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios do (almost) everything under one roof.

Other studios do a lot of the work in one studio, but job sequences (features) to China and India. DreamWorks Animation falls into this camp.

And a growing number of companies -- Warner Animation Group, Paramount Animation, Illumination Entertainment, Sony Pictures Animation -- use the do "pre-production stateside/ production work out of the country" approach. This type of outsourcing has been tried for theatrical features for decades, but until Meledandri made a success of it with Despicable Me, every outsourced cartoon feature going back to Once Upon a Forest had fallen on its face, box office-wise.

With the coming of CG features, lots of companies are making piles of money in the cartoon biz. So now we get to see which company ... and production method ... works best.


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