ASIFA-Hollywood, the Los Angeles branch of the International Animated Film Society, announced its nominations this morning for the 38th Annual Annie Awards. The award recognizes the best in the field of animation, with categories including best animated feature, television production, commercials, short subjects, video games and outstanding individual achievements. The nominations for Best Animated Feature are Despicable Me (Illumination Entertainment); How to Train Your Dragon (DreamWorks Animation); Tangled (Disney); The Illusionist (Django Films); and Toy Story 3 (Disney/Pixar).
This gorgeous animated short is an exploration of moving gesture drawings by Brigham Young University animation instructor Ryan Woodward (Osmosis Jones). He explains the creative process behind the piece here.
We may never know what Glen Keane’s version of Rapunzel would have been like – but here’s a taste in a 2005 pre-viz demo (Watch it quick, before Disney removes it), created by Tony Hudson under the direction of Glen Keane, of the update he envisioned:
On the slowest post-Thanksgiving weekend at the box office since 1997, Disney’s Tangled unseated Harry Potter for first place with an estimated $21.5 million. Its two week total is now $96.5 million. The most concerning statistic is the film’s 56% drop from its first weekend. Comparably, other successful CG features in 2010 have dropped far less by the same point: Despicable Me fell 41.8%, How to Train Your Dragon 33.7%, and Toy Story 3 46.2%. Tangled will likely play strong through the holidays and may yet end up in the range of $160-175 million.
DreamWorks’ Megamind continued to fade fast. It plummeted 60% from the prior weekend, earning $5 million. Its total of $136.7M ranks it twelfth among DreamWorks releases, and it’ll have to work hard to pass the $155M of eleventh place Over the Hedge. Universal’s Despicable Me added an extra $217,000 in its 22nd weekend to reach the $250 million mark. Internationally, the film has grossed an additional $284.9M for a grand total of $534.9 million making it the 14th all-time highest grossing animated film worldwide.
This news piece by Taiwanese animation studio Next Media Animation succinctly points out that the feud between The Simpsons and Fox News doesn’t mean much since whoever wins, it still benefits the same guy–News Corp. founder Rupert Murdoch. It’s a depressing thought, but at least the imaginative depictions of Murdoch and The Simpsons writers made me smile.
Talk about cruel and unusual punishment! Inmates in a Florida jail are being forced to watch Robert Zemeckis’s mo-cap trainwreck Polar Express over and over again. One inmate is so distressed that he filed a lawsuit claiming that the experience is akin to Chinese water torture. “I hear those little kids screaming through my brain. All night long I can hear them,” he told CNN. “I can close my eyes, but I’m still going to hear them over and over and over.” To be fair, the guy killed a woman driving drunk so Robert Zemeckis’s films are exactly the animation hell he deserves.
I have to preface this by saying that Disney hasn’t made what I’d consider a decent animated feature in years. After subjecting myself to Bolt, Princess and the Frog and any number of other recent Disney features, I dreaded the prospect of handing over my hard-earned money for Tangled. That’s why it surprises even myself to write that Tangled, directed by Nathan Greno and Byron Howard, was an utterly delightful experience. It represents a fresh new direction for Disney’s feature animation department, one that is rooted in the finest tradition of Disney’s gloried past while pushing forward to an even brighter future. Despite a half-baked story that left me frustrated at many turns, the filmmakers made the audience care enough about the characters and delivered enough entertainment that I left the theater satisfied. I wanted to celebrate this achievement by highlighting five things I enjoyed about the film. Spoilers ahead.
Seattle-based Drew Christie made this folksy watercolor music video for “Empress of the North”, a song by the Moondoggies. Conceptually, the video narrative doesn’t quite gel with the music, but I appreciate its Americana mood.
In this age of CG motion capture, old fashioned rotoscope animation looks refreshing. Case in point: Paranoia is an animated short film made by 4 students (Sandeepan Chanda, Sunil Kumar Yadav, Amrita Mukhopadhyay, Nitesh Mishraas) as part of their final year degree project for Mumbai’s Thakur-Toonskool Advanced Animation Academy.
Once again I visited with Stu Shostak this week to do his Internet radio show. During the commercial breaks I peruse Stu’s huge archive of back-issue TV Guide magazines. And, as usual, I found an article worth sharing with Cartoon Brew readers – this time a May 27th, 1961 interview (thumbnail at left, click to enlarge) with actor Jim Backus which makes numerous references to his voicing of Mr. Magoo.
Meanwhile, animator Darrell Van Citters continues to mine the rich history of Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol on his blog dedicated to the UPA holiday special. He just posted a thorough piece about director Abe Levitow. It’s a must-read, with several rare personal photographs from Levitow’s family. Darrell is appearing with layout artist, Bob Singer, actress Marie Matthews (young Scrooge) and hopefully actress Jane Kean at the Aero Theater in Santa Monica on Saturday, December 18th at 4 PM. They’ll be showing the Magoo special on the big screen where it looks particularly amazing. And if you can’t make it, buy the new DVD/Blu-Ray. If you don’t have Darrell’s book, shame on you! If you do, buy another to give as a Christmas gift. You’ll be glad you did.
I’m not the biggest fan of Aqua Teen Hunger Force, but I’ll admit this parody of a behind-the-scenes film may be the funniest thing I’ve seen from Radical Axis. This video was created for the DVD collection Aqua Teen Hunger Force 6.
This live-action Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner fan film defies expectations and replaces the cartoon characters with human versions. It’s a faithful yet fresh take on Chuck Jones’s creations. The short was shot in Moab, Utah, and SoftImage XSI and After Effects were used.