“Despicable Me 2″ trailer

In case you were wondering whatever happened to the idea of animated shorts in movie theaters before the main feature: they still exist as two-minute (or less) trailers. Here’s the latest “Minions” short promoting the release of Despicable Me 2, directed by Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud, opening in theaters on July 3, 2013.

“Heart” by Erick Oh

Heart presents “questions through abstract metaphors and symbols, illustrated by the human heart”, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying the design and admiring the craft. Erick Oh, the director of How to Eat Your Apple, is a Korean animation artist based in California, currently at Pixar. His independent films have been screened at Annecy, Hiroshima, Zagreb, SIGGRAPH and Anima Mundi. .


Why The Disney/Lucasfilm Merger Hurts Artists and Creativity

Veteran animation artist Mark Mayerson has some of the most consistently enlightening perspectives on the business of animation, and his commentary on the Disney buyout of Lucasfilm is a must-read.

First, Mark explains why this purchase hurts animation artists in the Bay Area:

If you happen to be somebody working in computer animation in the San Francisco Bay Area, there is now one less employer in the market. Pixar and ILM have been charged with collusion, cooperating to make sure that they didn’t hire employees from each other. Now they’re the same company and they can do what they like with hiring policies and pay scales.

If you’re unaware of the collusion charges, read about the case HERE.

Second, Mark explains how Disney CEO Robert Iger is shortchanging the company’s future by focusing too much on rehashes of tired properties insteading of creating original work:

Robert Iger is clearly looking backwards more than forwards. But don’t forget that the Muppets started out as a small troop of puppeteers on local television, Marvel started out as a handful of creators working out of their homes, and George Lucas got turned down by everyone until Alan Ladd, Jr. took a chance (but didn’t realize the value of sequel or merchandising rights or he would have kept them). What Robert Iger doesn’t see is that great creations don’t come from large companies, they come from people committed to their own ideas who work out of basements, garages, warehouses and other out of the way places. Sort of the way Walt Disney started. Remember him? Which means that while Iger is busy grinding out Muppets, Marvels and Star Wars, the great creations of the 21st century will be happening elsewhere.

Disney Buys Lucasfilm, “Star Wars” Franchise for $4 Billion [UPDATED]

It’s not April Fools’ Day. The Walt Disney Company is acquiring Lucasfilm and the Star Wars franchise for $4.05 billion. The press release:

Global leader in high-quality family entertainment agrees to acquire world-renowned Lucasfilm Ltd, including legendary STAR WARS franchise.

Acquisition continues Disney’s strategic focus on creating and monetizing the world’s best branded content, innovative technology and global growth to drive long-term shareholder value.

Lucasfilm to join company’s global portfolio of world class brands including Disney, ESPN, Pixar, Marvel and ABC.

STAR WARS: EPISODE 7 feature film targeted for release in 2015.

An investor conference call will take place at approximately 4:30 p.m. EDT / 1:30 p.m. PDT today, October 30, 2012. Details for the call are listed in the release.

BURBANK, Calif. & SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)– Continuing its strategy of delivering exceptional creative content to audiences around the world, The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) has agreed to acquire Lucasfilm Ltd. in a stock and cash transaction. Lucasfilm is 100% owned by Lucasfilm Chairman and Founder, George Lucas.

Under the terms of the agreement and based on the closing price of Disney stock on October 26, 2012, the transaction value is $4.05 billion, with Disney paying approximately half of the consideration in cash and issuing approximately 40 million shares at closing. The final consideration will be subject to customary post-closing balance sheet adjustments.

“Lucasfilm reflects the extraordinary passion, vision, and storytelling of its founder, George Lucas,” said Robert A. Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company. “This transaction combines a world-class portfolio of content including Star Wars, one of the greatest family entertainment franchises of all time, with Disney’s unique and unparalleled creativity across multiple platforms, businesses, and markets to generate sustained growth and drive significant long-term value.”

“For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next,” said George Lucas, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Lucasfilm. “It’s now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers. I’ve always believed that Star Wars could live beyond me, and I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime. I’m confident that with Lucasfilm under the leadership of Kathleen Kennedy, and having a new home within the Disney organization, Star Wars will certainly live on and flourish for many generations to come. Disney’s reach and experience give Lucasfilm the opportunity to blaze new trails in film, television, interactive media, theme parks, live entertainment, and consumer products.”

Under the deal, Disney will acquire ownership of Lucasfilm, a leader in entertainment, innovation and technology, including its massively popular and “evergreen” Star Wars franchise and its operating businesses in live action film production, consumer products, animation, visual effects, and audio post production. Disney will also acquire the substantial portfolio of cutting-edge entertainment technologies that have kept audiences enthralled for many years. Lucasfilm, headquartered in San Francisco, operates under the names Lucasfilm Ltd., LucasArts, Industrial Light & Magic, and Skywalker Sound, and the present intent is for Lucasfilm employees to remain in their current locations.

Kathleen Kennedy, current Co-Chairman of Lucasfilm, will become President of Lucasfilm, reporting to Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn. Additionally she will serve as the brand manager for Star Wars, working directly with Disney’s global lines of business to build, further integrate, and maximize the value of this global franchise. Ms. Kennedy will serve as executive producer on new Star Wars feature films, with George Lucas serving as creative consultant. Star Wars Episode 7 is targeted for release in 2015, with more feature films expected to continue the Star Wars saga and grow the franchise well into the future.

The acquisition combines two highly compatible family entertainment brands, and strengthens the long-standing beneficial relationship between them that already includes successful integration of Star Wars content into Disney theme parks in Anaheim, Orlando, Paris and Tokyo.

Driven by a tremendously talented creative team, Lucasfilm’s legendary Star Wars franchise has flourished for more than 35 years, and offers a virtually limitless universe of characters and stories to drive continued feature film releases and franchise growth over the long term. Star Wars resonates with consumers around the world and creates extensive opportunities for Disney to deliver the content across its diverse portfolio of businesses including movies, television, consumer products, games and theme parks. Star Wars feature films have earned a total of $4.4 billion in global box to date, and continued global demand has made Star Wars one of the world’s top product brands, and Lucasfilm a leading product licensor in the United States in 2011. The franchise provides a sustainable source of high quality, branded content with global appeal and is well suited for new business models including digital platforms, putting the acquisition in strong alignment with Disney’s strategic priorities for continued long-term growth.

The Lucasfilm acquisition follows Disney’s very successful acquisitions of Pixar and Marvel, which demonstrated the company’s unique ability to fully develop and expand the financial potential of high quality creative content with compelling characters and storytelling through the application of innovative technology and multiplatform distribution on a truly global basis to create maximum value. Adding Lucasfilm to Disney’s portfolio of world class brands significantly enhances the company’s ability to serve consumers with a broad variety of the world’s highest-quality content and to create additional long-term value for our shareholders.

The Boards of Directors of Disney and Lucasfilm have approved the transaction, which is subject to clearance under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act, certain non-United States merger control regulations, and other customary closing conditions. The agreement has been approved by the sole shareholder of Lucasfilm.

Note: Additional information and comments from Robert A. Iger, chairman and CEO, The Walt Disney Company, and Jay Rasulo, senior executive vice president and CFO, The Walt Disney Company, regarding Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm, are attached.

Investor Conference Call:

An investor conference call will take place at approximately 4:30 p.m. EDT / 1:30 p.m. PDT today, October 30, 2012. To listen to the Webcast, turn your browser to http://thewaltdisneycompany.com/investors/events or dial in domestically at (888) 771-4371 or internationally at (847) 585-4405. For both dial-in numbers, the participant pass code is 33674546.

The discussion will be available via replay on the Disney Investor Relations website through November 13, 2012 at 5:00 PM EST/2:00 PM PST.


As we just announced, The Walt Disney Company has agreed to acquire Lucasfilm and its world class portfolio of creative content – including the legendary Star Wars franchise – along with all of its operating businesses, including Industrial Light & Magic and Skywalker Sound.

George Lucas is a visionary, an innovator and an epic storyteller – and he’s built a company at the intersection of entertainment and technology to bring some of the world’s most unforgettable characters and stories to screens across the galaxy. He’s entertained, inspired, and defined filmmaking for almost four decades and we’re incredibly honored that he has entrusted the future of that legacy to Disney.

Disney has had a great relationship with George that goes back a long way – with Star Wars theme attractions in our parks in Anaheim, Orlando, Paris and Tokyo. This acquisition builds on that foundation and combines two of the strongest family entertainment brands in the world. It makes sense, not just because of our brand compatibility and previous success together, but because Disney respects and understands – better than just about anyone else – the importance of iconic characters and what it takes to protect and leverage them effectively to drive growth and create value.

Lucasfilm fits perfectly with Disney’s strategic priorities. It is a sustainable source of branded, high quality creative content with tremendous global appeal that will benefit all of Disney’s business units and is incredibly well suited for new business models, including digital platforms. Adding the Lucasfilm IP to our existing Disney, Pixar and Marvel IP clearly enhances our ability to serve consumers, strengthening our competitive position — and we are confident we can earn a return on invested capital well in excess of our cost of capital.

Star Wars in particular is a strong global brand, and one of the greatest family entertainment franchises of all time, with hundreds of millions of fans around the globe. Its universe of more than 17,000 characters inhabiting several thousand planets spanning 20,000 years offers infinite inspiration and opportunities – and we’re already moving forward with plans to continue the epic Star Wars saga.

The last Star Wars movie release was 2005’s Revenge of the Sith – and we believe there’s substantial pent up demand. In 2015, we’re planning to release Star Wars Episode 7 – the first feature film under the “Disney-Lucasfilm” brand. That will be followed by Episodes 8 and 9 – and our long term plan is to release a new Star Wars feature film every two to three years. We’re very happy that George Lucas will be creative consultant on our new Star Wars films and that Kathleen Kennedy, the current Co-Chair of Lucasfilm, will executive produce. George handpicked Kathy earlier this year to lead Lucasfilm into the future. She’ll join Disney as President of Lucasfilm, reporting into Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn and integrating and building the Star Wars franchise across our company.

Our successful acquisitions of Pixar and Marvel prove Disney’s unique ability to grow brands and expand high-quality creative content to its fullest franchise potential and maximum value.

We’ve leveraged Pixar’s terrific characters and stories into franchises across our company – from feature films to consumer products online games, major attractions in our theme parks, and more.

The 2006 Pixar acquisition delivered more than great Pixar content — it also delivered the means to energize and revitalize the creative engine at Walt Disney Animation – which was crucial to our long term success. Animation is the heart and soul of Disney and our successful creative resurgence will be on full display this weekend when Wreck-It-Ralph opens in theaters across the country.

Our acquisition of Marvel three years later combined Marvel’s strong global brand and world-renowned library of characters with Disney’s creative skills, unparalleled global portfolio of entertainment properties, and an integrated business structure that maximizes the value of creative content across multiple platforms and territories. Our first two Marvel films – Thor and Captain America grossed a total of more than $800 million at the box office. This year, Marvel’s The Avengers grossed more than $1.5 billion to become the world’s third highest grossing movie of all time – and an important and lucrative franchise for us.

We’re looking forward to a robust slate of new Marvel movies – starting with Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World next year, followed by Captain America: The Winter Soldier in 2014. And, as we announced previously, Joss Whedon is writing and directing Avengers 2 and developing a Marvel-based series for ABC.

Pixar and Marvel both fit our criteria for strategic acquisitions – they add great IP that benefits multiple Disney businesses for years to come, and continue to create value well in excess of their purchase price. The acquisition of Lucasfilm is in keeping with this proven strategy for success and we expect it to create similar opportunity for Disney to drive long-term value for our shareholders.

We’re clearly excited about this move forward. We believe we can do great things with these amazing assets….we have a proven track record of maximizing the value of our strategic acquisitions…. and we’re poised to do the same with this one.


Lucasfilm, and more specifically the Star Wars franchise, fits perfectly within the Disney portfolio of intellectual properties and the strategic and financial implications of this acquisition are compelling. Our team has spent a tremendous amount of time evaluating this deal and we have concluded we are uniquely positioned to maximize the value of Lucasfilm’s IP in a manner that can generate substantial value for our shareholders above and beyond the purchase price.

In this transaction we will acquire rights to the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises, a highly talented and expert team, Lucasfilm’s best-in-class post production businesses, Industrial Light and Magic and Skywalker Sound, and a suite of cutting edge entertainment technologies. Our valuation focused almost entirely on the financial potential of the Star Wars franchise, which we expect to provide us with a stream of storytelling opportunities for years to come delivered via all relevant platforms on a global basis.

There are a number of ways our company will derive value from Lucasfilm’s intellectual property—some of which can be realized immediately while others will accrue to us over time. George and his team have built Star Wars into one of the most successful and enduring family entertainment franchises in history, as well as one of the best selling licensed character merchandise brands in the U.S. and around the world. However, we believe there is great opportunity to further expand the consumer products business. Today, Star Wars is heavily skewed toward toys and North America. We see great opportunity domestically to extend the breadth and depth of the Star Wars franchise into other categories. We also plan to leverage Disney’s global consumer products organization to grow the Star Wars consumer products business internationally.

Let me note that in 2012 Lucasfilm’s consumer products business is expected to generate total licensing revenue that is comparable to the roughly $215 million in consumer products revenue Marvel generated in 2009, the year in which we announced our acquisition. With renewed film releases, and the support we can give the Star Wars property on our Disney-branded TV channels, we expect that business to grow substantially and profitably for many years to come.

We also expect to create significant value in the film business. We plan to release the first new Star Wars film in 2015, and then plan to release one film every two to three years. These films will be released and distributed as part of our target slate of 8-10 live-action films per year, and will augment Disney’s already strong creative pipeline for many years to come. Lucasfilm has not released a Star Wars film since Revenge of the Sith in 2005. However, adjusted for inflation, as well as growth in both international box office and 3D, we estimate the three most recent Star Wars films would have averaged about $1.5 billion in global box office in today’s dollars. This speaks to the franchise’s strength, global appeal and the great opportunity we have in the film business.

We also expect to utilize Star Wars in other businesses including Parks & Resorts, in games and in our television business. These initiatives were also considered in our valuation.

Under the terms of the agreement, Disney will buy Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion, consisting of approximately fifty percent cash and fifty percent in Disney stock. Based on Friday’s closing price of Disney stock, we expect to issue approximately 40 million Disney shares in this transaction. We continue to believe our shares are attractively priced at current levels and therefore, we currently intend to repurchase all of the shares issued within the next two years– and that’s in addition to what we planned to repurchase in the absence of the transaction.

Our valuation of Lucasfilm is roughly comparable to the value we placed on Marvel when we announced that acquisition in 2009. Our Lucasfilm valuation is almost entirely driven by the Star Wars franchise, so any success from other franchises would provide upside to our base case. I realize it may be a challenge for you to quantify our opportunity given the limited amount of publicly available information. But to give you some perspective on the size of the Lucasfilm business– in 2005, the year in which the most recent Star Wars film was released, Lucasfilm generated $550 million in operating income. We’ve taken a conservative approach in our valuation assumptions, including continued erosion of the home entertainment market, and we expect this acquisition to create value for our shareholders.

In terms of the impact on our financials, we expect the acquisition to be dilutive to our EPS by low single digit percentage points in fiscal 2013 and 2014 and become accretive to EPS in 2015.

Our capital allocation philosophy has been consistent since Bob took over as CEO. In addition to returning capital to shareholders, we have invested, both organically and through acquisitions, in high quality, branded content that can be seamlessly leveraged across our businesses. Our acquisition of Lucasfilm is entirely consistent with this strategy, and we’re incredibly excited by the prospect of building on Lucasfilm’s successful legacy to create significant value for our shareholders.

UPDATE (9:42PM ET): George Lucas and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy discuss the Disney buyout in this video:

UPDATE (10/31 — 4:12AM ET): Disney Chairman/CEO Robert Iger talks about the Lucasfilm acquisition:

A List of Every Animated Short That Qualified For An Oscar This Year

Here is the the complete list of 57 animated shorts that qualified for the 2012 animated short Oscar, courtesy of Michael Sporn. Bear in mind, anyone can qualify a film for Oscar consideration if they follow the proper steps so being on this list doesn’t signify any kind of special accomplishment.

The 57 shorts is a huge jump from 2010 when only 33 shorts qualified for the award and 2011 when 45 shorts qualified.

Members of the Academy’s animation branch have now voted on these shorts. Their voting will result in a shortlist of 10 films. Then, a second round of voting will whittle down the shortlist to the five Oscar nominees.

Animated Fragments #20

It’s been a while since the last installment of Animated Fragments so here’s another random assortment of short animation tests, exercises and other brief pieces that I’ve run across recently:

AD by Adam Dedman (UK)

Bassawards “Call for Entries” spot by Lobo (Brazil)

Animated walks and runs by Michael Schlingmann (UK)

“Cuckoo” by Alexander Pettersson (Sweden)

Run Cycle by Matt Abbiss (UK)

This Weekend in New York City: Pictoplasma Conference

Pictoplasma will stage the fourth US edition of their character design conference this weekend in New York City. The two-day conference (Nov. 2-3) will include artist talks, animation screenings and a roundtable discussion focused around the use of character design in contemporary culture. The full conference schedule can be found on the Pictoplasma website.

Speakers will include the standard mix of artists from the animation, illustration and design communities. The artists who will speak at this edition are Buff Monster, Gemma Correll, Jason Freeny, Mark Gmehling, Anna Hrachovec, David OReilly, Ryan Quincy, Julia Pott, Andy Rementer, Adrian Sonni, Olimpia Zagnoli, Steven Guarnaccia, Taylor McKimens and Mark Newgarden.

Online registration is $190 HERE. The conference will take place at the Parsons’s Tishman Auditorium (66 W. 12th Street, NY, NY).

Sunday in LA: “Wonderful Days” at USC with Peter Chung

Eight years ago, I wrote about a remarkable-looking Korean animated feature I’d seen that, to this day, hasn’t been officially released in the US: Wonderful Days (aka Sky Blue). The film is an visually dazzling, action packed sci-fi thriller, beautifully realized by its director Kim Moon Saeng.

Next Sunday, Nov. 4th at USC, director Kim, animator Peter Chung and animator/director/historian Tom Sito will screen the film at the Ray Stark Theatre on campus and then discuss its production, the Korean animation industry and independent feature production on a panel immediately following. The screening starts at 2pm, the Q&A at 4pm, with a reception at 5:30pm. This event is free and open to all. For more information, click here.

Per-Minute Production Rates Are Climbing on Kickstarter [UPDATED]

Transparency in the crowdfunding community is highly valued, and animators tend to be most successful when they are upfront about the length of the animation they plan to produce with the monies raised. The unintended result of this openness is that the opaque world of animation budgets has begun to fade away.

When Cartoon Brew published a crowdfunding report last month, we cataloged the per-minute costs of various high-profile animation projects on Kickstarter. The costs ranged from $3,333 to 13,750 per minute of completed animation.

Now, we look at two more recent Kickstarter projects that have recently achieved their goals: Michel Gagné’s short The Saga of Rex and Masaaki Yuasa’s short Kick-Heart. At first glance, the two projects could not be more different: Gagné is a former feature film animator who works largely by himself from a home studio, while Yuasa is producing his short using a full crew and traditional production pipeline at Tokyo-based Production I.G..

However, both films share one thing in common: they have budgeted their animation at $15,000 per minute. Gagné set his goal at $15,000 to produce one-minute of film, with each additional minute produced at a $15K increment. Yuasa asked for $150,000 to produce a 10-minute short. This is not a particularly high per-minute production rate for the type of animation that they’re creating, but it is on the upper end of rates for Kickstarter animation campaigns.

The takeaway: not only are more projects being successfully crowdfunded nowadays, but the per-minute rate for A-list animators is growing alongside it. Even with the aid of digitial technology, animation like the kind that Gagné and Yuasa produce remains a laborious, hand-crafted process. It’s encouraging that the backers of their campaigns recognize this since a decent per-minute production rate is essential for crowdfunding to make a sizable impact in the world of animation production.

UPDATE: Michael Gagné has written an insightful blog post on Kickstarter explaining the complex production process for full animation. He also explains that though he’s asking for $15,000 per minute, after Kickstarter/Amazon fees and rewards, he only gets to apply about half of that amount to animation production:

When I worked at Don Bluth Studios, we were expected to create roughly 3.5 seconds (5 feet of 35mm film) of rough character animation a week. And that was only the rough keys. Some of the star animators produced up to 10 seconds a week. To be completed, the animation still had to pass through several hands. No wonder feature quality traditional animation typically cost between $80,000 and $1,000,000 per minute to produce within the studio system.

Although the goals on my Kickstarter project are set at $15K per minute, this won’t be the amount I’ll be getting for the production. Kickstarter and its partner, Amazon.com, keep 10% of the proceeds. Then, around 40% of the budget is applied towards the rewards and shipping cost. So roughly, I am left with around $7.5k per minute.

Now, to produce the film with the quality I want to achieve, I estimate that I will be working roughly 50 hours a week over a 10-week period, for each minute I create. Add to this, 7 weeks building and designing the campaign (that includes doing the animation test), running the campaign (which is turning out to be nearly a full time job), and a full month of work, fulfilling the rewards (packaging, printing, shipping, drawing, etc)—an estimate based on talking with several people who are dealing with their own successful campaigns—and you will see why I’m calling this a labor of love.

BOOK REVIEW: The Art and Making of Peanuts Animation

I’ll be posting a Holiday Gift Guide next month, but one book leapt out of the pack and I want to give you the heads-up right now. I just received a copy of Charles Solomon’s The Art and Making of Peanuts Animation (Chronicle Books) and found it a wonderful surprise.

Not only a visual delight – original cels, backgrounds, storyboards, animation drawings, Schulz model sheets and scripts, behind the scenes photos, television station publicity materials – but Solomon’s text is goes deep into the making of these landmark specials (and theatrical features) with new information and interviews with noted participants, including Lee Mendelsohn, Phil Roman, the late Bill Melendez and Bill Littlejohn – and many others including the voice actors. The text is loaded with great inside information and I particularly appreciated how Solomon tied the influences of UPA and earlier animation to the Peanuts shows – and how these Charlie Brown specials have influenced important directors and creators of animation working today.

The bottom line: the book is great fun and highly informative. I never thought a book about Peanuts specials could be so enlightening and entertaining. Bravo, Mr. Solomon, the Schulz estate and the editor/designers at Chronicle for a job well done. You’ve done Mr. Schulz and Mr. Brown proud. The book goes on sale Nov. 14th.

In conjunction with the publication of this book, the Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa California is hosting an exhibition of rare animation art over this holiday season. Don’t miss an appearance and panel with Producer Lee Mendelsohn and author Charles Solomon on Saturday December 1st to discuss the films. Here’s the Museum’s Press release:

The Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center is highlighting the artifacts that made this possible with an exhibition featuring 16 original never-before-displayed Peanuts animation drawings and cels, including five cels rescued from Schulz’s 1966 studio fire.

The Art of Peanuts Animation: Production Cels from the Museum’s Collection runs now through Sunday, February 3, 2013. Timed to coincide with the November 7, 2012 launch of the new Chronicle book The Art and Making of Peanuts Animation by Charles Solomon, this exhibit includes rare original production cels from animated Peanuts classics: A Charlie Brown Christmas; It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown; and A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. Visitors will also see cels from numerous other animated specials from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, and view selected full-length animated specials in the Museum’s theater.

Rare Cels Survive Fire at Schulz’s Studio
Several of the animation cels in the Museum’s collection survived a fire at Schulz’s Coffee Grounds Studio in 1966. These original cels from the animated television specials It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and A Charlie Brown Christmas were donated to the Museum by a childhood friend of Schulz’s son, Craig, who recovered the cels from the studio after the fire.

Programming Events:
Saturday, December 1 at 1:00 pm
Join Lee Mendelson, executive producer of the classic Peanuts animated specials, and Charles Solomon, internationally respected animation historian and author of the new Chronicle book The Art and Making of Peanuts Animation, as they talk about the making of Peanuts animated specials.

The Charles M.SchulzMuseum opened in August 2002 to fulfill its mission of preserving, displaying, and interpreting the art of Charles M. Schulz. The museum carries out this mission through changing exhibitions and programming that: build an understanding of cartoonists andcartoon art; illustrate the scope of Schulz’s multi-faceted career; communicate the stories, inspirations and influences of Charles Schulz; and celebrate the life of Charles Schulz and the Peanuts characters.

The Charles M. Schulz Museum is located 50 minutes north of San Francisco by car on Highway 101. The Museum is located at 2301 Hardies Lane, Santa Rosa, California, 95403.

Weekdays Monday thru Friday (except Tuesdays*) 11am – 5pm
Saturday & Sunday 10am – 5pm
Closed Tuesdays*
*Open every day throughout the summer (Memorial Day through Labor Day)

Free – Museum Members, Children 3 and under
$5.00 – Children 4-18, college students with valid I.D. card, and Seniors 62+
$10.00 – Adults

Charles M. Schulz Museum & Research Center • 2301 Hardies Lane Santa Rosa, CA 95403

Here’s a trio of original cels in the book – and now on display at the Schulz Museum (click to enlarge):

“The Snow Queen” Official Trailer

No, not Disney’s Frozen – This is the Russian version of The Snow Queen, of which we posted a teaser from back in February. Here’s the latest “official trailer” for the film, this one playing up the “comedy” elements.

The Snow Queen will be released in Stereoscopic 3D and was produced on a budget of $7 million (US$). Moscow’s Wizart Animation is the producer/production company. More information and artwork can be found on the official Snow Queen web site.

“Maps” by Maxwell Sørensen

Music video for These United States, directed and animated by Philadelphia based stop-motion animator Maxwell Sørensen. Maxwell told us how he created the piece:

It’s a hybrid of the handmade stuff I usually do and the computer stuff I’ve been getting into more recently. Basically I photographed handmade characters and many fabric textures and then put everything back together in the computer. About 80% of this project was done in After Effects with a little bit of Illustrator and Photoshop work along the way….and a ton of rendering at the end.

Happy 102nd Birthday, Tyrus Wong!

Animation concept artist and Disney Legend, Tyrus Wong is celebrating his 102nd birthday this week (though his actual birthday was yesterday Oct. 25th). You can send Tyrus a birthday greeting yourself here or better yet, on the Facebook page set up to support Pamela Tom’s feature length documentary (currently in post production). Alice Davis (Marc’s widow), animator Tony Anselmo and Minnie Mouse voice Russi Taylor have left video greetings on the page.

Tom’s film, Tyrus Wong:Brushstrokes in Hollywood is the first in-depth portrait that “explores the life and art of 101-year old pioneering Chinese American painter, muralist, lithographer, kite builder, and Disney Legend”. According to her website:

The movie shares Tyrus’s remarkable journey as one of the very first Chinese Americans to make a living in art and film during the earliest days of moviemaking. Despite numerous obstacles, like the Exclusion Laws and rampant racism, audiences will witness Tyrus’s long, illustrious, and diverse career, including his ground-breaking work at Disney on the classic film Bambi, and his nearly 30 years at Warner Bros. and other studios creating the look for dozens of notable classic movies with some of the most famous directors in Hollywood’s Golden Era. The film includes interviews with John Canemaker, Don Hahn, Andreas Deja, Eric Goldberg, Paul Felix, Charles Solomon and Alice Davis and appearances by Marc Davis and Frank Thomas.

While the film tells the story of an exceptional artist and inspiring individual, it also sheds light on the dramatic and untold story of the Chinese American experience in the 20th century. The film includes a powerful scene in which Tyrus visits the Angel Island Immigration Station in the San Francisco bay, where he first arrived and was detained in 1910.

I wish her success in bringing this story to the screen. In the meantime – Happy Birthday Tyrus Wong!

(Note: Wong will be appearing in person to discuss his career at the CTN Expo in Burbank California next month. More details here).

Sony Releases Genndy Tartakovsky’s new short “Goodnight Mr. Foot”

If you’ve been wondering what Genndy Tartakovsky’s been doing this past summer besides hitting the road to promote Hotel Transylvania and prepping to direct a CG Popeye – wonder no longer. Tartakovsky wrote, directed and animated himself a brand new hand-drawn HT companion short entitled Goodnight Mr. Foot – in all of four weeks.

And now the short is getting an exclusive theatrical run starting tomorrow in Regal theaters nationwide before showings of Hotel Trasnsylvania, as a special Halloween treat for Holiday audiences. From the Sony Animation Press release:

Entitled “Goodnight, Mr. Foot,” the short stars none other than the legendary monster Bigfoot, and follows his adventure as he, too, checks in to Dracula’s five-stake resort in search of a little R-and-R, only to find himself faced with an enthusiastic witch-maid, eager to make Mr. Foot’s stay a memorable one.

Genndy Tartakovsky commented, “After we finished HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA I got an itch to animate! Taking inspiration from my favorite directors Bob Clampett, Tex Avery, and Chuck Jones I animated a short cartoon in the traditional 2D style. It was difficult and exhilarating all at once and I hope people will enjoy it as much as I enjoyed making it.”

To commemorate the debut of the animated short, an exclusive new collectible one-sheet—designed by Tartakovsky himself—will also be given away at all showings of HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA in Carmike Cinemas nationwide from October 26 (while supplies last).

HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA fans surfing the internet might just keep any eye out (not literally!) for a specially-created promo video popping up some time around October 31 (date TBD).

I can’t wait to see it. Here are two images the studio released from the film:

NY Premiere: “The Beginning” Doc About China’s Indie Animation Scene

There’s a strong wave of indie animators emerging from Asian countries like Japan, South Korea, and China. The latter country’s indie scene is the focus of the documentary The Beginning directed by Jess Zou of NeochaEDGE. The film, which debuts in NY next week at the China Institute (125 East 65th Street, NY, NY 10065), features profiles of twenty Chinese animators and studios who are pursuing a more independent approach in their work. The 100-minute film is in Mandarin with English subtitles. Tickets are $8 and pre-registration is required on the Institute’s website.

Artists and studios featured in The Beginning include: Ray Lei (Beijing), Sun Haipeng (Shenzhen), Liu Jian (Nanjing), Mao Qichao (Magic Animation Studio, Chengdu), Pi San (Beijing), Anytime (aka: ANI7IME) Animation Studio (Zhang Chunli, Pu Junhan, Li Weikun, Su Jingxin: Guangzhou), Seen Studio (Zhang Naowen, Aspirin, Zeng Xun: Beijing), Song Siqi (Henan)/Wang Qing (Suzhou), Li Dongzhen (Beijing), and Beijing Film Academy student animation group (Sun Yiran, Wang Xingchen, Chen Xi, Zhang Yi, and Zhang Xiadian).

“Turkeys” get Greenlit at Reel FX

Here’s another film to look forward to in 2014: Relativity Media and Reel FX have announced that they will jointly produce and finance the upcoming animated feature Turkeys. The film is being directed by Jimmy Hayward (Horton Hears A Who!) and stars the voice talent of Owen Wilson (Cars) and Woody Harrelson (A Scanner Darkly). Relativity usually releases their films through a major U.S. distributor like Universal or Warner Bros. Expect one of them to pick it up.

The full Press Release is below:

Relativity Gets Animated With Reel FX
(Beverly Hills, Calif.) October 24, 2012 – Relativity Media and Reel FX, a movie studio based in Dallas and Santa Monica, announced today that they will jointly produce and finance the upcoming animated comedy Turkeys, slated for a 2014 release. The film is directed by Jimmy Hayward (Horton Hears A Who!) and stars the voice talent of Owen Wilson (Cars) and Woody Harrelson (The Hunger Games). Turkeys will be distributed worldwide by Relativity.

Producing are Scott Mosier (Clerks), Craig Mazin (The Hangover Part II), John Strauss (The Santa Claus 2) and David l. Stern (Hotel Transylvania). The screenplay was written by Stern and Strauss with a rewrite by Mazin.

Turkeys is an irreverent, hilarious, adventurous buddy comedy where two turkeys from opposite sides of the tracks must put aside their differences and team up to travel back in time to change the course of history – and get turkey off the menu for good.

Ryan Kavanaugh, CEO, Relativity Media said, “This agreement is a culmination of years of friendship and a continued desire to collaborate between Relativity and Reel FX. We are delighted to broaden our film release slate to include Turkeys which features an exciting roster of voice talent, a powerhouse creative team and an original witty storyline.”

Steve O’ Brien, Chairman and CEO of Reel FX said, “We’ve always been fans of Relativity, and have watched them evolve over the years into a major force in the film and entertainment business. We are excited to start our relationship with Relativity by partnering with Ryan and his team to bring Turkeys to audiences around the world.”

Reel FX is a fully-integrated movie studio that develops and produces both animated films and live action movies. In addition to Turkeys, Reel FX’s growing animation slate includes Day of the Dead (Guillermo del Toro producing) and Beasts of Burden (Aron Warner and Andrew Adamson producing). Reel FX’s own film slate follows almost 20 years of experience as an award-winning one-stop studio for animated content including films, special attraction/live venue projects and interactive projects for companies like DreamWorks Animation, Fox, Warner Bros. and Universal Studios.

Up next, Relativity will release the outrageous Movie 43 (in theatres January 25, 2013), the film adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ best-selling Safe Haven (in theatres February 8, 2013), the comedy 21 and Over (in theatres March 1, 2013), the corporate espionage thriller Paranoia (in theatres October 4, 2013) and Luc Besson’s darkly comedic action film Malavita (in theatres October 18, 2013) with EuropaCorp. Relativity is currently in post-production on Scott Cooper’s gritty dramatic thriller currently-titled Out of the Furnace.

Relativity Media is a next-generation studio engaged in multiple aspects of entertainment, including full-scale film and television production and distribution, the co-financing of major studio film slates, music publishing, sports management and digital media. Additionally, the company makes strategic partnerships with, and investments in, media and entertainment-related companies and assets.

To date, Relativity has produced, distributed, and/or structured financing for more than 200 motion pictures. Released films have accumulated more than $17 billion in worldwide box office receipts. Relativity’s recent films include: House at the End of the Street, The Bourne Legacy, The Raven, Mirror Mirror, Act of Valor, Haywire, Immortals, Tower Heist, Bridesmaids, Limitless, Hop, Cowboys & Aliens, Battle: Los Angeles, Little Fockers, The Fighter, The Social Network, Salt, Despicable Me, Grown Ups, Dear John, It’s Complicated, Couples Retreat and Zombieland. Upcoming films for Relativity include: Movie 43, Safe Haven, 21 and Over, Paranoia and Malavita. Thirty-nine of the company’s films have opened to No. 1 at the box office. Relativity films have earned 60 Oscar® nominations, including nods for The Fighter, The Social Network, The Wolfman, A Serious Man, Frost/Nixon, Atonement, American Gangster and 3:10 to Yuma. Sixty-two of Relativity’s films have each generated more than $100 million in worldwide box-office receipts.

RelativityREAL, Relativity’s television arm, has more than 70 projects in active production, including 17 original series that are currently airing or will air in the upcoming television season including Police Women for TLC, Coming Home for Lifetime and The Great Food Truck Race for Food Network. Relativity also owns and operates RogueLife, Relativity’s digital content studio is developing original content for the web and creating sustainable online platforms and communities. Relativity Music Group, a music division of Relativity, provides music supervision, music publishing catalogues and soundtrack services for films produced and/or distributed by Relativity Media and other major Hollywood studios. Relativity Sports is a fast-growing sports agency dedicated to providing high profile athletes a full range of professional development services including contract negotiation, marketing, media relations, fan management, brand building with entrepreneurial ventures, community involvement and personal services. Clients include NBA, NFL and MLB athletes. For additional information, please visit www.relativitymedia.com.

Reel FX is a fully integrated movie studio that develops and produces both animated films and live action movies. The company’s development slate includes Day of the Dead, Turkeys, and Beasts of Burden.

Reel FX launched its feature length development and production slate in 2010 after almost 20 years of experience as an award-winning one-stop studio for the creation of animated content including films, special attraction/live venue projects, and interactive projects for companies like DreamWorks Animation (Rise of the Guardians), Fox, Warner Bros. and Universal Studios.

Since starting the development and production of feature films, Reel FX has aligned itself with some of the most recognized and respected names and brands in the entertainment industry for its projects including Cirque Du Soleil: World’s Away (Cirque Du Soleil, James Cameron, Andrew Adamson, Aron Warner), Day of the Dead (Guillermo Del Toro, Jorge R. Gutierrez), Beasts of Burden (Dark Horse Comics, Andrew Adamson, Aron Warner) and Turkeys (Jimmy Hayward, Craig Mazin).

Monday in LA: Halloween Spooktacular 2012

Be prepared, foolish mortals! For the fifth year in a row, I will be screening a selection of spooky, kooky, strange and creepy Halloween-related cartoons – using vintage prints in 16mm and 35mm that range from ghoulishly red Eastmancolor to gorgeously garish Technicolor. Everyone from Koko The Clown to Casper the Friendly Ghost will be there in costume and on the big screen, along with black and white classics starring Oswald Rabbit, Flip The Frog, Bosko, Bimbo, Scrappy, Puddy, Popeye – even Waffles and Don – and all the famous monsters of filmland. Join us for a lot of fun (and candy) next Monday October 29th at 7:30pm, at The Cinefamily (at Silent Movie Theatre) on Fairfax Avenue in Hollywood. Advance tickets on sale here!

Meet Mecha Mickey and the Disney Super Sentai

We’ve come a long way from Steamboat Willie. Apparently Disney and toy-maker Bandai are working together on a Voltron-like toy robot called King Robo, and according to the storyline, Mickey Mouse and his friends supposedly pilot the robot. The toy, part of the Bandai’s Chogokin line, will be released March 2013, and unlike most Disney toys, it will be aimed at ages 15 and up. If successful, the property could spawn an anime series.

And speaking of Steamboat Willie, apparently the robot’s head transforms from a toy version of the paddle boat from that landmark film! Click the image below to see how each Disney-mecha character transforms into the body and limbs of “King Robo”.

(Thanks, Liam Scanlan)

Friday in LA: Rare Stop-Motion Classics

I think all twelve programs compromising the latest Platform International Animation Festival are terrific – not a bad show in the batch. Otomo, Pes, Disney’s Paperman crew, The Cartoon Network creators, the festival screenings and animators panels. One program in particular has me very jazzed – a tribute pioneering stop-motion animator Ladislas Starewitch.

Platform will present a rare screening of four 35mm archival silent short films (accompanied by live music) by this influential surrealistic filmmaker. Starewitch, who lived most of his life in Paris, made films using unique, bizarre puppets and on occasion, manipulated real (dead) insects. The program will include: 1921′s L’Epouvantail (The Scarecrow), 1923′s Amour Noir et Blanc (Love in Black and White), 1927′s La Reine des Papillons (Queen of the Butterflies), and 1925′s Les Yeux du Dragon (Eyes of The Dragon).

This program is actually the opening night event for Platform. It’s on Friday night, Oct. 26th, at 7:30pm in the Redcat Theatre (at the Disney Music Hall, Downtown L.A.). For more information and tickets, click here.

Run Wrake


Run Wrake (1965-2012)

Bummer news out of England. British animator Run Wrake died on
Sunday morning from cancer at the age of 47. He is survived by his …

FRIDAY: MoMA celebrates Sally Cruikshank

I’ve been a fan of the crazy independent cartoons of Sally Cruikshank since Quasi at the Quackardero first burst on the screen back in the 1970s. At a time “underground comics” were at their peak – here came an underground cartoon animator. Evoking the surreal worlds of 1930s Van Beuren and Fleischer rubber hose masterpieces, Cruikshank has carried the torch for depression-era “funny animal” cartoons ever since. I’m delighted that The Museum of Modern Art is hosting a tribute to Cruikshank this Friday featuring newly preserved prints of her cel-animation classics, including 1975′s Quasi (since elected to the National Film Registry in 2009), Make Me Psychic (1978), and Face Like a Frog (1987, featuring an original soundtrack by Oingo Boingo), plus a sampling of her commercial movie credits, Sesame Street spots and several of her own versions of Fleischer’s Screen Songs – using doo-wop music of the 1950s.

Sally Cruikshank will be introducing her films at the screening on Friday, October 26, 2012, 7:15 p.m. (A repeat showing sans Ms. Cruikshank will also occur on Monday, October 29th, 2012 at 4:00pm). This tribute is part of MoMA’s Preservation Festival which includes many restored cartoon shorts interspersed among the many programs. Both the Cruikshank tribute and the Preservation Festival are highly recommended!