Animation Dominates the Top 20 Highest Grossing Features of 2012

Variety printed (sorry, it’s not online) it’s annual list of the Domestic Top 250 Films (of 2012) and animated features were very well represented. Of the top 20 films, six were completely animated pictures. Only three films (#17 Taken 2, #18 21 Jump Street (directed by animators Phil Lord and Chris Miller) and #19 Lincoln) had little or no animation.

The six purely animated features were #7 Brave, 10 Madagascar 3, 11. Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, 13. Wreck-it Ralph, 14. Ice Age Condinental Drift and 16. Hotel Transylvania – all grossing over $145 million apiece. The remaining films all made ample use of special effects CGI. The list of the Top 20 with U.S. grosses is listed below.

1. The Avengers $623,357,910
2. The Dark Knight Rises $448,139,099
3. The Hunger Games $408,010,692
4. Skyfall $290,904,271
5. Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2 $286,422,893
6. The Amazing Spider-Man $262,030,663
7. Brave $237,262,307
8. The Hobbit: The Unexpected Journey $228,546,604
9. Ted $218,665,740
10. Madagasgar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted $216,391,482
11. Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax $214,030,500

12. Men In Black 3 $179,020,854
13. Wreck-It Ralph $175, 990,019
14. Ice Age: Continental Drift $161,990,019

15. Snow White and the Huntsman $155,136,755
16. Hotel Transylvannia $145,321,690
17. Taken 2 $138,936,379
18. 21 Jump Street $138,447,667
19. Lincoln $134,189,097
20. Promethus $126,477,084

Just the animated films alone in the Top 20 contributed over $1 billion dollars gross – $1,150,135,597 – to the major studios involved. All told, it was an incredible year at the box office for animation. May it continue into the new year.

P.S. It may have been a financial disappointment, but Rise Of The Guardians will gross over $100 million at the US box office sometime next week. I wish more “failures” did this sort of business.

“A Monster In Paris” going direct-to-DVD

One of the most interesting looking French theatrical animated features still unreleased in the U.S. is finally coming out here – straight to video. On April 16th, Shout Factory will release the English dub of Bibo Bergeron’s A Monster in Paris on DVD and blu-ray.

Check out the trailer above, featuring voice cast including Catherine O’Hara, Bob Balaban, Sean Lennon, Adam Goldberg, Jay Harrington, and Danny Huston – it film certainly looks commercial enough to have earned a theatrical release. Certainly more that Escape From Planet Earth

Here’s the Shout Factory press release:

Venture into the delightful Parisian cityscapes 1910s and spellbound by the visually opulent family adventure of A MONSTER IN PARIS, directed and written by Bibo Bergeron (Shark Tale) and produced by world renowned filmmaker Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp and Bergeron’s Bibo Films. With an exceptional English-language voice cast of French singing sensation Vanessa Paradis, singer/song writer Sean Lennon, Catherine O’Hara (Penelope), Adam Goldberg (A Beautiful Mind), Bob Balaban(For Your Consideration), Danny Huston (Hitchcock) and Jay Harrington (Private Practice), A MONSTER IN PARIS harkens back to the classic tale of beauty and the beast, and delivers vibrant storyline packed with elegant characters, unforgettable song-and-dance musical numbers and beautiful CG animation that the whole family will enjoy! This critically acclaimed international major motion picture also features enchanting, honey-toned vocals by Vanessa Paradis and Sean Lennon, with music score by popular French singer/songwriter Matthieu Chedid (aka M) and Patrice Renson.

On April 16, 2013, Shout! Factory, in collaboration with EuropaCorp, invites kids and families across America to a whimsical world of Parisian adventure and fantasy when Shout! Factory, in collaboration with EuropaCorp, unleash A MONSTER IN PARIS on DVD and on two-disc Blu-ray™ 3D Combo Pack. The Blu-ray™ 3D Combo Pack allows viewers to enjoy A MONSTER IN PARIS on the platform of their choice and includes spectacular movie presentation on Blu-ray 3D and 2D, DVD and a digital copy of the movie compatible with PC, MAC, iTunes, iPhone and AppleTV.

A wacky inventor, his camera-crazy best friend and a madcap monkey make a massive mistake when let loose in a mad scientist’s laboratory. With lotions and potions spilling everywhere, the troublesome trio accidentally creates Franc, the product of a reaction between a common flea and one of the scientist’s mystery concoctions. What they fail to realize, however, is that this ‘monster’ is actually a soft-centered soul with an astounding talent for music.

With the help of an enchanting nightclub singer Lucille, Franc becomes the talk of the town, just as stories of Paris’s newest monster attract the attention of the egotistical police commissioner, hell bent on securing a big prize to help his battle to become mayor. The unwitting scientists and the singer must team up to protect Franc, a monster with more than a musical career to protect!

Movie presentation on Blu-ray 3D and 2D, DVD and a Digital Copy of the film

Technical Information – BLU-RAY™ 3D COMBO PACK
Street Date: April 16, 2013
Running Time: 1 Hour, 27 Minutes
Layers: (BD25)
Aspect Ratio: 1080p 1.78
Language/ Subtitle: English / English SDH
Sound: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1


Technical Information – DVD
Street Date: April 16, 2013
Running Time: 1 Hour, 27 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.78
Language/ Subtitle: English / English SDH
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1

Academy Award Nominations

This morning The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced its nominees for Best Animated Feature. The nominees are:

Brave (Pixar-Disney) Directed by Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman

Frankenweenie (Disney) Director: Tim Burton

ParaNorman (Laika) Directors: Chris Butler, Sam Fell

The Pirates! Band of Misfits (Aardman-Sony) Directors: Peter Lord, Jeff Newitt

Wreck-It Ralph (Disney) Director: Rich Moore

Nominated for Best Animated Short were:

Adam and Dog, Minkyu Lee, director (Lodge Films)

Fresh Guacamole, PES, director (PES)

Head over Heels, Timothy Reckart, director, and Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly, producer (National Film and Television School)

Maggie Simpson in The Longest Daycare, David Silverman, director (Gracie Films)

Paperman, John Kahrs, director (Disney Animation Studios)

Reactions from the nominees themselves are coming in:

From Sam Fell and Chris Butler, directors of ParaNorman

“We are overjoyed that our movie has been Oscar-nominated! We made it with the unending support of brilliant producers and an amazing crew at LAIKA, a unique and cutting-edge studio. On behalf of all of them, we are so proud that the enduring craft of stop-motion has been acknowledged by the Academy — and that the individuality of Norman himself is being celebrated.”

From Peter Lord co-director of The Pirates: Band of Misfits

“This is amazing! We tried to do something a little different with THE PIRATES, in terms of tone and comedy, and it’s just brilliant that the Academy has responded to it in such a wonderful way.”

From Wreck-It Ralph director, Rich Moore:

“To have the Wreck-It Ralph team’s passion and years of hard work acknowledged by the Academy is an honor like no other. We are so proud, so grateful – I can’t wait to congratulate everyone in-person.”

From David Silverman, director of Maggie Simpson in The Longest Daycare:

“This amazing recognition from the Academy is the craziest wake-up call I’ve ever received. I’m very grateful to Jim Brooks, Al Jean – and especially Matt Groening, for creating “The Simpsons.” They all gave me the opportunity to explore the world of pantomime with what are normally very verbal characters. I also have to give a shout-out to my parents – who I just spoke to – and thank them for allowing me to draw on the walls as a child. It kind of worked out!”

From Minkyu Lee, director of Adam and Dog:

“I am very thankful to be nominated! I couldn’t wait to share it with my wonderful crew. I kept reading the list over and over to make sure that it’s really there and I’m not imagining it!”

From Paperman director, John Kahrs:

“It’s beyond an honor to have Paperman nominated for an Oscar. I can’t thank everyone on the team enough for their passion and hard work in making this dream project a reality.”

Congratulations to all the nominees. The winners will be announced on Sunday, February 24th, 2013.

New Poster for “Epic”

20th Century Fox has just released its latest poster for Blue Sky’s next feature, Epic, coming out in May. At first glance, you might mistake it for live action teenage adventure flick. What’s your response?

I also like how the Blue Sky Studios logo is getting prominent placement in the title treatment – perhaps to differentiate it from the Dreamworks releases Fox will begin handling this year? Whatever the reason, it’s about time!

Fleischer Studios Gold

Okay historians, a treat for you today.

Animation art dealer-extraodinaire Mike Van Eaton has just come into a motherlode of vintage Fleischer Studios material, some of which will soon be up for sale (or auction). For the rest of us, Van Eaton has graciously allowed us to take a peak. This gallery below is of just a part of collection he recently acquired from the grandchildren of painter Mary Jones.

It includes inscribed photographs of Max and Dave Fleischer, model sheets of Betty Boop and Popeye, personal gag drawings from animators Dave Tendlar, George Germanetti, Tom Moore, Willard Bowsky, Gordon Sheehan, Tom Golden and “Jack” (Jack Mercer?). Click thumbnails below to enlarge:

If that little boy in Dave Tendlar’s drawing looks familiar – and even if he’s not – here’s the cartoon he appeared in, the 1936 Color Classic, Play Safe. Here’s a great Technicolor print (with French opening and closing titles, otherwise in English):

END OF AN ERA: Fred Flintstone Replaced on Fruity Pebbles Box

I’m no one to tell Warner Bros. how to license their cartoon characters (well actually I’m probably qualified… but I digress) but according to Sharon Pupel, marketing director with Post Cereals, the Worldwide Wrestling Entertainment super star John Cena will be replacing Fred Flintstone on four million Fruity Pebbles boxes starting this week.

fruity pebbles“We’ve just been talking with kids. They wanted more variety,” she said. “Fred isn’t necessarily the … coolest or [most] relevant guy for kids who we are going after.”

What!? Fred Flintstone IS the coolest (at least in the first two seasons)… This is an outrage! Fred has been fronting the cereal since 1971. It’s the end of an era!

But hold on to your Corn Flakes; don’t get your Wheaties in a bunch – it’s only for a limited-edition promotion. However, Post warns, “Cena may return to the cereal box in the fall when school is back in session”.

The official WWE Press Release, below:


Parsippany, NJ / January 8, 2013 — Beginning today (for a limited time), WWE Superstar John Cena and Bamm-Bamm will replace Fred Flintstone on the front of more than 8 million Post Fruity Pebbles and Cocoa Pebbles cereal boxes as part of a promotional partnership between Post Foods and WWE. Pebbles Cereal, WWE and John Cena started their partnership in 2012 after WWE Superstar Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson teased Cena about the brightly colored ring gear he wore, saying Cena looked like he was “running around like a big bowl of Fruity Pebbles.” This led to fans chanting “Fruity Pebbles” in arenas whenever Cena would enter the ring.

In January 2012, Post printed more than 3 million Fruity Pebbles cereal boxes featuring Cena, including a sweepstakes to meet the WWE Superstar. Partnering with John Cena to communicate the powerful taste of Fruity Pebbles cereal resulted in the highest redeeming on pack promotion in recent Post history.

“Given the strength and fit of the two properties, we knew that the partnership would be successful since both brands share common consumer demographics,” said Sharon Pupel, Director of Marketing at Post. “WWE broadcasts are largely a family viewing event with more parents watching WWE with their children than any other sports league.”

Coming off the successful 2012 campaign, Post decided to build upon the partnership in 2013 with WWE and John Cena. In addition to making Cena more prominent on the packaging, which is currently on shelves, Post has developed several other marketing initiatives to be pulsed throughout the year. For example, fans can participate in a sweepstakes via the interactive gaming site to win tickets and a VIP experience to WWE’s WrestleMania 30 in 2014; all they need is the unique code found on specially marked boxes of Pebbles cereal. During the back to school window, Post will produce another 5 million packages of Pebbles cereal featuring a fun photo app where fans can create picture of themselves with Cena.

Additionally, young fans can participate in Pebbles’ tailgating-like experiences at three major WWE events in 2013, starting with Royal Rumble on January 27. Young fans will be able to jump into a ball pit designed to look like a giant bowl of Fruity Pebbles, create “Pebbles fan” posters used to cheer on their favorite WWE Superstars in the arena, and of course, sample Fruity and Cocoa Pebbles cereal.

“It’s been a life-long dream to be on a cereal box and I’m proud to represent WWE as part of our partnership with Post,” said WWE Superstar John Cena. “It’s an incredible honor to be recognized by Post, and I’m looking forward to joining millions of families at their breakfast table across the country.”

“We are excited to have a multi-year deal with Post and see the WWE and John Cena on the front of millions of Pebbles cereal boxes all across the country,” said Andrew Judelson, Executive Vice President, Sales and Partnership Marketing, WWE. “At WWE, we pride ourselves on delivering family-friendly entertainment and look forward to activating our partnership with Post even further at key WWE events later this year.”

“John Cena is definitely a favorite celebrity among many of our Pebbles Cereal fans,” said Ms. Pupel. “We are excited that he will temporarily flex his muscle on our boxes alongside Bamm-Bamm, one of the most-loved Flintstones characters. We’re looking forward to engaging with our fans in 2013 at premiere WWE events.”

What next? Howard Wolowitz on Froot Loops?

(Thanks, Pedro Nakama)

The Walt Disney Image Problem

Last weekend, The Guardian published a long-ish piece on Philip Glass’s soon-to-debut opera The Perfect American based on the novel of the same name by Peter Stephan Jungk. The book (and it appears the opera, too) is a veritable checklist of accusations that have been leveled against Walt Disney throughout the years: he was a McCarthyite, a racist, a misogynist, an anti-Semite, a megalomaniac. It manages to come up with new fictional flaws too, like philandering and incestuous obsession with his daughters.

Jungk’s book has been described by Walt Disney biographer Michael Barrier as “infantile” and “wretched.” That is perhaps why the Guardian reported that the Disney company called Glass to ask him not to work on the opera. The article also says that the finished opera was submitted to the Disney Studios for consideration, and there was no response. Jungk, the author of the book, said that he interpreted the company’s lack of response as “a green light.”

Glass says that despite all the negative (and untrue) traits the opera attaches to Walt, his intentions were noble:

“When I started out, people thought I was going to laugh at him. But I see Walt Disney as an icon of modernity, a man able to build bridges between highbrow culture and popular culture; just like Leonard Bernstein, who could jump from a Broadway musical to a Mahler cycle.”

To me, the opera is representative of a bigger problem faced by the Disney company, and that is that the company has been unable to present an alternative narrative to the perpetual vilification of Walt Disney in contemporary pop culture. The lack of honest and easy-to-access information about Walt is precisely why a majority of teens and twenty-somethings today have a wildly distorted and inaccurate view of Walt Disney, the man.

The Disney company could do much more to humanize the founder of their company. Instead the company has taken the tactical approach that its founder must be deified. In response, they build statues of Walt using every conceivable material that is known to mankind, from bronze to Tom Hanks.

These statues end up being as one-dimensional and untrue as the negative portrayals. Today’s generation is too savvy to accept an image of Walt Disney as an irreproachable god-like entity, and so they seek their truth elsewhere. It is through this cycle that the Disney company continues to lose control over its founder’s image.

Disney animator and director Ward Kimball, the subject of my own as-yet-unpublished biography, rebelled in his own idiosyncratic fashion against the Disney company’s deification of Walt, which he felt diminished the man’s accomplishments and tainted his legacy. Ward never censored himself when he was asked to speak about Walt Disney at public functions. He made sure to incorporate stories about honest human interactions with Walt, of which he had more of than almost any other artist who worked at the company. In Ward’s stories, Walt may have used a cuss word and he may have just walked out of the bathroom after taking a shit, but he was a human being who people could recognize, understand, and most importantly, admire.

The Disney family-operated Walt Disney Family Museum, in its own way, does a great job of humanizing the founder of the company. However, the museum is not a panacea for Walt’s image problem because its impact is limited to tourists and Disney fans. It cannot combat the steady stream of misinformation about Walt from mainstream cultural sources like Family Guy and Saturday Night Live.

The Disney company itself, with its vast media reach, is in the best position to rehabilitate the image of its founder and offer a counterimage to the flood of negative portrayals of its founder. A good first step would be to acknowledge the fact that Walt Disney wasn’t a god, but a human being.

Warner Bros. New Theatrical Animation “Think Tank”

Warner Bros. is bringing back its feature animation division, starting with The Lego Movie, which comes out next year; Storks, which comes out in 2015; and Smallfoot, which comes out in 2016.

They announced yesterday the formation of a new in-house “consortium” of various writers and directors who will form a brain trust to lead the creative direction of future theatrical animated features. After the distribution mishandling of The Iron Giant, the creative debacle of Yogi Bear and the disaster of Happy Feet 2 – call me optimistic, at least the studio is making an attempt to understand the modern day animation marketplace.

Here is the complete press release:

Warner Bros. Pictures has formed a feature animation creative consortium, marking a new and innovative approach to the establishment of a diverse and far-reaching animation slate. The announcement was made today by Jeff Robinov, President, Warner Bros. Pictures Group.

The mission of the new think tank is to help develop and produce high-end animated motion pictures, with the goal of releasing one feature per year under the Warner Bros. Pictures banner. The select team of accomplished filmmakers will collaborate with the Studio to frame and guide a variety of projects from start to finish.

The artists who will be involved in Warner Bros.’ new feature animation venture are: John Requa and Glenn Ficarra, (“Crazy, Stupid, Love.,” “Cats & Dogs”); Nicholas Stoller (“The Muppets”); Phil Lord and Chris Miller (“Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”); and Jared Stern (“Mr. Popper’s Penguins”).

The filmmakers will work both individually and collectively, supporting one another artistically in the making of the films. They will not be exclusive to the Studio’s animated film productions; rather they will also continue to write and direct live-action movies. This new endeavor reflects Warner Bros.’ ongoing commitment to being a filmmaker friendly studio, which invites and fosters original projects, continually expanding the entertainment scope of its slate.

In making the announcement, Robinov stated, “Warner Bros. has an extraordinary legacy in the world of animation, including some of the most enduring characters in cinema history. Looking to the future, we have now gathered some of the best and brightest talents in the industry to help us grow and broaden that legacy. Drawing upon their imaginations and inspiration, the Studio will produce a slate of new and original animated films that are sure to delight audiences of all ages.”

The first feature in the pipeline is the upcoming 3D animated adventure “The LEGO Movie,” being directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller from their own screenplay. Bringing the globally popular LEGO construction toys to the big screen for the first time, the film is being produced by Dan Lin and Roy Lee and stars the voices of Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Liam Neeson, Will Arnett, Nick Offerman, Alison Brie, and Morgan Freeman. The animation is largely being accomplished at Australia’s Animal Logic. A presentation of Warner Bros. Pictures, in association with Village Roadshow Pictures, “The LEGO Movie” is slated for release on February 7, 2014.

Among the other projects being developed are: “Storks,” conceived and being written by Nicholas Stoller and to be directed by Oscar(R) nominee Doug Sweetland (PIXAR short “Presto”); and “Smallfoot,” to be written by John Requa and Glenn Ficarra, from an original idea by Sergio Pablos (“Despicable Me”), who is also set to direct. The films are being targeted for release in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

The development of animated features will be overseen at Warner Bros. by Courtenay Valenti, Chris deFaria and Greg Silverman. Overall look, character design and the story reel process will be housed in Burbank; however the Studio will look to partner with established animation studios for production of the films.

What say you? Will this help Warner Bros. compete in a field dominated by artist-driven films from Disney-Pxar, Fox-Blue Sky-Dreamworks, Universal-Illumination, Sony, et al?

(Thanks, Liam Scanlan)

Arriving This Week: Pete Docter’s Flipbook Tribute to the 9 Old Men

Tomorrow is the official release date of The Archive Series–Walt Disney’s Nine Old Men: The Flipbooks. It’s a pet project of UP director and flipbook aficionado Pete Docter and it’s packaged as a boxed-set of nine flipbooks, like this:


Pick it up on Amazon for $37.80.

Cartoon Funny Animals Won The War

I posted this 1943 comic book cover on my Facebook page yesterday and got quite a strong reaction from it. Seems most people have forgotten who really won World War II. It wasn’t only Captain America and Spy Smasher – They had ample help from the likes of Bugs Bunny, Andy Panda and Gandy Goose.

Courtesy of some quick research on Mike’s Amazing World website, I created a gallery of 15 comics covers from the war years (thumbnails below) – featuring popular characters from Disney, Warner Bros., Terrytoons and Walter Lantz as well as some lesser known rabbits from Fawcett and Timely. Characters from from MGM, Famous Studios and Screen Gems also did their bit – on screen.

And it wasn’t only “brand name” cartoon super-stars that helped in the war effort. Even obscure characters from obscure studios chipped in. Here’s a great example, from the Ted Eshbaugh Studio (more stuff like this is featured on the oft-plugged Cartoons For Victory Vol. 1 and Vol. 2):

Here’s the gallery of patriotic covers I spoke about:

Don’t expect to see this one on DVD anytime soon…

And now you know!

See What Famous Cartoon Voices Looked Like In Real Life [UPDATED]

Cartoon voice acting from the Golden Age of theatrical and TV animation (1930s to 1960s) was almost uniformly excellent. The actors were funny to listen to while exhibiting rigorous performance-oriented discipline. This first generation of voice actors created cartoon characters that had a warm, believable, and dare I say it, human quality.

It should be no surprise that these early voice actors were also skilled as live performers. Most Golden Age voice actors enjoyed extensive careers in film, TV and radio, quite often as character actors. The proof can be found in the following three-part series of YouTube videos created by Ray Mujica that shows rare clips of famous cartoon voice actors in live-action roles. The actors and actresses who are featured in this video series include:

  • Mae Questel (Betty Boop, Olive Oyl)
  • Billy Bletcher (Peg-Leg Pete, Spike the Bulldog)
  • Janet Waldo (Judy Jetson)
  • Alan Reed (Fred Flintstone)
  • Arthur Q. Byran (Elmer Fudd)
  • Bill Thompson (Droopy)
  • George O’Hanlon (George Jetson)
  • Hans Conried (Snidely Whiplash)
  • Bea Benaderet (Betty Rubble)
  • Arnold Stang (Top Cat)

It’s a delightful way to spend half an hour.

Part three isn’t embeddable for whatever reason, but HERE IT IS.

[UPDATE]: Reader Eric Graf points out that there are two other parts to this series:

This Was The Most-Viewed Piece of Online Animation in 2012 [UPDATED]

Here’s a bit of irony: the most-viewed piece of original on-line animation in 2012 went viral primarily because people didn’t realize it was animated. I’m talking about this video of a golden eagle snatching a toddler off the ground:

The short animated clip has been watched over 41 million times in the two weeks since it has been posted online. Both the eagle and baby are CG characters, and the piece was produced as a student exercise by Antoine Seigle, Normand Archambault, Loïc Mireault and Félix Marquis-Poulin at Montreal-based Centre NAD.

The success of this animation serves as a reminder that corporations remain clueless about what audiences want to watch online. YouTube spent $100 million dollars last year in its backward-looking attempt to create niche “channels” a la cable television. This single piece of animation, produced by students as a class exercise, outperformed the viewership of 76 of those YouTube channels. I don’t claim to have any answers as to what people want to watch online, but it’s pretty clear that the entertainment industry’s cynical top-down approach of mass-producing content for narrow demographics has become irrelevant.

[UPDATE:] Brew reader Justin Goran points out that the title of 2012′s most-viewed online animated film belongs to Fallen Kingdom, a music video parody based in an animated Minecraft world. The film was posted online on April 1st, 2012, and has currently reached over 45 million views:

“Annette” by Kevin Kidney

I’ve plugged Anaheim artist/designer Kevin Kidney and his wonderful creations, paper sculptures and blog before. Now I have a special reason.

We share a special fondness for those cool Bill Justice and X. Atencio paper cut-out opening titles for The Mis-Adventures of Merlin Jones (1964, see embed below), and a special affection for Disney icon Annette Funicello. Now Kidney has been able to use his talents to do a tribute to that papercraft animation and, at the same time, do a good deed to help to Annette and others with Multiple Sclerosis.

Kidney has created several versions of Paper Annette, one from the Tommy Kirk masterpiece, another as a hostess at the Golden Horseshoe and a third as a “pineapple princess”. The artwork is now available in endless varieties of coffee mugs, iphone covers, key chains, candy jars and even postage stamps. Every purchase goes to the Annette Funicello Research Fund for Neurological Diseases. Giving to a good cause has never been so much fun.

Click here to see the merch at the Zazzle shop for Annette’s Place store.

Below is a gallery of several of Kevin’s paper-sculpts for Mickey’s Soundsational Parade at Disneyland (click thumbnails to enlarge):

(via Los Angeles Magazine)

“The Deep End” by Jake Fried

I was quite impressed with Jake Fried’s animation when I first saw it last year, and I’m just as impressed with his latest piece, The Deep End. Fried is a painter, and he creates animation in the manner that a painter builds a canvas by layering images on top of one another. His painter’s approach to animation follows in the tradition of filmmakers like Carmen D’Avino, but the visual symbolism and graphic style are unique to him. His latest piece, which is a mere minute in length, packs plenty of replay value. Each of the four times I’ve watched it already, my eyes get lost in the jungle of imagery, and I’m sent down a new and exciting visual pathway.

Artsy, Fartsy… and Cool

Here’s a trio of new short films (each less than 2 minutes) from a few artists I admire. They might make you laugh, or think, or simply smile. But all are worth your attention.

Helvetia Rocks by Martine Ulmer and Jonas Ott

Here is a animated promo video for a Swiss music/social network website. It is all about women rocking on stage – or some such. All I know is, it’s cool:

The Hunter by Charlyne Yi and Carolyn Pennypacker Riggs

Comedian/performer Charlyne Yi (House, This Is 40) and songwriter/musician Carolyn Pennypacker Riggs (The Finches) collaborated on this sweet little animated fable. It’s Artsy and Cool – or at least I think so…

Lodden Land by Gina Thorstensen and Nacho Rodriquez

This is the “fartsy” one, a new project from Barcelona-based ThorstenCoo (Giving Me A Chance): Lodden Land, which (I’ve been told) means “hairy land” in Norwegian. Gina Thorstensen directed and built the giant puppets which Nacho Rodriquez animated.

“Moon Rock” (1970), A Rare Film by George Dunning

The career of director George Dunning will always be summed up with two words: Yellow Submarine. Directing one of the seminal animated features of the 20th century was both his glory and his curse. But Dunning accomplished much more than that. He had a noteworthy career both before and after Yellow Sub, and he is one of the very few artists who can claim to have worked at both the National Film Board of Canada and UPA.

Dunning made Moon Rock in 1970, shortly after completing the Beatles feature. The film challenges the viewer’s perception of time and space, which makes for a simultaneously baffling and exhilarating viewing experience. Historian Giannalberto Bendazzi wrote that in Moon Rock, Dunning “deals with the monsters of mass society and mass media under the cover of a science-fiction theme and a game of bright white hues.”

The film makes (slightly) more sense when one understands that Dunning based it on the concept of lateral thinking, a system of thinking championed by Edward de Bono. Dunning’s message is open to interpretation, but I think that however you chooose to parse its meaning, it’s a beautiful strange trip well worth taking.

Amid’s Most Popular Cartoon Brew Stories of 2012

Lots of wonderful, crazy, and frustrating things happened in the animation world last year, and we covered most of it on Cartoon Brew. In case you missed some of the excitement, here are the 25 stories of mine that you read the most in 2012, in order of their popularity on the site.

1. Ricky Garduno, RIP. The untimely death of this well-liked artist happened in December 2011, but word spread about his passing in 2012, especially after a tribute to Ricky was run at the end of a Family Guy episode. This was the most viewed article on Cartoon Brew in 2012.

2. Pixar’s “The Avengers”. Pageviews don’t lie: unofficial mashups of cartoon characters earn more attention online than anything the studios themselves do with the characters.

3. Digital Domain’s John Textor Brags to Investors about Exploiting Animation Student Labor. A study last year revealed that the job of CEO attracts more psychopaths than any other profession. Anyone who reads about animation execs on Cartoon Brew could’ve told you that.

4. Disney Buys Lucasfilm, “Star Wars” Franchise for $4 Billion. In the past, corporations succeeded by being creative and innovative. Today, they eliminate those risks by simply buying companies that are more creative and innovative than themselves.

5. Full Text of Glen Keane’s Disney Resignation Letter. The end of an era.

6. The Hub Hopes Men Will Start Calling Themselves “Belly Bros” and “Care Dudes”.The Hub already has one show for preschool girls that is beloved by adult men. Now they’re just being greedy.

7. A Tale of Two Titmouses: A Cartoon Brew Investigation. Why work in retail when you can work twice as hard and make less money working in an animation studio?

8. “The Sweatbox”, the Documentary That Disney Doesn’t Want You to See. Far more people saw this documentary about corporate ineptitude in 2012 than when the film was officially released a decade ago.

9. Why “The Goon” Is A Troubling Kickstarter Project. People will crowdfund just about anything nowadays, even storyreels that they can’t see for films that may never get made.

10. Advance Praise for the Book That Disney Doesn’t Want You To Read. I knew I’d written a decent biography of Ward Kimball after the Disney Company spent all of 2012 telling me to change it.

11. Stephen Colbert’s Must-See Interview with Maurice Sendak. Cranky old animation artist, meet your new friend, cranky old children’s book illustrator.

12. How Much Money Animated Shorts Earn on YouTube. How much can successful online animators earn on YouTube? Almost enough to move out of their parents’ basement.

13. Animation Teacher Faces Termination For Refusing To Sell His Students Unnecessary Books. Bad: The Art Institutes chain has a money-making scheme wherein they sell unnecessary textbooks to students. Evil: When a popular animation teacher protested the policy, he was fired from the school.

14. “Kill Me Now”: An Artist’s Plea For Help? It may have been an in-joke, but it’s more fun to imagine that an artist who worked on The Lorax wanted to kill him/herself because that’s how most of the audience felt too.

15. Meet India’s Answer to Brave Called “Kiara the Brave”. To make the film more authentic to the Pixar version, the Indian company removed Kiara the Brave’s original female director.

16. “Disasterland” Depicts Disney Characters In Adult Situations. The line is blurring between artwork created by fine artists and artwork created by fifteen-year-olds on Tumblr.

17. Interview With The Artists Who Demand Better Working Conditions At Sony Pictures Imageworks. VFX artists fighting the good fight.

18. Disney Has Halted Production On Henry Selick’s Stop Motion Feature. Sad to hear about this one. Henry Selick is a consistently interesting filmmaker whose films I enjoy seeing.

19. The Disney Purchase of Lucasfilm: What Does It Mean? There’s always a lot of questions when rich people give each other money.

20. Seth MacFarlane Profile In “The New Yorker”: 10 Revelations. The New Yorker revealed some fun facts about Seth MacFarlane, just another typical animator who lives in a $13 million mansion, dates Hollywood starlets and get spray-on tans.

21. Does A ‘CalArts Sensibility’ Exist? Wreck-It Ralph director Rich Moore sparked a fascinating discussion about the influence of CalArts in contemporary animation.

22. Report: Animators Are Raising Big Money On Kickstarter. Crowdfunding went mainstream in 2012. Animators finally have an easy way to raise money without having to sell their bodies.

23. Rebecca Sugar Is Cartoon Network’s First Solo Woman Show Creator. It took Cartoon Network only 20 years to recognize that a woman is capable of having ideas just like a man. Next thing you know, they’ll start allowing women and men to work in the same building.

24. Worst Movie Tie-In Ever: Nesquik’s Deadly “Wreck-It Ralph” Chocolate Powder. What’s the world coming to when you can’t buy artificially-flavored, chemically-enhanced drink powders without fearing for your health?

25-A. Digital Domain May Be On The Brink Of Disaster. I’m guessing this isn’t going to end well.

25-B. 300 Digital Domain Employees Lose Jobs; “Legend of Tembo” Shuts Down Production; John Textor Ousted. What did I tell ya?

(2012 image via Shutterstock)

Meet the First (Stone Age) Animators

The human desire to animate drawings may stretch further back (much further back) than a couple hundred years. French filmmaker/researcher Marc Azéma has published new research suggesting that the Paleolithic artists who created drawings in the Lascaux caves of France were also attempting to animate their drawings. There’s a subscription-only article about his theory on A shorter blog post and accompanying video below are available for viewing by all.

PREVIEW: 2013 Animated Features

This list of animated features coming out in 2013 focuses primarily on animated films produced by the major Hollywood studios set for release in the U.S. We’ve rounded it out with a few foreign animated movies of note. Stay tuned to Cartoon Brew’s homepage for extensive coverage of foreign and indie animated films throughout the year.

Escape from Planet Earth (2/14/13)
Astronaut Scorch Supernova finds himself caught in a trap when he responds to an SOS from a notoriously dangerous alien planet.

Director: Callan Brunker
Production Company: Blue Yonder Films
Distributor: Weinstein Company
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Jessica Alba, Sarah Jessica Parker, Brendan Fraser
Film Website

The Croods (3/22/13)
The world’s very first prehistoric family goes on a road trip to an uncharted and fantastical world.

Directors: Kirk De Micco, Chris Sanders
Production Company: Dreamworks
Distributor: 20th Century-Fox
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Emma Stone, Nichloas Cage, Ryan Reynolds
Film Website

Epic (5/24/13)
A teenager finds herself transported to a deep forest setting where a battle between the forces of good and the forces of evil is taking place.

Directors: Chris Wedge
Production Company: Blue Sky
Distributor: 20th Century-Fox
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Josh Hutcherson, Amanda Seyfried, Colin Ferrell
Film Website

Monsters University (6/21/13)
A look at the relationship between Mike and Sulley during their days at the University of Fear — when they weren’t necessarily the best of friends.

Director: Dan Scanlon
Production Company: Pixar
Distributor: Disney
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi
Film Website

Despicable Me 2 (7/3/13)
Gru, the girls, the unpredictably hilarious minions and a host of new characters return.

Directors: Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud
Production Company: Illumination
Distributor: Universal
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Steve Carrel, Al Pacino, Kristen Wiig.
Film Website

Turbo (7/19/13)
A garden snail with dreams of becoming the fastest snail in the world experiences a freak accident that might just allow him to realize his goal.

Directors: David Soren
Production Company: Dreamworks
Distributor: 20th Century-Fox
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Paul Giamatti, Samuel L. Jackson
Film Website

The Smurfs 2 (7/31/13)
The Smurfs team up with their human friends to rescue Smurfette, who has been kidnapped by Gargamel since she knows a secret spell that can turn the evil sorcerer’s newest creation – creatures called the Naughties – into real Smurfs.

Director: Raja Gosnell
Production Company: Sony Animation
Distributor: Columbia Pictures
Technique: Live Action/CG
Voice Cast: Katy Perry, George Lopez, Jonathan Winters
Film Website

Planes (8/9/13)
An animated adventure that follows a young crop-duster named Dusty as he looks to compete in a perilous around-the-world race.

Director: Klay Hall
Production Company: Disneytoon Studios
Distributor: Disney
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Jon Cryer, Carlos Alazraqui
Film Website

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2: Revenge of the Leftovers (9/27/13)
Flint Lockwood now works at The Live Corp Company for his idol Chester V. But he’s forced to leave his post when he learns that his most infamous machine is still operational and is churning out menacing food-animal hybrids.

Directors: Cody Cameron, Kris Pearn
Production Company: Sony Pictures Animation
Distributor: Columbia Pictures
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Bill Hader, Anna Faris and Will Forte
Film Website

Free Birds (formerly Turkeys) (11/1/13)

Two turkeys travel back in time to remove turkey from the Thanksgiving holiday menu.

Director: Jimmy Hayward
Production Company: Reel FX
Distributor: Relativity
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Woody Harrelson, Owen Wilson, Amy Poehler, Dan Fogler, Lesley Nicol, George Takei, Colm Meaney, Keith David

Frozen (12/14/13)
A mountain climber and a young girl named Anna journey through snowy peaks and dangerous cliffs to find the legendary Snow Queen and end the perpetual winter prophecy that has fallen over their kingdom.

Directors: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee
Production Company: Disney Animation Studios
Distributor: Disney
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff
Disney Animation Studios Website

Foreign Films

Metegol “Foosball” (Argentina and Spain)
The film tells the story of Amadeo, a shy but talented boy, and of a foosball team that is trying to get back together after having been dismantled.

Directors: Juan José Campanella
Production Companies: 100 Bares, Catmandú Entertainment, Plural-Jempsa, Antena 3 Films, Canal +, La Sexta
Distributor: Universal Pictures International
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Pablo Rago, Miguel Angel Rodriguez, Fabian Gianola
Official Website

Ernest and Celestine (French)
The story of an unlikely friendship between a bear, Ernest, and a young mouse named Celestine.

Directors: Stephane Aubier, Vincent Patar, Benjamin Renner
Production Companies: La Parti Productions, Les Armateurs, Maybe Movies
Distributor: Gkids (in the U.S.)
Technique: Hand-drawn
Voice Cast: Pauline Brunner, Lambert Wilson, Anne-Marie Loop
Les Armateurs Website

The Wind is Rising (Japan)
A look at the life of Jiro Horikoshi, the man who designed Japanese fighter planes during World War II.

Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Production Company: Studio Ghibli
Official Website

The Tale of Princess Kaguya (Japan)
A princess named Kaguya is discovered as a baby inside the stalk of a glowing bamboo plant.

Director: Isao Takahata
Production Company: Studio Ghibli
Official Website