Saturday, January 31, 2009

Pixar's Super Bowl Up Ad is Up...

Looks like the Mouse has released their Super Bowl Up commercial on just a bit early to give you a tease...

Take a look at Carl and Russell in the worlds first senior citizen action-adventure film!

The Panda Wins The Fight With The Robot For The Annie...

At this years Annie Awards, "Kung Fu Panda" beat out "Wall-E" in every category that they were up against each other...

You can't really blame it on the little guy. After all, he was designed to collect garbage and that Panda, well he was trained to kick butt by an all out Kung Fu master! It was my favorite animated film this year on the Blue Sky Disney Top Ten list, but I love both films so I'm in no way upset by this, but I now have to wonder about the Oscars...

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Fox Takes The Lion From The Mouse...

It appears that the Mouse's decision to no longer make Narnia films is the Fox's gain...

Twentieth Century Fox that is. Fox will now co-produce with Walden Media on future Narnia movies now that Walt Disney Pictures has chosen to not renue their relationship.

So now “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” will be coming with the Fox logo instead of that lovely castle.


A 200,000,000 Dog...

It's taken longer to get there and is still a disappointment more than Lasseter and the Suits at the Mouse would like to admit, but "Bolt" passed the two hundred million dollar mark yesterday(that's 200,000,000 for you UCLA graduates!).

The film has had a steady growth rate overseas and will wind up a modest hit, but a hit none the less. The little white dog is a step in the right direction for Disney animation and those that didn't go and see it in theaters will have a chance to realize they made a mistake in March. This was the beginning of Disney rebuilding its reputation and that takes time... part two will be the DVD release and the next step will be that little animated film coming out on Christmas day...

Artwork by Brooks Campbell.

This Christmas Prepare To Go Back In Time...

When you leave the theater after seeing Disney's new animated release this Christmas, the first thing you're going to do is come home and start looking through your DVD collection. You're going to swear that you've seen this before... in a good way, I mean. It's going to seem like a wonderful film that you could have sworn must have been nestled between "The Lion King" and "Pocahontas" that just happened to get lost in the marketing. Perhaps you were out of the country during its release or perhaps you weren't interested in Disney films back then and must have forgotten about it.

That's the feeling you'll get.

Or at least that's what I'm getting the vibe for with all the feedback I'm getting. I've been hearing a lot of great things coming out about "The Princess and the Frog," the first hand drawn animated movie from the Mouse in over half a decade. The overwhelming amount of compliments that it gets is that it feels like a throwback to the 90's. In terms of feel, the animation quality and most of all... the story.

There's a lot riding on this film. While "Bolt" was the first film to have Lasseter's complete attention since the Mouse purchased the Lamp, it's this film that will have critics and audiences alike taking a much closer look at Disney's animated future. And we're not just talking animation, but what types of animation... as in CG or hand drawn. The Suits up in Burbank are going to be watching this one closely and if you love hand drawn, then you'd better go see it a lot. Over and over... cause this one is the test case. This one is the one that's supposed to prove hand drawn has merit. Five years after Eisner released the last 2D animated film from the Disney Studio comes an example of what can be done if you don't have bean counters deciding plot details. This time there will be no excuse. The film will live or die based on the appeal of how good the story is. I have no doubt that the art and design will be top notch. The story will be what animation fans will judge and if it's good they'll go and see it again and again... and if you like it, then that's what I suggest you do. Because if you want Disney to have another hand drawn film in 2012 or 2013 then that's what it'll take.

So come Christmas, when you come out from seeing this little throwback to the 90's... if you like it then get back in line. Let's all show Eisner how wrong he was for closing shop on hand drawn animation and selling all those wonderful animation desks.

Now that would be a good story...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

No... (Part Three)


Ok, now it was never my intention to turn my worry about Disney screwing up classics into a mini-series, but that's what appears to be happening...

And again, this doesn't mean I'm against a remake/prequel/sequel or anything else. In fact, I understand the concept that their working from and can see how it could be a great film if done right. That's the key...

If. Done. Right.

And I'm not dead set against McG, even if I've never been a fan of anything he's done. The guy clearly has an eye for visuals, I just don't think he's had a script worth using as toilette paper so far. And from the sounds of IESB's review of the script by Bill Marsilli, this isn't exactly a sterling example of how to do it right. And I'm not trying to rag on Marsilli, I happened to have really liked Deja Vu. It doesn't sound totally bad, in fact, several parts of it sound like they could be interesting. I really do "get" what they're trying to do with this project. I do.

They're trying for a grand adventure and that's something I love. My favorite kind of films are those(Raiders of the Lost Ark). My favorite parts of Disneyland are those(Adventureland, NOS, Frontierland). They want something that is epic and can continue in a series of films. From the review of this script they've gotten a lot of it right and wrong. And I agree with the reviewer that you can go oh so wrong with too many montages. He's correct when he says that if you have to have so many flashback/montages to explain what's going on then there's a problem. A couple are fine. Three would be pushing it. But something like ten? Do the Suits know how confusing that will be for an audience? Actually, I think so... At least I hope so. I've heard that the project is out to other writers. It sounds like they have some interesting ideas, but the script needs another pass. How about John Logan, David Benioff or Mark Protosevich? Better yet, go with Disney's gold team when it comes to remaking something: Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio.

But Will Smith? Come on...

I believe that since Captain Nemo is an Indian, how about go with a dynamic lesser known actor? Someone like Sendhil Ramamurthy, Adrian Grenier or some other actor that fits the part? I know Hollywood Suits want as much risk aversion as possible when ponying up millions of dollars for a film, which is why a name like Smith's is being mentioned. But, "The Fresh Prince" doesn't look Indian and his persona will distract from the character, not add to it. How about some of that global marketing that Iger was talking about when it comes to Disney in markets like China and India? You know, India? Where Nemo is from... how about attaching an actor that would appeal to them? Just another thought from someone who Suits don't have to listen to and don't want to... but that's my two cents.

I really do want this project to succeed and not be another sterling example of Hollywood's ability to take something with potential and send it crashing to the ground in a blazing ball of fire. Let's hope that whoever does the rewrite does it right this time... oh, and then let's suggest someone give McG a nice smack across the face to knock some sense into him regarding casting...

Monday, January 26, 2009

Blue Sky Buzz (Tokyo): The Sun Also Rises In The East...

Let me tell you a story...

A Toy Story.

Yes, the rumors you've all heard are true. At least somewhat true. Let me unpack that for you...

The Oriental Land Company has decided that the next attraction that Tokyo DisneySEA will be getting is going to be a variation of DCA's Toy Story Midway Mania. Boy was that a mouthful! And yes, it will be going into the American Waterfront port of the park, but it appears to not be going where some people have thought. Most thought that it would be wedged somewhere in the Victorian themed New York area of this section, when it will most likely be placed in the nostalgic and decidedly more rural Cape Cod section. Again, this is still in the early stages, so things could change. For those of you that have seen the area, the American Waterfront section was really without any attraction(read: ride) until the expansion that brought the Tower of Terror to the park. That still left the Cape Cod area a beautiful, but attractionless area of the park. No more. Or at least soon it will be no more. Planning is underway to have this be the next ride that is announced. WDI is/has been designing the area in which this attraction will go and should everything go according to plan, you should expect an announcement about it later this year.

I know many of you are fretting over the loss of the "Soarin' Over the Med" type of attraction that was being planned for the Mediterranean Harbor section. Unfortunately the cost of that attraction as well as a couple other factors killed that idea for the time being. Like many other projects though, it's not as if it will never happen. There is a place planned and carved out for it in that section and nothing is going in there as of now, the Imagineers still plan on installing this project in the park once OLC Suits give them the go ahead sometime in the near future. From what I hear, and it's not written in stone, but I'd say a good time line would be around the 30th anniversary of the Resort. But in the meantime there's plenty to keep them busy.

Sadly, the UEC that was supposed to be built in another part of country didn't meet the OLC's feasibility reports and with the slowdown in the economy it practically killed WDI's attempt at using Japan as a launching pad for an entirely new experimentation in themed parks. It wasn't on the grand scale that you would have expected from something like Tokyo DisneySEA, but it was on that level as far as quality goes. It appears Jay Rasulo and his colleagues at TeamDisney Burbank will have to look elsewhere for this new endeavor. And it won't be in Shanghai because that will be a Disney Park, Old School. Well, with a dash of really cool tech, but that'll be announced soon enough. Maybe Singapore then? We'll see...

There are some plans that the Resort is working on for the Tenth Anniversary of the park, but those are still very fluid. The final working model for the celebration should be done by summer and we should have some surprising announcements by fall. Hopefully the economy doesn't throw any monkey wrenches into the situation. I'll have more to follow on the upcoming events at Disney's only franchised parks in a few weeks, give or take a few weeks...


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Going Back To "Old School" Mars...

Or why I loooove Andrew Stanton...

Not in that way. Shaadup!

Andrew Stanton spoke during a writers panel held at the Santa Barbara Film Festival and as has been the case lately, John Carter came up.

Here's the cliff notes:

It will be live-action, but it's not going to be a stylized version. Almost as if you dropped in a National Geographic documentary film crew on the red planet and discovered a long, lost civilization.

The project is huge and is a great challenge for him.

It will be a Walt Disney Picture(as we mentioned before) not a Pixar film, but being as Pixar is now Disney that shouldn't even need to be mentioned.

No plans for 3D, but Disney will probably pressure him(and they will, I'm sure).

The second draft of the script is done and casting will begin soon.

And my favorite bit of news is John Carter will be a Civil War soldier, which means if you know your Edgar Rice Burroughs, then you'll understand that Stanton is keeping it a faithful adaption. I've read a few adaptions of this and everyone tried to make it a "modern" John Carter set in present day events. They just didn't get it... and Andrew Stanton does. Which is why I loooove him.


Hat Tip to Ain't It Cool News.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Up Poster Up...

Yahoo! Movies has put up the new "Up" poster from the Lamp's 2009 release...

I like it.

It's much better than the "Bolt" posters that were just character shots, this at least conveys something of what the movie will be like.

Go over and give it a looksie...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Oscar Likes Animals & Robots...

It appears that a Robot, A Dog and a Panda will compete for the Best Animated Picture Award at the Oscars this year...

Good odds for the Mouse.

And naturally, a Bat was shut out because it was just too popular, I guess. If you missed the rundown on what was nominated for what, here are the main nominations:

Best Picture:

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button



The Reader

Slumdog Millionaire

Best Director:

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - David Fincher

Frost/Nixon - Ron Howard

Milk - Gus Van Sant

The Reader - Stephen Daldry

Slumdog Millionaire - Danny Boyle

Best Animated Picture:


Kung Fu Panda


Best Animated Short Film

La Maison de Petits Cubes - Kunio Kato

Lavatory - Lovestory - Konstantin Bronzit

Oktapodi - Emud Mokhberi, Thierry Marchand

Presto - Doug Sweetland *

This Way Up - Alan Smith, Adam Foulkes

Best Original Screenplay:

Frozen River - Courtney Hunt

Happy-Go-Lucky - Mike Leigh

In Bruges - Martin McDonagh

Milk - Dustin Lance Black

Wall-E - Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon, Pete Docter

Best Adapted Screenplay:

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - Eric Roth, Robin Swicord

Doubt - John Patrick Shanley

Frost/Nixon - Peter Morgan

The Reader - David Hare

Slumdog Millionaire - Simon Beaufoy

Best Actor:

Richard Jenkins - The Visitor

Frank Langella - Frost/Nixon

Sean Penn - Milk

Brad Pitt - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Mickey Rourke - The Wrestler

Best Supporting Actor:

Josh Brolin - Milk

Robert Downey Jr. - Tropic Thunder

Phillip Seymour Hoffman - Doubt

Heath Ledger - The Dark Knight *

Michael Shannon - Revolutionary Road

Best Actress:

Anne Hathaway - Rachel Getting Married

Angelina Jolie - Changeling

Melissa Leo - Frozen River

Meryl Streep - Doubt

Kate Winslet - The Reader

Best Supporting Actress:

Amy Adams - Doubt

Penelope Cruz - Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Viola Davis - Doubt

Taraji P Henson - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Marisa Tomei - The Wrestler

* Honor's pick for what will/should win the Academy Award.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Competition In 2009: Dream Marketing...

Yahoo! Movies has a bunch of great shots from Dreamworks Animation's "Monster's Vs. Aliens" film that comes out in March...

I'm fond of these particular one-sheet posters of the characters. I like the marketing campaign Katzenberg and company are using and the rumbles I'm hearing make it look as though this film will be on the "Kung Fu Panda" side of things and not the "Bee Movie" side of things...

Hat Tip to Animated News.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Without Tights...

It came to my attention when posting about the Mouse's new line up over at Toon Disney, errr Disney XD, that a lot of their line up are super-heroes. Superheroes that don't belong to Disney and it represented a huge hole in their catalog of films that have come out in the past or are scheduled for release in the future...

Perhaps you've seen the news about Warner Bros. halting all comic book related productions last week? I certainly hope this doesn't screw up the next big production they have coming out, "Green Lantern" but rather is more of a refocusing of the company's strategy on guys running around in tights. It seems the common notion among brainiac Suits right now is that Superheroes have become a genre just like Action, Adveneture, Thrillers, Horror, Sci-Fi and others. I guess when Warner looked at the profits they'd made this year they noticed those silly comic book characters generated close to 15% of their income. So now they seem to think it's no longer just a "kid" thing. These guys could have talked to me and saved a whole lot of times and money... sheesh!

Of course, this doesn't mean they totally get it now that "The Dark Knight" has given them a stiff shot of pop-culture reality. Jeff Robinov, the head of production at Warner happened to mention that now all their properties were going to be brooding and dark. He still didn't get it. Dark Knight succeeded because it was a great adaption, but were they to do the same to Supes I don't think the success would be replicated. A brooding Man of Steel would more than likely turn off the comic book fans as well as general audiences. As I've stated before, if you want a great Superman film then get Brad Bird to write and direct it and then just get out of his way... but they ain't listening to me. Trust me, I know having been in pitch meetings with some of these guys.

Anyway... it seems that Warner now realizes what a gold mine it was buying National Periodicals/DC Comics back in the early 70's. A bargain today, really. And well, Marvel has their own studio practically and a distribution deal primarily through Paramount for the foreseeable future. So where does that leave the Mouse?

I mean, the number one and two comic book companies are taken. So it's not likely there will be anything coming from them. But there are genuine characters and stories that are not owned by the Big Two that they could purchase. I mean, even small independent comic companies have produced comics that have been great at the box office or great critically. Everything from "Men in Black" to "Road to Perdition" have come from small companies with big talent. So the idea would be, if the Disney Suits want to pursue a few characters/comics that they can turn into cash cow franchises then this is the route. But what characters and what comics? Well, Blue Sky Disney has compiled a list of ten properties in the world of comics that would be ripe for the rodents in TeamDisney to pick.

Some of these properties are in development at other studios right now while others are lying in the dark waiting to be discovered. Someone should make these stories into films and if Disney is smart, they'll be the ones to do it...

In no particular order:

The Umbrella Academy - The 2008 Eisner Award winner for Best Limited Series from Dark Horse Comics, written by Gerald Way and illustrated by Gabriel Ba is about a group of superheroes that gather together after the death of their adoptive father, who was a rich, eccentric millionaire that was in reality an alien from another planet. He gathered these super-powered beings together to save the world from an unknown menace. This could be Disney's "Hellboy". The comic it's closest to is "Doom Patrol." Hopefully Universal won't exercise the option it has with Dark Horse and the Mouse can step in...

The Bozz Chronicles - Written by David Michelinie and illustrated by Bret Blevins, this is an old and little known one from the 80's(1986 to be exact)... Released only as a six issue mini-series from Epic Comics, "Bozz" tells the story of an alien that crash lands on Earth in turn of the century Victorian London, he's depressed, constantly contemplating suicide due to being stranded here amongst what he deems to be dim-witted savages. A prostitute named Mandy,convinces him to become a private detective and solve crimes to keep his superior intellect occupied. Think of this as the "X-Files" meets "Moonlighting" by way of "The Night Stalker" only told from an alien's point of view or an alien Sherlock Holmes versus the paranormal. A truly fun read that was lost along the way. It's just waiting to be discovered(Robert Zemeckis is now at Disney, perhaps he should go back and revisit this like he did a couple years ago)...

Deathblow - Written and illustrated by Jim Lee and Brandon Choi, this story is sort of like Marvel's "The Punisher" with the regenerative powers of "Wolverine" and some of the psionic powers of "Kitty Pride" with religious overtones. This would more than likely be released through Touchstone Pictures as the tone is uber-violent. The rights to this one are murky, because Lee sold the Wildstorm company to DC several years ago and it's unknown if he sold all the characters to them as well. That said, it'd be a really cool adventure with Deathblow or even his former Navy Seal buds known as "Team 7."

Criminal Macabre
- Follows a character named Cal McDonald, created by Steve Niles that's a sort of Philip Marlowe for the paranormal. This character would be closest to "Constantine" in the comic book universe. The stories are deeply graphic and very dark so Touchstone Pictures would have to be the ones releasing it, but if you like Horror-Noir then this would be right up your alleyway.

Mr. Monster - Michael T. Gilbert's darkly comic tale of the worlds greatest monster hunter. A wonderfully pulp superhero that seems drawn from the pages of "Doc Savage," "The Spider" or "The Shadow," Dr. Strongfort Stearnis is the world's greatest expert in the occult. When he puts on his superhero tights he becomes a champion of justice against the world of the dark... Monsters beware.

Youngblood - Created by Rob Liefeld, the group known as Youngblood is a very high-profile team of superheroes that are sanctioned, administrated and marketed by a branch of the American Government. Unlike "Watchmen" which also takes a view of "What if" super powered beings actually existed, Youngblood takes a more positive approach where these heroes are treated like superstars and professional athletes. The comic this is primarily like is "The New Teen Titans" series by George Perez and Marv Wolfman, which is ironically what inspired Liefeld to create it in the first place. The characters would make a great film adaption and possibly give Disney its own X-Men(though younger and more representative of the Titans).

Danger Girl - This comic book created by J. Scott Campbell and Andy Hartnell is a tongue in cheek satire of the spy genre. Imagine it as the Bond Girls meets Charlie's Angels and Charlie is kind of like 007 himself or at least he looks a heck of a lot like Sean Connery. The series is full of action and outrageous villains wrapped in over the top adventures. It would be a very fun romp through the world of spies and spiettes.

Alien Legion - This title is an old one from the early days of Epic Comics created by Carl Potts and Alan Zelenetz with the amazing art of Frank Cirocco, it follow a military unit called Force Nomad, comprised of the worst of the worst losers in the universe, essentially an outer space version of the French Foreign Legion. This title would be a marketing bonanza for the Mouse with franchise and merchandising possibilities beyond measure... oh, and did I mention the stories were good too? For the little boy that wanted to travel the stars with his jetpack and shoot his raygun, this one is for you.

Fathom - I know that this looks like it's just a bunch of cheesecake, but don't let those beautiful girls on the covers fool you. Created by writer/artist Michael Turner, Fathom tells the story of a young girl with amnesia named Aspen, who turns up on board a cruise ship that vanished for ten years, in a story that is one part "The Abyss," one part "Man From Atlantis" and another part mystery soap opera, we follow Aspen and those around her as she finds out about her past and our world's future. The plot is incredibly intricate and extremely detailed, click on the link if you want to know all the details. This is a project I could see James Cameron working on, because it's so heavily influenced by his style of film making. Who knows, if it works out you might see an attraction in Tokyo DisneySEA after it's released...

100 Bullets - A gritty crime drama written by Brian Azzarello and illustrated by Eduardo Risso, it's like "Road to Perdition" or "A History of Violence" and would be one of those more "mature" adaptions. There are no men in tights walking around in this comic. Perhaps the closest other comic to this is "Sin City" as both follow the noble and bad in doing what is often ugly and sometimes good. Disney needs to get the rights to these Film Noir graphic novels and then call Michael Mann to adapt them. Did you hear me, Dick Cook?