Tuesday, August 31, 2010
If you've been to DCA over the summer since World of Color premiered, then you've seen a noticeable change in the atmosphere...
It's not just the legion of walls or visible details. The new nighttime show has changed the perspective of how most people view the Disneyland Resort's Second Gate. The show has made people who never thought about coming under those ugly entryways take the journey past them. And when here, many of them have actually liked much of what they've found. Don't worry and think that the Suits are now going to stop the Extreme Makeover because it's not needed. That's not the perception. If anything, this will help Imagineers when asking for a few extra bucks for a project. It may even restore a few lost details that have been pushed back.
But back to that atmosphere. I've heard a lot of people that have seen WOC actually say they preferred it to Fantasmic!, which I never thought I'd hear. Now, I'm not saying it's better or worse, I like both shows for different reasons. One is enclosed and intimate with stage performers and the other is large in scale and filled with technological wonders. I know some people are upset at the lack of narrative elements to the show, but Steve Davison's show still has a story. It's changed since the testing phase where certain things worked and others that they thought would, didn't. The character that pulled all those scenes together, Squirt, still makes a muted, but surprising appearance. But the show is divided into emotional themes. Five themes to be specific: Adventure, Friendship, Courage, Fear and Love. I won't break them apart scene by scene, but if you watch the show, you'll be able to tell where one theme ends and the other transitions in. And the park's water extravaganza isn't the only thing that is transitioning here.
Come next week, Disney's Wall Land goes into high gear, and it doesn't let the pedal off the gas until well into next year. The front entrance will go under the knife at the beginning of the year, and guest will enter/exit through that side entrance into the Golden State area. The next couple of years are going to be more confusing and difficult as people are prompted in all directions as they avoid the massive amount of construction. But when the walls come down at varying times, between April of next year and the April after that, a lot will have changed in this park. And it'll be a Disney Park, a decade later than it should, but it'll finally be here.
What you've been seeing in the parks for the last two months is just a preview...
I know that sounds like an adult night club, but I'm really looking forward to getting this...
Finally, the Blu-Ray Special Edition of "Fantasia/Fantasia 2000" will be released on November 30th in a 4 disc collection that fans like myself will be able to enjoy in all its amazing detail. If you want to know what all these discs include, the Mouse has put out a detailed press release:
I'm there because my HDTV and Blu-Ray were expecting this baby the day they were born...
Releasing for the First Time in Over a Decade
To Astound the Eyes and Ears of a New Generation!
Highly-Anticipated Hi-Def Debut of Disney's Acclaimed Masterwork and the Modern Magnum Opus it Inspired
Fantasia & Fantasia 2000: 2-Movie Collection Special Edition
On 4-Disc Blu-ray™ Combo Pack and 2-Disc DVD
November 30, 2010
BURBANK, Calif., September 2010 -- Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 -- the magical, animated musical masterpiece and the contemporary classic inspired by it -- debut in highly anticipated Blu-ray High Definition and DVD 2-Movie Collection Special Editions on November 30. Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment is opening the Disney vault to be able to present these two films that broke the boundaries of imagination in the highest quality possible.
The Fantasia and Fantasia 2000: 2-Movie Collection Special Edition will be available in a 4-disc Blu-ray Combo Pack ($45.99 SRP) and a 2-Disc DVD ($39.99 SRP) for a very limited time only. The Blu-ray transformation of Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 will reveal the magic, music and majesty of both films as never before experienced, with state-of-the-art picture restoration of the original Fantasia and pristine 7.1 Digital Theater System Hi-Def Surround Sound. The Blu-ray combo pack is a tremendous value featuring, in addition to the two films in two different formats, a wealth of bonus features.
Among those Blu-ray special features is the highly requested Academy Award® nominated short Destino. Available for the first time ever on Blu-ray, the seven minute film is the result of a unique collaboration between Walt Disney and Salvador Dali begun in 1946, but put on hold due to studio financial concerns. In 2003, Roy E. Disney worked with a team of modern day animators to complete the film as a tribute to Walt's pioneering artistic vision. Accompanying the highly anticipated short is an all-new feature length documentary entitled Dali & Disney: A Date With Destino, which explores the origins of the relationship between Disney and Dali, their collaboration on Destino, and ultimately how the film came to fruition so many years after its inception.
Fantasia, an unprecedented and magnificent feast of music and animated images, was initially released by the Studio in 1940 as a "road show" release. The following year, at the 14th Annual Academy Awards, Fantasia earned two Special Awards. The first was given to Walt Disney and associates for their outstanding contribution to the advancement of the use of sound in motion pictures, being the first commercial film released in multi-channel sound using a process called Fantasound, and the second to conductor Leopold Stokowski and his associates "for... unique achievement in the creation of a new form of visualized music... thereby widening the scope of the motion picture as entertainment and as an art form."
Considered avant-garde during its time, Fantasia has gone on to become one of the most popular movies of all time and today is considered a classic. In 1990, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." Featuring the Philadelphia Orchestra, conducted by Stokowski, this groundbreaking film, which consists of animation set to eight musical pieces, is narrated by Deems Taylor and includes an appearance by Mickey Mouse (voiced by Disney himself).
Equally impressive is Fantasia 2000, the awe-inspiring extravaganza of sight and sound, executive produced by the late Roy E. Disney. Featuring an array of celebrity hosts including Steve Martin, Bette Midler, James Earl Jones, Penn and Teller, Angela Lansbury, Itzhak Perlman and Quincy Jones, the film, like its predecessor, expertly visualizes classical music compositions with various forms of animation and live-action introductions. Fantasia 2000 is primarily performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and conducted by James Levine.
Synopsis: The dreams and visions of Walt Disney come to life in Fantasia, which blends music and film magic into an exhilarating movie-going experience. Unforgettable images are brought to life by some of the world's best music, and highlighted by the comedy of Mickey Mouse as a troublemaking sorcerer's apprentice, along with the beauty of winged fairies and cascading snowflakes, the majesty of Noah's ark and even plump hippos performing ballet in tutus.
Motivated by his uncle's foresight, Roy Disney continued the magic with Fantasia 2000 which begins where its predecessor left off. There are seven completely new segments, and viewers watch a bustling Depression-era metropolis in the style of Al Hirschfeld's famous cartoons, a flock of flamingos with slapstick yo-yo talents, an ark full of animals gathered by Donald Duck as Noah's first mate, and musical life breathed into a family of flying humpback whales.
Fantasia DVD Bonus Features:
-New Audio Commentary with Disney historian Brian Sibley
-Disney Family Museum (running time: approx. 5 minutes) - Walt's daughter Diane Disney-Miller takes viewers on a tour of the new Disney Family Museum in San Francisco, California featuring a very large exhibit on Fantasia and most importantly, the Schultheis notebook with long lost Fantasia production notes found in more recent years in the walls of a convent.
Fantasia Blu-ray Bonus Features:
Everything on the DVD plus:
-Disney View - This viewing mode maximizes the Blu-ray viewing experience with a 16 x 9 aspect ratio. Original artwork created by a Disney artist, in a style that complements the beauty of the film.
-The Shultheis Notebook: A Disney Treasure (running time: approx. 14 minutes) - An in depth look at the recently discovered Schultheis Notebook. The detailed log was created by Herman Schultheis, an effects man on Fantasia, and intricately breaks down the film from a technical view. Many of the special effects used in Fantasia were a mystery to modern day animators until this notebook was recovered.
-Interactive Art Gallery and Screensavers - Viewers can explore the artwork of Fantasia as never before, in HD resolution with unique Blu-ray interactivity and programming.
-Audio Commentaries from Fantasia Legacy Collection: With executive producer Roy E. Disney, conductor James Levine, animation historian John Canemaker, and Scott McQueen, manager of film restoration. Audio commentary with interviews and story note recreations by Walt Disney, hosted by John Canemaker.
Fantasia 2000 DVD Bonus Features:
-Musicana: Walt's Inspiration for a Sequel (running time: approx. 10 minutes) - This documentary reveals rarely-seen art created for Musicana, a late 1970's project intended as a Fantasia sequel with a focus on exploring other cultures via their greatest musical compositions. Viewers are offered a look at the origins of pieces that were started by Walt, such as "The Emperor and the Nightingale" which was then taken over by a very young John Lasseter. Ultimately, Musicana was stopped to begin production on Mickey's Christmas Carol, but the memories of this piece still live on with the animators who conceived it.
Fantasia 2000 Blu-ray Bonus Features:
Everything on the DVD plus:
-Dali & Disney: A Date With Destino (running time: 82 minutes) - This feature length documentary explores the collaborative relationship between Walt Disney and Salvador Dali, revealing how and why the Destino short came to fruition under the lead of Roy E. Disney in 2003 so many years after its inception in 1946.
-Destino (running time: approx. 7 minutes) - The legacy of Walt Disney and Salvador Dali lives on in this highly anticipated short film.
-Disney's Virtual Vault -- BD-Live Feature
-Original DVD Bonus Features from Legacy Collection
-Audio Commentaries from Fantasia Legacy Collection (total running time: 84 minutes): With executive producer Roy E. Disney, conductor James Levine, and producer Don Ernst. Audio commentary with the directors and art directors for each segment.
About Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment Combo Packs (Blu-ray + DVD in a single package): To provide consumers with unprecedented quality, value and portability of their favorite Disney classics, in 2008 WDSHE pioneered the Combo Pack - Blu-ray Disc(s) plus a DVD in a single package. Classic Disney titles released as Combo Packs include Sleeping Beauty, Pinocchio and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
The Fantasia and Fantasia 2000: 2-Movie Collection Special Edition Blu-ray™ + DVD Combo Pack is priced at $45.99 SRP and the 2-Disc DVD set is priced at $39.99 SRP.
Monday, August 30, 2010
Tokyo DisneySEA will get the classic Disneyland show in spring 2011...
Come April, the Japanese will have their own version of this show and it'll be on steroids. Not only will this show be in the round, it's going to be a pier where it can be seen from all sides. That means a larger viewing area is available and the capacity for seeing this show is 20,000 (by contrast, Disneyland's is approximately 9,000). Judging by how popular Disney is in Japan, I expect every spot to be filled and long lines waiting for the next show.
It's going to be interesting to see all the alterations that Steve Davison makes to the original...
Saturday, August 28, 2010
I figured since it was the weekend, I'd give you some homework...
Earlier in the month I did a post called "Channeling Success" that got a good deal of interest among the Marvel/Disney fans. There are a treasure trove of videos to watch on YouTube's Marvel Channel. I figured we could spotlight a few of them that were interesting and entertaining all at once.
If you were a fan of Joss Whedon's run on "Astonishing X-Men" then you should watch the first episode of the motion comic to his "Gifted" series run.
Bono and The Edge doing an interview about their involvement in "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark," parts One and Two.
A nice little clip of Stan Lee talking about "Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2" with some nice scenes that he narrates with that famous voice of his.
Those of you that have seen "Iron Man 2" remember that wonderful Stark Expo 74 film that was a homage to Walt Disney and his dream of EPCOT? Well, here is the actual video of it to watch without having to pay an admission ticket.
Remember when we announced that Marvel was forming their own internal television division, titled appropriately, Marvel TV? Well, here's a short discussion with Mar TV's VP, Jeph Loeb about his initial plans.
And finally, a short teaser clip for the new "Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes" that premieres next year on Disney XD.
There are many more videos of interest and I suggest you go over and take a look at all the fun stuff. You guys should really be happy I'm such a caring guy. All this Marvel news is really starting to wear at my sensibilities. I'm taking one for the team for you people by reporting all this stuff.
After all, I'm a DC Guy...
Friday, August 27, 2010
And gimmie some money...
No, I'm not talking about my inability to talk to Alain over at Disney and More in his native tongue...
Here is the French poster for "Rapunzel" that has been released. That's right, it's called by its original name internationally, but not here in America. Dang those boys for not liking Princesses!
Wait till they become teenagers, then they'll like them...
Hat Tip to /Film.
The Lamp is burning very, very bright...
On this weekend the little animation start-up in Emeryville that I affectionately/jokingly call Disney Animation North is going to be sitting in a pretty historic position. Their latest film is already Pixar's highest grossing film ever, but by the time Sunday rolls around it will be even more. If that is actually possible.
"Toy Story 3" will have made over one billion dollars by the time the Monday morning sun comes up. That's right:
$1,000,000,000.00 plus spare change. Lots of zeros, but thankfully with a positive number in front of all of them. Congratulations go out to John Lasseter and the crew, but I have to give a special shout out and thank you to Lee Unkrich. Not a bad way to start your directing career, Lee. I mean, as a solo director, of course. He's been riding sidesaddle for a good while and it's nice to see him take the reigns and ride hard. What a success. You must be on cloud 10 right now.
I can't wait to see what you have up next, sir...
Looks like the Mouse has made it official, even earlier than Sunday. Here's the official press release:
DISNEY•PIXAR’S TOY STORY 3 WILL CROSS $1 BILLION TODAY; DISNEY TO BECOME
FIRST STUDIO WITH TWO $1 BILLION FILMS IN ONE YEAR
BURBANK, Calif. – August 27, 2010 – Two weeks after becoming the highest-grossing animated film of all time, Disney•Pixar’s Toy Story 3 will cross the $1 billion mark at the global box office today, joining Alice in Wonderland as the second $1 billion film this year from The Walt Disney Studios – the first studio in history to accomplish this feat. Disney first crossed the $1 billion threshold with Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest in 2006. Toy Story 3 becomes the only animated film to reach this milestone and the seventh title in industry history.
“It’s been an incredible year as we saw the Pixar team bring Buzz and Woody back to the big screen and watched Tim Burton’s vision for Alice in Wonderland take the world by storm,” said Rich Ross, Chairman, The Walt Disney Studios. “These box office triumphs prove that creative storytelling brought to life by imaginative, inspired and talented professionals is something audiences respond to the world over.”
As of Thursday (8/26/10), Toy Story 3 tallied more than $592.9 million internationally, Disney’s largest international animated release. Latin American audiences have contributed $138 million making Toy Story 3 the highest grossing Disney film ever released in the region. Toy Story 3 is the most successful UK release in Disney history and currently stands as the fourth biggest title in territory history with $102.4 million in box office receipts so far. In Japan, the film has taken in $111.2 million and spent five consecutive weeks as the #1 movie. Toy Story 3 currently ranks as the #7 film in global box office history and domestically ranks #9 with $404.6 million in receipts to date.
Alice in Wonderland began setting records during its opening weekend (March 5-7), becoming the biggest March opening in industry history, the highest 3D opening ever and The Walt Disney Studios’ biggest opening for a non-sequel film. Internationally, the film went on to tally more than $690 million, becoming Disney’s biggest overseas release of all time and the fourth biggest title ever released overseas. Worldwide, the film took in $1.0243 billion, ranking it as the #5 film in global box office history.
I can see why they fired Dick Cook. What a lousy year the film division is having...
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Lauren Shuler Donner, producer of the X-Men series at Fox, as well as wife of Superman director Richard Donner has done a nice interview about the upcoming sequel/prequel...
Not too revealing, but some nice info about the film, as well as a little more confirmation that I may actually like the next "Wolverine" film. Go over to Crave Online and give it a read.
It starts shooting in days, starts playing next summer...
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
With each passing day we get a clearer picture of what the first films Marvel makes for the Mouse will be...
We know that they're developing "Runaways," "Doctor Strange" and possibly "Ant-Man," in addition to the sequels to "Captain America" and "Thor." Then if everything goes well, we're going to see a "S.H.I.E.L.D." film after the world becomes exposed to "Avengers."
Now comes word from Deadline Hollywood that Marvel has hired Rich Wilkes to write the screenplay adaptation of "Iron Fist" for a future theatrical debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The character has been a popular second-tier character since his debut in the early 70's. Now, if this character makes some serious green for the Mouse, maybe we'll get to see one of my all time favorite, and least known characters: "Shang- Chi, Master of Kung Fu." I would love to see that film done faithfully to series in the theme of the early Gene Day days.
But I'm looking forward to seeing Danny Rand turn those hands of his into a weapon of total awesomeness...
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Walt Disney Animation Studios has been struggling to find the success that their younger sister studio has had for the last few years...
Personally, I've liked everything they've done since Lasseter took over far better than the decade of work that came before it. I thought "Bolt" was a well crafted story and "The Princess and the Frog" was a return to classic Disney animation. Both were financial disappointments, but not huge runaway successes like the Lamp is used to having.
But if you remember, my favorite project that WDAS has done so far is the ABC special, "Prep & Landing." I think that show has all the creativity and originality that everyone was looking for when imagining what Lasseter would come up with in charge of the Hat Building. Bolt had the baggage of coming from another story and Frog was another take on the Disney Princesses. This was original and charming. And it's been a huge success. Not only was it big in the ratings, it's won a good deal of awards since it came out. And over the weekend, it won some more.
The Creative Arts Emmys were held over the weekend and the Little Christmas Special won four Emmys. Prep won for Outstanding Animated Program. It won for Outstanding Individual Achievements in Animation: Background, Art direction and Storyboard. Congratulation to all the winners, you absolutely deserve it. Now get back to working with Wayne and Lanny.
I can't wait to see those Elves again in that new short...
Monday, August 23, 2010
And here I thought Guillermo del Toro was a busy man...
If you've seen the news, David Goyer has pitched a project that he's writing as a trilogy of novels right now to Warner Bros. and they've bitten, or better to say, they've bought it. The novel, "Heaven's Shadow," which is written with author Michael Cassutt, is the first in a series (Part Two: Heaven's War, Part Three: Heaven's Fall). He will produce the films through his Phantom Four Films production company. No word yet on if he'll write the screenplays, but it's likely, him directing the projects, not so likely. But he's got so many projects there, he's not a tenant, he's part of the Warner family.
This is another in a long line of projects that the writer has set in play with the studio. In addition to writing "Batman Begins," the story for "The Dark Knight," his rejected "Flash" script, his current "The Man of Steel" script or his upcoming story idea for the third Nolan Batman film, he still seems to find time for other projects. Wow, where does he find the time? He must have a staff of social assistants to organize his life. It must be nice to feel so loved.
Or at least, so wanted...
Walt Disney Pictures has bought the spec script "Monster Witness Protection Program" by Ahmet Zappa and Michael Wilson, for a future Will Smith Jr. starring vehicle...
Wha? I know, sounds strange and it is. But the Mouse wants the script for Jaden Smith, whom is not yet attached to star. Zappa wrote a novel called "The Monstrous Memoirs of a Mighty McFearless" that Disney was planning on turning into a film. That project currently resides in a very rarely seen land in Disneyland called Development Hell-land.
Hopefully, this project won't wind up with the other Monsters...
I've always been a reader, I love the word...
Every film starts with a great or bad screenplay. When I was going to college at USC, my friend and I would read the latest scripts since we were both interns in our spare time at production companies. When he passed me along the latest, hot script and told me that it was all the buzz, I stayed up late to read it. It helped that he said it was like "Raiders, Casablanca and Lawrence of Arabia" all rolled into one. It was that day that I got introduced to Lee Batchler & Janet Scott Batchler. I remember being in Oceanography class reading "Batman Forever" while the teacher droned on about something to do with... water. I remember hearing about the Nemo script that they had written which Spielberg was supposedly interested in. I've read so many screenplays since then. But my mind always goes back to that script I read on a night I should have been studying for a midterm. And my mind always goes back to how Hollywood didn't make it. That's why when I wrote my "Unfinished Business: The 5 Best Scripts Hollywood Never Made," I included "Smoke and Mirrors." It was that good.
So, I must say that it has been my pleasure since then to have had the chance to talk to one half of the writing duo, Janet Scott Batchler and interview her about a few things. I thought you might find it interesting to hear from the screenwriter, who also now teaches screenplay writing at my Alma Mater's film school, and writes her own blog. It's always nice and informative to know what people that you respect and admire think about. What makes people who they are is the experiences they have along the way. The little moments that make up a life are always interesting, and I like finding that out about people.
So with that, here's my interview with Janet Scott Batchler...
First off, I'd like to say thanks for letting me talk to you. I've been a fan of your work since I first read "Smoke and Mirrors" while going to college at USC. My best friend gave me copy talking about the "buzz" that this script had and then he pitched it to me. Part "Raiders of the Lost Ark" meets "Lawrence of Arabia with the romance of "Casablanca." I was sold and read it in one night. That's the script that put you on the map, but how did you get to writing screenplays in the first place? Was it what you always wanted to do?
I fell into writing screenplays almost inadvertently. Lee had started off studying to be a playwright, working in musical theatre, but he didn't want to move to New York. I suggested that if he wanted to write other kinds of drama, we were certainly in the right city for that, and rather naively I suggested that we could write together. Astonishingly, it worked out.
What was your first script?
We started off with a practice script, adapting an Agatha Christie novel just to get used to screenplay format and to writing together. We then wrote a few spec TV scripts.
In regards to "Smoke & Mirrors," how did you come up with the idea?
We decided we wanted to write what was in the '90s known as a "weekend read" -- that is, a script that was so compelling that everyone in town would read it over the same weekend in advance of a script auction. We went in search of ideas we thought would make good weekend reads, and ran several of them by our writers group. Lee had read a bit about Robert-Houdin, and we put his story on the list. It was by far the one that got the greatest response from our group, so we started to write.
I know you write as a team with your husband, how do you do that? Do you each take turns writing a specific number of pages? Or is it more organic than that? Do you write an outline, a scriptment or just start with an idea and see where it leads you.
We work together at the story stage, doing a lot of brainstorming and tossing ideas around. Once it comes to the actual writing, even at the outline stage, we've found we don't work that well in the same room. We have separate offices, so we take off to write separately, rewriting each other over and over. Sometimes, once we have a full outline, we'll post the outline on the wall and sign up for the sequences we most want to do the first draft of, but each of us ends up writing every scene many times over before we're done.
Is there any script that you regretted not doing or turning down the chance to write?
I don't spend a lot of time on regrets.
People's taste tends to give you an idea of where they're coming from or their perspective take on films. What was your favorite film?
I have a few films I can watch over and over again. CASABLANCA. GROUNDHOG DAY. INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE. THE PRINCESS BRIDE.
I know that you wrote a script named "Nemo" that generated a great deal of coverage back in the 90's. With all the talk about Disney doing a new film based on "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea," first as a prequel and now as a remake, how was your take on the famous captain different?
The most recent prequel to 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA, the Disney version that you're talking about, was written by Bill Marsilii, who is a good friend of ours. Because we have written what could be competing projects, we have never read his script and never really talked to him about it, so I can't comment on how our takes might have been different. Our CAPTAIN NEMO was epic in scope and a bit dark in tone, tracing the journey of a young British boy living in India through his fantastic invention of the Nautilus and his disillusionment with the society that raised him, culminating with his turning his back on the world to become Captain Nemo when his Indian wife is killed. It's necessarily a tragedy, one we watch partially through the eyes of Nemo's best friend, a man trying tame his friend's need for revenge.
Having written one of the scripts for the Batman series, what do you think of "The Dark Knight?"
I liked THE DARK KNIGHT, especially Heath Ledger's Joker, whom I found absolutely compelling and a vivid portrayal of the idea that evil is a choice, and doesn't need a cause.
Is there any other superhero that you'd like to take a crack at?
We'd be happy to write for any superhero with a good story.
How different do you think it would be to deal with Christopher Nolan and the current executives versus Joel Schumacher and those who asked you to write the third film in that franchise?
I don't know Chris Nolan, so can't begin to answer the question. We had a lovely time working with Joel Schumacher, Tim Burton and the WB execs.
How has writing changed since you came on to the scene? What do you think of scripts that are sold today? It appears that everyone is looking for "brands," names that everyone knows. Not many studios seem to want to take the opportunity to do something original like "Smoke." The studios seem to want a sure thing, which isn't possible, but they apparently think is with all these remakes or adaptations of video games, old tv shows, ect.
I don't think writing has changed all that much, though the marketplace has certainly changed. Movies cost so much to make that people tend to want to go with the pre-sold idea, hoping it will at least give them a chance to recoup their costs. I actually don't have a problem with branded entertainment, if it's respectful to what made the property resonate with its audience in the first place, and if there's a story worth telling. But I do wish studios could run a little less on fear and take some chances on original material. As the marketplace shakes out and people figure out how movies will be distributed in the future, I expect this will start to happen again. Everything is cyclical.
Speaking of tv shows, have you ever thought of writing for television? I've noticed over the past decade or so, a great deal more film makers and stars working in television. Projects like "The Sopranos," "Mad Men" and the upcoming "Boardwalk Empire" almost have a film-like quality while being able to tell stories in a longer format that some directors, writers and actors have taken an interest in. I mean, I never thought I'd hear that Dustin Hoffman would be doing a series.
We actually started out in television for a brief time, and we've pitched a few pilots here and there over the years. We always have some pilot ideas on the back burner, and we'll pull them out and update them any time it seems they're a match with what networks and cable channels might be looking for.
Is it true that you wrote an unofficial Harry Potter guide book? Are you a fan of that series?
Yes, I am a huge fan of the HARRY POTTER books. I wrote a book called WHAT WILL HARRY DO? between the release of book 6 (HALF-BLOOD PRINCE) and book 7 (DEATHLY HALLOWS), looking at the set-ups/foreshadowing of the first six books and predicting how book 7 might turn out. (I'm particularly proud of predicting that Harry would appear to be dead, and that his friends would all think he was dead, just before the final confrontation with Voldemort.) I also appeared on an A&E special called "The Hidden Secrets of Harry Potter" that was released before the fifth movie (ORDER OF THE PHOENIX) came out; it also appears on the PHOENIX DVD extras. I have a book proposal for another book about HP, but haven't gone forward with it yet.
I know as well as a writer, you happen to also love reading. What is your favorite novel or series of books?
Obviously the HARRY POTTER books, which I have read probably half a dozen times through or more (obviously I've read the early books much more than that!). I am deeply in love with THE LORD OF THE RINGS, which I've probably read 20 or 30 times. I'm a big fan of Robert A. Heinlein's work, and have read everything he's written. Right now I'm reading THE HUNGER GAMES with my family, and breathlessly awaiting the release of MOCKINGJAY in a few weeks.
Now, I have to ask this out of my own curiosity. What projects are you working on now, if you can give us anything that's not too top secret?
We have been breaking a lot of stories recently, but haven't committed to anything I can talk about right now.
And finally, what advise would you give to those writers that are trying to break into the business? What points of advise would you give to them?
The best piece of advice I ever heard for anyone wanting to work in the biz came from Steve Martin, who told a friend asking for pointers, "Be so good they can't ignore you."
Thank you so much for your time and I really appreciate the opportunity you've given me to do this interview.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
On this day, Eighty-one years ago...
The very first "Silly Symphony" cartoon by Walt Disney, "The Skeleton Dance," was released. These cartoons became big hits for Walt and his brother. They were a marriage of sight and sound, beautiful music with creative animation and the audience loved them.
Without these, Walt would not have had the ability to experiment in other areas such as the classic character cartoons and other Symphony shorts. Many would go on to win Academy Awards and help solidify the Disney name as the standard for others to reach for. It is the push of these boundaries that would drive Walt to make the first full length animated feature. And then live-action, and then Disneyland and on and on.
And these dancing skeletons are part of the start of it...
*Swirling music notes are copyright their respective owners.
Friday, August 20, 2010
I love this...
Harry over at Ain't It Cool News talked to Bryan Singer about "X-Men: First Class" and revealed that the film will be set in the early 60's. During the actual Silver Age of Comics, and right when the X-Men comic began. And it'll have a James Bond tech feel to it with uniforms that are closer to the comic!? How awesome is that?
I've been a big fan of Matthew Vaughn's first three films as well as the fact he's married to a hot supermodel, so this only adds to my great respect for the incredibly talented director/producer. If the script is as good as the rumors are saying, this could turn into seven shades of total coolness.
I await being seduced and dazzled...
While I've always thought that Disneyland Paris is the most beautiful Magic Kingdom style park, its younger sister is the black lamb of Disney Parks...
Over at the Disney and More Blog, which you should check out quite often if don't btw, Alain has another post in his Toy Story Playland series. There are tons of great pics and videos to give you a sense as to what this new land looks and feels like at Walt Disney Studios Paris. If you've ever been to DCA, the new land in France is kind of like what A Bug's Land is here. It is nicely themed, but is lacking in terms of feeling "Disney." That should change with the addition of Midway Mania in the distant future. The time line for that attraction addition is ever changing and will depend on attendance at the park before it gets the green light.
That said, Alain's newest post gives you a sneak peak at something Disney hasn't announced yet: The Ratatouille attraction. Oh, it's not built yet, but the path leading from the Toy Story Playland goes directly toward where it will be in a couple years. Go over and take a look at some of the photos and dream of Remy.
Now, if only Iger would approve a makeover of the front entrance of this park like the one California Adventure is getting. The entrance to a Disney theme park should be a beautiful doorway, not an ugly cave.
Which is what the front of Walt Disney Studios is...
With all the Tron related stuff that's coming out soon, I thought this would be nice...
What you're looking at is the front cover/back cover for the Marvel Comics prequel to the film, "Tron: Betrayal." Pretty cool, huh? The painting, done by famous comic book artist Jock is one of several that he produced for the project. Here are the rest if you'd like to take a look at them.
By September the onslaught of Tronmania will begin to build and build until you cannot stop or avoid it.
Give in, Programs...
Hat Tip to io9.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
The tickets for the second D23 Expo will go on sell tomorrow...
If you are a Disney fan and didn't attend last years event, you really missed a great show. The Mouse really pulled off a great show, especially since it was their first one. There was great surprises, guests and an amazing show room with a great deal of beautiful WDI models.
I'm hearing that the goal of not having this in 2010 was to work on improving the quality even more for the next expo. As we get closer to the end of the year expect some exciting updates about the schedule.
Plus, at the coming Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, I can look forward to hearing from Tom Staggs instead of Jay speaking about the future of Disney Parks.
That's a big improvement right there...
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
The Disney Interactive opening cinematic for Warren Spector/Junction Point's "Epic Mickey" is out...
Looks pretty interesting. Wii only wish it was on other platforms (PS3, ehem).
The holidays should be filled with gaming...
Monday, August 16, 2010
With the modern wonder that is YouTube, we also get to hear what went on in Orlando...
The "Main Event" at Celebration V, as it was hyped between Jon Stewart and George Lucas has now been made available for all to see thanks to fans uploading this video. If you want to see/hear the thought provoking words of the Flannel Shirted One, then click below. Lucas is such a large part of our pop-culture iconography that he had to be broken up into eight parts:
Click it or do not click it.
There is no try...
It appears that Guillermo del Toro is about to enter another world...
As if the director/producer/writer wasn't busy enough, he's about to add another title to his resume: Game Creator. If you read the Hero Complex blog over at the Los Angeles Times you may have seen the article they posted on him last week. It appears that a deal is within weeks of being announced with game maker, THQ that would have the film maker creating his own line of thematic/narrative games. I look forward to playing them. If they're as fun and entertaining as his films they should be real blockbusters. Which I think is what Danny Bilson, the head of THQ has in mind. If Bilson's name sounds familiar to you, it should. He was a co-writer on Walt Disney Pictures' "The Rocketeer" back in the 90's. And he's long had the goal of creating more cinematic platforms for the company, as with the Syfy Channel's adaptation of the company's "Red Faction" game into an animated mini-series. You have to wonder if Guillermo's "Trollhunters," which was supposed to be part of that Disney Double Dare You! imprint might show up as one of the first titles. Hmmmmm.
It's not known yet as to the exclusivity of the agreement. One hopes that the games he does won't interfere with his participation in a game that will likely come from his reinterpretation of "The Haunted Mansion." That right there would be a game that Disney Interactive is salivating over doing. But of course, del Toro will have to finish working on "At the Mountains of Madness" before filming can really begin on that. Hopefully, with him as director as well. But the prospect of a truly, depth filled game along the lines of "BioShock" or "Arkham Asylum" in terms of detail, narrative and graphics would be awesome. And from reports I've heard, those games he's planning on making could get announced quite soon as well.
Let's just hope that those games don't go the way of his little shingle set up at the Mouse last year...
Friday, August 13, 2010
Today, Gary Kurtz will take part in a discussion with Ben Burtt, and model makers Jon Berg and Lorne Peterson entitled "Masters of the Empire" at Celebration V...
Tomorrow evening, the reclusive producer will take the stage for "An Hour with Gary Kurtz," in which he will wax on about his participation in the "American Graffiti," "Star Wars, and "The Empire Strikes Back" for sixty minutes. It'll be interesting to see how he deals with some issues since this is an official event sponsored by Lucasfilm. That's the organization run by George Lucas, with whom Kurtz had a falling out back in 1980/81.
To imagine how Star Wars would have ended had he been able to convince Lucas to continue with the original outline is to dream a geek's dream. Imagine if Han Solo had died in an assault on the Empire, Queen Leia would have to lead her rag tag group of Rebels in their continuing fight with the Galactic Empire, while Luke would go off and wonder the stars in exile. And he didn't have a sister named Organa. Wow, now that's much better than rehashing "A New Hope" with another Death Star, don't you think? If you'd like to read a very enlightening interview with Gary, then go over to the Los Angeles Times' Hero Complex blog. Good stuff.
Before, the Dark Times, before the Empire...
When I was a kid, heroes were larger than life. They still are today only with just one exception albeit a pretty significant one… in those days, Men were Men. They weren't pretty but they exuded their God-given male born testosterone with every ounce of testicular sweat dripping on celluloid. For a boy growing up in the 80's they were the male role-models and father figures that inspired impressionable pre-adolescent boys into shaping their adult manhoods. Those were the days of yore.
The Expendables isn't a great film by any stretch of the imagination but it knows exactly what it is trying to be and doesn't pull any punches. It tries to be the Magnificent Seven of the modern action movie but doesn't quite hit its mark. It's more like the Magnificent Four and a Half (Stallone, Statham, Lundgren, Austin, and Li). The rest of the ensemble more or less being, ahem… expendable. My friend and I once had a similar idea for a movie that would pit all of our favorite 80's action stars into one no-holds-barred-royal-rumble-
There is only one thing you need to know about the paint-by-numbers plot and that is this: These titans of manliness have all come here to chew bubble-gum and kick ass, and there is a whole lotta bubble gum to go around. When the blood and guts start flying it makes Peckinpah look like Walt Disney. If that is the kind of movie you are expecting to see you won't be disappointed. Perhaps the biggest fault with The Expendables is that it never quite lives up to itself. Arnold Schwarzenegger's cameo feels like it was thrown in just for the sake of having the three biggest 80's action icons together at last onscreen for a Hard Rock Cafe Kodak moment. It just feels like 'The Guvinator' shows up to give his quick endorsement before going back to the office. Fortunately Sly has much better things to do these days than bankrupting the state of Culifornia. I was never particularly a fan of so-called "professional" wrestling for all of its phoniness so guys like Stone Cold Steve Austin never really appealed to me but I'll take him and UFC's Randy Couture any day over any so-called leading male action star in Hollywood today just on sheer testosterone levels alone. At least Mickey Rourke showed that not all of professional wrestling is fake with "The Wrestler" but "Iron Man 2" hardly qualifies him as a bona fide action-star, more like Harley Davidson without the Marlboro Man. One look at his fugly face and you can see that his days of "9 1/2 Weeks" with the ladies are long over. Jason Statham is apparently the most masculine male action star Hollywood currently has to offer up and that's not saying too much with a resume consisting of "Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels," "Crank" and "The Transporter" series but I guess baldness apparently qualifies him in the testosterone brigade along with Bruce Willis whose days of headlining as an action star were washed up with the last "Die Hard." The truly expendable were those 80's action icons who didn't quite make the cut like Chuck Norris who for whatever reason was unable to attend Sly's little shindig. As a kid I probably watched every action film that Chuck starred in like "The Octagon," " Good guys Wear Black," "Lone Wolf McQuade" and "A Force of One." You can't think of the 80's without bringing up Chuck Norris, or the poseurs like Jean-Claude Van Damme or Steven Seagal, all of whom are conspicuously MIA. Apparently Van Dammage was offered a part but he thought the script should have catered to his ego as well as a bigger paycheck so Sly made his part Expendable.
The Expendables is a fun salute to the 80's and a throwback to the days when action films weren't trying to be politically correct and were all about blowing shit up, flexing their muscles, delivering the one-liners, kicking ass and looking cool. To that end, The Expendables is a blast, but not a slam dunk. It's worth a matinee out of pure sake of nostalgia or a rental. If The Expendables accomplishes one thing other than winning the weekend box-office it should be this: To send a message to the studios that there is a hunger for masculine male action icons who are on the endangered species list and to ensure their survival in the 21st century which has been corrupted by forgettable momma's boys and blood sucking vampires of the Twilight generation.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Now, this poster here feels like the artist was channeling "Flash Gordon" while painting "Star Wars" all the way back when...
Of course, the artist is Drew Struzan, probably the best known poster artist ever. He and Bob Peak were my two favorites growing up, but Drew was the better known. He defined the 80's poster. Over at Star Wars Official Website, they have a teaser video for the tribute to the man and his work in the documentary, "Drew: The Man Behind the Poster."
He's had an incredibly long list of beautiful artwork that he's created for many films, some that were good, a few great and even several that were real stinkers. Ahh, but the posters.
The posters were all great...
We know the problem with Suits is most have no brain, but some have no soul...
If you haven't heard the news, Warner Bros. has hired a writer to come up with a live-action/cg-animated film starring everyone's favorite rabbit, Bugs Bunny. Now, I'm not against a film featuring the famous bunny. I think it's actually a good idea, but not some hybrid cg film. I don't think a computer version of the classic character would do him any justice. A full length, hand-drawn, animated feature with a proper story could be a great way to introduce him to a new generation, while not totally offending long time fans.
And it's not a total revulsion of making it with computers, as I happen to actually think they were spot on with the new Road Runner/Wile E. Coyote cartoons that they've just started making. These are examples of how you can adapt certain characters to CG and make it work. But not all characters will work this way. I don't believe that Bugs works in CG, and I fear the bastardization of his look if they follow the same example that the new and downright horrid trailer for "Yogi Bear" does. It is another case of a studio filled with bean counters that only see numbers, but not the wake of carnage their decisions will create. These Warner Suits need to see a shrink.
That's what's up doc...
I received this travel video from the Star Tours Travel Company...
Enjoy it for your perusal and start booking today.
The future really isn't a long, long time ago...
To imagine him not being a part of the American consciousness...
Eighty-one years ago, Walt Disney applied to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for a trademark to a new character he had created to replace Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, whom he lost in a shady business deal with his former distributor. He doesn't intend that to happen again with his new one, Mickey Mouse.
And the rest was history....
There might be quite a bit of Star Wars news over the next few days...
The official Star Wars Celebration V begins today and continues through Sunday. So the Web/Net and everything else will have disproportionate amounts of news about galaxies far, far away.
The Mouse even has a part if the website set up for it, since it's being held in Orlando.
They happen to have a little place near there...