Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Real-Life Buzz Lightyear

Briefly: I always thought that a real-life version of my favorite space ranger would look really cool. I didn't suspect that it would look this creepy. Still, it's an interesting idea. And, once you get past the eyes, the picture isn't all that bad.

This picture is by CG artist Raoni Nery.


Disney's 'Rapunzel' is Now 'Tangled'

Rapunzel, the Disney CG flick scheduled for release later this year, has been re-named. It will now be called Tangled. This is because Disney wants to market to both boys and girls, especially after the somewhat disappointing performance of The Princess and the Frog at the box office. I guess the execs figure a boy would rather see Tangled than Rapunzel...

You can see the new logo for the film, released earlier today. The film is being directed by Byron Howard and Nathan Greno (the co-director and head of story on Bolt, respectively). This classic fairy tale with a twist will take audiences “to a stunning CG fantasy world complete with the iconic tower, an evil witch, a gallant hero and, of course, the mysterious girl with the long golden tresses. Expect adventure, heart, humor, and hair, lots of hair.”

The leading lady will be voiced by Mandy Moore, while the "dashing bandit" Flynn Ryder will be voiced by Chuck's Zachary Levi. It is scheduled to hit theaters around Christmas of this year.


Lasseter's Oscar Interview

Reuters did a really great, brief interview with John Lasseter about Up at the Oscars, and about Pixar's success in general. I highly recommend reading it. It doesn't give any information I hadn't known already, but it is a great way to get excited about the mountain of Oscars that Up is sure to win! I think that Lasseter's most interesting answer was this:

I believe in research. Each movie at Pixar involves research with college professors or taking trips to learn as much as we can about a particular subject matter...I have met a lot of top chefs around the world during my travels. Each one of them has said "Ratatouille" is their favorite movie and the only movie that truly captures what they do. Auto Week called "Cars" the best car movie because the details were spot on.
Read the full interview here.
(Photo courtesy of Reuters)


Monday, February 22, 2010

'Alice' Suffering Due to DVD Release Date

Burton's Alice in Wonderland is not your typical movie. This isn't due to the creepy Chesire cat, Helena Bonham Carter's warm pig bellies or aching feet, or even Johnny Depp's make-up job. Of course, these things help, but Disney has decided to cut the time between the film's theatrical release and the DVD release from 17 weeks to only 12 weeks, hoping to boost DVD sales. And that is very out of the ordinary.

Now, this may seem harmless enough, but the theaters around town certainly wouldn't agree. Exhibitors around the world are stating their disapproval of Disney's announcement since it will severely cut into their businesses.

Two exhibitors in the UK, Odeon Cinemas (108 theaters) and Vue Entertainment (68 theaters), have already vowed to boycott the film once it is released on March 5. Odeon recently told Variety that they have "invested considerable sums of money, especially in the U.K., over the past 12 months to install digital projection systems in our cinemas. The proposed reduction in the window on a high-profile 3-D title like Alice in Wonderland undermines the investment made."

But that's not all. AMC Entertainment, one of the largest theater companies in the world with 4,500 screens, has not yet agreed to show Alice in Wonderland in any of their theaters. And, with only two weeks until the film's release, no one is quite sure what will happen. It is believed that AMC and Disney may be in negotiations, since the lack of distribution through the AMC theaters would be a major blow to Alice's box office numbers.

I'm wondering if Disney regrets changing the dates around. It seems like they are taking a lot of heat for just 5 weeks. If I were them, I'd simply push it back. My guess is they'll make more money that way. They may have poorer DVD sales, but at least they'll get back the majority of the world's exhibitors.

Alice in Wonderland is being directed by Tim Burton and comes out in a few weeks on March 5.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

More Pixar Dinosaur Concept Art [Updated]

Remember a few months ago when we saw Greg Dykstra's workspace at Pixar and it showed a bunch of sculptures and drawings of dinosaurs and things? Well, we've gotten more information regarding it. The above photo was sent anonymously to Pixar Talk, and it shows Ricky Nierva standing in front of some new concept art, which includes a large mosquito, a crocodile, and a winged dinosaur.

I am almost positive that these pieces of concept art and sculptures belong to the short film attached to Toy Story 3. They always announce what the short film will be several months before a feature's release, and we're almost there. This production looks like quite an extravagant one, which makes part of me want to call it a feature. However, Pixar puts every inch of effort they can muster into each and every production, so I think it's a safe bet to call it a short.

We'll see if I'm right in the coming months... Read more about it at the original post here.

Update: /Film reports that the short is, indeed, attached to Toy Story 3. It also reports that the short will be called Night and Day, will be scored by my favorite composer Michael Giacchino, and is directed by a Pixar character designer named Teddy Newton. Read more here.


Monday, February 15, 2010

New 'Despicable Me' Trailer

Above you will find the new trailer for Despicable Me. It will be, obviously, an animated feature, have an all-star cast featuring Steve Carell, and be released later this year.

I am still not quite sure what to make of this movie. So far, it appears that all they have is a premise. And an unoriginal one at that: a supervillain is the story's main character. The presence of the usual crutches that replace a weak story are also all in place: an all-star cast that is being flaunted more than the actual film, one-liner jokes, and, of course, the all-too-familiarly embarrassing pop culture references. This film screams Monsters vs. Aliens--no story, just decent animation, 3D, and jokes.

But I could be wrong. It could be that the one creating the trailers happened to like Monsters vs. Aliens (I know, I know, it is hard to believe that somebody liked it). After all, trailers can be deceiving. The animation in the trailer was, actually, pretty great. And it was funny, I'll give it that. However, you know me; I want story. Story is what's important, and story is what I haven't seen anything of yet.

Let's hope we start seeing a strong story when the next trailer comes out...


Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Lots-o'-Huggin Bear Hits Store Shelves Soon (UPDATED)

On Lee Unkrich's Twitpic page, he has just posted the above photo, a Lotso Bear. Up until now, we have not known if they were going to be selling a Lotso Bear as a new part of the Toy Story merchandise collection, but now we know that indeed they are.

Not only that, but we also know that this bear will have "over 45 different sayings," and will "respond to hugs, tickles, and your voice." A very, very odd feature of this toy is that it is "strawberry scented." I am wondering if this feature will play a part in the film...

The label in the upper right also shows that this is a creation of Pixar's favorite toy manufacturer, Thinkway Toys.

I cannot wait to get one. He looks very soft and very much like his virtual counterpart. I'm guessing it cost be around $40.00, and should be available in the coming months in preparation for the film's release on June 18.

Update: Above is another picture from Lee's Twitpic page. It is Ned Beatty, the voice of Lotso the Bear, holding the aforementioned toy version of the character. This gives us a feeling of the toy's scale, and it also shows us the uncanny resemblance between the character and who's doing his voice...

Update 2: Apparently, this Lotso toy was announced along with hundreds of other new toys at the American International Toy Fair in New York City earlier today. It was announced by John Lasseter, Lee Unkrich, Darla Anderson and John Ratzenberger. The new line of Toy Story 3 merchandise stole the show at this year's event, along with Lasseter being inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame. Read the full press release, along with plenty of product descriptions, here.


John Lasseter made of LEGOs

Briefly: Unkrich has just posted the above image in his Twitpic page. It is a sculpture of John Lasseter's head made out of LEGOs. And it is pretty darn cool. It is a great likeness, and I especially like the very stylized Woody and Buzz stranding next to him.


Friday, February 12, 2010

The 'Toy Story 3' Trailer's Easter Eggs

Pixar is the world's greatest animation studio. They focus on story while maintaining excellent and cutting-edge animation, and they're humble about it the whole time. Another great thing about Pixar is that they interact with their fans. They do this, mainly, through placing Easter Eggs throughout their films. Below you will find, courtesy of /Film, the Easter Eggs found in the recently released Toy Story 3 trailer. There are plenty of familiar ones, and some quite surprising ones, as well. Enjoy:

Lee Unkrich, director of Toy Story 3 has one line in the whole film. As the Jack-in-the-Box, he shouts "New Toys!"

In the initial daycare scene, you can see Mr. Ray from Finding Nemo as a toy sitting on the shelf.

When Woody is on the computer chatting with a dinosaur, you can see Totoro sitting next to the computer. Totoro is the main character from Miyazaki's 1988 masterpiece, My Neighbor Totoro. Hayao Miyazaki, the "Walt Disney of Japan," is a truly great animator and director, and is good friends with John Lasseter. I wonder how much more of Totoro we will see in Toy Story 3...

In the same computer scene, you will notice that the username of the dinosaur contains "237," which is an homage to Unkrich's favorite film, The Shining.

While watching the trailer, you may also notice numerous Macs. This is due to Steve Jobs' huge contribution to the animation studio (and, by huge contribution, I am referring to its creation). So, Toy Story 3 is full of Apple Computers.

In another scene at the daycare, you can see a very basic, yet obvious, homage to Cars' Lightning McQueen.

The "95" painted on the side of Woody's getaway train refers to 1995, the year that the first Toy Story was released.

And, finally, the classic A113 shows his face on the license plate of Andy's Mom's car. This is, of course, a reference to the classroom number of the animation class at CalArts. This Easter Egg is not only seen in every Pixar film, but also Disney movies, Family Guy, The Iron Giant, American Dad, The Simpsons, Powerpuff Girls, among other animated things. Very cool.

So, there you have it. Now you can have a whole new appreciation for the new Toy Story 3 trailer, as well as Pixar history as a whole. Good ol' Pixar...

Source: /Film


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Final 'Toy Story 3' Trailer Released

Here it is! The final Toy Story 3 preview! This trailer makes me even more excited to see the movie, which I didn't think was possible. It looks like Toy Story 3 will have even more excitement, humor, stunning visuals, and fantastic animation than previously expected. The train chase scene looks especially great, turning the movie into an epic, almost. Watch the trailer right now. Then watch it again. And then one more time.

June 18 cannot come soon enough...


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

New 'Toy Story 3' Characters Revealed!

After a few weeks of anticipation, a few new Toy Story 3 characters have been announced! They are... Ken and Peas-in-a-Pod! We've pretty much known about Ken for quite some time, but Peas-in-a-Pod is a brand new character, and is certainly very interesting. Just looking at him (her?) I can think of tons of humorous opportunities that the folks at Pixar could contrive. Here's's official description of Peans-In-a-Pod:

Peas-in-a-Pod will quickly become a parent’s favorite on-the-go toy. The soft, plush pod secures the happy peas inside with a durable metal zipper, making it perfect for the car or stroller.

The Peas-in-a-Pod plush toy also develops fine motor skills by catering to a child’s natural grab instinct. Pulling the three peas out of the pod will provide repeated enjoyment for infants and toddlers, and soon they’ll learn to put them back in!

Machine washable. Not for human consumption.
(I can't wait to get one!) Also, Ken's attire is a very interesting pick. I'm guessing he might have gotten his fashion sense from some daycare attendees, but I could be wrong. Ken will be voiced by Michael Keaton.

But that's not all! The above banner, as you may have guessed, shows 14 new Toy Story 3 characters that will be announced within the next few weeks. I can make out an octopus, a mean looking humanoid, a worm in a tuxedo and glasses, a horse, a telephone, possibly a lamb, and a bear. but of course, this is all speculation and could be proven completely absurd when the actual characters are announced.



Monday, February 8, 2010

Why I'm Not Renewing My D23 Membership

I was a D23 Charter Member and always will be. I have not renewed my membership, however. There are several reasons for this, but it mostly boils down to a simple lack of what's in it for me.

The best thing, by far, is the quarterly subscription to the D23 magazine that comes with a membership. The magazine is gorgeous and full of useful and interesting information, but it isn't something that I have to own. It's not the type of magazine I want to keep as a piece of memorabilia, and I can get all of the information out of it that I'll ever need by flipping through it at the bookstore. While it is a wonderful magazine, it really isn't worth purchasing.

Another huge feature of being a D23 member is having access to a ton of "special events" all about Disney. Well, these events might be nice, but, living in Golden, Colorado, I wouldn't know. I make it to California once a year for my annual trip to Disneyland, but that's it. If you don't live near Anaheim or New York, there are virtually no D23 events open to you, unless you are willing to pay 2 memberships' worth for a plane ticket.

Now, I will concede that the D23 Expo is a special special event, but it's still not worth the membership+plane tickets+a hotel room. The expo might be that great in 5-10 years, but they're still working out the kinks. The expo will constantly improve, and I'd be a fool to go this early (although there are some really great seminars and things...but it's just too much money).

The one thing that had me on the fence were the nice little pieces of Disney memorabilia that D23 sent out. Not because they had to, but because they wanted to. I loved getting them--the Matterhorn patch, the Christmas card reprint, etc. Those were great, but I figured I could pick one up on eBay if they sent out something really great. Nevertheless, it really was a nice touch that made being a part of D23 a bit more special and exclusive.

So, I am no longer a member of D23. If I move to California and become closer to these events they offer, or if they make the magazine twice as long, I'll consider rejoining the ranks of D23, but, for now, I'm staying out of it.


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Rich Ross' Big Picture and Bottom Line

Dick Cook is officially ousted and his replacement, Rich Ross, is starting to make changes to the world's most magical studio. Ross and Iger plan to release about five tentpole features every year: one during the spring (think Alice in Wonderland), then two animated and two live-action features throughout the rest of the year. They want to produce and distribute films that they will be able to be fully exploit on television and the internet, as well as other media outlets.

However, Disney is slowly moving away from being a moviemaker and closer to just becoming a distributor. That's why they are shopping around for studios like DreamWorks and Marvel--Disney wants to profit off of films through the internet and TV without the need of producing them. And Rich Ross is making this a definite possibility.

That's not to say that Disney's never going to make another movie again. They are already planning on a sequel to Enchanted, a new Muppet movie, a Lone Ranger film, a third National Treasure, a fourth Pirates of the Caribbean, and Zemeckis' Yellow Submarine, as well as a Jungle Cruise and Tommorowland film. Plus, Disney has an incredibly strong line-up of films already: Alice in Wonderland, Prince of Persia, Rapunzel, Toy Story 3, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, and Tron Legacy.

Ross is certainly more of a "suit" that Dick Cook ever was. I just hope that he knows what he is doing...

Source: Variety


The 37th Annie Awards' Winners

Getting lost in the sea of celebration resulting from Up's Best Picture nomination by the Academy is the list of winners at the 37th Annual Annie Awards. The big winners were Up and Fantastic Mr. Fox:

Best Animated Feature
Up (Pixar Animation Studios)

Best Animated Television Production
Prep and Landing — (Walt Disney Animation Studios)

Best Home Entertainment Production
Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder

Best Animated Short Subject
Robot Chicken: Star Wars 2.5

Best Animated Television Production for Children
The Penguins of Madagascar (Nickelodeon and DreamWorks)

Character Animation in a Feature Production
Eric Goldberg for The Princess and the Frog

Character Design in a Feature Production
Shane Prigmore for Coraline

Directing in a Feature Production
Pete Docter “Up” — Pixar Animation Studios

Writing in a Television Production
Daniel Chun - The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror XX

Writing in a Feature Production
Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach - Fantastic Mr. Fox

Go here for a complete list of winners (and nominees).

I am very surprised (and pleased) about Robot Chicken and Futurama's wins. I am also very glad that Eric Goldberg's talents were rewarded; Louis really was a great, well-designed and -animated character. Also, unexpectedly, Prep and Landing received several awards.

Congratualtions to Disney, Pixar, and all of the other winners at this year's Annie Awards!


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Academy Award Nominations

The nominations for the Academy Awards have finally been announced! Among the most nominated films are Avatar and Up in the Air, but it is also worth noting that, for the first time since Beauty and the Beast, an animated film has been nominated for the Best Picture Oscar! This picture, of course, it Up. Below you will find the complete list of this year's nominations, as well as my predictions and who I want to win. My predictions are in yellow, and who I am hoping will win are italicized. Enjoy...

Best Picture:

‘The Blind Side’
‘District 9’
‘An Education’
‘The Hurt Locker’
‘Inglourious Basterds’
‘A Serious Man’
‘Up in the Air’

Best Director
Kathryn Bigelow, ‘The Hurt Locker’
James Cameron, ‘Avatar’
Lee Daniels, ‘Precious’
Jason Reitman, ‘Up in the Air’
Quentin Tarantino, ‘Inglourious Basterds’

Best Actor:
Jeff Bridges, ‘Crazy Heart’
George Clooney, ‘Up in the Air’
Colin Firth, ‘A Single Man’
Morgan Freeman, ‘Invictus’
Jeremy Renner, ‘The Hurt Locker’

Best Supporting Actor:
Matt Damon, ‘Invictus’
Woody Harrelson, ‘The Messenger’
Christopher Plummer, ‘The Last Station’
Stanley Tucci, ‘The Lovely Bones’
Christoph Waltz, ‘Inglourious Basterds’

Best Supporting Actress:
Penelope Cruz, ‘Nine’
Vera Farmiga, ‘Up in the Air’
Maggie Gyllenhaal, ‘Crazy Heart’
Anna Kendrick, ‘Up in the Air’
Mo’nique, ‘Precious’

Best Actress:
Sandra Bullock, ‘The Blind Side’
Helen Mirren, ‘The Last Station’
Carey Mulligan, ‘An Education’
Gabourey Sidibe, ‘Precious’
Meryl Streep, ‘Julie & Julia’

Best Animated Feature Film:
‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’
‘The Princess and the Frog’
‘The Secret of Kells’

Best Film Editing:
‘District 9’
‘The Hurt Locker’
‘Inglourious Basterds’

Best Cinematography:
‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’
‘The Hurt Locker’
‘Inglourious Basterds’
‘The White Ribbon’

Best Adapted Screenplay:
Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell, ‘District 9’
Nick Hornby, ‘An Education’
Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche, ‘In the Loop’
Geoffrey Fletcher, ‘Precious’
Jason Reitman, Sheldon Turner, ‘Up in the Air’

Best Documentary Feature:
‘Burma VJ’
‘The Cove’
‘Food, Inc.’
‘The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers’
‘Which Way Home’

Best Foreign Film:
Israel - ‘Ajami’
Argentina - ‘El Secreto de sus Ojos’
Peru - ‘The Milk of Sorrow’
France - ‘Un Prophete’
Germany - ‘The White Ribbon’

Best Original Score:
‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’
‘The Hurt Locker’
‘Sherlock Holmes’

Best Original Screenplay:
Mark Boal, ‘The Hurt Locker’
Quentin Tarantino, ‘Inglourious Basterds’
Alessandro Camon and Oren Moverman,
‘The Messenger’
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, ‘A Serious Man’
Peter Docter, Bob Peterson, Tom McCarthy,

Best Original Song:
‘Almost There’ from ‘The Princess and the Frog,’ Music and Lyric by Randy Newman
‘Down in New Orleans’ from ‘The Princess and the Frog,’ Music and Lyric by Randy Newman
‘Loin de Paname’ from ‘Paris 36,’ Music by Reinhardt Wagner Lyric by Frank Thomas
‘Take It All’ from ‘Nine,’ Music and Lyric by Maury Yeston
‘The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)’ from ‘Crazy Heart,’ Music and Lyric by Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett ’

Best Costume Design:
‘Bright Star’
‘Coco Before Chanel’
‘The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus’
‘The Young Victoria’