Saturday, August 20, 2011

BREAKING: Pixar's next two features announced! (And the next Toy Story Toon.)

Ba-reaking news! At D23, Pixar has just announced its two next features, which will come out after Brave and Monsters University.

The first is the long-rumored feature all about dinosaurs. It's slated for November 2013, and will be directed by Pixar veteran Bob Peterson, who co-directed and was a writer on Up (and voiced Doug). It'll be co-directed by Peter Sohn of Partly Cloudy, and produced by John Walker who was a producer on The Incredibles.

Pixar explains the feature:

What if that life-changing asteroid missed Earth? Director Bob Peterson’s hilarious tale depicts a world where dinosaurs never went extinct.
The feature will show what would have happened if the dinosaurs hadn't become extinct and kept evolving and populating the planet. Very interesting premise, although there isn't that ironic hook like a rat that cooks or a lonely robot. Still, I'm excited to see Pixar tackle the prehistoric (yet modern?) frontier.
The second feature, coming May 30, 2014, sounds very, very strange. Helmed by Docter, director of Monsters, Inc. and Up, the film sounds very experimental:
From director Pete Docter comes an inventive new film that explores a world that everyone knows, but no one has seen: inside the human mind.
Ronnie del Carmen will co-direct with Jonas Rivera producing. IndieWIRE claims that TS3 penman Arndt is taking on this unique script, said to be "about the formation of ideas."

Ideas? The mind? Strange . . . Very un-Pixar, since I can't imagine children enjoying a film that sounds so odd. It also sounds especially off for Docter, whose films thus far have been immensely character-driven. Still, I'm very excited to see a film so inventive from one of the most inventive studios of all-time.

Also announced is the next Toy Story Toon, titled Small Fry. DIrected by BURN-E's Angus MacLane, it'll be attached to The Muppets this November. Here's the short premise from The Pixar Times:
"Looks like Buzz Lightyear is left behind at a fast-food restaurant and must find his way back home. In doing so he encounters some less popular, happy meal-like toys. One of those toys, a Mermaid of sorts, will be voiced by Glee's Jane Lynch."
It'll feature, as you can see, new toys and will be centered around Buzz. Should be really funny and clever!
Very exciting stuff. I can't wait to see all of this awesome stuff from such a great studio! (Oh, and my tour of the studio will soon be chronicled right here, for your reading enjoyment . . . )

More D23 news to come!


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Billy Crystal talks 'Monsters University'

The LA Times recently chatted with Billy Crystal about the upcoming Pixar film, Monsters University. As you most likely know, he voices the rib-tickling, cyclopean Mike Wazowski.

Crystal had this to say of the film:
That’s why I’m a little hoarse. I spent five-and-a-half hours today for our fourth session on ‘Monsters Inc. 2.’ And I have to tell you something, it is hilarious. The Pixar people are geniuses. It’s 10 years since the first movie. Yeah, it’s crazy. And it’s a prequel. They’re in college. It’s how they met, it’s how Michael and Sulley meet, and plan to become scarers at Monsters Inc. — so this movie ends where the other one starts . . . It’s college pranks with monsters. And I wear a retainer. Mike has a retainer.
I can't wait to see it! Monsters, Inc. is my favorite Pixar film, and I'm very excited to see the prequel. I'll have to wait a few more years, though, since Monsters University doesn't come out until June 21, 2013.


Friday, August 12, 2011

Iger says Disney wants to acquire more characters, states the obvious

The Disney Blog and Blue Sky, among some other blogs, have been posting on a recent quote by Iger, in which he expresses that Disney wants to acquire more characters.

Pixar and Marvel was its first step. Disney's purchase of Pixar gives it access to dozens of popular characters that it can do whatever it wants with--make spin-off films, theme park rides, product lines . . . The possibilities of wealth to be had in such high profile characters are almost endless. Similarly, Marvel's 4,000+ character bank opens up Disney's empire into a whole new dimension.

But don't be disheartened that Disney isn't creating tons of their own characters. After all, as many seem to forget, Walt based his features on fairytales, classic literature, legends, and the like, and those stories turned out great.

So my question is, why wouldn't Disney want to acquire more characters? Sure, it'd probably be better if they created their own characters from the ground up, like Pixar does, but they don't necessarily have to. Bolt was an original story and that was wonderful, but so was Tangled, which, as you know, is based on the fairytale of Rapunzel. Disney's theme parks are filled with Indiana Jones and Star Wars, and people love it. You don't need original content for a good story. In fact, the majority of people are more likely to see and connect with a film based around a character they're already familiar with than a completely foreign one.

I think, as with everything it seems, a good balance is key. Some original content, some based on established franchises and existing characters. And that is what Disney seems to be doing now. Its Pixar branch is creating original content, its Marvel branch is breathing new life into characters we already know, and its animation division just released the well-known Winnie-the-Pooh and is developing Mort, a film based on a Terry Pratchett novel, while also working on King of the Elves and The Snow Queen, both of which are loosely based on existing stories, but will act as if they were original since those stories are rather obscure.

And it's good that Disney wants to stretch its horizons. After all, it is an entertainment company, so it wants to get its hand on anything entertaining. Even if they buy up something like Shrek (which would never happen), they could always just stick it on a shelf indefinitely so that no other studio could have access to something so great. Disney is, first and foremost, in the business of making money. I hate to admit it, since they should be in the business of telling good stories, but it's true.

However, good stories make money. At least that's how it should work. So is it bad that Disney wants to acquire more characters? No, since it will keep the slate of Disney films (as well as the theme parks) interesting and new--a good story can come from anywhere. (And, as you may know, Disney has a rather fat wallet, so it can afford a character from anywhere.) Is it bad that Disney plans to keep creating original content, too? Of course not; original content is where we get some of the most beloved characters we know and love.

Is it bloody obvious that Disney longs to get more characters under its banner?

Yes. Yes it is.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Disney exec: 'You don't need a good story.'

Lasseter, and all of the other creatives we fans prize the most, are always telling us how important story is. Story, story, story . . . "No amount of great animation will save a bad story," says Lasseter. That is a credo that I'm consistently reaffirming through Disney, etc. and is something I believe strongly in. It's why Pixar and Disney are as successful as they are today, and why so many people love Disneyland.

However, Walt Disney Animation Studios' Chief Technical Officer, Andy Hendrickson, disagrees. Earlier this week at SIGGRAPH, Andy decidedly stated that if you're producing a tentpole film like one by Pixar, or a film in the Pirates franchise, story is massively overrated:

People say ‘It’s all about the story.’ When you’re making tentpole films, bullshit.
Pointing to one of Disney's larger successes in recent box office history, Alice in Wonderland, Mr. Hendrickson said “The story isn’t very good, but visual spectacle brought people in droves. And Johnny Depp didn’t hurt.” It's really sad to hear someone say it, probably because it's true, but box office numbers don't always come from a good story. But, as pointed out by our friend here, they always come from lots of pretty pictures and famous actors.

Nothing will ever replace a good, solid story--even if it doesn't make the studio a billion dollars, it makes a great movie, and isn't that the top priority? If it isn't, it should be. Perhaps that's what's wrong with Hollywood nowadays. They want fatter wallets and couldn't care less about the story. Very sad, but, I concede begrudgingly, is probably true . . .

Source: Cartoon Brew


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Disney (kind of) announces new slate

Briefly: Disney has sort of announced a slew of upcoming pictures. I say "sort of" because the films themselves are mysteries, with just minor details and the release dates known.

  • An untitled project from Henry Selick is slated for October 4, 2013
  • The first untitled Marvel movie under the Disney banner is set for release on May 16, 2014, with the second just over a month later on June 27, 2014
  • Pixar has a mystery project set to come out on May 30, 2014--perhaps Toy Story 4?
These projects, along with the previously rumored Pixar flick coming in 2013, should be officially announced, with proper titles, at D23 next week.


Gettin' Excited for the D23 Expo

Although I'm in California, I won't be able to go to D23. It is torturous to be so close yet so far . . . And even more torturous after writing this post to see what I'll be missing out on. This year's expo looks great.

The first day, Friday August 19 includes:
  • a talk by Imagineers about the making of the new DCA attraction based on The Little Mermaid
  • the latest Disney Legends ceremony which includes the induction of the more contemporary Disney princesses (among others)
  • a screening of every Pixar short back-to-back in honor of the studios' 25th anniversary
  • a discussion all about the history, art, and music behind it's a small world for the attraction's 45th anniversary
  • the Ultimate Disney Trivia Tournament
  • a short talk by the folks who provide voices for the Disney theme parks
  • and lots more!
The second day brings even more awesome stuff. Here's the events I'd look forward to most (if I could go, that is):
  • a discussion by Michael Giacchino on the "Music of Pixar"
  • a conversation with the Pixar Creative Team, which includes the likes of John Lasseter, Pete Docter, Andrew Stanton, Bob Peterson, Lee Unkrich, Dan Scanlon, Mark Andrews, and Jim Morris. (Yeah. Holy crap, right? That's almost the whole Pixar Brain Trust in one room right there. No doubt they'll announce future Pixar films there.)
  • a talk with the legends of Disney Imagineering
  • character designers of Monsters University discussing the long-anticipated Pixar flick
  • Disney Imagineers discussing how story and innovation dictate what they do
Sunday includes:
  • the Art of Pixar's Brave
  • the evolution of Marvel characters
  • a sneak peek of Cars Land
  • the making of Star Tours
And that only scrapes the surface of what this year's D23 Expo has to offer. There's also the massive Disney Store, the floor filled with booths, tons more talks I didn't even mention . . . Basically, go to the D23 Expo if you can manage it.

The event will take place August 19-21 at the Anaheim Convention Center. And guess what? Tickets aren't even sold out yet! One-day admission is $47 for adults and $37 for children ages 3-12. Three-day passes are $136 for adults, $106 for the kids.

More news about the expo to come as it nears.



Starting last Monday through the end of this week is SIGGRAPH 2011, a conference/exhibition in Vancouver concentrated on the latest and greatest computer graphics technology.

Pixar made some exciting announcements about its RenderMan platform, including a release later this fall of RenderMan for Maya 5.0. And, as always, the RenderMan team showed off their annual RenderMan Walking Teapot, seen above. This year's theme is racing, in honor of Cars 2 (last year's was Mr. Potato Head for TS3). Titled "The Road to Point Reyes," the background for the official image of the teapot is a rendering from Pixar made in 1983, at which time that was state-of-the-art graphics. Attendees of the conference could stop by the Pixar booth to pick up their very own walking teapot, too. Oh, and La Luna got a screening at SIGGRAPH last night. I want to see it so badly . . . lucky SIGGRAPHers.

Some talks at the conference include Pixar discussing the difficult ocean sequence in Cars 2, Disney talking about the difficulties involved with Rapunzel's hair in Tangled, technicians from the Mouse showing off the tech used to convert traditional 2D films to 3D, Pixar's Mitchell Kopelman chatting about lighting Tokyo in Cars 2, among lots of other interesting things from the talented technicians behind Disney, Pixar, Kung Fu Panda 2, Rio, Rango, and others.

Although the talks usually don't get recorded or uploaded, let's hope some of these see the light of day outside the walls of SIGGRAPH; they sound very interesting.

Many people focus on the more "creative" sides of filmmaking and animation, but the technical aspect is just as important--although Story is king, without the tech to tell the story, we wouldn't have all of the great films we do now.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Brief Note

Hello, all of you lovely readers, you.

I know you've missed me, and I've missed you. I have been in California on vacation for a while, and haven't been able to post anything. (Although, I've been keeping up with the news on my phone and things and haven't seen much that's worthy of a post.)

Anywho, one of the things I've done out here in The Golden State is gotten a private tour of Pixar Animation Studios!! It was exhilarating. I didn't take a ton of pictures, but have some remarks I'll share with you once I have the time to construct a nice little post about it. Look for that by the end of this month.

Also, I'll be heading over to Disneyland next week, so keep an eye out for some talkback about all the new changes at DCA.

I'll try and keep you updated with the latest news, especially with SIGGRAPH and D23 coming up soon, but I'm not promising anything.

Sorry, my beloved readers, for the recent hiatus in posts. At least you have some fun stuff to look forward to, right!?

Talk to you soon . . .