Monday 30 April 2012

Aardman News 7 - How Will The Pirates! Sail in America?

Aardman's latest film, the fantastic The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists, has just been released state-side, where it's branded as The Pirates! Band of Misfits. Despite critical praise and a strong box-office showing here in the UK, Aardman's home territory, how it'll fare in America is far less certain.

The pirate theme to the film may broaden the film's appeal to US audience, who have never quite got Aardman's trademark British wit, but if opening sales are any indication, that may not be enough. The Pirates! clocks in Aadramn's weakest US opening to date, taking an estimated $11.4 million, compared to $12.1 million for last year's Arthur Christmas. The fact that the film is being released in accordance with Sony Pictures Animation, who are much better known in America, and the film's fairly strong advertising campaign - focusing on Aardman's Oscar success and the film's comedy - may also work some way to help boost sales - although by how much will remain to be seen.

Aardman can probably expect a decent, if unexciting, box-office report for The Pirates! - although hopefully good word of mouth will drive the masses in. Large box-office receipts are going to be pretty necessary if the talk of a sequel is going to go anywhere - I'd certainly love to see a sequel.

Director Peter Lord said the following to BBC News on the subject:

"My attitude is one of hope. We do what we do and we hope the rest of the world will come to the party. I shall now be going around North America and beating a drum and wearing a sandwich board to get them to come to the cinema.

We'd be interested in doing a sequel for this film because I'd love to re-explore this bunch of characters but it entirely depends upon box office business.

This is a really rash thing to say, but most of the rest of the world I am quite confident about. We always do really well in places like France and Germany, but America is the tricky one, and that's because I think our brand of comedy is less familiar to them."

Here's hoping the film does well - it deserves too. A note to any American readers: go see it! You won't be disappointed.

Seth MacFarlane's Flintstones Reboot Shelved

It was reported around this time last year that 20th Century Fox had acquired the rights to reboot The Flintstones from Warner Bros. The reboot was being handled by Seth MacFarlane, creator of Family Guy, The Cleveland Show and American Dad, a purported super-fan of the series. The reinvisioned version of the beloved Hanna-Barbera show was due out in 2013, but has now been delayed for the foreseeable future.

The show has been put on hold, with no mention of when production may resume again, to accommodate MacFarlane's insanely busy schedule. In addition to the previous trifecta of Fox shows, MacFarlane is also working on Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey - a successor to Carl Sagan's Cosmos - and awaiting the release of his first feature film, Ted. So, it's no surprise that he would find it difficult to accommodate time for The Flintstones in there - even though the reboot is said to be a passion project for him, given his lifelong love of the show.

In addition, sources indicate that the script hasn't gone down all too well so far, with Fox Entertainment President Kevin Reilly telling MacFarlane that he liked it, but didn't love it. Whilst the show hasn't been scrapped, it has been postponed indefinitely, until such a time that MacFarlane has room in his schedule to work and rework the show's script. Several staff members have been let go, with MacFarlane looking into finding places at American Dad for others.

The idea seemed a little bizarre from the start: an animator and director renowned for his raunchy and often offensive humour, tackling the remake of such a beloved and revered show; but MacFarlane's love for the series is blatant and it would've been interesting to see where this went. Here's hoping it's back on track soon.

Sunday 29 April 2012

Bob Peterson Joins Twitter

Such is the reputation that Pixar has built up, with its unprecedented string of box-office and critical successes, that its staff are treated like rock-stars. Avid Pixar nerds like myself will obsess over and worship everyone from the individual animators to the huge-personality directors who helm their features - hell, I follow their pool.

So, it's always a huge event when a new Pixarian joins Twitter, and today, Bob Peterson joins the huge social-networking site. The co-director of Up, who is directing Pixar's upcoming 2014 release, The Good Dinosaur, marks the longest in a long line of Pixarians to join Twitter - following Brad Bird, Brenda Chapman and Andrew Stanton's return to the site.

Follow the very talented animator and film-maker @Bob__Peterson (yes, that is two underscores).

On a related note, our Twitter name has officially changed, from @WilliamA113, to the much more obvious @A113Animation.

Thursday 26 April 2012

Mission Accomplished!

After months of hard work and dedication, including several interviews with this blog, the great folk at The Road to Pixar have finally arrived at Pixar. The team recreated a real life replica of the famed Pizza Planet Truck that first appeared in Toy Story in 1995. Today, they completed the fantastic journey by driving the truck all the way up to the gates of Pixar and beyond. Above you see the truck residing in the courtyard of the famed studio's Emeryville campus.

The team Tweeted upon arrival, and this great occassion has also been Tweeted by WALL E and John Carter director, Andrew Stanton, and the official Pixar Twitter feed.

Congratulations to the entire team, they certainly deserve the recognition they're getting and I'm proud to have been able to speak to them!

For more on the fantastic endeavour, visit the group's website.

Wednesday 25 April 2012

Disney and Pixar News from CinemaCon 2012

Yesterday at CinemaCon 2012, at Disney's exhibit, the guests in attendance were treated to a plethora of exciting news pertaining to lots of upcoming films to be released under the Disney banner; including lots of exciting Pixar news.

Disney first:
  • Although we already knew this, via screenwriter Nicholas Stoller, Disney have now given official confirmation that they're working on The Muppets 2.
  • Fans at the event were also treated to the first few minutes of footage from Disney's 51st animated film, the video game themed, Wreck-It Ralph.
  • They were also shown some new footage from Tim Burton's Frankenweenie.

Check out the Pixar news after the jump.

Tuesday 24 April 2012

Brave: Eyes on the Pies

Today, we were treated to the latest and final trailer for Pixar's Brave, and a couple of days ago we received another video in the series of Brave featurettes, again focussing on Merida's triplet little brothers Hubert, Harris and Hamish. We are now pleased to share with you this newest featurette, entitled Eyes on the Prize (above).

The video is funny and reinforces what we've been hearing that the triplets are one of the best bits about Brave - they certainly seem to be the funniest at least.

Brave hits UK theatres on 17th August; released in the US slightly before, on 22nd June.

Final Brave Trailer Revealed

Now that we're just a few months away from the release of Pixar's 13th feature film, Brave, we have been treated to all manner of advertisements, and today, we get the last trailer. And it's amazing.

You can see the newest, and final, trailer, that debuted earlier today on iTunes Movie Trailers, for Pixar's first fairytale, above. Whilst a large portion of the trailer contains footage and animation that we've seen in previous trailers and clips (showing Merida's fiery, rebellious nature) it is very well edited - bringing out more of the Pixar feel - but it's from about 1:30 onwards that things really start to pick up. We get some glimpses into the thus far heavily concealed second act of the film: the witch and the demonic bear Mordu; culminating in the surreal, ominous feel that looks set to make this one of Pixar's most poignant and impressive films to date.

Oh, and the animation is fantastic. Just in case you're blind and hadn't grasped that up until now.

Check it out for yourself, and feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section, or on our Facebook, Google+ or Twitter pages.

Saturday 21 April 2012

More Details on The Next Muppet Movie

Despite the fact that the last Muppets film is only just out of cinemas (particularly here in the UK), it's certainly a great sign of Disney's confidence in Jim Henson's beloved creations that we are being bombarded by all manner of news and details regarding their next planned outing on the big screen.

Last week Nicholas Stoller, co-writer of The Muppets, treated us to some interesting details about the new Muppets film, and just a couple of days ago, we received some more.

After announcing that he won't be starring in the upcoming film, Jason Segel has now quashed the rumours that he would cameo as well. In an interview with The Playlist, the How I Met Your Mother star said:

"No, no cameo. It was a very distinct choice on my part. Of course I was asked to do it. I did exactly what I set out to do, if that makes any sense. My goal was never to take over the helm of ‘The Muppets.’ They have people who are better equipped for that. My only goal was to bring back the Muppets that I loved. And I did that. I kinda don’t know what I have left to do in that regard."

Also, appearing on a press tour for his current film Five Year Engagement, Nicholas Stoller confirmed (via The Muppet Mindset) that Walter will return in 'Muppets 2', and spilled some more details on what we can expect in terms of story:

"Walter will play a role in the next movie. It will be a complete story separate from the first movie, but there will be some "connective tissue." And having successfully reintroduced the characters, they're planning to concentrate on the comedy this time around."

It certainly sounds promising and, after last time, I have the utmost faith in the Muppets team at Disney.

Friday 20 April 2012

Breaking: Disney Chairman Rich Ross Resigns

We rarely cover corporate news, or details of hiring or firing, here at A113Animation - this blog is primarily focused on the entertainment side of things - however, this is too huge a piece of news in terms of the scope it affects animation: Rich Ross has stepped down as Chairman of The Walt Disney Studios.

The former creative head of Disney Channel, responsible in his reign there for Hannah Montana and High School Musical, had been running Disney's film department for the past two and a half years - a tenure recently marred by such box office failures as Mars Needs Moms and John Carter.

Disney CEO Robert Iger said, of Ross's departure:

“I appreciate his countless contributions throughout his entire career at Disney, and expect he will have tremendous success in whatever he chooses to do next”.

No successor has thus far been named and it will likely take some time to fill the position, but, depending on the success of Marvel's The Avengers (which will almost certainly be an enormous hit), Marvel Studios (owned by Disney after all) President, Kevin Feige may be considered a front runner for the job.

Via Reuters.

New Brave Stills and Concept Art

Courtesy of Cine Marcado.

MTV yesterday debuted a brand new still from Pixar's Brave, while Disney Brazil (via Cine Marcado) bring us another three, showcasing a wide variety of scenes we've yet to see, including a renewed focus on the ominous bear that occupied part of the film's previous title (The Bear and the Bow) as well as Merida's mischievous young triplet brothers.

Courtesy of MTV.

Courtesy of Cine Marcado.

Courtesy of Cine Marcado.

We were also treated to a lively storyboard sketch (below) from Brave's production via Pixar's official Facebook page.

Tuesday 17 April 2012

Wreck-It Ralph Teaser Poster

After giving us our first look at concept art from Wreck-It Ralph a couple of months ago, today Disney have revealed the teaser poster for their 51st animated film.

The quite minimalistic poster (above) comes courtesy of the film's official Facebook page and sports an 8-bit design - reinforcing the film's retro game theme. Hopefully we'll see a teaser trailer for the film in the very near future.

Wreck-It Ralph is released in theatres on 2nd November in America, but alas, due to Disney's infuriating release schedule, won't hit UK theatres until February, 2013.

Monday 16 April 2012

Brave: Family Portrait

Following on from last week where we treated to the first (of what we assumed are many) Brave Stories, showcasing Merida, the main character of Pixar's next feature film, Brave, Fandango today debuted the second  Brave Stories style featurette, this one entitled: Brave: Family Portrait.

The focus of this featurette is on Merida's hyperactive little brothers; the triplets: Hamish, Hubert and Harris. The trio don't speak in the entire film and, from the accounts of those who've seen an early version of the first half hour, are riotously funny.

The clip (above) also gifts us with a lot of exciting new footage from the film as well as shedding some light on the darker and more ominous second act of the film.

Saturday 14 April 2012

Nicholas Stoller Drops Some Details on The Muppets Sequel

Just a few months after we got official confirmation that Disney has green(pun intended)lit a sequel to The Muppets, the smash-hit return to the silver screen for Jim Henson's beloved creations, we now get several exciting details about the film!

Nicholas Stoller, the co-writer of The Muppets, who is working on the sequel with the director of The Muppets, James Bobnin, speaking to Collider about his new film, Five-Year Engagement, splashed some exciting new details about the nature of this sequel, what we can expect and when we can expect it.

The salient points from the interview are these:
  • The Muppet Sequel is going to be a comedy caper.
  • Disney really wants the sequel and they want it as soon as possible. Stoller says Disney wants to release it summer 2013 but he doesn’t think that’s realistic.
  • Jason Segel might cameo.
  • The sequel will introduce new Muppets.
  • Bobin and Stoller started writing the script yesterday. They wrote 13 pages after outlining the entire movie over the past few weeks.
So, there you have it, not only is Disney pushing like crazy for the film (fantastic gratification for all Muppets fans), but we can expect is as soon as 2013 - although probably later. And though he shan't be starring prominently or involved creatively, we may see Jason Segel's Gary crop up; although the film sounds more likely to follow in the footsteps of The Great Muppet Caper, rather than act as a direct sequel.

Very exciting!

Read the full interview over at Collider.

Classic Cartoons #4 - Snow Place Like Home

Although there's no Bitesized Biography to accompany this week's Classic Cartoon (they take an awful long time to research and write, but it seemed foolish to only post Classic Cartoons with them, as there's so many great shorts to chose from for each animation legend), this one does directly correlate with our last Bitesized Biography, of Walter Lantz.

Last time I shared with you one of the finer outings for Walter Lantz's best known creation, Woody Woodpecker, in the short, The Screwball. However, as I mentioned, perhaps even above Woody in my heart is one of Walter Lantz's other creations, Chilly Willy. The lovable and mischievous penguin was a staple of my childhood and this short film from 1966 entitled, aptly, Snow Place Like Home, and directed by Paul J. Smith emanates from Walter Lantz Productions with an ironic warmth and remains one of Chilly's best outings.

An Interview with Mark Andrews - Reveals Who John Ratzenberger's Voicing in Brave

Briefly, Holy Moly! an entertainment and celebrity news site, has an interview with Brave director, Mark Andrews, about the upcoming film. Mainly the interview is your standard interview stuff: 'the film looks great', 'what were its origins?', etc..., etc..., however, one particular point of interest for Pixar fans, is that Andrews finally sheds light on John Ratzenberger's role in the film!

John Ratzenberger, the actor who has voiced a character in every Pixar film, from Hamm in the Toy Story films, to the Abominable Snowman in Monsters, Inc., has become as famous and craved in Pixar films as the Pizza Planet Truck or A113 (the code for which this site is named). For several months, throughout all of the fantastic trailers, great concept art and voice cast reveals, it's not been mentioned who Ratzenberger will be voicing, and this is the first article I've seen that sheds light on the matter.

The following exert comes from Holy Moly!'s interview with Andrews, after enquiring about the Pizza Planet Truck (yes, it will be there... in 12th century Scotland):

On the insider joke front then how's John Ratzenberger's Scottish accent?
MA:"Er… it's good. It's not bad. He had a couple of goes at it. But yeah he got it. He's one of the guards in the back. If you can't pick him out, we've done our job and nailed it.""

So, there you have it, you may not be able to recognise him, but John Ratzenberger will be voicing a Scottish guard.

Brave's director also mentioned a distaste for Disney films and the classic fairytale story, so if you hadn't already gleaned that Brave won't be your average fairytale, prepare now.

Check out the full interview over at Holy Moly!

Thursday 12 April 2012

The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists Review - Worth it's Weight in Doubloons

Although it's been out a few weeks now over here in the UK (but it's not released stateside until the 27th of this month), I only got the chance to see Aardman's latest feature film: The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists on Wednesday, and it was well worth the wait.

The Pirates! is Aardman's first stop-motion animated film since 2005's Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit and is directed by Chicken Run helmer, Peter Lord. And whilst The Pirates! retains the trademark British wit and endearing characters that made their previous films such hits with audiences and critics, it also - following in the footsteps of 2007's Flushed Away and last year's Arthur Christmas - broadens its style somewhat, boasting a lot more action and spectacle than the more simplistic Wallace and Gromit or Chicken Run.

Tuesday 10 April 2012

Brave Stories: Merida

We're getting to that time of the year again; the time where nearly every story covered on this site will be based on Pixar's next feature film, as Pixar are, once again, going into advertisement overdrive, this time, for their first fairytale, Brave.

The studio have released a brand new featurette (via Yahoo Movies) showcasing, once again, the Mother-daughter clash that will be central to Brave's story, as well as highlighting the mystical, ominous side to the film that sets it apart from what we've seen before. However, the clip also debuts a lot of new footage that we haven't seen before, which looks as stunning and impressive as we've come to expect from Pixar. Brave certainly looks set to be one of Pixar's best films yet!

Watch the featurette above.

Via The Pixar Times.

The Progression of a Scene from Brave


Pixar have treated us to some stunning new concept art from their upcoming feature film, Brave. The art, imbued with energy and character, showcases the mysterious forest that will play a pivotal role in the Toy Story studio's 13th feature film.

They also provided us with a photograph from the research done for the film, as well as the final, rendered and lit, shot for the scene - you can see the three pictures combined in the above GIF; showing a snippet of the journey of transformation that goes on at Pixar from the conception of an idea to the final shot.

Brave hits theatres on 22nd June in North America and on 17th August here in the UK.

Via The Pixar Times.

Tuesday 3 April 2012

4 Brave Characters Posters and an Interview with the Director

Entertainment Weekly bring us 4 brand new (well, the Merida one is hardly new) character posters, showing off some of the main cast of characters form Pixar's next feature, Brave. Above you'll see one of the four posters, showcasing Merida's younger triplet brothers: Hamish, Hubert and Harris.

EW also caught some words from the film's director, Mark Andrews, on the individual characters that comprise the posters. On the subject of the triplets, Andrews said:

“You can’t tell them apart, and they steal the show,” says Andrews. “They love sweets and are always getting into mischief. And they can do no wrong as far as Fergus and Elinor are concerned.” Andrews also revealed that the triplets won’t have any spoken lines in the film: “They giggle and laugh — that’s it.”

He also passed comment on the film's much more intense, ominous tone:

“It’s appropriately scary, as much as it needs to be to tell the story effectively,” says Mark Andrews, who shares directing credit with Brenda Chapman. “But it’s not overly horrific or terrifying — we’re not going for a PG-13 rating. You’re in good hands with a Pixar movie, as always.”

For the other three character posters and more words from the film's director, head on over to Entertainment Weekly.

Sunday 1 April 2012

Angry Birds Animated Series Due in Autumn - Film to Follow

Following the release of their latest Angry Birds game, Angry Birds Space, gaming giant Rovio, the studio behind arguably the best known gaming franchise on the planet, has announced that they are to expand the Angry Birds universe beyond merely the games - with the announcement of an animated series and a feature film in development!

Speaking at the MIPTV conference in Cannes, Nick Dorra, head of animation for Rovio, stated Rovio are going to release "a weekly series later this year of shortform content". The series will consist of 52 animated shorts, set to be around the 2 and a half - 3 minute mark. The animated shorts, created in-house by Rovio's animation department, will likely resemble this kind of thing.

On the reasons behind the branching out of the Angry Birds franchise, Dorra said:

"It's about telling more engaging stories... and deeper thoughts, deeper feelings of the characters", "Angry Birds is not just about the gameplay, and will be in the future less and less about the slingshot, actually, and more and more about the characters."

When asked about the possibility of an Angry Bird feature film, Dorra stated "It’s in development, but it won’t be out in 2013 or 2014. You’ll have to bide your time and first watch all of our shorts!”. Rovio are also closely working with David Maisel, the former head of Marvel Studios, on the project.

Not one to forget their roots though, Rovio announced also that they will be releasing several new games as well, including new Angry Birds games and an entirely new game.

We'll have to wait to see how these animation projects work out - as gaming film adaptations don't have a great track record - but, for now at least, the prospect is very exciting.