Friday 31 August 2012

Best of The Last Ten Years A113Animation Awards Longlist

A few weeks ago, we announced our special A113Animation Awards. This time, we're honouring the "Best Animated Film of the Last Ten Years (2001 - 2011)" (well, actually, that's eleven years... but still), and giving you a say! Since we announced the competition, we've had a poll up on our official Facebook page, to cast your vote in the first round, making sure your favourites go through to the next round! The rules were that any film that receives a vote will progress to the longlist, with the two highest voted films going straight through to the final shortlist nominees. The other films will be subject to more rounds of voting. We also counted votes we received on Twitter. The final tally for the "A113Animation Award for People's Favourite Animated Film of the Last Ten Years" can be viewed after the jump break. And the longlist for A113Animation's choices follows after.

Wednesday 29 August 2012

Video of the Day: What If Pixar Made The Expendables 2?

Looking for a film to take the kids to this summer? Not a fan of the usual animated offerings? Want 100% more terrorists in your animated films? Well, then IGN has the film for you: The Expendables 2, Pixar style!

Spoofing the trailer for this year's biggest action-film fare, IGN mashed up scenes from the three Toy Story films, to produce probably the funniest video you'll watch all day! I'm not a huge fan of IGN (well, mainly the people who comment on their site), but they deserve kudos for this; very funny stuff!

And who didn't want to heard Woody say "Track 'em. Find 'em. Kill 'em."?

Via Mashable.

Tuesday 28 August 2012

The Art and Making of ParaNorman Review - A Spookily Different 'Art of' Book

Confession: I only watched Coraline fully a few days ago. I'm not often a fan of spooky films, but I am a fan of Henry Selick, and adored The Nightmare Before Christmas, so I wanted to see Coraline, I just never got round to it. A couple of days ago, though, I decided to finally do it, and am very glad I did. Coraline is a fantastic, nuanced and refreshingly original film, with stylish direction and gorgeous animation; I only wish I could've seen it on the big screen. I watched it in anticipation of the latest film from Laika, the studio behind it, ParaNorman.

Coraline's animation was amazing, but ParaNorman's is apparently even better. Factor in that I've heard nary a bad review about it, and you end up with a film I'm pretty damn excited for (it's not out over here until 14th September). So, I was very excited to check out the accompanying 'Art of' book, The Art and Making of ParaNorman, which Chronicle Books were kind enough to send me a review copy of.

Monsters, Inc. 3D Poster

The first poster for the 3D re-release of Pixar's Monsters, Inc. has surfaced online, courtesy of The poster spoofs the original teaser poster for the film's original 2001 release, showing Mike adapting to the 3D treatment.

For US cinema-goers, Monsters, Inc. 3D will be the second Pixar 3D re-release of the year, when it opens on 19th December, after Finding Nemo 3D opens on 14th September. Both films open much later here in the UK, with Nemo opening on 29th March, 2013 and Monsters, Inc. currently without a release date.

What's got you more excited, Nemo or Monsters in 3D?

Related news: Monsters University Plot Details Emerge

Sunday 26 August 2012

Curious: Pixar Shorts Mini Collection

We were just recently told that the Pixar Shorts Collection: Volume 2 is due on 13th November, including shorts from Your Friend the Rat to La Luna (presumably), and then this was brought to my attention.

Blog reader, Charl, commented on our post about the Shorts Collection: Volume 2, talking about a "Pixar Shorts Mini Collection" that he'd spotted listed on South African sites. The collection is indeed listed on several sites (see here, here, here and here) for about 30 South African rands, which equates to about £2.30, or $3.60; certainly cheap!

The interesting thing, though, is that no sites, bar one, provide a description. The one description provided sounds exactly like the Pixar Shorts Collection: Volume 1. But look at the cover art! Up their with 2002's Mike's New Car, are the very recent Cars Toons, Moon Mater and Unidentified Flying Mater, and the Toy Story Toons, Hawaiian Vacation and Short Fry. Huh?

Misleading cover art? Maybe. Mistaken description? Maybe. One site says it was released in 2008 - which would make it a ploy to try and get money of unknowing customers - whereas another claims a recent 2012 release date. Who knows, it's confusing, but certainly interesting!

Anybody have R30 spare to find out?

Thanks to Charl for the tip-off!

Genndy Tartakovsky Talks About Coming Aboard Hotel Transylvania

Sony Pictures Animation's latest film, Hotel Transylvania, directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, is almost upon us. But it wasn't always directed by Genndy Tartakovsky. If you've followed the production of Sony's latest, you'll know it's been a troubled one; Tartakovsky is actually the sixth director to try his hand on the troubled film, one that thankfully seems to have got the job done. The Samurai Jack creator spoke to the LA Times about coming onto production this late on, the hostilities he faced, and the film in general.

Check out some interesting points, courtesy of the LA Times, after the jump break.

Friday 24 August 2012

Pixar Short Films Volume 2 Due on 13th November

It's a good time to be an American Pixar fan. With Finding Nemo 3D and Monsters, Inc. 3D due in cinemas later this year, Brave due on DVD and Blu-ray and Nemo due on Blu-ray for the first time, there was already a lot of Pixar goodies to enjoy - and now there's one more. Pixar Short Films Collection: Volume 2, which we saw hints at a while back (originating in our interview with La Luna director Enrico Casarosa), has now been officially dated for a (US) release date of 13th November.

This'll be a particularly grand day for US fans, as Brave is due for home video release that same day! Stitch Kingdom tells us that the Blu-ray collection is now available to pre-order on Amazon. The collection will include shorts from where the first collection left off, from Your Friend the Rat up, at least, until this year's La Luna. We can also glean from the cover-art (above) that the set will include the Toy Story Toons - or at least Hawaiian Vacation. No word on whether it'll include Partysaurus Rex, and we'll have to wait for an official announcement to get the full break down of shorts included.

Exciting news, also, though, is that the collection will include student films by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Pete Docter! Included, at least, are John Lasseter's Nitemare and The Lady and the Lamp; Stitch Kingdom detail even more too. The collection will also contain special features looking at how some of the Pixar talent got their start in animation.

Exciting news indeed and a must for any Pixar fan! No word on a UK release date though.

Thursday 23 August 2012

Finding Nemo 3D Featurette

A new featurette for Finding Nemo 3D has appeared on the Walt Disney Studios New Zealand YouTube channel. The video (above) features Pixar head honcho, John Lasseter, Nemo director, Andrew Stanton, co-director, Lee Unkrich, and some of Pixar's 3D experts, Josh Hollander and Bob Whitehill, talking about the supposedly brilliant 3D on the re-release.

Although I'm very much in favour of re-releasing classic films in 3D - because it means we get to see them on the big screen again! - sometimes the transition doesn't work that well, particularly if it's a hand-drawn film; not a problem seemingly with Nemo. Finding Nemo really does seem the perfect film for the 3D treatment, the immensely detailed, luscious ocean and the vibrant characters will, literally, just leap off the screen; John Lasseter speaks enthusiastically, also, about the brilliant stereoscopic effect of the particulate matter.

For me though, the most exciting prospect is one stated by Andrew Stanton: "The biggest thrill of Nemo going 3D, is it's an opportunity to get a whole new generation of kids to see it like it was originally seen."

Finding Nemo 3D hits US cinemas on 14th September with the Toy Story Toon, Partysaurus Rex, and arrives in the UK on 29th March, 2013.

Related news: Ellen DeGeneres in Talks to Return for Finding Nemo 2.

Monsters University Plot Details Emerge

With Brave's US theatrical run pretty much over (though it's just started in the UK!), eyes begin to turn towards Pixar's fourteenth feature film, Monstsers University. Aside from the fact that it's a prequel to Pixar's 2001 classic, Monsters, Inc., and that it's set in college, when best-friends Mike and Sulley were rivals, we know little about the plot of Monsters U thus far. However, Billy Crystal is here to enlighten us a bit.

Though he famously turned down the role of Buzz Lightyear, Crystal leapt at the opportunity to lend his voice to Mike Wazowski in Monsters, Inc. and has a great love for the character and the film. So it's no surprise that in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, the topic of the hotly anticipated prequel came up. Crystal spoke about the plot of the film, saying:

"[Mike and Sully] end up in the same fraternity where they have this scare competition — like Greek Games in college. They have to mobilize a group, sort of like Revenge of the Nerds-monsters, and get them ready to be scary.”"

So, expect to see more hilarious pranks and college-antics, like we saw in the teaser trailers a couple of months ago. Crystal also said that the duo are 17 and 18 in the film, adding "My guy has a retainer, even."

Monsters University is released on 21st June, 2013 in the US and 12th July in the UK, and the original Monsters, Inc. is re-released in 3D on 19th December (US only - UK re-release date likely in early 2013).

Frankenweenie to Open London Film Festival

Tim Burton's Frankenweenie is easily one of my most anticipated animated films of the summer. The black and white, stop-motion homage to classic monster movies looks set to be one of the best animated films of the year, and it seems others agree with me.

It was announced today that Frankenweenie will open the 56th annual BFI London Film Festival on 10th October! The film opens in the US on 5th October, but this will be the European premiere for the film (which opens nationwide on 17th). The premiere, at the Odeon Leicester Square, will be attended by Burton, producer Allison Abbate and executive producer Don Hahn, as well as several voice cast members. It will also screen simultaneously in 30 cinemas across the UK - so keep your eyes peeled for the listings!

An "Art of Frankenweenie" show will also run (for free!) from 17th - 21st, and you can check out information on tickets here from 5th September.

London Film Festival director, Clare Stweart, offered up her thoughts on having Frankenweenie opening the festival. Check her comments out below, as well as the video embedded above:

“Funny, dark and whimsical, this gloriously crafted stop-motion 3D animation from Tim Burton – the reigning prince of outsiders – playfully turns the Frankenstein story on its bolted-on head. Frankenweenie is a perfect choice of opener – it’s a film that revels in the magic of movies from one of cinema’s great visionaries."

With this and Laika's ParaNorman, spooky stop-motion flicks seem to be a big winner this year!

Wednesday 22 August 2012

Guest Review: ParaNorman

The second stop-motion animated film from Laika, ParaNorman, is out now in several territories and is receiving very enthusiastic reviews! One of those territories is France, and friend of the blog and our resident Tintin expert, Damien, shared his review of the film with us. Check it out below!

"Saw it this morning. 

Beautiful film. Beautiful animation. I don't think stop-motion ever looked this good before. Maybe Corpse Bride came the closest, but the way the characters and sets are handled here is incredible (You can see the light through Norman's ears! I don't know how they did that).

The story: much more my cup of tea than Coraline was - I loved Coraline, but it lacked a little in plot for me. It was a wonderful film; it had a very atmospheric, creepy feeling. And an amazing score (ParaNorman doesn't have such a good score). But there was no big surprise in the story.
Here, there are more little twists and turns, and I was delighted by the way the story evolved. They weren't "OH MY GOD WHAT ARE THEY DOING?!" twists, but they gave the film a nice dynamic feeling. 

A few problems I had with ParaNorman: sometimes, the characters repeat themselves. I was saying to myself in my head "Yes, you already said that, we get it!". But it's okay. Also, I'm not saying that ParaNorman is Coraline, but I hope Laika isn't only going to do movies that are so close thematically. They're handled very differently, but you don't have to look too hard to find similarities between the two. Maybe next time, try another genre. 

All in all, ParaNorman is a great and fun movie, with a pretty adult sense of humor; but it can be moving too. Looks like 2012 will be a nice year for stop-motion. The Pirates!, this, and Frankenweenie later this year. I really hope this technique doesn't disappear, as it gives a different feeling than CG or traditional animation. 

It was opening day in France, and we were only 4 in the theater room. Sad to see this kind of thing. Just checked: ParaNorman had only the 4th biggest opening of the day, with The Expendables 2 on the first spot. And two miserables French films at #2 and #3.
This is terrible. I don't get the audience... 

But the good news is - and to end on a happy note - we have a terrific film with ParaNorman!"

Sounds promising! ParaNorman opens here in the UK on 14th September, so I'll have my review up around that time. In the meantime, thanks to Damien for contributing his great review - be sure to follow him on Twitter (@Archibald_H), particularly if you're a Tintin fan - and if you've thoughts either way on ParaNorman, let us know them!

Brave Blu-ray Special Features Listings

Disney issued a press release today, giving a breakdown of the exciting special features that will appear on the various edition Blu-ray releases of Pixar's latest feature film, Brave. Included amongst the director's commentary, deleted and extended scenes, and some other exciting bonus features, is the Brave-based short film we heard about a couple of days ago!

Check out the colossal list of special features for the Brave Ultimate Collector's Edition after the jump break!

Ellen DeGeneres in Talks to Return for Finding Nemo 2

Last month, news broke that Andrew Stanton had begun work on a sequel to Pixar's Academy Award winning Finding Nemo. Pixar have since offered no confirmation, but with The Hollywood Reporter and Deadline both reporting it, the rumours seemed pretty solid. We were also told that Lindsey Collins, who recently worked with Stanton on Disney's John Carter, was set to produce, and that Victoria Strouse was the lead screenwriter on the project.

Today, we got another piece of the puzzle, as THR reports that Ellen DeGeneres, who voiced Dory in the 2003 original, is in talks to reprise her beloved role in the sequel! It seems to be only a formality though; given how vocal DeGeneres has been in the past 9 years about wanting a sequel to Finding Nemo, it seems pretty certain she'll be eager to return. Hopefully we'll get a host of great new characters too, as well as many of the beloved ensemble from the first film.

At the time of the first announcement, opinions were pretty divided: some overjoyed, some outraged, some indifferent. We held a poll here: yay or nay? And those in favour of a Nemo sequel narrowly edged out the naysayers. I'll admit, I wasn't certain about it, but the more I think about it, the more excited I am! Pixar wouldn't green-light a cash-grab, and Andrew Stanton wouldn't allow - much less to return to direct - a film that wouldn't live up to his magnificent original. Also, let's not forget, Nemo was Pixar's highest grossing film until Toy Story 3 came along; it's popular for a reason, and Nemo 2 may reclaim the throne from Toy Story 3.

With a great production team, and some of the original voice cast already coming back, Finding Nemo 2 will surely be fantastic!

A release date in 2016 is currently being eyed though, so it may be a while before we hear much more about this. In the meantime, the original Finding Nemo returns to US theatres in 3D on 14th September, and UK ones on 29th March, 2013 - check out the new TV spot for Nemo 3D here!

Tuesday 21 August 2012

DreamWorks Sign With Fox

DreamWorks Animation's distribution deal with Paramount comes to a close at the end of the year - with Paramount looking to cut out the middle man and set up their own animation studio - which left DreamWorks looking for a new partner. Studios rumoured to be in consideration were Warner Bros., Twentieth Century Fox and Sony, and today, Deadline tells us that the house that brought us Shrek has now signed a five year distribution deal with Fox.

Per the deal, Fox will receive an 8% cut of box office and home video takings, and 6% of digital takings - meaning DreamWorks' lucrative deal with Netflix. DreamWorks CEO, Jeffrey Katzenberg, called the deal "an absolute win-win".

Of note also, is that Fox already has its own built-in animation division, Blue Sky Studios, which is pretty damn successful. Fox's Jim Gianopulos and Tom Rothman spoke about this in a DreamWorks conference call, saying:

“We are particularly excited to add DreamWorks Animation’s films to the strong and growing slate of movies from our outstanding Blue Sky Studios division, which is coming off another global blockbuster with Ice Age: Continental Drift, and has Epic and Rio 2 in advanced production. Together we will be a dominant force in animated entertainment for years to come.”

The first film released under this new deal will be Chris Sanders' The Croods, due on 22nd March, 2013.

Monday 20 August 2012

Some Details About a Brave-Based Short Film - And a Catch-Up on the "Umbrella" Short

It's been a tradition since 2001, that when a Pixar film hits home video formats, it will be accompanied by the short-film that preceded it in cinemas, and a new feature-based short exclusive to DVDs, Blu-rays and digital copies of the film. Monsters, Inc. had Mike's New Car, The Incredibles had Jack Jack Attack, WALL-E had BURN-E, and so on. Pixar's last two features, Toy Story 3 and Cars 2 haven't had one on their home video releases, but Brave looks set to return to the tradition.

Check out all the details after the jump break!

Sunday 19 August 2012

Editorial: Adapt to Survive

From 1937 to 2011: One can't help but think something went awry along the way for animated adaptations.

Animation is built on adaptation. Walt Disney started off with adaptation, from his early Alice Comedies, to short-films like The Three Little Pigs, to his first feature length animated film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, they're all based on existing stories. In fact, think of your favourite Disney films of all time; films like Snow WhitePinocchio, Aladdin, The Jungle Book, they're all based on existing, popular stories, books or folk-tales. Even The Lion King, arguably the jewel in the Disney crown, is based on Shakespeare's Hamlet.

It's a long and important tradition, fairy-tales are what (whether they like it not anymore) typifies Disney; nearly all the best Disney films are based on existing stories: Hans Christian Anderson ones, Brothers Grimm ones; the inspiration comes from the stories and - however faithful an adaptation they may be - the films, for better or worse, spin-off from there.

However, the problems occur when adaptations come at the expense of originality; when studios take well established, well loved characters and try to "reinvent" them, to save on marketing and pull high box-office receipts, often at the expense of quality. This is a subject that seems particularly relevant at the moment, with the colossal glut of animated films coming up that are foregoing originality in favour of established characters and stories. In a world where we're in 2012 and expecting a Woody Woodpecker film, a Popeye film, another Curious George film, and all the possible (and likely) adaptations coming out of DreamWorks' purchase of Classic Media, it's easy to feel like we're drowning in adaptations.

Two New Partysaurus Rex Stills

The German Pixar Blog brings us two new stills from Pixar's next Toy Story Toon, Partysaurus Rex. The third Toy Story short, developed by Pixar's satellite studio in Vancouver, is directed by Pixar veteran Mark Walsh, and follows everyone's favourite neurotic dinosaur, as he tries to reinvent himself.

Scored by Grammy nominated electro-musician, BT, Partysaurus Rex will play with Finding Nemo 3D which hits US cinemas in just under a month (14th September; UK viewers have to wait until 29th March, 2013 though).

Check out the hi-res images above, and be sure to watch the clip from the short, revealed a few days ago, here!

Saturday 18 August 2012

Video of the Day: Toy Story Spoofs Call Me Maybe

No, we're not having Carly Rae Jepsen month. After Sony released their parody of "Call Me Maybe" a few days ago, Twitter user @JaceDiehl Tweeted us this hilarious Toy Story take on "Call Me Maybe". Using footage from the three Toy Story films and the Toy Story Toons, the spoof, courtesy of YouTube's JaceDin3D is above. Check it out!

And be sure to comment on the video, saying which song you'd like to see them attempt to make the Toy Story gang sing next.

First Monsters University Posters

Argentinian movie poster site, Cine 1, recently debuted the first posters for Pixar's Monsters University. Cine 1 treats us to a hi-res banner for the film (above) and two character posters featuring the eventually-inseparable, once-rivals Mike and Sulley.

Directed by Dan Scanlon, (Mater and the Ghostlight) Monsters U is Pixar's first prequel, and promises to be hilarious. And if these posters and the teasers are anything to go by, the new animation software debuted on Brave is going to make Monsters University an absolutely gorgeous film; we can already see a world of difference (even if the posters are annoyingly sprawled with watermarks) from the, already wonderfully animated, characters from the 2001 original.

You can enroll in Monsters University when it hits theatres next year, 21st June in America and 12th July in the UK.

Via Pixar Corner.

Friday 17 August 2012

ParaNorman's Out in the US - What Are the Critics Saying?

ParaNorman, the latest scary, stop-motion film from Laika, the house that brought you Coraline, is out today in US cinemas, and has been received thus far by the same enthusiastic acclaim that greeted their first film.

ParaNorman follows Norman Babcock, a young, outcast boy from the small town of Blithe Hollow, who has the inexplicable - yet somehow cinematically ubiquitous - ability to speak with the dead. Due to this, Norman is the only one able to try and stop the witch's curse that has plagued Blithe Hollow. Starring the voices of Kodi Smit-McPhee, Anna Kendrick, Jeff Garlin and John Goodman, and directed by Sam Fell (Flushed Away) and Chris Butler (storyboard supervisor on Coraline) was released today, with a new, intense, trailer (below), highlighting the scary parts of the film - rather than the comedy the earlier trailers focused on - released on the 14th.

The critics are enthusiastic so far; Laika's second film currently holds an 86% rating on Rotten Tomatoes (compared to Coraline's 90%), with a consensus reading:

"Beautifully animated and solidly scripted, ParaNorman will entertain (and frighten) older children while providing surprisingly thoughtful fare for their parents."

Top critics from all over the web seem enamoured with the film: Variety's Justin Chang writes "Few movies so taken with death have felt so rudely alive as "ParaNorman,"", and Rolling Stone's Peter Travers enthuses "Hey, it's not just Pixar that kicks ass in animation. Case in point: ParaNorman, a small miracle in stop-motion 3D from the wizards at Laika", rating it 3 out of 4 stars.

It certainly sounds promising!

Alas, ParaNorman isn't out here in the UK until 14th September (although we will have a review of The Art and Making of ParaNorman up soon!), but if you have seen it - or see it soon - please let us know what you think, either in the comments section, or on Twitter (@A113Animation).

In related news: The latest feature film from Henry Selick, who directed Coraline for Laika, has been dumped by Disney. Read the full story here.

Paramount Animation's Slate Fills Up - J.J. Abrams to Direct

Following the commercial and critical success of Rango last year (winning the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature) and the impending loss of the profit generated from distributing DreamWorks' films when the two companies part ways later this year, Paramount decided to go into business for itself and set up its own animation department. It's worked well for Fox, Sony and Universal, with their respective animation divisions, and Paramount is hoping for success for its animated slate - and it's looking promising so far.

So far, all we'd heard about the division is that it was starting off with a sequel to Nickelodeon's successful The Spongebob Squarepants Movie, due in 2014; to be followed by The New Kid, based on the Penny Arcade comic. But today, in addition to lots of new details about these projects, we got some hints at what we can expect from Paramount Animation in the future - which you can read all about after the jump break!

Thursday 16 August 2012

Brenda Chapman Speaks About Being Replaced on Brave

Pixar's thirteenth feature film, Brave, is finally out in the U.K., and is truly a fantastic film, but there's been quite a bit of chatter about the behind-the-scenes politics of the film's production too. Brenda Chapman (The Prince of Egypt, The Lion King) conceived the idea for Brave - originally as The Bear and the Bow - based on her own Scottish roots, and her relationship with her daughter. The film, therefore, was a passion project for her. So it had to have stung when, in 2010, she was replaced as the director of the film, by Mark Andrews (The Incredibles, John Carter).

The film turned out great, with "creative differences" cited as the reason for the replacement; we heard Brenda was staying on at Pixar, and everything seemed rosy. Not so much. People in the industry voiced distaste at the replacement (check out the comments section on Cartoon Brew's post about it - Home on the Range co-director John Sanford scathingly indited Pixar their, saying "Brenda was shoved aside because she was doing an unconventional movie in a studio that fears failure. They are second-guessing themselves to death."). However, we heard little from Brenda, or indeed Pixar, on the subject. However, last week we were told that Brenda had left Pixar, instead pursuing a role at Lucasfilm animation. The word then was that she had only stayed at Pixar that long to ensure she received her co-directing credit on the film.

No longer under employ by Pixar, Brenda wrote an article for the New York Times on Tuesday, called "Stand Up for Yourself, and Mentor Others". The original writer-director of Brave spoke candidly about the transition, the lack of protection for animation directors, and the role of women in Hollywood:

"It has been a heartbreakingly hard road for me over the last year and a half. When Pixar took me off of "Brave" – a story that came from my heart, inspired by my relationship with my daughter – it was devastating."

It's a sad read, for sure, and it must've been very hard for Brenda, to lose such a personal project. It's little surprise she chose to leave; look at Jan Pinkava after being replaced by Brad Bird on Ratatouille. It's hard to judge, having only seen the final version, but word is that the changes are often for the best, in the best interest of the film, but it can't be easy, and it certainly does raise questions about the safety of directors at Pixar - it can never be easy having something you love taken away from you. To her credit though, Chapman, a lovely and talented person, seemed overwhelmingly proud of the film and the roles of all involved:

"But in the end, my vision came through in the film. It simply wouldn’t have worked without it (and didn't at one point), and I knew this at my core. So I kept my head held high, stayed committed to my principles, and was supported by some strong women (and men!). In the end, it worked out, and I’m very proud of the movie, and that I ultimately stood up for myself, just like Merida"

I, resolutely, have faith in Pixar, they are the gold-standard of animation, and indeed film, but this is tough to read. We wish Brenda the best at Lucasfilm and wherever she may lay her hat next.

Wednesday 15 August 2012

Partysaurus Rex Clip

Pixar just uploaded a sneak peak from the latest Toy Story Toon, Partysaurus Rex, which will play before Finding Nemo 3D (released 14th September, US; 29th March, 2013, UK). UPDATE - Pixar've made the clip private, fortunately Stitch Kingdom have uploaded it, in HD, above.

The short is being described as "a Toy Story rave", and sees everybody's favourite neurotic dinosaur trying to reinvent himself at Bonnie's house. It turns out having arms makes a toy very in-demand at bath time! Check out the clip (above), which is certainly a bit different for Pixar, but - as with previous Toy Story Toons - is very funny.

Partysaurus Rex is directed by Pixar veteran Mark Walsh, over at Pixar Canada, and the music was created by techno-artist BT. Also, check out Rex's King Fergus look above - surely one of the many Pixar references we've been told the short features.

Disney Cuts Henry Selick's Next Film

We've heard the exciting news for a while now, that The Nightmare Before Christmas director Henry Selick had entered into a collaboration with Disney and Pixar. The studio formed as a result of this was then called Cinderbiter Productions.

We didn't hear anything much for a while, before recently hearing that Cinderbiter - now retitled ShadeMaker Productions - and Selick's first film for Disney would be called, tentatively, Shademaker, after the studio. The stop-motion film - which is supposedly, following in the vein of Selick's other films, like Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline, a scary one - was due for a 4th October, 2013 release date. However, Variety reports that Disney had concerns that the film wouldn't meet its release date, so the Mouse House pulled the plug.

Selick is expected to continue the film elsewhere (Laika maybe? After the success of their previous collaboration with Selick, Coraline), and still expected to progress with another film for Disney, an adaptation of Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book. However, the fact that Disney wouldn't postpone the release date (something they frequently do for Pixar films) suggests they weren't happy with Shademaker, so it's up in the air at the moment where Selick stands on The Graveyard Book - although Gaiman, having previously worked with Selick in adapting his original book of Coraline for Laika, would likely want to collaborate with him again.

Sad news, definitely, Henry Selick's a very talented film-maker, and here's hoping Shademaker finds a home and this doesn't spoil his relationship with Disney.

Via Bleeding Cool.

Tuesday 14 August 2012

Classic Cartoons #10 - Popeye the Sailor

Our last Classic Cartoon was Superman, AKA The Mad Scientist, the first in the critically revered Superman short film series from Fleischer Studios. The Superman shorts were the Fleischers' last hurrah, as, despite critical adulation and an Academy Award nomination for the first in the series, the high budget meant that the Fleischers soon ran out of funds, and Paramount, their financiers and distributors, soon ran out of patience. Amidst personal squabbles between brothers, Max and Dave, Paramount acquired the Fleischer Studios, and fired the brothers, renaming it Famous Studios in 1942.

However, the Fleischers had experienced much success prior to this. In their heyday, Fleischer Studios was the most significant competitor to Walt Disney and his cartoons. In fact, at one time, one of the Fleischers' series eclipsed Disney and Mickey Mouse in terms of popularity: Popeye the Sailor. Based on the Thimble Theatre comic strip, the Popeye cartoons were huge successes and inspired popular culture for years to come.

The first appearance of Popeye - as well as his love-interest, Olive Oyl, and his nemesis, Bluto - was actually in this Betty Boop cartoon from 1933. Indicative of things to come though, Boop was merely a cameo, whereas Popeye was the focus. Popeye would later get his series of theatrical cartoons - starting with I Yam What I Yam later that year - and the famous theme song, the outdated - but wonderful and hilarious - rubber hose animation and the beloved characters made Popeye the Sailor, both today's Classic Cartoon and the series it spawned, huge hits.

Don't forget, as well, that Sony Pictures Animation are moving ahead with a CG Popeye film, directed by Hotel Transylvania helmer, Genndy Tartakovsky.

Hotel Transylvania Spoofs Carly Rae Jepsen

It's a bizarre marketing strategy, but Sony Pictures Animation have released a parody of Carly Rae Jepsen's (surely the most spell-check unfriendly name ever) smash-hit song "Call Me Maybe", to help promote their latest animated film, Hotel Transylvania.

The parody is called "Call Me Mavy", and is sung by Traci L., focusing on Dracula's (Adam Sandler) daughter, Mavis (Selena Gomez), and her relationship with the only human to ever visit the monster's getaway of Hotel Transylvania, Jonathan (Andy Samberg). Whilst I'm not really a fan of the advertising for Hotel Transylvania (it looks awfully goofy), I must admit, the video is rather funny...

Bad advertising, also, is nothing new for Sony's animated films. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs looked pretty dreadful going in, but actually turned out to be a very fun film - one of the best animated films of 2009! I'm also quite taken with the latest Hotel T trailer, and the fact that Genndy Tartakovsky (Samurai Jack, Dexter's Lab) is directing reassures me somewhat.

Check out "Call Me Mavy" above! Hotel Transylvania, also featuring the voices of Kevin James, Steve Buscemi and Cee Lo Green, flies into US cinemas on 28th September, and slightly closer to the more apt Halloween season, on 12th October - although it'll face tough competition from Disney's similarly themed Frankenweenie.

Monday 13 August 2012

Brave Is Finally in UK Cinemas!

Pixar's thirteenth feature film has come and gone in the States, but Brave only hit UK cinemas for the first time today. It's been a ridiculously long wait, and some of the hype had died down in recent weeks, but strong advertising will surely mean Pixar's first fairytale has a strong box-office showing over here.

I was fortunate enough to be invited by Disney to an advanced screening of the film back in July (else the wait would've been deathly) and absolutely loved it! So, I rushed out to see Brave again today, and, if anything, was more enamoured with it than I was the first time around. Everyone I went with loved it - ranking it quite high up their favourite Pixar films - and I was, once again, humbled by the unparralelled excellence of Pixar.

As I said in my review at the time:

"Touching, powerful, immersive, funny and gorgeous – all in equal measure –Brave is yet another winner from Pixar, and has the feel of a grand epic, and an instant classic."

And my adoration of it hasn't lessened. Some of the dialogue is a bit cheesy, some of the humour a tad crude; but the characters are so well formed, the story so fantastic and the film in general so wonderful, that it really doesn't matter. Brave just needs to be seen.

Also, I was even more taken with Enrico Casarosa's preceding short film, La Luna, this time around too. I loved it back in July, and more so now; the magical innocence, the originality, the wonderful score and painterly animation, it's worth the price of admission alone! I was, though, disappointed that we didn't get the Monsters University teaser with the film - again! - but I loved the trailer for Frankenweenie with it.

If you're here in the UK (or indeed anywhere else in Europe or around where it's just opening) be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments section below, or on Twitter (@A113Animation). And please also take the time to vote in our poll on Facebook, to decide your favourite animated film of the last ten years - get the full details here.

Announcing the Best of The Last Ten Years A113Animation Awards

Here at A113Animation, we love animated films (just in case you didn't know). We suspect you do too. For the past two years, we've had our own A113Animation Awards, rewarding the best animated films of the year - we'll continue this in December with our 3rd Annual A113Animation Awards.

However, this year, we're also running the "Best of the Last Ten Years" A113Animation Awards! Honouring the best animated films from the start of 2001 to the end of 2011. I'll be conducting my own "Best Animated Film of the Last Ten Years" award, choosing between 1 and 3 films from each year (depending on the strength of the year) and whittling them down over time, to get the final short-list of nominees. You can expect to see the first list of nominees in the next few days.

But we also want YOUR say! There will be a "People's Choice Award for the Best Animated Film of the Last ten Years" too! with the nominees coming from you! Over at our official Facebook page, you'll find a poll, asking you to vote for what you think the best animated film of the past ten years has been. There's some films up in the options already, and voting has begun, but you can add your own options (providing they are from the last ten years) and vote for whatever you deem fit! Every vote counts though, and if you want to vote via Twitter (mention us, @A113Animation, and use the hashtag, #A113TenYears) or email ( The votes will be counted as the weeks progress, and in a few weeks time, there'll be rounds of voting, here on the blog and on Facebook. We will then get it down to a list of ten, and you can vote for your favourites and have your say.

The winners of the two awards will be unveiled sometime in the near future (precise time-frame to come later) and be sure to keep your eyes here, on A113Animation, for the latest updated on the Awards.

In the meantime, have your voice heard! And please vote in the poll (here) now, we want to make this as interactive as possible!

Friday 10 August 2012

New Wreck-It Ralph Concept Art - Including a Cartoon John Lasseter!

Disney's 52nd animated feature film, Wreck-It Ralph, hits US cinemas on 2nd November, so the Mouse House have begun heavy advertising for the video-game themed adventure; hoping to replicate the success of Tangled. Denise from Mouse Steps noticed that the artwork from Pixar's Brave at the Magic of Disney Animation attraction at Disney World's Hollywood Studios has been replaced by pre-production art from Ralph!

Included in the concept art (below) was a drawing of a little cartoon man in glasses and a Hawaiian shirt, a man that may look familiar to you. Yep, it seems Disney have included a reference to Pixar and Disney Animation CCO, John Lasseter, in their latest animated film (presumably paying homage to the huge influence Lasseter and co. have had in turning round Disney Animation since the Pixar merger in 2006). This comes after Lasseter had a cameo in Pixar's Cars 2, with the car version of himself, John Lassetire. From the character design, it looks like John will be one of the Nicelanders in the "Fix-It Felix, Jr." arcade game that Ralph is the villain in.

Check out the rest of the concept art after the jump break!

Thursday 9 August 2012

First Look at Partysaurus Rex

This shouldn't come as any great surprise - given that electro-artist BT spilled the beans (1:12 onwards) a while back, and a line of Disney Holiday toys uncovered by The Pixar Times's Samad were for the short - but Pixar have finally officially announced, through Entertainment Weekly, that their next Toy Story will be called Partysaurus Rex, and released the first images from it!

EW also announced that the Rex-focused short will be directed by veteran Pixar animator Mark Walsh, and that it will be paired with Finding Nemo 3D when that hits cinemas next month (14th September in the US; 29th March, 2013 over here in the UK).

The short, the third Toy Story Toon, is - in the words of BT, who handles the dance music for the short - "like a Toy Story rave!" Rex, the only bath-time toy endowed with limbs, turns on the water to get the party started! And we can expect to see gorgeous underwater, bubble filled, techno-lit animation!

Wallace Shawn, who has voiced Rex since the original Toy Story in 1995, says that Rex is "sick of being the angel of goodness and sensibleness and caution and fear. He wants to stand on the side of pleasure and happiness and joy". And Walsh, the director, also offered up a brief summary:

“If you’re a bath toy you get really intense playtime. It’s like a party. Then when the water goes down you can’t move. You’re helpless. And that’s pathetic, these guys in bottom of the tub all the time. What I was going for was, you move to a new town and make new friends, and suddenly you think you have this chance where you can reinvent yourself. I love that Rex, in his sweetness, thinks he can reinvent who he is in the image of a party animal.”

The short is apparently full of easter-eggs and references; you can even see a few in these images - check out the toilet seat! We'll likely see Partysaurus Rex on Pixar Short Films: Volume 2 in November.

I'm excited for Partysaurus Rex - even if us in the UK have to wait until next year for it - are you?

ParaNorman Cast Interview

Fox Houston's Jake Hamilton, of the Emmy-winning "Jake's Takes" - and one of the best and most interesting interviewers on the Internet - recently uploaded an interview (above) with some of the cast of Laika's upcoming stop-motion animated feature, ParaNorman.

Jake interviews Kodi Smit-McPhee, - who voices the titular Norman - Anna Kendrick - who voices Norman's older sister, Courtney - and Leslie Mann - who voices their mum. Included amongst the original questions put by Jake to the cast were which classic horror films they'd like to see remade in stop-motion, and their thoughts about the film's message of it being a good thing to be different.

It's also great to hear the enthusiasm they all have for the film! Laika (who previously brought us Coraline) should write Jake a substantial check, because this interview got me more excited for ParaNorman than most of the trailers!

ParaNorman opens in US cinemas on 17th August and UK cinemas on 14th September. I'll also be reviewing The Art and Making of ParaNorman from Chronicle Books in the near future!

Tuesday 7 August 2012

UPDATED - Concept Art for Disney's Frozen Leaks Online

Though it doesn't sound like it's the concept art that the press touring Disney last week got to see, some brand new artwork from Disney's upcoming 53rd animated feature film, Frozen, has leaked online!

Check it out after the jump break!

Kung Fu Panda 3 to be a US/Oriental DreamWorks Co-Production

News broke today that Kung Fu Panda 3 is set to be a co-production between DreamWorks' Glendale studio and the newly established Oriental DreamWorks, with a view to a worldwide 2016 release date.

This is a smart move by DreamWorks to take advantage of the very lucrative Chinese market; the Chinese government only allow a certain number of foreign films in per year, and this dedication bodes well for the Shrek house's chances. It's also a move that works thematically given the heavy oriental influences (as well as the setting) of the Kung Fu Panda films.

On a more personal note, I'm very excited for the Panda threequel. Admittedly, DreamWorks don't have the best track record with sequels and I was pensive about Kung Fu Panda 2 at the start, but, frankly, they've severely upped their game in the last few years and have barely put a foot wrong since 2010. I adored 2 (review here) - see this year's A113Animation Awards for proof - and it set up well for 3, and my anticipation for it hasn't lessened much since I first saw the second film last year.

They have a string of great original projects (Rise of the Guardians, Me and my Shadow, etc...) coming up, and a decent line up of sequels; at this point, I have a lot of faith in DreamWorks.

Brenda Chapman Reportedly Leaves Pixar

Pixar Portal yesterday broke the news that Brave co-director, Brenda Chapman, (pictured above at the Brave world premiere) has apparently left Pixar! Before joining Pixar, Brenda - who is married to Enchanted director Kevin Lima -  was trained by the story department on The Little Mermaid at the start of the Disney Renaissance. She did more key work at Disney as a story artist on the Best Picture nominated Beauty and the Beast, and then acting as head of story on The Lion King. She later made waves being the first female to direct a major animated film, with DreamWorks' The Prince of Egypt.

She joined Pixar in 2003, during the production of Cars, and, after working on that film, she began crafting her own. Brave, from its initial conception as The Bear and the Bow, was a passion project for Brenda Chapman, drawing so much from her own life: her Scottish roots and her relationship with her daughter. Later renamed, Brave was Pixar's first fairytale, and featured their first female protagonist - their first princess - and was set to see Brenda become their first female director. But then things changed.

Brenda Chapman was removed from the director's chair and replaced by, The Incredibles head of story and John Carter co-writer, Mark Andrews, with "creative differences" cited as the reason for the change. The directorial change didn't jar the final product and Brave was a fantastic, emotional film and Brenda, Mark and all involved throughout the 7-year production should be very proud!

Pixar Portal also reports that Brenda is now working as a consultant for Lucasfilm animation. It's a big shame to see Brenda part ways with Pixar - especially as she comes as only the latest of a long stream of talent to leave Emeryville; Jan Pinkava left after being ousted as Ratatouille director, Presto director Doug Sweetland left to direct The Familiars for Sony, and original Cars 2 director Brad Lewis left after being replaced on that project - nonetheless, we're sure Brenda will be a huge asset to Lucasfilm and great at whatever she tries her hand at.

We wish Brenda the best in whatever she pursues next!

Saturday 4 August 2012

John Lasseter Talks About Pixar's Upcoming Slate; Details on Día de los Muertos Film

Disney and Pixar Animation Chief Creative Officer, John Lasseter, recently sat down for an interview with Monsieur Hollywood, a French movie site, in which he discussed Pixar's upcoming slate of animated films, including shedding some light on Lee Unkrich's untitled film about the Día de los Muertos!

In the first part of the interview, John discusses Brave, how many firsts it represents for Pixar and what it means to him personally. However, the second part is arguably more interesting. In the second part (embedded above), the Toy Story director discusses (as well as the technical challenges of Brave and his favourite Disney characters) what we'll see from Pixar in the next 5 to 10 years. He doesn't offer up much, saying Monsters University (new images here) is "really funny", and merely mentions Bob Peterson's The Good Dinosaur; he speaks very enthusiastically about Pete Docter's "amazing story" for his Untitled Mind Film, however, the most interesting nugget of information was concerning Lee Unkrich's next film.

The Toy Story 3 director is working on a film about the Mexican holiday of the Day of the Dead, and speculation has been rife over what the story of the film would revolve around; whether it would be a more adult Pixar film. Lasseter shed a little bit of light on the matter saying it's a "fantastic story of family". So, we now know that, what will be, Pixar's 17th feature film will be family-centric - a normal family juxtaposed into fantastic situations perhaps, in the mould of The Incredibles or Brave maybe.

It'll be a while before we hear more from this project though, given that it doesn't even have an announced title or release date yet - expect it in 2015/16.

Need a Pixar fix in the meantime? Then check out our review of Brave, which finally arrives here in the UK in 9 days, on the 13th.

Via The Pixar Times and Pixar Post.

Three New Monsters University Stills

Although Pixar's latest film, Brave, is still to open in a lot of territories (including here in the UK), it's run is coming to an end in US cinemas; after grossing over $200 million! So, eyes have now began to turn to the Toy Story studio's 14th feature film, the prequel to 2001's Monsters, Inc., Monsters University.

Set while the best-friend duo of Sulley and Mike were in college - and rivals - Monsters University is Pixar's first prequel and is sure to do very well. We can expect to be hearing more and more from Pixar's next film in the next year, and today, a PDF found on Pixar's Graphics Research website, with the catchy title of  "Multiresolution Radiosity Caching for Efficient Preview and Final Quality Global Illumination in Movies", about lighting, rendering and global illumination/colour bleeding in computer animated movies brings us three brand new stills from the film.

Admittedly, the images are unfinished and unpolished, but they still show a startling amount of detail and give us a glimpse into the film and the rivalry between the two eventual-best friends. The red-boxes around the second two images featured here are because later in the document these highlighted areas are enhanced and compared; the document (read it in full here) describes new, faster, techniques for rendering and global illumination in Pixar's films.

Monsters University is directed by Dan Scanlon (Mater and the Ghostlight) and is due for release on 21st June, 2013 in the US, and in the UK on 12th July, 2013.

Via The Pixar Times.

Thursday 2 August 2012

Dr. Seuss' The Lorax Review - It's Funny, It's Lyrical and the Animation's First-Rate; But the Lack of Originality Means it May Start to Grate

If you're reading this in America, this review will seem very belated, given that The Lorax is released on DVD and Blu-Ray over there on the 7th, but the third feature film from Illumination Entertainment - who arrived on the animation scene with Despicable Me back in 2010 - only arrived here in the UK on the 27th July; over 4 months after it was first released in America! So, I went to see the adaptation of the classic Dr. Seuss book on Wednesday, and left with a mixed impression.

Dr. Seuss' The Lorax is by no means a bad film; it's a very faithful adaptation of the Seuss book, with a strong moral message, cute characters and gorgeous animation. However, the characters that aren't cute are underdeveloped and annoying, the pacing is a bit off and the comedy is a trifle inconsistent. The biggest problem with The Lorax though, is that it's unoriginal. You will enjoy it, but you'll also leave with the inescapable feeling that it could've been so much more.

New Wreck-It Ralph Concept Art, Stills and More (And a Bit About Frozen)

This still from the film shows Ralph entering the Mario-Kart inspired world, "Sugar Rush".

Disney recently held a press event to promote their upcoming slate, this included showing off their buzz-generating short film, Paperman, their 2013 animated release, Frozen, directed by Tarzan's Chris Buck, and revealing a substantial amount of new images, concept art and information from their next animated feature film, Wreck-It Ralph.

Check out the brand new plot details and concept art after the jump break!

Wednesday 1 August 2012

Finding Nemo 3D TV Spot

Disney are rolling out the TV spots at the moment. Yesterday we got a TV spot for Disney's 52nd animated feature film, Wreck-It Ralph, and today Pixar's official YouTube channel released one for the upcoming 3D re-release of Finding Nemo.

Almost a decade after Andrew Stanton's directorial debut first hit the big screens, Nemo is still a fantastic (both in terms of story/character quality and animation quality) movie and is beloved the world over; it's sure to be a huge hit for Disney when it opens stateside on 14th September.

Alas, those of us in the UK won't get to "sea" Finding Nemo 3D until some time in early 2013.