Monthly Archives: November 2011

Batman” comics writer Alvin Schwartz dies at 84

Alvin Schwartz

Alvin Schwartz

Comic book writer Alvin Schwartz died Octo­ber 28 from heart com­pli­ca­tions, the Cana­dian Comic Book Cre­ator Awards Asso­ci­a­tion announced Wednes­day. He was 84.

Schwartz wrote the adap­ta­tion for the half-hour 1983 CBS car­toon spe­cial The Leg­end Of Hiawatha. Pro­duced by Atkin­son Film-Arts, it was orig­i­nally pre­sented as a Ken­ner Fam­ily Clas­sics special.

Born in New York City on Novem­ber 17, 1916, Schwartz moved to Canada after his con­tri­bu­tions to comics. He was best known for writ­ing Bat­man and other strips for DC Comics, and is cred­ited as the cre­ator of Bizarro. Schwartz lived in Chester­ville, Ontario for decades, work­ing mostly with the National Film Board and writ­ing reports for the Fed­eral Government.

Schwartz wrote his first comics for Fairy Tale Parade in 1939, and wrote exten­sively for Shel­ley Mayer, then an edi­tor at Max Gaines’ All-American Pub­li­ca­tions (later pur­chased by National/DC in 1944). He had also done a short stint at Faw­cett on Cap­tain Marvel.

Schwartz wrote his first Bat­man story in 1942, and his first Bat­man news­pa­per strip in August 1944 (an assign­ment he con­tin­ued on until 1958) and his first Super­man news­pa­per strip in Octo­ber 1944. He had a long asso­ci­a­tion with Super­man as the writer of both the Man of Steel’s news­pa­per strip and many of his comic book appear­ances, and one of his many endur­ing con­tri­bu­tions to the Super­man mythol­ogy was the first tale of Bizarro, a char­ac­ter who became a part of pop­u­lar cul­ture, quite apart from comics. While writ­ing most of DC’s news­pa­per strips between 1944 and 1952, he also went on to do sto­ries for many of their comics mag­a­zines, work­ing on char­ac­ters such as Aqua­man, Vig­i­lante, Slam Bradley, Date With Judy, Buzzy, House of Mys­tery, Tom­a­hawk, Won­der Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern, News­boy Legion and numer­ous others.

After his 1958 depar­ture from comics, Schwartz took on a whole new role in the cor­po­rate world, using the knowl­edge of plot­ting gained in comics to open new direc­tions in mar­ket research, devel­op­ing the now well-known tech­niques of psycho-graphics, typo­log­i­cal iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and oth­ers, until, as research direc­tor for Dr. Ernst Dichter’s famed think tank, The Insti­tute for Moti­va­tional Research, he pro­vided struc­tural and mar­ket­ing advice to some of America’s largest cor­po­ra­tions, rang­ing from Gen­eral Motors to Gen­eral Foods. He was sub­se­quently appointed to an advi­sory com­mit­tee of the Amer­i­can Asso­ci­a­tion of Adver­tis­ing Agencies.

Schwartz also authored three nov­els for Arco Press, one of which, Sword of Desire, a detec­tive story, won praise for its suc­cess­ful take­off on Reichian orgone ther­apy, a pop­u­lar psy­chother­a­peu­tic tech­nique dur­ing the ‘40s and ‘50s. His Beat Gen­er­a­tion novel The Blow­top was pub­lished by Dial in 1948. Under the title Le Cinglé, it became a best seller in France. He also wrote and lec­tured on super­heroes at var­i­ous uni­ver­si­ties and received a pres­ti­gious Canada Coun­cil grant for a study on the reli­gious sym­bol­ism in pop­u­lar cul­ture, using Super­man as a springboard.

Also in Canada, he wrote fea­ture films and did numer­ous docu-dramas for the National Film Board for nearly 20 years and did a num­ber of eco­nomic and social stud­ies for the Cana­dian government.

His last two books, writ­ten in his 80s, were An Unlikely Prophet: Rev­e­la­tions on the Path With­out Form (pub­lished in 1997) — a mem­oir deal­ing with some very off-the-wall expe­ri­ences gen­er­ated by his years doing Super­man which led him to a unique under­stand­ing of Superman’s sig­nif­i­cance as well as some life-enriching pos­si­bil­i­ties avail­able to every one of us, and the sequel A Gath­er­ing of Selves: The Spir­i­tual Jour­ney of the Leg­endary Writer of Super­man and Bat­man (pub­lished in 2006).

Schwartz received the first Bill Fin­ger Award for his con­tri­bu­tions to comics via writ­ing in 2006. The Fin­ger Award was cre­ated by the leg­endary cre­ator Jerry Robin­son to honor his friend Bill Fin­ger (the uncred­ited co-creator of Bat­man), and is given to comic book writ­ers as part of the Will Eis­ner Comic Book Indus­try Awards each July.

Tangled (2010) — Walt Disney Pictures Feature Length Theatrical Animated Film

Tangled (2010) - Walt Disney Pictures Feature Length Theatrical Animated Film

Tan­gled (2010) — Walt Dis­ney Pic­tures Fea­ture Length The­atri­cal Ani­mated Film

CotD: Now a year old… so, is “Tan­gled” one of the GREAT Dis­ney films, or just another ani­mated product?

Tan­gled (2010) — Walt Dis­ney Pic­tures Fea­ture Length The­atri­cal Ani­mated Film

A Dis­ney retelling of the clas­sic fairy tale of the Princess impris­oned in an iso­lated, tall tower. The only way into or out of the tower is to climb up Rapunzel’s long hair.

Watch “Tan­gled” on video at Big Car­toon DataBase

Mark Hall, co-founder of Cosgrove Hall, dead at 74

Mark Hall

Mark Hall

Producer-Animator Mark Hall, co-founder with Brian Cos­grove of famed British stu­dio Cos­grove Hall, died early Fri­day at his Man­ches­ter home after a bat­tle with can­cer. He was 74.

He died sur­rounded by his fam­ily, said his com­pany, Cos­grove Hall Fitz­patrick Entertainment.

The ani­ma­tion stu­dio he founded was respon­si­ble for Dan­ger Mouse, Vam­pires, Pirates and Aliens and The Wind in the Wil­lows, among many TV series. It also pro­duced such fea­tures as Cin­derella (1979) and The BFG (1989).

Hall met Cos­grove while they were study­ing at Man­ches­ter School of Art in the 1950s. After grad­u­a­tion, they both joined TV, doing graphic design at Granada Television.

In 1971, Hall left Granada to start Stop Frame Pro­duc­tions, which, he said in a 2006 inter­view, was “where we cut our teeth.”

They cre­ated Cos­grove Hall Films in 1976, the year after Stop Frame was wound down. They had suc­cess around the world with their series, which included Dan­ger Mouse spin-off Count Duck­ula, Jamie and the Magic Torch and Cock­leshell Bay.

Hall had “a life­time of achieve­ment” in ani­ma­tion, recalled Cos­grove Hall oper­a­tions direc­tor Adrian Wilkins. “He is one of life’s gentlemen.:

Voiced by Only Fools and Horses actor David Jason, Dan­ger Mouse was joined by bum­bling side­kick Pen­fold (voiced by Terry and June star Terry Scott) in his attempts to van­quish evil Baron Greenback.

In 2006, the series’ 25th anniver­sary year, Hall told the British Broad­cast­ing Cor­po­ra­tion that the secret to Dan­ger Mouse’s suc­cess was the odd sit­u­a­tions that the the pair found them­selves in.

The adults watched because of that kind of anar­chy,” he said. “The kids watched it because they just loved the sto­ries and the absolutely stu­pid gags.”

He praised Jason’s “fan­tas­tic” voic­ing of Dan­ger Mouse and Scott’s “won­der­ful” Penfold.

Pro­duced by Cos­grove Hall for Thames TV, Dan­ger Mouse drew an aver­age audi­ence of 3.5 mil­lion when first aired in the Britain on ITV. Since then, it’s been broad­cast in over 80 countries.

Although Cos­grove Hall went out of busi­ness two years ago, both co-founders came out of retire­ment this year to form Cos­grove Hall Fitz­patrick Enter­tain­ment with Fran­cis Fitz­patrick, cre­ator of the hit kids’ series Jakers!

The com­pany has cre­ated a new char­ac­ter, Pip!, which, it says, could cre­ate at least 75 jobs in the Man­ches­ter area when pro­duc­tion begins.

Cos­grove and Hall also cre­ated the new series The HeroGlif­fix, a group of “so-called super heroes” who have “paws with flaws that get in the way of their super­pow­ers in the most incon­ve­nient and com­i­cal ways.”

Mark was instru­men­tal in design­ing the two new TV shows which we’re tak­ing to mar­ket now which are, if you like, his legacy,” said CHF’s Adrian Wilkins. “And he actu­ally saw the Cos­grove Hall name res­ur­rected which was the nicest trib­ute we could give to him.”

Added Wilkins: “One of our fel­low direc­tors summed it up the other day and said, when the his­tory of ani­ma­tion is writ­ten, you’ll have the likes of Walt Dis­ney up there, [Bob the Builder’s] Keith Chap­man, etc. But Brian Cos­grove and Mark Hall are going to be in the life­time hall of fame for their con­tri­bu­tion to the ani­ma­tion industry.”

Mark Hall is sur­vived by his wife and two chil­dren. One of them, Simon, also works in the ani­ma­tion business.

Bedtime For Sniffles (1940) — Merrie Melodies Theatrical Cartoon Series

Bedtime For Sniffles (1940) - Merrie Melodies Theatrical Cartoon

Bed­time For Snif­fles (1940) — Mer­rie Melodies The­atri­cal Cartoon

CotD: One of Chuck Jones’ first major char­ac­ters, Snif­fles from “Bed­time For Snif­fles”, was voiced by a mys­tery woman.

Bed­time For Snif­fles (1940) — Mer­rie Melodies The­atri­cal Car­toon Series

In his lit­tle sar­dine can house, Snif­fles tries to stay awake and wait up to see Santa on Christ­mas Eve. Snif­fles is sweep­ing up and singing “Jin­gle Bells” while he waits for Santa. In just an hour, Santa will be here. He makes a cup of Haxwell Mouse Cof­fee and reads “Good Mouse­keep­ing” mag­a­zine while he waits, only to even­tu­ally fall asleep.

Watch “Bed­time For Snif­fles” on video at Big Car­toon DataBase

Kress, McDuffie receive posthumous writing award

Earl Kress

Earl Kress

Ani­ma­tion writ­ers Dwayne McDuffie and Earl Kress have been posthu­mously named co-recipients of the Writ­ers Guild of Amer­ica, West Ani­ma­tion Writ­ers Cau­cus’ 14th Annual Ani­ma­tion Writ­ing Award, rec­og­niz­ing their out­stand­ing con­tri­bu­tions to the craft of ani­ma­tion writ­ing, as well as their work with the Writ­ers Guild in orga­niz­ing animation.

The AWC’s life­time achieve­ment award was pre­sented to McDuffie’s and Kress’ wid­ows, Char­lotte (Fuller­ton) McDuffie and Denise Kress, at the AWC’s 2011 meet­ing, recep­tion and awards cer­e­mony Thurs­day night at WGAW head­quar­ters in Los Angeles.

Mark Evanier, the 2003 hon­oree, pre­sented this year’s award to Kress, and AWC mem­ber Matt Wayne made the pre­sen­ta­tion to (Fuller­ton) McDuffie. WGAW vice-president Howard A. Rod­man intro­duced the evening.

This year, ani­ma­tion lost two tal­ented, hard-working peo­ple who have given much of them­selves and their tal­ent to our field. Dwayne McDuffie was a tal­ented writer and cre­ator of comics and ani­ma­tion who worked hard for oth­ers, par­tic­u­larly for minor­ity writ­ers. Earl Kress was a writer whose career included both fea­ture and TV ani­ma­tion and hard work on behalf of all ani­ma­tion writ­ers as a mem­ber of the WGA Ani­ma­tion Writ­ers Cau­cus and the Ani­ma­tion Guild Board of Direc­tors,” said AWC chair Craig Miller.

Both were peo­ple I was glad to call friend and col­league, and whose efforts, it can truth­fully be said, made all of us the bet­ter for them. They left us much too soon and too young, and I’m pleased we can com­mem­o­rate their work and their mem­ory with this year’s award,” Miller added.

Earl Kress spent 30-plus years work­ing tire­lessly to improve the lot of ani­ma­tion writ­ers. He leaves behind a legacy of iconic car­toons and well-deserved awards, along with scores of fel­low ani­ma­tion writ­ers who have health and pen­sion ben­e­fits because of Earl, and Earl alone,” com­mented AWC mem­ber and 2009 AWC Ani­ma­tion Writ­ing Award hon­oree Stan Berkowitz.

Dwayne McDuffie came to L.A. to work on Sta­tic Shock, the ani­mated adap­ta­tion of an African-American comic book hero he co-created, and it wasn’t long before he was one of the lead­ing lights of super­hero ani­ma­tion. Though his sto­ries were often set at the edges of the uni­verse and in other dimen­sions, they invari­ably reflected Dwayne’s all-encompassing human­ity,” added Berkowitz.

Born on August 22, 1951, and a WGAW mem­ber since 1994, Kress died Sep­tem­ber 19, shortly after turn­ing 60, of com­pli­ca­tions due to liver cancer.

Kress launched his career in 1975 with The Odd­ball Cou­ple, his car­toon adap­ta­tion of The Odd Cou­ple. His ani­ma­tion writ­ing cred­its over four decades include Trans­form­ers, Ani­ma­ni­acs, Pinky and the Brain, Pinky, Elmyra and the Brain, Tom & Jerry Tales, The Smurfs, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, The Lit­tle Ras­cals, The Beren­stain Bears, Ghost­busters, Duck­Tales, Pound Pup­pies, Tiny Toon Adven­tures, Kim Pos­si­ble, Krypto the Super­dog, and the mem­o­rable, final “Road Run­ner” Looney Tunes short Lit­tle Go Beep (co-written with Kath­leen Helppie-Shipley), among many other ani­mated programs.

Kress’ ani­mated fea­ture co-writing cred­its include story work on Disney’s The Fox and the Hound (1981), as well as sev­eral direct-to-video ani­mated fea­tures, such as Tom and Jerry Meet Sher­lock Holmes (2010) and Wakko’s Wish (1999).

In 1998, Kress earned an Annie Award for his work on the Pinky and the Brain episode “The Fam­ily That Poits Together Narfs Together” (shared with co-writers Charles M. How­ell IV and John Ludin). A five-time Emmy nom­i­nee, Kress shared two Day­time Emmys over the course of his career, one for Pinky and the Brain in 1999 (Out­stand­ing Spe­cial Class Ani­mated Pro­gram), the other for Pinky, Elmyra, and the Brain in 2000 (Out­stand­ing Children’s Ani­mated Program).

Over the course of his career, Kress worked at stu­dios such as Warner Bros., Uni­ver­sal and Dis­ney, and ani­ma­tion pro­duc­tion com­pa­nies includ­ing Hanna-Barbera, Mar­vel, DePatie-Freleng and Filmation.

In 1995, Kress joined the Ani­ma­tion Guild’s exec­u­tive board and was elected vice-president of the Ani­ma­tion Guild (Local 839) in 2004, a posi­tion he held until his death ear­lier this year.

In addi­tion to writ­ing comic books for The Simp­sons and Looney Toons, Kress most recently “ghost­wrote” Life is a Pic-a-Nic: Tips and Tricks for the Smarter Than Av-er-age Bear with Yogi Bear, pub­lished in 2010 as a tie-in for the recent big-screen ani­mated fea­ture Yogi Bear. He also co-authored the 2009 auto­bi­og­ra­phy of voiceover leg­end June Foray, Did You Grow Up with Me, Too?, with co-writer and close friend Mark Evanier.

A man of diverse tal­ents, Kress worked as a voice actor and a pup­peteer for The Mup­pets, in addi­tion to serv­ing as a sought-after ani­mated pro­gram­ming his­to­rian, play­ing a key role in pro­duc­ing sev­eral DVD box sets of clas­sic Warner Bros. car­toons and con­tribut­ing “spe­cial fea­ture” sup­ple­men­tal mate­ri­als to many ani­mated TV series DVD col­lec­tions, as well as work­ing with Rhino Enter­tain­ment to release sev­eral CDs of vin­tage Hanna-Barbera car­toon sound­tracks, among other animation-centric indus­try projects.

Well-respected comic book and ani­ma­tion writer McDuffie, who died Feb­ru­ary 21 at 49 of com­pli­ca­tions after under­go­ing emer­gency heart surgery, was co-founder of Mile­stone Media, a ground-breaking com­pany that cre­ated mul­ti­cul­tural comic lines which intro­duced black super­heroes such as Hard­ware and Static.

As a comic book author, McDuffie con­tributed to Marvel’s Fan­tas­tic Four and DC’s Bat­man: Leg­ends of the Dark Knight and Jus­tice League of Amer­ica, among other pop­u­lar comic book titles. As a tele­vi­sion ani­ma­tion writer, story edi­tor or pro­ducer, his ani­mated series writ­ing cred­its include Sta­tic Shock (which he co-created with Christo­pher James Priest), Jus­tice League, Ben 10: Alien Force, Ben 10: Ulti­mate Alien, What’s New, Scooby Doo?, Teen Titans and Friends & Heroes, among other ani­mated programs.

McDuffie also penned the 2011 ani­mated fea­ture All-Star Super­man, based on the comic book series by Grant Mor­ri­son and Frank Quitely, as well as sev­eral ani­mated fea­tures in the “DC Uni­verse Ani­mated Orig­i­nal Movies” series fran­chise, and the videogame Jus­tice League Heroes. The last project McDuffie was work­ing on prior to his death was Jus­tice League: Doom, his videogame adap­ta­tion of Mark Waid’s “Tower of Babel” JL story slated for release in 2012.

Born on Feb­ru­ary 20, 1962, and a WGAW mem­ber since 2003, McDuffie attended the Roeper School for gifted chil­dren in the Detroit sub­urb of Bloom­field Hills. Later, he earned a bachelor’s degree at the Uni­ver­sity of Michi­gan and attended film school at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

Launch­ing his career in 1987 as a spe­cial comics edi­tor at Mar­vel Comics, McDuffie wrote for Spider-Man and other major Mar­vel char­ac­ters, and co-created the lim­ited series Dam­age Con­trol, cen­ter­ing on the novel idea of a firm that repairs prop­erty dam­ages caused by epic bat­tles between super­heroes and supervillains.

In 2003, McDuffie shared a Human­i­tas Prize for pen­ning the “Jimmy” episode of Sta­tic Shock (tele­play by McDuffie, story by Alan Bur­nett and McDuffie), which explored the top­i­cal issue of gun vio­lence in schools. In 2004, McDuffie received a Day­time Emmy Award nom­i­na­tion for Sta­tic Shock in the Out­stand­ing Spe­cial Class Ani­mated Pro­gram cat­e­gory (shared with Sander Schwartz, Bur­nett, Denys Cowan, Swin­ton O. Scott III, John Sem­per, Len Uhley and Andrea Romano), and in 2005, McDuffie shared a Writ­ers Guild Award nom­i­na­tion for co-writing the Jus­tice League episode “Star­crossed” (writ­ten by Rich Fogel, John Rid­ley and McDuffie, story by Fogel).

After sev­eral years spent free­lanc­ing as a comic book writer, in 1992 McDuffie co-founded Mile­stone Media, whose comics were dis­trib­uted by DC Comics. The com­pany, like McDuffie him­self, cham­pi­oned a more mul­ti­cul­tural and inclu­sive approach to comics.

The WGAW’s AWC Ani­ma­tion Writ­ing Award is given to mem­bers of the Ani­ma­tion Writ­ers Cau­cus or Writ­ers Guild who have advanced the lit­er­a­ture of ani­ma­tion in film and/or tele­vi­sion through­out the years and made out­stand­ing con­tri­bu­tions to the pro­fes­sion of the ani­ma­tion writer. Founded in 1994, the WGAW’s Ani­ma­tion Writ­ers Cau­cus rep­re­sents over 600 ani­ma­tion writ­ers and works to advance eco­nomic and cre­ative con­di­tions in the field.

Through orga­niz­ing efforts, edu­ca­tional events and net­work­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties, the Guild’s AWC is a lead­ing pro­po­nent for ani­ma­tion writ­ers. Recent AWC Ani­ma­tion Writ­ing Award hon­orees include Mike Scully, Al Jean, Michael Reiss, Brad Bird, Linda Woolver­ton and Berkowitz.

Beauty And The Beast (1991) — Disney Feature Length Theatrical Animated Film

Beauty And The Beast (1991) - Disney Feature Length Film

Beauty And The Beast (1991) — Dis­ney Fea­ture Length Film

CotD: Today is the twen­ti­eth anniver­sary of the release of “Beauty And The Beast”, a film so good and so impor­tant we deem it wor­thy of men­tion as the sec­ond car­toon of this day.

Beauty And The Beast (1991) — Dis­ney Fea­ture Length The­atri­cal Ani­mated Film

In a small French vil­lage, the beau­ti­ful and intel­li­gent Belle ignores her suitor, the vain and boor­ish Gas­ton, as she cares for her father, eccen­tric inven­tor Maurice.

On his way to the fair, Mau­rice stum­bles upon a fore­bod­ing cas­tle in the woods, and is thrown into a dun­geon by the castle’s occupant-a huge sav­age beast. Belle comes to res­cue her ail­ing father, and offers to take his place as the Beast’s pris­oner. Belle dis­cov­ers that the castle’s house staff has been trans­formed into objects by the same magic spell that made their mas­ter a beast. In order to break the spell, the Beast must learn to love another and be loved in return.

As she remains in the cas­tle, Belle and Beast find their appre­hen­sion replaced by affec­tion; but Belle misses her father, and the Beast reluc­tantly allows her to leave.

Gas­ton– incensed at Belle’s affec­tion for the Beast– leads a mob of towns­peo­ple to storm the cas­tle. Belle rushes back in time to con­fess her love for the Beast, and the spell is broken.

Watch “Beauty And The Beast” on video at Big Car­toon DataBase

Toy Story (1995) — Pixar Animation Studios

Toy Story (1995) - Pixar Animation Studios

Toy Story (1995) — Pixar Ani­ma­tion Studios

CotD: CGI Ani­mated films really got their first big boost 16 years ago with PIXAR’s release of “Toy Story”, their first com­puter ani­mated feature.

Toy Story (1995) — Pixar Ani­ma­tion Studios

A cow­boy toy is pro­foundly threat­ened and jeal­ous when a fancy space­man toy sup­plants him as top toy in a boy’s room.

Watch “Toy Story” on video at Big Car­toon DataBase

Woody Woodpecker movie knocks at Universal’s door

Illumination Entertainment

Illu­mi­na­tion Entertainment

Universal-based ani­ma­tion stu­dio Illu­mi­na­tion Enter­tain­ment is work­ing on a fea­ture film star­ring Woody Wood­pecker.

John Altschuler and Dave Krin­sky, co-writers of the Will Fer­rell com­edy Blades of Glory, are in talks to develop a story about the mis­chie­vous bird, who first appeared in the 1940 Andy Panda short Knock Knock.

Illu­mi­na­tion and the writ­ers will try mak­ing a story that mod­ern­izes Woody in the hopes of start­ing a franchise.

Co-created by car­toon­ist Wal­ter Lantz, Woody was first voiced by Mel Blanc. Later, Lantz’s wife, Grace Stafford, became the voice of the bird.

Woody Wood­pecker car­toons first had a theme song in 1947. “The Woody Wood­pecker Song” was heard in the fol­low­ing year’s Wet Blan­ket Pol­icy. It was nom­i­nated for an Oscar for best song, becom­ing the only song from a short film ever nom­i­nated in the category.

In 1985, Uni­ver­sal bought the library of shorts and the rights to the Woody char­ac­ter from Lantz.

Altschuler and Krin­sky were exec­u­tive pro­duc­ers and writ­ers on Fox’s King of the Hill. They also worked on the fea­ture film incar­na­tion of The Jetsons.

Illu­mi­na­tion Enter­tain­ment made Despi­ca­ble Me and next year’s Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax.

An American Tail (1986) — Amblin Entertainment, Universal Pictures

An American Tail (1943) - Amblin Entertainment

An Amer­i­can Tail (1943) — Amblin Entertainment

CotD: Amblin Enter­tain­ment released their first fea­ture ani­mated film “An Amer­i­can Tail” on this date in 1986.

An Amer­i­can Tail (1986) — Amblin Enter­tain­ment, Uni­ver­sal Pictures

Fievel is a young Russ­ian mouse sep­a­rated from his par­ents on the way to Amer­ica, a land they think is with­out cats. When he arrives alone in the New World, he keeps up hope, search­ing for his fam­ily, mak­ing new friends, and run­ning and dodg­ing the cats he thought he’d be rid off.

Watch “An Amer­i­can Tail” on video at Big Car­toon DataBase

Happy Feet Two stumbling to second at box office

Happy Feet Two

Happy Feet Two

Warner Bros. might need a refer­ral to the podiatrist.

Its pen­guin sequel Happy Feet Two made only $22 mil­lion dur­ing its open­ing week­end in North Amer­ica, reach­ing No. 2 spot and col­lect­ing just half of what the orig­i­nal, Happy Feet, brought in dur­ing its debut week­end in 2006.

What’s more, the sequel had a leg up on the orig­i­nal, as it had screen­ings in 3-D, which cost a few dol­lars more than those in 2-D.

The family-oriented ani­ma­tion opened in Mex­ico and four smaller coun­tries, mak­ing $2.6 mil­lion from 969 venues abroad. It reached No. 1 in Malaysia.

Fea­tur­ing voice actors Eli­jah Wood and Robin Williams in return roles, Happy Feet Two received mixed to bad reviews. Nonethe­less, Warner Bros. said that audi­ences rated it highly, which could give it legs over the next few weeks.

We hon­estly feel we’ll pick up some steam and play some catch-up as we get into the hol­i­days,” said WB’s head of dis­tri­b­u­tion, Dan Fellman.

The big win­ner at the North Amer­i­can box office was the live-action The Twi­light Saga: Break­ing Dawn — Part 1, which opened with an enor­mous $139.5 mil­lion domes­ti­cally and another $144 mil­lion in 54 over­seas coun­tries, accord­ing to stu­dio esti­mates Sunday.

In fifth place domes­ti­cally was Dream­Works Puss In Boots, with $10.7 mil­lion. The Shrek spin-off made another $2.4 mil­lion at 1,191 loca­tions in five over­seas coun­tries for a cumu­la­tee for­eign gross of $53.1 million.

North Amer­i­can busi­ness reached $222 mil­lion, up 14% from the same week­end last year, when Harry Pot­ter and the Deathly Hal­lows: Part 1 topped the box office with $125 mil­lion, accord­ing to box-office tracker

The ani­mated Aardman-SPA hol­i­day tale Arthur Christ­masopens Wednes­day for the all-important Thanks­giv­ing week­end in the United States. The movie was in sixth place over­seas this week­end with $5 mil­lion from 1,610 screens in five coun­tries and has made $9 mil­lion so far. It opened at No. 9 this past week­end in Ger­many, mak­ing $1.06 mil­lion from 630 venues.

This and other new films could break the Thanks­giv­ing record set in 2009, when New Moon led to a $273 mil­lion domes­tic result between Wednes­day and Sunday.

This could be one of the great­est movie-going week­ends ever in the midst of a year that has really had its ups and downs at the box office,” said ana­lyst Paul Dergarabedian.

Ticket sales were esti­mated for Fri­day through Sun­day at U.S. and Cana­dian the­aters, accord­ing to Final domes­tic fig­ures are sched­uled for release Monday.

Mean­while, Sony-Paramount’s The Adven­tures Of Tintin: Secret Of The Uni­cornwas No. 2 this week­end abroad, gross­ing $21.7 mil­lion from 13,039 venues in 53 coun­tries. In China, it opened to $7.4 mil­lion from 7,030 locations.

Tintin’s for­eign gross has reached $187.6 mil­lion. The Steven Spiel­berg ani­ma­tion opens in North Amer­ica on Decem­ber 21.

[Via Asso­ci­ated Press —, The Hol­ly­wood Reporter]