Monthly Archives: April 2012

Booty call: Aardman’s “The Pirates!” makes $11.4M

The Pirates! Band of Misfits

The Pirates! Band of Misfits

The Pirates! Band of Misfits,” co-produced by Aardman Animations and Sony Pictures Animation, opened in North America in a very close second place, making $11.4 million at the box office between Friday and Sunday.

Making nearly as much were three live-action films: Warner Bros. romantic drama The Lucky One with $11.3 million, Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games with $11.25 million, and Universal’s romantic comedy The Five-Year Engagement with $11.2 million.

Placing fourth abroad, The Pirates! Band of Misfits collected $7.8 million as it debuted in a dozen countries, drawing another $7.8 million over the weekend. Featuring the voices of Hugh Grant and Selma Hayek, the kids’ comedy reached second in the United Kingdom.

The Pirates! Band of Misfits cost about $55 million to make. The movie has been seen overseas last March and has made a total of $75.1 million abroad through Sunday.

For the second weekend in a row, romantic comedy “Think Like a Man” — also a Sony release — topped the receipts, makind $18 million in United States and Canadian ticket sales, according to studio estimates released Sunday.

Love story “The Lucky One” was third in North America, collecting $11.3 million during its second weekend in movie houses. It was distributed by Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros. studio.

Third place overseas went to 3D family film Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, which garnered $14.5 million in 17 countries. So far, it’s made $227.3 million around the world.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters were released by Where available. Final domestic figures are scheduled for release Monday

“Rango,” “Archer” win at 2nd annual Comedy Awards



Rango” has won for Animated Comedy Film and “Archer” for Animated Comedy Series on Saturday night at the Comedy Awards 2012, the second annual blockbuster event dedicated to celebrating all that is funny.

Losing to Rango were Cars 2, Kung Fu Panda 2, Puss In Boots and Rio.

Vying with Archer were Family Guy, The Life & Times of Tim, The Simpsons and South Park.

James Bobin was nominated in the Comedy Director (Film) category for helming the partly animated The Muppets, but lost to Paul Feig of the live-action Bridesmaids.

All nominees were selected by the Comedy Awards’ Board of Directors, comprised of such comedy industry luminaries as Carol Burnett, Conan O’Brien, Joan Rivers and Lily Tomlin. An invitation-only body of comedy writers, producers, directors, and other industry movers and shakers chose the winners.

The historic, one-night-only celebration honored the most talented writers, directors, actors and stand-ups who provided the laugh track to our lives this past year: the pioneers who pushed boundaries; the TV shows that we rushed home for; the movies that are etched into our collective pop-culture memory; the stand-up comedians and the viral videos that make us laugh every day.

Saturday night’s Comedy Awards were held at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City. The show will premiere Sunday, May 6 on Comedy Central.

Clements, Musker developing drawn Disney feature

Ron Clements and John Musker

Ron Clements and John Musker

Co-directors Ron Clements and John Musker are working to develop Disney Animation’s next hand-drawn feature film, an official division of the Mouse House has confirmed.

“Sorry, we can’t tell you what that is,” said Wednesday’s post, which came from the Facebook page of the highly secure Disney Animation Research Library. The now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t message had been deleted from the page by Thursday.

No further announcement has been made by Disney.

However, the Big Cartoon DataBase lists The Name Game as a “possible 2D animated film” directed and written by the pair, with an estimated 2014 release year.

Clements and Musker have co-directed The Great Mouse Detective (1986), The Little Mermaid (1989), Aladdin (1992), Hercules (1997), Treasure Planet (2002) and The Princess And The Frog (2009) — the last marking a return to 2D hand-drawn animation.

Their first collaboration was on The Fox And The Hound: Clements was a supervising animator on the 1981 feature film, while Musker was an animator. Both provided additional story on The Black Cauldron(1985).

Clements’ feature debut at Disney was as an animator on 1977’s The Rescuers.

The Disney Animation Research Library houses over 65 million pieces of animation art produced by Disney’s Feature Animation Division over a period of over 70 years. The collection — housed in a location that’s secret to all but a privileged few — contains the world’s largest archive of animation art, ranging from conceptual design work to reference photographs.

On Sunday, Clements confirmed in an interview with Steve Hulett, business representative of The Animation Guild, Local 839 IATSE, that he and Musker are working on a new project with hand-drawn animation. He doesn’t know when it will be completed, as he says that it’s in early development.

High Diving Hare (1949) – Looney Tunes Series

High Diving Hare

High Diving Hare

CotD: Why does Yosemite Sam say “You notice I didn’t say Richard” so prominently in “High Diving Hare” ? Read our Production Notes to find out!

High Diving Hare (1949) – Looney Tunes Series

Bugs is barker for a carnival sideshow. When the high diver, Fearless Freep, doesn’t show up, his biggest fan Yosemite Sam makes Bugs take his place. Classic high diving gags abound as Sam keeps falling to his doom.

Come see “High Diving Hare” on video at Big Cartoon DataBase

Odd Ant Out (1970) – Ant and the Aardvark Series

Odd Ant Out

Odd Ant Out

CotD: Did you know there was a green Aardvark? He was in “Odd Ant Out” the second of his two appearances in this theatrical series.

Odd Ant Out (1970) – Ant and the Aardvark Series

A grocery truck loses a shipment of chocolate-covered ants. The Aardvark and another green aardvark fight over a can of ants, which they can’t seem to open.

Come see “Odd Ant Out” on video at Big Cartoon DataBase

The Hockey Champ (1939) – Donald Duck Cartoon Series

The Hockey Champ

The Hockey Champ

CotD: Donald gives his nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie quite the hockey lesson in “The Hockey Champ” a 1939 short directed by Jack King.

The Hockey Champ (1939) – Donald Duck Cartoon Series

Donald- the Hockey Champion of Duck Swamp- plays a game of hockey with his nephews.

Come see “The Hockey Champ” on video at Big Cartoon DataBase

Rocky and His Friends director Jim Hiltz dies, 84

Jim Hiltz

Jim Hiltz

Jim Hiltz, a director of “Rocky and His Friends” and several other Jay Ward cartoon series, has died, Normand Rompre, a former cameraman from Michael Mills Studios, where he had also worked, said Thursday. He was 84.

Hiltz was a director of The Bullwinkle Show (1961), George of the Jungle and Super Chicken (both 1967), and The Beatles (1965-66) — the last under the unlikely pseudonym of “Snav Sniekus.”

He also directed some of Jay Ward’s Fractured Fairy Tales and Tom Slick, said Emmy-nominated animation director Eddy Houchins.

Born James T. Hiltz in Phoenix, Arizona on November 7, 1927, he animated Heckle and Jeckle cartoons at TerryToons, and went on to various commercial and TV houses, including FilmFair and Bill Melendez Studios.

During the 1970s, Hiltz emigrated to Canada. There, he worked as the lead animator and director at Michael Mills Studios, helping create animated commercials and award-winning short films, including the Oscar-nominated History of the World in Three Minutes Flat (1980).

He was an animator for the 1985-87 TV series The Raccoons, as well as the TV-movies Goldilocks and the Three Bears (1970), The Raccoons on Ice (1981), The Care Bears in the Land Without Feelings and The Raccoons and the Lost Star (both 1983), and The Care Bears Battle the Freeze Machine (1984).

Hiltz animated the cartoon movies Yellow Submarine (1968) and Shinbone Alley and Tiki Tiki (both 1971), in addition to the theatrical shorts The Violinist (1959), The Remarkable Rocket (1975) and S.P.L.A.S.H. (1980).

He was an animation director for the 1974 short The Happy Prince and the “I Saw Three Ships” segment of the 1975 TV short The Christmas Messenger. Hiltz was a timing director for the series The Smoggies (1989), The Little Flying Bears (1990), The Legend of White Fang (1992), The Busy World of Richard Scarry (1996) and The Country Mouse and the City Mouse Adventures (1998-99), along with the 1993 TV-movie David Copperfield.

Hiltz was a storyboard artist for the series The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin (1987), and a sheet director for the 1993 series Spirou. He did drawings for the 1968 documentary short A Computer Glossary.

“As a young animator, I got my first ‘real’ job at Michael Mills’ place in 1980 and immediately met Jim. who took me and all the other young animators under his wing,” Houchins recalled. “In those days, we had not just respect, but downright AWE for the older guys who had ‘been there.’

“We hung on his every word and studied his pencil tests frame by frame, soaking up his drawing skills and timing finesse. At night, after he’d go home, we’d slip into his office and sit and flip his drawings on a light table just to study ‘the real thing.’ I learned more about animation from my three years working under Jim as my director than I ever learned in school or on any other job.

“After his stint at Mills, he freelanced and taught at Concordia University for awhile, and, I suppose, eventually retired.” Houchins continued.

“I remember I was at the Ottawa [International Animation] Festival with him in 1983, and June Foray and Bill Scott were there and performed a Rocky and Bullwinkle script live to our delight. Afterwards, I was standing with Jim in the lobby and when June walked out, he said to me, ‘Hang on, I have to say hello to an old friend.’ He walked up to June, said, ‘Remember me?’ and she screamed, ‘JIM!!!’ and practically jumped into his arms.

“Maybe you guys can break the news to her. I sure can’t.”

SEC probing DWA, Disney over business in China

DreamWorks Animation SKG

DreamWorks Animation SKG

DreamWorks Animation and Disney have received letters of inquiry from the United States Securities and Exchange Commission over their business activities in China, according to an unnamed person familiar with the matter.

The SEC wrote to at least five movie studios in the past two months, including 20th Century Fox, said the source, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the letters.

The letters ask about possibly inappropriate payments and how the companies dealt with certain Chinese government officials.

Representatives of DreamWorks, Disney and News Corp. — the owner of 20th Century Fox — declined to comment. An SEC spokesman wouldn’t comment, either.

The state-owned China Film Group, which has long had a firm hold on the Chinese film market, didn’t answer repeated requests for comment.

Although China Film Group had a quota of foreign films of 20 per year, it relaxed some restrictions in February after Chinese leader-in-waiting Xi Jinping visited Washington for a week. The agreement exempts 14 premium-format films, such as IMAX or 3D, from the quota, along with those films’ 2D versions.

Also in February, DWA announced that it had reached a deal to build a production studio in Shanghai with some of China’s largest media firms. Last year, the studio’s Kung Fu Panda 2 became the highest-grossing animated movie in China, raising about $100 million at the box office.

The inquiry comes in the face of intensified SEC and United States Justice Department scrutiny into potential violations of the 1970s-vintage Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which forbids American companies and individuals from bribing foreign government officials.

Plans building for theatrical LEGO feature film

LEGO Movie

LEGO Movie

The first-ever full-length theatrical LEGO movie will open across the United States on February 28, 2014, it was announced Monday by Dan Fellman, president of domestic distribution for Warner Bros. Pictures.

Currently in production, the 3D computer-animated adventure will be directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller from their original screenplay, story by Dan Hageman and Kevin Hageman, Lord and Miller, based on LEGO Construction Toys. It will incorporate some of the LEGO world’s most popular figures while introducing several new characters, inviting fans who have enjoyed the brand’s innovative toys and hugely popular video games for generations to experience their visually unique LEGO world as never seen before.

Lord and Miller previously teamed on the hit 21 Jump Street and the 2009 animated comedy adventure Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, which was nominated for a Golden Globe Award.

As yet untitled, the film will be produced by Dan Lin (Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows) and Roy Lee (How to Train Your Dragon, The Departed).

Hooked Bear (1956) – Humphrey Bear Cartoon Series

Hooked Bear

Hooked Bear

CotD: First appearing in the Goofy cartoon Hold That Pose, Humphrey the Bear was in “Hooked Bear” was a big, dumb, opportunistic, neurotic brown bear who lives in Brownstone National Park.

Hooked Bear (1956) – Humphrey Bear Cartoon Series

It’s fishing season! Ranger Woodlore attempts to keep Humphrey the bear from fishing, with the human fisherman telling him to “go fish like a bear.” Ranger Woodlore is stocking the lake, much to Humphrey’s delight as he tries to intercept a meal intended for the anglers. Humphrey keeps looking for an easier way, but his attempts only end in disaster. Before he knows it, fishing season is over, and bear hunting season is beginning.

Come see “Hooked Bear” on video at Big Cartoon DataBase