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