Monthly Archives: August 2012

Burton’s Frankenweenie opens London Film Festival

Frankenweenie (2012)

Frankenweenie (2012)

This year’s BFI London Film Festival festival will open Wednesday, October 10 with the European premiere of Disney’s Frankenweenie, directed by acclaimed filmmaker Tim Burton, organizers announced Thursday.

In partnership with American Express and Disney, and in a first for the festival, the opening night screening and red carpet will go live from Odeon Leicester Square to BFI IMAX and 30 screens across the UK. The 56th festival will also host The Art of Frankenweenie Exhibition from October 17 to 21.

Frankenweenie is a heartwarming tale about a boy and his dog. After unexpectedly losing his beloved dog Sparky, young Victor harnesses the power of science to bring his best friend back to life — with just a few minor adjustments. He tries to hide his home-sewn creation, but when Sparky gets out, Victor’s fellow students, teachers and the entire town all learn that getting a new “leash on life” can be monstrous.

Frankenweenie 3D

Frankenweenie 3D

A visually stunning black and white, stop-motion animated film in 3D, Frankenweenie‘s voice cast includes Catherine O’Hara, Martin Short, Martin Landau, Charlie Tahan, Atticus Shaffer, Robert Capron, Conchata Ferrell and Winona Ryder. Disney will release the film in the United Kingdom on October 17.

Burton, Ryder, Short, O’Hara, Landau, producer Allison Abbate and executive producer Don Hahn are expected to attend the festival.

In a first for the BFI London Film Festival opening night, Frankenweenie will receive a simultaneous premiere in 30 cinemas nationwide, with audiences across the United Kingdom able to enjoy footage from the Leicester Square red carpet prior to the screenings. This event is part of the festival’s drive to reach a diverse British audience and put the public at the heart of the festival-going experience.

Frankenweenie is the first animated film that Burton has directed for Disney. Burton also produced along with Abbate, with Hahn serving as executive producer. The screenplay is by John August, based on an original idea by Burton.

BFI head of exhibition Clare Stewart comments on her first opening night choice as festival director:

“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. Tim Burton has chosen London as his home city and hundreds of talented British craftspeople have contributed to this production. To host the European premiere, to present The Art of Frankenweenie Exhibition and to take our opening night out to 30 screens means we are making the festival even more accessible for film fans across the UK.”

Abbate adds:

“I am delighted that Frankenweenie, which was produced here in London at 3 Mills Studios, will be opening the 56th BFI London Film Festival. Living and working in the UK, I’ve been able to collaborate with some of the most talented artists in the industry, including the puppet designers and fabricators from Manchester-based Mackinnon & Saunders. In the last nine years, I’ve attended the festival as both a filmmaker and guest, and I know how passionate and enthusiastic the audiences are, so I am thrilled to share the film’s European premiere with them.”

Colin Walsh, managing director of American Express UK, adds:

“We’re thrilled to be further strengthening our partnership with the BFI and the Festival through our support for this year’s opening night gala. In addition to Frankenweenie being a much-anticipated film, what makes this year’s opening night so special is the opportunity for audiences across the country to experience the excitement of a West End premiere. That, coupled with the interactive exhibition giving people an insight behind the scenes of the film, is sure to make this a fantastic start to this year’s festival.”

The Art of Frankenweenie Exhibition is supported by American Express. The exhibition runs from October 17 to 21 (with a press preview and preview for American Express card members October 16) and will be free to the public. For information on tickets, see bfi.org.uk/lff , starting September 5.

Hours of meticulous work have gone into the making of Frankenweenie, perfecting the figures and characters that bring this amazing story to life. The BFI London Film Festival is presenting the exhibition in association with Disney and principal partner American Express.

The Art of Frankenweenie Exhibition captures the magic of the filmmaking process and gives audiences an exclusive glimpse into the stop-motion animation process brought to life by visionary filmmaker Tim Burton. From original sketches drawn by Burton, to extensive props, sets and puppets, the exhibition showcases the artistic detail and vision that has gone into bringing this heartwarming tale to the big screen in 2012′s most highly anticipated animated movie. The Art of Frankenweenie Exhibition delves into the world of a boy who, inspired by science and the love of his dog, brings his beloved pet back from the dead.

There will be exciting workshop opportunities for education audiences to explore the production of Frankenweenie via guided tours of the Exhibit, meeting some of the talented people who made the film and trying their hand at the skills required for animation and set design.

The Art of Frankenweenie Exhibition will take place next door to the BFI Southbank at Southbank Centre’s Festival Village.

The 56th BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express runs from Wednesday, October 10 to Sunday, October 21. The full program for the festival will be announced at the press launch Wednesday, September 5.

Snow White coming to New York Film Festival

Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs

Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs

David Hand’s seminal “Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs” and the 2012 Disney short Paperman will be screened at the 50th New York Film Festival as part of the Masterworks section, organizers announced Monday.

Disney’s Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs (1937) is a timeless tale of a princess banished by from the palace and then saved by seven unforgettable dwarves.

Nothing short of a milestone of cinematic history, Snow White was the first animated feature made in the United States. Its $1.4 million production forced Walt Disney to mortgage his house to complete it.

Have a reunion with Happy, Sleepy, Sneezy, Grumpy, Dopey, Bashful and Doc, or introduce your kids to them for the very first time at this unmissable family event!

Snow White screens with the 2012 Disney short Paperman, directed by John Kahrs. It’s an innovative animation about a young New Yorker who relies on heart, imagination, a stack of papers — and a little luck — to change his destiny and win the girl of his dreams.

“The addition of the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center allows the Festival to expand on areas of programming already part of the NYFF — such as the inclusion of restored or rediscovered Masterworks in the Festival lineup,” the NYFF’s Richard Peña said in a statement.

General public tickets for the 50th New York Film Festival go on sale September 9. There will be a pre-sale ticketing period for Film Society patrons and members prior to that date. Join the Film Society by August 29 to take advantage of this priority period.

The 50th New York Film Festival runs from September 28 until October 14. For more information on attending the festival, visit www.filmlinc.com/nyff2012.

Dick Van Dyke to get SAG Life Achievement Award

Dick Van Dyke

Dick Van Dyke

Dick Van Dyke, who took on the dual role of Bert and Mr. Dawes Senior in the partly animated 1964 Disney musical Mary Poppins, will receive SAG-AFTRA’s highest honor — the SAG Life Achievement Award for career achievement and humanitarian accomplishment.

The beloved actor, singer, dancer, writer and comedian will be presented the performers union’s most prestigious accolade, given annually to an actor who fosters the “finest ideals of the acting profession,” at the 19th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, which premieres live on TNT and TBS next January 27.

Van Dyke voiced the title role in the 1975 cartoon movie Tubby the Tuba, and was Mr. Bloomsberry in the 2006 animated film Curious George. He was Commissioner Gordon in the 2005 direct-to-video short Batman: New Times.

In TV-movies, he voiced narrator Old Jeremy Creek in The Town Santa Forgot (1993) and Webb in The Alan Brady Show (2003). He guested on “Scooby-Doo Meets Dick Van Dyke,” a 1973 episode of The New Scooby-Doo Movies.

His voiceover talents were also employed the 2010 short The Caretaker 3D, a tribute to the Hollywood Sign.

Van Dyke appeared in live action on the TV specials Donald Duck’s 50th Birthday (1984) and The Best of Disney: 50 Years of Magic (1991).

In making Tuesday’s announcement, SAG-AFTRA co-president Ken Howard said, “Dick is the consummate entertainer — an enormously talented performer whose work has crossed nearly every major category of entertainment. From his career-changing Broadway turn in Bye Bye Birdie and his deadpan humor in the Emmy-winning Dick Van Dyke Show, to his unforgettable performance as Bert in Mary Poppins, he sets a high bar for actors. Stage, big screen, small screen, literally everywhere he has worked, he has inspired millions of fans and has had a tremendously positive impact on the industry and the world. He is so deserving of this honor and I congratulate him.”

SAG-AFTRA co-president Roberta Reardon said: “With Dick, it’s so much more than the proverbial ‘triple threat.’ He started his career as a radio announcer, game show host and comedian, and was a spokesman for Kodak, among numerous other roles over his nearly 60-year career. His contributions to the success of the business and to his fellow performers is legendary, as is his work with a number of the leading ladies of our times, including Julie Andrews and Mary Tyler Moore — both previous Life Achievement Award recipients. His infectious laugh has warmed audiences for decades and is an unforgettable facet of his fabulous personality.”

Holder of five Emmys, a Tony Award and a Grammy, Van Dyke at 86 still possesses the zest for life that first propelled him into the limelight more than a half-century ago with the film classic Mary Poppins, the Broadway and film versions of Bye Bye Birdie, and the seminal 1960s situation comedy The Dick Van Dyke Show.

He was born Richard Wayne Van Dyke in West Plains, Missouri on December 13, 1925, and raised in Danville, Illinois, hometown as well to Donald O’Connor, Gene Hackman and Bobby Short. As a youngster, he taught himself music, magic and pantomime. By 16, he was appearing in school plays, running track, serving as junior class president and working part-time as an announcer on a local radio station.

Enlisting in the Air Force at 18, he soon was performing for the troops and hosting a radio show called Flight Time. After one year of duty, he was back in Danville, giving advertising a try, but it was not a fit. With another Danville local, Phil Erickson, he hit the road in a record-pantomime act called “The Merry Mutes,” a perfect showcase for his physical comedy gifts.

While appearing in Los Angeles, he sent for his high school sweetheart, Marjorie Willet. The two were married on Bride and Groom, a network radio program offering gifts and a honeymoon to newlyweds.

After a run hosting a daytime talk show in Atlanta and a morning show in New Orleans, CBS put him under contract. Van Dyke moved to New York where, in 1954, he began hosting The Morning Show (which featured up-and-coming newscaster Walter Cronkite). Other hosting jobs preceded his 1957 television-acting debut on an episode of The Phil Silvers Show and his Broadway debut in 1959 with Bert Lahr in the comedy revue The Boys Against the Girls.

The following year, his career soared when he was cast by director/choreographer Gower Champion opposite Chita Rivera in Bye Bye Birdie. His performance as rock star Conrad Birdie’s songwriter/manager Albert Peterson earned Van Dyke a Tony Award and brought him to the attention of Sheldon Leonard and Carl Reiner, who signed him for a pilot opposite newcomer Mary Tyler Moore.

The now eponymous The Dick Van Dyke Show, starring Van Dyke and Moore as Rob and Laura Petrie, premiered in 1961 and ran for five seasons. With a perfect ensemble cast including Rose Marie and Morey Amsterdam, the wittily written series was a showcase for Van Dyke’s genius for physical comedy, earning him three lead actor Emmy Awards.

The tireless Van Dyke spent his series’ hiatus shooting the film version of Bye Bye Birdie in 1963, followed by What a Way to Go and Disney’s musical classic Mary Poppins. It won five Academy Awards, including one for star Julie Andrews (SAG’s 2006 Life Achievement Award recipient), and earned Van Dyke a Golden Globe nomination and, with Andrews, a Grammy.

A run of films followed, including Lt. Robin Crusoe, USN (1966), Divorce American Style and Fitzwilly (both 1967), the musical Chitty Chitty Bang-Bang (1968), Garson Kanin’s satire on conformity Some Kind of a Nut (1969) and Norman Lear’s anti-smoking Cold Turkey (1970). Van Dyke, who had delivered the eulogies for his comedy idols Stan Laurel and Buster Keaton, explored the role of a fictional silent movie star in 1969′s The Comic.

He would return to the big screen again in Stanley Kramer’s The Runner Stumbles (1978), Warren Beatty’s Dick Tracy (1990) and, more recently, the Ben Stiller comedy Night at the Museum (2006).

After a year of filming Chitty Chitty Bang-Bang in England, Van Dyke moved with his family to their ranch in Carefree, Arizona, where The New Dick Van Dyke Show was produced for CBS for three seasons. In 1974, his stunning portrayal of an alcoholic family man in David Wolper’s ground-breaking ABC Television movie The Morning After earned Van Dyke an Emmy nomination. A guest-star turn as a homicidal photographer opposite Peter Falk’s Columbo followed.

It was back to song, dance and comedy in NBC’s variety series Van Dyke and Company, earning him a fourth Emmy (this time shared with his fellow producers), followed by a national tour in The Music Man, which brought Van Dyke back to Broadway, and a national tour in Damn Yankees. The 1980s brought a run of television movies, including the Showtime production of The Country Girl opposite Faye Dunaway, Drop-Out Father opposite Mariette Hartley, Found Money opposite Sid Caesar, Breakfast with Les and Bess opposite Cloris Leachman for PBS’s American Playhouse, and the miniseries Strong Medicine.

In 1982, Van Dyke earned his fifth Emmy for his vocal performance as the Father in the CBS Library special Wrong Way Kid.

Van Dyke’s crime-solving physician, Dr. Mark Sloan, was introduced in a 1991 episode of Jake and the Fat Man and became the central character in three TV-movies before evolving into the CBS series Diagnosis: Murder. It ran from 1993 to 2001, followed by two Dr. Sloan television movies in 2002. Diagnosis: Murder co-starred Van Dyke’s son Barry as a police detective and, during its run, provided guest-star opportunities for Van Dyke’s daughter Stacy, grandchildren Carey, Shane, Wes and Taryn, and brother Jerry Van Dyke. From 2006 to 2008, the father-son team reunited for a series of four Hallmark Channel Murder 101 movies, casting Barry as a private investigator opposite Dick’s absent-minded but brilliant criminology professor, Dr. Jonathan Maxwell.

In 2003, Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore re-teamed to portray lonely seniors in D.L. Coburn’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama The Gin Game on PBS Hollywood Presents and, the following year, recreated husband and wife Rob and Laura Petrie for Carl Reiner’s CBS telefilm The Dick Van Dyke Show Revisited. They were notably reunited this past January, when Van Dyke presented Moore with SAG’s 48th Life Achievement Award on the 18th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Van Dyke, whose 2011 memoir My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business made the New York Times Best Sellers list, admits that his retirement plans have yet to work out. In 2006, he returned to Broadway, receiving standing ovations in his Bye Bye Birdie leading lady’s Chita Rivera: The Dancers Life. In addition to his memoir, Van Dyke is the author of Faith, Hope and Hilarity: The Child’s Eye View of Religion (1970) and Those Funny Kids (1975), a collection of classroom humor.

Music, Van Dyke’s spiritual nourishment, became richer when he teamed 12 years ago with Eric Bradley, Bryan Chadima and Mike Mendyke to form The Vantastix. Their first major public appearance was at the Society of Singers Ella Awards honoring his Mary Poppins leading lady, Julie Andrews. They’ve since performed the National Anthem at L.A. Lakers playoffs, mounted a musical memoir at L.A.’s Geffen Theatre, and appeared at the Hollywood Bowl, Disney Hall and at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., with the President and First Lady in the front row, and released an album of children’s songs: Put on A Happy Face.

For nearly 20 years Van Dyke has been tirelessly committed to his volunteer work at The Midnight Mission, Los Angeles’ century-old downtown shelter for the troubled and homeless. He helped raise millions for their new building program and is there without fail every Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and times in between, offering comfort and cheer, often with the Vantastix and members of his own family. He is passionate about raising funds for music and art programs for public schools, and has performed at countless fundraisers. He became a spokesperson for the National Reye’s Syndrome Foundation in 1967 after losing a granddaughter to that disease and, in 2010, was named the first spokesperson for the Cell Therapy Foundation.

Van Dyke has four children from his marriage to the late Marjorie Willet Van Dyke — sons Christian and Barry, and daughters Stacey and Carrie Beth — and seven grandchildren.

On February 29 this year, he married makeup artist Arlene Silver (whom he met at the 2006 SAG Awards), whose vocal talents now occasionally blend with those of Dick and The Vantastix. They live in Malibu, California.

DWA enters into distribution agreement with Fox

DreamWorks Animation SKG

DreamWorks Animation SKG

DreamWorks Animation announced Monday that the Glendale, California-based company has entered into a new five-year distribution agreement with Twentieth Century Fox.

Under the terms of the agreement, Fox will assume certain marketing and distribution responsibilities in both domestic and international markets for all animated feature films produced by DreamWorks Animation for release from 2013 through 2017.

“Fox has long been an industry leader in both theatrical and home video, thanks in large part to its well-integrated approach to distribution across a wide range of platforms around the globe,” said DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg. “Jim Gianopulos and Tom Rothman have built a world-class distribution team, and we are excited to apply their expertise, robust infrastructure and global resources so that DreamWorks Animation’s films can reach their fullest possible potential over the next five years.”

“DreamWorks Animation is a great company that makes terrific films and everyone here feels privileged and honored to have been chosen to distribute their marvelous work throughout the world,” stated Fox Filmed Entertainment CEOs and chairmen Gianopulos and Rothman. “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 Rio2 in advanced production. Together we will be a dominant force in animated entertainment for years to come.”

“Starting in 2013, DreamWorks Animation content will be distributed in the more traditional markets under a fee structure that is similar to our existing arrangement with our current distributor,” continued Katzenberg. “However, our new agreement with Fox presents more favorable economics overall for DreamWorks Animation because we are taking advantage of lower costs associated with the emerging digital distribution landscape and managing domestic television distribution in-house.”

Under the terms of the agreement, Fox will receive a distribution fee on worldwide theatrical and home video gross receipts as well as on international television, and on certain digital businesses, including rentals, SVOD and EST. DreamWorks Animation will retain the rights to distribute its product in the domestic television windows without paying a fee to Fox.

Stand-up comedienne Phyllis Diller dead at 95

Phyllis Diller from Mad Monster Party

Phyllis Diller from Mad Monster Party

Phyllis Diller, a pioneer of female stand-up comedy, died Monday morning at her Los Angeles home surrounded by family, sources close to the comedienne said. She was 95.

“She died peacefully in her sleep and with a smile on her face,” longtime manager Milton Suchin told the Associated Press.

Her health had been declining since a recent fall which hurt her wrist and hip, sources told TMZ. She had been living in home hospice care.

She combined wild costumes, untamed hair and a raucous laugh with self-deprecating monologues to create one of comedy’s most popular characters.

Diller was famously caricatured as The Monster’s Mate in the 1967 Rankin-Bass stop-motion movie Mad Monster Party. She voiced the Queen in the 1997 Pixar film A Bug’s Life. Among her other cartoon movies were The Nutcracker Prince (1990, as Mousequeen), Happily Ever After (1990, as Mother Nature) and Casper’s Scare School (2006, as Aunt Spitzy).

In 2008, she starred alongside Debbie Reynolds as the voice of Pelops (the Donkey) in Chinese studio Santoon Productions’ animated feature film Light of Olympia.

As well, she voiced the Sugar Plum Fairy in the direct-to-video The Nuttiest Nutcracker (1999).

She was heard as herself in the 1970 TV special The Mad, Mad, Mad Comedians and as the White Queen in the 1987 special Alice Through the Looking Glass.

Diller guested as herself in “A Good Medium is Rare,” a 1972 episode of The New Scooby-Doo Movies.

She voiced herself in the Robot Chicken episodes “Operation: Rich in Spirit” and “Easter Basket,” Mrs. Claus in “Easter Basket” and “Robot Chicken Christmas Special,” Hooker in “Easter Basket,” and Mrs. Dorsey in “Operation: Rich in Spirit.”

In Family Guy, she guested as Peter’s mother, Thelma Griffin, in the episodes “Mother Tucker” (2006), “Peter’s Two Dads” (2007) and “Padre de Familia” (2007). The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius cast her as Grandma Neutron in 2002′s “Granny Baby” and 2004′s “Maternotron Knows Best“/”Send In the Clones.”

Other voice roles were in Wait Till Your Father Gets Home (1973; as Detective Phyllis Dexter in “The Lady Detective“), Captain Planet and the Planeteers (1990; Dr. Jane Goodair in “Smog Hog“), Cow and Chicken (1997; Red’s Mom in “Professor Longhorn Steer“), Hey Arnold! (1996; Aunt Mitzi in “Grandpa’s Sister“), The Powerpuff Girls (1998; Mask Scara in “A Made Up Story“), Animaniacs (1998; Suzie Squirrel in “The Sunshine Squirrels“), The Wild Thornberrys (1999; Sam in “Two’s Company“), and King of the Hill (1999; Lillian in “Escape From Party Island“).

In live action, she hosted “Spooks and Magic,” a 1972 episode of Disney’s The Mouse Factory, and appeared in the 1989 TV special A Yabba-Dabba-Doo Celebration!: 50 Years of Hanna-Barbera.

Diller was fitted with a pacemaker after suffering a 1999 heart attack.

Phyllis Ada Driver was born in Lima, Ohio on July 17, 1917. She began her career in 1952. A 1955 club booking skyrocketed her to success: scheduled for two weeks, she stayed 89.

Diller made her television debut in 1958 as a contestant on Groucho Marx’s game show You Bet Your Life. After moving to Webster Groves, Missouri in 1961, Diller honed her act in St. Louis clubs such as Gaslight Square’s Crystal Palace.

She became famous with her 1960s TV specials alongside Bob Hope. Later that decade, she starred in The Phyllis Diller Show, as well as a variety show called The Beautiful Phyllis Diller Show. In addition, she was also a regular on Laugh In.

After well-publicized plastic surgery, Diller posed for Playboy. However, the photos remained unpublished.

Diller told a filthy joke in the 2005 movie The Aristocrats.

She “broke the way for every woman comedian,” Joan Rivers said during a recent appearance on Watch What Happens Live.

In addition to her television, film and stage work, Diller made five records, wrote four best-selling books, and performed on piano with over 100 symphony orchestras.

Her two marriages — to Sherwood Anderson Diller from 1939 to 1965 and actor-singer Warde Donovan from 1965 to 1975 — ended in divorce. She constantly mentioned her fictional husband “Fang” in her stand-up act. Her partner, lawyer Rob Hastings, died in 1996.

Phyllis Dinner was predeceased by two sons and a daughter. She is survived by daughters Sally and Suzanne, four grandchildren and a great-granddaughter.

Plans for services are pending.

Mickey Mouse Comes To A Stop

Mickey Mouse Comes To A Stop

Mickey Mouse Comes To A Stop

Upset with Disney for their continued lobbying efforts to secure copyright extensions for Mickey Mouse and other early characters, Los Angeles street artist Denmark has taken to the streets. Denmark has modified numerous stop signs in the Burbank area to resemble the classic Mickey Mouse profile, and including a message reading, “Copyright Extension needs to stop”.

Targeting an area in Burbank Califormia near the Disney Studios, Denmarks says he was intentionally hoping the execs from Disney would notice them on their way to and from the studio offices. Despite the public protest, it is presumed that even after this protest, Disney will not be changing their plans on the acquiring of Copyright Extensions.

“I recently did an installation in and around Los Angeles protesting Copyright Extension,” Denmark told street art blog Wooster Collective, “which is Disney’s very effective lobbying to keep Mickey Mouse, and works created thereafter, out of the public domain.”

Because of Disney’s previous lobbying on this issue, copyright terms have gone from 28 years to at least 95 years. Disney is beginning a new push to extent copyright terms even longer. Many, including Denmark, argue that 95 years is enough to milk their characters, and it is time for the early Disney (and other films) to finally hit the public domain. Further, they contend that films falling into public domain has actually saved them from extinction.

How do you feel about this? is a century enough time to profit from your work…. or do you feel if you created it, you should control that property for longer?

ParaNorman not Expendable, makes $14 million

ParaNorman

ParaNorman

Laika Entertainment’s “ParaNorman,” an animated comedy thriller starring a small-town boy who battles zombies, opened at third place in the North American box office this weekend with $14 million.

Distributed by Focus Features and Universal Pictures International, ParaNorman made another $2 million overseas.

The 3D puppet-animated film fared considerably behind the live-action The Expendables 2, which opened at $28.8 million (and another $17.3 million abroad), and The Bourne Legacy, which garnered $17 million (plus $18.2 million overseas) in its second weekend.

Various 3D printed Norman faces

Various 3D printed Norman faces

ParaNorman has the interesting distinction of being the first 3D stop motion animated film that is also computer generated. Twenty seven major characters had their faces “built” in a computer. Through computer modeling, it was easy to manipulate the characters faces for expressions and speaking. Once created, each pose was then outputed to a 3D printer. The 3D printers build up each character’s face by depositing hundreds of layers of fine white plaster-vinyl powder, which is then sprayed with ink. Over 31,000 parts were created this way… each thirty seconds would require almost 300 faces per character.

In international theaters for films distributed overseas by Hollywood studios, Pixar’s Brave was in fifth place with $14.4 million, according to Rentrak. Ice Age: Continental Drift was at No. 7 with $10.1 million.

Fox’s Ice Age: Continental Drift has made $150.1 million domestically since it opened July 13.

Overall, domestic revenues reached $139 million, up 12% from the same weekend last year, when The Help topped the box office with $20 million, tracking company Hollywood.com said. Business had been down the previous three weekends this summer.

According to Hollywood.com, revenues have reached $3.9 billion since the first weekend of May down 5% from the same period last summer, when the season closed with an all-time high of $4.4 billion.

“We’re winding down the summer, and we’re in the dog days of August. They’re called that for a reason, because we’re experiencing the typical summer slowdown, only it seems worse this year,” Hollywood.com analyst Paul Dergarabedian said.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at United States and Canadian theaters were released by Hollywood.com. Final domestic figures are scheduled for release Monday.

Bobby Hill ID proves good for a drink or six

"Bobby Hill" ID

"Bobby Hill" ID

You’d think that a cartoon picture of Bobby Hill (of King of the Hill fame) on an ID card would raise booze salesmen’s eyebrows.

But in an undercover operation, a teenager used it successfully to buy alcohol six times in England’s Nottinghamshire county. Moreover, the age given on the card was 17 — under legal drinking age in Britain.

Over half of the 22 stores checked by the county council trading standards operation either sold the teenager alcohol without asking for identification at all, or accepted the Bobby Hill ID. Six stores checked his fake ID card, but still sold him the alcohol. Another seven stores didn’t ask for identification.

“We take the sale of age-restricted products to children very seriously,” said Mick Murphy, the chairman of the council’s community safety committee. “Although the volunteer was 18, we would strongly recommend that retailers always ask purchasers of goods such as alcohol and cigarettes for identification if they look under 25.

“It is disappointing that around a quarter of the shops tested did not properly check the identification that they asked for before accepting it. We are warning shops that we are considering using a child with fake ID following the results of this exercise,” Murphy added.

The council said that it would advise all the retailers who incorrectly served the volunteer, encouraging them to adopt a “Challenge 25″ policy when selling products that require a minimum age.

Under “Challenge 25,” anyone who is older than 18 but looks younger than 25 is encouraged to carry acceptable ID, such as a card bearing the PASS hologram, a driving license with a photo or a passport.

The Last Belle wins top animation award in R.I.

Rhode Island International Film Festival

Rhode Island International Film Festival

The Last Belle,” by Neil Boyle of the United Kingdom, won the Grand award in Animation at FLICKERS: Rhode Island International Film Festival.

In the 20-minute 2011 film, two characters journey towards a blind date: Wally, who suffers a nightmarish drunken trip through London as he races against the clock to the rendezvous; and Rosie, who waits in a bar dreaming of how wonderful her date is going to be…if he ever turns up. The film had its New England premiere at the fest.

RIIFF announced the award winners Sunday from its 16th annual awards ceremony held at The Vets in downtown Providence.

Held from August 7 to 12, the festival had another record-breaking year in attendance for ticket buyers and filmmakers.

Two films tied for First in the Animation category: Nuru (dir. Micheal Palmaers; Belgium, 2011) and Zing (dir. Kyra Buschor; Germany, 2012).

The 14-minute Nuru is set in an abandoned zoo. The zoo itself is inspired by the Antwerp Zoo in the 19th century and is covered in a mysterious environment reminding of the Rene Magritte painting The Empire of Light. Under a radiating sunny sky, the landscape is covered in darkness. The opportunistic director of the abandoned zoo instructs a doctor to do some medical experiments on a gorilla, one of the few animals left in the zoo. If the experiment turns out well, the zoo could again become the great attraction it once was.

In Zing, day in, day out, Mr. Grimm is busy with his job as the Reaper, harvesting people’s lives. One day, his monotonous existence is interrupted by the doorbell. It’s a little girl. She wants her cat back. Little does she know that she’s the next life on Mr. Grimm’s list.

Fraction (dir. Alain Delannoy; Canada, 2012) won the Grand award in the Best Experimental category. Without spoken language, this nine-minute animated film follows the story of an elderly artist who, caught in a battle of time, struggles to complete his body of work. Thousands of handcrafted drawings were created to compose and ultimately complete this independent short film, which was produced over a span of four years.

The RIIFF Youth Jury Award for Best Animated went to Rising Hope (dir. Milen Vitanov; Germany, 2012). All know the way, but few actually walk it — Rising Hope, once the fastest horse in the world, dares to be one of the few.

Two hundred feature length, documentary and short films — from 51 countries, and 32 states in the United States — were screened over a six-day period at locations throughout Rhode Island. Films were selected from a record entry base of 4,717 submissions. The festival presented 28 world premieres and 26 North American/United States premieres.

“It’s simply been an incredible year for us,” said George T. Marshall, RIIFF’s executive director. “Thanks to the amazing partnership we forged with Steven Feinberg and the Rhode Island Film & Television Office and sponsorships with the Providence Journal, Cox Communications and the City of Providence, filmmakers from across the globe were able to experience true Rhode Island hospitality. We had a spectacular lineup of provocative and engaging new films and a banner year for the Flickers’ Forums.

“This year, the festival registered more than 150 filmmakers from across the globe, including Greenland, Italy, Canada, France, Belgium, Denmark and Norway. All in all, we achieved everything we set out to accomplish with this year’s festival and more.”

RIIFF is one of only 75 film festivals worldwide that is accredited by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. William Joyce’s The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore premiered at RIIFF in 2011, and went on to win an Academy Award for best animated short.

China’s “Monkey King” in 3D at Vancouver festival

Vancouver International Film Festival

Vancouver International Film Festival

At this year’s Vancouver International Film Festival, China’s The Monkey King gets an eye-popping 3D restoration on its 50th anniversary; A Liar’s Autobiography (also in 3D) celebrates Graham Chapman’s inimitable work with Monty Python; and Persistence of Vision tells the story of what could have been the greatest animated feature of all time, The Thief and the Cobbler.

There’s plenty for the kids, but there’s also a tremendous seriousness of purpose and heartfelt artistry to the selection of animated features and shorts in this year’s festival, taking place from September 27 to October 12.

Comic book superheroes may rule the multiplex, but in the wide world of cinema, more rarefied and grown-up tastes are being well served! More and more, the use of animation sequences and devices enhance “photo-based” movies, and while graphic novels break new artistic ground, along comes Cartoon College to introduce us to the great animators of the printed page.

Among the cartoon selections at the Vancouver International Film Festival:

The Monkey King — Uproar in Heaven 3D (Da nao tian gong)
China; dirs. Su Da and Chen Zhihong
A grand spectacle, Su Da and Chen Zhihong’s 50th anniversary 3D restoration of China’s most lauded animated feature is truly a special event. Based on the the Ming Dynasty classic Journey to the West, it chronicles the adventures of the magical Monkey King, a mischievous character who creates havoc in the palace of Heaven by refusing to kowtow to the Celestial Jade Emperor…. Bring the kids! Classification: TBA.

A Liar’s Autobiography: The Untrue Story of Monty Python’s Graham Chapman
United Kingdom; dirs. Bill Jones, Jeff Simpson and Ben Timlett
Ready for something completely different? In the spirit of Graham Chapman’s five-author, highly fictionalized autobiography, this carnivalesque 3D adaptation/animation enlists three directors (Bill Jones, Ben Timlett and Jeff Simpson), 15 animation studios (each using different techniques) and the remaining Monty Python members (minus Eric Idle) to pay irreverent tribute to “the dead one.”

Ernest et Célestine
France/Belgium/Luxembourg; dirs. Benjamin Renner, Vincent Patar and Stéphane Aubier
Like-minded Ernest, a busking bear, and Célestine, a boho mouse, forge an interspecies friendship and instantly become a cause célèbre. Teaming with Benjamin Renner, A Town Called Panic‘s Vincent Patar and Stéphane Aubier curb their anarchic tendencies and delicately craft “a cautionary fable where friendship tries to stand the test of bigotry and intolerance.” — Hollywood Reporter. To be classified so all ages can attend!

McDull: The Pork of Music
North American Premiere
Hong Kong; dir. Brian Tse
Hong Kong’s funniest and most subversively popular avatar, the cartoon piglet McDull, is back in an animated musical by Brian Tse and Alice Mak. Mixing hilarious, weird and deliciously profane humor with ultra-sharp social critique, McDull & Company sing about HK’s uniqueness with a poignant charm all their own.

Consuming Spirits
U.S.A.; dir. Chris Sullivan
In this spiraling animated tale, the darkly humorous, seemingly random misadventures of three Rust Belt grotesques coalesce into a single affecting narrative. “Shot frame-by-frame using models, multi-plane paper cutouts and traditional pencil-drawn cartoons… this labor of love from do-it-all animator Chris Sullivan has the same rough-edged, cantankerous charms as the characters that populate it.” — Variety

Cartoon College
World Premiere
U.S.A.; dirs. Josh Melrod and Tara Wray
This bittersweetly charming documentary introduces us to some of the world’s greatest graphic novelists, and the extraordinary college in White River Junction, Vermont, where the comic artists of tomorrow get inspired and get to work! Chris Ware, Lynda Barry, Art Spiegelman, Françoise Mouly and Scott McCloud are among the many artists to take us into their imaginative inner lives and craft. The fabulous soundtrack includes an original score by Jason Zumpano.

Persistence of Vision
World Premiere
U.S.A./United Kingdom/Canada; dir. Kevin Schreck
Stupendous! After toiling on his masterpiece The Thief and the Cobbler for 28 years, top British animator Richard Williams — famous for Who Framed Roger Rabbit — saw it wrested from his control and savagely recut. Pairing unreleased scenes from Williams’ virtuoso fairy tale with horror stories of creativity falling prey to commerce, Kevin Schreck takes us inside “the greatest animated film never made.”

Wrinkles (Arrugas)
Spain; dir Ignacio Ferreras
By turns moving and funny, Ignacio Ferreras’ animated tale of two elderly men who become friends at a care facility for the aged “has heart and humor…. Wrinkles ranks as an extraordinarily involving and poignant film… likely to inspire laughter and deep sympathy for the characters, if not tears, in equal measure.” — SBS Film.
Winner, Goya Awards, Best Animated Film, Best Adapted Screenplay, 2012.

Sneak preview guides of the Vancouver International Film Festival hit the street September 1, while the VIFF Advance Box Office opens September 10. The Official Program Catalogue is on sale September 15.

Watch for the fabulous Hayao Miyazaki series coming to the PCP and Vancity Theatre in late fall!

Vancouver International Film Festival film info is available at (604) 683-FILM (3456). The VIFF office is at (604) 685-0260.