Monthly Archives: November 2012

Vancouver Hosts Major Studio Ghibli Animation Retrospective

Studio Ghibli

Studio Ghibli

The Cinematheque and the Vancity Theatre, both located in downtown Vancouver, are co-hosting a major retrospective of the films of Studio Ghibli, the world-renowned anime studio founded in Tokyo in 1985 by animation directors Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata and producer Toshio Suzuki.

The Cinematheque presentation includes two rare titles —  Omohide Poro Poro (Only Yesterday) and Umi Ga Kikoeru (Ocean Waves) never released in North America before. All Ghibli films (with the exception of The Ocean Waves) will be presented in new 35mm prints.

Castles in the Sky: Miyazaki, Takahata, and the Masters of Studio Ghibli runs from December 7 to 9, 12 to 17, 22 to 23 and 26 to 30, as well as January 2 to 3.

Frequently referred to as the Disney of Japan, Studio Ghibli (pronounced “jib-lee” or “gee-buh-lee”) is known for startlingly original animated feature films that combine dazzling visual virtuosity, vivid characterizations and epic storytelling. These include some of the most magical, most beloved animated movies ever made, including Castle in the Sky, My Neighbour Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle.

Ghibli’s warm, intelligent, poetic films, often full of great flights of fancy that borrow from fairytale, folklore and science fiction, are always grounded in a deeply-felt humanism that embraces family and community and believes in essential human goodness (despite considerable evidence of human folly), and in a deep concern for the environment and our relationship with nature. They typically feature strong female protagonists. Ghibli films, it is also worth noting, are still primarily (and lovingly) crafted the traditional way, through the labor-intensive, hand-drawn, frame-by-frame technique of cel animation.

Here’s what’s scheduled:

Kaze No Tani No Naushika (Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind)
Miyazaki’s debut is considered by many to be his masterwork. There are few films, animated or otherwise, of such sweeping scope and grandeur.

Tenkû No Shiro Rapyuta (Castle in the Sky)
Miyazaki’s first Studio Ghibli feature is this beautiful, exhilarating eco-fantasy adventure of a young boy and girl searching for a long-lost floating island in the sky.

Majo No Takkyûbin (Kiki’s Delivery Service)
Kiki is a young witch-in-training; her best friend is Jiji, a chatty, wisecracking black cat in this beautiful, timeless and beloved story of a young girl finding her way in the world.

Umi Ga Kikoeru (Ocean Waves)
RARE GHIBLI! Rarely seen outside of Japan — never released in North America in any format — this subtle, poignant story of adolescence and teenage isolation is a true discovery.

Tonari No Totoro (My Neighbor Totoro)
Miyazaki’s most endearing, most beloved and most iconic film tells the touching tale of two sisters who discover a forest full of spirits and magical creatures next to their new home.

Mononoke Hime (Princess Mononoke)
Miyazaki’s epic story of conflict between humans, gods and nature is a landmark of animation and a film of unsurpassed power and beauty with an environmental message.

Hauru No Ugoku Shiro (Howl’s Moving Castle)
When a shy teenager is cursed by the jealous Witch of the Waste, she seeks refuge with a handsome wizard named Howl in his magical moving castle while they fight to lift the spell.

Sen To Chihiro No Kamikakushi (Spirited Away)
This Academy Award-winning film was Japan’s biggest box-office hit of all time, and cemented Miyazaki’s reputation as an icon of inspired animation and wondrous, lyrical storytelling.

Mimi O Sumaseba (Whisper of the Heart)
A visually stunning wonder about the awakening of creative talent, this is the sole feature directed by Miyazaki’s protégé Yoshifumi Kondô before his sudden death at the age of 47.

Neko No Ongaeshi (The Cat Returns)
Walking home after a dreary day at school, Haru saves a cat from being hit by a speeding truck. Little does she know that she is about to be plunged into into a fantastical feline world…

Heisei Tanuki Gassen Pompoko (The Raccoon War)
The forest home of the deceptively cuddly tanuki — a group of magical raccoon-like creatures — is threatened by the construction of a new suburb. Now, they must fight to save it.

Kurenai No Buta (Porco Rosso)
This tribute to early aviation is set between the World Wars in Fascist Italy, where flying ace Marco — cursed with the head of a pig — and beautiful Fio are catapulted into high-flying conflict.

Omohide Poro Poro (Only Yesterday)
RARE GHIBLI! Never released in North America, this tale of self-discovery may delve deeper into the real emotional experiences of women than any animated film before or since.

Hôhokekyo Tonari No Yamadâkun (My Neighbors the Yamadas)
This delightfully offbeat, rarely-seen gem was the first Ghibli film to be created entirely on computers in order to achieve its soft watercolor look.

All Ghibli films presented at The Cinematheque will screen in the original Japanese-language versions with English subtitles.

All Ghibli films presented at the Vancity Theatre will screen in the English-dubbed versions.

All ages are welcome! The Cinematheque welcomes all ages to this family-friendly presentation of the films of Studio Ghibli. All films in the series are rated G or PG (with the exception of Princess Mononoke and The Ocean Waves, which are 14A — under 14 requires adult accompaniment).

Remember that all The Cinematheque’s Ghibli screenings are in Japanese with English subtitles! Membership is required for those 18 or over.

Pacific Cinémathèque is grateful to Dave Jesteadt and GKIDS (New York) and Tom Charity of Vancity Theatre (Vancouver) for their great assistance in making this presentation possible. Program notes are by (or adapted from) GKIDS, except where otherwise noted.

For links to the individual films and their showtimes, visit www.thecinematheque.ca/castles-in-the-sky-miyazaki-takahata-and-the-masters-of-studio-ghibli.

Scene from Umi Ga Kikoeru (Ocean Waves), never released in North America theatrically or on any home viewing format.

Red-faced Mr. Burns Supports Romney For President in Cartoon

The Simpsons

The Simpsons

Nuclear plant owner C. Montgomery Burns, of “The Simpsons” cartoon fame (or infamy, depending on how you look at it), is backing Mitt Romney for president of the United States.

“There’s only one thing that might deny us the presidency, that is the God-given property of the Republican Party,” Burns remarked in an “ad” promoting episodes of the long-running series.

“The 47 percent tape?” asked inquiring fellow Simpsons character Mr. Smithers. “The empty chair? Cayman Islands? Swiss bank accounts?”

Responded Mr. Burns: “No, no, no and no. It’s a shaggy-dog story about an actual shaggy dog.

“Release the hound!”

The Simpsons

The Simpsons

The “ad” (www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ltCIEbLMaQg&noredirect=1) has Mr. Burns retell the tale of dog Seamus, whose kennel was fastened to the roof of the Romneys’ car. Then the nuke boss lets Seamus choose between challenger Romney and Democratic incumbent Barack Obama.

The pooch is met by the two candidates, whom Burns dubs “Broccoli Bama” and “Meat Romney.” Seamus, fearing the worst, runs away and jumps out the window.

“Another jumper. Bring in the next dog!”, Burns concludes in triumph.

Wreck-It Ralph Destroys Competition, Makes $49.1M

Wreck-It Ralph

Wreck-It Ralph

Wreck-It Ralph” topped the box office at $49.1 million to achieve the highest-grossing opening weekend in Walt Disney Animation history.

Following superstorm Sandy, there actually was an increase in theater attendance in areas affected.

In a distant second place was Denzel Washington’s live-action Flight, which sold $25 million in tickets at United States and Canadian theaters, according to studio estimates Sunday.

Wreck-It Ralph had been predicted to earn grosses in the mid-$40 million range this weekend, said Paul Dergarabedian, president of the box office division of Hollywood.com.

Last weekend, the box office was lukewarm as the U.S. East Coast prepared for Sandy.

Weekend ticket sales at international theaters for films distributed abroad by Hollywood studios put Wreck-It Ralph in fourth place at $12 million.

Movie attendance in areas affected by the storm was “very healthy,” according to Dave Hollis, executive vice-president of film distribution at Walt Disney Studios. School closures Friday boosted matinee screenings, he added.

“In a nice way, Wreck-It Ralph, in areas affected by the storm, ended up actually becoming an opportunity to relieve yourself from the reality that might be going on around you. We saw the theater business around areas affected by the storm very healthy,” Hollis said.

“The storm and its impact — I don’t know if it was a function of cabin fever or just escaping by getting into a movie theater, but there was definitely a gravitating-towards-the-theater phenomenon.

Wreck-It Ralph became something of a distraction and an opportunity for families to do something separate of the storm. Schools being shut down on Friday also played a role as parents were looking for things to entertain the kids and keep them out of the cold,” Hollis added.

Over a decade in development, Wreck-It Ralph cost an estimated $165 million to produce. It was made by the team behind Disney’s animated movie Tangled, which set the previous highest opening weekend gross with $48.8 million in 2010.

“The Disney movie would benefit from school being out in a large number of big urban and suburban eastern markets, they were always going to have a very good opening, I think they got a little help on Friday,” acknowledged Don Harris, president of distribution at rival studio Paramount Pictures.

Hotel Transylvania was in seventh place at the North American box office with $4.5 million and third overseas with another $13.7 million.

Also abroad, Madagascar 3 took in $7.9 million to reach #5, while Frankenweenie was 10th with $5.3 million.

The North American box office gross increased 21 percent over the same weekend last year.

Final domestic figures are scheduled for release Monday.

 

21 Animated Features Submitted For 2012 Oscar Race

Oscar Statuette, Academy Awards

Oscar Statuette, Academy Awards

Twenty-one features have been submitted for consideration in the Animated Feature Film category for the 85th Academy Awards, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Friday.

The 21 submitted features, listed in alphabetical order by title, are:

Adventures in Zambezia
Brave
Delhi Safari
Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax
Frankenweenie
Kokurikozaka Kara (From Up on Poppy Hill)
Krishna Aur Kans (Hey Krishna)
Hotel Transylvania
Ice Age Continental Drift
A Liar’s Autobiography: The Untrue Story of Monty Python’s Graham Chapman
Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted
The Mystical Laws
Le Tableau (The Painting)
ParaNorman
The Pirates! Band of Misfits
 Le Chat du Rabbin (The Rabbi’s Cat)
Rise of the Guardians
Secret of the Wings
Le Noël de Walter et Tandoori (Walter And Tandoori’s Christmas)
Wreck-It Ralph
Zarafa

Several of the films listed have not yet had their required Los Angeles qualifying runs. Submitted features must fulfill the theatrical release requirements and comply with all of the category’s other qualifying rules before they can advance in the voting process. At least eight eligible animated features must be theatrically released in Los Angeles County within the calendar year for this category to be activated.

Films submitted in the Animated Feature Film category may also qualify for Academy Awards in other categories, including Best Picture, provided they meet the requirements for those categories.

The 85th Academy Awards nominations will be announced live Thursday, January 10 at 5:30 a.m. PT in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater.

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2012 will be presented Sunday, February 24 at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center, and televised live on ABC. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in over 225 countries worldwide.

Leonard Termo, 77, Acted in 5 Mickey Rourke Movies

Leonard Termo

Leonard Termo

Character actor Leonard Termo, who appeared alongside Mickey Rourke in five 1980s films, died peacefully in his sleep Tuesday at his Santa Clarita, California home, his friend, actor Elias Koteas, said Friday. He was 77.

Termo voiced Steve’s dad in the 2001 animated short Clay Pride: Being Clay in America, directed by David Karlsberg and Jon Watts.

The Brooklyn-born Termo guested in the infamous Seinfeld episode “The Mango,” which opened the series’ fifth season. In it, he portrayed the owner of Joe’s Fruits who bans Kramer, then Jerry, when Michael Richards’ character crabs about a bad peach.

Later, George eats one of Joe’s mangoes, which apparently ends his erectile dysfunction. “I think it moved!” George announces in bed.

Termo first appeared in films in 1983’s Heart Like a Wheel. The following year, he portrayed a gay waiter opposite Rourke in The Pope of Greenwich Village. Other appearances with Rourke were in Michael Cimino’s Year of the Dragon (1985), Barbet Schroeder’s Barfly (1987), A Prayer for the Dying (1987) and Homeboy (1988).

His other movies included Francis Ford Coppola’s The Cotton Club (1984), Johnny Dangerously (1984), Turk 182! (1985), Ruby (1992), Tim Burton’s Ed Wood (1994, as a makeup man), David Lynch’s Lost Highway (1997), Fight Club (1999) and Ali (2001).

TV series in which he appeared included Wiseguy and Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.

Termo became an actor in the mid-1970s, leaving his job as a businessman in New York’s garment district. To change careers, he “left it all — my wife, my kid, my money, everything,” he told New York magazine in a November 1983 profile of Rourke. “I love acting. I’m broke. I sleep on a cot.”

Rourke befriended Termo after seeing him in a Los Angeles theater production. The pair were longtime friends.

“If they told me they’d chuck a few years off my life, but I knew when I went that Lenny would go with me, I’d do it in a second,” Rourke said in a 1987 Playboy interview.

Termo and Rourke were once scheduled to appear in a Cimino biography at Embassy Pictures about “Legs” Diamond with Rourke as the 1930s gangster and Termo as his bodyguard. However, the film never was made.

Rourke could not be reached for comment.

A memorial service is planned for January 15, with details to be announced, Koteas said.

DreamWorks Animation’s Profit Rises by 24 Percent

DreamWorks Animation

DreamWorks Animation

DreamWorks Animation had net income of $24.4 million for the third quarter ended September 30, up 24% from $19.7 million for the same period in 2011, the studio announced Thursday.

For the quarter, the company reported total revenue of $186.3 million. This compares to revenue of $160.8 million for the same period in 2011.

“DreamWorks Animation’s third quarter results were driven by the blockbuster international box office success of Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted, which has earned nearly $720 million at the worldwide box office to date, to become the fifth highest-grossing film of the year on a global basis,” said CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg. “We are looking forward to the next major event film for the company during the fourth quarter, the November 21 theatrical release of Rise of the Guardians.”

Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted contributed about $47.1 million of revenue to the quarter, driven primarily by its performance at the worldwide box office. Released on June 8, the film has grossed over $216 million at the domestic box office and approximately $503 million at the international box office to date.

Puss In Boots contributed $44.8 million of revenue to the quarter, driven primarily by domestic and international pay television. The film reached an estimated 5.6 million home entertainment units sold worldwide through the end of the third quarter, net of actual and estimated future returns.

Kung Fu Panda 2 contributed $9 million of revenue to the quarter, driven primarily by international pay television. The film reached an estimated 6 million home entertainment units sold worldwide through the end of the third quarter, net of actual and estimated future returns.

Megamind contributed 700,000 of revenue to the quarter and reached an estimated 5.6 million home entertainment units sold worldwide through the end of the third quarter, net of actual and estimated future returns.

DWa’s library contributed approximately $50.6 million of revenue to the quarter. All other items, including non-feature film businesses, contributed $30.1 million of revenue to the quarter.

The company’s acquisition of Classic Media, which closed August 29, contributed about $4 million of revenue to the quarter, primarily from home entertainment.

Costs of revenue for the third quarter equaled $114 million. Selling, general and administrative expenses totaled $36.5 million, including approximately $3 million of stock-based compensation expense.

The company’s income tax expense for the third quarter was $14.3 million. Its combined effective tax rate — the actual tax rate coupled with the effect of the company’s tax sharing agreement with a former stockholder — was approximately 34.5% for the third quarter.

DreamWorks Animation’s fourth-quarter results are expected to be driven primarily by the continued performance of Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted in the international box office, as well as the global home video market. The November 21 theatrical release of Rise of the Guardians is also expected to contribute to the company’s fourth-quarter results.

Ireland To Brown Bag An Animated Film

Brown Bag Films

Brown Bag Films

Irish animation house Brown Bag Films is set to begin pre-production on their first feature length animated film early next year. Nightglider will be co-produced by Brown Bag Films and Wind Dancer Films, and directed by Brown Bag Films’ creative director Darragh O’Connell.

Brown Bag will also be the lead animation studio for the production. Wind Dancer will partially finance the film, and secure additional financing for the project through advance international and domestic sales. Wind Dancer is best known for its live-action feature projects, including the Mel Gibson feature What Women Want. Nightglider will mark its first animated feature.

The film will be written by Jeremy Shipp, and produced by Brown Bag Films’ Gregory R. Little with Wind Dancer’s Matt Williams, David McFadzean, Dete Meserve and Judd Payne. Little developed the project and brought it to Brown Bag upon joining the company.

The animated film will tell the story of a flying squirrel raised as a tree squirrel who becomes convinced that he’s a super-hero when he discovers that he can fly.

Brown Bag Films  was founded in 1994 by Cathal Gaffney and Darragh O’Connell in Dublin, Ireland. Brown Bag Films have a slate of original television and family feature properties in active development and are also engaged in international co-productions and service work.

 

Dave Borthwick Directed Doogal, Magic Roundabout

Dave Borthwick

Dave Borthwick

British stop-motion animator Dave Borthwick, a director of the feature films The Magic Roundabout (2005) and Doogal (2006), died this past week in Bristol, England, cartoon historian Jerry Beck said Thursday morning.

His age was not immediately available.

Borthwick, co-founder of Bristol’s bolexbrothers studios with Dave Alex Riddett in the early 1980s, died of pneumonia after his health had been failing for a while, Beck quoted stop-motion character animator Tom Gasek as saying.

Known as The Magic Roundabout in the United States, the 2005 movie was originally titled Sprung! The Magic Roundabout in Britain.

He conceived, directed, wrote and even edited 1993’s The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb. Based on an award-winning 10-minute pilot, it was a 61-minute film combining 3-D model animation with an innovative use of pixilation -the technique of animating human actors frame by frame. The film was the first major production for the bolexbrothers.

“Pixilation is no small task for actors,” he said of Tom Thumb. A movement or expression that lasts for, say, five seconds on screen could take three or four hours to shoot.”

He won several awards for The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb: the Evening Standard British Film Award for Best Technical/Artistic Achievement, the Critics’ Award – Special Mention at Fantasporto, the International Fantasy Film Award for Best Director, and the Best Director award at the Sitges – Catalonian International Film Festival.

Bolexbrothers specializes in stop frame and pixilation. Following a decade of producing short films and commercials, it was focusing its efforts on a full-length feature, Grass Roots: The Movie, at the time of Borthwick’s death. The film was a clay-animated adaptation of Gilbert Shelton’s underground comic The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers.

Borthwick worked on such animated shorts as Valhalla (1986), The Saint Inspector (1996), Keep in a Dry Place and Away from Children (1998) and Little Dark Poet (1999) as an executive producer, editor or consultant. He appeared as himself on “Visions of Childhood,” a episode of the 2005 documentary TV series Animation Nation.

Bolexbrothers also produced animated commercials for such clients as Coca-Cola’s Fanta, Legos, Weetabix, Carlsberg, Nestea, Budweiser, Scotland against Drugs and Boots.

Borthwick was nominated for a CableACE Award for Editing a Documentary Special or Series in connection with the 1991 special LifePulse, which aired on Disney Channel.

DWA’s Katzenberg To Receive 150% Salary Increase

DreamWorks Animation

DreamWorks Animation

DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg’s annual base salary will increase 150% from $1 million a year to $2.5 million under a contract extension reached with the studio.

Katzenberg’s term as CEO will now run through 2017. His previous contract had run until the end of 2014.

He will also be eligible for $4 million a year in cash bonuses. According to United States Securities and Exchange Commission, he will also be eligible for long-term equity incentives of $4.5 million. These have been reduced from $8 million under his previous agreement.

In addition, Katzenberg will be compensated for such business expenses as private aircraft use for business-related travel and security personnel.

The new terms stipulate that if DWA changes owner, Katzenberg could collect his compensation for the rest of the current contract or for two years, whichever is longer.

Meanwhile, Ann Daly’s term as chief operating officer has been extended through 2017, too. Her annual base salary is being hiked from $1.012 million to $1.5 million.

Daly will be eligible for $750,000 in annual cash bonuses this year, which will be doubled in 2013. She also will be eligible for annual long-term equity incentives of $3.5 million, up from $2.5 million under her earlier agreement.

Under a new agreement, general counsel Andrew Chang’s annual salary increases from $460,000 to $550,000, starting next year. The agreement runs until January 1, 2016.

[Via The Hollywood Reporter www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/jeffrey-katzenberg-ann-daly-up-384615]

Watch NFB Films Free in Canada’s Public Libraries

The National Film Board of Canada (NFB)

The National Film Board of Canada (NFB)

Through its Film Club, the National Film Board of Canada is a privileged partner of public libraries across the country.

This winter, the NFB is presenting both classics and new releases in four programs for general audiences and one for children.

To mark International Women’s Day, March 8, the NFB will be presenting screenings of the animated short An Artist. In Michèle Cournoyer’s An Artist, a girl demonstrates her gift for music.

Also on offer this winter is a program featuring the short films The Visitor, directed by David Barlow-Krelina as part of the Hothouse 8 program for emerging animators; and Islet, Nicolas Brault’s whimsical animated ode to the Arctic.

Libraries that screen Islet will be entered into a draw to win the 24-film box set Unikkausivut: Sharing Our Stories, valued at $899.

Children will love the varied program of five animated films that the NFB has curated for them. It includes HA’Aki by Iriz Pääbo, Sainte Barbe by Claude Barras and Cédric Louis, Christopher, Please Clean Up Your Room! by Vincent Gauthier, Glasses by Brian Duchscherer and the new release Big Mouth by Andrea Dorfman.

For more information on the NFB Film Club, call Marianne Di Domenico at (514) 283-8953 or visit m.didomenico(at)-onf.ca.