Monthly Archives: December 2012

Angry Birds Bigger Than Disney?

Angry Birds

Angry Birds

Mikael Hed, chief exec­u­tive of Finnish gam­ing com­pany Rovio, says the com­pany is going ahead with a 2016 fea­ture film based on his company’s famous avians, the Angry Birds. But Hed is not happy just mak­ing a fea­ture film, he plans on tak­ing the giant of children’s ani­ma­tion, Disney.

The Rovio chief exec­u­tive told AFP that the ani­mated 3D film– which will not be released until the sum­mer of 2016– could lead to the com­pany set­ting up an ani­mated movie stu­dio that would com­pete with California-based Walt Dis­ney Ani­ma­tion Studios.

If this goes very well, that is what is going to hap­pen. Cer­tainly we are struc­tur­ing this in a way so that it’s pos­si­ble for us to con­tinue to pro­duce more movies after this one,” he said.

Rovio seems to be start­ing out right… they have brought in John Cohen, pro­ducer of computer-animated com­edy “Despi­ca­ble Me” to pro­duce it, and David Maisel, for­mer chair­man of Mar­vel Stu­dios, as an exec­u­tive producer.

And ani­mated films are not the only front Rovio is tak­ing on the ani­ma­tion giant. The com­pany already has two theme parks, on in Fin­land and one in Great Britain. They are build­ing a third Angry Birds Land in Asia next year at a site near Shanghai.

Rovio has also part­nered with children’s cable net­work Nick­elodeon for a series of Angry Birds spe­cials, includ­ing Angry Birds – Wreck The Halls and  Angry Birds Space.

Is that enough to take on Dis­ney? Only time will tell… but it does seem that Rovio is aim­ing high for a one-trick pony.


Cartoon of the Day: The Emperor’s New Groove

The Emperor's New Groove

The Emperor’s New Groove

I am REALLY on the fence about The Emperor’s New Groove. Sure, it has it’s moments… it has Eartha Kitt… it also has Patrick War­bur­ton and Wendie Mal­ick. On the down side, it does have the barely one-dimensional David Spade in the lead role, and it was directed by Mark Din­dal who was still per­fect­ing the art of really screw­ing up an ani­mated film here (his Mas­ters the­sis was Chicken Lit­tle in 2005, eas­ily the worst film ever from Disney.)

The Emperor’s New Groove began life as the much more seri­ous in tone and epic in scope King­dom Of The Sun. Orig­i­nally, the music was done by Sting, and Roger Allers was the direc­tor. Sort of a Prince and the Pau­per story at first, Allers just could not bring the story to life.

To breath new life into the project, Dis­ney execs hired Mark Din­dal, who brought in the comic ele­ment. This resulted in a very uneven pro­duc­tion… half light and half dark. In the sum­mer 1998, under a time crunch for a 2000 release date, Allers was forced off the film. Din­dal retooled the film, dropped the Sting songs, and reti­tled the film.

In this com­edy, the vain and cocky Emperor Kuzco is a very busy man. Besides main­tain­ing his “groove,” and fir­ing his sus­pi­cious admin­is­tra­tor Yzma, he’s also plan­ning to build a new water park just for him­self for his birth­day. How­ever, this means destroy­ing one of the vil­lages in his king­dom. Mean­while, Yzma is hatch­ing a plan to get revenge and usurp the throne. But, in a botched assas­si­na­tion cour­tesy of Yzma’s right-hand man Kronk, Kuzco is mag­i­cally trans­formed into a llama. Now, Kuzco finds him­self the prop­erty of Pacha, a lowly llama herder whose home is ground zero for the water park. Upon dis­cov­er­ing the llama’s true self, Pacha offers to help resolve the Emperor’s prob­lem and regain his throne– only if he promises to move his water park.

So what do you think? Would you like to have seen Allers orig­i­nal film, or do you like the com­edy ver­sion by Dindal?

Concept Art From Animated Frozen



The rumors of Dis­ney on ice are true, at least as far as the studio’s 53rd full-length ani­mated fea­ture full-length ani­mated fea­ture is con­cerned. Frozen, due in the­aters in a lit­tle less than a year is that ice-cold project, and Dis­ney has just released their first peak at the art from the film.

The image shows dwarfed impres­sions of hero­ine Anna and her com­pan­ion Kristoff against a bleak and frigid back­ground of des­o­la­tion and ice.

The film begins when a prophecy traps a king­dom in eter­nal win­ter, Anna, a fear­less opti­mist, teams up with extreme moun­tain man Kristoff and his side­kick rein­deer Sven on an epic jour­ney to find Anna’s sis­ter Elsa, the Snow Queen, and put an end to her icy spell. Encoun­ter­ing mys­ti­cal trolls, a funny snow­man named Olaf, Everest-like extremes and magic at every turn, Anna and Kristoff bat­tle the ele­ments in a race to save the king­dom from destruction.

The film is directed by Chris Buck and Jen­nifer Lee from a story by Lee and Shane Mor­ris. It will also fea­ture orig­i­nal songs by Tony-award win­ner Robert Lopez (“The Book of Mor­mon,” “Avenue Q”) and Kris­ten Anderson-Lopez (“In Tran­sit”).

The film is cur­rently slated for release on Novem­ber 27, 2013.

Frozen Concept Art

Frozen Con­cept Art

Combustible Heats up Japan Media Arts Festival

Hi No Yojin (Combustible)

Hi No Yojin (Combustible)

Kat­suhiro Ohiro’s short film  Hi No Yôjin (Com­bustible) has won the Grand Prize in the Ani­ma­tion Divi­sion of the 16th Japan Media Arts Fes­ti­val, orga­niz­ers announced Thursday.

Set in mid-18th cen­tury Edo (the old name for Tokyo), Com­bustible cen­ters on Owaka, a merchant’s daugh­ter, and her child­hood friend Mat­suyoshi. Though the two are attracted to each other, Matsuyoshi’s fam­ily has dis­owned him, forc­ing him to make a liv­ing as a fire­man. But just as their rela­tion­ship is start­ing to bloom, Owaka’s fam­ily begins to move for­ward with plans to find her a hus­band. Unable to for­get Mat­suyoshi, in a fit of crazed pas­sion, Owaka causes a huge fire to break out, burn­ing down the town. The two lovers hap­pen to cross paths again in the midst of this blaze.

The back­drop for this spec­ta­cle is one of the great fires that fre­quently occurred in the metrop­o­lis of Edo. Using tra­di­tional Nihonga (Japanese-style) paint­ings as a motif for the ani­mated images, the work metic­u­lously recre­ates the man­ners, imple­ments, and lifestyle of Toky­oites some 300 years ago. In addi­tion, by com­bin­ing hand-drawn ani­ma­tion with 3D com­puter graph­ics, the cre­ators have sought to develop an inno­v­a­tive form of expres­sion through mov­ing images.

Excel­lence Awards were given to the ani­mated fea­ture films Asura (George Akiyama and Kei­ichi Sato; Asura Film Part­ners), The Life of Budori Gusuko (Gis­aburo Sugii; The Movie Com­mit­tee) and Wolf Chil­dren (Mamoru Hosoda; “Wolf Chil­dren” Film Part­ners), as well as the short film The Great Rab­bit (Atsushi Wada; Sacre­bleu Productions/CaRTe bLaNChe).

New Face Awards were given to the short film Futon (Yoriko Mizushiri), the TV ani­ma­tion Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine (Sayo Yamamoto; Mon­key Punch/TMS Enter­tain­ment Co., Ltd. and the Bel­gian short Oh Willy… (Emma de Swaef and Marc James Roels).

The fol­low­ing were jury selec­tions in the Ani­ma­tion Divi­sion. All are from Japan unless oth­er­wise specified:

Fea­ture films: After­school Mid­nighters (Hitoshi Takekiyo), Berserk Golden Age Arc II: The Dol­drey War (Toshiyuki Kubooka), Friends Naki on Mon­ster Island (Ryuichi Yagi and Takashi Yamazaki), FUSE –Mem­oirs of the Hunter Girl (Masayuki Miyaji), Rain­bow Fire­flies (Kono­suke Uda)

Short films: await­ing (Hakhyun Kim; South Korea), crazy for it (Yutaro Kubo), Deposit of Sen­ti­ment (Saori Suzuki), Grain Coupon (Xi Chen; China), Har­bor Tale (Yuichi Ito), I am alone, walk­ing on the straightroad (Masanori Okamoto), I’m also a bear (Tsu­neo Goda), KiyaKiya (Akino Kon­doh), Love Games (Yumi Yound; South Korea), My socks (Ikuo Kato), New Tokyo Ondo (Mis­aki Uwabo), No Rain No Rain­bow (Osamu Sakai), Nyosha (Liran Kapel and Yael Dekel; Israel), Pos­ses­sions (Shuhei Morita), Recruit Rhap­sody (Maho Yoshida), Sun­set Flower Bloom­ing (Yuanyuan Hu; China), The Saku­ramoto broom work­shop (Aya Tsug­e­hata), The Sar­dine Tin (Louise-Marie Colon; Bel­gium), Yon­alure: Moment to Moment (Ayaka Nakata and Yuki Sak­i­tani), 108 prayer beads (Han Han Li; China)

TV ani­ma­tions: Care­free Fairies (gdgd-partners), Kids On the Slope (Shinichiro Watan­abe), tsuri­tama (tsuri­tama partners)

The Japan Media Arts Fes­ti­val hon­ors works of excel­lence in a diverse range of media — from ani­ma­tion and
manga to games and media art. This year, a record num­ber of 3,503 works were sub­mit­ted for the fes­ti­val, includ­ing 1,502 works from 71 coun­tries and regions around the world. More appli­ca­tions had been sub­mit­ted for this, the 16th fes­ti­val, than in any year since its incep­tion in 1997.

The Exhi­bi­tion of Award-Winning Works will be held from Feb­ru­ary 13 to 24 at the National Art Cen­ter in Tokyo and other venues.

Five Animated Feature Films Up For Golden Globes

Golden Globes

Golden Globes

Five movies each have been nom­i­nated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Ani­mated Fea­ture Film, the Hol­ly­wood For­eign Press Asso­ci­a­tion announced Thursday.

Three of the five were dis­trib­uted by Walt Dis­ney Pictures.

The five are Brave (Walt Dis­ney Pic­tures, Pixar Ani­ma­tion Stu­dios; Walt Dis­ney Pic­tures), Franken­wee­nie (Walt Dis­ney Pic­tures; Walt Dis­ney Pic­tures), Hotel Tran­syl­va­nia (Colum­bia Pictures/Sony Pic­tures Ani­ma­tion; Sony Pic­tures Releas­ing), Rise of the Guardians (Dream­Works Ani­ma­tion LLC; Para­mount Pic­tures) and Wreck-It Ralph (Walt Dis­ney Pic­tures, Walt Dis­ney Ani­ma­tion Stu­dios; Walt Dis­ney Pictures).

For Best Motion Pic­ture – Drama, the nom­i­nees are Argo, Djanjo Unchained, Life of Pi, Lin­coln and Zero Dark Thirty.

Nom­i­nees for Best Motion Pic­ture – Com­edy or Musi­cal are The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Les Mis­er­ables, Moon­rise King­dom, Salmon Fish­ing in the Yemen and Sil­ver Lin­ings Play­book.

The Golden Globes will be handed out Jan­u­ary 13 on NBC.

Cartoon of the Day: A Very Merry Cricket

A Very Merry Cricket

A Very Merry Cricket

One of Chuck Jones’ spe­cials from the 1970’s, A Very Merry Cricket fea­tured Les Tremayne as Chester C. Cricket and Harry the Cat and Mel Blanc as Tucker the Mouse. Chuck wrote and directed this sequel.

Harry tells of Chester, a famous cricket who plays the vio­lin to soothe every­one. With all the hus­tle and bus­tle about New York around Christ­mas, it’s become com­mer­cial­ized. Tucker and Harry have to find Chester in order to put the spirit of Christ­mas back into the citizens.

This TV spe­cial was a sequel to “The Cricket in Times Square.”

Sitar Maestro, Composer Ravi Shankar Dead at 92



Leg­endary sitarist and com­poser Ravi Shankar died at 4:30 p.m. Tues­day at Scripps Memo­r­ial Hos­pi­tal in La Jolla, Cal­i­for­nia, the Ravi Shankar Foun­da­tion announced. He was 92.

Over the past year, Shankar had suf­fered from upper-respiratory and heart prob­lems. He was hos­pi­tal­ized last Thurs­day after com­plain­ing of breath­ing dif­fi­cul­ties. Although heart-valve replace­ment surgery was suc­cess­ful, recov­ery proved too dif­fi­cult for him, the foun­da­tion said.

Years before the Bea­t­les made him famous, Shankar helped pro­vide impro­vised music for the partly ani­mated 1957 National Film Board of Canada short A Chairy Tale, a fairy tale in the mod­ern man­ner, told with­out words by film artist Nor­man McLaren. In the film, a chair (ani­mated by Eve­lyn Lam­bart) that declines to be sat upon and a young man per­form a sort of pas de deux. A strug­gle ensues, first for mas­tery and then for understanding.

The short film was com­pletely edited before sound of the ani­ma­tion was con­sid­ered,” said Karin Gunn of the Teach Ani­ma­tion site. “At that time, the dis­tin­guished composer-performer sitarist, Ravi Shankar, had come to Mon­treal. After being invited to view the silent film, he expressed a keen inter­est in com­pos­ing the music.”

A Chairy Tale was nom­i­nated for an Oscar for Best Short Sub­ject, Live Action Sub­jects. It won the Cana­dian Film Award for Best Arts and Exper­i­men­tal, and a Spe­cial Award at the BAFTA Awards.

Shankar was India’s most esteemed musi­cal ambas­sador, and a sin­gu­lar phe­nom­e­non in the clas­si­cal music worlds of East and West. As a per­former, com­poser, teacher and writer, he did more for Indian music than any other musician.

He was well-known for his pio­neer­ing work in bring­ing Indian music to the West. This, how­ever, he did only after long years of ded­i­cated study under his illus­tri­ous guru, Baba Allaudin Khan, and after mak­ing a name for him­self in India.

Always ahead of his time, Shankar wrote three con­cer­tos for sitar and orches­tra, the last in 2008. He also authored violin-sitar com­po­si­tions for Yehudi Menuhin and him­self, music for flute vir­tu­oso Jean Pierre Ram­pal, music for shakuhachi mas­ter Hosan Yamamoto and koto vir­tu­oso Musumi Miyashi-ta, and col­lab­o­rated with Phillip Glass (Passages).

For­mer Bea­tle George Har­ri­son pro­duced and par­tic­i­pated in two record albums, Shankar Fam­ily & Friends and Fes­ti­val of India, both com­posed by Ravi Shankar.

Shankar also com­posed for bal­lets and films in India, Canada, Europe and the United States — the last includ­ing the movies Charly, Gandhi and the Apu Trilogy.

In the period of the awak­en­ing of the younger gen­er­a­tion in the mid-1960s, Shankar gave three mem­o­rable con­certs: the Mon­terey Pop Fes­ti­val, the Con­cert for Bangla Desh and the Wood­stock Festival.

An hon­orary mem­ber of the Amer­i­can Acad­emy of Arts and Let­ters, Shankar was a mem­ber of the United Nations Inter­na­tional Ros­trum of com­posers. He received many awards and hon­ors from his own coun­try and from around the world, includ­ing 14 doc­tor­ates, the Bharat Ratna, the Padma Vib­hushan, Desikot­tam, Padma Bhushan of 1967, the Music Coun­cil UNESCO award 1975, the Magsaysay Award from Manila, two Gram­mys, the Fukuoka grand Prize from Japan, the Polar Music Prize of 1998 and the Crys­tal award from Davos.

In 1986, he was nom­i­nated as a mem­ber of the Rajya Sabha, India’s upper house of Parliament.

Deeply moved by the plight of more than eight mil­lion refugees who came to India dur­ing the Bangla Desh Free­dom strug­gle from Pak­istan, Shankar wanted to help in any way he could. He planned to arrange a con­cert to col­lect money for the refugees.

He approached his dear friend, Har­ri­son, to help him raise money for this cause. This human­i­tar­ian con­cern from Shankar sowed the seed of the con­cept for the Con­cert for Bangla Desh. With Harrison’s help, this con­cert became the first mag­nus effort in fundrais­ing, paving the way for many oth­ers to do char­ity concerts.

His record­ing Tana Mana, released on the pri­vate Music label in 1987, brought Shankar’s music into the “New Age” with its unique method of com­bin­ing tra­di­tional instru­ments with electronics.

In 1989, he cel­e­brated his 50th year of con­cer­tiz­ing, and the Birm­ing­ham Tour­ing Opera Com­pany com­mis­sioned him to do a Music The­atre (Ghanashyam — a bro­ken branch), which cre­ated his­tory on the British arts scene.

He was born Robindra Shankar on April 7, 1920 in Varanasi, India, and was the youngest of four brothers,

Ravi Shankar has brought me a pre­cious gift, and through him, I have added a new dimen­sion to my expe­ri­ence of music. To me, his genius and his human­ity can only be com­pared to that of Mozart’s,” Menuhin reflected.

Har­ri­son once said: “Ravi Shankar is the God­fa­ther of World Music.”

Ravi Shankar is sur­vived by wife Sukanya, daugh­ter Norah Jones, daugh­ter Anoushka Shankar Wright and hus­band Joe Wright, and three grand­chil­dren and four great-grandchildren.

Cartoon of the Day: Go Away Ghost Ship

Go Away Ghost Ship

Go Away Ghost Ship

From the ORIGINAL Scooby-Doo series, Go Away Ghost Ship first aired on this date in 1969 on CBS-TV. When Frank Sina­tra sang “Strangers in the Night,” did he know he would inspire the name for the longest-running car­toon on net­work TV? Prob­a­bly not. Nonethe­less, that Great Dane named Scooby-Doo (as in “dooby dooby doo”) has appeared on tele­vi­sion under no less than twelve titles.

When the 300-year-old ghost of Red­beard The Pirate and his pirate ghost ship come out of a spooky night’s fog and raid a chan­nel freighter, the reluc­tant Scooby-Doo and the teen sleuths find them­selves in another baf­fling mys­tery. Pur­su­ing the ghost ship, our kids’ boat is sliced in two, and Shag and Scooby are cap­tured by pirates and made to cook din­ner. The gang uncov­ers the Ghost Of Red­beard for what he really is: C.L. Mag­nus, the raided freighter’s owner who’d been raid­ing his own ships and sell­ing the goods for the insur­ance money, and using an ancient revenge to cover up his scheme.

This story was adapted in Issue #6 (10252–106, June 1971) of Gold Key Comics’ Hanna-Barbera Scooby Doo, Where Are You! (“The Ghost Of Redbeard”).

And I woulda got­ten away with it, too, if it wasn’t for those ras­cally kids…

Washington, D.C.-area Film Critics Like ParaNorman



Para­Nor­man” was named Best Ani­mated Fea­ture of 2012 by the Wash­ing­ton, D.C. Area Film Crit­ics Asso­ci­a­tion on Mon­day morning.

The movie defeated fel­low nom­i­nees Brave, Franken­wee­nie, Rise of the Guardians and Wreck-It Ralph.

WAFCA hon­ored a wide sweep of films, rang­ing from musi­cals to sci­ence fic­tion. And while only three films gar­nered more than one award, it was clear that historical/political dra­mas res­onated most with the crit­ics from America’s capital.

Zero Dark Thirty, the account of United States intel­li­gence spe­cial­ists’ and Army spe­cial forces’ pur­suit and elim­i­na­tion of ter­ror­ist Osama bin Laden, won Best Film. In 2009, Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to ever win the WAFCA prize for Best Direc­tor for her Iraq War film, The Hurt Locker. Just three years later, Bigelow has won the same award again for Zero Dark Thirty.

In a year full of strong films,” said WAFCA pres­i­dent Tim Gor­don, “direc­tor Kathryn Bigelow’s bold and auda­cious vision, rep­re­sented in our Best Pic­ture win­ner, is the per­fect polit­i­cal story for our mem­bers in the Dis­trict of Colum­bia. This story, told with steely, cold effec­tive­ness, is a wor­thy entry into WAFCA’s Best Pic­ture canon and a cin­e­matic achieve­ment that we are proud to honor.”

Zero Dark Thirty also net­ted Jes­sica Chas­tain her first Best Actress award. Daniel Day-Lewis won Best Actor for his riv­et­ing por­trayal of Pres­i­dent Abra­ham Lin­coln in the year’s other out­stand­ing his­tor­i­cal drama, Lin­coln. Best Sup­port­ing Actor went to Philip Sey­mour Hoff­man for The Mas­ter, and Best Sup­port­ing Actress went to Anne Hath­away for Les Mis­er­ables, which also scooped the Best Act­ing Ensemble.

The screen­play awards cov­ered two very dif­fer­ent films: Best Adapted Screen­play went to David O. Rus­sell for his story of love and shared neu­roses in Sil­ver Lin­ings Play­book, and Rian John­son won Best Orig­i­nal Screen­play for his time travel mind-bender, Looper.

The award for Best Doc­u­men­tary went to Bully, while that for Best For­eign Lan­guage Film was pre­sented to Michael Haneke’s Amour. Best Art Direc­tion went to Cloud Atlas, while Clau­dio Miranda won Best Cin­e­matog­ra­phy for Life of Pi, and Jonny Green­wood took Best Score for The Mas­ter.

New this year, WAFCA proudly insti­tuted The Joe Bar­ber Award for Best Youth Per­for­mance, named in honor of beloved D.C. film critic and long­time WTOP arts edi­tor Joe Bar­ber, who died just over a year ago. The award, which high­lights the best per­for­mance from an actor or actress under 20, went to Quven­zhane Wal­lis for Beasts of the South­ern Wild.

It’s a shame Joe was not able to see Quvenzhane’s fierce and com­pas­sion­ate per­for­mance in this gem of a film,” said Gor­don. “It’s exactly the sort of role Joe would have loved, and we are so thank­ful to be able to remem­ber him going for­ward with this very spe­cial award.”

The Wash­ing­ton, D.C. Area Film Crit­ics Asso­ci­a­tion is com­prised of nearly 50 film crit­ics from TV, radio, print and the Inter­net based in the Dis­trict of Colum­bia, Vir­ginia and Mary­land. Vot­ing was con­ducted from Fri­day to Sunday.

Cartoon of the Day: Tokyo Mater

Tokyo Mater

Tokyo Mater

Release with the Dis­ney fea­ture Bolt, Tokyo Mater was part of Pixar’s Cars Toons series based on the char­ac­ters from the hit movie Cars. This series of short car­toons fea­ture the char­ac­ters Mater and Light­ning McQueen in var­i­ous the­atri­cal shorts.

In Tokyo Mater a rou­tine tow­ing assign­ment lands Mater in Tokyo where he is chal­lenged to a drift-style race against a nefar­i­ous gang leader and his posse of nin­jas. With the help of his friend, “Dragon” Light­ning McQueen, and some spe­cial mod­i­fi­ca­tions, Mater attempts to drift to vic­tory and become “Tow-ke-O Mater, King of all Drifters.”

Pre­miered on The Dis­ney Chan­nel on March 12, 2010.

The fourth released in the “Cars Toons” series. The “Cars Toons” shorts debuted in Octo­ber 2008 and reached 78.3 mil­lion unique total view­ers in 2009, includ­ing 26.6 mil­lion among tar­get age group kids 2–11.