Tag Archives: In Production

Bron Studios Steps Up To Produce CG Sole Mates

Sole Mates

Sole Mates

Vancouver-based Bron Stu­dios announced Tues­day that it is mak­ing its first CG-animated fea­ture film, Sole Mates.

Set to begin pro­duc­tion next year, the movie is an “ani­mated jour­ney of love, lost and found, with comedic charm and uni­ver­sal themes set in a famil­iar world from a new point of view.” Bron Stu­dios will team up with Hid­den Empire Film Group on the project.

Sole Mates is based on an orig­i­nal con­cept by Deon Tay­lor (Chain Let­ter).

Bron man­ag­ing direc­tor Aaron L. Gilbert will be one of the pro­duc­ers, join­ing Tay­lor and Ahmet Zappa (The Odd Life of Tim­o­thy Green).

Tay­lor has pro­duced, directed and writ­ten sev­eral other projects, includ­ing The Hus­tle (Char­lie Mur­phy) and the drama Supremacy, with Danny Glover.

Hayao Miyazaki to Release First Animated Movie in 5 Years

Kaze Tachinu (The Wind Rises)

Kaze Tach­inu (The Wind Rises)

Japan­ese ani­ma­tor Hayao Miyazaki’s first film in five years will come out next year, dis­trib­u­tor Toho announced Thursday.

Miyazaki will release wartime romance Kaze Tach­inu, based on the novel of the same name, usu­ally trans­lated as The Wind Has Risen.

He cre­ated Spir­ited Away, which a 2003 Oscar for Best Ani­mated Fea­ture. His last movie was 2008’s Ponyo.

The pro­tag­o­nist of Kaze Tach­inu is based on flight engi­neer Jiro Horikoshi, designer of the Zero fighter, Japan’s best known Sec­ond World War fighter aircraft.

Also next year, long­time Miyazaki col­lab­o­ra­tor Isao Taka­hata will release his first new film in over a decade. Kaguya Hime No Mono­gatari will be based on Take­tori Mono­gatari (The Tale of the Bam­boo Cut­ter). Japan’s old­est novel, Take­tori Mono­gatari is thought to have been writ­ten over 1,000 years ago.

Former Digital Domain Team Seeks to Revive “Tembo”

The Legend Of Tembo

The Leg­end Of Tembo

Despite being “dev­as­tated” by the sud­den clo­sure of Dig­i­tal Domain Media Group’s new Florida stu­dio, director-producers Chuck Williams and Aaron Blaise are bid­ding for the rights to ani­mated fea­ture The Leg­end of Tembo, a film can­celed when Dig­i­tal Domain went belly-up.

A tale of a pachy­derm taken far from his African home to go to war, The Leg­end of Tembo would have gone into pro­duc­tion in another month. But one day, restruc­tur­ing spe­cial­ists at FTI Con­sult­ing told stu­dio employ­ees who had come to work that they had two hours to grab their things and go.

Williams and Blaise each worked in ani­ma­tion for the Walt Dis­ney Com­pany for 20 years. Williams moved back to his home state to get Dig­i­tal Domain devel­op­ing a stu­dio busi­ness. When he came back to his office, his com­puter was gone.

It was like a hur­ri­cane had blown through and every­thing was ripped out. I had pitches and scripts and all kinds of work on there,” Williams said.

Through a spokesman, FTI declined comment.

Williams and Blaise are in talks with Beijing-based Gal­lop­ing Horse, which joined Reliance Medi­a­Works in pur­chas­ing Dig­i­tal Domain’s special-effects busi­ness for $30.2 mil­lion at a hasty bank­ruptcy auc­tion. Already, Gal­lop­ing Horse has paid $5 mil­lion to develop The Leg­end of Tembo. Williams and Blaise hope that the joint ven­ture will help bring back Dig­i­tal Domain’s ani­mated movie business.

The cre­ative team feels that Gal­lop­ing Horse, which bought most of Dig­i­tal Domain, may also pur­chase its stu­dio busi­ness, too.

We want to make our movie,” said Williams. “One-hundred-twenty peo­ple worked on it for two years. Early tests showed it was fab­u­lous — Dis­ney qual­ity, just like we promised.”

Speak­ing last week in bank­ruptcy court last week, Michael Katzen­stein of FTI belit­tled Dig­i­tal Domain’s attempt to pro­duce ani­mated movies as a mis­take, as the firm had done well mak­ing spe­cial effects for such movies as Titanic for years. He stated that Tembo swal­lowed $13 mil­lion of the company’s funds.

How­ever, Williams and Blaise con­tend, spe­cial effects makes only a small mar­gin of profit, while ani­mated fea­tures are a real money-maker, with 90% of such films get­ting wide release in the United States turn­ing a profit. They said that spend­ing on The Leg­end of Tembo was par for the indus­try, and that a profit from Dig­i­tal Domain’s new stu­dio couldn’t be expected for years.

Accord­ing to Blaise, a major ani­mated fea­ture is nor­mally bud­geted at $80 mil­lion to $100 mil­lion. A good ani­mated movie takes three or four years to pro­duce, with the money not show­ing up until it’s in movie houses, he said.

Added Williams: “This was a good bet.”

We’re sad about what hap­pened. It’s really hor­rific,” Williams con­tin­ued. “But we’re excited about what could hap­pen now.”

[Via Dow Jones/Wall Street Jour­nal blogs.wsj.com/bankruptcy/2012/09/26/digital-domains-creative-leaders-hit-the-comeback-trail/]

Saving Mr. Banks Tells Story Behind Mary Poppins Adaptation

Saving Mr. Banks Tells Story Behind Mary Poppins Adaptation

Sav­ing Mr. Banks

Dis­ney began pro­duc­tion Wednes­day on “Sav­ing Mr. Banks,” the account of Walt Disney’s 20-year pur­suit of the film rights to P.L. Tra­vers’ pop­u­lar novel Mary Pop­pins, and the testy part­ner­ship that the upbeat film­maker devel­ops with the uptight author dur­ing the partly ani­mated film’s pre-production in 1961.

Two-time Acad­emy Award win­ner Tom Hanks (Philadel­phia, For­rest Gump) will essay the role of the leg­endary Dis­ney (the first time that the entre­pre­neur has ever been depicted in a dra­matic film) along­side fel­low dou­ble Oscar win­ner Emma Thomp­son (Howard’s End, Sense and Sen­si­bil­ity) in the role of the prickly nov­el­ist. Before actu­ally sign­ing away the book’s rights, Tra­vers’ demands for con­trac­tual script and char­ac­ter con­trol cir­cum­vent not only Disney’s vision for the film adap­ta­tion, but also those of the cre­ative team of screen­writer Don DaGradi and sib­ling com­posers Richard and Robert Sher­man, whose orig­i­nal score and song (“Chim-Chim-Cher-ee”) would go on to win Oscars at the 1965 cer­e­monies (the film won five awards of its 13 nominations).

When Tra­vers trav­els from Lon­don to Hol­ly­wood in 1961 to finally dis­cuss Disney’s desire to bring her beloved char­ac­ter to the motion pic­ture screen (a quest he began in the 1940s as a promise to his two daugh­ters), Dis­ney meets a prim, uncom­pro­mis­ing sex­a­ge­nar­ian not only sus­pect of the impresario’s con­cept for the film, but a woman strug­gling with her own past. Dur­ing her stay in Cal­i­for­nia, Tra­vers reflects back on her child­hood in 1906 Aus­tralia, a try­ing time for her fam­ily which not only molded her aspi­ra­tions to write, but one that also inspired the char­ac­ters in her 1934 book.

None more so than the one per­son whom she loved and admired more than any other — her car­ing father, Tra­vers Goff, a tor­mented banker who, before his untimely death that same year, instills the young­ster with both affec­tion and enlight­en­ment (and would be the muse for the story’s patri­arch, Mr. Banks, the sole char­ac­ter that the famous nanny comes to aid). While reluc­tant to grant Dis­ney the film rights, Tra­vers comes to real­ize that the acclaimed Hol­ly­wood sto­ry­teller has his own motives for want­ing to make the film — which, like the author, hints at the rela­tion­ship that he shared with his own father in the early 20th Cen­tury Midwest.

Colin Far­rell (Minor­ity Report, Total Recall) co-stars as Tra­vers’ dot­ing dad, Goff, along with British actress Ruth Wil­son (the forth­com­ing films The Lone Ranger and Anna Karen­ina) as his long-suffering wife Mar­garet; Oscar and Emmy nom­i­nee Rachel Grif­fiths (Six Feet Under, Hilary and Jackie, The Rookie) as Margaret’s sis­ter, Aunt Ellie (who inspired the title char­ac­ter of Tra­vers’ novel); and a screen new­comer: 11-year-old Aussie native Annie Buck­ley as the young, blos­som­ing writer, nick­named “Ginty” in the flash­back sequences.

The cast also includes Emmy win­ner Bradley Whit­ford (The West Wing, The Cabin in the Woods) as screen­writer Don DaGradi; Jason Schwartz­man (Rush­more, Moon­rise King­dom) and B.J. Novak (NBC’s The Office, Inglou­ri­ous Bas­terds) as the song­writ­ing Sher­man Broth­ers (Richard and Robert, respec­tively); Oscar nom­i­nee and Emmy win­ner Paul Gia­matti (Side­ways, Cin­derella Man, HBO’s John Adams) as Ralph, the kindly lim­ou­sine dri­ver who escorts Tra­vers dur­ing her two-week stay in Hol­ly­wood; and multi-Emmy win­ner Kathy Baker (Picket Fences, Edward Scis­sorhands) as Tom­mie, one of Disney’s trusted stu­dio associates.

Sav­ing Mr. Banks will be directed by John Lee Han­cock (The Blind Side, The Rookie) based on a screen­play by Kelly Mar­cel (cre­ator of FOX-TV’s Terra Nova), from a story by Sue Smith (Brides of Christ, Bas­tard Boys) and Kelly Mar­cel. The film is being pro­duced by Ali­son Owen of Ruby Films (the Oscar-nominated Eliz­a­beth, HBO’s Emmy-winning Tem­ple Grandin), Ian Col­lie of Essen­tial Media (the Aussie TV doc­u­men­tary The Shadow of Mary Pop­pins, DirecTV’s Rake) and long­time Han­cock col­lab­o­ra­tor Philip Steuer (The Rookie, The Chron­i­cles of Nar­nia tril­ogy). The film’s exec­u­tive pro­duc­ers are Ruby Films’ Paul Tri­jbits (Lay the Favorite, Jane Eyre), Hop­scotch Fea­tures’ Andrew Mason (The Matrix tril­ogy, Dark City) and Troy Lum (Mao’s Last Dancer, I, Franken­stein), and BBC Films’ Chris­tine Lan­gan (Oscar nom­i­nee for The Queen, We Need to Talk About Kevin).

Hancock’s film­mak­ing team includes a trio of artists with whom he worked on his 2009 Best Pic­ture Oscar nom­i­nee, The Blind Side: two-time Oscar nom­i­nated pro­duc­tion designer Michael Coren­blith (How The Grinch Stole Christ­mas, Apollo 13), Emmy-winning cos­tume designer Daniel Orlandi (HBO’s Game Change, Frost/Nixon) and film edi­tor Mark Livolsi, A.C.E. (Wed­ding Crash­ers, The Devil Wears Prada). Han­cock also reunites with Acad­emy Award-nominated cin­e­matog­ra­pher John Schwartz­man (Seabis­cuit, Pearl Har­bor), with whom he first worked on his inspir­ing 2002 sports drama The Rookie.

Sav­ing Mr. Banks will film entirely in the Los Ange­les area, with key loca­tions to include Dis­ney­land in Ana­heim and the Dis­ney Stu­dios in Bur­bank. Film­ing will con­clude around Thanks­giv­ing this year, with no spe­cific 2013 release date yet set.

Total Drama Revenge of the Island” coming to CN

Total Drama: Revenge of the Island

Total Drama: Revenge of the Island

The con­tention, the rival­ries, the ten­sion, the money and… Chef are all com­ing back to Car­toon Net­work at 7:30 p.m. on Tues­day, June 5 for the ani­mated real­ity com­pe­ti­tion series Total Drama Revenge of the Island, pro­duced by Fresh TV and dis­trib­uted by Cake Entertainment.

In past sea­sons, ego­tis­ti­cal series host Chris McLean brought the show to diverse locales, includ­ing a movie set and a voy­age around the world, but now it’s back to the island, where the drama began in Sea­son 1 — this time with an all-new cast! Since the show has gone global, Camp Wawanakwa has been aban­doned and turned into a toxic nuclear waste dump — the per­fect place for new and painful, cringe-inducing challenges!

Fight­ing for the $1 mil­lion prize are 13 wild new play­ers: ath­letic over­achiever Light­ning, wide-eyed bubble-boy Cameron, mul­ti­ple per­son­al­ity Mike, take-no-prisoners jock Jo, devi­ous Scott, fame-monger Dakota, indie chick Zoey, com­pul­sive liar Staci, strong silent genius B, fake tan and hair­spray lover Anne Maria, moon­child Dawn, nice-guy gamer Sam and cadet Brick.

This sea­son promises to be the tough­est ever. As usual, the Total Drama con­tes­tants will be split into two teams, this time there are no reward chal­lenges and one teen will be voted off in every episode. There is one chance for sal­va­tion when host Chris unveils an immu­nity statue, shaped in his own like­ness, to be hid­den some­where on the island. Who­ever finds the statue wins immu­nity from elim­i­na­tion for one radioac­tive camp­fire cer­e­mony. Those chances are slim and all but one con­tes­tant will be cat­a­pulted off the island via the Hurl of Shame!

CartoonNetwork.com will also fea­ture a Total Drama Revenge of the Island game where con­tes­tants will attempt to bal­ance a por­tion of the Island’s mutant squir­rel pop­u­la­tion on their bod­ies all while stand­ing pre­car­i­ously on crudely built struc­tures, try­ing to dodge meat­balls being pelted at them by Chef. The player’s goal is to top­ple each con­tes­tants one-by-one using Chef and sev­eral types of meat­ball ammo rang­ing from large meat­balls that pack a punch to explo­sive and cor­ro­sive meat­balls that dam­age the struc­tures the con­tes­tants are posi­tioned on. The game has 30+ lev­els to mas­ter and will launch on May 29.

Axe Cop” breaking into Saturday late-prime on FOX

Axe Cop

Axe Cop

Ani­ma­tion Dom­i­na­tion HD, the new ani­ma­tion unit cre­ated by Fox Broad­cast­ing Com­pany, has acquired the rights to the hit comic phe­nom­e­non Axe Cop, Nick Wei­den­feld, head of Ani­ma­tion Dom­i­na­tion HD, announced Tuesday.

Axe Cop will pre­miere as part of FOX’s new Sat­ur­day late-prime Ani­ma­tion Dom­i­na­tion HD block (11 to 12:30 p.m. ET/PT), debut­ing in 2013, and across dig­i­tal platforms.

Axe Cop is one of the most cre­ative, hilar­i­ous and nat­u­rally viral comic prop­er­ties to emerge in the last decade,” Wei­den­feld said. “I’ve hoped some­one would adapt Axe Cop for tele­vi­sion for years, and couldn’t be hap­pier that we get to be that some­one. Axe Cop has all the mak­ings of an iconic ani­mated series, and it will help set the tone for FOX’s new late-prime Sat­ur­day ani­ma­tion lineup.”

Axe Cop is the first new series in devel­op­ment by Ani­ma­tion Dom­i­na­tion HD. The new unit has ordered six quarter-hour episodes of the series. Addi­tional aus­pices will be announced.

The Axe Cop Web comic was cre­ated by then five-year-old Malachai Nicolle and his 29-year-old brother Ethan, and chron­i­cles the adven­tures of an axe-wielding police offi­cer and his loyal team of allies as they fight bad guys. Writ­ten by Malachai and drawn by Ethan, the first five install­ments of Axe Cop were put online on Jan­u­ary 25, 2010 and went viral in a mat­ter of days.

Three days after AxeCop.com went live, it was fea­tured as Enter­tain­ment Weekly’s “Site of the Day,” and the series quickly became an Inter­net meme. Since its debut, Axe Cop has gained cult sta­tus and promi­nent recog­ni­tion in the comic sphere through Dark Horse, on the Web, and through var­i­ous media circuits.

Third season of “LazyTown” goes into production



Award-winning children’s TV series Lazy­Town is back in pro­duc­tion for a third sea­son of brand new 13 half-hour shows fol­low­ing its acqui­si­tion by Turner Broad­cast­ing last September.

Chart­ing the adven­tures of action hero Sporta­cus, aspir­ing dancer Stephanie, res­i­dent vil­lain Rob­bie Rot­ten and the rest of the Lazy­Town gang, the show com­bined live action with pup­petry and CGI ani­ma­tion. It once again stars its cre­ator, Mag­nus Schev­ing, as Sporta­cus, with a new actress in the role of Stephanie.

Ten-year-old Chloe Lang, from Con­necti­cut and already a suc­cess­ful com­pe­ti­tion dancer, takes over from Julianna Rose Mau­riello as Stephanie, the show’s lead female char­ac­ter, who is much loved by chil­dren for her bright pink hair, sunny dis­po­si­tion and danc­ing skills.

I’m happy and hon­ored to take on this role, and very excited to have the oppor­tu­nity to live in Ice­land for the next few months and work with the Lazy­Town crew,” says Chloe. “I have always looked up to Julianna — she was great on the show, and I just hope I can per­form to her standards.”

Cre­ated as a con­cept nearly 20 years ago by Schev­ing, Lazy­Town is the only global enter­tain­ment brand ded­i­cated to kids’ health. Its aim is to moti­vate kids and their fam­i­lies to make pos­i­tive lifestyle choices in a fun, enter­tain­ing and inspi­ra­tional way.

As well as the TV show, the brand encom­passes live shows, music, games, radio, pub­lish­ing, retail, and such com­mu­nity ini­tia­tives as marathons, sports clubs, meet and greets, and government-backed healthy eat­ing campaigns.

I’m really excited about film­ing the new [sea­son], not least because Sporta­cus has got some really cool new gad­gets to help him in his mis­sion to get kids active and hav­ing fun in a cre­ative way,” says Scheving.

Filmed as usual in the Lazy­Town Stu­dios in Ice­land, the spe­cial effects are being cre­ated this time around by Turner Stu­dios in Atlanta, whose cred­its include Ben 10, Level Up, Matrix and X-Men.

The new sea­son is being pro­duced by Schev­ing and Björn Thorir Sig­urds­son, and directed by Schev­ing and Sig­valdi J. Karason.

Lazy­Town is one of the most pow­er­ful kids’ brands in the world,” says Turner’s chief con­tent offi­cer for EMEA, Michael Car­ring­ton. “It’s not only great enter­tain­ment, but — thanks to Mag­nus — has had a huge impact on society’s fight against child­hood obe­sity. The new TV [sea­son] promises to be even big­ger and bet­ter than before, and will play an impor­tant role in our plans to build up and extend our pre-school chan­nel Cartoonito.”

The first two sea­sons of Lazy­Town have also been acquired by Turner. They will be trans­mit­ted on Turner chan­nels before the new sea­son airs in early 2013.

Casting A New Animated Tarzan



Con­stan­tin Film has announced cast­ing of their pend­ing pro­duc­tion of the clas­sic Edgar Rice Bur­roughs story of Tarzan. Kel­lan Lutz, late of the Twi­light saga, has been cast to star as the title char­ac­ter. Spencer Locke, most recently appear­ing as K-Mart in Constantin’s Res­i­dent Evil movies, will star as the new Jane Porter.

Con­stan­tin Film’s pro­duc­tion will be motion-capture 3D com­puter gen­er­ated ani­ma­tion. Warner Bros. has also recently been mak­ing noise about an adap­tion of the clas­sic story. All this despite the recent big fail­ure of another Bur­roughs’ char­ac­ter over at Dis­ney with their John Carter film.

Rein­hard Klooss and Hol­ger Tappe are co-directing the ani­mated fea­ture. Klooss also co-wrote the script with Yoni Bren­ner and Jes­sica Postigo, and is pro­duc­ing the film with Robert Kulzer.

Summer Production Date for Zig and Zag

Zig and Zag

Zig and Zag

Dou­ble Z Pro­duc­tions and Flick­er­pix are set­ting up for full pro­duc­tion on their new series Zig and Zag, cre­ated by Cia­ran Mor­ri­son and Mick O’Hara. Both CBBC and RTÉ are help­ing to fund the project along­side North­ern Ire­land Screen and the Irish Film Board. The IFB awarded Dou­ble Z Pro­duc­tions a pro­duc­tion loan of €150,000 in their last round of fund­ing last month.

Zig and Zag is planned to run at least 26 episodes. Each of the 11-minutes episodes is tai­lored to six to 12-year-old chil­dren will make up the shows core audience.The pro­duc­ers are now in the process of pick­ing up dis­trib­u­tors for world­wide syndication.

The TV series will fol­low twin alien broth­ers Zig and Zag who, after years of enjoy­ing the finest trash-TV earth had to offer, decide to return to Planet Zog. How­ever, after a dis­as­trous space road trip, they crash land in the mid­dle of hum­drum sub­ur­bia. The lov­able duo wreaks havoc in the sub­urbs with insane inven­tions, death defy­ing stunts, invis­i­ble cats and robot supermodels.

The series is writ­ten by Zig and Zag cre­ators Cia­ran Mor­ri­son and Mick O’Hara who will also voice the char­ac­ters. The series will be pro­duced by Ronan McCabe for Dou­ble Z and David Cum­ming for Flick­er­pix. Joel Simon (Macrop­o­lis), cre­ative direc­tor at Flick­er­pix, will direct the series.

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.