Tag Archives: Universal

The Cat In The Hat comes back as animated feature

Dr. Seuss' The Cat In The Hat

Dr. Seuss' The Cat In The Hat

Oh, the places you’ll go when you’re Dr. Seuss’ “The Cat In The Hat”!

Universal Pictures is ready to start developing a 3D CG-animated feature based on Dr. Seuss’ immortal story The Cat in the Hat. Although no release date has been announced, Rob Lieber has just been named to write the script.

Illumination Entertainment’s Chris Meledandri will produce, while the good doctor’s widow, Audrey Geisel, will be the executive producer.

The Cat’s first appearance in animation was in the 1971 DePatie-Freleng Enterprises special The Cat In The Hat; he resurfaced in 1973’s Dr. Seuss On The Loose, also from DFE. This was followed by the 1982 special The Grinch Grinches The Cat In The Hat.

The Cat narrated the 1995 TNT special Daisy-Head Mayzie. And in 2010, Collingwood O’Hare Entertainment produced the educational TV series The Cat In The Hat Knows A Lot About That!.

A live-action film about The Cat in the Hat was released by Universal in 2003. Costing about $109 million to make, it grossed just $101 million domestically and $133 million worldwide. While a live action Grinch was a big hit for Universal, Meledandri and Mrs. Geisel believe that the Cat has more than one life on the big screen.

The Cat and the Hat remains a very popular ride in Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park. It was based on Dr. Seuss’s original drawings.

“The feeling among Meledranadi, Mrs. Geisel, and Universal Films chairman Adam Fogelson and co-chairman Donna Langley is that Seuss’s works connect better in animation, prompting Universal’s decision to make this the next project,” wrote Mike Fleming of Deadline Hollywood.

When Meledandri ran Fox Animation, he and Mrs. Geisel were among the producers of the 2008 animated film Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who!.

Meanwhile, Illumination is also working on a biopic of Dr. Seuss, with Johnny Depp attached to play him. The concept is that this will be a live-action film with animation. Meledandri, David Kennedy, and Infinitum Nihil’s Depp and Christi Dembrowski are the producers, with Mrs. Geisel once again the executive producer. Keith Bunin is the scriptwriter.

Lorax has it all over John Carter at box office

Dr. Seuss' The Lorax

Dr. Seuss' The Lorax

Universal Pictures’ “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax” did much better at the North American box office in its second weekend than did Disney’s John Carter in its first.

According to studio estimates Sunday, the animated Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax — based on the good doctor’s 1971 children’s book — was No. 1 for the weekend in a row, collecting $39.1 million. The film’s 10-day domestic total is now $122 million, making it the top-grossing movie released so far in 2012.

Domestic revenues dropped 44% from a week earlier, but another $1.4 million was raised internationally by The Lorax over the weekend, bringing total cumulated worldwide sales to $123.7 million.

On the other hand, John Carter, combining CGI animation with live action, opened in second place domestically with $30.6 million. Reportedly, Disney spent a humongous $250 million to make the science-fiction film, based on a novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs (Tarzan).

However, the movie opened abroad in 55 countries with $70.6 million for a worldwide total of $101.2 million this weekend.

Wall Street analysts predicted that Disney would end up losing tens of millions of dollars. On Friday, Evercore Partners analyst Alan Gould estimated a $165 million loss.

“If you just take the domestic number, it’s not a very pretty picture,” said Paul Dergarabedian, analyst for box-office tracker Hollywood.com. “But if you look at the worldwide opening weekend of a hundred million dollars, that’s pretty solid.”

“We would have hoped for more, considering the larger economics of the film, but are still encouraged with how it’s been received by audiences that have seen it and hope to see that generate positive word of mouth for the balance of the run,” said Dave Hollis, Disney’s head of distribution.

Disney executives also pointed out that domestic revenues for John Carter jumped 25% from opening day Friday until Saturday. This was an indication, they sayd, that moviegoers are recommending the film to friends.

John Carter received 49% favorable notices of the 170 reviews gathered on the Rottentomatoes.com film critic site. Audiences gave the movie a “B+” in polling by survey firm CinemaScore.

In general, domestic business at the movies increased again over the same period last year. Total North American revenues reached $140.5 million, up 8.7% from the same weekend in 2011, Hollywood.com said. Domestic revenues have just exceeded $2 billion so far this year, which is 18% more than the same period a year ago.

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.

Despicable Me 2 Trailer

Despicable Me 2

Despicable Me 2

The sequel to Illuminations/Universal’s 201 hit Despicable Me, so imaginatively titled Despicable Me 2, has it’s first trailer out. The trailer gives nothing of the plot away, but if you love the little yellow Minions, you will love the new trailer. Or if you love the Beach Boys, you will love it.

Despicable Me 2 is expected to be released in July 2013. Not a whole lot on what the new plot will be, and the trailer is not much help in that regard. Surely Gru will be back, but that is about all we know at this point.

Green opening for “The Lorax” with $70.7 million

Dr. Seuss' The Lorax

Dr. Seuss' The Lorax

Universal Pictures’ “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax” cleaned up at the North American box office over the weekend, making $70.7 million for the biggest opening of any movie so far this year.

Produced by Illumination Entertainment, Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax features the voices of Danny DeVito, Zac Efron and Taylor Swift. The 3-D animated family film from Universal Pictures, is based on Seuss’ semi-serious tale of the need for environmental preservation.

Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax had the biggest opening for a Dr. Seuss adaptation. In 2000, the live-action How the Grinch Stole Christmas, starring Jim Carrey, debuted at $55.1 million.

The previous best debut of 2012 was The Vow with $41.2 million.

Illumination Entertainment previously made Despicable Me. The studio’s latest movie had a bigger opening than that film, which debuted with $56.4 million in July 2010.

Some $5.4 million, or 8%, of the opening gross for Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax came from IMAX screens. That’s more than usual for a family film.

The R-rated Warner Bros. comedy Project X reached a strong second place with about $20.8 million, according to Sunday studio estimates.

“I was stunned from Friday,” when The Lorax brought in made $17.4 million, said Nikki Rocco, Universal’s president of domestic distribution. On Saturday, the film collected another $31.3 million.

“Who would have expected a result like this?”

She credited the success of The Lorax to “a combination of a) a great film, b) an incredible marketing campaign and b-plus) the need for another family film in the marketplace. I think that has a lot to do with it….

“People love Dr. Seuss, and audiences now know about Illumination and Chris Meledandri, what he delivers.”

Hollywood.com box-office analyst Paul Dergarabedian had anticipated a $45 million to $50 million opening for The Lorax, and thought that Project X would start in the high teens. “Warner Bros. perfectly put their R-rated, raunchy comedy right there in the same weekend as The Lorax, and both films did very well,” he said.

Dergarabedian observed that The Lorax‘s major box-office success continues a string of strong results for movies overperforming so far this year. Revenues are up 19 percent from this point in 2011.

“It’s so different from what we were seeing last year and especially the end of last year. Now it’s like a box-office bonanza,” he said. “What a great turnaround from where we were last year with the down-trending week after week and the lowest attendance in 15 years. If we keep up this pace, we’re going to be looking at a massive summer.”

Action picture Act of Valor, which was No. 1 last week, fell to third place.

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

Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax (2012) – Illumination Entertainment Theatrical Feature

Dr. Seuss' The Lorax

Dr. Seuss' The Lorax

CotD: Today is the release day for “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax” remake of a forty year old cartoon special from DePatie-Freleng Enterprises.

Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax (2012) – Illumination Entertainment Theatrical Feature

The animated adventure follows the journey of a boy as he searches for the one thing that will enable him to win the affection of the girl of his dreams. To find it, he must discover the story of the Lorax, the grumpy yet charming creature who fights to protect his world.

Come see the trailer for “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax” on video at Big Cartoon DataBase

The Bongo Punch (1957) – Pepito Chickeeto Theatrical Cartoon

The Bongo Punch (1979) - Pepito Chickeeto

The Bongo Punch (1957) - Pepito Chickeeto

CotD: “The Bongo Punch” featuring Pepito Chickeeto in this musical story from old Mexico animated by Walter Lantz.

The Bongo Punch (1957) – Pepito Chickeeto Theatrical Cartoon Series

In a musical story from old Mexico, we learn how Pepito Chickeeto made his father happy becoming boxing champion, but also satisfied his own wish to play the bongo drums.

Pepe Chickeeto, the world’s champion cockfighter, is knocked out in the boxing championship, losing the match and the title. Disgraced and discouraged, he returns home and tells his hen. She breaks the news that she’s expecting a little chick. Pepe is thrilled, anxiously anticipating the arrival of the “new champ.” The baby is named Pepito Chickeeto, and father brings him up with but one thought in mind: to have his son become the world’s champion cockfighter.

A rigid training schedule is laid out for Pepito, but his heart is not in fighting; he loves bongo music, and he’s only happy when he can beat the drums. Pepito pounds on drums, or anything resembling them, at every opportunity until he almost drives his father crazy. Pepito’s mother would like to have him pursue a musical career, but she’s afraid to cross her husband, so poor Pepito must train and fight from early dawn till late at night. Finally comes the day when Pepito’s ready, and a match is arranged with the world’s champion.

A huge crowd assembles, and Pepe prays that the championship which he lost will be regained by Pepito. But- alas- Pepito lacks his father’s fighting instincts, and Pepito’s knocked from the ring by a solid blow from the champion.

Pepito’s ready to quit, but Papa kicks Pepito back into the ring. Pepito lands with his foot caught in a pail. He kicks it loose, and it flies into the air and lands, bottom side up, on the champion’s head. In his dazed condition, Pepito mistakes the pail for a drum. He jumps wildly on the champion and starts beating out a dance routine on the pail. As the rhythmic pattern increases in intensity, Pepito beats harder and harder on the head of his antagonist and finally knocks him out. Pepito wins a fight- and the title- with his “Bongo Punch.”

Watch “The Bongo Punch” on video at Big Cartoon DataBase

“The Adventures of Tintin” wins Satellite Award

The Adventures of Tintin

The Adventures of Tintin

The Adventures of Tin Tin: The Secret of the Unicorn” won for Motion Picture, Animated or Mixed Media at the 16th Satellite Awards, held Sunday night at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

It defeated fellow nominees Kung Fu Panda 2, The Muppets, Puss in Boots, Rango and Rio in the category.

The winner for Youth Release was The Lion King: Two-Disc Diamond Edition, from Walt Disney Pictures.

The Satellites are presented by the International Press Academy, a global media association of domestic and foreign entertainment journalists in print, TV, radio, broadcast and online outlets, including critics, interviewers, reviewers, bloggers and photographers.

In the Adapted Screenplay category, The Adventures of Tin Tin lost to the live-action The Descendants.

And though “Hello Hello” (Gnomeo & Juliet), “Life Is A Happy Song” and “Man Or Muppet” (The Muppets), and “Bridge Of Light” (Happy Feet 2) were among the nominees for Original Song, they lost to “Lay Your Head Down,” from the live-action film Albert Nobbs.

A Wish For Wings That Work (1991) – Animated TV Special

A Wish For Wings That Work (1991) - Animated TV Special

A Wish For Wings That Work (1991) - Animated TV Special

CotD: One of the best of a new breed of Christmas specials, “A Wish For Wings That Work” was based on characters created by Berkeley Breathed.

A Wish For Wings That Work (1991) – Animated TV Special

Opus the Penguin, among his other problems, always feels inadequate by his being “aerodynamically impaired.” Together with his brain-fried cohort Bill the Cat, he tries doggedly to overcome that weakness, all without success.

Wrestling with an unfulfilled wish to soar through the air like any other self-respecting bird, Opus turns for sympathy to his scroungy pals and his animal “support group”- a lovelorn kiwi, a fashion-minded cockroach, and a cranky piglet who thinks that he’s a rhino.

When that doesn’t help, the plucky penguin decides that there’s only one person who can make his aeronautic dream come true: Father Christmas.

But when Ol’ St. Nick finds himself in hot water on December 24, the fate of Christmas itself suddenly depends on the kind of heroism that only comes in a penguin-sized package!Only on Christmas Eve does Opus learn what worth his natural abilities are.

Watch “A Wish For Wings That Work” on video at Big Cartoon DataBase

Knock Knock (1940) -Andy Panda Theatrical Cartoon Series

Knock Knock (1940) -Andy Panda Theatrical Cartoon

Knock Knock (1940) -Andy Panda Theatrical Cartoon

CotD: Woody Woodpecker first appeared on this date in 1940 in “Knock Knock“, a cartoon in the Any Panda series.

Knock Knock (1940) -Andy Panda Theatrical Cartoon Series

Andy Panda and his dad are busy in the study reading their respective favorite magazines. They hear a knock-knock, and father opens the door. Nobody’s there.

After this is repeated a number of times, the door is taken off its hinges and set on the floor. The knocks are repeated again and again, and, seeing sawdust on the floor, Andy and his dad realize that the knocks come from the roof.

Father climbs to the roof and sees Woody Woodpecker pecking holes in the roof. Then begins a series of episodes in which Andy Panda and his father try to get rid of Woody (including trying to put salt on his tail). They have no success.

Finally, two keepers from an asylum (also woodpeckers) arrive. Then the keepers themselves begin acting like maniacs as the picture ends.

Watch “Knock Knock” on video at Big Cartoon DataBase

Woody Woodpecker movie knocks at Universal’s door

Illumination Entertainment

Illumination Entertainment

Universal-based animation studio Illumination Entertainment is working on a feature film starring Woody Woodpecker.

John Altschuler and Dave Krinsky, co-writers of the Will Ferrell comedy Blades of Glory, are in talks to develop a story about the mischievous bird, who first appeared in the 1940 Andy Panda short Knock Knock.

Illumination and the writers will try making a story that modernizes Woody in the hopes of starting a franchise.

Co-created by cartoonist Walter Lantz, Woody was first voiced by Mel Blanc. Later, Lantz’s wife, Grace Stafford, became the voice of the bird.

Woody Woodpecker cartoons first had a theme song in 1947. “The Woody Woodpecker Song” was heard in the following year’s Wet Blanket Policy. It was nominated for an Oscar for best song, becoming the only song from a short film ever nominated in the category.

In 1985, Universal bought the library of shorts and the rights to the Woody character from Lantz.

Altschuler and Krinsky were executive producers and writers on Fox’s King of the Hill. They also worked on the feature film incarnation of The Jetsons.

Illumination Entertainment made Despicable Me and next year’s Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax.