Monday, December 29, 2008

WALL-E bestselling DVD of 2008 on Amazon

The single-disc edition WALL-E DVD was the bestselling DVD of 2008 on Amazon.com, the Seattle, Washington-based online retailer announced today in a news release revealing its "Best of 2008" lists, put out to highlight the year's most popular products sold on the site.

It's one success after another for WALL-E: The movie recently broke the $500 million mark with its total lifetime box office gross. (See Box Office Mojo for the stats.)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Brand-new 'Up' still

A nice break from the news drought...

Empire magazine (online and in print) brings us this exclusive still from Up (in theatres exactly five months from tomorrow!)

From the looks of it, Russell and Carl have already arrived in South America in this scene, and Carl is grumpy :) The rock formations seen in the background, though stylized, are typical of the Tepui mountains, that director Pete Docter said served as a major inspiration for the setting of the film.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

More Pixar shorts on iTunes

A selection of Pixar's "DVD shorts" —Jack-Jack Attack, Mater and the Ghostlight, Mike's New Car and Your Friend the Rat— as well as The Adventures of AndrĂ© and Wally B.created in 1984 when Pixar was still part of Lucasfilm— have been added to the iTunes Store (U.S. store only; iTunes required).

This is the first time these shorts have been sold individually, unlike Pixar's theatrical shorts which have been for sale on the iTunes Store for a couple of years now.

Thanks Jason for the tip.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Jobs, Lasseter on Newsweek list

Pixar co-founder Steve Jobs and chief creative officer John Lasseter are ranked 34 and 35 respectively on Newsweek magazine's year-end compendium of the most influential people on the planet The Newsweek 50: The Global Elite, published today online and appearing in print in the latest issue.

Question: Who would have believed 20 years ago that Lasseter or anybody else from the studio would be on a list of "global elite", back when Pixar was only a "sad little company", as journalist Dan Lyons puts it in his piece on Jobs, "trying (and mostly failing) to sell specialized, high-end graphics computers"?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Disney confirms 'Bug's Life' Blu-ray for Spring '09 [Retraction]

I have decided to retract the post formerly at this URL as I've encountered a bit of trouble with it as of late.

Without going into too much detail, the publicist who responded to my request for verification that the Blu-ray release of 'Bugs' would be coming next spring has taken issue with my use of the word "confirmation" in describing his statement that the "official announce[ment] is currently scheduled for mid-February". Also, my comment that a mid-February announcement would 'put the release date in March' has been deemed to be incorrect.

My apologies for the confusion.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Another early 'Up' screening report

Devin Faraci of CHUD.com recently had the chance to enjoy 45 minutes of footage from Up at the Butt-Numb-A-Thon movie marathon. Even though much of it was unfinished, "often just sketches and storyboards", Faraci writes that "for now Up stands as the most promising Pixar movie in years".

"Based on what I saw, Pixar has again created a couple of great characters that manage to be funny and completely human at the same time...

There's a montage showing the lives... of Carl... and his wife Ellie that's more touching (in rough form!) than the entirety of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, but is still filled with humor."

And it won't just be about the old guy and kid in the flying house: "Giant crazy birds, talking dogs and primordial South American jungles soon come into the picture"!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Special 'Up' clip online

A short clip from Up (the first non-trailer footage we've seen) can now be enjoyed at Disney.com/Up. But it's hidden: You've got to click on Carl's house to watch it.

The clip is an extended version of the "Hi, Mr. Fredricksen... Please let me in!" scene included in the first theatrical trailer.

(via Upcoming Pixar)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The American Film Institute (AFI) made public today its Movies of the Year Official Selections list for 2008 and WALL-E, no surprise, made the cut.

The AFI Awards selections are chosen by a 13-person jury composed of film industry professionals, critics, and Institute trustees.

(Expect an update here once the AFI website is updated to include the customary jury rationales.)

The awards luncheon takes place on Friday, January 9 next year.

(via The Envelope/LA Times)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Exclusive: Jordan Nagai identity revealed

Early last April, we learned that an actor by the name of Jordan Nagai would be the voice of "Wilderness Explorer" Russell (pictured at left) in Pixar's Up. There being no references available as to the identity of Nagai, I asked, "Who the heck" is he?

Well, after months of inquiry, countless unanswered emails, and 'you should ask... about that' responses, a member of the Pixar publicity team finally divulged earlier today that Nagai is 'a kid Pixar found at a casting call'. Indeed, a first time actor.

Now we know.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Peter O'Toole on Pixar

Peter O'Toole (right) sat down for a discussion recently with Irish movie news website Movies.ie and the topic of Pixar naturally came up, the 76-year-old actor having voiced merciless food critic Anton Ego in Ratatouille.

Says O'Toole:
"They're nice people, Pixar ...I loved doing it. We had such fun doing it. It's gorgeous. The first thing that happened was that I was sent this script and I thought, 'Ratatouille? A cartoon? Stop it!' [Then] I read it ...It was a beautiful piece of writing. Then I met Brad and we did it. I got involved in the process. ...Beautiful."

Stanton talks to the AP about WALL-E awards

Andrew Stanton talks to the Associated Press in a short article entitled "WALL-E director celebrates a week of kudos".

Stanton mentions he isn't expecting an Best Picture Oscar nomination: "Who thinks that's going to happen in their life? Who even thinks they're going to get make a movie, no less that it'll end up in the category of just five select films?"

Read also his thoughts on a Brad Pitt vs. WALL-E punch-up...

WALL-E receives 2 Golden Globe nominations [UPDATE: Stanton reacts]

Minutes ago, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) completed their announcement of the nominations for the 66th Annual Golden Globe Awards. WALL-E received only two nods, as follows:
  • Best Animated Feature Film

  • Best Original Song – Motion Picture (for "Down to Earth")

The Golden Globes will be presented on Sunday, January 11, 2009 at The Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. The ceremony will be telecast live on NBC at 8 PM EST in the United States.
-----
Update: The Hollywood Reporter got director Andrew Stanton's reaction to today's events.

THR.com reports that Stanton 'wishes things weren't as segregated today', referring to the creation of the Best Animated Feature Film category at the Globes, which prohibited WALL-E from being a contender in the Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy slot.

He says:

"It's nice to know there's a definite place for animation, but it's a little frustrating because with the [HFPA], if you're in the [animation] category, you can't run in any other. Still, it is very exciting to be nominated."

(Updated at 2:30 PM)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Simpsons lampoon WALL-E

WALL-E is really making his mark on popular culture. Last night's episode of The Simpsons included an evil (and green!) WALL-E look-alike as part of Homer's concept of a honeyless future, as seen in the clip below. (A subplot of the show had Lisa concerned over the actually-very-serious-in-real-life problem of Colony Collapse Disorder among bees.)

Last night's show was not WALL-E's only connection with The Simpsons, of course. Jim Reardon, who co-wrote the WALL-E screenplay with Andrew Stanton, was previously a supervising director of The Simpsons and helmed over 30 episodes.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

LA critics name WALL-E best picture

The Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA) just recognized WALL-E as the Best Picture of the year, the first time in the association's 33-year history that the honour has gone to an animated film.

The Achievement Awards will be presented next January 12 at LAFCA's annual dinner.

My expectations for the Golden Globes (noms to be announced Thurs. morning) have just been raised...

(via Variety)

WALL-E DVD sales falling behind Ratatouille?

Brief story here: Walt Disney Company CFO Tom Staggs said earlier today at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference that while the WALL-E DVD/Blu-ray is doing well , Disney is "not sure it will do the numbers that Ratatouille did" last year, due to the recent global economic downturn.

Several million copies of WALL-E on DVD and Blu-ray disc have been sold in the three weeks since its release.

Next Cars Toon to be released in 3-D

Tokyo Mater, the latest in Pixar's Cars Toons series of short films, is to be released theatrically in Disney Digital 3-D attached to Bolt beginning December 12, as part of a push to boost Bolt's chances during the concluding part of the its box office run. (2-D versions will be shown before 2-D screenings.)

In Tokyo Mater, Mater finds himself in Japan, where he's "challenged to a drift-style race against a nefarious gang leader and his posse of ninjas". With 'Dragon' Lightning McQueen by his side, and a few modifications, Mater "attempts to drift to victory" to become "Tow-ke-O Mater, King of all Drifters".

Like all the 'Toons', Tokyo Mater was co-directed by Pixar chief John Lasseter, Victor Navone, and Rob Gibbs.

ComingSoon.net has an exclusive first look that includes the above still from the short. Also, AICN's got more on the film, as well as two additional exclusive hi-resolution stills.

WALL-E at the Critics Choice Awards

WALL-E, it was announced this morning, is a nominee in three categories including Best Picture at the 14th annual Critics' Choice Awards, bestowed by the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA) which is comprised of over 200 TV, radio, and online critics from the U.S. and Canada.

In addition to Best Picture, WALL-E is also a contender in the Best Animated Feature and Best Song categories, the latter for Peter Gabriel's "Down to Earth".

The awards gala will be broadcast live on VH1 on January 8, 2009 at 9:00 PM (ET/PT).

Monday, December 8, 2008

WALL-E lands #1 spot on TIME 'Top 10'

TIME magazine published today their annual 'Top 10 Everything' list for 2008 and WALL-E is placed in the No. 1 spot in the 'Top 10 Movies' section.

Influential TIME critic Richard Corliss writes, in part, that WALL-E is one of very few "great science-fiction love stories" and a 'futurist adventure' that "evoke[s] the splendor of the movie past." A lot of compliments for Andrew Stanton in his role as director as well.

Expect more end-of-the-year recognition for WALL-E in the next few days.

Thanks "R Ginepri Rocks" for the tip

Sunday, December 7, 2008

WALL-E on Ebert best flicks list

Roger Ebert, perhaps my favourite film critic, names WALL-E on his alphabetically-arranged 'Best Films of 2008' list.

He writes:

"The best science-fiction movie in years was an animated family film. WALL-E is a solar-powered trash compacting robot, left behind to clean up the waste after Man flees into orbit. Hugely entertaining, wonderfully well drawn, and, if you think about it, merciless in its critique of a global consumer culture that obsesses on intake and disregards the consequences of output."

Check out the complete list of picks at his site.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Some links...

A selection of mostly minor stories from the last few days:
  • Disney launches official Disney/Pixar Facebook fan page

  • Exact release date for Cars 2 reportedly set (June 24, 2011) [Box Office Mojo]

Friday, December 5, 2008

WALL-E garners 3 Grammy nominations

First the Annies, now the Grammys: WALL-E is in the running for three golden gramophones at the upcoming 51st annual Grammy Awards, according to The Recording Academy website.

(See Grammy.com for the complete list of nominees.)

The categories WALL-E is a contender in are:
  • Best Score Soundtrack Album for Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media (Thomas Newman)

  • Best Song Written for Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media (For the track "Down To Earth"; Peter Gabriel & Thomas Newman)

  • Best Instrumental Arrangement (For the track "Define Dancing"; Peter Gabriel & Thomas Newman)
It's good to see the music of WALL-E recognized. And this is just the beginning...

Monday, December 1, 2008

8 Annie noms for WALL-E

The International Animated Film Society announced today the nominations for the 36th annual Annie Awards (2008) and unsurprisingly WALL-E and Pixar did very well.

WALL-E is nominated in the following categories:
  • Best Animated Feature
  • Directing in an Animated Feature Production (Andrew Stanton)
  • Animated Effects (Enrique Vila)
  • Character Animation in a Feature Production (Victor Navone)
  • Production Design in an Animated Feature Production (Ralph Eggleston)
  • Storyboarding in an Animated Feature Production (Ronnie Del Carmen)
  • Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production (Ben Burtt)
  • Best Animated Video Game (Heavy Iron Studios/THQ)

When it came to shorts, Presto received one nomination for Best Animated Short Subject, while BURN-E recieved none.

Disney's Bolt recieved five noms, including Best Animated Feature and a voice acting one for Mark Walton for his excellent preformance as Rhino. John Lasseter will also be recieving a Winsor McCay award, which recognisises "career contributions to the art of animation".

The awards will be presented on January 30, 2009 and are considered to be "animation's highest honor".