Saturday, January 31, 2009

'Up' Super Bowl spot + UPisode #1

The Up spot due to air during tomorrow's Super Bowl is now online at Disney.com.

Basically a re-edited, shorter version of the first theatrical teaser trailer, with a different voice over and new footage from the movie right at the end.

Also on Disney.com is the first of a series of Adventures with Carl and Russell vignettes nicknamed "UPisodes". The first UPisode is entitled Animal Calling.

Watch them both here.

Shocker: WALL-E snubbed at Annie Awards

WALL-E did not pick up a single win in any of the categories it was nominated in at last night's 36th annual Annie Awards ceremony. Zero. Instead, DreamWorks Animation's Kung Fu Panda swept the show, grabbing thirteen awards, including Best Animated Feature.

Is this possible? I suspect the involvement of Katzenberg's deep pockets.

The complete list of winners is here.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Big news about 'The Art of Pixar Short Films'

I'm currently working on an interview with Amid Amidi, author of The Art of Pixar Short Films, to be published next month around the time the book (see here for more) hits stores (Amazon.com says February 25). He got my first batch of questions today ―we're doing it via email― and I'm really looking forward to his responses.

Amid tells me that he got his hands on an advance copy of the finished work yesterday and is "very pleased with how it turned out". I'm getting my advance copy "early" next month courtesy of Amid and Chronicle Books ―woohoo!― and will have some more on the book then.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

'Up' at New York Comic Con

Director Pete Docter will be at the New York Comic Con next Saturday to unveil footage from Up at the event, according to IGN. The Up panel will take place at the IGN Theater between 2:30 PM and 3:30 PM.

NYCC 2009 runs from February 6-8 and is held at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City.

Stay tuned...

Monday, January 26, 2009

Lasseter, directors to get special Venice prize

John Lasseter will receive the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 66th Venice Film Festival (happening in September) and the accolade is to be shared with Pixar directors Brad Bird, Pete Docter, Andrew Stanton, and Lee Unkrich.

In the announcement, festival organisers termed Lasseter "one of the great innovators and experimenters of Hollywood."

Variety reports that Lasseter and company will travel to Venice during the festival to pick up the prize, the first time it will be shared by a team.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

PGA win for WALL-E/Jim Morris

Briefly: WALL-E/Jim Morris won in the animation category* at the 20th Annual Producers Guild of America Awards yesterday night.

*That is "The Producers Guild of America Producer of the Year Award in Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures".

Friday, January 23, 2009

Pixar website now features 'Up'

The official Pixar website (pixar.com) is now showing off Up on the home page, replacing the WALL-E theme that previously greeted visitors to the site. Visitors will now encounter one of three images from Up on the home page.

Frankly, it's time that Pixar considered giving the site a complete redesign. Walt Disney Animation Studios (disneyanimation.com) got their new website last year and, honestly, it looks much more modern and sleek than Pixar's looks right now.

Stanton talks to Newsweek/Pop Vox

Briefly: Newsweek's Pop Vox blog (focusing on arts and culture) spoke with Andrew Stanton last week about WALL-E and a variety of related topics, including the "blurring of the line between animation and live-action" and the "glass ceiling" that exists for animated movies at the Oscars and elsewhere.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Six Oscar nods for WALL-E; Presto nominated [UPDATE: Andrew Stanton's reaction]

Moments ago, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced WALL-E as a nominee (click for complete list) in the following six categories for the 81st annual Academy Awards:
  • Best Animated Feature Film of the Year
  • Original Screenplay (Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon, and Pete Docter)
  • Achievement in Sound Editing (Ben Burtt, Matthew Wood)
  • Achievement in Sound Mixing (Tom Myers, Michael Semanick, Ben Burtt)
  • Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures ―Original Score (Thomas Newman)
  • Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures ―Original Song (For "Down to Earth", Peter Gabriel and Thomas Newman)

Theatrical short Presto, directed by Doug Sweetland, received a nomination for Best Animated Short Film.

Clearly, and unfortunately, the Academy chose to follow tradition and ignore WALL-E in the Best Picture and Best Director categories.

The 81st Annual Academy Awards ceremony takes place on Sunday, February 22 at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood and will be televised worldwide (live telecast on ABC in the United States).
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Update: The Pixar publicity department conveys this statement from Andrew Stanton regarding the nominations:

We are ecstatic and grateful for the Academy's generous and humbling recognition of WALL•E. It is an honor and privilege to make films at Pixar, where we have grown into a great, big family. This is a tribute to all of us at Pixar and Disney who do our best to make films, not just animated films, but films for everyone that just happen to be animated.

(Updated at 3:25 PM)

2nd 'Up' teaser poster

This new teaser poster for Up has surfaced online at AceShowbiz.com.

Otherwise kinda predictable, what makes this poster special is that for the first time we see fully-rendered images of Dug and Kevin (that's the dog and the bird for the uninitiated).

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

CES 'Up' footage leaked to web [UPDATE: Video removed]

At CES in Las Vegas the week before last (see 2nd update here), Pixar chief creative officer John Lasseter took part in the Sony keynote presentation, pitching the Blu-ray high definition video format and Disney Digital 3-D, which frequently utilises Sony digital cinema projectors at equipped theatres.

At the event Lasseter also showed an extended clip from Up not seen by the general public. Now, as it happens, that clip ―a lengthier version of the scene where the house is being dragged through the jungle― is online and embedded above! It was uploaded by Sony news site SonyInsider.com.

The video quality of the footage is surprisingly good, considering it must have been recorded with a handheld camera, and gives us a preview of the amazing visuals we can expect come May 29, and Michael Giacchino's score.

One question, though: What's going on with the voices of Carl and Russell?
----
Update: Uh oh! The video's been removed from Vimeo, likely due to a complaint by Disney legal.

(Updated Jan. 23)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

'Up' spot to air during Oscars

Advertising Age magazine confirms that Disney is running an advertising spot for Up during the telecast of the 81st Academy Awards, taking place February 22nd.

This year's Oscars will mark the first time the Academy has allowed studios to advertising movies during the broadcast. (For reasons why, see article.)

As with the expected Super Bowl spot, no details are yet available on the content of the Oscars ad.

Friday, January 16, 2009

WALL-E grabs three BAFTA nods

The nominations for the British Academy of Film and Television Arts' 2009 Orange British Academy Film Awards ("The BAFTA Awards") were handed out earlier today. WALL-E got three nominations in the following categories:
  • Animated Film (Andrew Stanton)
  • Sound (Ben Burtt, Tom Myers, Michael Semanick, Matthew Wood)
  • Music (Thomas Newman)

The awards ceremony takes place on February 8 in London. The full list of nominees can be found here.

"Huge" promo campaigns planned for Toy Story 3, 3-D re-releases; DVDs/Blu-rays out next year

According to an insert published in the toy industry publication Toy News, Disney is planning "extensive" advertising and PR campaigns to promote the theatrical re-releases of Pixar's Toy Story (October 2, 2009) and Toy Story 2 (February 12, 2010) in Disney Digital 3-D, to be followed by a "huge" ad/PR blitz for Toy Story 3 (June 18, 2010).

Somehow, this seems like more than just the usual hyperbole designed to attract potential licensees.

Possibly even more noteworthy, the insert reports that all three of the Toy Story films will see a release on DVD and Blu-ray in 2010, each following its respective theatrical run: Toy Story in the spring, Toy Story 2 in the summer, and Toy Story 3 in the fall or winter.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

'Monsters' sequel in 2013?

Here's the story: Someone working at Pixar may have inadvertently given away the fact that a sequel to Monsters, Inc. is in production at the studio, likely for release in 2013.

Using Site Meter, which gives me comprehensive site statistics, I learned that someone at Pixar typed in the words 'monsters 2013 pixar' into Google this morning (see copy of "Visit Detail" report) and subsequently encountered this post (discussing Pete Docter's rumor-fueling "non-denial denial" that a sequel is in the works) where the words appeared.

What other reason could there be for a Pixarian doing a search for 'monsters 2013 pixar' except a sequel coming out then? The original film came out in 2001, the Blu-ray comes out later this year, and the much-anticipated ride at Walt Disney World is slated for a Fall 2011 opening, possibly in anticipation of a sequel.

So, what do you think? Am I totally delusional here from the excitement at the prospect of a Monsters, Inc. 2 or do you agree with my theory, and how excited are you? Comment below, please.

P.S. Yes, most sites wouldn't use such information, at least not publicly, but I have no problem :)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

WALL-E Golden Tomato winner

WALL-E has been named winner of the Golden Tomato Award (Wide Release). The wide-release category is the most major of the awards handed out each year by Rotten Tomatoes and determined by a film's score on the movie review site's Tomatometer. WALL-E scored a 96% "fresh" rating making it the best reviewed movie of the year.

As RT editor-in-chief Matt Atchity points out, "Pixar has won more Golden Tomatoes than anyone else". WALL-E is the fifth Pixar picture to win the top Golden Tomatoes prize in the decade since RT begun handing out the awards and follows last year's win for Ratatouille.

Like 'Rat', WALL-E also won in the admittedly less prestigious animation category.

(via AP)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Video interview with Jim Morris and Lindsey Collins

Collider.com had the chance to chat on the red carpet with Pixar general manager and WALL-E producer Jim Morris and co-producer Lindsey Collins at last night's Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA) awards gala (also the site of Andrew Stanton's John Carter-themed Q&A).

A lot is discussed in the interview from their reaction to WALL-E's critical success to which scene in the 3-D re-release of Toy Story (out October 2 this year) is really, really amazing.

Thanks IncredibleMrD for pointing to this

Work contniues on John Carter; not a Pixar production

Andrew Stanton, attending the Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA) award ceremony yesterday, where WALL-E won Best Picture, spoke to SCI FI Wire on the topic of the much-talked-about adaptation he is writing of the John Carter of Mars series of books.

Stanton says he's "deep into" work on a revised new draft of the script, and that casting discussions are taking place.
"I'm on my next draft of it. We're in pre-production art-wise, and we're starting to talk to actors. So it's full bore".
Also, for the first time he makes clear that, contrary to previous expectations, John Carter is not being produced at Pixar and will certainly not be branded as a Disney/Pixar film.

"Well, it's not being done by the Pixar crew. It's being done by Disney, and I'm sort of being loaned out.

...We're not being purist with Pixar, but Pixar's a brand that you have to trust that's for all ages. This story of John Carter is not going to be an all-ages film," he says, implying strongly that he and co-writer Mark Andrews are aiming for a PG-13 rating.

What still remains somewhat unclear is how much involvement, if any, Pixar will have when it comes to creating the CG effects for the film.

Read the complete interview here.

(via /Film)

Monday, January 12, 2009

New cover for 'Art of Pixar Short Films'

Here's the final cover for The Art of Pixar Short Films, replacing the temporary cover released last May.

The book, put together by Cartoon Brew co-founder Amid Amidi and published by Chronicle Books, will 'shine a spotlight' on Pixar's short films and will include a foreword by John Lasseter, essays, interviews and over "250 full-color pastels, pencil sketches, storyboards, and final rendered frames" from the shorts, from The Adventures of André and Wally B. and Luxo Jr. onward.

The Art of Pixar Short Films ships on January 21 February 25, according to Amazon.com.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

WALL-E wins Best Animated Feature Golden Globe [UPDATE]

Photo credit: ©HFPA

WALL-E was just awarded the Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature Film at the 66th Annual Golden Globe Awards, taking place right now at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California and being telecast around the world.

The Golden Globe was presented by Disney stars The Jonas Brothers to a sharply-dressed Andrew Stanton who thanked the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) and everyone at Disney and Pixar, in particular Disney CEO Bob Iger, who was in attendance, Walt Disney Studios chairman Dick Cook, John Lasseter, producers Jim Morris and Lindsey Collins, and the entire WALL-E cast. He also acknowledged and thanked his family for their support.

WALL-E lost in the other category it was nominated in, Best Song for Peter Gabriel's "Down To Earth".

'Up' sneak peak with Pete Docter

This new 'sneak peak' at Up starring Pete Docter has been making the rounds online over the last couple of days. I actually wasn't going to post it since I'm a real stickler when it comes to video quality and this copy, unfortunately the only one online, looks like it came from a dusty old VHS tape.

Most of the scenes we have enjoyed before (in the theatrical teaser), but there are a couple of exciting never-before-seen shots, like Carl being dragged by the house/balloons to the edge of a cliff. The preview originally aired on the Disney Channel.

Friday, January 9, 2009

WALL-E wins Best Animated Feature at CCA

WALL-E won the Best Animated Feature award at the 14th annual Critics' Choice Awards (broadcast yesterday night on VH1) but to my great disappointment lost out in the two other categories it was nominated in, Best Song and the top award, Best Picture.

Again, I didn't watch so I don't have too much to add :) but here's a video that apparently shows WALL-E being announced as the winner. Apparently because the stupid thing won't let me watch the video because I'm located outside of the U.S.!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

'Up' spot to air during Super Bowl XLIII

Variety is reporting that Disney plans to air a special advertising spot for Pixar's Up during the Super Bowl next month. No specifics are yet available as "Disney is remaining tight-lipped about its Super Bowl strategy".

This follows in the footsteps of last year's spot, which starred Woody and Buzz from Toy Story, and trumpeted WALL-E to the millions of viewers (approximately 100 million in the U.S. alone) that watched the game on television.

The 43rd Super Bowl takes place on Sunday, February 1 and will be broadcast on NBC in the United States.

Covers for Pixar comics

Covers for The Incredibles and Cars series of comics (details here and here) are now up at the BOOM! Studios website.

The comics will be out beginning on March 25 and will be part of a larger collection of comics based on Pixar's various films.

(via Upcoming Pixar)

WALL-E takes home People's Choice Award

WALL-E won the Favorite Family Movie prize at last night's 35th Annual People Choice Awards.

I didn't watch so I don't have much to add :)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Monsters, Inc. coming to Blu-ray in 2009 [2 UPDATES]

Add one more title to the list of Pixar films making their way to the high-definition Blu-ray Disc format: Monsters, Inc.

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment makes mention of Pixar's fourth feature in a Blu-ray-themed news release issued today in anticipation of the 2009 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) being held in Las Vegas starting Thursday, where presentation of advancements in Blu-ray technology, such as those outlined in the statement, are a major draw.

No exact dates are given for the 'Monsters' Blu-ray, but it is mentioned in close proximity to A Bug's Life, which we know is almost certainly due to debut on Blu-ray sometime in the next few months (details are expected to be announced in Febuary).

Surprisingly, and disapointingly, today's news release omits any mention of a Finding Nemo Blu-ray for this year. That suggests that the film has been delayed again, likely until next year.

Note: The above image is a mock-up.
----
Update: Speaking of CES, a post over at AllThingsD.com mentions that John Lasseter was on hand at the show to "sing the praises of Blu-ray and show off a clip of Up".

(Updated Jan. 8)
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Update: An anonymous source with knowledge of the release schedule tells me that the 'Monsters' Blu-ray should be out "around summer".

(Updated Jan. 9)

Catmull to get honorary Oscar

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced about one hour ago that its Board of Governors has voted to award the Gordon E. Sawyer Award to Pixar co-founder and president Ed Catmull.

The special Oscar statuette will be presented to Catmull at the Scientific and Technical Awards ceremony to be held on Saturday, February 7th in Beverley Hills. (Highlights from this ceremony are customarily shown during the televised Academy Awards show.)

Says Academy president Sid Ganis in the official press release:

"Ed is one of the rare individuals who can bridge the space between science and art. His vision, ingenuity and groundbreaking designs have made the impossible possible for filmmakers and movie audiences around the world."

This is one of many special honors the Academy has bestowed on Catmull. In 1992 and 1995, he received Scientific and Engineering Awards; the first for his work as part of the RenderMan development team, the second for helping 'pioneer' inventions in Digital Image Compositing.

In 2000, he, along with RenderMan designers Rob Cook and Loren Carpenter, was awarded the prestigious Academy Award of Merit for "their significant advancements to the field of motion picture rendering". In 2005, also, he shared a Technical Achievement Award.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Producers Guild nom for WALL-E/Jim Morris

Jim Morris received a nomination today for the (succinctly named) Producers Guild of America Producer of the Year Award in Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures for his work as producer of WALL-E.

This year's awards will be handed out the 24th of this month. If WALL-E/Morris wins, it would be the umpteenth third time a Pixar producer took home the award.

(via AWN)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Pre-order 'Up' video game + details on villain [4 UPDATES]

A third Up story for the day. Yay! Contains spoilers.

THQ's video game based on Up (to be released May 26) can now be pre-ordered from Amazon.com for Mac/PC, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Sony PSP, and Xbox 360. Prices range from $19.99 to $59.99 depending on the platform (U.S. only). (See update #3)

The game's synopsis, perhaps unintentionally, gives away prematurely the name of Up's antagonist: Muntz. "Battle the villainous Muntz in the final level", the summary reads. This is surely the character that is voiced by actor Christopher Plummer.

According to reports from test screenings, early on in the movie, when Carl and his sweetheart Ellie are still kids, she tells him all about her "hero", an explorer named Muntz, who's travelled to the mountains of South America. It's he who serves as Ellie's inspiration for her dream trip to the region that she, of course, never gets the chance to make. But there's apparently no indication to the audience at the time that the character is to be the villain of the film. (Hence the rare "spoiler" alert.)

So Carl will encounter Muntz decades later. This begs the question: Just how old is Muntz?
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Update: Reader Bryan points out that there is another product description on the pages that I overlooked. This summary makes mention of the names of the movie's other two major characters: "Dug the talking dog and a female bird named Kevin".

(Updated Jan. 2)
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Update: Something else I hadn't noticed: Up's Wikipedia entry gives Muntz's full name as Charles Muntz. The reference provided is to the Febuary 2009 issue of Empire magazine.

(Updated Jan. 5)
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Update: As anonymous commenter #8 points out, the video game seems to have been removed from Amazon. The links don't work and all searches for the game are unsuccessful.

(Updated Jan. 23)
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Update: Each title is back up for pre-order, with box art.

(Updated Apr. 6)

'Up' pic in EW

Entertainment Weekly (EW) have gotten their hands on this new still from Up and have used it as part of their short "First Look" at the movie (online here).

It's basically a completed rendered image of the scene pictured in the concept art shown on The Art of Up cover out today, with some changes (e.g. no bird, dog, or flowers; more foliage covering the rocks).

Be sure to read Pete Docter's comments included in the EW story.

'Art of Up' cover

A cover for The Art of Up is now included on the book's product page at Chronicle Books.

I sincerely hope this is the final cover and not a preliminary one as happened last year with The Art of WALL-E, where one cover was released and then replaced later on. Although I was happy with the choice to do so last time, this cover is way too cool to be replaced.

Notice the bird and also the dog. This appears to be the same dog who's silhouette could be seen in Ratatouille.

Thanks Jason for the tip.