Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Giacchino's excellent Oscar chances [UPDATE]

A new Hollywood Reporter article (via Reuters) published today discusses composer Michael Giacchino's excellent chances of walking away with an Oscar at the Academy Awards next month for his brilliant original score for Up.

Having won at the Grammys (twice, as you can see), the Golden Globes, the Critics' Choice Awards and, most recently, the BAFTAs, "it seems Giacchino may not be facing any serious competition in this category," says the first paragraph of the report. Anybody who's been following Up's awards successes has doubtless already come to the same conclusion.

In an interesting piece, with a good look at the competition and category history. Take a read here.

(Photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)
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Update: Watch this video from CNN.com (or read the article) discussing the "great year" Giacchino is having.

It includes a conversation with him and fellow nominee composer Hans Zimmer, who readily admits Giacchino has a solid chance at winning. He asks, "Have you seen Up? Let me tell you how great a score Up [has]..."



(Updated Mar. 3)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

New 'TS3' character: Trixie

New Toy Story 3 character Trixie the triceratops, seen in the movie's final theatrical trailer, officially debuted a few minutes ago at Empire online.

Voiced by comedienne Kristen Schaal, Trixie has one of the cutest cartoon voices around. From the trailer it seems she's also looking for love, apparently using an online dating chat service.

Click on the poster to see larger and read the humorous character/toy description.

Monday, February 22, 2010

One more...

...For Your Consideration ad for Up, post Oscar nominations. The focus is now on the Best Animated Feature category.

(via Awards Daily)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Two BAFTA prizes for 'Up' + other awards recap

Going in with four nominations, Up found success in the Animated Film and Music categories at the 2010 Orange British Academy Film Awards, commonly referred to as the BAFTA awards after the presenting organization, the prestigious British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA). The BAFTA awards ceremony was held in London Sunday evening.

Pete Docter, as director, accepted the Animated Film prize, while composer Michael Giacchino accepted the prize for best music. The BAFTA website's got a backstage interview with a very happy Pete Docter after the wins. Other Pixarians were present at the ceremony, including co-founder and president Ed Catmull.

In the past week, Up has taken home a bunch of lesser known, profession-specific awards, such as the Eddie Award for Best Edited Animated Feature Film from the American Cinema Editors (ACE) and the Best Sound Editing in an Animated Feature Film Golden Reel Award from the Motion Picture Sound Editors (MPSE) association. Up is also nominated three times at the 8th Annual Visual Effects Society (VES) Awards, happening next month.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Dinosaur concept art in new photo [3 UPDATES]

Fellow Pixar news blog Pixar Talk obtained this new photo screenshot, from a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Up, that gives us a clearer look at that "very intriguing" Pixar concept art of a boy and a dinosaur we first saw last August. It was sent to Pixar Talk anonymously.

Up production designer Ricky Nierva and another Pixarian are pictured standing in front of the artwork in what we know is the workspace of character sculptor and production designer Greg Dykstra.

More artwork is visible than in the Up B-roll screenshot and that includes what appear to be early 3D models of some characters, including a giant mosquito-like insect, a crocodile, and a pterosaur.

My money is on this being for the short film set to be attached to Toy Story 3. That this picture is making it's way online now is surely no accident, with June 18 only four months away. We usually learn about and get official confirmation of short films a couple of months before release.

That this is concept art for an as-yet announounced feature film seems most unlikely at this point. For further analysis, read the original post on this story from last year.
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Update: /Film reports that an anonymous source contacted them and "confirmed" that the artwork is for an upcoming short film from Pixar entitled Night and Day, almost certain to be the short attached to Toy Story 3.

The tipster claims that the film's director is Pixar character designer Teddy Newton, who worked on The Incredibles and Presto. (My all-time favourite piece of Pixar concept art is Newton's "The Jumper" for The Incredibles.) If true, this would be the first time Newton has directed a film at the studio.

/Film points out that the title Night and Day also mysteriously appears on an unofficial Michael Giacchino fan site as a 2010 animated short directed by Teddy Newton for which Giacchino will be composing music.

Naturally, this info is far from being actually confrmed. But it is one of the more believable rumors. One of the first things on my agenda right now is to check with the owner of the Giacchino fan site as to where they got the title Night and Day.
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Update: The short film attached to Toy Story 3 is entitled Day & Night, directed by Teddy Newton, with music by Michael Giacchino. But it has nothing to do with dinosaurs, pterodactyls, or any other prehistoric creatures. Read further here.

That being the case, it's now a serious possibility that the boy/dinosaur project is a feature, not a short. It could be Pete Docter's secret 2013/2014 project, perhaps with Greg Dykstra as co-director.

(Updated Mar. 12)

New 'TS3' character: Buttercup

Another new character to be seen in Toy Story 3 was just revealed on the official Disney/Pixar Facebook page: Buttercup the unicorn.

Buttercup is a he. According to Lee Unkrich on Twitter, the cuddly character is being voiced by comedian Jeff Garlin who, of course, voiced the Captain in WALL-E.

A toy description, similar in style to the one for Peas-in-a-Pod, is also posted on Facebook.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Toy Story 3 to screen at ShoWest

The Hollywood Reporter reports that Toy Story 3 will be screened for attendees at ShoWest 2010, the film distribution/exhibition industry convention taking place this year March 15-18 in Las Vegas.

The screening of '3' is set for March 16; that's less than a month away. No further details are available at this time, but it's safe to say that the film may not be completely finished by then.

Unkrich interviewed at Toy Fair

While at the Toy Fair in New York City this past weekend, Lee Unkrich sat down for an interview with Momlogic.com, a parenting website for women that I would never ordinarily read :) It's not a long interview, but it does cover some engaging topics.

For example, Unkrich talks about his kids' knowledge of Toy Story 3. Having been sworn to secrecy (on penalty of being grounded for life, I'd expect), "they know the story; they've seen it as we worked on it."

The 'TS3' director was also asked about the ridiculous ascot Ken wears in the film, based on an actual Ken doll from the '80s, Animal Lovin' Ken. For Unkrich, Ken's ascot is turning out to be what Hello, Dolly! was to Andrew Stanton with WALL-E. Everybody wants to know why.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

'Up' screenplay online

The Academy Award-nominated screenplay for Up, written by Pete Docter, Bob Peterson and Tom McCarthy, can now be downloaded free of charge in PDF format from the Walt Disney Studios Awards website, which serves to promote Up to A.M.P.A.S. voters

The first page of the script is at right. A quick look reveals that the words on the page match nearly perfectly what audiences saw on screen.

A selection of tracks from the Up soundtrack are also available for download from the site.

Thank-you reader Frank for the tip

Details on Toy Story 3 video game [UPDATE]

Disney Interactive Studios made public details of the highly-anticipated Toy Story 3 video game in a news release issued today.

The game, developed by Disney-owned Avalanche Software in collaboration with Pixar, will feature a variety of gameplay modes, such as Story and Toy Box modes. "Story Mode follows the film’s story and adventures, while Toy Box Mode gets to the playful heart of the Toy Story franchise," says the press release.

Toy Story 3: The Video Game will arrive in stores on June 15, three days before the movie opens in theatres. It will be available for all major gaming platforms: Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii, PC/Mac, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable (PSP), and Xbox 360.

Coming before June 15 is a Toy Story 3 app for Apple's iPhone and iPod touch "that will let fans play, personalize and stay connected to Toy Story ...with trailers, a countdown clock, movie information, ticketing, and light games and activities." A Toy Story 3 mobile game will also be available for a variety of other phones.

No box art for any of the versions of game has yet been released.
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Update: The Disney Store has added all six versions of the video game for pre-order, ranging in price from $19.99 USD to $59.99, with preliminary box art (Wii cover pictured). Same goes for Amazon.com. (I've added the Amazon links to the original part of the post.)

(Updated at 9:49 PM)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Where's Pete?

Like any self-respecting Oscar nominees, Pete Docter, Jonas Rivera, Bob Peterson, and others from the Up team, attended the traditional nominees' luncheon hosted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (A.M.P.A.S.) this afternoon, with only nineteen days left until the 82nd Academy Awards.

For the third year in a row, I challenge you to find the Pixarians in the above group photo! (Click to see it at full resolution.)

The first reader to spot them all gets my entire envied collection of signed Toy Story 3 posters :) Highlight to read: Just kidding.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Toy Story 3 at the Toy Fair

Disney/Pixar and Toy Story 3 starred at the opening of this year's American International Toy Fair in New York City today. The industry trade show runs until Wednesday at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan.

Toy Story 3 director Lee Unkrich and producer Darla K. Anderson joined Pixar creative chief John Lasseter and actor John Ratzenberger (voice of Hamm) in Gotham to unveil some of the 250+ new Toy Story toys set to be released between now and the end of the year. It was a special day for Lasseter, as he also had the privilege of being inducted into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame.

One of the most exciting items revealed at the fair is the real-life plush of new 'TS3' character Lots-O'-Huggin' Bear (pictured, held by Lasseter). Made by Thinkway Toys, the definitive Toy Story Collection 'Lotso' speaks over 45 different phrases in two modes and responds to voice commands, hugs and tickles. He's also strawberry-scented right out of the box.

(This last point pretty much rules out the chance that the character will be a villain in the film, as previously thought possible. A huggable, strawberry-scented villain? I don't think so!)

Disney Consumer Products released a fact-filled press release earlier summarizing the day's events and promoting 'TS3' as "the largest toy licensing event of 2010". It includes descriptions of the many of the new toys. The DCP website also has two sections (click one) of photographs from the Toy Fair.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Twitter hires Pixar exec Rowghani as CFO

An interesting story from yesterday (one of the absolutely most hectic days of my life ever) I almost missed:

Ali Rowghani, who's been at Pixar since 2001, most recently as Chief Financial Officer and Senior VP of Strategic Planning, left the studio to become the first CFO of the very popular
Twitter. He starts next month.

He tweeted:
Said goodbye to Pixar today. Loved every minute of my time there. Couldn't be more excited about the adventure awaiting me at Twitter.
The microblogging service hired Rowghani as part of their ongoing efforts to bring the company into real profitability —a serious challenge. Considering Pixar's financial success in the past decade, something tells me they made the right choice.

Final Toy Story 3 trailer released


The final full-length theatrical trailer for Toy Story 3 has been released online, at Apple Movie Trailers, Yahoo! Movies, and many other entertainment websites. It's embedded below via Trailer Addict for your convenience, but the way to enjoy this, if you can, is in full-screen HD.

This is one heck of a trailer. I've already seen it twice and I'm about to again. It's genuinely exciting, funny (the scenes with Barbie and Ken are hilarious), and the animation is stunning. A couple of the shots (e.g. the toys on the train) confirm that the film will be Pixar's most visually impressive to date.

We get our first look at many of the new characters that will be officially revealed in the coming days. Lots-o-Huggin' Bear, aka Lotso, is seen quite a bit, but it's still unsure as to whether he will be a friend or foe to Andy's toys or something in between. But there's no doubt he will play a major role in the film. (MSN just got the Lotso poster, by the way.)

Another important aspect of the story is Andy's relationship with the toys. It appears that maybe he hadn't outgrown them after all, especially Woody. That should play out really nicely on screen.

There's just so much to see, so much detail, in this trailer. It's cool to see Pixar continuing the tradition of including Apple references, this time with the toys surfing the web on a Mac.

That reminds me: To coincide with the release of the trailer, the official Toy Story 3 website, disney.com/toystory, has been updated and now includes much more on the film, like profiles for the new characters revealed yesterday.

Watch the trailer, then sound off in comments.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

New 'TS3' characters revealed: Ken and Peas-in-a-Pod

Ken and Peas-in-a-Pod, two new characters from Toy Story 3, had their public debut online this morning, at Ain't It Cool News and ComingSoon.net respectively.

Disney/Pixar began showing off the never-before-seen characters today in advance of the release of the final theatrical trailer for the film, which happens tomorrow. There will be fourteen new 'TS3' characters revealed in the coming weeks.

The Ken doll (voiced by Michael Keaton) we had heard about previously and is certain to be a humorous figure in the film. What is up with his clothes?! My guess is that the horrible daycare kids got to him. The extremely cute Peas-in-a-Pod, on the other hand, comes as a complete surprise.

ComingSoon.net shares the smart official description of 'Peas':

Peas-in-a-Pod will quickly become a parent’s favorite on-the-go toy. The soft, plush pod secures the happy peas inside with a durable metal zipper, making it perfect for the car or stroller.

The Peas-in-a-Pod plush toy also develops fine motor skills by catering to a child’s natural grab instinct. Pulling the three peas out of the pod will provide repeated enjoyment for infants and toddlers, and soon they’ll learn to put them back in!

Machine washable. Not for human consumption.
Going back to the banner, my guesses for three of the silhouettes yet to be filled in: Next to Woody and Ken stands a certain fuchsia-coloured stuffed bear; right under Buzz looks like a purple octopus; and obscuring the bottom-left corner of the Toy Story 3 logo appears to be a young (possibly cruel) human character.

Your guesses now, please.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Two Annie wins for 'Up'

Up and director Pete Docter won the awards for Best Animated Feature and Best Director at the 37th Annual Annie Awards yesterday evening.

The Annie Awards, given out yearly by ASIFA-Hollywood, the Los Angeles chapter of the International Animated Film Society, are promoted as the animation industry's highest honour.

Since Up was nominated nine times, it's a bit disappointing to see it win only two awards, even if they are the most important ones. Two years ago, Ratatouille got thirteen nominations and won nine awards. But at least Up did better than WALL-E last year.

William T. Reeves received the juried Ub Iwerks Award for his work as a pioneer in the field of computer graphics at Pixar. The award was presented to him by Pixar president Ed Catmull.

See the list of all nominees and winners here.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Docter talks to CNN about Oscar nominations

Check out this CNN video of Pete Docter briefly discussing his reaction to yesterday five Oscar nominations for Up, starting with how he and his wife found out. I love how he describes the experience of being on the red carpet at the Academy Awards.

Today is Pixar's 24th anniversary

Happy anniversary Pixar!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Statement on 'Up' Oscar nods

Pixar worldwide publicity released this statement from director Pete Docter and producer Jonas Rivera regarding today's five Academy Award nominations for Up:

We are humbled and grateful to the Academy. Being nominated among these remarkable animated films is such an amazing privilege. On top of that, to be honored as one of the best pictures of the year is just mind-blowing. It’s truly been a long, wonderful ride getting here, and with all sincerity it really does feel like we’re floating on air.

UP NOMINATED FOR 5 OSCARS, INCLUDING BEST PICTURE

Pixar's tenth feature film, Up, directed by Pete Docter, made history moments ago, becoming the second animated motion picture ever to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (A.M.P.A.S.).

Nominations for the 82nd Annual Academy Awards were announced at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills, California by new Academy president Tom Sherak and actress Anne Hathaway.

In addition to its Best Picture nod, Up received four other Oscar nominations, for a total of five, as follows:
  • Best Animated Feature Film

  • Original Screenplay (Pete Docter, Bob Peterson, and Tom McCarthy)

  • Original Score (Michael Giacchino)

  • Sound Editing (Michael Silvers and Tom Myers)

My sincerest congratulations to Pete Docter, Jonas Rivera, the entire Up cast and crew, and everyone at Pixar and Disney on this milestone occasion.

Up is the first entirely computer-generated film to be nominated for the Best Picture Oscar. It is also one of the first two 3-D movies to be so nominated, the other being James Cameron's Avatar.

Ever since Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs came out in 1937, animated films have struggled to receive major recognition from A.M.P.A.S. For nearly twenty years, Disney’s 1991 masterpiece Beauty and the Beast held the distinction of being the only animated film to be acknowledged in the most prestigious Oscar category.

In 2001, the Academy introduced the Best Animated Feature Film category, recognizing the best animated features of the year. While it brought special attention to animated movies, the new category also had the side-effect of creating a "ghetto" for them each awards season.

Pixar’s critically-acclaimed films thus faced a big challenge in being recognized in the Best Picture category. Preceding the 80th and 81st Academy Awards, there was talk that Pixar’s 2007 and 2008 releases, Ratatouille and WALL-E, could be nominated. Of course, those hopes went nowhere, although both were awarded the Best Animated Feature Film prize.

But things changed this year with the increase in the number of Best Picture nominees from five to ten (a move not without historical precedent). Academy voters had room to nominate a larger variety of films; this greatly benefited Up. Also key was The Walt Disney Studios' robust "For Your Consideration" campaign for the film.

The 82nd Academy Awards ceremony (hosted by Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin) takes place on Sunday, March 7 at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood at 8 PM ET/5 PT. It will be telecast live on the ABC television network in the United States and CTV in Canada. For international broadcast information, check local TV listings.