Saturday, June 30, 2012

Beautiful First Stills From Disney's Paperman

Here are the first three, cinematic stills from Walt Disney Animation Studios' frenzy-inducing short Paperman. Disney released them in hi-res this morning. I wish we'd get something like this every Saturday!

Helmed by animator John Kahrs in his directorial debut, Paperman was created in black-and-white using "a groundbreaking technique that seamlessly merges computer-generated and hand-drawn animation".

You can see Paperman in theatres with Wreck-It Ralph on November 2. In the meantime, here's some equally attractive concept art from the production.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Sound of Brave

Soundworks Collection profiles the sound design of Pixar's Brave in their latest video. With director Mark Andrews, re-recording mixer and sound designer Gary Rydstrom, supervising sound editor Gwen Yates Whittle, and sound designer E.J. Holowicki.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Intriguing Teaser for Blue Sky Studios' Epic

Here's the first teaser trailer for Blue Sky Studios' Epic, coming to theatres May 17 May 24, 2013.

Epic looks like it could be good, but I honestly don't know much about it, except that it's based on a 1996 book by William Joyce, The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs.

Joyce, who won an Oscar earlier this year for the short film The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, is serving as a writer and executive producer on the movie.

The synopsis from distributor 20th Century Fox reads:
Epic is a 3D CG action-adventure comedy that reveals a hidden world unlike any other. From the creators of Ice Age and Rio, Epic tells the story of an ongoing battle deep in the forest between the forces of good and the forces of evil. When a teen age girl finds herself magically transported into this secret universe, she must band together with a rag-tag team of fun and whimsical characters in order to save their world…and ours.
Epic is being helmed by Ice Age and Robots director Chris Wedge and features the vocal talents of Beyoncé, Colin Farrell, Josh Hutcherson, Amanda Seyfried, Johnny Knoxville, Steven Tyler, Aziz Ansari, and Jason Sudeikis.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Cafe Where Pixar Stories Born Closes (You'll Never Guess Why)

Hidden City Cafe in 2007. Photo by Deborah Coleman / Pixar
With all the buzz around the Monsters University concept art and trailer, I neglected a curious story earlier this week: the Hidden City Cafe, known to Pixar fans as the place where some of the studio's great stories were hashed out, has closed its doors.

Located in Point Richmond, California (Pixar's home before moving to Emeryville), the Hidden City Cafe is best remembered for its appearance in the WALL-E teaser trailer, wherein Andrew Stanton explains its significance in Pixar lore. It's also been winked at in Monsters, Inc. and Toy Story 2.

The reason for the closure? Recall Gusteau's in Ratatouille? Precisely. Remy's extended family members decided to get into the restaurant biz! Everything would have been fine had they worn their little chef's hats and not defecated in the kitchen.

Fan site This Day in Pixar, which first reported the story, has a photograph of the notice from the Contra Costa Health Services Environmental Health Division, dated May 4, 2012.

Ordered by the county to cease operations until the rodent situation (and a plumbing issue) was resolved, the cafe closed its doors for good. That—rat jokes aside—is pretty sad.

Brave Shatters Expectations with $80 Million Opening

Brave grossed an estimated $80.2 million in its opening weekend—$66.7 million domestically plus $13.5 million from international markets—according to industry estimates at Box Office Mojo.

Topping the North American box office, Brave is Pixar's thirteenth consecutive No. 1 opening. The film's $80 million debut mauled analyst predictions that it would open at between $55 million and $60 million domestically.

Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted slipped to No. 2 (as expected), but still pulled in a respectable $20.2 million in the U.S. and Canada, bringing its worldwide total to $365.9 million.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Pixar Gets the Website it Deserves

For years I was incredulous at the outdated design of Pixar's official website. Even as other studios got shiny new web digs, languished, looking almost exactly the same as it did a decade ago.

Tonight the studio finally switched on a redesigned site, less than a week after it relaunched its RenderMan section. The site now showcases some new content, like a fresh Behind the Scenes area with ten videos of artists discussing their craft.

Happily, all the feature trailers dating back to Toy Story are still around, now in a much larger size (playback is a bit choppy for me). There's also info on current events, like Pixar In Concert this summer in California.

Mike, Sulley Tour Campus in New 'Monsters U' Artwork

The release of the Monsters University teaser trailer has been one of today's biggest entertainment stories. The title has been trending worldwide on Twitter for most of this morning. Here's another colourful piece of concept art from the film, via The Pixar Times.

Watch Monsters University Teaser Trailer

The highly anticipated teaser trailer for Pixar's Monsters University arrived online early this morning. Enjoy the "Pony" version below in HD via Disney/Pixar on YouTube.

There are actually another three slightly different versions out there at iTunes Movie Trailers, The Huffington Post, and Yahoo! Movies. They all end with Mike Wazowski as a fraternity disco ball.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Awesomely Cool Monsters University Concept Art

Take a look at this brilliant piece of concept art from Pixar's Monsters University, opening one year from Thursday—June 21, 2013. Don't forget, the first trailer for the Monsters, Inc. prequel will be online tomorrow. Are you as excited as I am?

Review: Brave Continues Pixar Tradition

We're only days away from Pixar's thirteenth feature film opening in theatres. Having had a couple of weeks to think about Brave, I'm happy to say that it's a strong addition to the Pixar canon.

First off, the movie is a visual treat. From the characters—the design of Merida, Fergus, and Dingwall is stupendous—to the backgrounds, to facets as arcane as CG hair simulation, Brave is this year's most beautiful animated feature.

But does the story reach the emotional heights of Up or Toy Story 3? As with Cars 2, the answer is no. But it comes close. The ancient Scottish setting and, towards the end, Merida's relationship with her mother, does a lot to make that happen.

The film is much less dark than expected. I thought the marketing was hiding the tale's scarier parts; it wasn't. The action, though, is loud and intense, earning the movie its PG rating. (You'll have to watch to find out what the "rude humor" the MPAA refers to is all about.)

Although, as a fairy tale, Brave isn't as original as, say, a cultured sewer rat cooking at a fine Parisian restaurant, it never fails to entertain its target audience, which is everybody. Go see it this weekend.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Zoo Animals Defeat Tom Cruise, Adam Sandler at Box Office

Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted easily held onto its top spot at the worldwide box office this weekend. The DreamWorks movie brought in an estimated $35.5 million in North America, and $53 million from 43 foreign markets, according to Box Office Mojo.

Bringing its total worldwide lifetime gross to $277,451,000, Madagascar 3 demolished its live-action competition. It earned more than the No. 3 and No. 4 movies (both in their first week, and starring Cruise and Sandler, respectively) combined.

Although it's not an instant classic, I'm glad to see Europe's Most Wanted do well, since it's one of DreamWorks better efforts and a fun experience on the big screen overall. But it's only a matter of days until it inevitably surrenders to Pixar's bow-wielding princess.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Monsters University Teaser Coming Wednesday

Briefly: Stay tuned here on Wednesday, June 20 as Disney/Pixar will be releasing the first teaser for Monsters University online. The trailer will play in theatres with Brave starting on Friday. Monsters U graduates on June 21, 2013.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Exclusive: DisneyToon Already Working on Planes Sequel

On Monday afternoon, I posted briefly on Disney rescheduling the release of Planes to Fall 2013. Now it has emerged that DisneyToon Studios in Glendale is already at work on a sequel to the spinoff of Pixar's Cars franchise.

Film editor Maurissa Horwitz (assistant editor on DreamWorks' How to Train Your Dragon and Monsters vs Aliens) lists Planes 2: Fire and Rescue in the Work History section of her webpage.

According to her site, Horwitz worked on the film for one month last August-Sepember, reporting to supervising editor Dan Molina; he previously edited Walt Disney Animation's 2008 short film Glago's Guest.

Special thanks to Pixar Geek for sending in the tip.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Madagascar 3 Wins Box Office with $60.3 Million Opening

Final numbers have been tallied and, as expected, Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted took the top spot at the North American box office this weekend, grossing a respectable $60,316,738.

Combined with the DreamWorks film's foreign earnings of $75.5 million, Alex, Marty, Melman, and friends have sold tickets to the tune of $135,816,738, according to Box Office Mojo.

Buoyed by a mostly positive response from critics (it's holding at 76% on the Tomatometer), I wouldn't be surprised to see it do well up until Pixar unseats it with Brave on June 22.

Disney Changes 'Planes' Release Date

Briefly: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment (WDSHE) has pushed back the release of DisneyToon Studios' Planes. The direct-to-video Cars spinoff will now debut on Blu-ray Disc and DVD in Fall 2013 instead of Spring 2013.

Disney Announces 'Frozen' for Release Next Year

Walt Disney Animation Studios announced this hour Frozen, its upcoming feature loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen's 1845 fairy tale The Snow Queen.

The film, directed by Chris Buck (Tarzan) and produced by Peter Del Vecho (Winnie the Pooh), is slated for release in November 2013 and will be computer-animated. Original songs are being written by Broadway's Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez.

Frozen will star Kristen Bell as Anna, a "young dreamer" tasked with saving her kingdom from the curse of "eternal winter". Teaming up with "daring mountain man" Kristoff (voice TBA), Anna goes on a journey to find Elsa, the Snow Queen (Idina Menzel).

Friday, June 8, 2012

Madagascar 3: Am I Actually Starting to Like DreamWorks?

Today is opening day for Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, the third feature in DreamWorks Animation's Madagascar series. I caught an afternoon showing and am pleased to report that it is better than I was expecting.

Sure, the storyline isn't genius and the flying animal gags start to get tired the tenth time around. But overall it's an enjoyable movie to watch. A glowing, Katy Perry-esque circus spectacular near the end was undeniably impressive on the big screen.

If there's one thing I like about DreamWorks versus Pixar (gasp!), it's that the 3-D effect in DreamWorks films is more substantial. Stereoscopic supervisor Phil 'Captain 3D' McNally and team did a great job here that strengthened the film.

Madagascar 3 is currently at 76% fresh on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes (only 58% among Top Critics) and may end up winning the weekend at the box office.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Cars Toon 'Time Travel Mater' Airing June 16 on ABC

Somehow I missed this yesterday: the official Disney Parks Blog revealed that Pixar's latest Cars Toon, entitled Time Travel Mater, will premiere at Blue Sky Cellar at the Disney California Adventure theme park on June 15.

The short, previewed above, will then play on ABC with the network's special airing of Cars on Saturday, June 16 between 8-11 PM ET. It will also reportedly air on the Disney Channel.

Time Travel Mater finds Mater disturbing the space-time continuum (√° la Back to the Future) after travelling back in time to the founding of Radiator Springs.

First Look at DreamWorks' Mr. Peabody and Sherman

Collider brings us this image with the first rendered character poses from DreamWorks Animation's Mr. Peabody and Sherman, which will resurrect the characters from the classic television series The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.

The synopsis for the feature, currently set to land March 14, 2014, reads as follows:
Based on Jay Ward’s classic cartoon, Mr. Peabody is the world’s smartest person who happens to be a dog. When his “pet” boy Sherman uses their time traveling WABAC machine without permission, events in history spiral out of control. It’s up to this most unexpected of “father-son” teams to somehow put things back on track before the space-time continuum is irreparably destroyed.
The film is being written and directed by The Lion King co-helmer Rob Minkoff. Mr. Peabody is being voiced by Ty Burrell from ABC's Modern Family; Max Charles, who plays young Peter Parker in the upcoming Amazing Spider-Man, stars as Sherman.

New Trailer for Ice Age: Continental Drift

Briefly: A new trailer (called "Trailer 2") for 20th Century Fox/Blue Sky Studios' Ice Age: Continental Drift is up at iTunes Movie Trailers. Probably the best one yet; it makes the plot seem mildly interesting. The movie opens on July 13.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Where to Experience Brave in Dolby Atmos

Dolby Laboratories has revealed the list of theatres to be equipped with next-generation sound format Dolby Atmos in time for its arrival with Pixar's Brave on June 22.

Dolby and industry professionals are calling Atmos the "most significant development in audio since the arrival of surround sound". I can't wait to take a listen.

North America
  • AMC Barrywood 24, Kansas City
  • AMC Burbank 16
  • AMC Century City 15
  • AMC Downtown Disney 24, Lake Buena Vista, FL
  • AMC Garden State 16, Paramus, NJ
  • AMC Van Ness 14, San Francisco
  • Arclight Sherman Oaks
  • Brenden Theatres at the Palms in Las Vegas
  • Century at Pacific Commons and XD, Fremont, CA
  • Cinemark West Plano and XD, West Plano, TX
  • Cinetopia Vancouver Mall 23
  • Dolby Theatre, Hollywood, CA
  • Kerasotes Showplace ICON at Roosevelt Collection, Chicago
  • SilverCity Young Eglinton Cinemas, Toronto
  • China Film Stella Theater Chain Hefei 1912
  • Cinesa Diagonal Mar, Barcelona
  • Empire Leicester Square, London
  • Shanghai Film Art Center
  • UME Shuangjing, China
  • Wanda Cinemas Wuhan Lingjiao Lake, China

Watch the First Trailer for Wreck-It Ralph

It wasn't supposed to be out until Friday, but here it is—the first theatrical trailer for Disney's Wreck-It Ralph, introduced by John C. Reilly, the voice of Ralph. Watch via MSN Movies.

What did you think? I'm sure a lot of people are loving it—Stitch Kingdom calls it "freakishly awesome"—I'm just not one of them. My doubts about the movie have only grown. Another character therapy session? Really?

Exclusive: Toy Story 4, 5 Planned for 2013 and 2014 (But It's Not What You Think)

Pixar is developing two original, 22-minute television specials starring the characters of Toy Story. They will air (presumably on either ABC or the Disney Channel) in October 2013 and Spring 2014.

As if that weren't enough, "three new Toy Story Toons are in development", all this according to a book industry e-catalogue from Disney Publishing Worldwide.

These specials are the ones Pixar president Ed Catmull suggested Pixar Canada could do back when the satellite studio opened in 2010.

Thanks to reader Taylor B. for the tip. No, it was not "old news".
Update (Jul. 18): Naturally, the page has been edited to delete the reference to the unannounced specials.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Lorax on Blu-ray/DVD August 7

My first positive-reviewed animated feature of the year, Dr. Seuss' The Lorax, is coming to Blu-ray and DVD on August 7 from Universal Studios Home Entertainment.

The movie will be available in Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D Combo Packs. Both sets include the film on DVD, Digital Copy and UltraViolet.

The Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack will feature a deleted scene, drawing tutorial, games, as well as three new 'mini-movies', to name a few of the extras.

Non-deaf parents beware: There's a karaoke feature!

Four Brand New Wreck-It Ralph Stills

In advance of the first teaser trailer for the film, arriving on Friday, USA Today got the first ever stills from Disney's video game tale Wreck-It Ralph, opening in theatres on November 2.

Above, recovering video game villain Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly) kindly hands out 'Pac-Man cherries' to unemployed characters from the 80's arcade game Q*bert. The station they're in? A power strip.

There's three more stills where that came from, which introduce us to tough shooter character Sgt. Calhoun (Jane Lynch), and Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman), who becomes sort of a little sister to Ralph in the movie.

Head over to USA Today for the complete article. Lots of tidbits on the movie are to be found. Hi-res versions of the images can be found at Dutch animation blog

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Paperman Buzz Reaching Frenzy

Yesterday afternoon, Pixar employees were treated to a special screening of Walt Disney Animation's Paperman at the Emeryville studio. The response has been nothing short of ecstatic. In case you missed them, here are a few tweets from some of the artists:
If you, like me, are obsessively counting down the seconds until you can watch the short, the Animation World Network (AWN) has a Q&A with director John Kahrs (on Twitter @johnkahrs) and producer Kristina Reed that might be of interest.

Paperman will be in theatres with Wreck-It Ralph on November 2.

Friday, June 1, 2012

FINALLY! Finding Nemo Blu-ray Release Date Set

After a legendarily long wait—over four years, if you're counting—Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment at last announced an official, fixed release date for Finding Nemo on Blu-ray Disc this hour.

The Pixar classic, directed by Andrew Stanton (prior to his Barsoomian exile), will be making its hi-def Blu-ray debut on December 4, about three months after its theatrical 3-D rerelease, opening September 14.

Nemo will be available in a 5-Disc Blu-ray 3D Ultimate Collector’s Edition (2 Blu-ray 2D + 1 Blu-ray 3D + 1 DVD + 1 Digital Copy) and a 3-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack (2 Blu-ray 2D + 1 DVD), as well as on iTunes and other digital platforms.

The Blu-ray editions will feature 'a host of interactive bonus features including 3D/2D Virtual Aquariums, a Filmmaker Roundtable, and more,' according to the press release.

Along with Walt Disney's Cinderella (going on sale October 2), this is one of my most anticipated Blu-ray releases of the year.