Thursday, November 29, 2012

Teddy Newton Directing Pixar Feature, Derek Connolly Writing

Teddy Newton, one of my favourite Pixar artists, and director of Pixar's 2010 short film Day & Night, is currently directing an untitled and unannounced feature at the Emeryville studio.

The news slipped out in a Variety profile of up-and-coming screenwriter Derek Connolly, who revealed he is writing the project, and went on to share his thoughts on working at Pixar.

Quoth Connolly:
"It's totally different, the way they do things up here. You're here everyday. You don't go away for three months and come up with a script. You're involved with a director and it's very collaborative."
He adds that he was advised "not to dumb it down or treat animation like it's for kids".

Disney's Frozen Gets Female Director

After Pixar's challenging experience with its first female director on Brave, Disney isn't giving up on the idea of women directing animation. Walt Disney Animation announced this afternoon screenwriter Jennifer Lee as a director of Frozen, the studio's 53rd feature, opening next November.

Lee joins the picture's current director, Chris Buck, making her a co-director actually, but this may be more than a publicity move by Disney. She is rooted in live action writing and contributed to Wreck-It Ralph's killer script.

To refresh memories, Frozen is loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen, telling the story of "fearless optimist" Anna and her quest to end the permanent freeze that has befallen her kingdom.

By all accounts, the movie is going to have a lot of Scandinavia in it, with a Disney touch—heroic mountain man, reindeer, and an assortment of mythical creatures, including a snowman named Olaf.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

'Epic' New Trailer Debuts Online

A second theatrical trailer for Blue Sky's Epic debuted online today at iTunes Movie Trailers, and it's even better than the one we got back in June (see that post for a bit more, including the official synopsis).

Maybe it's the music—Snow Patrol's "The Lightning Strike/What If This Storm Ends?"— but this is looking like it's going to be good—original world, nouveau character and set design.

Epic is now set to project on May 24, one week later than previously announced.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Partysaurus Overflow Available for Download

Partysaurus Overflow, the digital single from Toy Story Toon: Partysaurus Rex, hit iTunes and Amazon (US) today, a few weeks later than expected.

The cover art has changed slightly since we first saw it. It now credits independent electronic dance producer Au5 (Austin Collins) alongside artist BT (Brian Transeau).

Despite the unfortunate vocal interruptions—and resulting loss of cred—Partysaurus Overflow is a fun listen. There's some great beats, especially starting at 2:00 and 2:59.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Blu-ray Review: Brave & Pixar Short Films Collection Volume 2

Brave is coming to Blu-ray, DVD, and digital on Tuesday, November 13. Joining it on shelves is the Pixar Short Films Collection–Volume 2, which brings together all the studio's shorts since Volume 1 was released in 2007.

Earlier this week, Disney sent me the 5-Disc Ultimate Collector's Edition (pictured at left) of Brave, which sports an appealing lenticular cover. Inside are copies of the film on Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray, DVD, and digital copy, plus a second Blu-ray of extras.

After last year's Cars 2 Blu-ray, with its dearth of quality extras, Pixar has packed this release with some solid features focusing on different aspects of the filmmaking process. You'll never think of moss—or ripped tapestries—the same way again.

Both the Blu-ray and DVD include a new, feature-based short, The Legend of Mordu, that combines 2D and CG animated scenes. Visually, the 2D scenes are unlike anything Pixar's done before. The ending is very unexpected.

Brave is also being sold in a 3-Disc Collector's Edition Blu-ray/DVD combo pack. Less overkill when it comes to formats, but still provides the second Blu-ray full of extras. There's also a single-disc DVD, which includes La Luna and Mordu and a directors' commentary.

Despite its sparse cover art, Pixar Short Films Collection–Volume 2 includes all of Pixar's shorts released between 2007 and 2012 (excluding Partysaurus Rex), as follows:
  • Your Friend the Rat
  • Presto
  • BURN-E
  • Partly Cloudy
  • Dug's Special Mission
  • George & A.J.
  • Day & Night
  • Hawaiian Vacation
  • Air Mater
  • Small Fry
  • Time Travel Mater
  • La Luna
The collection is available in a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack and 1-Disc DVD. While many viewers probably own most or all of the shorts already, this collection comes in handy if you want to watch them back-to-back without switching discs a dozen times.

It also reminded me to watch BURN-E again. I hadn't since it the WALL-E DVD came out in 2008. Seven minutes of pure amusement. Poor BURN-E, never can catch a break!

Best of all, there are seven student films made by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, and Pete Docter during their CalArts years, restored from the original prints. Look closely and it's easy to spot the seeds of the ideas and characters that ended up in Pixar's films.

My personal favourite ended up being Docter's Winter. There's a great simplicity about it, and its as funny as heck. Make sure you watch the director's introduction on all the shorts to get some context.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Pixar's Main Building Named After Steve Jobs

Here's an interesting story: Pixar has renamed the main production building on its Emeryville, California campus "The Steve Jobs Building" in honour of the studio co-founder, who died last year.

Junn Lee, a production assistant at the studio, tweeted the above picture of the new signage over the front entrance. (For before/after comparison, see this photo taken in 2010.)

The building, which opened to employees twelve years ago this month, has long been nicknamed "Steve's Movie", since Jobs had a major influence on its design and construction.

Jobs worked closely with lead architect Peter Bohlin to plan the building from the ground up, with a focus on the inviting central atrium, designed to bring employees together.

(via The Pixar Times)

Monday, November 5, 2012

'Ralph' Climbs to Top of the Box Office

Wreck-It Ralph smashed the North American box office over the weekend with a No. 1 opening that brought in $49.1 million, according to estimates at Box Office Mojo.

That is the best first weekend ever for a Walt Disney Animation picture, slightly ahead of Tangled's $48.8 million debut in 2010, reports the site, though still well below Pixar's $60 million opening weekend standard.

Audiences have definitely connected with the pairing of an enjoyable, gaming-themed storyline (a rarity) and winning character design.

"Considering the positive word-of-mouth and lack of competition over the next few weeks, Wreck-It Ralph could be on its way to as much as $200 million at the domestic box office."

Friday, November 2, 2012

Wreck-It Ralph Clip: Felix Meets Sgt. Calhoun

Disney's Wreck-It Ralph opened on over 3,700 screens today. If you want to have a good time at the movies this weekend, go see it. In the meantime, watch this newly-released clip: Fix-It Felix Jr. meets the battle-hardened Sgt. Calhoun... and falls in love.


By the way, the film has been well-received by critics. It's currently at 84% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, with 63 positive reviews published to 12 negative.