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Sarah Silverman Isn't So Sweet in Wreck-It Ralph

Sarah Silverman Isn't So Sweet in Wreck-It Ralph | Animation News |

What happens when a 2-D, side-scrolling bad guy decides he’s tired of wrecking the same old things after 30 years on the job?

He has a mid-life crisis, of course.

In the 3-D animated film Wreck-It Ralph, John C. Reilly voices a Donkey Kong-like videogame baddie who wants to get out of the game and make some friends. He escapes his life as a wrecker and finds a bratty little girl named Vanellope von Schweetz (voiced by comedian Sarah Silverman) and the two go off to find themselves together.

“She’s a little 9-year-old girl in this game called Sugar Rush and she wants to race but they won’t let her because she’s a glitch,” Silverman says in the Wired video above with her co-star Reilly. “[It's] almost like The Wizard of Oz – here’s Wreck-It Ralph who wants so much to not be a bad guy anymore and this girl who doesn’t want to be a glitch, and you kind of realize that your lot in life isn’t always your destiny and sometimes your shortcomings can be your greatest assets.”

Who says videogames don’t have important lessons to teach?

Wreck-It Ralph hits theaters Nov. 2.


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For a While There, Wreck-It Ralph Barely Looked Human

For a While There, Wreck-It Ralph Barely Looked Human | Animation News |

I'm a sucker for watching a character visually evolve over time. It's almost like looking at alternate lives that a fictional character could've embodied with slightly different personalities. For example, you can see how Spryo the Dragon seemed to have an entirely different attitude in these early designs.

And though the movie's not quite out yet, you can see how the main character of the video game-centric feature film Wreck-It Ralph started out as more of a monster in this series of images released by Disney. I'm guessing that the prevailing wisdom argued that a more creature-like Ralph would have been harder to be sympathetic to. Who knows? Ralph's final Lil' Abner/Mario look works just fine, but I sure like the different illustrative styles that he journeyed through.


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'Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld' Debuts On DC Nation This Weekend - ComicsAlliance

'Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld' Debuts On DC Nation This Weekend - ComicsAlliance | Animation News |

For those of you whose lives have been lacking in magical battles against dudes with names like "Dark Opal," we have some good news: This Saturday during Cartoon Network's "DC Nation" block, Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld is set to debut with the first installment of a series of short cartoons. And from the looks of things, she'll be doing it with a Sailor Moon-inspired anime style.

CLICK THRU to check out another image and about three seconds of video after the cut!

Amethyst was created by Dan Mishkin, Gary Cohn and Ernie Colón back in 1983. Young Amy Winston, described in Cartoon Network's PR as being "nerdy and introverted," is secretly the lost princess of Gemworld, and uses her incredible magical powers -- and, from the looks of things, a gigantic purple broadsword -- to defend it from enemies, all while still living a normal life on Earth.

The original series has a pretty sizable fan-base, and Amethyst's television debut comes right in the middle of a mini-revival for the character that they've been clamoring for for years. The cartoon short comes right on the eve of Amethyst's return to comics in Sword of Sorcery, where she'll be scripted by Christy Marx, who's no stranger to TV herself as the creator of Jem and the Holograms. For Amethyst fans, that's a nice bit of synergy, and for new fans, it's a pretty good way to find out about the character.

It's all pretty exciting stuff, and as someone with a not-so-secret love of Sailor Moon, the shot of Amethyst that echoes the Sailor Scouts' transformation sequences has me pretty excited. The DC Nation block runs from 10 AM to 11 AM Eastern, and in addition to Amethyst, it'll also include the new JL Animals short -- featuring, as you might expect, a Justice League made up of animals in costumes -- as icing on the delicious animated cake.


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Baby Korra Video Features Real Life Young Avatar - ComicsAlliance

Baby Korra Video Features Real Life Young Avatar - ComicsAlliance | Animation News |

"I'm the Avatar! Deal with it!" This opening line serves as our introduction to a very young and very enthusiastic Avatar Korra in The Legend of Korra, the Nickelodeon series that, in case you haven't noticed, we're huge fans of at ComicsAlliance. While you only get to see that version of Korra in one brief moment, it remains a very popular scene with fans of the series. And for one fan, that brief glimpse wasn't enough. Armed with a camera, some digital animation software, and an adorable daughter who happens to bear a bit of a resemblance to the young Avatar, a father has created a video that every fan of the show will enjoy. CLICK THRU TO WATCH THE VIDEO!

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'Gravity Falls' Takes On Video Games In New 'Fight Fighters' Episode

'Gravity Falls' Takes On Video Games In New 'Fight Fighters' Episode | Animation News |

The Disney Channel's Gravity Falls has quickly become one of my favorite TV shows. In fact, I've often been heard remarking, as I have about so many other pieces of pop culture, that the only possible way it could be better was if it was also Street Fighter II.
And now, it looks like that's actually happening. In this week's episode, set to air Friday at 9:30 Eastern, Dipper brings his favorite video game character to life so that he can win a fight with a skinny jean-wearin' romantic rival. And the character in question? Rumble McSkirmish, who boasts a design by Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: The Game and Mercenary Kings artist Paul Robertson and interacts with the world in a decidedly Capcom-esque fashion. Check out a few clips after the cut!

Sharp-eared video game fans may recognize Rumble's voice actor as Brian Bloom, who voiced Varric in Dragon Age 2 and no doubt gained considerable experience with the genre as the voice of Captain America in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 -- oh, and appeared in and co-wrote the A-Team movie and then played Cap on Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes.

The real gold, though, is seeing how his video game logic applies to the (very, very slightly) more realistic world of the rest of the show. I'm pretty surprised that Dipper looks for food in the refrigerator, though. You'd think someone that familiar with how to feed video game characters would know that you only find whole turkeys by smashing up oil cans.

Given that we've already seen references to Street Fighter, Donkey Kong and an incredible tribute to Final Fight, I'm looking forward to seeing what other bits of gaming history will pop up in this week's episode. And also to seeing Robbie get the Hundred Hand Slap right upside his head.


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Jhonen Vázquez Designs For Randy Cunningham, 9th Grade Ninja

Jhonen Vázquez Designs For Randy Cunningham, 9th Grade Ninja | Animation News |

Disney recently released a trailer for their new series Randy Cunningham, 9th Grade Ninja, which will be kicking off on their XD channel in the US come September 17th. We might start by looking at that trailer now.

Some of the design work there might seem familiar, not to mention appealing, to fans of Jhonen Vázquez, Invader Zim and Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, for the most obvious of reasons.

Vázquez has been sharing some of his original Cunningham designs on his own Tumblr. Here’s a selection, with some of his notes.

Part of my year was spent doing character designs for a show for Disney XD. Every time I tell people that they freak out about the Disney part of that story, but there’s some pretty great design design stuff happening on that channel, and a lot of it is thanks to the guys at Titmouse Animation. Titmouse was who I dealt with, actually, and I never really had any direct involvement with anyone from Disney so my hands are clean of any mouse droppings.

These were my first sketches of possible Ninja designs for Randy Cunningham. I always want to go for a little more inhuman on stuff, so Randy as a Ninja in these early designs was a bit more covered up in my favorite sketches, but with the big eyes glowing or showing through so he could still be expressive enough. My favorite is definitely the one with the orange exclamation mark-ish shape on the forehead.

One of the only peripheral characters I did for Randy Cunningham was this “band geek” that eventually gets mutated into a hulking horror. Along with being the only side character I did for my first pass it was also the only monster. At a later point I went back and did about 25 creature designs for later use in the show, but this band monster and the Sorcerer were the only inhuman looking things I got to do early on.

When the Titmouse guys asked if I wanted to design this stuff I pretty much said “Monsters and robots. That’s what I want to do.” Doing Randy and Howard and such was fun enough, but I’m happiest when things get a bit more monstrous and robotic.

I guess, in the show, the Sorcerer has the power to transform people and things into monster versions of themselves, so this was my go at what that might result in. Figured some common element would be this black mass that sorta operated the victim, but that was probably too bizarre for a kids’ show. I’m not the best person to decide that! It was pretty much your general purpose supernatural Miyazaki goo.

I think it goes without saying that the Sorcerer was my favorite guy to work on. Pretty sure he was just supposed to be some kind of old timey magician from Japan but he’s just a monster now. Was really into the overly distorted proportions for the guy, tiny legs and arms that would most likely drag on the floor if not held up, and then there’s his crazy long neck. Not a whole lot left of whatever human he maybe used to be.


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A beautifully animated short about a girl, a fox, and the secret world between the subway and the surface

A beautifully animated short about a girl, a fox, and the secret world between the subway and the surface | Animation News |

Jacob Wyatt's short animation Metro begins with a very mundane problem: a girl having trouble navigating the subway platform. But when a fox steals her metro ticket, she follows it on a chase through the secret world that exists between the subway platform and the surface world, filled with both expected and unexpected views. And when she reaches the fox's final destination, she'll be glad that the critter stole her ticket.


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Early 'Ninja Turtles' Movie Script 'Worse Than Anyone Could Have Ever Imagined'

Early 'Ninja Turtles' Movie Script 'Worse Than Anyone Could Have Ever Imagined' | Animation News |

The Michael Bay-produced big-screen revival for the (formerly Teenage and Mutant) Ninja Turtles has had what could charitably be described as some teething troubles in its road to being made, not least of which has been the postponement of the movie until 2014 so that details could be worked out ahead of production. Now, a draft of the movie's original script has apparently been leaked, revealing that the delays are definitely a blessing.

The TMNT, not TANT blog - So named in protest at the rumored plan to reboot the Mutant Turtles as aliens who only looked like giant, man-sized turtles - is claiming to have read the script for the troubled movie and has posted a review that reports, in no uncertain terms, "it's worse than anyone could have ever imagined":
The script sucked. Plain and simple. It's not just the "turtle being aliens" thing that made it terrible: the dialog sucked, the staging sucked, changing Casey and April into 18 year old teenaged idiots sucked. All in all, it would make for a very terrible movie, whether or not you liked the turtles in the first place.

One of the review's sticking points was the script's lack of focus on the Turtles themselves, with screen time and attention being given instead to their human sidekick, Casey Jones. "[The script] completely misses the mark in regards to Casey's... everything; instead of being a masked adult scrapper vigilante, he's just some shit-head kid," the review explains, adding that the movie may as well have been called "Teenage Human Unarmed Asshole."

"I cannot appropriate express how terrible this script was, and how it in no way carries on the spirit of the Ninja Turtles," the blog's writer - who goes by the name of "The Writer" - rants. "It's like Michael Bay told the writers, 'Okay, remember Transformers? Do that, but worse.'"

Peter Laird, who co-created the TMNT with Kevin Eastman but, unlike Eastman, isn't connected with the movie in any way, commented on the review by saying,
If it is, in fact, the actual draft that was rejected and caused the production of the next TMNT movie to be pushed back to 2014 because the script was unsatisfactory, then I think all true TMNT fans should be grateful to the new "powers that be" that they did not allow this wretched thing to go any further. It could definitely be taken as a good sign if that is the case. It reminds me of one of the reasons I am glad to not own the property anymore... because I don't have to tear what little hair I have left out while trying to fix junk like this.

It's worth pointing out that the Turtles movie is still, officially, in pre-production and is on schedule to be released in 2014 to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the comic's first appearance. Whether or not the script for the finished movie will be significantly different from the one reviewed by the TANT blog remains to be seen.

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First Plot Details For Pixar’s Monsters University Revealed

First Plot Details For Pixar’s Monsters University Revealed | Animation News |

I don’t think “Mike & Sulley go to college” quite constitutes a plot premise, but we do now have some idea of one dramatic conflict set up for Pixar’s Monsters University. Billy Crystal has been speaking with Entertainment Weekly, and sharing something of the plot.

[Mike and Sully] end up in the same fraternity where they have this scare competition – like Greek Games in college. They have to mobilize a group, sort of like Revenge of the Nerds-monsters, and get them ready to be scary.

More scare training, just flipped a little.

Crystal explains that the characters are 17 and 18 during this storyline – I’m assuming Sully is the older one? – and so they’re still a little awkward. I can smell the “first love” plot lines from here.

And for those of you who didn’t notice the shiny wires in any of the four teaser trailers, Crystal has spelled it out: Mike is wearing orthodontic braces in this film. Bless. I can already smell how the smell of those affects the smell of that “first love” plot line I was smelling.

Interestingly, I’m not seeing anybody mention what Mad Men and God Bless America‘s Joel Murray will be doing in the film, so let me at least tack that on as a footnote. Here’s how Murray put it during the interview rounds for God Bless America:

We’re all in a pretty lame frat, and I’m a business man who’s been fired…his company has downsized. So gosh darnit, I’m going to go back and learn computers! So, I play Don Carlson, a mature student in the fraternity. Kind of a goofy role.

Sounds great. And let me just say God Bless America one more time because twice isn’t enough and it’s still probably my favourite film of the year.

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Get Your First Look Inside 'Bravest Warriors' #1 [Preview] - ComicsAlliance | Comic book culture, news, humor, commentary, and reviews

Get Your First Look Inside 'Bravest Warriors' #1 [Preview] - ComicsAlliance | Comic book culture, news, humor, commentary, and reviews | Animation News |

Frederator Studios has been busy preparing to launch Adventure Time creator Pen Ward's new animated series Bravest Warriors online this fall, and Boom! Studios has been right there with them getting the first issue of its tie-in comic book by writer Joey Comeau and artist Mike Holmes ready to roll. We've seen covers for the debut issue (along with issue #2), but thanks to Boom!, we now have a first-look at some of Holmes' interiors. Chris, Wallow, Beth and Danny are all present and accounted for, along with a... sentient peeled banana buddy? And a planet is exploding? This book isn't wasting any time. You can see what's up in our preview of Bravest Warriors #1 after the jump.

From Boom!'s official solicitation info:
POWER! RESPECT! Based on ADVENTURE TIME creator Pendleton Ward's brand new animated series! Join Chris, Wallow, Beth and Danny, four 16-year-old heroes-for-hire, as they warp from galaxy to galaxy, saving alien races with the power of their...emotions. They're noble, righteous and totally bodacious! This new series of original comics based on the new series from ADVENTURE TIME creator Pen Ward is sure to be a smash! ADVENTURE TIME #1 went to an unprecedented 3rd printing...Don't let your shop be caught short for this brand new sensation!

You can check out two pages of interior art from Bravest Warriors #1 below.


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Andy Diggle To Write Action Comics After Grant Morrison?

Andy Diggle To Write Action Comics After Grant Morrison? | Animation News |

I first heard the whiffs of this rumour a few weeks ago, that the new writer of Action Comics to replace Grant Morrison was another Brit with a 2000AD past, but seemingly from pub conversations recalling half-heard conversations and nothing I could actually stand up. Then Andy Diggle tweeted the following;

"So I just landed the biggest job of my career. #terrified"

And suddenly I started hearing Andy’s name associated with the comic. Other names were thrown into the mix, some which sounded more likely than a writer who had shown disdain for writing superheroes in the past. But this weekend they all seemed to go away, leaving Andy Diggle the only game in town.

Diggle is best known for editing 2000AD, when he first wrote Lenny Zero and teamed up with Jock on art. They would later create The Losers together, and now Jock is on Detective Comics with John Layman. It would seem fitting for both the Action Comics and Detective Comics titles to both be created by members of such a team.

Diggle has been a little less high profile since his Daredevil run came to an end, but he’s had his Six Guns series for Marvel, his serialised Snapshot book with Jock in Judge Dredd Megazine and he’s writing Doctor Who for IDW. But this creative move, if true, would rapidly elevate him to the A-list.

A New York Comic Con announcement, as with the other DC January changes we’ve been talking about, seems likely.

DC Comics declined to reply to enquiries.

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WWE Announces Crossover Movie With 'Scooby-Doo,' Confirms That We Are Living In The Best of All Possible Worlds

WWE Announces Crossover Movie With 'Scooby-Doo,' Confirms That We Are Living In The Best of All Possible Worlds | Animation News |

I'll admit that sometimes, I get a little down on things. I'm not normally a pessimist, but every now and then, the pressures and problems of life get to me, and I start to think that maybe there's nothing pure and beautiful and good left in this crazy old world.

But then WWE and Warner Bros. announce a brand-new animated movie where Scooby-Doo and Mystery Incorporated go to WrestleMania to team up with the WWE Superstars and fight a ghost bear, and I realize that the world is a wonderful place once again.

The film is just going into production so there aren't many details to go around, but a press release on and a quick email to WB Animation has confirmed that this is something that is actually happening and not just a wonderful dream. In addition to the "ghostly bear," the as-yet-untitled film is set to feature several wrestlers, who will join former Scooby-Doo crossover luminaries like Jerry Reed, the Harlem Globetrotters, Harlan Ellison and Batman by providing their own voices.

Currently, the lineup of WWE guest stars stands at John Cena (of course), AJ Lee, Triple H, The Miz, Brodus Clay, Santino Marella, Sin Cara, and, perhaps most interestingly, Kane, a masked man who claims to be a monster and terrorizes the rest of the locker room. If any part of this film involves Fred trapping Kane and Velma pulling off his mask while exclaiming "Isaac Yankem?!", I will officially declare this to be the single greatest film ever made.

Whether or not this will be the first step in WWE's return to animated programming remains to be seen, but I'll tell you right now that I know at least one grown-ass man who would watch every single episode of a show about CM Punk, AJ, Beth Phoenix, Dolph Ziggler and a talking dog (or maybe Koko B. Ware's parrot) solving mysteries in each arena as WWE toured the country. Then again, I think we all know how those stories would end.


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Online Only Trailer For Paranorman Is Full Of Beautiful, Stylised Images

Online Only Trailer For Paranorman Is Full Of Beautiful, Stylised Images | Animation News |

Tristan Oliver‘s cinematography has captured the bold, stylised colour designs of Paranorman beautifully and this web-only trailer really shows off some of the more extreme shots. We’re talking about almost Wong Kar Wai richness of colour, just pouring off the screen, in some of these scenes.

So watch it full screen on the biggest screen you have, in the dark. Call it colour therapy.



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Douglas Adams and Jim Henson tried to develop a TV special about the Muppet Institute of Technology

Douglas Adams and Jim Henson tried to develop a TV special about the Muppet Institute of Technology | Animation News |

What happens when you get the author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and the creator of the Muppets in the same room? In the 1980s, Jim Henson met author Douglas Adams and together they tried to develop a television special starring the Muppets about the wonders of computers.

Henson and Adams met almost 29 years ago this week and shared a love for computers and the advances they offered in entertainment. Adams reportedly consulted on a Labyrinth video game, and he and Henson planned to create their own television special:

"Adams had been working with the Henson team that year on the Muppet Institute of Technology project. Collaborating with Digital Productions (the computer animation people), Chris Cerf, Jon Stone, Joe Bailey, Mark Salzman and Douglas Adams, Jim's goal was to raise awareness about the potential for personal computer use and dispel fears about their complexity. In a one-hour television special, the familiar Muppets would (according to the pitch material), "spark the public's interest in computing," in an entertaining fashion, highlighting all sorts of hardware and software being used in special effects, digital animation, and robotics. Viewers would get a tour of the fictional institute – a series of computer-generated rooms manipulated by the dean, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, and stumble on various characters taking advantage of computers' capabilities. Fozzie, for example, would be hard at work in the "Department of Artificial Stupidity," proving that computers are only as funny as the bears that program them. Hinting at what would come in The Jim Henson Hour, viewers, "…might even see Jim Henson himself using an input device called a ‘Waldo' to manipulate a digitally-controlled puppet."

While Waldo certainly came to fruition, and Henson would teach children about the wonders of special effects and computer animation on The Jim Henson Hour, the Muppet Institute of Technology sits in the vault of brilliant ideas that simply never came to fruition. Jim Henson's Red Book, the site that uncovers the details of Henson's daily life, has a few concept art pieces from the show, as well as more details on Henson's relationship with Adams.

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'JL Animals' Shorts Coming to DC Nation Later This Month [Video] - ComicsAlliance

'JL Animals' Shorts Coming to DC Nation Later This Month [Video] - ComicsAlliance | Animation News |
With Ultimate Spider-Man's inclusion of the heroic pig Spider-Ham on Disney XD, I suppose it was only a matter of time before The Universe responded with an animated anthropomorphic animal countercartoon from DC Comics. No, it's not a Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew! show, it's the newly-created JL Animals, a barnyard-based series of shorts starring animal analogues of your favorite DC heroes and villains starting September 29.

Described in Cartoon Network's press release as "a hilarious take on Justice League where animal versions of classic DC heroes show off their wild sides while facing trouble on the farm," the new series of DC Nation shorts will star characters like Super Manatee, Wonder Wombat, Cybug and Lex Liger (big ups for invoking a tiger/lion hybrid). Though fans will likely still crave a Captain Carrot series someday, this new show looks silly enough to tide everyone over in the meantime.

CLICK THRU for a new JL Animals clip, along with new still images, below.

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Alfred Gets Snarky In Latest 'The Dark Knight Returns, Pt. 1' Clip [Video] - ComicsAlliance

Alfred Gets Snarky In Latest 'The Dark Knight Returns, Pt. 1' Clip [Video] - ComicsAlliance | Animation News |

We've seen Batman pursue criminals, the Mutant leader declare war, and some thugs freak out, but the latest clip from Warner Home Video's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Pt. 1 animated feature is all about Bruce Wayne... getting a massage? That's right, the latest teaser for the animated adaptation of Frank Miller's iconic storyline is a scene that spotlights the relationship between the 55-year-old Batman and his butler/father figure/doctor Alfred (voiced by actor Michael Jackson). At the age of, what? like 80? 85? Alfred is understandably pretty dry following decades of service to a gloomy vigilante. After tending to Master Bruce's latest crimefighting wounds to prep him for his next mission, it seems pretty reasonable for him to inquire about his place in the Wayne will, doesn't it? See what you think of the latest clip from Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Pt. 1 (which arrives on September 25), after the cut. CLICK THRU TO WATCH THE VIDEO

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New Details Of Jim Henson Company’s Doozers Show

New Details Of Jim Henson Company’s Doozers Show | Animation News |

The Jim Henson Company’s upcoming spin-off series Doozers is on course to launch next year, coinciding with the 30th anniversary of Fraggle Rock. Some new details have now rolled out, via Kid Screen, and I have to say, I was just a little surprised by the setting.

The show’s stories are to take place:

…in Doozer Creek, a self-sustainable community (located just beyond the view of humans). The action really takes place in a high-tech, eco-friendly enchanted forest, where the Doozer pals share a passion for inventing.

You what?

So, there are Doozers outside of Fraggle Rock, away from Fraggles. What this does to their delicate ecology I can only guess. In one episode of Fraggle Rock, the Fraggles stopped eating Doozer sticks and the results were disastrous.

The lead characters of the new show are to be Spike, Mollybolt, Flex and Daisy Wheel, a quartet of “kid Doozers.” That’s three of them in the image above. According to IMDB, they’re to be voiced by Jacob Ewankiuk, Jenna Warren, Trek Buccino and Millie Davis respectively.

There are 52 episodes of 11 minutes duration each in the works. That’s a lot of what Doozers do, so yum. But because it looks like the show is going to premiere on Cartoonito in the UK, I’ll be left waiting for the DVDs.

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Patrick Stewart, Lea Michele, Martin Short And Flying Monkeys – New Teaser For Dorothy Of Oz

Patrick Stewart, Lea Michele, Martin Short And Flying Monkeys – New Teaser For Dorothy Of Oz | Animation News |

Finally, it’s time to get a first look at animated feature Dorothy of Oz, an adaptation the novel of the same name by Frank L. Baum’s grandson, Roger S. Baum. There are some great voice actors here, including Brian Blessed (sadly not in this trailer), Patrick Stewart, James Belushi and Martin Short. From this teaser trailer the tone of the film seems definitely aimed at younger children, as opposed to broader appeal satirical fare like Enchanted and Shrek, but that’s by no means a bad thing.

The film sees Dorothy return to a Kansas ravaged by the tornado that whipped her off to Oz, before returning to Oz to find that it, in turn, has been corrupted and blighted by the influence of an evil Jester. Poor kid never gets a break.

With any luck it won’t be as nightmarish as Return to Oz, which had a similar premise to this latest adaptation with a somewhat terrifying execution. Dorothy of Oz looks to be lighter fare, and if this teaser is anything to go by then Lea Michele will be bringing to Glee factor in with musical numbers. Whether or not that gets you excited or turns you off is a matter of personal taste.


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Disney Characters Get Size Zero Makeover For Gross New Cartoon

Disney Characters Get Size Zero Makeover For Gross New Cartoon | Animation News |

Oh dear, Disney. This isn’t going to go down well at all. You’ve made a very bad match here.

The House of Mouse have teamed up with various fashion luminaries for a new promotional project with Barneys, the New York department store. They’re working on a campaign for the holiday season, comprised of:

a three-dimensional electric light show; a moving art short film in the window displays that will turn Disney’s most favorite heroes into runway supermodels and fashion regulars into Disney types, and an original score by Oscar-winning composer Michael Giacchino.

The film will recount a story of:

Minnie Mouse’s fantasy to be at the Paris shows. There she comes across key Disney characters — Mickey Mouse, Goofy, Daisy Duck, Cruella de Vil, Princess Tiana and Snow White — all decked out in unique designer clothes as they make their way down the runway.

And we now have the first, fashion world-ified images of Disney characters. And they look painfully thin. They come from Women’s Wear Daily, whose Executive Editor makes some kind of cameo appearance in the film.

Each of these three images is more upsetting than the last.

So we start with Goofy who is now notably slimmed down. Interestingly, he’s the thinnest of the three characters in their original form and now he’s the least thin. Of course, he’s also the most male…


These children’s characters, arguably role models of some kind, have been reinvented with the kind of “size zero” anatomies we see in images linked with anorexia nervosa. Indeed, because they’re stylised as toons, the deformation is even more extreme.

Here’s the justification for the redesign, from Barney’s creative director Dennis Freedman:

The standard Minnie Mouse will not look so good in a Lanvin dress. There was a real moment of silence, because these characters don’t change. I said, ‘If we’re going to make this work, we have to have a 5-foot-11 Minnie,’ and they agreed. When you see Goofy, Minnie and Mickey, they are runway models.

There’s a fairly likely counter argument that will tell us these new bodies are so preposterously skinny that they can’t be taken seriously in any way, or perhaps that they even work as satire of the typical fashion world physiology. But the implication remains: to be sexy and fashionable and a spokesmodel, even an international icon like Minnie Mouse has to change shape to such an extent that she practically appears disfigured.

Size zero has gone from being the standard of fashion images that speak to adults and teens to also featuring in some that speak to children. “Look kids, Minnie is beautiful now.”

This campaign strikes me as so misguided I wouldn’t be surprised to hear, and soon, that the whole thing is cancelled.

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Happy 95th Birthday, Jack Kirby

Happy 95th Birthday, Jack Kirby | Animation News |

You hear it all the time: "Jack Kirby is the King of Comics." "Jack 'King' Kirby." "Marvel's House of Ideas is The House That Jack Built." Most people, comics critics and the like, usually leave it there. The idea that Jack Kirby is one of the most important people of the comics industry is taken for granted, most times. People, myself included, just know that he's the real deal, a big deal, and we expect you to keep up. That's unfair, to put it lightly, and doesn't do anything to show you exactly why this guy was a trailblazer for so long. So, today, on the occasion of the King's birthday, I want to take a minute and talk with you about Darkseid and morality. But, keep in mind that this is just a taste of Kirby. I'm scratching the surface. If it strikes your fancy, go deeper.

If you read DC Comics, the odds are good that you know who Darkseid is. (You might even say his name Dark-seed, depending on how old you are.) In his last major appearance, in Geoff Johns & Jim Lee's Justice League #6, where he was essentially a basic supervillain bent on world domination. Prior to that, he was a mid-boss in Grant Morrison and company's Final Crisis and Seven Soldiers. Darkseid was working to reincarnate in a new form, murder Superman, and completely ruin the Earth. Before that, he appeared in Countdown, a series that could be charitably described as "less than successful on basically every level." And before all that, Darkseid was your generic Honorable Villain, meaning that he'd murder millions if the whim struck, but he'd also let our heroes go for sloppily designed reasons.

Darkseid is, these days, the prototypical Ultimate Evil villain, a symbol of the annihilation that awaits if caped figures do not do their job. But he wasn't always. No, in the beginning, Darkseid was much, much simpler. He didn't want to destroy the world. He wanted to bring order to it.

Back in 1971, when DC proclaimed "KIRBY IS HERE!" and gave him a small line of books to create, Darkseid wanted the Anti-Life Equation. It wasn't a death ray or some type of time travel machine. It wasn't even a weapon, if we're being perfectly honest here. It is, at best, a tool, a way for Darkseid to get what he wants. Kirby's heroes made sure that he didn't get it.

The Anti-Life Equation is defined by Metron, one of Kirby's characters and a wise man who wavers between good and evil, at least as we understand it, as "the outside control of all living thought." It's not just a mind control tool. It is the ultimate mind control tool. It is the knowledge necessary to destroy free will. It is forbidden knowledge.

If Darkseid gained control of the Anti-Life Equation, the results would be devastating. Free will would evaporate in the blink of an eye, and the beings who were left would have no will of their own. No will but Darkseid's. The Anti-Life Equation is about blind, unquestioning obedience. It's about following orders, and it's about "your wish is my command" being the only truth. No individuality, no arguments, no personality. No sentient thought. Just a series of automatons whose will has been submerged and replaced by Darkseid's.

The one thing that's rarely addressed in the comics since Kirby left, as near as I can tell, is the Life Equation. The Life Equation is simple. Highfather, leader of the New Gods, says that "[t]he right of choice is ours! That is the Life Equation!"

Simple, ain't it? But quite clever. Instead of doing a tired good vs evil story, a story that is as old as time, Kirby zig-zags. He sets up the dichotomy as freedom vs slavery. Freedom is depicted as messy and beautiful, while slavery is flat and empty, void of detail. While good vs evil conflicts tend to suffer the older you get and the more you realize that everyone's the good guy in their own story, slavery vs freedom is a simple debate.

Later depictions of Darkseid always tend toward the mustache-twirling supervillain, especially in his interactions with Superman. They've got nothing on the original portrayal, which featured Darkseid making small children cry by simply being near them, and unseen and numerous plots to corrupt individual people, instead of the entire world. Kirby ran through various aspects of American life, from evangelists to hippie culture, and examined it through the lens of freedom vs slavery.

I think it's pretty amazing, personally. There's something about re-defining evil as blind obedience that's tremendous. The specter of World War II, Adolf Hitler, and the Holocaust loom large over Kirby's work with the New Gods. Richard Nixon, too, influenced Kirby's new take on morality. It's easy to draw a line from the themes in Kirby's comics to the actions of Nazis during World War II. Darkseid's actions would turn everyone into an extension of his will, paving over everything even remotely resembling culture.

But it's the Life Equation that gets me the most. Kirby redefined good not as a moral issue, but one of freedom. The freedom to love, laugh, share, create, and more. There's the potential for harm, and many of the New Gods struggle with that potential, but just having that potential is vital. It needs to be there. Being able to choose to do wrong is greater than being forced to do good. Free will is everything. The Life Equation is everything beautiful, warts and all.

This is one character, from one series, who was searching for one thing, but Kirby loaded his comics with such a depth of craft and character that you can dig for ages before hitting bottom. Kirby's comics are deep, with plenty of fat to chew on. They weren't always fit for a superheroic narrative, either. No one gets to punch Darkseid and run a victory lap. If you beat Darkseid, you didn't do anything but delay him. He's going to find that Equation, and then you are going to be wiped out of existence.

You must constantly be vigilant against what Darkseid implicitly represents, which is mental and emotional bondage. That's good advice for life, too, isn't it? Think about what it means that the greatest hero of Kirby's New Gods era was Mister Miracle, an escape artist. Freedom over everything.

Jack Kirby was born Jacob Kurtzberg on August 28, 1917. He died on February 6, 1994. He would have been 95 this year. He began drawing comics sometime in 1936, which means he spent nearly sixty years drawing comics. He created or co-created characters like Darkseid, Captain America, the Fantastic Four, and Mister Miracle, and he left an indelible stamp on dozens more. Considering how much DC and Marvel both owe to Kirby, whether from utilizing characters that he created or co-created in everything from comics to movies to underwear or from simply using the visual language of superheroes that he relentlessly pioneered, it's more than fair to say that Kirby is one of the greatest and most influential artists out there. In fact, that's an understatement.

To not know his work, to actively ignore what he brought to the medium, is a mistake. Study Kirby. He's a legend for a reason. His storytelling, action scenes, plotting, and more are all more than worthy of your attention. Take a look around his catalog and I bet you'll find something to love.

Jack Kirby's granddaughter Jillian is spearheading the Kirby4Heroes initiative, and encouraging fans who have been touched by his work to donate to the Hero Initiative in Jack Kirby's name. The Hero Initiative provides financial support to comics creators in need, helping them to do everything from get well when they're sick and not covered by insurance or make sure that they have a home to go back to when times are tough. Comics is built on the shoulders of giants, but comics, as an industry, has not been great at supporting those heroes during their life. The Hero Initiative is an attempt to do better. It's an important charity, and if you feel led to donate, make sure you put Kirby4Heroes in the special instructions field, so that the Hero Initiative knows exactly why you're donating.

Thanks for your work on Captain America & The Falcon and the New Gods, Jack. Happy birthday.

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Jerry Nelson, Muppeteer – 1934-2012

Jerry Nelson, Muppeteer – 1934-2012 | Animation News |

It is being reported that Jerry Nelson has passed away, aged 78.

Starting in 1965, Jerry Nelson was a Muppeteer. His first role was as Rowlf the dog’s right hand, filling in while Frank Oz had some time away. Nelson was right there, with Jim Henson, the two of them playing the piano in sympatico. What a great endorsement to get his career going.

But that was just the beginning.

Amongst Nelson’s most famous characters are Count von Count, Emmett Otter, Floyd Pepper, Kermit’s nephew Robin, Marjory the Trash Heap and Gobo Fraggle.

And I love them all. And I know that they’ll live on. And I know that they’ll somehow keep Jerry with us, in a way.

For the character’s first seven years, Nelson performed as Mr. Snuffleupagus, but in 1978, had to step aside over problems with back pain. It’s now been over a decade since Nelson started to phase out the rest of his Muppet performances, due to ongoing and varied health issues.

He continued performing as Floyd Pepper until 2005, and went on to provide the voice for Count Von Count, while Matt Vogel performed the gestures, right up until the character’s most recent recording sessions. There are still some of these new Count sketches to be aired.

While Nelson could not perform character roles in the new movie, he did contribute to last year’s The Muppets, reprising his role as the announcer for The Muppet Show during the big telethon sequence. It really could not, should not, have been any other way.

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Bleeding Cool’s Exclusive Look Into Disney’s Pioneering New Film, Paperman | Bleeding Cool Comic Book, Movies and TV News and Rumors

Bleeding Cool’s Exclusive Look Into Disney’s Pioneering New Film, Paperman | Bleeding Cool Comic Book, Movies and TV News and Rumors | Animation News |

For a short film, Disney’s Paperman has generated an incredible amount of buzz. The excitement was building even before it had a confirmed release schedule, but now that we know that it’s going to roll out with Wreck It Ralph we can really start to get carried away.

Word originally started to spread from just from a handful of screenings, when almost everybody who had seen it was a member of Disney staff. This film had even the seen-it-all insiders talking.

There’s two good reasons why. The first is that the film uses some pioneering, dazzling animation techniques. The second is that, for all of this new tech and jaw-dropping imagery, what makes the biggest impact are still the characters and the story.

The film has played a few times now, and the buzz has only grown after each. Amongst these screenings, the film came to London as a special treat for the VFX society and it was there that I was lucky enough to see it, followed by director John Kahr‘s presentation on just how this cutting edge project came together.

Then, after the show, Kahrs was kind enough to spend a while answering my own particular questions.

So here’s what I learned about Paperman, starting with the most basic of basics.

To begin with, the characters in the film were modelled as the same kind of three-dimensional, virtual puppets used in the now ‘traditional CG’ film, as exemplified by Pixar or recent Disney.

Using these models, the scenes are blocked out and the first animation pass is done in the ‘normal’ fashion. So far, nothing has wandered too far from what you’ll have seen in your Toy Story behind-the-scenes supplements. But then we get to the special twist.

Because now there’s an overlay done, wherein an animator gets to draw with the electronic equivalent of a pen, and directly onto their screen. They create a 2D animation drawing ‘on the top’ of the 3D ‘puppet’ and then the software ties these two things together.

The 2D illustration, which can use all of the techniques, and therefore have all of the charm, of the old-school hand drawn look, is wed to the underlying 3D model and its animation rig.

The end result of this new technique is incredibly fresh looking. It would be reasonable to argue that this new “best of both worlds” approach is the biggest CG breakthrough since Pixar first started making movies.

The new piece of software, given the misleadingly casual name of Meander, is an exciting new box of tricks that can open up all sorts of new, exciting worlds for CG toons. We’re only getting started with the beautiful, black and white city of Paperman.

The film has a story that’s all the sweeter for its simplicity. George and Meg lock eyes for the first time on a train platform, but the daily commute means their meet-cute is over almost as suddenly as it began. Later that day George is amazed to realise that Meg works in the office across the street. Sadly, she doesn’t notice him. With only a stack of paper, and under the watchful eye of his boss, he hatches a plan to try and get her attention.

Disney’s last, and very different, approach to blending 2D know-how with CG was seen in Tangled, thanks in no small part to the ambitions of that film’s animation director Glen Keane. After I saw Keane make a few appearances in Kahrs’ Paperman behind-the-scenes slideshow, I wanted to know the extent of his involvement in the short.

Kahrs told me:

Glen was really into trying something new and pushing for something that’s new and cool. He’s always up for something like that. He’s exceptional at design and translating discussion of character into drawing and then taking those drawings and translating them into sculpture and then translating that into animation. That difficult transition between drawing and CG, he’s really good at that.

He was involved very much in the beginning, but I think that as we got going, the responsibilities shifted around quite a bit. I guess he moved off to other stuff.

And indeed, Keane has now moved on from Disney to work on his own projects. But Paperman is a remarkable final addition to his legacy at the studio. You’ll see his hallmarks in the character designs, which he worked up alongside fellow designer Jin Kim.

Kahrs told me:

I let the character designer Shiyoon Kim and, to a large extent Glen, help tremendously in defining the design of Meg. The way Shiyoon and Glen articulated their ideas is amazing. Glen, for example, would say ⊃3;Well, the upper lip is too long, you need to shorten it⊃2; and Bam! He arrived at that in two seconds. He assessed what was wrong, and what the change should be and then he draws what the change should be.

And Shiyoon, he’s much younger but a blistering talent. He’s always drawing from a million different sources but some of it just comes totally from the gut.

I wanted the character to feel like he wasn’t too plain, so that when she saw George again she’d say “Oh there’s that guy again. I remember him, he’s cute” but he also had to be kind of endearing, and humble.

She had to be beautiful, but not so beautiful that she’d seem unattainable. They had to seem to be at a peer level, like a couple that were made for each other, and that they’d have a long life together. That’s just a matter of balance. There’s a slight nerdy geekiness in her, just a touch of it, in the way she moves and acts, and in him, his lanky design and his self-defeating way.

One word you’ll often hear in animation circles is “appeal” and the characters in Paperman definitely have it. It’s a visual characteristic that Disney and Pixar have mastered. But what is it exactly ? I asked Kahrs to try and pin it down for me.

I don’t think you can talk about appeal very easily because it’s one of those “You know it when you
see it” type things.

So, I guess we should take a look at George and Meg so you can know it now you see it.

There. Appeal.

Paperman certainly has a wonderful look, but I asked Kahrs why he wanted this style. Could he not have told this story with the same CG techniques we know from, say, Up or Finding Nemo?

A lot of the time, we make these movies because they’re things we think would be cool. We make the movies that we want to see.

I think, for me, there’s a sense that, we’re in a golden age of CG right now, there’s a great push to get better storytelling, better imaging, better art direction and better animation, better design work, and it’s all happening. This wave has been going on for the last ten or fifteen years now and I’ve been riding on that wave and I’ve loved it, it’s been a fascinating
journey, but I have to believe that kind of stylised photorealism isn’t the only way that animation can be, that there’s a way of celebrating that line, the primal energy of the hand drawn line.

Of celebrating the way that a mark can create emotion, the way that drawings can communicate emotion, it’s a wonderful
thing. Also, in terms of 2D, I think it’s okay to push that medium too, to do something new and fresh with that as well. I had this silly idea that you could have drawings and CG smushed together, lots of silly ideas about what would happen technologically. Ultimately, the solution was something I didn’t expect.

I wanted the film to live on a knife edge where the audience is confused as to whether it’s 2D or 3D, and yet totally accept it at the same time. I was wondering if we achieve that.

This blend of looks is only possible because of the blend of techniques. I asked Kahrs to explain specifically the pieces of technology they used, allowing them to input hand drawn lines as computer information, right into a set of CG data.

What we’re working on is a Cintiq and for us, it’s the best you can get. It can pay attention to pressure and pen angle, though we would leave that option turned off most of the time.

A menu offers us different line textures. Do we want that sleek sinuous line that gets thick and thin like a calligraphy line? Or a more brushy, thick stroke that we’d use to roughen up the transition between light and dark? There’s a small arsenal of textures and tones.

I think a lot of artists would argue that you should always have a connection to pen and paper. First of all, you have it as a unique thing. There’s something special in that you’ve just made a drawing and you can hold it and give it to someone and it’s the only one. You can scan it, but there’s a true original. I know there’s a romance still to that idea, for me.

Watercolour, for instance. The way watercolour works and the artistry and nuance you can get from people who are really good at watercolour, no one digitally is even coming close to what’s possible with the real watercolour. I have no idea why we’d even want to solve that problem because it’s still just so nice to have the original watercolours.”

But as special as the look and technology of Paperman might be, they exist simply in the service of the same, crucial thing: that love story.

Kahrs says:

I think a lot of these things blossom out of the story in a natural way of pushing the characters to the limits and these visual ideas tend to come on their own terms, to serve the story.

And, yes, film – some would say particularly animation – is a visual medium, but the sounds of Paperman are crucial to the storytelling too. I asked Kahrs about the music and sound effects, starting with the all-important sounds of George’s paper.

Some of it is sandpaper, which I was totally surprised by. The sound work was done by Laurent Kossayan who did the sound for Amelie. We went to his studio and he had this bag full of paper planes, wrappers from party city and just a million different things. Things that made little wispy sounds, things that made heavier sounds. And he had all of these different weights of sand paper, because they have a little more resonance and depth.

I never thought Paperman would be like a Fantasia short where the music is driving it absolutely from beginning to end but there is a moment where the music is really driving the film and we pulled all of the sound way back and it really became secondary. You feel the driving emotion of the music and it carries you right up towards the end and past the end.”

The score by Christophe Beck has certainly got that Whistle Test factor. It’s something you could whistle on your way home. Don’t ask me to hum it, but I can still conjure it up in my imagination now.

Both this technique and the Meander software are just starting out. It’s been rumoured that Disney veterans, and directors of the Little Mermaid and The Princess and the Frog, John Musker and Ron Clements are interested in exploring this new approach for their upcoming feature film.

I asked Kahrs about the future of this new “third way”.

There are a lot of different looks still possible with this technique that haven’t even been touched upon. I’d love to see other artists and other directors take it off in a new direction.

What we thought we were doing at first was just using this technique to put the line work in, but a lot of what we were doing was paint decisions of tone and colour. You could push that idea even further, towards a moving painting.

Indeed, it seems like animators could push off towards just about any 2D look you can imagine. Paperman itself could have looked like just about any painting or drawing or art style you can name, had Kahrs and co. decided. It’s just so that they chose a story and characters that benefited best from this beautiful, 50s-tinged look.

A nice juxtaposition to the shiny, digital world of Wreck-It Ralph. They’ll make a great partnership.

Look for Ralph and Paperman in US cinemas this November, and in the UK next February.

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Finding Nemo 2 Nets Ellen DeGeneres First Of All

Finding Nemo 2 Nets Ellen DeGeneres First Of All | Animation News |

The first indication we have of any kind of plot or story premise for Andrew Stanton and Pixar’s Finding Nemo sequel is a vague one: Dory the forgetful tang fish is coming back.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Ellen DeGeneres is currently negotiating her deal to reprise the role. Superb news, because she was really excellent the last time around.

It might seem safe to assume that the studio will also be chasing Albert Brooks for a little more Marlin, but Pixar have thrown curvier balls before now. We’ll have to wait and see if there’s space for Dad in this sequel.

And how about Alexander Gould coming back to play Nemo again? That’s not impossible, and chimes with the casting of John Morris as an adolescent Andy in Toy Story 3.

Victoria Strouse is said to be working on the script right now. Andrew Stanton… is putting on a more casual face. Overall, the film remains pretty mysterious.

With the release not expected before 2016 we’ll likely be waiting a good long while before we find out anything too detailed about the story plans. In the meantime, I’ll just remain hopelessly curious, and keep tying myself up in odd knots. For example: the lifespan of a clown fish is apparently between three and six years, so just when is this sequel going to be set? And how will that be reflected in what we see on screen?

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Fox Have Gotten Hold Of Dreamworks Animation | Bleeding Cool Comic Book, Movies and TV News and Rumors

Fox Have Gotten Hold Of Dreamworks Animation | Bleeding Cool Comic Book, Movies and TV News and Rumors | Animation News |

In 2006, Dreamworks Animation struck up a distribution deal with Paramount that gave the studio distribution rights to their titles until either the end of 2012 or they had released thirteen more pictures, whichever came first.

Recently, they’ve been looking to make the next deal, securing distribution for their pictures from next year on out. The LA Times reported in July that Sony could be picking up the rights:

"DreamWorks Animation has decided not to distribute its own films after its longtime deal with Paramount Pictures expires this fall, and it may strike a new pact with Sony Pictures, according to people close to the negotiations not authorized to speak publicly."

There was another, more subtle possibility:

"DreamWorks had been in discussions with 20th Century Fox, so that studio remains a possibility, said a person apprised of the former talks. One scenario being floated is that DreamWorks could cut a deal with Fox to handle the international release of its movies, while Sony would distribute them domestically."

But tonight, The New York Times’ movie biz reporter has struck out with a single tweet that reads:

Brooks Barnes@brooksbarnesNYT
"DreamWorks Animation moves to Fox"
20 Aug 12 

Just Fox, no Sony, and apparently ‘domestically’ and internationally. Or, if Barnes is not referring to the whole world, he’s at least referring to America. No New York Times reporter is going to be referring to non-US countries only and not include a qualifier to tell us this.

I expect Barnes will follow up with a full report later, but this is already an interesting development and not least because Fox have had their own animation studio on tap for years: Blue Sky, the creators of Ice Age and Rio.

So for example, Fox could find themselves having to position both Ice Age and Madagascar films in a way that benefits both of these sometime-competitive series. Far from impossible, of course, but a new blip for their scheduling and marketing teams to work around.

I’ll update when more details of the deal come through.

UPDATE: Variety are saying that it’s a five year deal, starting next year.

SECOND UPDATE: Barnes has filed his full report. Here’s the key bit.

Fox had been viewed as an unlikely partner for DreamWorks Animation because it already owns a successful animation studio called Blue Sky, the supplier of the Ice Age films and Rio. But animation has by far been the most consistent performer at the box office in recent years, and Fox executives say there is enough room in its release schedule for both Blue Sky and DreamWorks films. “It’s essentially found money,” said a Fox official.

A so-called “rent-a-studio” set-up would carry very little risk for Fox because DreamWorks Animation would shoulder production costs of about $150 million per movie.

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Clip From Pixar’s Toy Story Short, Partysaurus Rex | Bleeding Cool Comic Book, Movies and TV News and Rumors

Clip From Pixar’s Toy Story Short, Partysaurus Rex | Bleeding Cool Comic Book, Movies and TV News and Rumors | Animation News |

This was uploaded on YouTube earlier today and shared around Twitter by a few Pixar-heads. Before I could blog it, it was made private. Not sure why. I kept an eye on YouTube, however, and it soon reappeared.

Much like taking Avatar 2 underwater will open up the variety of Pandoran species we’ll meet, bath time in the Toy Story world introduces a wealth of new toys. Some vivid ones too.

The full Partysaurus Rex short will be playing with Finding Nemo when it’s re-released in 3D next month (in the US) and next year (in the UK).

Don’t fret too much though, my fellow Britons – we do have Brave in our cinemas right now and that’s a fine film.



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