January 03, 2015
        A January Oscar Predictions Update                American Cinema Editors (ACE) Announces Nominees                2015 releases to look forward to                The best films and performances of 2014                A look at the second spot in each of the main Oscar categories                The late breaking major Oscar contenders of 2014                Golden Globe post nomination predictions for December                Cinematic gifts from 2014                Spotlight on the Stars: Bradley Cooper                Which film will lead the nomination totals for Oscar this year?                A look at some potential first time Academy Award nominees this year                A Mid-December Oscar Predictions Update                Oscars: 9 Foreign Language Films Advance in Oscar® Race                Audiences are missing out on a funny film in Seth Rogen's "The Interview"                Spotlight on the Stars: Christian Bale        

Tag Archives: animation

The Dark Knight Rises comments thread…

HollywoodNews.com: So it’s midnight on the West Coast, which means the first midnight showings are just letting out on the East Coast. Okay, you know the drill. Here’s hoping I have more comments here than I did for The Amazing Spider-Man.
Anyway, I’m actually going to be away from my keyboard for a couple days, but I’ll *try* to do a weekend box office write-up on Sunday morning. Until then, it’s officially open season for anyone who saw the third and final Chris Nolan Batman film. You’ve heard my thoughts, now time to share yours, in as much detail as you desire.
To comment about TDN go to MENDELSON’S MEMOS

“Brave” Hits Bullseye With $66.7 Million

HollywoodNews.com: Another year, another $60-$70 million Pixar opening weekend. Brave (review) is their thirteenth release, as well as their thirteenth number-one debut and their eighth film to open between $60 and $70 million since 2001. Brave, which attracted headlines due to the fact that it was Pixar’s first film with a female lead (and a female director until Brenda Chapman was replaced by Mark Andrews), opened with an estimated $66.7 million this weekend, putting it (for now) just above Cars 2’s $66.1 million debut and a bit below Up’s $68.1 million opening as the fifth-best debut in Pixar history.
Brave pulled in $24.5 million on Friday, which gives the film a 2.71x weekend multiplier, which is actually pretty low by Pixar standards. Still, it’s close enough to the 2.73x multiplier for Wall-E ($23m/$63m), the 2.68x weekend multiplier for Toy Story 3 ($41m/$110m), and the 2.64x weekend multiplier for Cars 2 ($25m/$66m) to avoid any alarm. Movies, even most animated ones, are just a bit more front-loaded these days and Pixar films tend to play like sequels in a popular franchise than stand-alone entries. In terms of total box office, there is always the chance that Brave could play like Cars 2, which (comparatively) flamed out with just 2.8x weekend-to-total multiplier ($191 million domestic) and end up below $200 million.
To read more go to Mendelson’s Memos
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Brave is an artistically superior picture

HollywoodNews.com: Beset by production troubles and changing schedules, Brave enters theaters as a fable without an author. I don’t know what happened behind-the-scenes with original director Brenda Chapman nor do I know what replacement director Mark Andrews added to and removed from the final product. But Brave is an almost irrelevant entry in the Pixar cannon. While it is visually scrumptious (in 2D, natch) and boasts a terrific lead vocal performance by Kelly MacDonald, the overall story is both painfully slight and lacking any deeper meaning beyond surface-level morals. While it is technically a superior film to Cars 2, that film was arguably a ‘one for me’ project with Pixar founder John Lasseter indulging his love of the Cars universe and his love of old-school spy pictures.
Brave is an artistically superior picture that is still pales in comparison to both the better efforts from both Pixar itself and the various animation rivals (Blue Sky, Dreamworks, Illumination, etc.) nipping at its heels.
To read more go to Mendelson’s Memos
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Woody Allen in Los Angeles without love

HollywoodNews.com: Our LEAH SYDNEY caught up with the legendary Woody Allen last night at the opening of the Los Angeles Film Festival. Woody and his cast premiered “To Rome with Love,” which opens on June 22nd.
LS-How do you feel about the rough and toughness of this business?
Woody- “I’m immune to it. I’m immune to when my films don’t do well I never really care, and when they do well I don’t care. I’ve kept myself out of that. I don’t have highs or lows. I just like to make the films and move on to the next film. This one is opening and I’m already deeply involved in my next film. I’ve moved on to the next film, this film is history to me. “Midnight in Paris” is ancient history. So when they do well that’s great and if they don’t, well there’s nothing I can do about it. That’s not why I’m in the business.
LS-How much of your next film will be shot in New York?
Woody- “A little bit, the rest in San Francisco. “
LS-You know you’re obviously loved in New York and now as much in Los Angeles.
Woody- “I like that both coasts love me. Now if we can just get the middle of the country, I’m home free.”
At the Q&A following the screening. Woody told the crowd:
“I had a wonderful time making it, living in Italy, eating pasta and working with beautiful actresses and scintillating men. If you do like it however, pressure Sony so they don’t put it in the witness protection program. So if you like the picture I’m thrilled, if you hate it and think it was a waste of time, don’t let me know because I get depressed easily.”
LAFF Festival Director Stephanie Allain told Leah about ‘the wow factor’ in getting Woody to come to LA.
“Kicking off the festival with Woody Allen couldn’t be cooler and bringing Woody to LA is a dream. I feel like we did it. Now we have ten more days of amazing movies, conversations, and music. I’m thrilled that the LAFF is getting the recognition that it should.”
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Read also: http://www.showbiz411.com/2012/06/14/penelope-cruz-robert-benigni-make-woody-allens-rome-movie
To read more go to SHOWBIZ411.cOM

Dreamworks Animation: Quality and Variety

HollywoodNews.com: As the initial reviews for Pixar’s Brave roll in (again, I’m waiting till opening day to take the kid), it’s clear that the film is both pretty solid and somewhat disappointing considering the uber-high standards that Pixar has set for itself. I personally think it’s almost dangerous to go into a Pixar film expecting each one to be as good as Up, but I digress. One of the running themes of said reviews is that the film is merely ‘Dreamworks good’.
If you think that’s supposed to be an insult, it is. The meme for the last decade or so is that Dreamworks is not just inferior to Pixar (probably true over all), but a genuinely mediocre producer of mass-market animated films that constantly engages in some of the worst practices of mainstream animation. But as we examine the last fourteen years of Dreamworks Animation, it becomes clear that their reputation is somewhat unfair, akin to judging Pixar based on Cars.
Dreamworks Animation may not have the sheer number of masterpieces as Pixar, but their 24 animated features (double Pixar’s output) show a remarkable range of both quality and variety. They truly are more than just the worst parts of Shrek the Third and the best parts of How to Train Your Dragon.
To read more go to Mendelson’s Memos
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Walt Disney Studios Unveils Epic Adventure “Frozen”

HollywoodNews.com: Walt Disney Animation Studios presents an epic tale of adventure and comedy in “Frozen,” a computer-animated feature film slated for the big screen in November 2013. Directed by Chris Buck (“Tarzan,” “Surf’s Up”) and produced by Peter Del Vecho (“Winnie the Pooh,” “The Princess and the Frog”), “Frozen” features the vocal talents of film/TV/stage star Kristen Bell as Anna, a young dreamer about to take the adventure of a lifetime, and Tony Award ®-winning actress Idina Menzel as Elsa the Snow Queen. The movie will feature original songs by Broadway greats Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez.
In “Frozen,” a prophecy traps a kingdom in eternal winter, so Anna (voice of Bell) must team up with Kristoff, a daring mountain man, on the grandest of journeys to find the Snow Queen (voice of Menzel) and put an end to the icy spell. Encountering Everest-like extremes, mystical creatures and magic at every turn, Anna and Kristoff battle the elements in a race to save the kingdom from destruction.
Bell has starred in a variety of films, including the comedies “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” and “Couples Retreat,” and the upcoming films “Hit & Run,” “Some Girls” and the Farrelly Brothers’ “Movie 43.” On the small screen, Bell is currently starring in the Showtime series “House of Lies” alongside Don Cheadle; she has also starred in “Heroes” and “Veronica Mars.” Broadway credits include “The Crucible” and “Tom Sawyer.”
Menzel, who won a Tony Award® as Best Actress in a Musical for her role as Elphaba in Broadway’s “Wicked” (2004), landed her first role on Broadway in 1995 in the Tony Award-winning musical “Rent.” Film credits include “Enchanted” and the feature film “Rent.” She has appeared in a recurring role on TV’s “Glee” and recently released “Idina Menzel Live: Barefoot at the Symphony,” a live concert with an orchestra led by composer/conductor Marvin Hamlisch. Menzel is currently on a North American concert tour.
Robert Lopez is a three-time Tony Award®-winning writer of the Tony and Grammy® Award-winning musical “The Book of Mormon,” which was co-written with Trey Parker and Matt Stone (“South Park”), and the musical “Avenue Q,” which ran for six years on Broadway and four years in London’s West End. Lopez teamed with wife Anderson-Lopez, whose Drama Desk-winning show “In Transit” is Broadway-bound, to write original songs for 2011’s “Winnie the Pooh,” a stage version of “Finding Nemo” and a new musical called “Up Here.”
Photo Courtesy […]

Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted – Mostly clever all-ages fun

HollywoodNews.com: Madagascar 3 is so substance-free that one almost feels the need to apologize for enjoying. It tells a story that is almost thinner than the first film and certainly less introspective than the second film’s family drama. And it rivals Back to the Future II for an almost complete lack of overt ‘drama’.
But it *is* completely enjoyable and again proves that the technical side of Dreamworks Animation doesn’t do anything half-assed. It is a visually splendid adventure that continues the franchise’s refreshingly small-scale storytelling. Come what may, the Madagascar series exists as a definitive ‘western’ animated series with a specifically Jewish sensibility. Once again the primary conflict is ‘untamed wilderness versus civilization’ while the primary character arcs involve our heroes dealing with their own neuroses. Yes there is an outside threat, but the primary battle once again lies within.
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“Rise of the Guardians” new trailer

By Scott Mendelson
HollywoodNews.com: It’s no secret that Dreamworks films often turn out to be far more complicated than their marketing campaigns might imply. For example, Megamind’s marketing didn’t even hint at the jaw-dropping plot twist in the first twenty minutes, nor did it detail any of the major narrative turns in the third act or the ‘must there be evil to co-exist with good?’ subtext that made the movie more than just a gimmick. And Kung Fu Panda 2’s marketing sold easy-going comedy and stress-free action without hinting at the emotionally draining story at its core while Puss In Boots sold bawdy gags instead of trippy fairy-tale adventure.

So when I say this preview looks painfully generic, take it with a grain of salt. But judging just what’s on display, it’s a little disheartening to see a fascinating idea (a look into the lives of the various holiday-themed creatures of our modern American mythology) and use them purely as a springboard for a conventional action picture (uh-oh, Santa Clause, Tooth Fairy, and the gang have to stop a random villain!).
Again, I’m hoping there is more to the story, even while I’ll try to avoid as much spoiler information as possible. It’s no secret I hold Dreamworks Animation in very high regard, so I can only presume that they have something more up their sleave. Rise of the Guardians opens on November 21st, which is a new release date (Thanksgiving weekend) for a Dreamworks cartoon. As always, we’ll see…
To read more go to Mendelson’s Memo
Photos by Dreamworks
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John Carter’s Director Andrew Stanton Talks

HollywoodNews.com: Newly released talk from JOHN CARTER Director Andrew Stanton discussing his life in story last week in Long Beach, CA.
Andrew Stanton is the writer behind the three hugely successful Pixar Toy Story movies as well as the writer and director of WALL-E, the opening sequence of which will go down in, well, my personal history as being one of the most beautiful animation pieces of all time. His new live action movie, John Carter, comes out in March. He takes to the TED2012 stage and starts with a bang: telling a long-winded, accent-strewn, expletive-filled joke that promptly sets the crowd on fire. Storytelling, you see, is joke-telling. And now he continues to challenge himself to see if he can accord his own greatest storytelling commandment–”make me care”–by telling us his own life story … backwards.
“And that’s what ultimately led me to talking about story here at TED.” Two big laughs in a row; Stanton really is a comedian, as well as everything else!
So the story, naturally, starts with John Carter, based on a novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs, of which Burroughs is the narrator. “The book is fundamentally making a promise; this story will lead somewhere worth time,” he says. “A well told promise is like a pebble being pulled back in a slingshot that propels you through the story to the end.”
2008
After showing us a clip from Wall-E, Stanton says he used everything he had, wanting to experiment with the idea that storytelling without dialogue was the purest form of cinematic storytelling. That led to another realization: “We all want to work for our meal when we watch a movie; we just don’t want to know that we’re doing it.”
2002
When Stanton worked with Bob Peterson on Finding Nemo, their unifying theory was 2+2. The twist; to make the audience put things together. “Don’t give them 4. Give them 2+2.” No, it’s not an exact science. Stories, he says, are not a widget. “Stories are inevitable if they’re good but they’re not predictable.”
2001
Stanton took an acting seminar with Judith Weston and learned that all well-drawn characters have a spine. ”They have a dominant unconcsious goal that they’re striving for, an itch they can never scratch.” This was a huge moment for Stanton, who took this on as a dominant theme for his own storytelling.
1998
Hooked on storytelling, he read everything he could, and found the phrase by William Archer: “Drama […]

DreamWorks Animation Hook-Up with Investment Groups in China

HollywoodNews.com: DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc. today announced that it has agreed to form a joint venture with China Media Capital (CMC), with plans to include Shanghai Media Group (SMG) and Shanghai Alliance Investment, Ltd. (SAIL), to establish the leading China-focused family entertainment company.
Oriental DreamWorks will engage in the development and production of high-quality original Chinese animated and live action content for distribution both within China and to other territories around the globe. In addition to content creation, the joint venture will pursue business opportunities in the areas of live entertainment, theme parks, mobile, online, interactive games and consumer products.
“We are incredibly proud to establish Oriental DreamWorks alongside CMC, SMG and SAIL in this groundbreaking and historic alliance to create the leading Chinese-branded family entertainment company,” said DreamWorks Animation’s Chief Executive Officer, Jeffrey Katzenberg. “Together with our partners in China, we look forward to building a first-of-its-kind enterprise to locally conceive, produce and distribute high-quality creative content and family entertainment experiences – not only for the people of China but also for related export markets.”
“We share the same vision with DreamWorks Animation to build a world-class family entertainment company,” commented Ruigang Li, Chairman of China Media Capital. “By combining the expertise of CMC in investment and operation, SMG in media and entertainment management, SAIL in high-tech R&D, as well as DreamWorks Animation in creative processes, innovative technology and global network capabilities, Oriental DreamWorks will be in a unique position to create high-quality content and interactive entertainment products for China and international markets.”
The Chinese companies will hold a majority stake of approximately 55% in Oriental DreamWorks and DreamWorks Animation will hold approximately 45%. The enterprise will initially be capitalized with cash and intellectual property valued at $330 million. The joint venture plans to launch business operations in Shanghai later this year.
DreamWorks Animation has enjoyed a great track record of success at the box office in China, led by its blockbuster Kung Fu Panda franchise. Kung Fu Panda was the #1 animated film upon its release into China in 2008 and last year, Kung Fu Panda 2 became the highest-grossing animated film of all time in the region, grossing approximately $100 million.
Photo by Dreamworks SKG
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