January 02, 2015

Tag Archives: Computer-animated films

“The Boxtrolls”: What’s Up with the 2015 Awards Race

Directed by: Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi
Written by: Irena Brignull and Adam Pava
Main Cast: Voices of Ben Kingsley, Isaac Hempstead-Wright, Jared Harris, Nick Frost, Elle Fanning, Simon Pegg, Toni Collette, and more…
Past Oscar relations: The studio has previously seen Coraline, Corpse Bride, and ParaNorman nominated for Best Animated Feature
Today we have another article in this ongoing series of mine concerning certain 2014 releases hoping to compete for some sort of actual Oscar attention as a contender at the upcoming 2015 ceremony. Next up for us here is the stop motion animated adventure The Boxtrolls, which hopes to be the latest bit of animation to appeal to the Academy. Can it actually do it in a year without Pixar? Let’s discuss that possibility a little bit below now…
This animated film is an adaptation of the novel “Here Be Monsters!” by Alan Snow and is directed by the duo of Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi. The screenplay is by Irena Brignull and Adam Pava, while the voice cast includes the likes of Ben Kingsley, Isaac Hempstead-Wright, Jared Harris, Nick Frost, Elle Fanning, Simon Pegg, Toni Collette, Richard Ayoade, and others. In a relatively open year for another Best Animated Feature contender, The Boxtrolls certainly stands out by being a stop motion player and also just by being unlike anything else in release this year.
What this flick has going in its favor is how fun and unique it is. It’s unusual and captivating for audiences of all ages. That counts for something, especially when it comes to the Animated field. As long as it’s not mindless chaos, voters can be easily swayed by liveliness. This is also just a very clever movie, so while it won’t really be in play for Best Adapted Screenplay, I would be surprised if it wasn’t nominated for Best Animated Feature, and possibly even Best Original Song (Eric Idle contributes a very catchy tune for the end credits). Wins are another story, but the Animated nod at least is looking good.
Working against The Boxtrolls is that, frankly…it’s very weird. I don’t mean that in a bad way, but it could complicate any noms turning into wins. Especially considering how The LEGO Movie was able to be pretty out there but still gain a massive audience, it’s possible that there could only be room for one odd feature to really contend for the Oscar. A more mainstream entry like […]

“The Lego Movie” : 2015 Best Animated Feature contenders

Today, for my weekly 2015 contender rundown, I’m moving on from the big eight categories and looking at one of the in between ones…the Best Animated Feature race.
Since there are far less contenders in this category, I’ll be doing things a little bit differently. Here now are the five particular animated films that I have cracking the unofficial lineup at this point in the year:
1. The Lego Movie – The apparent frontrunner in the category, it’s a huge hit, captured the zeitgeist for a time in the country, and is just an absolute delight. The only concern in my eyes is if it’s just a little too weird for older voters, but I don’t think that’ll be much of an issue at all. It transcends the animation genre, so it would be a perfect winner in this category. Right now, the heavy Best Animated Feature favorite is this one right here.
2. How to Train Your Dragon 2 – If theres another title besides the one in my number one slot that has a chance to upend the race, it’s this one. A high quality sequel, this should be in contention for a tech nod or two on top of this Animated Feature nom, so that could help push it over the top. It has stiff competition from its main opponent, but I’d say not to count this one out at all just yet. A nomination at the very least here is assured.
3. The Boxtrolls – The studio behind Coraline and ParaNorman continues their efforts in this category with another offbeat but likely affecting title. Based on a popular book, this is one of the dark horses that will make things interesting in Best Animated Feature. It’ll have a high bar to clear in order to win, though as long as it’s good, a nomination seems pretty likely.
4. Big Hero 6 – Much of what I just said above could apply here, except this is a Disney/Marvel effort, so if it’s high quality, the money will be there for a huge campaign. If so, it’ll be the other main challenger for the Oscar, though something tells me it might not win. Voters don’t seem to go for superheroes anywhere just yet, so even an animated type of superhero tale likely will be a tough sell. The nomination could end up being its reward, I think. I could be wrong though.
5. Book […]

“How to Train Your Dragon 2”: What’s Up with the Awards Race

Directed by: Dean DeBlois
Written by: Dean DeBlois
Main Cast: Voices of Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler, America Ferrera, Craig Ferguson, Jonah Hill, Djimon Hounsou, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, T.J. Miller, Kristen Wiig, and others
Past Oscar relations: The first film in the franchise was nominated for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Score
Here now we have a brand new article in this series of mine on 2015 contenders hoping to compete for some sort of Oscar attention at the upcoming 2015 ceremony. Next up for us is the sequel How to Train Your Dragon 2, which looks to please audiences as much as the first one did. From there, it’s potentially on to Oscar contention!
This is the second film in a now franchise, based on a highly popular series of books. How to Train Your Dragon 2 features a top notch voice cast, with folks such as Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler, America Ferrera, Craig Ferguson, Jonah Hill, Djimon Hounsou, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, T.J. Miller, Kristen Wiig, and many others lending their talents to the movie. All signs point to this being a big success and a likely player in the Best Animated Feature field. Can it go further though?
What this flick has going in its favor is highly positive reviews and a built in audience that tried to make the last one an awards contender. The early word says that this one is just as good, if not a bit better, than the first How to Train Your Dragon, which is no small achievement. This makes it more or less a surefire nominee in Best Animated Feature and perhaps even the frontrunner right now (give or take how The Lego Movie ages over the course of the rest of the season). Only halfway through the year, that’s a a pretty solid spot to be in.
Working against How to Train Your Dragon 2 is the fact that animation has had a tougher time of late. Since the sliding scale in Best Picture has been implemented, no cartoon has gotten into the major categories, so it’s possible that the time for that sort of a citation has come and gone. If Frozen couldn’t do it last year, one has to think that this year we won’t see anything from the animated category particularly break through. It’s not impossible, but I wouldn’t bet on it happening.
So, can this be a player at all? I’d say […]

Shanghai’s $2.4 billion “DreamCenter” to Open in 2017

In a sign of Hollywood’s expanding ties with China, DreamWorks Animation and Chinese partners Thursday unveiled their $2.4 billion “DreamCenter,” an entertainment complex in Shanghai that is set to open in 2017.
The complex will contain a 500-seat IMAX cinema with international film festivals and red carpet events in mind, bars, restaurants and performance venues, according to the companies.
A “Dream Avenue” theater district modeled on London’s West End and New York City’s Broadway will also be part of the complex, according to the Associated Press.
The 40-acre site includes eight outdoor events plazas.
The project is led by “Kung Fu Panda” and “Shrek” maker DreamWorks Animation, Chinese investment fund CMC Capital Partners, whose owners include state-owned companies, and Hong Kong developer Lan Kwai Fong, according to the AP.
“This will become the world’s third great urban center of entertainment and arts alongside New York’s Broadway and London’s West End,” DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg told a news conference, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

“The Croods” Leads Weekend Box Office

What a difference three years and an deflated expectations make. Three years ago this weekend, Dreamworks had to eat a token amount of crow when How To Train Your Dragon opened with *just* $43 million.
Coming off the $59 million debut of Monsters vs. Aliens a year prior and elevated expectations due to the “new-found” popularity of 3D, the film was written off initially as a slight disappointment with the hopes that strong reviews and word-of-mouth would keep it alive. Of course, the film had insane legs and eventually ended up with $217 million domestic, but that’s another story.
Now, coming off the somewhat disappointing Rise of the Guardians ($303 million worldwide), a series of company lay-offs, and the delaying and/or cancellation of a few projects (like Me and My Shadow), Dreamworks is now trying to sell the (estimated as of this writing) $44 million debut of The Croods as a comeback and/or a massive win for the company.
But not only is this not a comeback, but I would argue that Dreamworks doesn’t have anywhere to come back from and that the perception of their failing after a single disappointing film is indicative of the fall-out of our obsession with rise/fall narratives where they don’t belong.
To read more go to Mendelson’s Memos

‘Oz: The Great and Powerful’ wins the weekend box office with $80 million

I’ve said this before, but one of the problems with modern box office analysis is that it treats studio tracking numbers, which are supposed to be internal figures that can be used to adjust marketing in the run up to release, as ironclad box office predictions.
More often than not, pundits use tracking in a way that creates a preemptive doom-and-gloom scenario where a new release is painted as a box office turkey before it even opens *or* its used to give unrealistic expectations to a new release so that studios are then forced to defend what is actually a solid debut. Such is the case with Oz: The Great and Powerful (trailer/posters).
The $215 million Disney prequel debuted with a strong $80.3 million this weekend. Alas, due to rumblings and arbitrary presumptions that the film would open with as much as $100 million over the weekend, mostly due to the project’s token similarities with Alice In Wonderland, Disney may now be forced to defend what is easily the biggest opening of 2013 by more than double and the third-biggest March debut ever behind Alice In Wonderland ($116 million) and The Hunger Games ($153 million).
To read more go to Mendelson Memos
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‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ breezy action-packed trailer

The only spoiler bit is at around 1:02, where Captain Pike has some facial scars that I don’t recall him having at the end of the first Star Trek (he was of course seriously injured, but I don’t recall scarring).
Perhaps Pike gets those scars when Cumberbatch escapes from his glass prison at the halfway mark, because “He planned to get caught the whole time!”. Otherwise, this is a quick (78 seconds) and breezy action-packed trailer.
It’s nice that they aren’t focusing as much on Benedict Cumberbatch’s mystery villain (I have a theory on that, broached by a friend of mine and backed up by what we’ve seen thus far, but I’m not sharing in case I’m right) and also showing off that the film isn’t all gloom and misery this time around. The initial trailers tried to sell the film as a generic ‘dark sequel’ or The Dark Knight meets Skyfall meets Revenge of the Sith.
This new trailer plays in the Return of the Jedi/Tron sandbox with phasers set for swashbuckling adventure.

To read more go to Mendelson’s Memos
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Early IMAX release of Tom Cruise’s ‘Oblivion’ cancelled

Having rather loathed Tron: Legacy, I’ve had to work myself up in order to get excited about Joseph Kosinski’s Oblivion.
Yes, Tom Cruise usually makes sure that his big-scale pictures are a cut above and yes the film looks better with each trailer, but the biggest cause for hope was its release schedule. The film’s national release was set for April 19th, but the film was also going a full week early in IMAX only, giving paying audiences a week-long sneak preview in IMAX and other larger-screen formats. But alas, that promising move by Universal has been cancelled.
Chalk it up to Cruise wanting to do international press for the film’s overseas debut on the 12th and the film’s US debut on the 19th, chalk it up to Universal wanting an extra week of play for their 3D reissue of Jurassic Park on April 12th, but audiences will not be seeing Oblivion: The IMAX Experience one week early after all. Color me genuinely disappointed.

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My favorite film among those nominated is ‘Zero Dark Thirty’

Argo is not my favorite film of the year. It didn’t even make my best-of-2012 list. It had to settle for the Runner-Ups section along with fellow nominee/front-runner Lincoln, a choice that caused no end of consternation from my mother-in-law who considers both to among her favorite films of 2012.
My favorite film of 2012 is Cabin In the Woods, a film that had about as much of a chance of winning Best Picture this year as Kung Fu Panda 2 did last year. My favorite film among those nominated is Zero Dark Thirty, which went from front-runner to also-ran after Sony made the financial choice to not fight back against the frankly shameful ‘this film endorses torture!’ arguments until after the film’s wide release.
There are a few films that are nominated that I don’t care for (Les Miserables, Silver Linings Playbook), but I’d have to say that if we’re picking a Best Picture on a the basis of what film most positively represents the year that was 2012, Argo is the best and most logical choice.
To read more go to Mendelson’s Memos
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“Mr. Peabody & Sherman” new release date is March 7

DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc. (Nasdaq: DWA) today announced that, at the recommendation of its distributor, Twentieth Century Fox, it has decided to change the domestic theatrical release date for Mr. Peabody & Sherman to March 7, 2014. The film had previously been scheduled for release on November 1, 2013. Me & My Shadow, which had previously been scheduled for release in March of 2014, will now return to development at the studio.
“Our distributor, who has had great success in March with their Ice Age franchise, has recommended we move Mr. Peabody & Sherman to the spring of 2014, which we totally agree is a much more advantageous release window,” said Anne Globe, Chief Marketing Officer of DreamWorks Animation. “Mr. Peabody & Sherman is now the first of our three-picture lineup for next year.”
The Company’s feature film slate for 2013 and 2014 is now as follows: The Croods on March 22, 2013; Turbo on July 19, 2013; Mr. Peabody & Sherman on March 7, 2014; How To Train Your Dragon 2 on June 20, 2014 and Happy Smekday! on November 26, 2014.
“We believe the best strategy for DreamWorks Animation in the long run is to ensure that every one of our films has an optimal release date with the biggest opportunity to succeed at the box office,” added Jeffrey Katzenberg, Chief Executive Officer of DreamWorks Animation. “The move of Mr. Peabody & Sherman means that we will now release two films in 2013, and we are adjusting our operating infrastructure costs accordingly.”
About DreamWorks Animation
DreamWorks Animation creates high-quality entertainment, including CG animated feature films, television specials and series and live entertainment properties, meant for audiences around the world. The Company has world-class creative talent, a strong and experienced management team and advanced filmmaking technology and techniques. DreamWorks Animation has been named one of the “100 Best Companies to Work For” by FORTUNE®Magazinefor five consecutive years. In 2013, DreamWorks Animation ranks #12 on the list. All of DreamWorks Animation’s feature films are produced in 3D. The Company has theatrically released a total of 25 animated feature films, including the franchise properties of Shrek, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda, How to Train Your Dragon and Puss In Boots.
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