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February 26 2014

‘Sir Billi’ Retitled ‘Guardian Of The Highlands’ for U.S. Distribution

"Sir Billi" is to Scotland what "Toy Story" is to the United States—the country's first CGI animated feature. It's being distributed to ho

February 25 2014

Richard Linklater Will Remake ‘Incredible Mr. Limpet’

Richard Linklater, currently nominated for an Oscar for "Before Midnight"'s screenplay, is making strides on the Warner Bros. remake of "Incredible Mr. Limpet," a project with which he has been involved since 2011.

February 23 2014

‘Ernest & Celestine’ and ‘Hoodwinked’ Directors Collaborate on French Pic ‘Yellowbird’

In an environment where The Nut Job can make $60 million at the U.S. box office, is it any surprise that American film companies are gung-ho about animated features? Deals for foreign animated films are being struck at an unprecedented rate, and budding Los Angeles-based distributor Wrekin Hill has joined the fray by acquiring the North American distribution rights to the CG animated film Yellowbird, which centers on a fearful orphaned bird’s journey of self-discovery from Europe to Africa. The film, acquired earlier this month by Wrekin Hill in a seven-figure deal at the European Film Market in Berlin, is currently wrapping production at the French studio TeamTO. It was originally titled Occho Kochoï, and later Gus, before settling on Yellowbird. Yellowbird has a fascinating pedigree. The film was designed by Benjamin Renner, a co-director on the Oscar-nominated Ernest and Celestine. Renner designed Yellowbird prior to directing Ernest & Celestine, while he was still a student at the French school La Poudrière. Yellowbird’s helmer is industry veteran Christian De Vita, a story artist on Frankenweenie and Fantastic Mr. Fox. The film originally had a second director, Dominique Monfery (director of Disney’s Destino), but it appears that Monfery is no longer involved. De Vita worked from a script by screenwriter Antoine Barraud, French ornithologist Guilhem Lesaffre, and Cory Edwards, the co-writer/co-director of Hoodwinked (2005). “We believe that Yellowbird will capture the imagination of children, teens and adults alike,” said Wrekin Hill president and CEO Chris Ball. “It is a beautifully written story about the power of self-discovery and community that will surely take audiences on an incredible emotional journey with its characters. With films like Frozen and The Nut Job showing strength at the U.S. box office, it is clear that there is a real hunger for satisfying family entertainment.” The American dub of Yellowbird will feature the voices of Seth Green, Dakota Fanning, Danny Glover, Jim Rash and Christine Baranski. It is currently scheduled for U.S. release in fall 2014.

February 22 2014

‘Space Jam’ Sequel is In The Works

Is Warner Bros. preparing to make "Space Jam 2" with NBA superstar LeBron James?

February 21 2014

‘The Wind Rises’ Opens in Limited Release Today

Oscar-nominated "The Wind Rises," Hayao Miyazaki's last feature film (until he makes another one), opens in limited release today.

February 15 2014

“Angry Birds” Feature Will Be Produced at Sony Imageworks Vancouver

The "Angry Birds" feature film that was announced last October will be animated at Sony Pictures Imageworks in Vancouver, Canada.

First Image and Synopsis from Michael Dudok de Wit’s “The Red Turtle”

A synopsis and the first piece of artwork has emerged from "The Red Turtle," the feature directorial debut of celebrated Dutch animator Michael Dudok de Wit ("The Monk and the Fish" and the Oscar-winning "Father and Daughter").

Hand-Drawn Feature “Aunt Hilda!” Has Opened in France

2014 is shaping up to be one of the strongest years for quirky and original animated features. True, there's the usual spate of sequels—"Rio 2," "How to Train Your Dragon 2" and "Planes: Fire and Rescue"—but looking beyond those films, there are some genuinely fresh ideas on the horizon, most notably Laika's "The Boxtrolls," Reel FX's "Book of Life," and Cartoon Saloon's "Song of the Sea."

February 14 2014

South Korea’s Dystopic Pooping Film “Aachi & Ssipak” Is Available in English

It took seven years, but the bonkers South Korean animated feature "Aachi & Ssipak" has finally been made available for American audiences.

“Lisa Limone and Maroc Orange: A Rapid Love Story,” A Unique Estonian Feature

"Lisa Limone and Maroc Orange: A Rapid Love Story" is a 72-minute stop motion opera directed by Mait Laas.

February 11 2014

Tomm Moore’s “Song of the Sea” Will Get U.S. Distribution

Distributor GKIDS announced this morning that they have acquired North American distribution rights to Cartoon Saloon's highly anticipated hand-drawn pic "Song of the Sea."

February 07 2014

“Ernest & Celestine” English Dub Trailer

It's been almost two years since we first wrote about "Ernest & Celestine" on Cartoon Brew, and the wait is almost over.

February 05 2014

Let’s Talk About the Animation in “The Lego Movie”

Attempting to predict box office results is a fool’s errand, but it’s safe to say at this point that The Lego Movie, which opens this Friday in the U.S., will be a big hit. And I mean, huge. The box office will be much bigger than I imagine most industry observers are anticipating. Its distributor Warner Bros. knows they’ve got a hit of some sort on their hands, so much so that they’re already started laying the groundwork for a sequel. The studio has released loads of clips ahead of the film’s release, perhaps to make clear that this is not standard-fare family CGI. The film’s humor skews older than the typical PG animated movie, and I expect it will attract neglected teen audiences who have aged out of the stream of tonally indistinguishable CG pics pumped out by other studios. The quirky visual approach to such unquirky material as Legos can be attributed to the film’s directing duo, Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who have carved out a unique niche in Hollywood without being identified for any single project. Unlike animation creators like South Park’s Trey Park and Matt Stone, or the ubiquitous Seth MacFarlane, Lord and Miller aren’t known for any particular style. In fact, their two most significant animated projects prior to The Lego Movie could not be more different: the Teletoon/MTV series Clone High and Sony Picture Animation’s Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. In between those, they’ve also worked as writers and exec producers on the TV series How I Met Your Mother and directed the successful live-action feature-based-on-the-TV-series 21 Jump Street. The Lego Movie may be the clearest expression yet of Lord and Miller’s stil-evolving voice as animation filmmakers. Celebrity voices, franchise cross-overs, rapid-fire jokes, and Legos-this film has it all, but what has been lost in the discussion is the film’s exuberantly original animation style. Many films have attempted to break the Pixar-by-way-of-Disney animation mold by suggesting a more stylized approach to animated movement, among them the Madagascar series, Wreck-It Ralph, and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. Lego Movie pushes further than any of those films with a consistently inventive style of movement (the key word being consistent). The clip below shows what I’m talking about. I especially love the workout scene with its staccato movements that are accented with held poses. The acting is funny and goofy because of the way it moves, which is something that almost never happens in feature animation nowadays. Even though the film was computer animated, the filmmakers treated the articulation of characters as if they were actual plastic Lego pieces. “Those kinds of limitations are fun,” Miller told Film Journal International, “because you’ve got to find creative ways to solve them—like, there’s only seven points of articulation on a mini-figure, so how do you choreograph a fight sequence with a character who can’t wind up to punch someone? We were really inspired by a lot of the short films that people make in their basements and post online where they come up with such clever solutions to those limitations.” Limiting the articulation of characters had the counterintuitive effect of opening up new creative possibilities. It allowed for an animation style—naive, imperfect—that aspires to the charm of stop motion animation more than the mechanical flawlessness of CG. Not surprisingly then, the film’s animation director, Chris McKay, is a veteran stop motion director of the TV series Robot Chicken and Moral Orel. He was the director stationed alongside the animators at the Australian animation studio Animal Logic (which also produced the animation for Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole and the Happy Feet movies). From what I’ve been able to discover about the film, McKay played an important in following through on Lord and Miller’s concept and maintaining the film’s stylized approach to animation. Lord, Miller, and McKay deserve massive credit for conceiving an original, expressive vision for computer animation, and more importantly, managing to push it through the conservative studio system. Yes, they had the benefit of working with a unique source material—Legos—but it’s easy to imagine the animation in this film going in any number of less interesting directions. Other studios will try to dissect the successful elements of The Lego Movie, things like its toy-based origins, off-beat voice casting, and cross-branding. Hopefully they won’t overlook one of the major components that distinguishes this film from the pack: its funny and unconventional approach to animation.

January 31 2014

Trailer: Seth MacFarlane Directs, Co-Writes and Stars in “A Million Ways To Die in the West”

The last time that animation artists starred in a major live-action film was 1998′s BASEketball with South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. The film flopped. Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane hopes to avoid that fate with the raunchy Western comedy A Million Ways To Die in the West, which he directed, co-wrote (with Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild) and stars as leading man. The cast also includes Charlize Theron, Liam Neeson, Amanda Seyfried, Neil Patrick Harris, Sarah Silverman, and Giovanni Ribisi. MacFarlane’s live-action smash Ted proved that he can deliver a hit in this format, but that film had the benefit of featuring MacFarlane as an animated teddy bear. His limitations as an in-the-flesh actor are much more readily apparent in this trailer. Universal will release the film on May 30th in the United States.

January 23 2014

“The Nut Job” Is Getting a Sequel

"The Nut Job 2" has been set for release on January 15, 2016,

“Paperman” Director John Kahrs Joins Paramount to Direct “Shedd”

John Kahrs, who left Disney abruptly after winning the Oscar for "Paperman," has landed at Paramount's new animation group.

January 20 2014

10 Animated Sexploitation Features from the Sixties and Seventies (NSFW)

For a brief decade-long period in animation history, between the late-1960s and late-1970s, feature animation filmmakers cast aside their inhibitions and created films that aimed to titillate and shock audiences with the novelty of sexual cartoon imagery.

Two Indie Walt Disney Biopics Due in 2014

Did Tom Hanks’ performance as Walt Disney in Saving Mr. Banks wet your whistle for another depiction of Mr. Disney on the big screen? Then 2014 just might be your year, because two independent biopics are scheduled to be released later this year.

January 17 2014

January 08 2014

The Ultimate Guide to Animated Mockbusters

Disney's recent trademark lawsuit against Phase 4 Films and their movie "Frozen Land" has reignited discussion about 'mockbusters,' the portmanteau used to describe a genre of home video that is dedicated to tricking customers into mistakenly purchasing a low-budget imitation of a popular movie.
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