Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Munir's Disney Retrospective -- Animated Classic #4: Dumbo (1941)

By Munir Abedrabbo.

Last Week's: Munir's Disney Retrospective -- Animated Classic #3: Fantasia (1940)

After such ambitious and polished endeavours as Pinocchio and Fantasia failed to recoup their costs, Walt Disney needed something cheap and simple to make some money. Those elements are usually a recipe for disaster, but in this case, they turned out to be this film’s major assets. Dumbo does not offer such perfect animation as Pinocchio, nor such epic scope as Fantasia, but what it lacks in those departments it compensates for with tons of heart. At 63 minutes, it’s one of the studio’s shortest films, but everything is so perfectly told that there is not a scene wasted in the entire movie. The title character is one of the most endearing you’ve ever seen on-screen and the “Baby Mine” sequence will make your heart melt. As simple as it may seem, Dumbo has enchanted movie-goers for more than 70 years and will continue to do so with the story of the underdog that could. No small feat for such a little elephant. Rating: 5/5.

Next Week: Animated Classic #5 Review: Bambi

Watch: Acclaimed Disney Short Film, Paperman

It's Oscar nominated, it's Annie nominated and now you can watch it online - John Kahrs' acclaimed animated short film, Paperman, which was released alongside Disney's latest feature, Wreck-It Ralph is now on YouTube (embedded above).

Huffington Post's Jim Hill exclusively unveiled the short, and it's a great show of faith by Disney in its fans to release the short in its entirety. Of course, more exposure can't hurt its Oscar chances either - particularly when it's got such strong competition, with films like The Longest Daycare and Adam and Dog.

Given that Wreck-It Ralph still isn't out here in the UK yet, this is the first time I've seen Paperman, and it really was worth the wait. The striking black-and-white look, the depth accomplished through the new, innovative technology, that delicately beautiful score and, most of all, the heart-warming story all make Paperman an absolute must-see - one that, fortunately, we can all now see.

Paperman debuts on the big screen in the UK with Wreck-It Ralph on 8th February.

Plot Synopsis and First Promotional Images from The Muppets... Again!

Sorry for the blog-silence over the last couple of days - I've been severely under the weather. But we're back with some exciting news today: first of all, an official press release, plot synopsis and the first images from Disney's The Muppets sequel, now officially going by The Muppets... Again!

The sequel, whose human stars include Ricky Gervais, Tina Fey and Modern Family's Ty Burrell, began filming in London last week and is due for release on 21st March, 2014. Disney emailed us out the press release for the film, which includes the exciting synopsis - which reveals the roles of Gervais, Fey and Burrell - and you can check them, along with another image, out below.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Brad Bird's Mysterious 1952 Officially Called Tomorrowland

Brad Bird is one of my favourite directors. Obviously. He directed three absolute animatred classics with The Iron Giant, The Incredibles and Ratatouille - as well as helping guide The Simpsons through its golden age and directing one of its best episodes - and proved his live-action chops with Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol. So I suppose I can't really hold it against him that he's not directing Star Wars: Episode VII, particularly when what he is directing is so intriguing.

With a new reveal today, Bird's next mystery shrouded project got a little less, and also enigmatically a little more, mysterious. D23 revealed on Twitter that 1952, the film which Bird is directing from a story and screenplay by Damon Lindelof (Lost, Prometheus) is now officially going by the name of Tomorrowland.

William On The Scotty Jo Podcast

A few days ago I had the chance to speak to Scotty Jo Nicholson of the self-titled Scotty Jo Podcast via video chat, to record a little segment for his show (which this week is Conan O'Brien themed). The show's up on Scotty's website now and you can check it out embedded above.

I'm one of a few special guests (his words, not mine) on the episode and Scotty and I discuss A113Animation, our favourite Pixar memories, my thoughts on Brave, 2013 in animation and, yes, I even have a little rant about UK release dates. Please excuse the tinny quality on my end - my Wi-Fi sucks.You can check out my segment from 4:35 to around the 13:10 mark, although I encourage you to give the whole thing a listen - it's a fun show.

Yes, animation podcasters, I am available for bookings... Y'know, if you like.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Wreck-It Ralph Wins Producers Guild Award

Walt Disney Animation Studios' 52nd feature film, Wreck-It Ralph, is picking up a lot of steam heading into the Oscars next month. The retro-gaming homage, directed by The Simpsons' Rich Moore, took home the animation prize at yesterday's 24th Annual Producers Guild Awards, beating out Brave, Frankenweenie, ParaNorman and Rise of the Guardians.

This is a very prestigious honour for Ralph to collect so close to the Oscars and in such a close competition, and it's noteworthy that it just beat out three of the four films it'll be squaring off against for the Academy Award in February (AMPAS nominated Aardman's The Pirates! instead of Guardians). The award was given to producer Clark Spencer.

Congrats to the Wreck-It Ralph crew on scooping such a major award and commiserations to the other talented teams.

The main prize however, The Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures, went to Ben Affleck's awards favourite, Argo, beating out a lot of the same films it'll face at the Oscars. TV winners included Homeland and Modern Family.

Via The Hollywood Reporter.

Related posts: Oscars 2013: Munir's Best Animated Feature Predictions

Oscars 2013: Munir's Best Animated Feature Predictions

By Munir Abedrabbo.

With awards season in full swing, it’s always customary to start predicting the winners, and, while most predictions centre around the Best Picture category, the Best Animated Feature category is just as important for animation lovers. 2012 brought a strong slate of animated films and, more importantly, it was a year that was not dominated by CGI features – offering a nice variety of mediums to help audiences appreciate the diversity and beauty of animation. Most awards institutions have nominated more or less the same candidates, with the odd exception here or there (The Pirates! snubbed from the BAFTAs; ParaNorman replaced by Hotel Transylvania at the Golden Globes), but now that we have the five nominees for the Oscars, I think it’s time to evaluate each nominee’s pros, cons and chances of winning the prestigious award.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Chris Sanders Shares New Storyboards from The Croods

Chris Sanders, director (alongside Space Chimps' Kirk DeMicco) of DreamWorks' next feature film, The Croods, has released some cool storyboards from the caveman-comedy film, due out on 22nd March.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

UPDATED: J.J. Abrams Set to Direct Star Wars: Episode VII

It's a day, it seems, of loosely-based-to-animation news, but this is too exciting a story to not post about. Months after the galaxy-shaking news that Disney had acquired Lucasfilm and were working on a new Star Wars trilogy, and endless speculation about who would direct the first instalment in said trilogy, we now know that J.J. Abrams is near to reaching a deal to helm Star Wars: Episode VII!

Watch: Behind the Magic Clip Shows How ILM Created The Hulk

The Avengers, everybody loves it. It's funny, it's exciting, it's epic, it's touching and it looks absolutely great; a key part of almost all of those criteria is The Hulk. As the clip we got a couple of weeks ago showed, ILM are the whizzes responsible for a lot of the fantastic visual effects present in Joss Whedon's superhero blockbuster, and they've rolled out a series of videos highlighting the pinnacle of that: Hulk.

The video, which is actually Part 2 (check out Part 1 here), shows how the geniuses over at ILM (who debuted in the feature animation world with 2011's Oscar winning Rango) married together Mark Ruffalo's charismatic mo-cap performance with sensitive and detailed animation. Check it out above.

I adored the visual effects and exquisite character animation in Life of Pi (check out my interview with the film's animation director here) but The Avengers is a major contender for the Best Visual Effects Oscar come 24th February.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Disney Release New Wreck-It Ralph Clips

Us poor blighters in the UK are still to even see Wreck-It Ralph in cinemas (don't even get me started on Finding Nemo 3D, which doesn't arrive until March!), but Disney are already promoting the films impending home video release in the US. As such, the Mouse House have rolled out a series of new clips from the film - so UK fans can check out a little bit more of the film, given that their excitement levels have likely waned slightly since November.

Munir's Disney Retrospective -- Animated Classic #3: Fantasia (1940)

By Munir Abedrabbo.

Last Week's: Munir's Disney Retrospective -- Animated Classic #2: Pinocchio (1940)

The most daring thing Walt Disney did during his lifetime (even more so than Snow White in my opinion) was Fantasia, a unique blend of music and animation, with the goal of showing something new to the public, rather than just telling a narrative story. Presented as a concert and showcasing many celebrated classical musical pieces accompanied with exquisite animation, Fantasia is something you have to experience at least once in a lifetime. As with his previous efforts, Walt pushed the boundaries with this one and created the famous “Fantasound” (a precursor of the now standard surround sound system) to better enjoy the film. Unfortunately, as with Pinocchio, Fantasia wasn’t very successful in its initial run and was victim of many edits and cuts throughout the years, also sparking controversy with a racially insensitive character (Sunflower) that has been cut from all current releases. Right now, you can watch an almost complete version of the original, but, even with all the cuts and all the controversy, Fantasia’s power and legacy continues to glow to this day. Rating: 5/5.

Next Week: Animated Classic #4 Review: Dumbo

Monday, 21 January 2013

[UPDATED: Now Closed] 3rd Annual A113Animation Awards: Competition and Poll

It's awards season, folks. As such, the 3rd Annual A113Animation Awards are fast approaching! Delayed from their usual December slot to allow me to check out Disney's much lauded latest film, (and one I'm extremely excited to finally see) Wreck-It Ralph, the awards are now taking place on 15th February, with nominees to be announced on 9th February.

However, here at A113Animation, we love hearing your say on things, as such we're giving you two chances to voice your thoughts on what the best animated feature film of 2012 was! A poll will appear very shortly on the right-hand side of the blog, collecting votes to decided what "The People's Favourite Animated Film" of 2012 was (that'll run for the next few weeks).

In addition though, we're running our 3rd competition! I'm afraid the prize isn't quite as glamorous as our last one was, but you do get to judge this year's "Second Opinion Award", meaning you get your name up on the blog, alongside your pick for the best animated film of 2012. To enter, as the picture above details, you can do one of three things: Tweet (@A113Animation), Facebook ( and/or email ( us, saying what your favourite animated film of 2012 was (with or without an explanation) by the end of this month. You can do all three, each one counts as one entry; the winner will be announced and contacted shortly thereafter.

Sorry for the lack of glamorous prizes for this one (there'll be one of those in the near future hopefully!), but please get involved and enter. Best of luck - and remember to vote in the poll when it's up too.

UPDATE - 22:25 (GMT), 01/02/2013: The competition is now closed, the winner was Twitter user, and loyal A113Animation reader and commenter, @BenBoekelaar and he'll now get the chance to judge the "Second Opinion Award" later this month.

Congrats to Benjamin, commiserations to those who weren't successful this time, and thanks to the many who entered - we hope to have a few more competitions in the foreseeable future!

Sunday, 20 January 2013

UPDATED: Damien Presents A Full and Comprehensive List of Tintin Easter Eggs in The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn

By Damien.

Also known as 'The Big One'

Before we start, I'll explain my intentions here. My objective is to deliver the ultimate list of nods to the Tintin books in The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn. As the movie is based on The Crab with the Golden Claws, The Secret of the Unicorn and Red Rackham's Treasure, these three albums won't be used as reference for the search of Tintin easter eggs, except for very specific ones - otherwise, I would have to make screenshots of almost the whole film.
Written in blue, you will also find book to film comparisons of characters. Just the opposite of the nods list, these comparisons will focus exclusively on characters from The Crab with the Golden Claws, The Secret of the Unicorn and Red Rackham's Treasure books. Not everyone will be treated. Only the characters I find the most interesting.

Warning: you shouldn't read this article if you've not seen the movie, as there will be massive spoilers ahead. Pretty much the same thing can be said about the books.
All right, shall we begin?

Friday, 18 January 2013

Interview: Erik-Jan de Boer, Oscar Nominated Life of Pi Animation Director

Last week, the morning after the Oscar nominations were revealed - with Life of Pi amassing the second most nominations with eleven (behind only Spielberg's Lincoln) - I had the opportunity to interview one of the key people behind one of the film's most spectacular aspects: its visual effects. Life of Pi seems almost locked to take home the Best Visual Effects Oscar, so I was very excited to get the chance to speak to the film's newly Oscar nominated animation director, Erik-Jan de Boer of Rhythm & Hues studio.

Rhythm & Hues have received previous Oscar nominations for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and Wardrobe and The Golden Compass (winning for the latter) and have cemented themselves as arguably the top VFX house around for creating believable and realistic animal characters. They've outdone themselves, however, with their endeavours in Life of Pi, creating - alongside the magnificent ocean scenes and a great many other animals - a full, photo-realistic and utterly convincingly animated tiger with Richard Parker.

My thanks to Scot Byrd at Rhythm & Hues for setting the whole thing up, and lots of thanks to Erik for taking time out of his day (particularly given how hectic it surely was after the studio had just earned another Oscar nomination) to answer my questions so graciously.

Topics covered in our exclusive interview include the approach to Life of Pi's visual effects and how Richard Parker was created, the different techniques to creating VFX compared to creating an animated movie, whether Rhythm & Hues would ever consider following in ILM's footsteps - who branched out to feature animation last year with Rango - by making their own animated film (spoiler: they are!), working with director Ang Lee, the Oscars and more! Check it out below.

First Look: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2

Last year, Sony Pictures Animation had a hit with monster mash-up film Hotel Transylvania, starring the voices of Adam Sandler and Selena Gomez and directed by Genndy Tartakovsky (Dexter's Lab), which made over $300 million worldwide. The critics didn't all love it though (check out our review here) and indeed SPA's best film to date still remains 2009's Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. As such, I'm very excited to check out the sequel when it hits cinemas in September!

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Munir's Disney Retrospective -- Animated Classic #2: Pinocchio (1940)

By Munir Abedrabbo.

Last Week's: Munir's Disney Retrospective -- Animated Classic #1: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

After the huge success of Snow White, Walt Disney decided to be bolder and push the boundaries of animation even further with his second feature. Pinocchio, released just three years after Snow White, shows a level of detail and beauty that has still yet to be matched even to this day. But not only the animation was perfected, the story and the characters were too (reportedly, Walt scrapped production after six months and started from scratch because he was dissatisfied with the film) creating a superb story of right vs. wrong and unforgettable characters such as Jiminy Cricket, who is still one of the studio’s most recognizable personas. Though, unfortunately, it wasn’t very successful when it first premiered, Pinocchio is still a triumph on every front (it also won the Academy Awards for Best Original Song & Score) and a testament to Walt’s limitless quest for perfection. Rating: 5/5.

Next Week: Animated Classic #3 Review: Fantasia

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Disney Infinity Launch Details

The blogosphere has been buzzing, over the last few weeks, with details and speculation about an exciting new Disney game, one that would allow the player to play as characters from the many facets of Disney - today we got our first look at that game, Disney Infinity.

Similar in idea to the Activision published Skylanders games, in which the player takes one of many real, physical toys and places it on a sensor (which Disney are calling "Infinity Base"), which then makes the character appear, playable, on screen; it's a nifty idea. They're also introducing "power discs", which enable special powers for the character when stacked underneath them on the Infinity Base. What better application of said idea than to allow Disney fans to play as all of their favourite characters: team up Captain Jack, Sulley and Mr. Incredible to fight an Omnidroid? No problem! Stick Buzz Lightyear's jetpack on Mike? Yeah, to Disney Infinity and beyond!

Check out our first look at some gameplay from Disney Infinity, above. The starter pack consists of characters from The Incredibles, Monsters University and Pirates of the Caribbean, with more available-separately packs to be revealed later. Pixar Post has the press release and some cool images from the game; Family Gamer TV has a hands-on with some of the game's physical elements.

Disney Infinity's due for a June release on Wii, WiiU, PS3, Xbox 360, 3DS, PC and mobile platforms. Check out the website here.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Watch: Super-Awesome Live Action Toy Story

I'm a massive Toy Story fan, but I don't think I've got a patch on these guys. Some crazily cool guys have been working away for a while now on creating (or rather, recreating) Toy Story entirely in live-action, using real toys and real people. The full version was completed and uploaded a couple of days ago, and boy, it's really caught on! Everyone from /Film to MSN to The Huffington Post has covered the story, check out why and watch the great full film above.

Congrats to Jonason Pauley, Jesse Perrotta and the great crew for creating such a labour of fan-love and for getting such great recognition for it. Facebook here, Twitter here.

Brave Wins at Golden Globes

2012's awards-circuit has been a very close one - nowhere more so than where animation is concerned. Certain awards circles have picked Laika's ParaNorman as their Best Animated Feature of the year, others have gone for Wreck-It Ralph and Frankenweenie, and a couple have chosen DreamWorks' Rise of the Guardians. One film that, sadly, seems to have not received a lot of awards love though is Pixar's latest, Brave. Well, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association just changed that.

The Mark Andrews/Brenda Chapman directed film took home the Best Animated Feature Film award at the 70th Annual Golden Globe Awards ceremony last night, beating out Frankenweenie, Hotel Transylvania, Rise of the Guardians and Wreck-It Ralph. Co-director Mark Andrews and producer Katherine Sarafian were on hand to collect the award (check out the acceptance speech above); nice to see Andrews thank the brilliant Brenda Chapman, the heart of Brave, as well.

I think Mark Andrews is quite happy... Via Pixar Post.

It's worth noting that this is Pixar's sixth Golden Globe win in this category; it was established at the 64th Annual ceremony and Pixar have won the award every single year, apart from last year when The Adventures of Tintin rightfully won the award. Congrats to the Brave team on this well deserved honour!

Other winners at the ceremony included Argo and Les Misérables taking home the Best Picture awards for Drama and Musical or Comedy respectively; Daniel Day-Lewis and Hugh Jackman took home the two best actor awards for their roles in Lincoln and Les Mis, Jessica Chastain and Jennifer Lawrence won the lead actress awards for Zero Dark Thirty and Silver Linings Playbook. Game Change and Homeland were the big TV winners. Full results here.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

The Good Dinosaur's Box Office Returns May Have Just Shrank

The future is going to be absolutely prehistoric! 2014 is set to be the year of the dinosaurs again.

In great news for Jurassic Park fans (well, unless they were particularly put off by 3) and presumably nerve-shredding news for Disney execs, Universal have officially given Jurassic Park 4 a release date: 13th June, 2014. That release date is just over a fortnight after that of Pixar's dino-film, The Good Dinosaur (due 30th May, 2014).

Damien Reviews The Random Adventures of Brandon Generator

By Damien.

The Random Adventures of Brandon Generator
A Crowdsourced Guest Review & An Unfortunate Report.

The Random Adventures of Brandon Generator is a web series of 4 episodes by Edgar Wright, Tommy Lee Edwards & You - or so it says in the opening credits. It was released in the spring/summer of 2012, and focuses on a coffee addict experiencing writer's block named Brandon Generator (yep, the one from the title).
Where the moving comic book gets special, is the fact it's crowdsourced: prose, drawings and voice messages from viewers were included in episodes two to four.
And so, to respect the essence of what makes Brandon Generator so unique, this review will be crowdsourced too and shall include interventions from special guests. And here comes the first one:
"Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba"
Thank you for this very eloquent opinion, singers of The Lion King's opening.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

85th Annual Academy Award Nominations Revealed - And They're Exciting!

People are sure to complain about things (no Sam Mendes for Best Director? No Javier Bardem for Supporting Actor? No Dark Knight Rises at all?!), but there are certainly things to be happy about with today's Academy Award nominations: particularly so in animation!

The big news? The really bloody exciting news? After yesterday's very unexpected BAFTA snub, Aardman's fantastic film, The Pirates! in an Adventure with Scientists scooped a Best Animated Feature nomination! Massive congratulations to Pete Lord, Gideon Defoe, Jeff Newitt and everyone at Aardman for the nomination! BAFTAs-Shmaftas.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Munir's Disney Retrospective -- Animated Classic #1: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

By Munir Abedrabbo.

Make Sure You've Read: Munir Presents Walt Disney Animation Studios: A Retrospective -- Introduction

Often referred as ‘The Fairest One of All’ or ‘The One that Started it All’, Snow White is the crown jewel of the Disney Company. The film was an instant success and continues to be one 75 years after its original premiere. After years of perfecting the techniques with his Silly Symphonies (1933’s The Goddess of Spring is an early example of human animation), Walt Disney finally found the story and the talent to bring this tale to life in wonderful fashion. A box office success and winner of many awards, Snow White is animation royalty through and through. But, these elements aren't enough if the film doesn't withstand the test of time. Fortunately, it's 75 years later (76 now actually!) and Snow White is still as fresh as it was in 1937. The film is still funny, the characters endearing, the music catchy, the story relevant and the animation breathtaking. Snow White is not only Disney’s first film, it's also one of its best. Rating: 5/5.

Next Week: Animated Classic #2 Review: Pinocchio

BAFTA Nominations Revealed: Brave, Frankenweenie and ParaNorman Compete for Animation Award

The nominations for the 66th British Academy Film Awards were announced by BAFTA today - ahead of the reveal of the Oscar nominations tomorrow - and, naturally, as there always is with award ceremonies, there's a little bit of controversy and distaste with some of the categories.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Munir Presents Walt Disney Animation Studios: A Retrospective -- Introduction

By Munir Abedrabbo.

Hello folks! With the beginning of the New Year and the fact that Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs just turned 75 this past December, I thought it would be nice to have a rundown over all 52 animated films that the Disney Studio has released so far. Each week, a film from the Disney canon will be presented alongside a short commentary and a rating system. All films are going to be presented in chronological order from Snow White to Wreck-It Ralph. I hope you enjoy this and that this retrospective will stir up discussions about these films and of these 75 years of great legacy!

Monday, 7 January 2013

UPDATED: Warner Bros. Looks to Rejuvenate its Animation House

It seems Warner Bros. aren't content with just being a studio with a strong animation history, as Variety reports the studio has put in place a "creative consortium" (á la Pixar's Brain Trust I imagine) to spearhead its new animation initiative.

In recent years, Warner Bros. has output live-action mega-blockbusters, like Harry Potter and Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy, however, its animation front hasn't really been firing on all cylinders since the golden days of Looney Tunes. The studio looks to try and fix that with this new set-up, aiming to release one "high-end" film a year, starting in 2014 with Lego.

The newly formed consortium consists of John Requa and Glenn Ficarra (Crazy, Stupid, Love., Cats & Dogs), Nicholas Stoller (The Muppets), Phil Lord and Chris Miller - not DreamWorks' Chris Miller - (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs) and Jared Stern (Mr. Popper's Penguins). A pretty strong gathering, it seems, with a firm grounding in animation. As mentioned, the group's first project is next year's The Lego Movie (released 7th February, 2014), which is directed by Lord and Miller and stars the voices of Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman and others.

Presto director Doug Sweetland will direct Warner Bros.' Storks.

Following that, the studio will release Storks in 2015, written by Stoller and directed by Pixar alum Doug Sweetland (Presto). What's interesting though is that Sweetland was previously associated with directing The Familiars for Sony, which a Sony Pictures Animation representative recently told me "is one of the many projects still in development at Sony Pictures Animation." It will be interesting to see if this announcement changes that at all; maybe the project will advance with a new director. I've emailed Sony, so I'll update this post if and when I get a response. Either way, I'm very excited to see anything he does! UPDATE - 08/01/2013, 20:46 (GMT): SPA's reps replied "The only information I can give out at this moment is that the The Familiars is still in development.", which to me sounds noncommittal - as if Doug perhaps is no longer directing - but I guess we'll have to wait and see.

2016 will then see the release of Smallfoot, written by Requa and Ficarra, from an idea by director Sergio Pablos (originator of the story for Despicable Me).

"Warner Bros. has an extraordinary legacy in the world of animation, including some of the most enduring characters in cinema history. Looking to the future, we have now gathered some of the best and brightest talents in the industry to help us grow and broaden that legacy. Drawing upon their imaginations and inspiration, the Studio will produce a slate of new and original animated films that are sure to delight audiences of all ages." said Warner Bros. Pictures Group president Jeff Robinov.

With this announcement coming mere month after Paramount's similar one (also toting high-profile names) it's clear to see that big studios see the potential, creatively and financially, of animation.

UPDATED: Pixar Unveil Title and First Look for Next Short: The Blue Umbrella

For a while now, a Tumblr site, Rainy City Tales 332 (there's a Twitter account too), has been teasing us with little bits and pieces from what it soon transpired was Pixar's next short film. We managed to glean that the short would revolve around umbrellas and involve the Toy Story studio's usual penchant for animated inanimate objects and had assumed it would precede this summer's Monsters University in cinemas. But that was it. Now, The Wall Street Journal has the low-down on the short, which is called The Blue Umbrella!

Sunday, 6 January 2013

DISCUSS: What's Your Most Anticipated Animated Film of 2013?

2012 has passed and Awards season is upon us, so we'll soon know what the critical successes of 2012 were (in terms of box-office successes, I'll refer you to someone much more knowledgeable about that than I - though what I can easily judge, is that 2012 was not a good year for stop-motion). So, now we look to the future - or, more accurately, the present - and our inner film-savant surfaces as we offer our predictions on what will be big in 2013.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Damn You, Pixar: More Tantalising Newt Concept Art

*sigh* Pixar, will you ever let us move on?

newt was by far my most anticipated Pixar film, we didn't know much about it, only a premise and some gorgeous concpet art (here and here -- you can view it all here), but I was hooked; I don't remember ever connecting quite so much to quite so little. So, I was rather upset when the film was cancelled - due in part to plot similarities to Blue Sky Studios' Rio. Pixar, though, won't let us mourn in piece, and insist on showering us with yet more beautiful concept art and references to the film, and today we get more still, via former Pixarian Katy Wu, who shared some of the work she did on the film on her personal blog.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

2013 Producers Guild Award Nominations Revealed (And New For Your Consideration Ads)

The Producers Guild of America have revealed the nominees for the 2013 Producers Guild Awards, honouring the best films of the past year. The nominees for the Award for Outstanding Producer of Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures are the five films that we've come to expect will be nominated (aside from the Golden Globes' odd inclusion of Hotel Transylvania, and exclusion of awards-favourite ParaNorman). It's sad to see that Aardman's fantastic The Pirates! is being nominated for so few awards, but the five films (and producers) nominated here are all deserving:

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

UPDATED: Possible Cast for The Good Dinosaur Emerges

On New Year's Day when we got some great new concept art from Pixar's upcoming features, I was rounding off the post as usual - directors, producers, release dates, etc. - when, while checking the UK release date of The Good Dinosaur on (a website Disney's UK PR team themselves advise us bloggers to use for reference), I noticed something odd: it lists a voice cast for the film. I assumed this was a mistake of some sort, as it seems too early to be hearing about the film's voice cast (particularly in such a low-key manner); but Bleeding Cool posted the story today, so I thought it worth mentioning.

FilmDates lists the cast as being "Lil' Wayne, Joan Rivers, John Ratzenberger, Dee Bradley Baker, Tom Kenny and Jason Alexander". Joan Rivers previously had a small cameo in Shrek 2; Dee Bradley Baker is a voice actor with many animation credits, notably as Perry the Platypus in Disney's Phineas and Ferb; Tom Kenny is best known as the voice of Spongebob Squarepants, but also recently voiced Rabbit in Disney's 2011 Winnie the Pooh film; Jason Alexander, perhaps most recognisable as suicidal Earl in the Friends episode The One Where Rosita Dies, has also amassed many animation credits to his name, including The Return of Jafar and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Given that this is a Pixar film, John Ratzenberger was to be expected.

Lil' Wayne, primarily a rapper, with few screen-credits to his name, seems the odd one out, but if Pixar has cast him, they presumbaly have faith in his ability, and I have faith in theirs. Still, it seems an odd choice - if this cast information is accurate, that is; we'll see if we can get word one way or the other.

The Good Dinosaur is directed by Bob Peterson and is released on 30th May in the US and 18th July in the UK.

UPDATE: 02/01/2013, 23:00 (GMT) - I emailed Pixar's PR guy Chris Wiggum, inquiring as to the accuracy of this cast list, Chris replied promptly with: "Not accurate." Well, providing this isn't a red herring  to throw us off the track, there you have it.

The Fairest One of All Author Working on Making of Pinocchio Book

The Fairest One of All author, Kaufman (pictured with Walt Disney's eldest daughter, Diane Disney Miller).

We have learned that J.B. Kaufman, the film historian behind 2012's fantastic and superbly detailed The Fairest One of All: The Making of Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, - a history of the making of Disney's first ever feature animated film - is now working on a similar book for the studio's second film, Pinocchio!

A113Animation reader/frequent contributor Munir Abedrabbo (who will be launching his own retrospective Disney review feature on this blog very soon) emailed the Fairest One of All author, congratulating him on the book and asking if he had considered doing a similar one for Pinocchio, Kaufman responded:

"It happens that I am already working on a book about the making of Pinocchio -- a fascinating subject, and I'm excited about it. Just as with the Snow White books, we're going to try to bring this one out in time for the 75th anniversary of the film, which means I have some very tight deadlines. Wish me luck!"

Pinocchio, first released theatrically in February 1940, is widely considered to be one of the greatest animated films of all time, eclipsed, perhaps only be its predecessor, so it's certainly exciting to hear that the author who so brilliantly recounted the making of Walt's first film is now doing the same with his second. The downside though, given the comment about coinciding the book's release with the film's 75th anniversary, is that the book will then likely not be complete until 2015. At least we know it will be worth the wait.

Our review of The Fairest One of All can be read here, and you can order it below, via Amazon.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

First TV Spot for Monsters University Takes the Viral Approach

Pixar aired the first TV spot for their fourteenth feature film, Monsters University, today, during the Rose Bowl, and it's now worked its way onto YouTube. Continuing the viral advertising that started with the launch of a real /edu website back in October, Pixar are after advertising the actual university here, rather than the film - and it works, it's hilarious. Not to mention, we see lots and lots of beautiful backgrounds and settings; Monsters U looks to be a beautiful movie!

A prequel to 2001's original Monsters, Inc., Monsters University is directed by Dan Scanlon and produced by Kori Rae. It stars the voices of Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Frank Oz and many more returning from the original film, new characters will also be voiced by Dave Foley (who previously voiced Flik in A Bug's Life), Julia Sweeney, Joel Murray and Pixar's Peter Sohn - Kelsey Grammer (who previously voiced the Prospector in Toy Story 2) is replacing the late James Coburn as Mr. Waternoose also.

Now we're in 2013, it's only a matter of months to go, and Monsters University is released on 21st June in the States and 12th July in the UK.

After Monsters U, we've got a string of other exciting films, check out newly released artwork from three of them here.

Interview: Brian Larsen, Brave Story Supervisor and The Legend of Mor'du Director

A while back now, I had the chance to interview Pixar's Brian Larsen, a frequent Genndy Tartakovsky collaborator, who worked on Ratatouille and most recently acted as Story Supervisor on Pixar's 13th feature film, and awards-hopeful, Brave - as well as directing the new Brave-based short film that was attached to the film's home video release, The Legend of Mor'du.

Unfortunately, due to me having a heck of a lot of work to do as of late, it's taken me rather a while to get transcribed. That said, I'd like to, once again, extend my sincerest thanks to Pixar's PR mogul Chris Wiggum for taking the time to deal with me and set these interviews up. Thanks also to Brian for being so courteous with his time and generous with his responses. Brave is available on DVD and Blu-ray now and you can purchase it from Amazon here.

Topics covered in our interview include the inspiration for the short and its distinctive visual style, Brian's reaction to some of the criticisms levelled at Brave, what working on the film was like, including reactions to its high-profile directorial change, and the new project he's developing (we assume, a feature film) with Brave director Mark Andrews - could this be the PG-13 rated Pixar film Andrews spoke about wanting to make recently? Check out the transcription below.

Happy New Year: New Concept Art from Upcoming Pixar Films

Pixar have a wonderful New Year treat for us all, as they sent a card wishing them a Happy New Year, complete with exclusive concept art from three of their upcoming films!