Friday, December 16, 2011

Happy Holidays from Sony Pictures Animation!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Popeye Penners Picked

Sony Pictures Animation and Arad Productions Set Jay Scherick & David Ronn to Write Animated POPEYE

Culver City, California, November 3, 2011…Sony Pictures Animation has set screenwriters Jay Scherick & David Ronn to write the screenplay for an all-new POPEYE animated feature, based on the iconic characters of comic strip and cartoon fame. POPEYE is the second project for Scherick and Ronn with Sony Pictures Animation following their success with this summer’s blockbuster THE SMURFS, which has grossed more than $550 million worldwide since its July 29 opening. Sony Pictures Animation and Arad Productions are producing the stereoscopic 3D animated feature.

"Scherick & Ronn have a remarkable talent in re-energizing beloved characters," says Bob Osher, president of Sony Pictures Digital Productions. "As they demonstrated with THE SMURFS, they embrace the iconic characteristics of these timeless characters and craft a story that really engages moviegoers today."

"We're thrilled that Jay and Dave are helping us reintroduce Popeye to a new generation," comments Michelle Raimo Kouyate, president of production for Sony Pictures Animation. "Their take on the world of Popeye has just the right blend of comedy, adventure and heart -- all the elements that made a great animated film."

"Popeye has been my childhood favorite character," says producer Avi Arad. "To me he was always the everyday man who gets special powers and actually becomes the first superhero in the best meaning of the word. When Scott Sassa called, Ari and I were beyond excited to be working with Jay Scherick & David Ronn and Sony Pictures Animation to bring this iconic character to the big screen in glorious stereoscopic 3D. We enjoy working with the Sony Pictures Animation team and with Rocky and company from Hearst Publishing. I cannot wait to go sailing!"

Last Spring, Scherick and Ronn began work on the sequel to THE SMURFS. They also wrote the original script for the upcoming BAYWATCH adaptation for Paramount and the pair is currently working on a comedy pilot for ABC. Scherick and Ronn have been writing together since they met when they both worked for a New York based corporate bartering company. From a staff writing position at NBC, the team segued into three years on "Spin City" where they served as writer/producers.

Scherick and Ronn are represented by International Creative Management.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Puss in Boots Clip

I think this is using some music from The Mask of Zorro:

Monday, October 10, 2011

Walt's People - Volume 11

Didier Ghez is still going strong with his Walt's People series, a collection of interviews that shed light on Walt Disney's work and his legacy. Volume 11 has just been released and features, among many others, a phone interview I conducted with Andreas Deja and Mark Henn when I wrote for Animated News (now Animated Views -

Here's the impressive list of interviews contained in this latest volume:

  • Foreword: John Canemaker
  • Didier Ghez: Ruthie Tompson
  • Christopher Finch & Linda Rosenkrantz: Walt Pfeiffer
  • John Culhane: Shirley Temple
  • John Culhane: I. Klein
  • Peter Hansen: Basil Reynolds
  • Christopher Finch & Linda Rosenkrantz: Eric Larson
  • John Culhane: John Hubley
  • Robin Allan: Jules Engel
  • Darrell Van Citters: Ed Love
  • Darrell Van Citters: Mike Lah
  • JB Kaufman: Frank Thomas
  • Dave Smith: Carl Nater
  • John Culhane: John Hench
  • John Canemaker: Ward Kimball
  • Dave Smith: Ward Kimball
  • Didier Ghez: Frank Armitage
  • Robin Allan: Ray Aragon
  • Didier Ghez: Ray Aragon
  • Gord Wilson: Jacques Rupp
  • David Tietyen: George Bruns
  • John Canemaker: Dale Oliver
  • John Canemaker: Iwao Takamoto
  • John Canemaker: Richard Williams
  • Charles Solomon: Brad Bird
  • Alberto Becattini: Don R. Christensen
  • Jim Korkis: Tom Nabbe
  • Dave Smith: Roger Broggie
  • Didier Ghez: David Snyder
  • Didier Ghez: Carl Bongirno
  • John Culhane: Daniel MacManus
  • John Culhane: Ted Kierscey
  • John Canemaker: Glen Keane
  • Didier Ghez: Joe Hale
  • Jérémie Noyer: Mark Henn
  • Christian Ziebarth: Andreas Deja and Mark Henn
  • Didier Ghez: Ed Catmull

Reprinted here with permission is an excerpt from the interview of Ed Catmull conducted by Didier. It covers some interesting historical points about the acquisition of Pixar by Disney and the fact that the Pixar people never actually wanted to see hand-drawn animation go away, contrary to the opinion of so many people who thought Pixar was trying to destroy hand-drawn animation.

DG: Talking about Frank Thomas, Frank in 1984 wrote an article about computer animation. Did you ever read that article? Did you ever have a chance to discuss that with him?

EC: No, I didn't know about it. He came up and he visited us at Lucasfilm in the early ‘80s. John [Lasseter] had invited Frank and Ollie to come up and give a talk. The thing that really impressed me was how energetic they were. They said they wished they were young again, because this was the kind of energy they felt in the early days at Disney. Then he signed my book. What he said in it was, "Good luck, we need you." It was a really gracious note. It meant a lot to me when he wrote that.

DG: So then your next contact with Disney was on the CAPS system. I was wondering who approached whom to discuss CAPS with Pixar?

EC: What happened there was that when Roy [E. Disney] returned to Disney after the hostile takeover, they brought in Michael [Eisner] and Jeffrey [Katzenberg]. Roy wanted to revitalize hand-drawn animation. At that time animation didn't mean anything to either Michael or Jeffrey. They had just inherited it. It wasn't until The Little Mermaid that they actually got how valuable it was. And that changed everything. Roy knew that Walt was in favor of using technology. So Roy said, "The world of computers is new—let’s bring technology into animation," leading Disney to examine the possibility of using the computer to help paint the cels. They approached us and others. I believe they used Al Barr, who was a professor at Caltech—he is still a professor there—as an advisor to help work their way through the technical issues. This is the point at which we were competing with others for writing the software. We had an advantage in that we had built a cel-painting system in the past. In addition, we had built a special-purpose computer, called the Pixar Image Computer, for processing film resolution images at high speeds. I think we did some little test, as I recall, then entered into a contract to write the software.

DG: I am going to skip over all of the years from Toy Story to 2005. Not because I am not interested in them, but because they have been documented in a lot of other books. What convinced you that Disney buying Pixar would be a good thing for Pixar? What discussions with Bob Iger did the trick?

EC: There are a couple of preparatory things leading up to that. One of them was that we were aware that in the long run we needed to have strong marketing, consumer products, and of course wanted presence in the parks. There were many capabilities that Disney had that we didn't have as a production company, and we were heading toward the end of our deal with Disney. Things were starting to get rocky largely because we would become Disney's biggest competitor at the end of this. We would also need to tie up with somebody else, or we would have to develop marketing and consumer products ourselves. That would have turned us into a different kind of company. No matter what happened, we were going to be subject to different kinds of stresses and strains. So really it was a matter of being practical about what was going to be good. The second consideration was the poor relationship between us and Michael Eisner. While we stayed completely out of the very public spat between Roy E. Disney and Michael, for obvious reasons, when it was done and Michael was gone, we got to know Bob Iger and found he was the polar opposite—a very different kind of leader. He was a different person than Eisner. That opened the door. Bob called Steve and they got to know each other. Then they negotiated a deal to release prime ABC content on iTunes. It went so well that John and I then met with Iger and were very impressed. The negotiations went well, although one of our main concerns was that the bureaucracy of Disney would accidentally roll over us. Because Iger had been through two acquisitions—one good and one bad—he was already sensitive to the problems that can happen when a big company buys a smaller one. A lot of our negotiations had to do with setting up mechanisms to protect the Pixar culture.

DG: Now the next step is to get the big success in a 2-D movie, right?

EC: That is tougher, because we didn't have other directors operating in parallel with Ron and John on 2-D. The result was that when The Princess and the Frog was done, we didn't have another major feature ready, although the company did want us to make another Winnie the Pooh, to try to get back to the quality of the original films. Over the years, people started to think of Winnie the Pooh as for kids only, so the challenge with Winnie the Pooh was to get people to associate it with the charm of the original rather than the later derivative material, which was poorer.

Meanwhile, Ron and John were working on something else, but they were basing it on a property that had ownership complications that ultimately prevented us from proceeding. So Ron and John had to restart and do something different. We are still in an iffy place here. It is one of those things where if The Princess and the Frog had not been put up against Avatar, we would be in a very different situation. I want to stress that the goal that John and I had was to bring Disney back to being at the top of animation again, and both of us wanted hand-drawn animation to be restored to its glory. I think we are well on our way to having Disney have its own sensibility and to being great, that I feel very good about, but I don't feel like we’ve arrived where we want to be with hand-drawn animation.

DG: When did you decide to launch that short program at Disney with great stuff like Goofy and How to Hook Up Your Home Theater, and things like that?

EC: Almost immediately we wanted to get a shorts program going. Since we had to put the 2-D pipeline back together again for hand-drawn animation, we started off with a Goofy short. Our hope was that the Goofy short would be successful and that we could continue to make them. We did find, though, that the Goofy shorts are from a somewhat different era. The humor and pacing from that time is different than current expectations and we didn’t turn it around. We made the Goofy short and we had a funny idea for another short, but we didn't get enough traction from How to Hook Up Your Home Theater to go on to the next one. Then, as you may know, we decided to re-cut a number of the earlier shorts, the Mickey Mouse shorts. We re-cut them to get better pacing and they played very well. It was a very successful program. We certainly had plans to do more things with Mickey Mouse. But we were so overwhelmed with things to do that we just couldn't put more energy into it. We do plan on making a theatrical short film with Mickey Mouse because we were presented with a brilliant idea.

Also available from Xlibris.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Arthur Christmas Full Trailer and Pooch Cafe announcement

And here's a press release about an upcoming Sony animated feature:

Kelly Asbury Set to Write POOCH CAFÉ

For Sony Pictures Animation

Culver City, Ca, October 06, 2011… Sony Pictures Animation, the studio behind this year's worldwide hit THE SMURFSÒ, continues to advance its development slate with the hiring of veteran animation writer/director Kelly Asbury. Asbury has been set to write POOCH CAFÉ for Sony Pictures Animation, it was announced today by Michelle Raimo-Kouyate, president of production for Sony Pictures Animation. Kelly Asbury most recently directed and co-wrote GNOMEO AND JULIET and was the co-director of SHREK 2, the highest grossing animated film in U.S. box office history. POOCH CAFÉ will be executive produced by Gil Netter, Bridget McMeel, and John Glynn.

"Kelly's wit and cinematic sensibility pairs wonderfully with the irreverent characters and wry comedy in the "Pooch Café" comic strip," says Michelle Raimo-Kouyate. "We've been looking for something to do with Kelly, and this was a perfect match."

The CG-animated feature is based on Paul Gilligan's popular syndicated comic strip, Pooch Café. The strip stars Poncho, a cheese-loving, squirrel-fearing, toilet-drinking mutt who joins his canine friends at the Pooch Café, a neighborhood hangout where dogs can be dogs – comparing notes on such weighty issues as avoiding baths, zebra-flavored kibble, and the construction of a giant catapult with which to hurl all the Earth's cats into the Sun. The strip was nominated for the National Cartoonists Society's Reuben Award for Best Comic Strip in 2008.

Asbury is a multi-talented artist. He co-directed SPIRIT: STALLION OF THE CIMARRON and, during his twenty-seven-year career in animation, has served in a variety of creative capacities on many of Hollywood's most beloved animated features including SHREK, TOY STORY, TIM BURTON'S THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST and THE LITTLE MERMAID. Asbury also provided character voices for GNOMEO AND JULIET, SHREK 2 and SHREK THE THIRD. In addition to his work in film, Kelly Asbury is a noted author and illustrator of several published children's books and wrote the off-beat non-fiction book DUMMY DAYS: AMERICA'S FAVORITE VENTRILOQUISTS FROM RADIO AND EARLY TV.

Kelly Asbury is represented by Jeremy Zimmer at UTA and Nancy Newhouse Porter at NewhousePorterHubbard.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

More Disney and Pixar Beloved Films Coming to Theatrical 3D



 Beauty and the Beast,’ ‘Finding Nemo,’ ‘Monsters, Inc.’ and ‘The Little Mermaid’ Will Make 3D Theatrical Debut in 2012 and 2013

BURBANK, Calif. – October 4, 2011 – On the heels of the phenomenal success of The Lion King 3D – which will cross the $80 million mark at the domestic box office today – The Walt Disney Studios has announced limited theatrical engagements for four of its classic films for the first time in 3D. The following titles from Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios will be released in 2012 and 2013:

* Beauty and the Beast – January 13, 2012
* Disney•Pixar’s Finding Nemo – September 14, 2012
* Disney•Pixar’s Monsters, Inc. – January 18, 2013 (Monsters University, a prequel to the original film, arrives in theaters in Disney Digital 3D on June 21, 2013)
* The Little Mermaid – September 13, 2013

“Great stories and great characters are timeless, and at Disney we’re fortunate to have a treasure trove of both,” said Alan Bergman, President, The Walt Disney Studios. “We’re thrilled to give audiences of all ages the chance to experience these beloved tales in an exciting new way with 3D – and in the case of younger generations, for the first time on the big screen.”

Originally released in 1991, Beauty and the Beast is a classic “tale as old as time” that follows the adventures of Belle, a bright young woman imprisoned in the castle of a mysterious beast and his enchanted staff, who must learn the most important lesson of all – that true beauty comes from within. Beauty and the Beast was the first animated film ever nominated for an Academy Award® for Best Picture, earning an additional five Oscar® nominations and winning two. It has grossed $380.4 million worldwide.

First released in 2003, Disney•Pixar’s Finding Nemo takes audiences into a whole new world in this undersea adventure about family, courage and challenges. When Marlin, an overly cautious clownfish living in the Great Barrier Reef, helplessly watches his son get scooped up by a diver, he must put aside his fears of the ocean and leave the safety of his coral enclave to find Nemo. Buoyed by the companionship of Dory, a forgetful but relentlessly optimistic fish, Marlin finds himself the unlikely hero in a seemingly impossible land-and-sea rescue. Finding Nemo won an Academy Award® for Best Animated Feature and was nominated for three others. With a total of $867.6 million worldwide, it was the second highest-grossing film of 2003.

In 2001, Disney•Pixar released Monsters, Inc. Lovable Sulley and his wisecracking sidekick Mike Wazowski are the top scare team at Monsters, Inc., the scream-processing factory in Monstropolis. But when a little girl named Boo wanders into their world, it’s up to Sulley and Mike to keep her out of sight and get her back home. Monsters, Inc. shattered every DVD-era home entertainment sales record when 11 million DVD/VHS copies were sold during its first week of release. It won an Academy Award® for Best Song and has grossed $526.9 million worldwide.

Released in 1989, The Little Mermaid, stars Ariel, a fun-loving and mischievous mermaid, off on the adventure of a lifetime with her best friend, the adorable Flounder, and the reggae-singing Caribbean crab Sebastian. But it will take all of her courage and determination to make her dreams come true and save her father’s beloved kingdom from the sneaky sea witch Ursula. One of the most celebrated animated films of all time, The Little Mermaid was nominated for three Academy Awards®, winning two. It has grossed $228.9 million worldwide.

ABOUT THE WALT DISNEY STUDIOS For more than 85 years, The Walt Disney Studios has been the foundation on which The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) was built. Today, the Studio brings quality movies, music and stage plays to consumers throughout the world. Feature films are released under four banners: Walt Disney Pictures, which includes Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios; Disneynature; Marvel; and Touchstone Pictures, which includes the distribution of live-action films from DreamWorks Studios. Original music and motion picture soundtracks are produced under Walt Disney Records and Hollywood Records, while Disney Theatrical Group produces and licenses live events, including Broadway theatrical productions, Disney on Ice and Disney LIVE!.  For more information, visit

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Lion King Bloopers

I think this is about a third of the bloopers that will appear on the Blu-Ray:

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Brave and Hunger Games Trailers

Is it just me or do these two trailers seem sort of similar?:

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Cars 2: Air Mater (New Short) - Clip

CARS 2: Disney•Pixar’s fast-action summer hit “Cars 2” comes home on Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray 3D, Movie Download and DVD -- November 1, 2011. Celebrating the 25th anniversary of Pixar Animation Studios, the high octane in-home release invites families and fans of all ages to come along on a journey around the world with the #1 animated film of the year and introduces an exclusive all-new animated short “Air Mater,” featuring the fan favorite character spinning his tales in an exciting adventure high above Radiator Springs. The must-own animated release also includes fascinating commentary from award-winning director John Lasseter and “Hawaiian Vacation,” the delightful animated short that accompanied the film in theatres.

The immersive “Cars 2” bonus features include an one-of-a-kind interactive “World Tour” map that takes viewers through nine different locations, including those featured in the film and more. A global thrill-ride, it allows viewers to go behind-the-scenes with the Pixar artists and filmmakers as they circle the globe finding inspiration for the most international of all Pixar films to date. “Cars 2” is also the first Pixar film to be released in spectacular Blu-ray 3D.

Academy Award®-winning filmmaker John Lasseter, chief creative officer for Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios, returns to the driver’s seat as director. “Cars 2” is produced by visual effects industry veteran Denise Ream (associate producer, “Up”; visual effects executive producer, “Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith”). Oscar®-winning composer Michael Giacchino (“The Incredibles,” “Up”) provides the electrifying score with a surf-rock-meets-spy-thriller flavor and a variety of global accents, evoking a sense of thrills, mystery and emotion. Brad Paisley, Robbie Williams, Weezer, French singer Bénabar and Japanese girl band Perfume lend their diverse musical talents to the film’s soundtrack.

The film features an all-star vocal cast including Owen Wilson who reprises his role as hotshot racecar Lightning McQueen. Larry the Cable Guy provides the voice of Mater (proprietor of Tow Mater Towing and Salvage), Lightning McQueen’s best friend and the heart and soul of Radiator Springs. Bonnie Hunt is back as Sally, the baby-blue Porsche 911 Carrera whose motor races for Lightning. Acclaimed actor Michael Caine makes his Pixar debut as Finn McMissile, a top British spy who mistakes Mater for an undercover American agent with a genius disguise. Emily Mortimer brings charm, cleverness and cachet as Holley Shiftwell, a rookie field spy who knows every trick in the manual. Versatile actor John Turturro gives a free-wheeling performance as Francesco Bernoulli, the world-renowned Italian racing champ who is Lightning’s chief rival. Tony Shalhoub, Joe Mantegna, Peter Jacobson, Jason Isaacs, Eddie Izzard, Paul Dooley, Cheech Marin, John Ratzenberger, Franco Nero and Vanessa Redgrave also lend their vocal talents. Real-life Formula 1 racing champ Lewis Hamilton and NASCAR racer Jeff Gordon add a touch of authenticity with their cameos in the film.

Film Synopsis:
Star racecar Lightning McQueen and the incomparable tow truck Mater take their friendship to exciting new places in “Cars 2” when they head overseas to compete in the first-ever World Grand Prix to determine the world’s fastest car. But the road to the championship is filled with plenty of potholes, detours and hilarious surprises when Mater gets caught up in an intriguing adventure of his own: international espionage. Mater finds himself torn between assisting Lightning McQueen in the high-profile race and towing the line in a top-secret mission orchestrated by master British super spy Finn McMissile and the stunning rookie field spy Holley Shiftwell. Mater’s action-packed journey leads him on an explosive chase through the streets of Japan and Europe, trailed by his friends and watched by the whole world. The fast-paced fun includes a colorful new all-car cast, complete with menacing villains and international racing competitors.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Drawing Inspiration

Drawing Inspiration from Wesley Louis on Vimeo.

This is a nice little short I found out about earlier today when somebody started following me on Twitter, a bit of a rejuvenation tale.

Monday, August 8, 2011

UP House Now Fully Realized

In previous blog entries here I've showed real-life versions of Carl Fredricksen's house from Disney•Pixar's UP. The first one showed a version where the whole thing, house and balloons, was all one big balloon. The second entry actually showed a scale model of the house attached to many individual balloons and actually floating in the air by balloon power.

A couple weeks ago though I found out that somebody has built a life-sized, inhabitable version of the house in a suburb of Salt Lake City, even receiving approval from Disney. One image is below but more about the house and more images of it can be seen at this AOL Original article.

If this house ever flies to South America on balloon power I hope it makes the news.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Tony Bancroft and Mark Henn Interviewed for The Lion King 3D

Walt Disney PR has released some new interviews with people who worked on The Lion King. These interviews look back at the movie as well as look forward to its 3D theatrical and Blu-ray releases. We start now with an interview with Tony Bancroft, who animated Pumbaa, and Mark Henn, who animated young Simba.

Did you have any idea how successful The Lion King would become when you first started to work on the project?

TONY BANCROFT: Mark and I were part of the animation team for The Lion King from the very beginning – but when we first started on the movie, nobody had any idea that it would be the phenomenon that it is now. Back then; it was just a small film that we thought would be fun to work on. It was described as Bambi in Africa and we were drawn to the movie because animating animals is always a challenge; there was a lot of excitement and passion put into the movie because of that.

How much research did you undertake for the movie?

TONY BANCROFT: We did a lot of research for The Lion King. We went on research trips to zoos and we even had real lions brought into the studio so that we could draw them up close and study how they move. We did extensive research on all of the animals in the movie and their behaviors, but we also tried to add some cartooniness and fun into the characters as well.

MARK HENN: There was also a research trip to Africa that some of the team went on. They did tons of research into the animals, the locations and the weather – and they brought hundreds of photos back with them for everyone to study.

Did you get to work with the voice artists from The Lion King?

TONY BANCROFT: Yes, we did. In fact, we were at a lot of the recordings.

MARK HENN: And if we weren’t there in person, they would record the sessions so that we could see the actors acting and saying their lines.

TONY BANCROFT: It’s very influential when you’re animating.

MARK HENN: It’s interesting because voice work has almost become a lost art for actors. In Walt Disney’s day, you had a whole generation of actors that did nothing but act on the radio with just their voice and a microphone. Nowadays, sometimes it’s difficult to separate the voice from the face.

Did the actors get into character in the recording booth?

MARK HENN: Everybody that we worked with really threw themselves into the characters one hundred percent. They worked really hard in the sound booth and they did a great job. It was really exciting to see them at work.

How much of yourself do you see in your character’s animation?

MARK HENN: Well, we’re all actors and I think you put a little of yourself in all of the characters you work on. In the past, I’ve worked on many of the leading ladies from Disney movies, including Belle, Jasmine and Mulan, and Tony is always telling me he can tell when I’ve animated a scene.

How difficult was it to change from drawing a leading lady to animating a young lion?

MARK HENN: It was a nice change of pace for me because I had animated several of our leading ladies back-to-back. I was starting to think to myself, ‘How am I going to make the next leading lady different to the previous?’ But then I was given the opportunity to do something different in The Lion King – and it was great. At the very start of production, I went to [The Lion King producer] Don Hahn and I asked to do the villain because I thought that would be a great change of pace for me. I was really interested in Scar and I had lots of ideas in my head for the character. At that stage, I was thinking about a really big, powerful lion for Scar – but Don Hahn came back to me and, in his very wise and charming way, said, “Well, we know you could do a good villain and we have no doubt of that, but Simba is the key to this whole movie. If Simba doesn’t work, the movie doesn’t work.” So that’s how they got me to work on Simba. It’s hard to say no to that.

How did you approach your scenes in the movie?

TONY BANCROFT: We work in a very similar way to how a director works with an actor in a live action movie. We are each issued a scene by the director. We’ll look at the story sketches that have already been created to help plan out the dynamics of the sequence and the director will say to us, “Okay, well, I like this element but I think this could be pushed a little.” We take in the director’s feedback and then we go back to our desk to do a bunch of small drawings – little thumbnails. We come up with our own ideas and then we go back to the director with the thumbnails to ask for feedback. If the director likes what he sees, then you can actually go ahead and start creating your animation. It can take an animator a week or so to create just three seconds of completed animation so it’s incredibly laborious, but it’s extremely rewarding.

There’s a very poignant death in The Lion King were Mufasa is killed by a herd of stampeding wildebeest. How did you approach the animation of that sensitive scene in particular, Mark?

MARK HENN: That was definitely a sequence that I wanted to be involved with and I spent a lot of time thumbnailing and planning sketches of what the sequence would look like. One of the key actions for Simba in this scene goes back to an earlier dream sequence where Mufasa explains to Simba about the stars in the night sky. They start wrestling each other, and at one point Simba grabs Mufasa’s ear. The ear pulling goes back further in the story, too. When Simba wakes up his father at the start of the movie, he cries, “Dad, wake up. Wake up!” And Simba pulls on his father’s ear. He bites it. He yanks on it. So when I started to looked at the animation of the death sequence, that became a key element to Simba’s actions. Simba has never experienced anything like this before. He thinks his dad is asleep. His sense tells him that something is more serious, but he approaches his father by tugging on the ear. Only this time his dad doesn’t wake up.

How important was this scene in the movie?

MARK HENN: I think it’s a really important scene and I’m proud that we didn’t shy away from it because it’s true to life and it shows something that we’re all going to experience. It was a tough scene to tackle, but I think we did it the right way. Walt Disney believed that you have to show powerful emotions like this, and you have to experience the bitter with the sweet. This is Simba’s lowest spot in the story and in order to make Simba the hero at the end of the movie, you have to take him to the rock bottom.

What is the secret to the continued success of The Lion King?

TONY BANCROFT: The themes, the story and the characters of The Lion King are timeless. The story is about a boy who grows up and learns about responsibility. Those things are part of everyone’s life, whether you are male or female, whether you are young or old. We all have to deal with the issues Simba deals with in the movie: the loss of a parent, how to deal with friends, and how to deal with stress.

MARK HENN: Another reason the movie is still popular is because the music is very strong. It’s one of our strongest musical scores – and it’s timeless, great music. Why do you still tap your toe to something that was written in the ‘50s or ‘60s? Why do The Beatles still hold up? Because it’s all great music – and that’s exactly what we have in The Lion King.

TONY BANCROFT: Plus, the movie is funny. Pumbaa and Timon are hilarious characters and the jokes are great. They were funny in 1994 and they are still funny today.

What went through your mind when you were told The Lion King was going to be remade in 3D?

TONY BANCROFT: When they first told us they were going to do the film in 3D, I thought to myself, ‘Wow, I wonder what it’s going to look like?’ And then I thought, ‘How on Earth are they going to do it?’ But having seen it in 3D, I can honestly say that I thought it was awesome and that it brings a whole new level of life, scope and depth to the film. I think it’s a more effective film because of the 3D.

Would you agree that Pumbaa’s nose looks a little 3D, even in the original 2D version of the film?

TONY BANCROFT: That’s definitely something I tried to do with Pumbaa. To try and get that dimension was one of the difficult things for me to do as an artist and as draftsman. Pumbaa has a big, pig-like snout and I wanted to capture that in certain scenes when the camera is right in his face, which is often when he’s talking to Timon. When I saw the film in 3D for the first time, I was blown away by those scenes and by what we were trying to achieve with our limited 2D drawings. It helps so much to see it in 3D because they are able to get across what we were trying to create in terms of volume and depth. They picked up on it and amplified it even more, so now the nose moves when he moves and it’s got that added dimension. As a creator of the original film, I couldn’t have asked for more. I think they’ve been very true to the original work and the original vision. It’s great.

It sounds like you’re incredibly proud of The Lion King

MARK HENN: We are both incredibly proud – and it feels great to be releasing this 3D version so that a whole new generation of people who maybe haven’t seen the movie before will now be able to enjoy it. It’s amazing that they will be able to enjoy it in ways that we never imagined possible back in 1994 when The Lion King was first released. It’s amazing how this movie has stood the test of time.

See our prior entry about the upcoming home and theatrical releases here.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Pirates of the Caribbean Short Film

Found out about this pretty cool looking 4-film Pirates of the Caribbean box set last night at Amazon in the shape of a pirate's chest. If you do "Click for larger image and other views," and view the second image (or just look at my capture of it above) it says, "Includes never-before-seen short film," and I can't find any information on this Pirates short film anywhere else on the Internet. Guess we'll know more soon...

UPDATE: I have found out from Disney Home Entertainment that this short film is indeed only available on the 15-disc set and is entitled "Wedlocked," and will be on its own Blu-Ray disc. If it's on its own disc then it sounds like it's probably more lengthy than 6 - 8 minutes. Other sites have apparently already been talking about it, like this one, and this one, and it looks like John Vickery is in it who has played Scar in the Broadway production of The Lion King.

The Lion King Meets Google+

Courtesy of Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Sushi Stitch

Those wacky Japanese are making food and animation combinations again.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

New Brave Poster and Images

Click each for bigger image.

Monday, June 27, 2011

TS4: Becoming a Reality

Read Bleeding Cool for news spilled from Tom Hanks that apparently Pixar is working on a Toy Story 4.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Night at the El Cap: Cars 2 Screening


Just got back from seeing Disney•Pixar's Cars 2 at the El Capitan Theatre on Hollywood Blvd. Here's a few thoughts:


Get ready for a trailer for Brave to be released online soon since one was shown tonight. I always wondered if Pixar would ever do a fairy tale, something that would get them out of their usual setting of a typical North American place (okay, Monsters, Inc. and Ratatouille were set in different places, but not that different, and UP sort of was) sometime in the 1990s or later. I didn't think they would ever do it but then Brave was announced, a story set in medieval times and it wasn't even boy-centric and it was directed by a woman, Brenda Chapman of Lion King fame. Unfortunately Brenda later got the boot. What a sad, sad move, John Lasseter. Still, the crowd at the theater tonight loved the teaser trailer and at the end I even heard one woman lament, "We have to wait a year to see it?"

Toy Story: Hawaiian Vacation

As an unabashed lover of shorts and liking the idea of shorts based on prior feature films this was a little treat. Again, the audience loved it. The jokes and gags came fast and frequent. A lot of characterization shoved into a few minutes. And, yes, it takes place after "TS3." It made good use of the reassembled toy team now at Bonnie's house. Look for Mr. Potato Head's new guise and be sure to stay for the stinger scene after the credits. (Of course you'll be staying for it because you're also there to watch the main feature.)

Cars 2

I like every Pixar movie to at least some degree but at the bottom of the totem pole was Cars. I didn't dislike it but I saw it once and felt entirely satisfied with that one viewing and felt little compelling need to see it again (and still haven't yet). I bought the Mater's Tall Tales Blu-Ray and saw Tokyo Mater in 3D with some other movie (I might've even did the same trick I did with Runaway Brain where I bought a ticket for a movie I wanted to see, went in the theater a little early, saw Tokyo Mater in another screen, then went to the screen that was showing the movie I paid for), because, you know, I like the idea of shorts based on prior feature films.

I wasn't expecting the world of Cars 2. Just figured it'd be "fun" and "fun" it was. The movie moves along at a fast pace, wows you with its amazing sets (how much work do they put into some of these scenes that you only see for about three seconds?), and puts a former supporting character into the lead. I'm pretty sure Mater got about five times more screen time than Lightning McQueen and the audience loved it and props to Larry the Cable Guy for some excellent voice work. When you watch it keep a lookout for visual references to at least two prior Pixar films. There was even a probable Disneyland reference in there. And a couple James Bond references. And they indirectly pay tribute to Paul Newman by paying tribute to Doc Hudson.

I suppose people will find something to complain about with this film, but, while it's not Gone With the Wind, I can't think right now what people might complain about. Just about any time somebody makes a movie I respect the very act of creation that they rendered and think there will be something that makes it worthwhile to see. Cars 2 held my attention with stunning visuals, plenty of action (well-choreographed action too), a heaping dose of spy intrigue, and, oh yeah, some "warmth." Since Mater was Joe Ranft's creation I couldn't help but think that Pixar was honoring Joe Ranft by putting Mater front and center in Cars 2. The film speeds to theaters everywhere on June 24th.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Happy Feet 2 Trailer

While we're on the subject of Happy Feet I remembered that somebody sent me this link to a Christian interpretation of the film at

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Little Mermaid ride opens at DCA

This coming Friday marks the official opening to the public of The Little Mermaid ride at Walt Disney's California Adventure. Here's some preview video from the Register:

Animation fans will enjoy seeing animators Glen Keane, Mark Henn and Andreas Deja checking out the under-construction ride in their hard hats. Much more on the long-awaited attraction can be found at The Orange County Register.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Lion King Blu-Ray 3D Press Release




September 16, 2011—All-New 3D Version of the “The Lion King” Hits Theaters for the First Time Ever
October 4, 2011— Available on Disney Blu-ray™ Hi-Def and Blu-ray 3D™ for the First Time Ever

BURBANK, Calif. (May 26, 2011) — Simba, Mufasa, Nala, Timon and Pumbaa are back and better than ever this fall when Disney’s “The Lion King” roars into theaters and homes in breathtaking 3D. A special two-week theatrical extravaganza kicks off Sept. 16, 2011, showcasing the Oscar®- and Golden Globe®-winning film on the big screen in Disney Digital 3D™ for the first time ever, and its highly anticipated home entertainment debut kicks off October 4, celebrating the Diamond Edition release of the epic movie “The Lion King” in high-definition Blu-ray™ and Blu-ray 3D™.

“‘The Lion King’ is the best-selling home entertainment release of all time—and this is ‘The Lion King’ like never before,” said Bob Chapek, president of distribution, The Walt Disney Studios. “The all-new 3D format immerses viewers in the epic settings and puts them face-to-face with these beloved characters. We’re showcasing one of the all-time favorite Disney movies in theaters and making it available in Blu-ray hi-def and in Blu-ray 3D—it’s the must-see, must-own title for everyone.”

Nearly a decade since “The Lion King” last appeared on the big screen, the upcoming theatrical release invites new generations into the “Circle of Life.” The two-week, 3D-only presentation is a planned wide domestic release—the biggest since the film’s 1994 debut—and the film’s first-ever 3D release.

The Blu-ray debut marks the first time “The Lion King” has been available in any form since 2004. Featuring pristine high definition picture and sound, the Blu-ray creates an incredible at-home experience with a host of picture and sound enhancements, interactive features and bonus content, including a new set of hilarious animated bloopers.

“The Lion King”: Diamond Edition home entertainment release will be available from the Disney Vault for a limited time only beginning October 4 as follows:

  • 4-Disc Blu-ray Combo Pack (for the suggested retail price of $49.99 U.S./ $56.99 Canada)
    • “The Lion King” = Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray 2D + DVD + Digital Copy™
  • 2-Disc Blu-ray Combo Pack (for the suggested retail price of $39.99 U.S./$46.99 Canada)
    • “The Lion King” = Blu-ray 2D + DVD
  • 8-Disc Trilogy (for the suggested retail price of $100.00 U.S./ $115.00 Canada)
    • “The Lion King” = Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray 2D + DVD + Digital Copy
    • “The Lion King 1½” = Blu-ray 2D + DVD
    • “The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride” = Blu-ray 2D + DVD

And the one-disc DVD Edition will be available on November 15.


“The Lion King,” first released in 1994, won the Oscar® for Best Original Score (Hans Zimmer) and Best Original Song (Elton John/Tim Rice “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”), earning Golden Globes® in both categories, as well as for Best Motion Picture—Comedy or Musical.

The film inspired an immensely popular, Tony Award®-winning Broadway musical, which is currently featured on stages worldwide. It became the seventh longest-running musical in Broadway history in January 2011.

An unforgettable story, breathtaking animation, beloved characters and award-winning music sets the stage for “The Lion King”, a Disney classic that follows the adventures of Simba, the feisty lion cub who “just can't wait to be king.” But his envious Uncle Scar has plans for his own ascent to the throne, and he forces Simba's exile from the kingdom. Alone and adrift, Simba soon joins the escapades of a hilarious meerkat named Timon and his warmhearted warthog pal, Pumbaa. Adopting their carefree lifestyle of “Hakuna Matata,” Simba ignores his real responsibilities until he realizes his destiny and returns to the Pride Lands to claim his place in the “Circle of Life.” The all-star vocal talents—including Matthew Broderick, Nathan Lane, Whoopi Goldberg, James Earl Jones, Jeremy Irons, Ernie Sabella, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Robert Guillaume, Cheech Marin and Moira Kelly—rip-roaring comedy and uplifting messages of courage, loyalty and hope make this a timeless tale for all ages. Produced by Don Hahn and directed by Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff from a script by Irene Mecchi, Jonathan Roberts and Linda Woolverton, “The Lion King” is rated G by the MPAA.

The Blu-ray Diamond Collection represents The Walt Disney Studio’s most prestigious animated classics. The Collection will be comprised with many of Walt Disney’s most treasured animated classic titles to be released through 2016. These titles represent the highest level of picture and sound, feature groundbreaking, state-of-the-art immersive bonus content, and include unprecedented levels of interactivity, personalization and customization, made possible because of Blu-ray technology.

For more than 85 years, The Walt Disney Studios has been the foundation on which The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) was built. Today, the Studio brings quality movies, music and stage plays to consumers throughout the world. Feature films are released under four banners: Walt Disney Pictures, which includes Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios, Disneynature, Touchstone Pictures and Marvel. Through the Home Entertainment division, innovative distribution methods provide access to creative content across multiple platforms. Original music and motion picture soundtracks are produced under Walt Disney Records and Hollywood Records, while Disney Theatrical Group produces and licenses live events, including Broadway theatrical productions, Disney on Ice and Disney LIVE!.

For more information, please visit

Monday, May 9, 2011

Disney Animated Ship Portholes

This is an old article (in Internet time at least) but it shows how animation can be used in a variety of imaginative ways and also shows how a business took some figurative lemons and made figurative lemonade from them. So, read on at AOL Travel to find out about Disney cruise lines adding animated features to typically porthole-less cabins on their ships. From the accompanying video it looks like there are scenes from The Band Concert, UP, Sleeping Beauty, Peter Pan and many more, with these scenes composited over a real time video feed of the actual view out over the ocean from the ship.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

La Luna: New Pixar Short

Hadn't heard of this short until today. Looks similar to Henry Selick's Moongirl. It might be attached to next year's Brave . . . or Monsters University?, but I wouldn't mind if it was in front of some Disney live action film that gets released sometime between Cars 2 and Brave. Pixar shorts can be paired with things other than Pixar features . . . at least in my mind.

More at Pixar Planet.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Chuck Jones Art Exhibit

Went to 50 Forks the other day, which is the restaurant run by the culinary students at The Art Institute of California — Orange County. While eating I noticed that they had several frames of Chuck Jones artwork up and that the adjoining room had been turned into practically a mini-museum of Chuck's art. I went around snapping photos of some of it. There's obviously Looney Tunes stuff in there but that's not all it is:

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Friday, April 29, 2011

No, I didn't stay up to watch the royal wedding but I did get sent this image of a royal wedding-themed poster for Cars 2, with Lightning McQueen all by himself, and I didn't see it posted anywhere else, so here it is:

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

BYU Center for Animation blends 2D and 3D and wins award for it

I got sent this link earlier today about an animated short, "DreamGiver," produced by BYU students winning a student Emmy. Every time I read about BYU animation either help and/or notice from Pixar seems to get mentioned too and this time Disney was mentioned as well. This one looks good enough for a theatrical release but I'm afraid like with so many animated shorts that too few of the potential audience will ever see it.

One of the unique angles to this story is that the short in question blends 2D (hand-drawn) animation with 3D (computer-generated) animation. Pixar's "Day & Night" also did but I think in "DreamGiver" there's even more actual blending going on.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

New Ballad of Nessie Pics

These are from the Disney short that is going to play in front of the new Winnie the Pooh movie:

More images at Cartoon Brew and some background from a crew member here.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Lilo & Stitch Hawaiian Host Macadamia Nuts

Here's another food/animation mashup with the added bonus of having a Hawaiian theme.

New Winnie Poster

Is it just me or is this supposed to be reminiscent of the infamous JAWS poster?:

When I got the e-mail from Disney publicity informing that there were new Winnie the Pooh images available there was this curious addendum: "Also, images of Zooey Deschanel and her announcement in support of WINNIE THE POOH have been posted." So, here we go; Zooey with Tigger:

Click either image for a larger version. Over at Cartoon Brew they've posted a one-minute clip from the film. Opens July 15th at a theater near you. In fact, at theaters near lots of people.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Happiness Is A Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown (UPDATED)

I don't know why there isn't an official online trailer for this but at least we have a YouTube video somebody made by videoing their TV with their cellphone:

Comes out March 29th on home video, no television release.

UPDATED: Okay, so now there is an official trailer and it has different footage than the one seen above:

Hmm, looks like they even have obscure Peanuts fan favorite Shermy in there.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Mr. Popper's Penguins... not animated

On a complete fluke I ended up attending the funeral services for Disney legend Joe Grant back in the summer of 1995. When Roy Disney spoke at it he mentioned something about a project centered on penguins, apparently that originated from an idea of Joe's. I e-mailed Roy for clarification later on and he responded with the following:

Dear Christian - I was referring to a book called "Mister Popper's Penguins" (published in the 30s) which Joe and I - and others - always saw as a perfect half-live-half-animation project, but never quite got off the ground. It still ought to be made...ask Burny about it.

I never heard anymore about it (partly because I don't know how to contact Burny Mattinson) but an Entertainment Weekly from about two months ago said that the story is being made into a live action film starring Jim Carrey and real penguins:


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Tim gets the Vincent treatment

Just received word from Wonder Motion Studios that they are making a short stop-motion film called Tim about a boy named Timothy Todd who longs to be like his horror hero Tim Burton in the same way that Vincent Malloy of Timothy Burton's short Vincent longs to be like horror legend Vincent Price. Fans of Vincent Price and Tim Burton will be delighted to know that Christopher Lee provides the narration for the short.

Here's a still from the movie:

The press release and an introductory video can be read and seen here.

Official Movie SiteFacebook Page

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

More DCA Renovation

Here's some more "Under Construction" boards up temporarily at Disney's California Adventure while they renovate. A lot of these showcase classic old-time Disney characters:




UP House Now Even More Real

In a prior entry I showed an inflatable that used to be stationed between Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure that was a replica of the famous house from Pixar's UP. It was kind of neat to see something like the "real thing" in person but the whole thing, house and balloons and all, was basically one big balloon.

But yesterday I found an article that shows an actual scale model of Carl Fredericksen's house with real helium-filled balloons blossoming out of its top as part of an experiment to recreate the spectacular scene from the film.

Read on here.

Green Lantern: Emerald Knights Trailer

Friday, February 25, 2011

Toy Story Hawaiian Vacation

Here's two just-released stills from Toy Story Hawaiian Vacation, the Pixar short that will be shown in front of Cars 2:

I think shorts like this are a great way for people to see familiar characters again without the weight and potential drag of another complete feature film. I impetuously wrote Brad Bird one time saying he should do some shorts based on The Incredibles. Maybe that will still happen. Or maybe not. But it would be nice.

Click on the images to see a bigger version.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Polar bears on their way

I suppose this is an official Coca-Cola commercial from Brazil set to a tune from Disney's Brother Bear:

Wednesday, February 9, 2011