June 12, 2007
Pixar has announced that their 2009 feature will be titled Up, making it the most concisely titled animated feature ever, at least until Shane Acker's 9 comes out. According to Variety, the movie will be about "a 70-year-old man who teams with a wilderness ranger to fight beasts and villains." That's just vague enough that I went straight to Up helmer Pete Docter and asked if he could provide even a little more detail at this early date. For instance, is the movie set in the past, present or future? "It's set in the present," he said, "But I'm not supposed to say much more than has already been printed—other than it's going to be really cool!" Hopefully he'll be more forthcoming before the movie's June 12, 2009 debut.

The Mouse goes to Bollywood: In an effort to crack the Indian market, Disney is teaming up with Yash Raj Films to co-produce Bollywood-style animated features, voiced by Bollywood stars. It's a step up from, say, pitching Mulan to Chinese audiences, but it'd be really cool if Disney set up an exchange program between the Indian studio and Feature Animation in the States. It's a small world, after all.

You know we're gleefully anticipating Astro Boy Essays: Osamu Tezuka, Mighty Atom, and the Manga/Anime Revolution, but gnash our teeth mightily while waiting for its September release date. Happily, we can get a taste when author Frederik L. Schodt chats with KQED's Michael Krasny next Tuesday, between 9:00 and 11:00 a.m. Pacific Time. (If you miss it, you can download the archived podcast a bit later.) Oh, did I mention it's a call-in show? You can phone in with questions during the show at 415-863-2476 or 1-866-SF-FORUM (866-733-6786; toll free).

I had no idea there was such a thing as the Canadian Skills Competition, let alone that the thirteenth instalment happened last last week. And imagine my surprise at discovering that the "Olympic-style competitions that test the skills of young people at secondary and post-secondary levels in trade and technology areas" include animation! Specifically, there are two team events titled 3D Character Computer Animation and 2D Character Computer Animation. Congratulations to the winners, but of course I'm a little irked that animation is being considered a technology skill more than an artistic one.

I'm not a huge fan of '80s TV, and frankly the thought of another He-Man and the Masters of the Universe movie bewilders me. (The Transformers movie, less so. The smart money has long known to bet on robot smackdowns.) But it's now been confirmed that Warner will be making the Thundercats movie as a CGI feature. Okay, they've got a cool logo and all, but... why? I know, I know, there's a fan base. But... why?

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Comments:
"But it's now been confirmed that Warner will be making the Thundercats movie as a CGI feature. Okay, they've got a cool logo and all, but... why? I know, I know, there's a fan base. But... why?"

Why? Because:

1. Hollywood is very risk-averse, especially when it comes to the big-budget summer blockbusters. They always prefer to make a property that has a built-in fanbase.

2. Warner Bros. owns Thundercats and is probably looking for new ways to exploit the franchise.

3. Warner Bros. also has a tradition of making films spun off from old TV series (The Wild Wild West, The Avengers, I Spy).

4. Finally, the latest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie did well, and if the Transformers movie is as huge a hit as anticipated, other studios will be looking for 80s toy/cartoon franchises to revive. WB and whoever is making the forthcoming He-Man movie just got there first. (I'm waiting for Centurions: The Movie myself...)


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