Three years ago, when the original Angry Birds Movie debuted in theaters, it was able to deliver over $ 38 million in its first three days. However, the film’s sequel, which was directed by Thurop Van Orman and John Rice failed to attract big numbers to theaters this past week. The Angry Birds. Movie 2 could only make an estimated $ 10.5 million this weekend for a $ 16.2 million six-day performance. Additionally, the film brought in $ 29.3 million overseas, making its worldwide gross around $ 45.4 million.
The reviews, however, were quite positive. The film received a B+ score on Cinemascore playing to an audience that was 51% female, and 53% of audience were 25 or older. The film scored 76% on the review site Rottentomatoes.com.
Meanwhile, Disney’s Lion King shows no signs of slowing down with an estimated $ 11.9 million weekend, bringing its U.S. cume to $ 496 million, and its global tally to $ 1.435 billion. The pic is now the #9 worldwide release of all-time. Universal’s R-rated comedy Good Boys was the number one movie of the weekend with a $ 21 million opener.
The next big animated release Stateside will be Yu Yang’s Chinese blockbuster Ne Zha, which will released in 3D Imax theaters on August 29th, followed by a nationwide expansion on Sept. 6. The film, which will be released by Well Go USA Entertainment, has earned over $ 594 million in China, making its number one animated film of all-time and the number four most popular movie ever in the territory.
Directed by Bruce Wright, a kite’s tale combines classic hand-drawn animation and the latest innovations in virtual reality to tell a whimsical tale of two kites — a playful puppy (with a wagging tail) and a pompous dragon — who clash, tangle and ultimately must learn to live with one another subject to the winds of fate.
“I’m thrilled that a kite’s tale is premiering at SIGGRAPH 2019’s VR Theater,” said Wright. “Virtual reality has the ability to bring us into new worlds of story, and touch the hearts of the audience in never before dreamt of ways. It’s an honor to showcase our film at SIGGRAPH for the innovators and artists who are shaping the future of this medium.”
a kite’s tale was created within Disney Animation’s innovative Short Circuit program, which gives anyone within the studio the opportunity to participate in a blind submission and be selected for the opportunity to direct their short film idea. The program has produced 20 short films thus far, with a kite’s tale being the second VR film (the first, Cycles debuted at SIGGRAPH 2018).
“We’re still on the cusp of a powerful new medium, and I cannot wait for audiences to experience what Disney has done with its second VR short,” said SIGGRAPH 2019 VR Theater Director Maxwell Planck. “It’s encouraging and exciting to see studios and artists with proven success in more traditional computer graphics contribute to the next evolution of storytelling, and further proves that the seeds we are planting are strong.”
Born in Los Angeles, and raised in Redondo Beach and Lomita, California, Bruce Wright’s interest in animation was awakened in 1985 when, as a high school newspaper reporter, he attended a special screening of the Disney classic Fantasia, followed by a discussion with legendary Disney animators Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston. Inspired, he purchased a Super-8 film camera and started making movies. After attending Cal State Long Beach, where he majored in film and television studies, he went on to work at Paramount Pictures, where he founded an experimental desktop graphics and visual effects lab, and contributed to such projects as Addams Family Values and Star Trek: Generations.
Wright began his association with Disney in 1996 as a live-action visual effects animator at Dream Quest Images, where he worked on Armageddon and George of the Jungle. His Disney Animation feature credits include effects animation on Tangled, Wreck-It Ralph, Big Hero 6, Zootopia, Ralph Breaks the Internet and, most recently, Frozen 2. Bruce and his wife, Tekla, have a teenage daughter. An accomplished magician, he can often be found dabbling in sleight of hand as a member of the world-famous Magic Castle.
This Friday marks the release of Tim Burton’s live-action version of Disney’s much-loved 1941 animated classic Dumbo. The film did very well in Thursday night previews in the U.S., scoring an impressive $ 2.6 million. The studio is anticipating a $ 50 plus million debut while other sources are suggesting a debut in the $ 60-65 million range.
Despite showcasing the usual stunning Burtonesque visuals, the new version of the flying-elephant tale is getting slammed by critics for its bloated storyline, over-the-top, cartoonish acting (courtesy of Danny DeVito and Michael Keaton), and hard-to-take scenes of animals, and the film’s new young characters going through a lot of horrible pain and misery for a few moments of happiness at the end of the movie. The two-hour movie does feature such stunning visual effects courtesy of vfx supervisor Richard Stammers and production vfx supervisor Hal Couzens, and the teams at MPC (Moving Picture Company), Framestore, RISE, Rising Sun Pictures and Rodeo FX.
The film currently has a low score of 52% on Rottentomatoes.com, which raises the question, ‘Do we really need these live-action versions of beloved animated Disney classics?” (Aladdin, The Lion King, Malificent 2, Mulan, Snow White, Pinocchio, Lady and the Tramp, The Sword in the Stone, Cruella, Prince Charming are in the pipeline.)
Here is a quick sampler of what the major critics had to say about the new Dumbo:
“I was psyched for the teaming of Keaton and Burton, but the chemistry, sad to say, produces no magical brew. Something else nags at this movie: We no longer conceive of old-fashioned circuses and the schooling for animals to be props and comic attractions as harmless fun…Whether you view such projects as a flourish of digital legerdemain, or as a dead weight and an insult to Uncle Walt, is no consequence. What matters is that they rub the lamp and rack up the gold!” – Anthony Lane, The New Yorker
“It’s astounding that Tim Burton and his colleagues could have created such a downer from a long-beloved source of delight.” -Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal
“I was expecting a surplus of cute close-ups, but Burton does surprisingly little to win us over. He’s never been big on treacle, but a bit more warmth in this chilly movie, which barely follows the outline of the 1941 original, would have gone a long way.” -Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor
“That the plot involves having DeVito’s modest family-run circus being swallowed up by a mogul with his own theme park is almost too obvious a metaphor for the back half of Burton’s 35-year career.” -Chris Klimek, NPR
“It has some undeniably magical moments, but how many of these there are depends on the eyes and age of the beholder.” -Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
“This live-action re-imagining of Disney’s 1941 animated classic may be the sweetest film Tim Burton has ever made. It’s also the safest.” -Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
“The character of Dumbo is still touching, but the tale of entrapment and rescue that surrounds him is not. It’s arduous and forgettable, done in busy italicized strokes.” -Owen Gleiberman, Variety
“Burton has merrily turned what could have been another remake into something genuinely different and surprising. What exactly it is will partly depend on your view toward Disney. So it’s worth noting that for all the tumult and fury, this can also feel a bit like a bittersweet origin story: 1919 was the same year that the teenage Walt returned from war and was hired by a commercial art shop where he met Ub Iwerks who helped create Mickey Mouse.” -Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
Over the past decade, we’ve come to expect great things from the discerning animation production team of Michael Rose and Martin Pope of Magic Light Pictures. Fans of award-winning specials such as Room on the Broom, The Gruffalo, The Gruffalo’s Child and The Highway Rat are familiar with the kind of heart-warming, witty and lovingly animated family fare they deliver year after year
This Christmas, they are back with a new half-hour special based on another book written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler, who also inspired their previous specials.
“Martin Pope and I have produced a number of specials based on Julia and Axel’s books over the years, beginning with The Gruffalo in 2009,” says Michael Rose. “The first time we read Zog, we loved the characters, story and the world and wanted to bring it to screen. Max Lang and Suzanne Lang found a great way to adapt the book, and we then asked Max (who had previously directed both Gruffalo and Room on the Broom for us) and Daniel Snaddon (who co-directed Stick Man) to direct the film.”
Zog features the voices of Sir Lenny Henry (Narrator), Tracey Ullman (Madame Dragon), Hugh Skinner (Zog), Patsy Ferran (Pearl) and Kit Harington (Sir Gadabout). It centers on the friendship between an accident-prone dragon and a young girl who patches up his bruises and grazes. Zog faces a big challenge during his fifth year at Dragon School, when he has to capture a princess.
Finding Their Bliss
Lang and Snaddon were instantly drawn to the book’s characters and humor. “Zog, Princess Pearl and Sir Gadabout are all struggling with finding their place in the world,” says Lang. “There’s a big gap between what they and the world wants from them, and who they actually are. This creates a nice conflict and leads to a lot of character driven comedy. The other strong pull for us was the relationship between Pearl and Zog which adds a warmth to the story that we were keen to capture in the animation.”
Rose also praises Donaldson’s clever, character-led stories which take readers on imaginative journeys into extraordinary worlds. “Axel Scheffler’s illustrations bring these characters and worlds to life, creating rich layers of visual detail which amplify Julia’s words and compliment them with additional depth and story,” he adds. “So these books provide a wonderful starting place for dramatic adaptation and bountiful inspiration for animation.”
Cape Town-based Triggerfish Animation, who also worked on The Highway Rat and Revolting Rhymes, produced the special’s beautiful CG animation. “They are a fabulous studio and great partners to work with, with a very talented crew, producing superb high-quality CGI,” says Rose. “Voice recordings and all sound and picture post-production were done in London.”
The project was animated in Maya and rendered in Arnold, while the visual effects were simulated in Phoenix and compositing was handled by Nuke. The animation team also used ZBrush and 3D-Coat for some of the modelling and surfacing work. According to the producers, more than a hundred people worked on the special over an 18 month period.
One of the key challenges of the project was that its story takes place over five years, during which the characters grow. “The already large cast of characters had to change and grow from sequence to sequence,” notes Snaddon. “This is a problem in any asset-based medium, but the team at Triggerfish came up with a lot of elegant and creative solutions. Apart from this, the trickiest thing has been managing the overlap with our next project which is really cool, but has a whole different set of challenges.”
Looking back, Rose is pleased with how the project has moved from the page to the small screen. “We set out to make a film for all the family to enjoy,” he notes. “At its heart is the empowering story of a young girl who renounces being a princess to become a doctor and do good in the world. Hopefully audiences will be inspired, entertained and come away smiling!”
You can watch a trailer for the special here: www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p06tz8w0
Zog premieres on BBC One in the U.K. on Christmas Day. The half-hour special will have an Oscar-qualifying run in Los Angeles in December and will be submitted for consideration in 2019.
Just in time for the holiday season, Screen Media will release the animated feature Elliot: The Littlest Reindeer in U.S. theaters. The Double Dutch International film, which is written and directed by Jennifer Westcott (Locked in a Garage Band), features the voices of Josh Hutcherson (The Hunger Games), Samantha Bee, John Cleese, Martin Short, Jeff Dunham and Morena Baccarin.
The CG-animated movie finds Blitzen retiring, and centers on the adventures of an eager miniature horse who travels to the North Pole to land a spot on Santa’s sleigh team, along with his best pal Hazel the goat.
The pic is produced by Lucas Lynette-Krech and Awesometown Entertainment in association with Elgin Road Productions Ltd. Screen Media has set a November 30 theatrical release in the U.S., while Elevation Pictures will distribute in Canada. Elliot will have to compete with the likes of Disney’s Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It-Ralph 2 and Universal’s The Grinch for kids’ attentions during the upcoming holiday season.
“Elliot is an awesome inspirational tale of overcoming the odds and dreaming big to achieve your goals — all of which is what we strive for at Screen Media,” says Seth Needle, Screen Media’s senior VP of worldwide acquisitions. “Elliot is the perfect family holiday movie and we know audiences nationwide are going to love it.”
Fans of DreamWorks Animation’s much-anticipated March 2019 movie How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World will have a new art book to look forward to next year. Dark Horse is publishing a lavish hardcover art book featuring exclusive art from the movie as well as commentary from writer-director Dean DeBlois and artists who worked on the third installment of the trilogy.
The 184-page volume will feature hundreds of development art, and will retail for $ 39.99, and is currently available for pre-order, ahead of it its March 5 pub date. The new art book is written by Linda Sunshine, and features an intro by DeBlois, a foreword by voice stars Jay Baruchel and America Ferrara, and an afterward by DreamWorks Animation chief Chris DeFaria.
Lionsgate is sending home audiences on a south-of-the-border adventure with animated feature Americano, migrating to DVD ($ 14.98), Digital HD and On Demand on June 13 — available in both Spanish and English. The 3D CG family film centers on a young Mexican parrot who sets off on an incredible, often hilarious, quest to find the hero that can save his family.
The voice cast for Americano features Rico Rodriguez, Kate Del Castillo, Cheech Marin, Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias, Golden Globe nominee Lisa Kudrow, and Academy Award nominee Edward James Olmos, in addition to radio personalities Don Cheto, El Mandril, and Argelia Atilano.
Synopsis: Cuco is a Mexican boy parrot that would rather imitate the crazy stunts of his TV parrot superhero, El Americano, than help with his chores at the family bird circus. Yet when a gang of bully birds threatens his ringmaster father and takes over the circus, Cuco sets off on a hilarious and perilous journey to Hollywood to enlist his hero in his fight, only to discover the true hero within himself.
Americano was directed by Ricardo Arnaiz and Mike Kunkel, and produced by Animex, Olmos Productions and Phil Roman Entertainment.
(Reuters) – A humanoid robot with a head, hands and feet and wearing stylish red sneakers boarded a flight for Germany at Los Angeles International Airport on Monday, becoming what was billed as the first robot traveling as a paid passenger on an airline.
The robot, named Athena, created a scene at the Tom Bradley International Terminal as she was pushed in a wheelchair up to the Lufthansa counter to pick up her ticket to Frankfurt. Television crews swarmed, camera flashes went off and people aimed their cell-phone cameras at her, exclaiming: “It’s a robot!”
Built by the Salt Lake City engineering and robotics company Sarcos, Athena was purchased by Germany’s Max Planck Society, which along with researchers at the University of Southern California are trying to make her perform tasks too dangerous for humans, such as cleanup after the nuclear disaster at Fukushima, Japan.
“We don’t want humans to go there and sacrifice their lives,” said Max Planck doctoral student Alexander Herzog, who was pushing Athena through the airport. “I would like to have a robot achieve the same task, such as opening up doors and cleaning up.”
Right now, Athena can do little more than sit and bask in attention. The software to make her legs move and stand is still in the works, though her arms can operate and her mouth glows blue on a white head fitted with cameras and sensors.
She got an economy ticket but still enjoyed special treatment, including a cut to the front of the ticket line in the first-class lane.
And while Athena did not have to go through the regular metal detector, the Transportation Security Administration had a special electronic pat-down awaiting, said airport spokeswoman Nancy Suey Castles. “TSA didn’t want us to say what it was,” she said.
As for the flight, Athena was strapped into a seat like a regular passenger, but was put in the off position, accompanied all the way to her new laboratory home in Germany by Herzog and Jeannette Bohg, senior research scientist at the Max Planck Society.
Representatives for Lufthansa could not be reached for comment.
Athena could have been shipped in a big box like any other electronic gear, but the scientists “wanted to see how humans responded to a robot sitting in a plane,” said Castles.
Rovio Entertainment has chosen Sony Pictures Imageworks in Vancouver as its primary animation house for the production of the Angry Birds movie, the upcoming animated film based on Rovio’s global hit mobile game brand.
The film is being produced by John Cohen and Catherine Winder and executive produced by Mikael Hed and David Maisel; directors are Fergal Reilly and Clay Kaytis; the screenplay is by Jon Vitti.
Angry Birds is slated for a July 1, 2016, release and will be distributed worldwide by Sony Pictures.
Established in 2010 in the Yaletown area, Sony Pictures Imageworks has amassed a bevy of computer-generated animation and effects talent at its Vancouver studio.
“The Angry Birds movie will allow Sony Pictures Imageworks to employ more artists in Vancouver on a single film than we’ve had on any of our previous CG features,” said Randy Lake, executive vice president and general manager, Digital Production Services. “British Columbia is rich with animation and effects talent, and we look forward to further enhancing the production staff in our Vancouver facility.”
Angry Birds is one of the world’s biggest entertainment brands, starting in 2009 with the original mobile game that remains the number one paid app of all time. With more than 2 billion downloads, Angry Birds has expanded rapidly into entertainment, publishing, and licensing to become a beloved international brand.
The upcoming movie marks Rovio’s first foray into feature films, although fans have already been introduced to the Angry Birds universe with the weekly Angry Birds Toons animated series.
Perhaps you’ve visited a restaurant and seen clear, water-filled bags hanging on the doors or cinched up in the outdoor dining area. You might ask, “What’s all this about? Some crazy new way to control temperature? A scheme to save money on water pitchers?”
While any effect on temperature is purely accidental, these hanging bags are all about driving pests away. People hang these bags outside their homes, businesses and even in their barns to drive flies away.
Various takes on the water-bag practice exist. Some advocates insist the bag must have flakes of floating tin foil; others say a single penny. A couple of industrious Web sites even offer commercial takes on the concept, selling specially designed water bags to be used as repellents.
Flies spend much of their time buzzing around such germ havens as dumpsters, carcasses and animal droppings. Then, loaded down with germs, these flies swarm around your chicken sandwich — it’s only natural that you’d want to keep them away. After all, flies aren’t just annoying, they carry diseases.
But how can a bag of water help? Does it even work? Experts and amateurs alike are split on the question. On the next two pages, we’ll examine both sides of the issue.
AP – A peacock with a sense of adventure — and a good sense of direction — has flown back home to New York’s Central Park Zoo. On Tuesday, humans flocked and tweeted as the peacock left the zoo for a perch on a Fifth Avenue window ledge. It had good taste: A condo there reportedly sold for $ 22.5 million in 2009.
Reuters – An Austrian chocolate company vowed on Tuesday to appeal a ruling by a Vienna court that stops it from producing Easter bunnies resembling those made by Switzerland’s Lindt & Spruengli.
Yahoo! News: Oddly Enough – Reuters UK