Will be released on Jun 15, 2018.
We’re cuckoo for Coco! With such a bright, festive (and slightly spooky) world to work with, Disney-Pixar xar and p partners are coming up with treats like the old school Ernesto T-Shirt ($23); Mattel’s Interactive Guitar r ($35) an and Dante/Alebrije Coloring Sculpture ($13); and Chronicle Books’ beautiful 160-page ge The Art of Coc Coco co ($ ($40). [shopdisney.com | chroniclebooks.com] Even before the trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi dropped, fanatics and laymen alike were obsessed with Porgs (The New Ewok!™). Get more of the pug/penguin/marshmallow hybrids with a customizable Cartoon Badge Mug ($17), ), your own life-sized Talking Plush h ($20) or Kevin Shinick’s chil- dren’s storybook Chewie and the Porgs ($18, Dec. 15), illustrated by Fiona Hsieh. [shopdisney.com | target.com] Love Studio Ghibli? GKIDS and Shout! Factory have been rolling out new Blu-ray combo pack ($30) and DVD ($20) editions of Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, Howl’s Moving Castle, Ponyo, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Princess Mononoke (Oct. 17), Castle in the Sky, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (Oct. 31), The Secret World of Arrietty and Porco Rosso (Nov. 21)! Some sets have updated special features, and all come with art & commentary booklets. toys! Y Young colts and fillies would love Ha Hasbro’s asbro’s Cant Canterlot & Seaquestrria questria Castle pl playset ($100), moving/light-up Pinkie ie Pie Swiimming Swimming Sea Seapony ($25) or Magical Princess Twilight Spparkle Sparkle talkin talking/animated plush ($130). Bronies can aalso also build the their classic figure collection with new ccharacters, characters, o or add some sparkle with the Funko Pop! V Vinyl Figure Figures. [hasbrotoyshop.com | funko.com] ] The 1930s cartoon-inspired run ‘n’ gun game Cuphead finally launched in September to enthusiastic reviews, thanks to its fabulous, freaky hand-drawn art and energetic gameplay. Studio MDHR continues to tweak and update the title, which is available on Steam, Xbox One & Windows 10. Now we just wait while King Features puts the licensing program together! [cupheadgame.com]
Previously on X-Men: The Making of an Animated Series is a fascinating new retrospective on life in the toon trenches from 30-year veteran Eric Lewald. And it gets deep into those trenches. From Margaret Loesch’s struggles to get the show on the air, to finetuning the animated adaptation, to the eternal question “How Can You Say ‘No’ to Stan Lee?”, this is an intensive history of a gamechanging superhero toon through the eyes of the folks who made it happen. [Jacobs Brown Press] Death Note: Allin-One Edition ($40) packs all 12 volumes (2,400 pages) of Tsugumi Ohba & Takeshi Obata’s smash-hit manga in a single, exclusive doorstopper. [VIZ Media]
BoxLunch ch is digging around in our ur wallets again. n. Just added to o our wishlists: s: plastic Chucky Glasses ($10) and glittery Danielle Nicole Reptar Clutch ($40) inspired by Nickelodeon’s Rugrats. Their new Looney Tunes collection is also a mix o of cartoony and classy— we dig the understated, exclu clusive “That’s All Folks!” W Wallet ($23, faux leather). [b [boxlunch.com]
5It’s Walt Disney’s birthday! ...Maybe that’s why there’s so many titles arriving on DVD and BD: Despicable Me 3, The Simpsons - Season 18, Sailor Moon Crystal: Season 3, Digimon Adventure tri. Chapter 3: Confession, Mobile Suit Gundam Wing box set and Endless Waltz, Revolutionary Girl Utena: Complete Ferdinand A Town Called Panic: The Collection
Crafting a See-Through Canine Miguel’s dog Dante came with his own endearing, yet complicated set of challenges. As a hairless Xolo dog, his entire body would be visible to the audience and nothing could be hidden underneath fur. Animators would have to rely on techniques they developed while working on the bears in Brave. One was volume simulation that gave natural movement to the part of the dog that wiggled while he walked, and the other was a skin simulation that made the stretch of Dante’s uneven, imperfect skin seem believable over his skeleton.
The film’s most striking visual achievement is the Land of the Dead, created by production designer Harley Jessup and lit by cinematographer Danielle Feinberg. Miguel finds himself transported to this place where his ancestors live when he dares to pick up an old guitar and play it. Once there, we watch him traverse an astonishing Victorian-inspired -inspired city that’s stacked into the skies. Multiple generations s of the dead have come to live here, each one building on the e structures created by the previous group of the deceased.
Feinberg found ways to create ate a unique lighting strategy by working with code. There are shots hots of the Land of the Dead that contain about 7 million individual dual lights, which makes for the otherworldly look achieved by the team. But hand-placing the e lights would have simply been n impossible, according to Feineinberg, because of the cost and time ime needed. Feinberg realized that if they used ed a bit of code created during the 2014 movie The he Good Dinosaur, which groups lights together, it would d be possible to get the look they wanted. With this code, ode, lighting artists could tell the computer to find all the e streetlights in a shot, for example, and put a little light inside nside them. So the computer considers them all one light and d the shot becomes relatively simple to stage.
“There are always things we’ve never done before, but that’s part of what interests and excites me about making this film,” says Unkrich. “I wanted this world to look like nothing we’d ever seen.” comes to U.S. theaters on November 22.
in the way we approached the animation to depict the characters’ experiences in the real world,” says Twomey. “We wanted to get a sense of realism and subtlety and to respect the cultural differences. We also pushed our cast as much as we could to really inhabit the characters. Many of our cast members were either born in Afghanistan or had parents who grew up in the country, so they were bringing their own childhoods and experiences to the parts they played and they spread the knowledge around.”
Of course, Angelina Jolie’s involvement in the project as producer added a bigger spotlight on the movie. The first time that Twomey met the amazing actress in person, she pretended that she just happened to be in town on business, but in fact the director had flown out to Los Angeles for the sole purpose of meeting Jolie face to face.
“She is such an extraordinary woman and is extremely knowledgeable about the situation in that part of the world,” says Twomey. “She has spent over a decade promoting education and equal rights for young women in Afghanistan and understands the complexity of the situation and history of that country. On a personal level, she appreciated the subtlety and sensibility of the story we were telling. She watched every stage of the project as we progressed, and she even recorded a heartfelt message for everyone when we had a Christmas party for the cast and crew, and everyone felt very appreciated. She has the ability to shine a light on the issues facing children and bring more visibility to an indie film, so her involvement was so valuable.”
The director, who had worked with the animation team in Melusine in the past, says she shared as much information about each scene as possible as they went into production. “It was crucial for everyone to understand why every scene exists and what kind of crescendos we were bringing to the film. This was our third co-production at Cartoon Saloon, and we really value our co-production partners. For a movie of this scale, we had to make sure we had enough production managers, as the flow of communication is very important.”
The Cartoon Saloon team used Shotgun software to go over the scenes with animators at the different studios in real time. “My assistant director Stuart Shankly, who is an incredible artist and shares my sensibility, helped immensely as he ensured a consistency between all the studios,” she notes.
The production used TVPaint for the animation and Photoshop to incorporate the real-world backgrounds. For the simpler animated segments that represent the fables and stories of the nfarrative, the team used Moho to rig the characters and Nuke to composite them. “Things have changed so much since we made Secret of Kells,” says Twomey. “Back then, all the scenes were done on paper, and they were literally shipped around the world. I think the handson nature of animation is incredible. I love every stage of the process.” Promoting Empathy Beyond Borders Beyond raising awareness of the plight of young women in Afghanistan, one of the
The feature Napping Princess (also known as Ancien and the Magic Tablet) confirms writer-director Kenji Kamiyama’s reputation as the creator of animated stories that are intricate and challenging, as well as entertaining.
In Solid State Society— the television follow-up to Mamoru Oshii’s Ghost in the Shell— and the intriguing Eden of the East, Kamiyama presented complicated stories with unexpected twists that resolved their conflicts as elegantly as a Bach fugue. It’s not surprising that he cites Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World and Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami and The Laughing Man by J.D. Salinger as influences.
The well-received film centers on the adventures of high school junior Kokone Morikawa (voiced by Mitsuki Takahata) who would rather spend the summer dozing and looking after her widowed mechanic father than watching the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. However, she finds herself caught up in two intertwined adventures: A fantasy based on the stories her father told her as a little girl, in which she must defend the kingdom of Heartland, and an all-too-real case of industrial espionage tied to the Olympic ceremonies. Aided by her sensible friend Morio Sawatari (Shinnosuke Mitsushima), Kokone finds a way to overcome the interlocking challenges.
Like many of Kamiyama’s characters, Kokone in Napping Princess doesn’t set out to become a heroine; she has that role thrust upon her. As she faces unexpected obstacles, she discovers reserves of strength and imagination she didn’t know she possessed. “I like lively, talented women,” Kamiyama says. “I get inspiration from watching them being challenged and trying their best. That’s why I put strong, dynamic women in my films.”
As Napping Princess is a heroine’s journey, Kamiyama felt he needed a woman to compose the score. “The music in my works conveys the images and events to the audience on an emotional level,” he continues. “I knew I wanted a female composer to create the music for this film, as only women can understand the female mind. A piano piece written by Yoko Shimomura fit the story, so I asked her to write the score.” Uniting Words and Images During his 30-year career, Kamiyama worked as a background painter, art director, storyboard artist, screenwriter and unit director before becoming a writer-director. “The words and the images come at the same time,” he explains in a recent interview conducted via email. “I write scripts to verbalize the images in my head, so I can convey them to the staff. During storyboarding, the artists tended to draw what they wanted, rather than attempt to understand my intentions. I had to put the themes and images into words again, then explain them to the staff.”
Kamiyama’s films reflect his ambivalence toward modern technology. Kokone clings to a cracked tablet that may have magical properties; Akira Takizawa in Eden of the East has a cell phone that delivers anything he requests. Neither of these devices always functions the way the owner expects. Similarly, the Tachikoma robots in Solid State Society are evolving in ways that go beyond any programming their human users installed.
“One of the themes in all my works is the hope that science and technology will make the future of humanity brighter,” he states. “Although these technologies are not always good for us or the global environment, we can’t relinquish new technology because of its downsides. We need to think about the problems and the solutions simultaneously.”
Kamiyama had to deal first hand with the promises and challenges of new technology, as Napping Princess features both handdrawn and computer animation. “Veteran animators usually don’t like to use CG, but the younger staff members are accustomed to using digital. It was very challenging to get them to adjust to each other’s ways of working. The greatest challenge for me was having to finish work left undone by staffers who weren’t good at it, or didn’t want to learn. I sometimes had to work all night—in addition to directing the film.”
Although Napping Princess is still showing in various countries and should be a contender at awards time, Kamiyama is already at work on his next projects—plural. “I’ve already started making two films, and there are two more I’ve begun preparing: I’m getting one idea after another,” he concludes. “I hope I can make them into pieces many people will enjoy. I try to make films that will be watched for a long time, but I also try not to worry too much about the audience’s reaction, because it’s something I can’t control.” Napping Princess was released by Warner Bros. in Japan in March. GKIDS released in the film in the U.S. and Canada in September.
AAnn Marie Fleming’s fascinating new animated feature
n imaginative young Canadian poet named Rosie Ming (voiced by Sandra Oh) learns about Persian culture and the healing power of poetry when she is invited to perform at a festival in Iran. That’s the unusual premise behind Ann Marie Fleming’s animated feature debut Window Horses, which opened in Los Angeles in September. The 2D animated project, which is also exec produced by actresses Oh and Ellen Page (who provides the voice for Rosie’s best friend), is the result of years of creative work and soul-searching by Fleming.
“I was invited to an artist residency in Germany many years ago, and was surrounded by poets and artists from all over the world, all sharing stories of their own diasporas,” recalls Fleming. “The effects of the Second World War are still very much alive in Europe, and I was struck by the histories of families that’d not been shared, and the difficulty of crossgenerational relationships after trauma. I saw poetry as a way to communicate between generations and cultures and millennia.”
Fleming says years later, in Vancouver, she learned about the Iranian community in the city and was struck by the similarities with what she’d heard from all over the world. “Also, like in China, words written by poets from a thousand years ago are still relevant in Iranian society today,” she recalls. “There is a deep connection through family and poetry. So, I wanted to make the story contemporary, and made the Islamic Revolution the point of change.” History, Poetry and Imagination The writer/director say she really felt the need to make something positive about intercultural relationships back in 2007. She also wanted to tell the story from the point of view of her avatar, “stickgirl,” which she has been playing with for almost 30 years. “The movie takes place in Iran and it is about poetry, history and the imagination, so animation was the perfect expression for the possibilities of creativity,” Fleming adds.
After receiving some funding from Telefilm Canada, she ran into difficulties after Canada cut diplomatic relations with Iran a few years after the 2009 elections. “The film became an even harder sell,” she recalls “I tried to make a graphic novel out of the storyboards I made with Kevin Langdale. I made a stickgirl poetry oracle app and had haiku contests on my website to keep the story alive.”
Fleming finally decided to put her house on the line to make the film. Then, she called Sandra Oh and asked her if she would voice the main character. Oh loved the story so much she also became executive producer, brought on other top-notch actors and was the spokesperson for the film’s Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign. Eventually, Telefilm Canada came on board as investors and NFB came on as co-producers. The Canadian tax credit program helped complete the financing picture.
The movie, which also features the voices of Don McKellar, Shohreh Aghdashloo and Nancy Kwan, used a team of talented independent animators in different locations. “This is a really artisan film, and was made with less than a couple of dozen people, not hundreds,” says Fleming. The animation team, which included the likes of Kevin Langdale, Janet Perlman, Bahram Javaheri and Jody Kramer, was spread out all over Canada. “I like the idea
YMary and the Witch’s Flower Japanese helmer Hiromasa Yonebayashi, who directed Studio Ghibli’s Arrietty and When Marnie Was There, is the mastermind behind Studio Ponoc’s acclaimed first production. Many of the artists who worked on the film are former Ghibli employees. The movie opened in July in Japan and has earned over 3 billion yet ($28.8 million). Based on Mary Stewart’s book The Little Broomstick, the plot centers on the adventures of a young girl who discovers a magical flower with special powers. Kate Winslet, Ruby Barnhill and Jim Broadbent lead the distinguished English-language voice cast. Ponoc/GKIDS, January
Early Man How can anyone resist the latest epic movie by the team at Aardman Animations? Directed by the brilliant Nick Park ( Wallace & Gromit) and penned by Mark Burton ( Curse of the Were-Rabbit) and John O’Farrell (Broadway’s Something Rotten!), the prehistoric stop-motion project tells the story of Dug (Eddie Redmayne) and his sidekick Hognob who rise up against their powerful enemy Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston) and his Bronze Age City. The voice cast also includes Maisie Williams ( Game of Thrones). Aardman/ Lionsgate, Feb. 16
The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales Ever since its debut at Annecy, this lovely 2D animated feature has been delighting audiences. Set on a seemingly normal farm, the movie centers on the delightful adventures of an oddball fox, a duck who wants to be Santa Claus, a clumsy rabbit who acts like a stork, and a sensitive pig. The film is directed by Oscar nominee Benjamin Renner ( Ernest & Celestine) and Annie-nominated animation director Patrick Imbert, and produced by Didier Brunner’s Paris-based studio Folivari. Folivari/GKIDS, February
Isle of Dogs Fans of Wes Anderson’s The Fantastic Mr. Fox are in for a treat as the whimsical director returns to the world of stop-motion animation. Inspired by the classic films of Akira Kurosawa, the plot centers on a young boy named Atari who searches for his exiled dog Spots in a massive garbage dump known as Trash Island, with the help of a pack of pooches he meets along the way. Accompanying the gorgeous animation are the voices of stars such as Bill Murray, Bryan Cranston, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Scarlett Johansson, Greta Gerwig, Jeff Goldblum, Harvey Keitel, Akira Ito, Akira Takayama, Yoko Ono, and Edward Norton. Two paws way up! Fox Searchlight, March 23 Gnomeo & Juliet: Sherlock Gnomes Seven years after the release of the first movie, the sequel about the star-crossed garden gnomes surfaces. Directed by John Stevenson ( Kung Fu Panda), the CG-animated comedy adventure finds Gnomeo (James McAvoy) and Juliet (Emily Blunt) hiring the famous detective Sherlock Gnomes (voiced by Johnny Depp) to help solve the mystery of the missing garden gnomes. Sir Elton John will provide the music for the feature, as he did for the first outing. Rocket Pictures/ Mikros Image/ MGM/ Paramount, March 23
The Incredibles 2 Dynamo writer/director Brad Bird ( The Iron Giant, Ratatouille) is finally delivering the sequel his fans have been begging him to make for years. The toon about the delightful family of Supers (human with superpowers) will reunite original cast members Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowell and Samuel L. Jackson. The plot will start immediately after the first movie, where Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl, Jack-Jack and Dash are about to face the supervillain Underminer (John Ratzenberger). Pixar fave Michael Giacchino provides the film’s sweeping music. The 3D CG film will also be available in IMAX! Disney-Pixar, June 15
Hotel Transylvania 3 Director Genndy Tartakovsky is back, as are original voice actors Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg and Selena Gomez, in the third installment of the franchise. Co-penned by Tartakovsky and Mike McCullers ( The Boss Baby, Austin Powers), the third chapter in the vampire family’s saga finds them on a luxury Monster Cruise Ship, where Dracula falls for the ship’s captain, Ericka—a descendent of legendary monster slayer Van Helsing. Sony Pictures Animation/Columbia, July 13 Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas Wait a second! This new animated Grinch sounds awfully like… Sherlock Holmes? Yes, it’s Benedict Cumberbatch who is voicing Dr. Seuss’ famous holiday-hating curmudgeon in Illumination’s animated adaptation of the 1957 children’s classic. The shiny new CG version is directed by Yarrow Cheney ( The Secret Lives of Pets) and Peter Candeland, who has the best last name in Toon Town! Kaitlyn Maher provides the voice of the adorable Cindy Lou Who. Illumination/ Universal, Nov. 9
Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It-Ralph 2 This sequel to Disney’s Oscar-winning 2012 hit about videogame characters promises to be just as fan and packed with cameos as the original movie. Super talented Rich Moore is back at the helm of this adventure (joined by co-director/writer Phil Johnston). This time, Ralph (John C. Reilly) gets plugged into the World Wide Web, and he and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) meet new characters, trendy algorithms, Disney princesses, Iron Man, Gamora, C-3PO, R2-D2, Yoda and Princess Leia. Voice cast includes Taraji P. Henson and many of the original voices of the Disney princesses, as well as Alan Tudyk, James Corden, Jane Lynch and Jack McBrayer. Disney, Nov. 21 Untitled Animated Spider-Man Movie This intriguing new incarnation of Stan Lee’s web-slinging hero is directed by Bob Persichetti (head of story, The Little Prince) and Peter Ramsey ( Rise of The Guardians), with a script by Phil Lord and Chris Miller ( The LEGO Movie) and story by Gravity Falls creator Alex Hirsch. It will feature the voices of Shameik Moore as Miles Morales/Spider-Man and Liev Schreiber as the main villain of the story, as well as Oscar winner Mahershala Ali ( Moonlight) and Emmy nominee Brian Tyree Henry ( This Is Us). Sony Pictures Animation/ Marvel Animation/Columbia, Dec. 14
Untitled LAIKA Feature Travis Knight and his magical stop-motion team at Portland’s LAIKA studio have not revealed anything about their new movie, but we know it’s slated for a May release. (And that it’s probably going to wonderful!)