Out-of-nowhere department… and more of a curiosity than a recommendation. There’s a new DVD out this week: A direct-to-video animated film called Elephant Kingdom. Here’s the tag: “When brave elephant Rock (Cary Elwes) sees his wife, Melody (Alexa PenaVega), kidnapped by the powerful human king (Patrick Warburton), the mighty warrior will need some jumbo-sized help from his friends in order to rescue her. Coming to his aid is a quirky, courageous troop of young elephants, including Rally (Carlos PenaVega), and Pugsley (Mikey Bolts), plus the ever-trusty and wacky Wingman (Garrett Clayton) and the kindhearted human queen (Ambyr Childers)”. Interestingly, other than “Grindstone Entertainment” and Lionsgate (who released it) we know next to nothing about who made this. The IMDB entry does not list any director, writers, or other crew; only the English-language voice actors. It’s available and on the shelves now, but check out the trailer first.
Disney animator Tom Bancroft (The Lion King, Brother Bear) has helped to bring out a new book that fans of fire-breathing winged reptiles should definitely notice: It’s called The Art of Disney’s Dragons. “Imagine if one sketchbook had been passed down through the decades from one Disney artist to the next, with each one making a contribution before leaving it in the talented hands of another. That idea was the inspiration for The Art of Disney’s Dragons. The drawings contained within this volume represent the entire range of dragon-themed development art from animators, live-action studio artists, and Imagineers. Inside find playful pencil studies of Mushu; color concepts on Figment (who was green before he became purple!); bold pencil layouts on Maleficent, and the latest character explorations of Elliot from the new Spring/Summer 2016 live-action film Pete’s Dragon. Tom Bancroft, often recognized in Disney circles as being lead animator on Mushu the dragon in Mulan, writes the book’s introductory essay.” It’s available now in hardcover from Disney Editions, and there’s a sneak peak over at Stitch Kingdom.
Here’s one we missed: Just this year DHX Media (home, of course, of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic) premiered a new animated TV series for preschoolers. “Rainbow Ruby is the story of a spunky, resourceful little girl who magically transports to Rainbow Village, a whimsical land inhabited by her toys, and transforms into different jobs to help save the day! This CGI-animated preschool series takes the childhood fantasy of dolls come to life, and mixes in an aspirational heroine who proves that you can be anything you want to be!” The series has been showing in Canada on the Family Channel. Not sure if it’s broadcast in the US or not! Check out the trailer over on Vimeo.
More recent news about Arctic Justice: Thunder Squad, a new animated feature we have mentioned before. Straight from Variety: “Jeremy Renner [The Avengers] has signed on to voice the lead character in 3D animated family film Arctic Justice: Thunder Squad from AMBI Group. Renner joins previously announced Alec Baldwin, James Franco, Anjelica Huston, and Omar Sy in a rag-tag group of inexperienced heroes combining to thwart the evil Doc Walrus, voiced by John Cleese, and save the Arctic. Renner will be voicing a fox named Swifty. The movie is fully financed and produced by AMBI principals Andrea Iervolino and Monika Bacardi, with animation work being done out of their AIC Toronto studio by Dimos Vrysellas (Shark Tale). Cal Brunker and Bob Barlen (Escape From Planet Earth) co-wrote the screenplay.” Still no word on a planned release date, but you’ll know when we do!
Disney Animation recently decided to release the first new Zootopia-themed merchandise that we’ve seen in a while. It’s a new “hidden object” phone-app game called Zootopia: Crime Files. According to a write-up at Adweek.com, “The hidden object game asks players to help Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde solve cases by completing hidden object scenes. In each normal scene, players are asked to find items on a list, which may include pieces of evidence or clues for the current case. Users can access hints if they need help finding objects.” The article goes on to describe the types of game play in much more detail. Lots of new Zootopia characters are introduced in the game — most (but not all) of them quite nefarious! The game has been available as a download for the Apple platform for a while, but now with the official launch it’s also available for Google Play, PC format, and Amazon Underground as well.
“Well before he becomes the famed horror writer H. P. Lovecraft, young Howard Lovecraft is a curious and imaginative boy living with his mother while his father is locked away in Arkham Sanitarium. But after his mother unwittingly gives Howard the legendary Necronomicon, he is transported to a dangerous and frozen world populated by horrifying creatures. After saving and befriending one such creature – Spot – Howard and his new friend set off on a perilous quest to save the kingdom and get Howard home. But Howard soon finds out that not everything is as it seems and not everyone is to be trusted.” That’s the idea behind Howard Lovecraft and the Three Kingdoms, a series of graphic novels written by Bruce Brown — based on the actual life of Lovecraft himself — and illustrated by Renzo Podesta. Now the first of the three stores, Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom, has been adapted into a CGI animated film (directed by Sean O’Reilly and featuring the voices of Ron Perlman, Christopher Plummer, and Jane Curtin, among others) which is coming this September on DVD from Shout Factory. You can find the graphic novels at Amazon, and learn more about the movie at the official site.
We can’t make this stuff up, folks. [We’d be a lot richer if we could!] This is straight from Cartoon Brew: “South Korean animation producer Redrover has teamed up with Canadian performing arts company Monlove to create The Nut Job Live! Monlove, founded by Cirque du Soleil composer Ella Louise Allaire, with Martin Lord Ferguson as partner, also created Ice Age Live!: A Mammoth Adventure, which is now in its third year of touring.The stage direction of The Nut Job Live! is scheduled to be led by Guy Caron, one of the founding members and first artistic director of Cirque du Soleil, and the world tour of the show will be coordinated by Barry Garber of Garber IMC. Nut Jove Live is intended to run for four years in over 100 countries, and will be accompanied by DVD sales, t-shirts, character plushes, and other merchandise sold on-site.” I had not heard of Ice Age Live!: A Mammoth Adventure. Had you?
This we got from Deadline: “Former ToonBox exec Jay Ahn [The Nut Job] and animation industry veteran Chris Henderson [Disney’s 101 Dalmatians TV series] have launched Astro-Nomical Entertainment, a development and production company aiming to make high-quality independent animated family films. Its first project in the works is the feature film Mean Margaret, based on the children’s book by Tor Seidler [A Rat’s Tale, The Wainscot Weasel]. Mulan co-director Barry Cook is in talks to direct… The Mean Margaret books center on a cranky toddler from a family of nine who is taken in by two woodchucks and raised as their own among a community of wacky animal characters.”
Your con-trotting ed-otter did not get a chance to attend the Disney Comics panel at San Diego Comic Con, but he found out some interesting news from people who did. Drew Taylor of Oh My Disney writes, “Yesterday at San Diego Comic Con, there was a fascinating panel centering on The Dynamic World of Disney Comics. The panel was moderated by Gianfranco Cordara, Publisher for Global Magazines and Comics for Disney Publishing Worldwide and included Daron Nefcy, creator of Star vs. the Forces of Evil, Mike Siglain, creative director, Lucasfilm at Disney Publishing, and Roberto Santillo, Director, Art Development and Academia Disney. Attendees got an inside look at how fan-favorite stories, characters, and films are adapted for modern comic book audiences.” So what’s the big deal? Simply put: It appears that Disney plans on putting out a new comic book series based on Zootopia, which will continue the story from the end of the film as well as introducing new characters and new environments. When, you ask?? No precise date was given but it was hinted it could be as early as next year. Follow the link over to Oh My Disney to check out the complete article. We promise: You’ll learn more when we do!