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Welcome Back to Transylvania!

Some good news coming our way thanks to Cartoon Brew: After initially bowing out of directing the Hotel Transylvania movie series after the second (very successful!) film, Genndy Tartakovsky had a change of heart and will in fact return to direct Part 3. “Acknowledging the surprising turn of events, Tartakovsky said in a statement, ‘I thought I was done exploring the world of Hotel Transylvania after the first two films, but while I was away from the franchise finishing my TV show Samurai Jack, an idea sparked that I got really excited about and made it irresistible to return and helm myself this third adventure.’  Michelle Murdocca will produce the film again, and Adam Sandler will executive produce and return as the voice of Dracula. Michael McCullers (Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, Boss Baby) is writing the screenplay, and Selena Gomez and Andy Samberg will revive their roles as Mavis and Johnny, respectively. Sony has slated the third installment of Hotel Transylvania for September 21, 2018. ” Maybe then we’ll find out more about the relationship of half-vampire Dennis and all-werewolf Winnie. (They zing’d, after all!). The article at Cartoon Brew also mentions other upcoming Sony Pictures animated projects, including The Star (formerly The Lamb — a faith-based feature that follows a young donkey who helps to bring about the very first Christmas).

image c. 2016 Sony Pictures

image c. 2016 Sony Pictures Animation

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Peace of Mind. It’s a Piece of Cake.

Looks like we have not seen the end of anthropomorphic movies for 2016. Now another one has been added to the growing herd: The Wild Life, an English-language version of the Belgian CGI film Robinson Crusoe. From Cartoon Brew: “In this loose adaptation of Daniel Defoe’s tale of a castaway marooned on an island, Crusoe must team up with a bunch of animals to defeat a couple of savage cats who are trying to take over his tropical home. Ben Stassen and Vincent Kesteloot directed at nWave Pictures (The House of Magic, Fly Me to The Moon), which produced the pic with Studiocanal. It opened last month in Germany, and has grossed a respectable $4.6 million to date in that country.” Both Cartoon Brew and Animation Scoop have the first English trailer. Lionsgate (Norm of the North) is set to release The Wild Life this coming September.

image c. 2106 Lionsgate

image c. 2106 Lionsgate

Try Everything: From Movies To Comics

As of this writing, Disney Animation’s Zootopia remains number one at the box office in the USA and several other countries, breaking records left and right for an animated film — Disney or otherwise. Now Joe Books (no, we don’t know who they are either) bring Zootopia to their Cinestory series of comic book adaptation. Telling the story of plucky bunny cop Judy Hopps and “articulate” fox Nick Wilde in the all-mammal city of Zootopia, using full-color stills from the movie in comic form. Diamond Distributors have more information about it.

image c. 2016 Joe Books, Inc.

image c. 2016 Joe Books, Inc.

Bird, You Are Goin’ DOWN!

Out of nowhere department: Thanks to the folks over at Cartoonbrew we learn that Sony Pictures Animation are hard at work on a direct-to-video sequel to the 2007 surfing penguin epic, Surf’s Up.  (Gad, did it really come out that long ago??) Only this time it’s surfing… wrestling… penguins. Got that? “Cody Maverick, hungry for a new challenge, convinces an infamous big wave riding crew known as The Hang 5, voiced by WWE stars John Cena, The Undertaker, Triple H, WWE Diva Paige, and Mr. McMahon, to let him join them on their journey to a mysterious surf spot known as The Trenches, where legend has it, they’ll find the biggest waves in the world.” Okay then. “Abdul Williams (writer of the urban-comedy Lottery Ticket) will script Surf’s Up 2, and story artist Henry Yu will make his directorial debut. Yu’s previous credits include Sym-Bionic Titan and both Hotel Transylvania movies… Animation will be provided by Rainmaker Entertainment, the studio behind the upcoming Ratchet & Clank feature, as well as Sony’s Open Season: Scared Silly.Check out the Cartoonbrew article for lots of preliminary artwork and an interview with the director. Look for Surf’s Up 2: Wave Mania cresting in the spring of 2017.

image c. 2016 Sony Pictures Animation

image c. 2016 Sony Pictures Animation

Black Bug Singing in the Dead of Night…

Netflix have recently announced a new CGI animated series, Beat Bugs. Premiering this summer, it’s bug-size stories set to the music of The Beatles. Yes.  According to Animation World Network: “Beat Bugs features original characters and a world created by Josh Wakely, who will direct, write and produce the series… Beat Bugs incorporates songs from the Lennon/McCartney ‘Northern Songs’ catalogue, to tell uplifting and life-affirming stories filled with hope and melody. World-leading artists, animators and writers have come together to work on this extraordinary show. The Beat Bugs are charming, funny, adventurous, and have a knack for getting themselves into mischief and mayhem. Each of the five friends (Jay, Kumi, Crick, Buzz, and Walter) has a distinctive personality, and they display the charm and energy of five knockabout, lovable kids. They are best friends who band together to explore and learn in an overgrown suburban backyard, which to them is their entire universe.” The article also has a teaser trailer for the show.

Image c. 2016 Netflix

Image c. 2016 Netflix

Furry Winners at the Annie Awards

Once again your humble ed-otter was lucky enough to attend the Annie Awards for 2015, presented at UCLA’s Royce Hall on February 6th. Presented by the International Animated Film Society (ASIFA), the Annie Awards honor the best of the animation industry — as selected by members of that industry. Surprising no-one, the night belonged to Pixar’s Inside Out. (It has already won almost every major award it has been nominated for, and of course it’s nominated for an Oscar as well.) Inside Out won in the Best Feature categories for Storyboarding, Editing, Character Design, Music, Character Animation, Production Design, Voice Acting (Phyllis Smith as Sadness), Writing, Directing, and (of course) Best Animated Feature. Bing Bong himself even helped to present some of the awards. (*sniff* Bing Bong…) A few other features managed to sneak in awards, and some of them were even for animal characters! The Good Dinosaur won in the category of Best Effects Animation. (It’s been celebrated far and wide for its realistic backgrounds and water effects.) And The Revenant won Best Animated Character In A Live Action Production for the bear that nearly eats Leonardo DiCaprio. Over in the TV and other divisions, furries were well-represented in several award categories. Disney’s new Mickey Mouse Shorts won for Best Storyboarding, Best Music, and Best Editing. ASIFA favorites. Dreamworks TV had two wins, as Dragons: Race to the Edge won for Best Character Animation and The Mr. Peabody and Sherman Show won for Best Production Design. Previous Annie favorites Tumble Leaf and Wander Over Yonder won for Best Production for Preschoolers and Best Production for Children, respectively. Psyop (home of those infamous Orangina commercials!) won Best Commercial for their Coca Cola ad Man and Dog, and Best Animated Game went to the monster adventure Evolve from 2K. [To save space, tomorrow we’ll tell you about the special awards presented at the Annies — and why you should care!] You can find out more about all of these and more over at the ASIFA Hollywood web site.

image c. 2016 Pixar

image c. 2016 Pixar Animation

One Day A Lonely Bear…

[We hope you all had a Merry Christmas — and have a safe New Year!]

Bear Story is a short CGI animated film by Gabriel Osorio at Punkrobot Studios in 2014. Since then it has won over 50 international awards in the animation festival circuit. According to an article at The Wrap, the film “…is an ingenious, dazzling piece of 3D animation, the sad story of a lonesome bear who builds an elaborate mechanical diorama in an attempt to remember (and perhaps recover) the life he used to live with his wife and son, before he was ripped from his home and sent to a circus. But audiences in Osorio’s native Chile immediately know that it’s more than that — it’s also an allegory for the way families were torn apart during the murderous Pinochet regime in Chile in the 1970s.” Bear Story has been short-listed for an Academy Award for 2015. You can see a short making-of film and a trailer for it over at the Punkrobot web page.

image c. 2015 Punkrobot

image c. 2015 Punkrobot Studios

Are You a Good Wish, or a Bad Wish?

Over at Cartoon Brew there’s an article about Wish Police, the next big film project to come out of Reel FX (home of Free Birds and The Book of Life). “Based on a novella of the same name by Daniel Nayer, Wish Police takes place in a world where children’s bad wishes come to life as mayhem-making villains, and a secret organization called The Wish Police must work full-time to apprehend the evildoers. The Wish Police are led by Saul, an ex-genie determined to atone for centuries of granting his masters’ evil wishes, and Kong, a wise-cracking monkey and royal pain in the leg. In the film, Saul and Kong must break their personal rules and team up with a 12-year-old boy named Randy who has made a particularly bad wish and unleashed the most powerful wish villain ever seen.” The film is to be directed by three young filmmakers from Spain, Adrian Garcia, Alfredo Torres, and Victor Maldonado, “who are collectively known as Headless”. The CGI film is being produced by Kirk Bodyfelt (Cloudy with A Chance of Meatballs 2) and written by some folks who worked on Kung Fu Panda. The film is scheduled for release in late 2017.

image c. 2015 Reel FX

image c. 2015 Reel FX

People Are Strange, When You’re A Vixen

According to Cartoon Brew, Yoyotoki is a young vixen who “…was raised with cell phones, computers, and all of the other gadgets and trappings of modern life, but her parents soon got tired of the rat race and decided to move to the countryside, where they encountered a tornado and found themselves in a strange land called Mytholopia, a beautiful world filled with waterfall farms, rainbow forests, and desert canyons.” So says Niki Yang, creator of Yoyotoki: Happy Ears!, a new proposed animated TV series. Ms. Yang is known in animation circles for her work on shows like Fanboy and Chum Chum, Family Guy, Gravity Falls, Clarence, and Adventure Time. Now she’s brought us the adventures of Yoyotoki (and her friends, “…a fantastically elastic gummy bear named Steak and a sloppy pig named Hotwings…”) as her bid to be the next pilot show that’s picked up for production by Amazon Studios. Check out the Cartoon Brew article to find out more about the show and how to vote for it. You can also check out the pilot itself over at Sidereel and see for yourself.

Image c. 2015 Titmouse

Image c. 2015 Titmouse