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Ducks from Russia

Here’s something for Thanksgiving: More birds! Now it’s Quackers, a new CGI animated film on its way from Russia’s Rome Animation and Film Studio. (Rome or not, it’s from Russia.) “A conflict flares up between local Mandarin Ducks and the Military Mallards who land on the Chinese island, mistaking it for Hawaii. While the fathers fight and argue, Longway, the Emperor’s son, and Erica, the commander’s daughter, meet and become friends. The kids must ally all the ducks to battle their foe, the daunting Ms. Knout, who seeks to destroy the Sun.” Got all that? Directed by Viktor Lakisov and due in 2016, Quackers has its own official web site, as well as a preview video up on Vimeo.

image c. 2014 Rome Animation

image c. 2014 Rome Animation & Film Studio

Green is Yellow

From Variety: “Wrekin Hill Entertainment has acquired all North American rights to Christian De Vita’s 3D animated feature Yellowbird from TeamTO and Haut & Court. The film… is written by Antoine Barraud and Guilhem Lesaffre with Cory Edwards and based on artwork by Benjamin Renner (Ernest and Celestine).” Seth Green (Greg the Bunny, Robot Chicken) stars as the voice of Yellowbird, “…a teenage bird so scared to venture out into the world that he nearly misses the fun of discovering who he really is.” Other voices include Dakota Fanning (Charlotte’s Web), Danny Glover, Elliott Gould, Jim Rash, and Christine Baranski. The distributors have been slowly trickling the film out to North American theaters, so take a look around for it — or else visit the Yellowbird Facebook page. Meanwhile, the English trailer is up on YouTube.

image c. 2014 Wrekin Hill Entertainment

image c. 2014 Wrekin Hill Entertainment

Animals of a Different Color: Lots of Them!

MIPCON is taking place in Europe, and that means there are several new animated TV series looking for distribution in, among many other places, North America. And of course many of them are more than a little bit anthropomorphic. One of the ones that is generating a lot of buzz is called Zafari, from Ink Global. This is from Animation World Network: “Zafari is the brainchild of David Dozoretz – an animation visionary who worked alongside George Lucas on the Star Wars prequels and also contributed to major movies such as Jurassic Park, Forrest Gump, Moulin Rouge, X-Men 3, J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. With a multi-million euro budget in place, this sumptuous animation tells the story of a group of animal friends who live together in Zafari – a land that’s home to a collection of unique inhabitants who have all been magically born with the skin of other animals. The series follows the adventures of Zoomba – a little elephant with zebra stripes – as he explores and makes sense of the world. Zafari concentrates on the themes of inclusivity and friendship, inspiring kids that everybody is unique in some way and that our differences should be celebrated.” Currently there isn’t a lot on the Zafari home page, but still if you go there you can see the proposed opening credits.

image c. 2014 Ink Global

image c. 2014 Ink Global

Dinosaurs are Walking — Again

Seemingly out of nowhere, Disney/Pixar have announced that the CGI animated feature The Good Dinosaur is back in production — and back on track for release in the winter of 2015, according to an article over at Cartoon Brew. After Disney removed director Bob Petersen from the project (he had co-directed Up and played the voice of Dug the dog) we didn’t hear much about Good Dinosaur for a while, as Disney/Pixar began advertising their next big project Inside Out. Now Disney/Pixar have announced that the new director of The Good Dinosaur will be Peter Sohn. He’s well known behind the scenes at Pixar, having worked in the art and story departments on several projects and directed the short film Partly Cloudy. He’s also known for his voice acting (he was Emile in Ratatouille and Squishy in Monsters University) and for being the body model for the character Russell in Up. Yes, really. With this announcement it now seems that Disney/Pixar will actually have two releases in 2015: Inside Out in June and The Good Dinosaur in November. Which puts the latter film right up against Kung Fu Panda 3, by the way. If you haven’t heard, The Good Dinosaur follows the adventures of a talking dinosaur family in modern times — on an alternate Earth where the great beasts never died out.

image c. 2014 Disney/Pixar

image c. 2014 Disney/Pixar

Chimichunga…!

In anticipation of the upcoming Penguins of Madagascar animated film, we present… a tie-in comic book miniseries! (Bet that shocked ya, huh?) “DreamWorks Animations’ Penguins of Madagascar are getting their own brand new 4-issue comic series! Yep, Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private are jumping from the big screen to the comic page! Written by comedy genius Alex Matthews (Phoenix, Dandy) with eye-popping art from Lucas Fereyra, feathers are set to fly in this unique and exciting – and very funny – new series.” You might recall there was previously a Penguins tie-in comic based on their Nickelodeon TV series, but that was published by Kizoic Comics and featured a completely different creative team. This one is published by Titan Comics, and it’s coming to stores this November.

image c. 2014 Titan Comics

image c. 2014 Titan Comics

 

Little Birds to the Big Screen

It had to happen, perhaps: A feature film based on a phone app. Of course, it is one of the biggest phone apps of all time: Angry Birds. According to an article over at Neon Tommy, Rovio and Sony Pictures have teamed up to announce the cast and crew for the upcoming Angry Birds movie. (In case you couldn’t guess, it’s going to be CGI.) “Cast as the lead roles in the animated movie, Saturday Night Live alums Jason Sudeikis (We’re The Millers) and Maya Rudolph (Bridesmaids) will play Red and Matilda, alongside Game of Thrones star Peter Dinklage, who will be playing Mighty Eagle. Some other big names that will be joining the cast include Josh Gad (Frozen), Bill Hader (Skeleton Twins), Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live), and YouTube stars Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla of Smosh. Behind the scenes, John Cohen (Despicable Me) and former Marvel Studios president David Maisel will be producing the film, while Clay Kaytis (Frozen and Wreck-It Ralph) and Fergal Reilly (Spider-Man 2) have been announced as directors.” The birds will fly in July of 2106.

image c. 2014 Rovio

image c. 2014 Rovio

No, They’re Not Scary At All…

Here it is, straight from Previews: “From the bestselling video games, leading cartoon on Nickelodeon, hot toys from McFarlane Toys, now bursting into comics: playful, clueless, curious, mischievous, and completely unpredictable, the Rabbids find fun everywhere and with everything, creating havoc wherever they go! In their first graphic novel, the Rabbids invade museums, horse races, and even play golf on the moon with a series of non-stop gags that showcase their charmingly surreal stupidity out amongst the rest of the world. ” Watch out! They’re coming next week from Papercutz. Rabbids Volume 1: Bwaaaaaaah! was written by Thitaume with artwork by Romain Pujol.

image c. 2014 Papercutz

image c. 2014 Papercutz

From Bunny to Scrat and Beyond

Over the past 15 years Blue Sky Studios have made a name for themselves with wildly successful animated features like Ice Age and Rio and their sequels. Now The Art of Blue Sky Studios: Ice Age to the Digital Age (edited by Jake S. Friedman) brings together numerous never-before concept art pieces and early sketches from all those years into one deluxe hardcover coffee-table book. “With exclusive access to Blue Sky’s archives and the exceptional artists who have made characters like Ice Age’s Scrat and Rio’s Blu and Jewel household names, this book takes an in-depth behind-the-scenes look at one of animation’s greatest success stories.” It’s available to order on Amazon, and coming to stores this October from Insight Editions.

image c. 2014 Insight Editions

image c. 2014 Insight Editions

One Lonely Shrew

Disney/Pixar have launched their new Studio Artist Showcase series with Over There, a full-color hardcover book for young readers written and illustrated by Steve Pilcher. “Shredder is a little shrew who lives by himself, and while he loves his forest home, he gets a bit lonely. There must be something more, he thinks. So when he sees a ‘silver line twinkling in the distance,’ he decides to find out what it is. He discovers a beautiful stream, but then he gets caught up in the current! Luckily, a mole named Nosey saves him. As they explore, Shredder begins to miss the forest, so he and Nosey return together, and Shredder realizes that all he really needed was a friend.” Over There is available later this month, and it’s been reviewed over at Publishers Weekly.

image c. 2014 Disney Publishing

image c. 2014 Disney Publishing