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Ratchet That Much Closer to the Big Screen

Today at Cartoon Brew there was an announcement about new developments for the much-anticipated upcoming Ratchet & Clank feature film. (Based on the popular Playstation video game series.  Do we even need to say that?) Now the film has a distributor (Focus Features, also the home of Laika films) and a planned release date: April 29, 2016. Which is close to the time that Insomniac Games plan to release a new Ratchet & Clank adventure for the PS4. “The movie will be directed by Kevin Munroe (TMNT) and co-directed by Jericca Cleland. The film’s voice cast, also announced this week, includes Paul Giamatti, John Goodman, Rosario Dawson, and Sylvester Stallone, with Ratchet, Clank, Nefarious, and Captain Qwark voiced by the same actors as in the games. The script was developed with former Insomniac Games and Ratchet & Clank senior writer T.J. Fixman, with original Ratchet & Clank character designer Dave Guertin and weapon/vehicle designer Greg Baldwin also working on designs.” In other words, they’re putting a lot of effort into this thing!

image c. 2015 Insomniac Games

image c. 2015 Insomniac Games

Fast Cash

There’s been a lot in the news lately about the new video game Yooka-Laylee (get it?). It’s the flagship product of a new company called Playtonic Games, which features a lot of the creative staff from Rare. And this new game is considered to be a spiritual successor to the wildly-popular Banjo & Kazooie series. But that’s not what’s got people talking. This is: Playtonic put up a Kickstarter campaign to finance the game… and they reached their initial multi-thousand British pound goal in less than 40 minutes. That’s got to be some kinda record, we think. “Yooka-Laylee (yes, like the tiny guitar) is a 3D platformer starring Yooka, a bipedal lizard-like dude, and Laylee, a purple “wisecracking lady-bat.” They have unique abilities, such as Yooka’s tongue-grapple and Laylee’s tactical sonar blast, and together these best buds explore five worlds filled with weird characters and feisty bosses. Also, one of the abilities is a “giant fart bubble.” Playtonic knows the way to its players’ hearts.” And their pocketbooks, it would seem. Head on over to Engadget to find out more.

image c. 2015 Playtonic Games

image c. 2015 Playtonic Games

Beast of Burden Closer to Escaping?

A recent article in Variety notes that Beast of Burden is now set to shoot as the first China / New Zealand co-production animated feature film. “Written and directed by Kirby Atkins (Nickelodeon’s The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron), the story sees a species of now-extinct creatures called Thoriphants rebel against their life of servitude to mankind and embark on a treacherous journey.” You may recall that we previously discussed the film on this very web site. As a reminder, we’ll give you the link to Mr. Atkins’ original proof-of-concept short film, which helped him to secure the production deal for his first solo feature.

image c. 2015 Kirby Atkins

image c. 2015 Kirby Atkins

Big News from Dreamworks

Dreamworks Animation have released the first preview of their new How To Train Your Dragon tie-in TV series, Dragons: Race to the Edge. It’s coming to Netflix on June 26th. Interestingly, it’s all coming on that date: All 13 episodes will be available at once. In this latest iteration, “Hiccup and Toothless lead the Dragon Riders as they soar beyond the borders of Berk and discover the mysterious Dragon Eye — an ancient artifact filled with secrets that will lead them to new lands filled with undiscovered dragons. But the heroes find themselves pursued by marauding dragon hunters, who will stop at nothing to seize the power of the Dragon Eye.” Check it out over at Comingsoon.net. Meanwhile, just today came another Dreamworks announcement: Kung Fu Panda 3’s release date has been moved. Again. This time they’ve moved it up from March 18th to January 29th. We still gotta wait until 2016, but at least it’s coming sooner!

image c. 2015 Dreamworks Animation

image c. 2015 Dreamworks Animation

The Lamb. No Lion.

More news from Cartoon Brew: The first major-studio release of a faith-based animated feature film. “Academy Award-nominated director Tim Reckart (Head Over Heels) will make his feature directorial debut with faith-based feature The Lamb, Sony Pictures Animation revealed today in a late-Easter Weekend announcement. First announced in September 2014, The Lamb will be a fully CG-animated pic based on the Christian nativity story, telling the ‘inspirational story of a young lamb who will change the world’ with an all-animal cast.” Lest you forget, the last time there was a faith-based anthropomorphic animated film (independently released) it was Jonah: A Veggie Tales Movie. Stay tuned for more information on a release date for The Lamb.

image c. 2015 Morethings.com

image c. 2015 Morethings.com

Australian Animals on the Big Screen

Cartoon Brew has an article about the first teaser trailer for the new CGI (of course) feature film version of Blinky Bill. Wot, ye’ve not ‘eard o’ Blinky Bill? He’s one of Australia’s most famous animated animals: A young koala with an adventurous attitude and a strong environmental heart. “Blinky Bill first rose to fame in the 1930s in a series of lavishly illustrated and conservation-themed books by Dorothy Wall. A new generation of children… was introduced to Blinky through the classic 1990s animated series The Adventures of Blinky Bill.” The new CGI film features Ryan Kwanten (True Blood) as Blinky Bill himself, while other Australian voices include Toni Collette and Barry Humphries (“Dame Edna”). The film is directed by Deane Taylor, who previously was art director on The Nightmare Before Christmas. Interestingly, the same article makes mention of another upcoming film called Larrikins, in production over at Dreamworks Animation and featuring contributions by musician & comedian Tim Minchin.Larrikins tells the story of an uptight bilby (a desert-dwelling marsupial), who has lived a sheltered life in the safety of his family burrow. When he ventures out and becomes privy to a dangerous secret, he finds himself launched on a musical adventure across the mystical and untamed Australian outback.” Larrikins was originally scheduled for a 2018 release, but there’s no word yet if all the recent shake-ups at Dreamworks will change that.

image c. 2015 Flying Bark Productions

image c. 2015 Flying Bark Productions

The Ursa Major Awards are Open!

Voting has opened for the 2015 Ursa Major Awards — celebrating all your favorite anthropomorphic movies, comics, TV series, novels, games, and more that were released in 2014. These are the annual furry fandom awards, chosen by YOU, the furry fans from around the world. The awards are presented every year in no less than 11 categories: Best Anthropomorphic Motion Picture, Best Anthropomorphic Dramatic Short or Series, Best Anthropomorphic Novel, Best Anthropomorphic Short Fiction, Best Anthropomorphic Other Literary Work, Best Anthropomorphic Graphic Story, Best Anthropomorphic Comic Strip, Best Anthropomorphic Magazine, Best Anthropomorphic Published Illustration, Best Anthropomorphic Game, and Best Anthropomorphic Website. Got all that?  Here, take a look at what’s up for the awards in just the first two! For Best Anthropomorphic TV Series or Short:

  • The Beach Bears
  • Bojack Horseman
  • Furry Force
  • Littlest Pet Shop, and
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic

Then in the category of Best Anthropomorphic Motion Picture, there’s:

  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • How to Train Your Dragon 2
  • The Lego Movie, and
  • Mr. Peabody & Sherman

And that’s just the first two categories — there are nine more to go! Visit www.ursamajorawards.org to find out how to get registered to vote. Remember,  you don’t have to vote in every category — just choose the things you love in the categories you know! Hurry, because voting closes on April 15th — in time to compile the votes before the big Ursa Major Awards Presentation at MorphiCon 2015 (April 30 – May 3 in Columbus, Ohio).

image c. 2015 by Foxenawolf

image c. 2015 by Foxenawolf

And Then MORE Monkeys in Space

Toonbox Entertainment (the folks who last year brought us The Nut Job) are starting to look as if they have a particular interest in furry characters. They’re hard at work on The Nut Job 2, but in the interim comes the announcement of Spark, a space adventure film currently in production and scheduled for release in 2016. Here’s what we got from ComingSoon.net: “Spark follows a teenage monkey Spark, voiced by Jace Norman (Nickelodeon’s Henry Danger), and his friends Vix, a battle-ready fox voiced by Jessica Biel, and Chunk, a tech-savvy warthog, as they embark on a mission to take back the besieged planet Bana from the power-mad General Zhong. Spark’s dangerous odyssey leads him to the farthest reaches of the universe, and to the secret of his true identity, with characters like the comically forgetful nanny robot Bananny, voiced by Susan Sarandon, and the noble, self-sacrificing Queen, voiced by Hilary Swank by his side.” Spark is being directed by Aaron Woodley. The film already has an official web site and also its own Facebook page.

image c. 2015 Toonbox Entertainment

image c. 2015 Toonbox Entertainment

More Bear, More Marmalade

The film adaptation of Paddington has become, world-wide, one of the biggest box office successes of all time for a “family film”. Now come the word (thanks to Cartoon Brew again) that Studio Canal (the French film creators who brought Paddington to CGI life) are fast-tracking a sequel to the 2014 film — once again to be produced by David Heyman from the UK. In the meantime, the studio is busy distributing another oh-so-English property: Aardman Animation’s Shaun the Sheep Movie, which premiered in Britain last week. No word yet on a release date for Paddington 2, but you can bet it will be sooner rather than later.

image c. 2015 Studio Canal

image c. 2015 Studio Canal