Tuesday, February 19, 2019

President's Cartoon Box Office

Animation is in the Top Ten ... and a short ways out.

Cartoon Grosses (4 days)

2) The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part -- 4,303 -- $27,325,000 -- $68,800,359

11) Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse -- 1,207 (-519) -- $2,665,000 -- $183,420,904

13) Ralph Breaks the Internet -- 1,354 (+956) -- $1,324,000 -- $199,011,244

How To Train Your Dragon 3 opens domestically the end of the week. To date, Dragons has earned $175,000,000 in foreign venues.

Meantime, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse has taken in $356,728,605 on a worldwide basis, while Ralph Breaks the Internet has earned $506,637,367 globally.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Work Around Town -- #4

As before, a post about projects in animation now occurring in and around Los Angeles. Also as before, there are undoubtedly some omissions and errors, (I am but human). Spies and stoolies have supplied information; some studios are more up-to-date than other studios. Happily, the list will be corrected and updated as we go along ...

Activision

Skylanders Academy -- ongoing

Amazon Studios

Danger and Egg -- completed

Too Loud -- ongoing

Bento Box

Bob's Burgers -- ongoing

Paradise PD -- ongoing

Hoops -- development (not yet ramped up)

Alien News Desk -- ongoing

Duncanville -- development (not yet ramped up)

Central Park -- ongoing

Bob's Burger feature

Cartoon Network Studios

Update: From a CN Studio veteran with wide industry knowledge: 'It’s my understanding that the “Glitch Tech” crew were told that, as of now, the studio was not going to order anymore episodes at this time. They will finish the current order of episodes, and the studio could request more at a later time. [this is a Nick show.] ...

'“Legend of Legendary Place”, has not received a green light into production. So I believe that it’s still technically “in development “.

'“Tig N Seek” is the series name of the short that was call “Tiggle Winks”. The name “Tiggle Winks” did not clear with legal department for a series name.

'“Maow Maow” is a series that’s being produced at Titmouse, and will air on CN.

“Hue” and “Superrilla” are technically still in development and have not been green light into series. There has been no mention on weather they will aire on CN, Adult Swim or on the new Streaming platform that AT&T want to launch.'

Ben 10 -- ongoing

We Bare Bears -- ongoing

Summer Camp Island -- ongoing (Season 2)

Apple and Onion -- ongoing

Steven Universe -- continuing with new episodes

Craig of the Creek -- ongoing

Close Enough -- Season 1 completed -- Scripts ordered for possible new season.

Victor and Valentino -- ongoing

Infinity Train -- waiting for greenlight, season 2

The Fungies -- ongoing

Maow Maow (original title) -- in development with Titmouse

Super-Rilla -- Dark Horse Comics project in development

Hue -- in development, awaiting green light

Tigg 'N Seek -- ongoing

ThunderCats Roar -- ongoing

Primal -- Genndy Tartakosky Adult Swim project -- ongoing

Kevin 11 -- in development

CBS Eye Animation Productions

Star Trek: Below Decks -- ongoing (two season order)

Cranetown Media

Various animated projects -- (Note: Cranetown Media is a third-party union signator company that does animated projects for various non-union studios, often scripts and storyboard work.)

Crunchyroll Studio

High Guardian Spice -- ongoing

Disney Television Animation

Mickey and the Roadster Racers -- ongoing

Star Vs. the Forces of Evil -- ongoing, wrapping up final season

Milo Murphy's Law -- wrapping up

Amphibia -- ongoing

The Owl House -- ongoing

Fancy Nancy -- ongoing

Monsters, Inc. (series) -- ongoing

Vampirina -- ongoing

The Lion Guard -- ongoing

Elena of Avalor -- ongoing

Muppet Babies -- ongoing

Duck Tales -- ongoing

Big City Greens -- ongoing

Rapunzel's Tangled Adventure -- ongoing

T.O.T.S. -- ongoing (with Titmouse/Robin Red Breast ... see below)

Big Hero 6: The Series -- ongoing

Lady and the Tramp 3 -- (small crew on development work)

DreamWorks Animation

Television

Veggie Tales -- ongoing

Rocky and Bullwinkle -- ongoing

King Julian -- ongoing

Puss In Boots -- ongoing

Wizards: Tales of Arcadia -- ongoing

Home -- ended

Voltron -- ending

Dragons Jr. -- ongoing

Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts

Harvey Street Girls -- ongoing

Captain Underpants -- ongoing

Trolls -- ongoing

Features

(Note: Though many features are placed in development, some never make it to production. This is an animationland rule.)

The Bad Guys -- in development

Trolls World Tour -- in development

The Croods 2 -- in development

Shrek 5 -- in development

Boss Baby 2 -- in development

Extinct Productions

Extinct -- in development

Fox Animation

The Simpsons -- ongoing (picked up for 2 new seasons)

Family Guy -- ongoing

American Dad -- ongoing

20th Century Fox TV

Solar Opposites -- ongoing (Justin Roiland for Hulu)

Gaumont International Television/ Wild West

F Is For Family -- ongoing

Hasbro

Most of Hasbro's production work is now done at their studio in Ireland.

My Little Pony -- ongoing

Rescue Bots Academy -- (listed here but done in Ireland)

My Little Pony feature -- development

HotHouse Productions/Day By Day Productions

Mr. Pickles -- ongoing (Season 4 on Adult Swim)

Illumination Entertainment (Universal)

(Note: Most of IE's production work is done in Paris, France at the former MacGuff studio. Some pre-production in Southern California.)

Minions 2 -- development

Sing 2 -- development

Johnny Express -- development

Mario feature -- development

Despicable Me 4 -- development

Marvel Animation

Spider-Man Specials -- ongoing

Marvel Rising -- ongoing

Avengers Assembled -- wrapping up

M-G-M

The Addams Family -- (small crew developing same)

Netflix Animation Studios

Netflix's animation facility on Sunset Boulevard (hard by the old Warner lot) is teeming with projects and activity, ramped up over the past two years. They move fast.

Kid Cosmic -- ongoing (Craig McCracken)

Over the Moon (feature - Glen Keane)) -- development

Maya and the Three -- ongoing

Mighty Little Bheem -- ongoing

Trash Truck -- ongoing

Klaus (feature) -- development/production

The Willoughbys (feature) -- development/production

Wendell and Wild (stop motion feature - Selick) -- development/ production

Elizabeth Ito project -- ongoing

Nickelodeon

Nickelodeon has not had an easy time of it. The dominant kid entertainment delivery system for years and years, its ratings have steadily declined, and other platforms have gained on it (Netflix, YouTube, Disney, etc. Per industry veterans, it didn't help that Nick was slow getting into streaming shows on the internet.) New Nick topkick Brian Robbins is working to take the studio in new directions. Whether he succeeds or not remains to be seen.

Update: As Cartoon Brew reported and industry veterans have confirmed (see CN, above), Glitch Techs hit a speed bump on the back end of its initial order of episodes. The studio might order more half-hours later, but it seems to be up in the air.

Bunsen is a Beast (Hartman) -- ending

Sponge Bob Square Pants -- ongoing

The Loud House -- ongoing

Santiago of the Seas (formerly Captain Calavera) -- ongoing

Shimmer and Shine -- ending

Pinky Malinky -- ended

Glitch Techs -- ongoing (with hiccups -- layoffs)

Middle School Moguls -- storyboard artists cycling off

Los Casagrandes (Loud House spin off) -- ongoing

Man of the House -- ongoing

Meet the Voxels -- development

Rugrats -- in development (reboot)

Paramount Animation/ (Animated Productions, Inc.)

Bobbleheads -- development

It's A Wonderful Sponge -- development

Monster on the Hill -- development

Loud House feature -- development (with Nick)

Rise of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles feature -- development (with Nick)

Rick and Morty LLC)

Rick and Morty -- ongoing

Robin Red Breast/ Titmouse Studio

Robin Red Breast (Titmouse) has both union and non-union projects; it also operates a New York-based facility. Over the years it's done a number of shows for Disney, DreamWorks, Amazon and Netflix, among others. (Sub-contracting projects is a large part of the game.)

Big Mouth -- ongoing

T.O.T.S. -- ongoing

Ballmastrs: 9009

Captain Underpants -- ongoing

Bless the Harts -- development

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur -- ongoing

Little Big Awesome -- ongoing

Rough Draft Studio

Disenchantment -- ongoing (seasons 3 & 4)

Shadow Machine

Bo Jack Horsemen -- ongoing

Dad Boner -- ongoing

Final Space -- ongoing

Chuck Deuce -- development

Tuca and Bertie -- Tornante and Shadow Machine for Netflix

Sony Pictures Animation

Sony Pictures Animation continues as a pre-production facility in Culver City, while most production is centered in Vancouver (where the Free Money flows). Sony also releases animated co-productions and pickups.

Fixed -- in development

Black Knight -- in development

Ghostbusters (animated spin-off) -- in development

The Mitchells Vs. The Machines -- development

Spider-Man Into The Spider-verse sequel -- in development

Spider-woman -- in development

Skydance (Media) Animation

Skydance Animation was set up in 2017 with Dreamworks Animation veteran Bill Damaschke as head exec. In January 2019, Damaschke was given his walking papers and former Pixar/Walt Disney Animation topkick John Lasseter came aboard, and has already gotten involved in decision-making. the studio has a production partnership with Ilion Animation Studios in Madrid, Spain and three projects in various stages of development. The current development slate will soon likely expand and possibly change.

Luck -- development/production (2021 release

Split -- development

Powerless -- development

The Fourteenth Goldfish -- development

Splash Entertainment

Headquartered in the west San Fernando Valley, Splash Entertainment rolls out a "Norm of the North "sequel this Spring, and a third installment next Fall.

Norm of the North #2 -- ending

Norm of the North #3 -- in overseas production

Starburns Industries

Animals -- ongoing

Stoopid Buddies Stoodio

Robot Chicken -- ongoing

Super Mansion -- ongoing

Walt Disney Animation Studios

John Lasseter has departed -- and is now at Skydance Animation -- and writer/director Jennifer Lee is the new top creative exec.

Frozen 2 -- in production

Dragon Empire -- development

Various unannounced features -- in development

Warner Animation Group (WAG)

Warners has multiple pre-production studio sites in Los Angeles and Burbank. Production is done at studios overseas. (The usual rule applies: only a few projects will ultimately reach the big silver screen.)

Tom and Jerry -- development

Scooby Doo -- development*

The Cat In The Hat -- development

The Ice Dragon -- development

Toto -- development

Coyote Vs. Acme -- development

The Flintstones -- development

*There is always a Scooby project being done SOMEWHERE. (And why that is, I donno. It's the same tired plot, over and over.)

Warner Bros. Animation

Unikitty -- ongoing

Justice League Action -- waiting for possible pickup

Harley Quinn -- ongoing

Young Justice -- Season 3

Mike Tyson Mysteries -- ongoing

Teen Titans Go! -- ongoing (Season 6)

DC Superhero Girls -- ongoing

ThunderCats Roar -- ongoing

Green Eggs and Ham -- ongoing

(Newer) Scooby Doo Guess Who -- ongoing

Looney Toons Shorts -- ongoing

Hanna-Barbera Shorts -- ongoing

Gremlins -- ongoing

Wild Canary

For some years now, Wild Canary in Toluca Lake has, along with other product, made a number of shows for Disney TVA.

Puppy Dog Pals -- ongoing

Rocketeer -- ongoing

Mira Royl Detective -- ongoing

The big news in both live-action and animation is Video-On-Demand (aka "New Media" or "movies and t.v. over the internet".) New delivery platforms for entertainment have grown the big and small-screen stories by leaps and bounds. In 1989, the Animation Guild had 700 active members, and now has over six times that number.

In 2019, television and theatrical animation is one of the most profitable sectdors of the motion picture business.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The history of American animation from the 1930s until today! The feuds! The screwups! The struggles to get stuff made! ... as told by the people who were there: Mouse in Transition and Mouse in Orbit.

Work Around Town #3 can be found here.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Ron Miller, RIP

Ron Miller, former CEO of Walt Disney Productions (when that was the company name) died on Saturday. He was eight-five.

... Mr. Miller’s first job [at Disney] was with the crew of the film “Old Yeller” (1957). He went on to spend more than 20 years as a producer or executive producer of Disney movies like “That Darn Cat!” (1965), “Escape to Witch Mountain” (1975), “The Shaggy D.A.” (1976) and “Freaky Friday” (1977). ...

Mr. Miller became president and chief operating officer of Walt Disney Productions (now the Walt Disney Company) in 1980, [and] his overriding mission was to reinvigorate its film division, where he had spent most of his career ...

Ron Miller remained in the top job for four-plus years, until the Disney board forced him to resign and replaced him with Michael Eisner. He launched the Disney Channel, created a new film division, began talks for a second international amusement park in Paris. But Mr. Miller also endured takeover threat and a lacklustre movie slate, and these things ultimately brought him down.

He might not have been the most successful studio head of all time, but many Disney animation artists were fond of him. Ron was involved in story development of animated features, and he wasn't stupid. In fact, Ron knew how to unleash a droll wit. One lunchtime when Mickey Rooney was in the commissary, and intercepted Ron when he came through the door.

Mr. Miller asked Rooney how he was. Mr. Rooney, a former movie star with multiple marriages on his resume, sang out "I'm getting a divorce!"

Ron smiled at him and deadpanned, "Oh, it was a long one this time," and moved on his way.

After leaving Disney, Ron and wife Diane Disney Miller moved to the Napa Valley and built both the successful winery Silverado Vineyards, but a a new life in northern California. Mrs. Miller died in Nover, 2013; They leave seven children, thirteen grand-children, and four great grand-children.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

21st Century Rotoscope

The Hollywood Reporter details the way big bad villain in last year's Avengers: Infinity War was brought to life.,,

Thanos [is] the genocidally inclined supervillain played by Josh Brolin ...

The process of bringing Thanos to life started at Marvel, which oversaw development for the character, a brawny humanoid with purple-tinted skin. While 14 VFX houses worked on Infinity War, Digital Domain and Weta Digital in tandem continued Thanos' development and shared responsibilities for keeping his look and performance consistent throughout the film.

Before filming began, Brolin's own facial expressions — with the actor expressing everything from a wide smile to a forbidding frown — were captured by Industrial Light & Magic's high-resolution facial-scanning system, Medusa. The technology, which was developed by Disney Research in Zurich and launched a few years ago, has been used to capture roughly 130 actors. ...

On the set, Brolin wore body- and facial-capture systems to record his performance. So the other actors would have a sense of Thanos' height, Brolin sometimes wore a backpack with a pole extending above his head to provide his fellow actors with an eyeline. ...

The above proves that there is not very much, special effects-wise, under the Hollywood sun.

Because when you scrape away all the technological overlays, Thanos is basically put together in much the same way that the character Snow White was brought to life in another Disney film back 1937.

1) There is a lot of live-action reference collected. (Computer data NOW, live-action frames blown up onto paper photostats in 1937),

2) There are a lot of people (computer technicians NOW, animation artists in 1937) who take the live-action and massage the data into a different character.

The process now is higher tech, but the dynamics remain similar. In both, an actor's performance and dimensions are transformed to serve the movie in which his/her character appears. The big difference between Disney's Snow White and Disney's Avengers: Infinity Wars is that in the Marvel movie, one actor provides both the voice and performance reference, and in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, two actors do that.

And yeah. The technology is different. And the animators' roles on the Thor character is de-emphasized because the publicity is on Josh Brolin, not on the people working at their computers. But the transformative journeys for both of these flicks -- eighty-one years apart -- are eerily alike.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Super Bowl Box Office

The entertainment conglomerates wisely avoid big new releases while everyone and his Aunt Marybelle stay home to watch football. (But they weren't above previewing a new long-form cartoon ...)

THREE DAYS OF GROSSES

1) Glass -- 3,665 (-179) -- $9.5M (-50%) -- $88.6M

2) The Upside -- 3,568 (+191) -- $8.8M (-26%) -- $75.5M

3) Miss Bala -- 2,203 -- $6.7M -- $6.7M (1st week)

4) Aquaman -- 2,926 (-208) -- $4.7M (-34%) -- $323.5M

5) …Spider-Verse -- 2,234 (-139) -- $4.4M (-28%) -- $175.3M

6) Green Book -- 2,648 (+218) -- $4.3M (-21%) -- $55.8M

7) The Kid…King -- $4.2M (-42%) -- $13.1M

8) A Dog’s Way Home -- $3.5M (-31%) -- $35.9M

9) Escape Room -- 1,942 (-250) -- $2.9M (-30%) -- $52M

10) They Shall Not Grow Old -- $2.4M -- $10.7M

The undersea super-hero flick Aquaman, heavy with animated effects, has now made $1.1 billion globally.

Spider-Man Into The Spider-verse, still in the Top 5 domestically, has now earned $172 million internationally, for a $347 million total worldwide.

And there's another big animated pic just over the horizon. How To Train Your Dragon 3 made a quick $2.5 million in early previews in the U.S. Meanwhile, it's been rolling out in multiple foreign venues, mostly at #1, and has now made 84.4 million abroad. (It debuts stateside in February 22).

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Nominees' Box Office

Oscar contenders, old releases and new (including the above), get a boost in theaters as studios squeeze more juice from their various oranges. ...

THREE DAYS OF GROSSES

1) Glass -- 3,844 theaters (+3) -- 3-day cume: $18.5M to $19M (-59%) -- $73.2M (-53%)

2) The Upside -- 3,377 theaters (+57) -- $12M+ -- $63M+

3) Aquaman (WB), 3,134 theaters (-341) -- $7.35M -- $316.5M

4) The Kid Who Would Be King -- 3,521 theaters -- $7.15M (1st week)

5) Spider-Man:Into the Spider Verse -- 2,383 theaters (-329) -- $6.3M (-27%) -- $169.19M

6) Green Book -- 2,430 theaters (+1,518) -- $5.35M -- $49M

7) A Dog’s Way Home -- 3,081 theaters (-9) -- $5.2M -- $30.8M

8) Serenity -- 2,561 theaters / $1.5M Fri. -- $4.4M (1st week)

9) Escape Room -- 2,192 theaters (-517) -- $4.28M -- $47.85M

10) Mary Poppins Returns -- 1,985 theaters -- $3,313,781 -- $165,204,791

Spider-Man Into the Spider-vers -- contender for "Best Animated Feature" -- continues to roll right along, declining a mere 27% at the domestic box office. Worldwide, it's taken in $338,100,242 -- that's 50% in the U.S. and Canada, 50% in overseas venues.

Meantime, Ralph Breaks the Internet -- another nominee -- resides at #22 on the box office list. Domestically it's earned $195,950,701; worldwide it's collected $473,588,045.

And now that the holidays are long gone, Dr. Seuss' The Grinch only remains in 146 theaters. In the U.S. and Canada it's grosses $270,397,335. Globally it's up to $508,697,335.

Mary Poppins Returns -- nominated for three Oscards -- has made brisk money at the American box office, putting it in the top teir for live-action musicals. Worldwide it's collected $319,187,704.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Writers In Animation

Forbes Magazine posts a think-piece on how animation writers get short shrift when their work is transferred to live-action and no further compensation is forthcoming ...

The recent trend of live action remakes of animated Disney classic shows no signs of slowing down with this week’s news that The Hunchback of Notre Dame is now in development. This year alone will see Dumbo released in March, followed by Aladdin in May, and then photo-realistic CGI hybrid The Lion King in July. ...

Beauty and the Beast released in 1991 was the third most successful film of the year having grossed over $600 million theatrically and another $220 million on home video. Linda Woolverton the screenwriter of the film received no residuals and did not participate nor was she credited as a writer on the 2017 live action remake. The simplest answer to this jaw-dropping puzzle that will provide little to no comfort is that feature animation is a different union than the Writers Guild of America (WGA) ...

[I]n the 1950s feature animation writers ... ended up joining what’s now The Animation Guild (TAG) under I.A.T.S.E Local 839. ... [M]ost feature animation is still through TAG which does not have language about residuals or separated rights. ...

Because [animated features] were written outside the jurisdiction of the WGA the original films and their underlying scripts are considered source material and treated as if they were a book or article when it comes time to do the remake. ...

The unions representing animation writers have, over the years, proposed and pushed for residuals on multiple occasions, but without result. Elsewhere in the world, this is less of a problem since many countries recognize creators' rights. This is why in Australia, France, and various other geographical locations, money is collected and remitted to directors and writers considered the authors of features and television shows.

In E. Pluribus Unum, however, the Supreme Court has ruled that creative work done on salary for a corporation can be construed a "work for hire," with rights held by the company and not the actual creator.

Crappy, but when the Supreme Court speaks, the losers are stuck with the justices decision. Even if angels strumming golden harps are on the losers' side.

And there are other complications. Most live-action scripts written under WGA jurisdiction have multiple authors. Yet only one or two writers are generally credited, so writers who worked for, say a year on the project early on, but didn't get their names up on screen are out of luck, residual-wise. (Writers Guild arbitrators decide who gets credit and who doesn't.)

As regards animated features, there are teams of creators known as storyboard artists. One or two writers might earn screenplay credit, but most long-form cartoons have a story supervisor and multiple board artists who make sizable continuity and dialogue contributions. Would they receive additional payments when the credited writer did, or are they cut out because their credit is "storyboard artist"?

As regards television product, supervising directors receive foreign levies, while directors credited as "timers" do not.

There is no formula in existence that will make all parties happy. And the fact that animation unions have been unable to achieve re-use residuals for writers who create scripts, and board artists who write dialogue and story in visual form, has been a source of continuing frustration.