Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Holy Grail?

One of our fine, entertainment journals thinks so ...

Netflix has secured the rights to Jeff Smith’s Bone, the whimsical fantasy epic that’s widely viewed as one of the Holy Grail properties among unadapted comic book classics. Netflix will develop the Bone shelf of international bestsellers as an animated kids series.

The writer, artist, and creator of Bone had an animated reaction to the Netflix acquisition and its ambitions.

“I’ve waited a long time for this,” Smith said. “Netflix is the perfect home for Bone. ... An animated series is exactly the way to do this! The team at Netflix understands Bone and is committed to doing something special — this is good news for kids and cartoon lovers all over the world.” ...

Put yourself in Netflix's place: you're a streaming service that needs content. Lots and lots of content. And Disney isn't available, and other cartoon catalogues are unavailable because various competitors control the rights and they wont be giving you permission to run them anymore.

So what the hell do you do?

You root around for other content. New content. And Warners has held this comic book epic about the Bone cousins and they haven't done squat with it. So you wheel, coax and pry the franchise away from them, and develop it yourself.

Because you need hours and hours of entertainment, family entertainment. And you are willing to pay to get it. My guess? Netflix will find a way to get Bone into brisk development, and get it to viewers. They're in a fight for eager, youthful eyeballs with Disney, Universal and others. And they intend (obviously) to stay in the game.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Super Heroes!!

So Disney let's people know the raft of super heroes it's putting up on its streaming service in November (which is important I guess if you have a yen for the spandex and cape crowd...)

The official Disney+ Twitter account shared a click 12-second clip of the TV series and films debuting on Nov. 12, with the clip featuring art for X-Men (1992) and Fantastic Four (1994).

The account also started a thread revealing even more content, confirming more animated series like Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. (2013), Avengers Assemble (2013), Ultimate Spider-Man (2012), The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes (2010), Wolverine and the X-Men (2009), Iron Man: Armored Adventures (2009), Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes (2006), X-Men: Evolution (2000), The Avengers: United They Stand (1999), Spider-Man: Unlimited (1999), Silver Surfer (1998), The Incredible Hulk (1996), Spider-Man (1994 and 1981 series), Iron Man (1994), Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends (1982) and Spider-Woman (1979) ...

When you're looking to push Netflix out of the streaming high-seat, it's important to have as many goodies up and ready to go on Day One as possible. (These thing will come from a bunch of supplying studios, yes? Not just Disney-owned Marvel Animation?)

Of course, with everyone and his uncle going with their own streaming service, the viewing public will have to spend $9/month here, $15/month there, and it's going to irritate a lot of them. (When people go from a one-stop shop to, say, a five-stop shop, they won't be pleased.)

So this streaming thing? Maybe a cornucopia, and maybe not. We'll just have to see how it shakes out. But I can't imagine it's a guaranteed slam-dunk. Even if you're Disney, or Warners-A.T.&T., or whomever.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Feature Animation Surge

While the new Ang Lee/Will Smith reboot sputters, The Addams Family surges to second place:

1) Joker -- 4,374 -- $55M (-43%) -- $192.7M

2) The Addams Family -- 4,007 -- $30.3M -- $30.3M (1st weekend)

3) Gemini Man -- 3,642 -- $20.5M -- $20.5M (1st weekend)

4) Abominable -- 3,496 (-752) -- $6.1M (-48%) -- $48M

5) Downton Abbey -- 3,019 (-529) -- $4.9M (-39%) -- $82.7M

6) Hustlers -- 2,357 (-673) -- $3.85M (-40%) -- $98M

7) Judy -- 1,627 (+169) -- $3.26M (-29%) -- $14.9M

8) It Chapter Two -- 2,303 (-860) -- $3.22M (-39%) -- $207.1M

9) Jexi -- 2,332 -- $3.1M -- $3.1M (1st weekend)

10) Ad Astra -- 1,678 (-1,232) -- $1.9M -- $47M

The Addams Family comes in at the top end of earlier projections, skating over mixed reviews and what many critics describe as a bland, by-the-numbers script. Even so, the movie goes back to Addams's original designs and triumphs commercially. (The pic cost a mere $40 million, subsidized by the usual boatload of Free Money from Canadian subsidies.) Addams will make M-G-M and its partners a tidy sum of money.

Next up: Maleficent II flies into the marketplace, with Klaus and Frozen 2 soon to follow.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Bulking Up On Cartoons

Another company has decided, what with animation being a lucrative corner of the entertainment biz, it might be wise to have an animation exec ...

... CBS TV Studios’ animation slate is expanding, with more series in development; the studio has promoted SVP Comedy Development Alec Botnick to SVP Comedy Development and Head of Animation. This is the first time CBS TV Studios has had a dedicated animation executive.

... [Botnick] will be supervising the studio’s current animated series, Star Trek: Lower Decks, Nickelodeon Star Trek and Our Cartoon President, as well as all future development. ...

CBS is doing what so many animation divisions do: make one of the suits with minimal experience in animation the "Head of Animation". It might not be the smartest move, but it's what most large corporations know and are comfortable with. So that what most do.

And sometimes this works out (Jeffrey Katzenberg from DreamWorks), but oftentimes not (Sharon Morrill and David Stainton from Disney. Egads.). Some non-creatives, of course, have been screaming successes. Both Chris Meledandri (Illumination Entertainment) and Margie Cohn of DreamWorks Animation have had years in the business and years to learn from their mistakes. But the question remains: why aren't more artists, writers and other creative types in charge of studios? Is it a lack of imagination? Or is it that old habits die hard?

Probably some of both.


The other animated feature soon to be released (the one that isn't Frozen 2) is an original from the creator of Despicable Me, centering on Old Saint Nick.

The piece is written and directed by Sergio Pablos, and Sergio P. is like 82.4% of everyone who's ever worked in cartoon features: he's got a Disney pedigree. In Mr. Pablos case, he was an animator on The Goofy Movie, Tarzan and other Disney projects that passed through Disney's Paris studio. A couple of years back, he pitched his Santa story to Netflix, and they shelled out some cash and told him to go make it.

And they were cool with Sergio P. doing the film as a hand-drawn feature, which is, frankly, astounding.

The flick comes out on November 8th, and gets released digitally a week later. I assume without knowing that because Netflix isn't overly concerned about running up big numbers at your neighborhood multiplex, the hand-drawn format wasn't an issue. I hope the picture does brisk business, but I won't be surprised if it doesn't. However, the feature looks outstanding.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Nit-Picking "Mulan"

The internet is a lot like TV the width and breadth of TV selections, what with broadcast, cable, streaming, etc.: You want to find biographical info on historical figures or movie stars, it's there. You want to find a rant from any point on the political spectrum, you can discover it. There are flame wars up the yingyang and criticism in abundance.

Which brings us to the YouTube video above, which nit-picks the animated feature Mulan.

Like, there were no rockets in the era the movie depicted, or explosives. And wealthy families had multiple children and favored sons (not just stopping, as in the movie, with a single daughter). Plus the movie isn't really progressive regarding female equality.

And so on and so forth.

All well and good (maybe). But Mulan is a cartoon, designed for children and their parents. Historical accuracy? When has a movie set in some time long past been true to its era? Pirates of the Caribbean? (ha!) The Adventures of Robin Hood?, with broad swords used like rapiers? Or any Western you can name where six shooters seem to have thirty-clip magazines because nobody ever troubles themselves to reload during gun battles.

So it's a little dicey to ding a cartoon for things that its live-action counterparts seldom if ever live up to. On the other hand, the internet and YouTube are hungry beasts, and when you are trying to build a viewer base, you've got to make an issue over something. You can't get more eyeballs without an angle, even if that angle is dubious.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

An Animated Conversation

Randy Myers is one of the movers and shakers of the L.A. animation biz. He's a two time Emmy Award winning Animator, Director and Producer, working on Animated Feature Films, Animated TV Shows and Video Games. Randy has made a fascinating live-action film with other high-powered artists talking about their highs and lows in the roller-coaster cartoon industry. He is now raising money to make more.

Click here to find out more about Mr. Myers' project!