Monday, September 17, 2018

New Animation Guild Contract Deal

The Animation Guild, Local 839 IATSE came to a tentative agreement with the AMPTP a week back, and it is now hitting the trades...

The Animation Guild and management’s AMPTP have reached a tentative agreement on a new three-year film and TV contract, although an actors’ strike against the TV animation industry is still a possibility. Members of SAG-AFTRA voted overwhelmingly in July to authorize a strike if their negotiators failed to reach a satisfactory agreement, although contract talks resumed last week. The key sticking point in those talks has been SAG-AFTRA’s demand for scale wages and residuals for shows aired on streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon.

The Animation Guild will detail how the talks went and what was achieved at the General Membership Meeting (held at Burbank's Pickwick Gardens) the last Tuesday of September. My information is that significant improvements were made.

The guild spent over a year preparing for talks that came after the end of protracted IA-AMPTP negotiations for a new Basic Agreement. Negotiations ultimately took five long days (four were originally scheduled). From reports, there were no significant concessions on labor's side and TAG got improvements in rates and schedules in different job classifications.

When TAG releases details of the contract deal, I will put them up here.

Friday, September 14, 2018

CG News Graphics

We've come a long way from Pac-Man style news graphics.

Green screen, now of the wrap-around variety, and accompanying CG animation has improved by leaps and bounds over the last couple of years. Three-color bar charts will soon be a quaint visual of the past.

... The visualization literally just shows what three, six, and nine feet of water looks like. But it’s showing that in a context most people have never experienced. ...

18 months ago, the broadcast industry at large started getting serious about the quality of graphics it could offer, thanks in part to the rising popularity of esports. Seeing potential for weather coverage, TWC invested in the use of Unreal Engine, the same suite of tools that powers countless video games....

The Weather Channel [which deployed the visual above] had previously worked with The Future Group to prep a water animation that they could place at different heights as needed. Having those elements ready to go ahead of time made the actual execution surprisingly seamless. ...

Reporters won't have to go out into the wet and wild anymore to get the story. They'll just step in front of the green screen and be at the center of the action.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Into The Specialty Theaters

This new European animated feature appears destined for an art house run.

Sony Pictures Classics acquired North America and Latin American rights to Milorad Krstic-directed Ruben Brandt, Collector. The English language animated film from Hungary played at the Locarno and Sarajevo Film Festivals. ...

Krstic wrote the script and pic was produced by P├ęter Miskolczi, Radmila Roczkov. Hermina Roczkov and Janos Kurdy-Feher.

Sony likely saw an opportunity to position RBC as a limited-release item that could pick up some money if marketed in a smart way.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Holy Box Office -- June 7-9

Warner Bros. has the #1 picture, a horror movie with a habit, and it bests the wealthy Asians partying in Singapore. (Warners currently has three of the top four movies at the American-Canadian box office, and an animated feature rolling into theaters the end of the month.)


1) The Nun -- 3,876 -- $50M -- $50M (1st weekend

2) Crazy Rich Asians -- 3,865 == $12.9M (-41%) -- $135.5M

3) Peppermint -- 2,980 -- $12M -- $12M (1st weekend)

4) The Meg -- 3,511 (-250) -- $5.2M (-51%) -- $130.7M

5) Searching -- 2,009 (+802) -- $4.5M (-25%) -- $14.3M

6) M:I – Fallout -- 2,334 (-305) -- $3.7M (-46%) -- $212M

7) Christopher Robin -- 2,518 (-407) -- $3.1M (-41%) -- $91.6M

8) Operation Finale -- 1,818 -- $3M (-50%) -- $14.1M

9) BlacKkKlansman -- 1,547 (-219) -- $2.6M (-26%) -- $43.4M

10) Alpha S8/Sony 2,521 (-360) -- $2.4M (-47%) -- $32.3M

Once again, the closest thing to animated characters in the Box Office Ten is Christopher Robin, slowly ascending toward $100 million domestic.

Both The Incredibles 2 and Hotel Transylvania 3 remain in more than a thousand theaters. TI2 has now racked up $604,397,505 domestic ($1,176,597,505 globally) while HT3 has collected $164,196,613 out of a worldwide total of $496,596,613.

The next three major animated releases are Smallfoot from the Warner Animation Group (September 28), followed by The Grinch out of the Illumination Entertainment/Universal shop (November 9) and Ralph Breaks the Internet from Walt Disney Animation Studios on November 21st.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

The Animation Guild (Local 839, IATSE) Reaches Tentative Contract Agreement With the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers

Early today word reached (out here in the far reaches of the high desert) that a long, arduous process between my old employer and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers had come to a conclusion:

"We reached a tentative agreement with the AMPTP last night on a new Animation Guild Master Agreement. ..."

The Negotiation Committee members I talked to over the course of contract talks said the negotiations were intense. Talks concluded at 11 P.M. last night, after five days at the table.

Labor negotiations, under the best of circumstances, are not easy. The entertainment industry is one of the last in the United States that is heavily unionized by non-public unions and guilds, a resilient vestige of the unionization that went on in mining, manufacturing and other industries during the '30s and '40s. The International Alliance of Motion Picture and Theatrical Employees is the umbrella labor organization under which the Animation Guild operates; over the past several contract cycles, IA representatives have been participants in the talk. This time around, IA Vice-President Mike Miller joined TAG Business Representative Jason MacLeod and the Guild's negotiation committee in the talks.

What I said about the talks on FaceBook:

Negotiations are NEVER easy, under the best of conditions. I know that the Guild did a LOT of preparation, and had a lot of dedicated, focused committee members. And that it achieved some goals but not all goals. (It is always thus.)

To Jason MacLeod, Mike Miller and TAG members who worked so hard on the contract: THANKS for getting down in the arena. THANKS for fighting for every animator, checker, board artist, designer, animation writer, technical and timing director, supervising director, story editor (and everyone else) who works on cartoons.

Just ... THANK YOU. Because of your efforts, lives will be better.

The agreement will run (retroactively) from August 1, 2018 to July 31, 2021. The Animation Guild put a lot of focus on preparing for negotiations, and (reportedly) the preparations paid off. As the Guild announces the specifics, I will post details of the new agreement here. They'll have an impact over the next three years on every active Animation Guild member.

"Rick and Morty's Emmy

First chance at bat, and ka-pow! Out of the park!

First-time Outstanding Animated Program Emmy nominee Rick and Morty won their first trophy at the Creative Arts Emmys Saturday.

Presented by Saturday Night Live alum Molly Shannon and Silicon Valley & Crazy Rich Asians star Jimmy O. Yang, co-creator Justin Roiland spoke for the group thanking everyone for “believing in this weird concept.” ...

So congratulations to the creators and the production team (still located, I assume, at their Olive Avenue headquarters in Burbank).

(A parenthetical note: Rick and Morty was a resolutely non-union show until ace organizer Steven Kaplan persuaded a disgrunted board and design crew to hit the bricks for a union contract. As soon as Cartoon Network/Adult Swim discovered that it's very popular hit series might have a problem delivering new shows, production topkicks hurriedly negotiated a contract with union wages and union health benefits that started without any wait time.

This is a prime example of a determined animation crew exerting the leverage it has to achieve its desired result.)

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Labor Day Final Box Office

Apparently a film about Adolf Eichmann does not align with the current national mood, because "Operation Finale" landed in fourth place during its debut weekend.

The closest thing to an animated feature in the Top Ten would be the hybrid Christopher Robin. Everything else is playing off overseas and in the "lo cost" theaters domestically.


1) Crazy Rich Asians -- 3,865 (+339) -- $28.3M -- $117M

2) The Meg WB -- 3,761 (-270) -- $13.4M --$123.4M

3) M:I – Fallout -- 2,639 (-413) -- $9M -- $206.3M

4) Operation Finale -- 1,818 -- $7.8M -- $9.5M (1st weekend)

5) Searching -- 1,207 (+1,198) -- $7.6M -- $8.1M

6) Christopher Robin -- 2,925 (-469) -- $6.7M -- $87.1M

7) Alpha -- 2,881 (+162) -- $6M -- $28.5M

8) Happytime Murders -- 3,256 -- $5.3M -- $18M

9) BlacKkKLansman -- 1,766 (-148) -- $5.3M -- $39.4M

10) Mile 22 -- 2,950 (-570) -- $4.8M -- $33M

Incredibles 2 now sits at #12, and has collected $602,840,972 domestically (worldwide: $1,166,859,123).

Hotel Transylvania 3 has now collected $162,979,411 in the U.S. and Canada; this is 1/3 of HT3's $486,961,546 worldwide take.