Animation Scoop – Animated News, Reviews and Commentary

Warner Animation Group Names Abbate and Leahy As Senior Creative Team

Warner Animation Group, the animated film production arm of Warner Bros. Pictures, has announced the appointment of two senior-level creative executives: Allison Abbate has been named Executive Vice President, and Chris Leahy has been named Senior Vice President. Toby Emmerich, President and Chief Content Officer, Warner Bros. Pictures shares oversight of Warner Animation Group with Courtenay Valenti, President, Production and Development, Warner Bros. Pictures.

TRAILER: Universal’s “Woody Woodpecker”

One year ago we posted the Brazilian trailer for a live action/animation hybrid Woody Woodpecker feature. Well, “Guess Who?”… that feature makes its US debut on DVD on February 6th 2018, via Universal. Filmed in Vancouver and directed by Alex Zamm (Inspector Gadget 2), the movie stars Eric Bauza (Ren & Stimpy, Puss In Boots, Lego Star Wars) as the voice of Woody. Here’s the English language trailer:

Netflix and DreamWorks Animation Television to Premiere Six Original Series in 2018

Netflix and DreamWorks Animation Television are set to release six new original series in 2018 beginning with Trolls: The Beat Goes On! premiering Jan. 19, 2018, exclusively on Netflix. The new slate includes series inspired by DreamWorks’ beloved animated films as well as classic properties including an all-new She-Ra. From executive producer Noelle Stevenson, the new She-Ra series will present a modern take on the ‘80s girl power icon for a new generation of young fans.

2018 series include (unless noted, premiere dates to be announced): Trolls: The Beat Goes On!, She-Ra, The Boss Baby: Back in Business, Harvey Street Kids, The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants, Trollhunters (Part 3) and 3 Below. Here’s the trailer for the 2D (hand drawn) Trolls: The Beat Goes On!:

Bill Plympton’s “Your Face” Global Jam

In 1987, Bill Plympton burst onto the animation scene with the debut of his short Your Face at the Annecy Festival. After winning numerous awards and garnering a nomination for an Oscar, Plympton has gone on a 30-year career as “The King of Indie Animation”. To commemorate three decades, producer Ken Mora commissioned a special tribute for 2017, gathering independent animators from around the world to create a Your Face ‘Jam’ – both as homage to Bill and to the film itself – and to celebrate his world-wide influence. Ken Mora has just released the film on You Tube – and its almost as much fun as Plympton’s original. Kudos to everyone who contributed:

2017 Golden Globe Nominees

The infamous Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced their nominees today – and included in the mix were their choices for Best Animated Feature. Animated entries were also represented for Best Song, with Pixar’s Coco, Blue Sky’s Ferdinand, and Sony’s The Star being recognized there. The Golden Globes will be awarded in a ceremony from the Beverly Hilton on Jan. 7th. The 75th Golden Globes will air live at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET on NBC.


DreamWorks Animation LLC; Twentieth Century Fox

Cartoon Saloon / Aircraft Pictures / Melusine Productions; GKIDS

Pixar Animation Studios; Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Blue Sky Studios; Twentieth Century Fox

Breakthru Films / Trademark Films; Good Deed Entertainment

INTERVIEW: “Porky Pig” Voice Bob Bergen

He’s been the voice of Porky Pig for 27 years now, with so many credits he ranks #4 of the All-Time Top 100 Domestic Box Office Stars. Yet the one thing animation fans have never asked Bob Bergen is, how many kinds of ‘Porkys’ has he voiced?

BOB BERGEN: That’s a really good question, because if you look back at the classic Looney Tunes shorts, every director from Chuck Jones to Friz Freleng to Bob Clampett, each had their little fingerprint, their own version of the characters. They each played a hand in developing them.

So, when I first got the job playing Porky, some people at Warner Bros played me a reference recording of Mel Blanc before every session. It was about 7-8 minutes long, with a little of Porky from 1938, and a little of Porky from 1946, and a little of Porky from 1954. —and I would say to them, “Which Porky do you want?” They asked, “What do you mean? They’re all Porky.” I said, “Yeah, they’re all Porky, but the character evolved.’

Early, early Mel Blanc Porky was very different than, say, Robin Hood Daffy’s Porky. Honestly, the people at Warner Bros were looking at me like I was speaking Chinese. By the way, that kind of messed me up hearing that because I was confused. Personally, my favorite version of the character, or the sound that I try to emulate the most would be mid-50s Chuck Jones Porky, which is Drip Along Daffy, Duck Dodgers, Robin Hood. To me that is the epitome of this character.

TEASER: “Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse”

Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the creative minds behind The Lego Movie and Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs, bring their unique talents to a fresh vision of a different Spider-Man Universe, with a groundbreaking visual style that’s the first of its kind. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse introduces Brooklyn teen Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore), and the limitless possibilities of the Spider-Verse, where more than one can wear the mask. The film opens in one year, December 2018. Here’s the teaser that dropped today:

INTERVIEW: Carlos Saldanha on Making “Ferdinand” Believe-a-bull

Carlos Saldanha has become one of the most prolific feature animation directors in the world. After co-directing Ice Age (1999) and Robots (2005), he progressed to solo director with Ice Age 2: The Meltdown (2006), followed by Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (2009), Rio (2011), Ice Age 4: Continental Drift (2012), Rio 2 (2014), and several animated shorts in-between. His seventh and latest feature is Ferdinand, adapting the children’s book classic written by Munro Leaf and illustrated by Robert Lawson. On December 6th Carlos called me from Germany, where he’s currently promoting the film, and discussed how he brought the project to cinematic life.

Bob: How did you become interested in Ferdinand? Did you find the property yourself or did Fox find it for you?

Carlos: Fox has a development department and they come across all these properties and then they came to me with the book and said, “Look, we have a chance to get this one; is this something that interests you?” And I said, “Yes, it is.”

I was very excited about exploring it. It would be a big challenge because this is the first project that I would have to do that’s not an original idea. It’s based on a book. But I loved the book so much I felt it would be a good time to take that challenge.

ANIME REVIEW: “Ranma ½: OVA & Movies Collection”

Rumiko Takahashi’s gender-bending martial arts comedy Ranma ½ debuted as a manga in “Shonen Sunday Comics” in 1988 and in animation soon after. Three decades later, it remains hugely popular in both Japan and the United States. Although Takahashi has said she wasn’t commenting on gender roles in Japan, its absurd premise suggests otherwise.

Wiry, black-haired Ranma Saotome is a high school martial arts champion of extraordinary skill. Because he fell into an accursed spring while training in Jusenkyo, China, he turns into a buxom, red-haired girl when hit with cold water. Hot water restores his proper gender. His father Genma fell into a nearby spring and turns into a panda under similar conditions. (Jusenkyo must have been an extremely popular training area, as several other cast members also transform: the geographically challenged Ryoga becomes P-chan the pig; Shampoo the Chinese Amazon, a cat; and her hapless suitor Mousse, a duck.)




Checklist of Animated Features Released in the U.S. in 2017

1. YU-GI-OH! DARK SIDE OF DIMENSIONS (1/27/16) Screen Vision Media. D: Satoshi Kuwabara.

2. THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE (2/10/17) Warner Bros. D: Chris McCay.

3. ROCK DOG (2/26/17) Summit. D: Ash Brannon.

4. THE BOSS BABY (3/31/17) Dreamworks-20th Century Fox. D: Tom McGrath.

5. SMURFS: THE LOST VILLAGE (4/7/17) Sony. D: Kelly Asbury.


7. SPARK: A SPACE TAIL (4/14/17) Open Road. D: Aaron Woodley

8. ANIMAL CRACKERS (4/21/17) D: Tony Bancroft, Scott Christian Sava.

9. CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS (6/2/17) Dreamworks. D: David Soren.

10. CARS 3 (6/16/17) Disney-Pixar. D: Brian Fee

11. DESPICABLE ME 3 (6/30/17) Universal (Illumination). D: Kyle Balda, Pierre Coffin, Eric Guillon.

12. THE GIRL WITH NO HANDS (7/21/17) GKids. D: Sébastien Laudenbach

13. THE EMOJI MOVIE (7/28/17) Sony. D: Tony Leondis.

14. BLAZING SAMURAI (8/4/17) Open Road. D: Chris Bailey, Mark Koetsier.

15. IN THIS CORNER OF THE WORLD (8/11/17) Shout! Factory/Funimation. D: Sunao Katabuch.

16. THE NUT JOB 2: NUTTY BY NATURE (8/11/17) D: Cal Brunker.

17. LEAP! (8/25/17) The Weinstein Company. D: Eric Summer, Éric Warin.

18. NAPPING PRINCESS (9/8/17) GKids. D: Kenji Kamiyama.

19. ANIMAL CRACKERS (9/21/17) Blue Dream Studios. D: Scott Christian Sava, Tony Bancroft.

20. THE LEGO NINJAGO MOVIE (9/22/17) Warner Bros. D: Charlie Bean.

21. LOVING VINCENT (09/22/17) Good Deed Entertainment. D: Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman.

22. WINDOW HORSES (09/29/17) National Film Board of Canada. D: Ann Marie Fleming.

23. MY LITTLE PONY THE MOVIE (10/6/17) The Weinstein Company. D: Jayson Thiessen.

24. BIRDBOY: THE FORGOTTEN CHILDREN Gkids. (Release date TBA). D: Alberto Vázquez and Pedro Rivero.

25. THE STAR (11/10/17) Columbia Pictures. D: Timothy Reckart

26. COCO (11/22/17) Disney-Pixar. D: Lee Unkrich, Adrian Molina.

27. FERDINAND (12/15/17) 20th Century-Fox (Blue Sky). D: Carlos Saldanha.

28. THE BREADWINNER Gkids. (Release date TBA). D: Nora Twomey.

NOTES: 2017 Limited-release theatricals (movies going Direct-to-Video (DVD, VOD but getting a theatrical billboard) began this year with ONE PIECE FILM: GOLD, directed by Hiroaki Miyamoto, on January 10th via Funimation. Studio Ghibli’s 1993 TV movie OCEAN WAVES, directed by Tomomi Mochizuki, got a U.S. theatrical release via Gkids on January 13th. Similarly, the 1993 anime feature SAILOR MOON R THE MOVIE, directed by Kunihiko Ikuhara, was also a limited U.S. release by Eleven Arts on the same date, January 13th (in Los Angeles at the Theater in the Ace Hotel). Denmark’s 2010 feature THE TROUBLE WITH TERKEL was given a token theatrical run in several U.S. cities on February 3rd, via Indican Pictures. BUNYAN AND BABE, directed by Tony Bancroft and Jim Rygiel, was given a limited NY/LA theatrical release by Cinedigm on February 3rd. Fathom Events, ELEVEN ARTS, and Aniplex held a one night theatrical for SWORD ART ONLINE THE MOVIE: ORDINAL SCALE, directed by Tomohiko Itō, on March 9th. Viva Pictures opened Spanish family film OZZY, directed by Alberto Rodríguez and Nacho La Casa, on April 21st. GKids and Fathom Events did a one-day 350 theatre nationwide release of MUNE: GUARDIAN OF THE MOON, Directed by Benoît Philippon and Alexandre Heboyan, on Saturday, August 12th. Warner Bros. and Fathom Events presented a one-night nationwide cinema screening of BATMAN AND HARLEY QUINN on August 14th. Lionsgate theatrically released DEEP, directed by Julio Soto Gurpide, on August 25th. Viva Pictures released the Mexican made TOP CAT BEGINS, directed by Andrés Couturier, on September 29th. Fathom Events released the anime feature NO GAME NO LIFE ZERO, directed by Ishizuka Atsuko, for nationwide theatre screenings on October 5th and 8th. Eleven Arts released A SILENT VOICE: THE MOVIE (directed by Naoka Yamada) on October 20th. Fathom Events released POKEMON THE MOVIE: I CHOOSE YOU, directed by Kunihiko Yuyamait, on November 5th. And finally, Lionsgate released the Chinese produced HEDGEHOGS (directed by Jianming Huang) on December 15th.

IN ADDITION: The following features were given a token theatrical run in Los Angeles to qualify for a 2017 Oscar nomination: CINDERELLA THE CAT (Italian, directed by Directors: Ivan Cappiello, Dario Sansone, Marino Guarnieri and Alessandro Rak), ETHEL AND ERNEST (British, Directed by Roger Mainwood), MARY AND THE WITCHES FLOWER (Japanese anime, directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi), and MOOMINS AND THE WINTER WONDERLAND (Finland, directed by Jakub Wronski and Ira Carpelan).

Click for more information on 2016 animated feature releases – and for further information on all U.S. Animated Feature releases since 1937 Click Here.

The “Robot Chicken: Santa Claus Pot Cookie” Season Premiere Special Interview

The highly-anticipated Season 9 of “Robot Chicken” kicks-off Sunday night at 11:30pm with a brand new Holiday Special – Freshly Baked: The Robot Chicken Santa Claus Pot Cookie Freakout Special: Special Edition. Series co-creator Matthew Senreich and director Tom Sheppard give us a preview of Santa’s wild ride and other highlights of S9.

Jackson Murphy: I watched the trailer for the holiday special. What in the world is going on with Santa on Christmas Eve?

Tom Sheppard: Santa’s having a rough time in life, just like a lot of people right now, and he goes on a strange little trip.

Matt Senreich: He goes to his different families every night to leave presents. Kids leave out cookies and milk and he eats a cookie that’s laced with something.

JM: With a lot of shows you only get one, maybe two holiday specials in their entire run.

MS: We actually do a Christmas special pretty much every season. I think this is our eighth. Adult Swim probably hates us for it because they can only air them on Christmas. We like the holidays. I think it’s just that simple. It’s fun playing with Santa, especially in stop-motion.

TRAILER: “Have A Nice Day”

The first US theatrical release for 2018 may well be the Chinese indie, Have A Nice Day. Strand Releasing will release animator Liu Jian’s neo-noir in New York (at the Village East Cinemas) on Friday January 26th, with LA right behind it on February 2nd at the Ahrya Fine Arts Cinema in Beverly Hills. The Nezha Bros. Pictures Company Limited and Le-joy Animation Studio production has just released its US trailer. Take a look:

TRAILER: “Hedgehogs”

Lest you think you’ve seen every 2017 theatrical animated release, along comes Lionsgate with its limited release next week of Hedgehogs. Directed by Jianming Huang, with a voice cast that includes Chevy Chase and Jon Hader, the Chinese import (originally announced as “Bobby The Hedgehog”) will be both in theaters and available On Demand (VOD – Cable, Amazon Instant, Google Play, iTunes) on December 15th.

Beyond The Simpsons: What Animation Assets Disney Will Own by Acquiring Fox

It’s not just The Simpsons, Family Guy or Bob’s Burgers. If the rumored Disney buyout of 20th Century Fox goes through, Disney will end up with a fortified cartoon library that will probably double their animation assets.

For starters, they will be acquiring the rights to Crusader Rabbit – the first cartoon series created for television (in 1949). They’ll also pick up much vintage Saturday morning stuff – like the Planet Of The Apes cartoons, Journey To The Center Of The Earth, Fantastic Voyage, The Hardy Boys, Dr. Doolittle… Fox Kids originals like The Tick and Peter Pan and The Pirates, Bobby’s World and Life With Louie.