Animation Scoop – Animated News, Reviews and Commentary

An Inside Look Behind “Blark and Son”

Blark and Son came to life in early 2017 as a series of 30-second Instagram videos. Created by special effects veteran Ben Bayouth, the social media comedy stars puppets Blark (dad) and Son (his 12-year old son), in a sitcom-style format unique among today’s vast array of animated digital content. The show is a member of the Stoopid Buddy Stoodios family (“Robot Chicken”, “Buddy Thunderstruck”), which means A) it’s more than a little “out there” and B) it’s got a passionate following.

The success of that first Blark and Son season inspired Baymouth and Executive Producer Adam Aseraf not only to embark on a 2nd season, but to expand the episodes – to a full 7 minutes each! Production on Season 2 began in January, with a launch expected in late March/early April. Verizon go90 will be the platform.

Gkids Acquires Mamoru Hosoda’s “Mirai” for Fall Release

GKIDS has announced it has acquired the North American distribution rights for the animated feature Mirai from Japan’s Studio Chizu. The film is written and helmed by Mamoru Hosoda, the director behind The Boy and the Beast, Wolf Children, Summer Wars, and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. GKIDS will release the film theatrically this fall in both its original Japanese language and a new English dubbed version.

Shout and Funimation To Give Chinese “Big Fish and Begonia” US Theatrical Release in April

Shout! Studios, the multi-platform filmed entertainment distribution and production arm of Shout! Factory, has tapped Funimation Films as its U.S. theatrical partner to jointly launch artful animated feature Big Fish and Begonia across U.S. cinemas starting on Friday, April 6, 2018. The announcement was made today by Melissa Boag, Senior Vice President of Family Entertainment at Shout! Studios and Gen Fukunaga, CEO and Founder of Funimation. Here’s the English language trailer:

Disney Junior Announces Animated “Fancy Nancy” with Alyson Hannigan and Rob Riggle

Alyson Hannigan (“How I Met Your Mother”) and Rob Riggle (“Modern Family”) star as Nancy’s parents Claire and Doug Clancy in Disney Junior’s animated series Fancy Nancy, premiering this summer on Disney Junior and the new DisneyNOW app. Mia Sinclair Jenness, the 12-year-old Broadway sensation who starred in “Matilda,” stars as the voice of Nancy, a lovable young girl whose zest and enthusiasm for all that is fantastic transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary. Newcomer Spencer Moss voices Nancy’s younger sister, Jo Jo.

TRAILER: Pixar’s “The Incredibles 2”

Everyone’s favorite family of superheroes is back in Incredibles 2 – but this time Helen (voice of Holly Hunter) is in the spotlight, leaving Bob (voice of Craig T. Nelson) at home with Violet (voice of Sarah Vowell) and Dash (voice of Huck Milner) to navigate the day-to-day heroics of “normal” life. It’s a tough transistion for everyone, made tougher by the fact that the family is still unaware of baby Jack-Jack’s emerging superpowers. When a new villain hatches a brilliant and dangerous plot, the family and Frozone (voice of Samuel L. Jackson) must find a way to work together again—which is easier said than done, even when they’re all Incredible.

Directed by Brad Bird (Iron Giant, The Incredibles) and produced by John Walker (“The Incredibles”) and Nicole Grindle (“Sanjay’s Super Team” short, “Toy Story 3” associate producer), “Incredibles 2” will bust into theaters on June 15th, 2018. The official trailer just dropped:

INTERVIEW: Nick Park on “Early Man”

It’s impossible to separate Nick Park from his two most famous creations – Wallace & Gromit. But fans worldwide know the iconic Park is also responsible, as animator, writer, producer and/or director for such classics as “Chicken Run”, “Creature Comforts” and “Shaun the Sheep”. The 4-time Oscar-winner got back in the director’s chair after nearly 10 years for Aardman’s latest stop-motion adventure – “Early Man”.

Jackson Murphy: A caveman sports comedy. What was it about that concept that got you excited?

Nick Park: Well, I suppose it was the fact that I’d never seen a prehistoric underdog sports movie before. A lot of these ideas start with just simple doodles. I remember years ago, I was sketching this caveman. I’ve always been attracted to the idea of a caveman movie, but it seems kind of well-covered in animation these days. So I was thinking, ‘What would make this different?’ – and a bit more off the wall, and a little bit more silly.

And I just started thinking about a caveman wielding a club and hitting a rock – and it reminded me of sports and baseball – and I started thinking about the whole tribal nature of soccer… and about a bunch of idiotic caveman. They can’t fight against the mighty Bronze Age world, but instead they have to fight back through a game. They can no longer use their fists and their weapons and have to learn a disciplined game where they can only use their feet. I just found it sort of interesting and funny.

TRAILER: Anime “Batman Ninja”

Check out the Dark Knight, alongside many of his most famed allies and infamous foes, in an eye-popping anime you’ve never seen before. Warner Bros. Japan, DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment present Batman Ninja, an all-new, feature-length animated film arrives on Digital starting April 24th, 2018, and Blu-ray Steelbook, Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD on May 8, 2018. Batman Ninja is rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, and for some suggestive material. Here’s the trailer:

GKIds Acquires “Satellite Girl And Milk Cow”

GKIDS, acclaimed distributor of animation for adult and family audiences, announced that it is has acquired the North American distribution rights to Satellite Girl And Milk Cow, from acclaimed Korean director Chang Hyung-yun. Sales agent INDIESTORY represents the title worldwide. Satellite Girl And Milk Cow is available for streaming now via the VRV Select channel on VRV, an audience-focused aggregation platform, and will be followed by a theatrical and home video release this summer.

NOMINEE SPOTLIGHT: “Negative Space” Directors Talk Packing For Oscar

In an outstanding year for animated shorts, Negative Space has emerged as one of the best. Both an Oscar and Annie nominee, the film tells the story of a son’s special relationship with his father, developed through a unique passion. Baltimore-based co-directors Ru Kuwahata and Max Porter

Jackson Murphy: Congratulations on the Oscar Nomination! How does it feel?

Ru Kuwahata: Oh, thank you so much. It’s been overwhelming and we’re so excited, and we feel so lucky to have had such an amazing team that really poured passion and love into our project.

JM: Where were you when you got the news?

Max Porter: We had just woken up. It was 8:22(am). I was drinking some coffee, and Ru was drinking some tea, and we were just watching the YouTube livestream.

JM: The concept for “Negative Space” starts-out very clever and then it builds and builds so elegantly and dramatically right to the end. Could you feel as you were working on this that there were parts of this story that really hit home?

MP: First of all, thank you so much. Really we owe a lot to the original poem by Ron Koertge. “Negative Space” is based on a 150-word prose poem with the same title by Ron Koertge. And for us, the poem sort of built in the same way you described. It started with this cute connection and there’s almost like a depth that reveals itself. And really what made us want to do this project was we felt our own personal connection to the material. I think because it’s a father and son relationship – because it’s a parent and child relationship – it is a universal theme, and we were able to each bring our own definite personal connection to the realization of the project.

INTERVIEW: “Woody Woodpecker” Director Alex Zamm

He’s one of the most iconic cartoon characters of all-time. Finally, Woody Woodpecker is getting the feature film treatment. Universal’s live-action/animated Woody Woodpecker hits Netflix and Direct-to-DVD on Tuesday (2/6). Veteran director Alex Zamm had the pleasure and responsibility of giving Walter Lantz’s hyperactive bird his CGI wings.

Jackson Murphy: My introduction to Woody Woodpecker was a Universal Studios Orlando rollercoaster ride about 10 years ago – bright red and fast. What was your introduction to Woody Woodpecker?

Alex Zamm: I remember coming home from nursery school as a kid and flipping around the channels that had a lot of the retro cartoons and just loving this character who was lovable and obnoxious at the same time. He always seemed to be getting away with things that we all wish we could get away with. At an early age, I loved the troublemaker characters.

“Coco” and “The Breadwinner” Take Top Honors At Annie Awards

Pixar Animation Studios was the big winner at this year’s 45th Annie Awards as Coco won Best Animated Feature, and garnered top honors across 11 categories. The Best Animated Feature-Independent trophy was awarded to The Breadwinner (Cartoon Saloon/Aircraft Pictures/ Melusine Productions). Complete list of winners below.

Best Animated Special Production was awarded to Revolting Rhymes (Magic Light Pictures); Best Animated Short Subject – Dear Basketball (Glen Keane Productions, Kobe Studios, Believe Entertainment Group); Best Animated TV/Broadcast Commercial – June (Broad Reach Pictures/Chromosphere/Lyft); Best General Audience Animated TV/Broadcast Production Rick and Morty – Episode: 30 ‘Pickle Rick’ (Williams Street Productions); Best Animated TV/Broadcast Production for Children We Bare Bears Episode: Panda’s Art (Cartoon Network Animation Studios); Best Animated TV/Broadcast Production for Preschool Children Octonauts – Episode: Operation Deep Freeze (Vampire Squid Productions Limited, a Silvergate Media company, in association with Brown Bag Films); and Outstanding Achievement for Character Animation in a Live Action Production: War For The Planet of The Apes (Chernin Entertainment, TSG Entertainment, River Road Entertainment, 20th Century Fox, Daniel Barrett, Sidney Kombo-Kintombo, Emile Ghorayeb, Luisma Lavin Peredo, Alessandro Bonora).

AWARDS WATCH 2018

Checklist of Animated Features To Be Released in the U.S. in 2018

1. MARY AND THE WITCHES FLOWER (1/18/18) GKIDS. D: Hiromasa Yonebayashi.

2. HAVE A NICE DAY (1/27/18) Strand Releasing. D: Liu Jian.

3. BILAL: A NEW BREED OF HERO (2/2/18) Vertical Entertainment. D: Khurram H. Alavi, Ayman Jamal

4. PETER RABBIT (2/9/18) Warner Bros. D: Will Gluck.

5. TEHRAN TABOO (2/14/18) Kino-Lorber. D: Ali Soozandeh. (NY release date)

6. EARLY MAN (2/16/18) Lionsgate. D: Nick Park.

7. THE BIG BAD FOX AND OTHER TALES (2/23/18) GKIds. D: Patrick Imbert, Benjamin Renner.

8. SHERLOCK GNOMES (3/23/18) Paramount. D: John Stevenson.

9. ISLE OF DOGS (3/23/16) Fox Searchlight. D: Wes Anderson.

10. BIG FISH & BEGONIA (4/6/18) Shout Factory. D: Xuan Liang and Chun Zhang

11. DUCK DUCK GOOSE (4/20/18) Open Road Films. D: Christopher Jenkins.

12. SMALLFOOT (5/11/18) Warner Bros. D: Karey Kirkpatrick, Jason Reisig

13. THE INCREDIBLES 2 (6/15/18) Disney-Pixar. D: Brad Bird.

14. HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 3: SUMMER VACATION (7/13/18) Columbia. D: Genndy Tarakovsky.

15. TEEN TITANS GO! TO THE MOVIES (7/27/18) Warner Bros. D: Aaron Horvath, Peter Rida Michail.

16. THE GRINCH (11/9/18) Universal. D: Peter Candeland, Yarrow Cheney, Matthew O’Callaghan.

17. RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET: WRECK-IT RALPH 2 (11/21/18) Disney. D: Phil Johnston, Rich Moore.

18. SPIDERMAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE (12/14/18) Columbia. D: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman


NOTES: 2018 Limited-release theatricals (movies going Direct-to-Video (DVD, VOD but getting a theatrical billboard) began this year with a pair of anime via Fathom Events – DIGIMON ADVENTURE TRI: LOSS, directed by Keitarou Motonaga on February 1st; then MAZINGER Z: INFINITY, directed by Junji Shimizu, on February 10th. Direct TV released MONSTER FAMILY (directed by Holger Tappe) to theaters on February 9th. Much more to come!


On The Radar

These films are tentatively scheduled for 2018 but lack a release date or a US distributor. This list will be constantly updated throughout the year.

SGT. STUBBY: AN AMERICAN HERO (4/13/18) D: Richard Lanni.

ARCTIC JUSTICE: THUNDER SQUAD (4/27/18) D: Aaron Woodley

THE ARK AND THE AARDVARK D: John Stevenson

For further information on all U.S. Animated Feature releases since 1937 Click Here.

Annie Awards Live Stream Here

Asifa Hollywood live streamed Saturday night’s Annie Awards and you can watch it here. The award ceremony’s multi-camera and audio set up covered the entire ceremony – the celebrations, the laughs, the flubs, even the audience reactions. You won’t miss a thing. It’s just like being there… only you didn’t have to dress up! Here’s the video of the event:

Annie Awards Announce Its Presenters

ASIFA-Hollywood announced its slate of presenters today for the 45th Annie Awards this Saturday, February 3 from UCLA’s Royce Hall. Presenters include actress Wendie Malick; Coco’s Anthony Gonzalez; Director Nora Twomey and actress Saara Chaudry from The Breadwinner; Disney voice talent Russi Taylor; SpongeBob himself, Tom Kenny; Animators Mark Henn and Floyd Norman, and other industry notables, including Debi Derryberry, and E.G. Daily. The Annie Awards will be streamed live here starting at 7 p.m. PST.

The Annie Awards honor overall excellence as well as individual achievement in a total of 36 categories including Best Animated Feature, Best Animated Special Production, Commercials, Short Subjects and Outstanding Individual Achievements. This year, the Best Animated Features nominations are Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie (DreamWorks Animation), Cars 3 (Pixar Animation Studios), Coco (Pixar Animation Studios), Despicable Me 3 (Illumination Entertainment) and The Boss Baby (DreamWorks Animation).

Best Animated Feature – Independent nominations are The Breadwinner (Cartoon Saloon/Gkids), In This Corner of the World (Taro Maki, GENCO, Inc. and Masao Maruyama, MAPPA Co., Ltd.), Loving Vincent (BreakThru Films, Production Company Trademark Films, Co-Production Company.), Napping Princess (Nippon TV), and The Big Bad Fox & Other Tales (Folivari/Panique!/Studiocanal).

ANIME REVIEW: “The Morose Mononokean”

We don’t really have a word in English that corresponds to the Japanese yokai. They aren’t ghosts as we think of them; nor do they correspond to Western demons or ogres. Their appearance is often monstrous, but they’re not all huge or ugly. Yokai can be grotesque, hideous, funny-looking or even attractive.

There doesn’t seem to be any limit on how many or how many types there are—writers and artists often invent new ones. There are woodblock prints of yokai, books on yokai, and they often turn up in manga and anime. Manga artist Shigeru Mizuki’s home town of Sakaiminato has 100 bronze statues of his yokai characters on display. “Showa,” Mizuki’s personal overview of 20th century Japanese history, is partially narrated by a yokai he invented: Nezumi-Otoko (“Rat-Man”), who has a large face, buck teeth and whiskers. In Isao Takahata’s Pom Poko, when the shape-shifting tanuki (raccoon-dogs) try scare away the humans who are destroying their forest, they stage a fantastic yokai parade—only to have a local amusement park claim credit for the spectacle.