Animation Scoop – Animated News, Reviews and Commentary

When Was the Last Time a Western Animated Film Explored Interpersonal Relationships?

This just popped into my head earlier today: Western films tend to reflect the struggle of the individual. Eastern films in contrast are more likely to use interpersonal relationships as a foundation for the story. There’s a marked difference, and its one that could really enliven western animated filmmaking.

There’s no doubt that many western animated films’ style of story don’t stray very far from established norms. It’s usually one (or two at the most) characters overcoming adversity to accomplish a goal, or solve their problem. Woody trying to get back to Andy, Moana trying find Maui and save her village, Alice travelling through Wonderland, etc.

Director Henry Yu Talks “Surf’s Up 2: WaveMania”

The animated sequel to Sony Pictures Animation’s Surf’s Up, the 2007 Oscar animated comedy about surfing penguins, will be released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment next Tuesday. Genndy Tartakovsky’s protégé Henry Yu (story artist on Sym-Bionic Titan and both Hotel Transylvania feature films) makes his directorial debut with this project, which is produced by Michelle Wong (production manager on Hotel Transylvania 2) and features computer animation from Rainmaker Entertainment Inc.

So as its been 10 years, I spoke with Surf’s Up 2: WaveMania director Yu about the challenges – and thrills – that came with making this “Superstar” sequel.

Jackson Murphy: This is the sequel to 2007’s “Surf’s Up”, which was nominated for the Best Animated Feature Academy Award. And it’s a great film – I’ve watched it several times over the years. So why, after nearly a decade, was the decision made to greenlight a sequel – and center it around WWE Superstars?

Henry Yu: The WWE is always interested in expanding their brand and bringing in a new generation of audiences. They actually came to us looking for a project that would fit their brand. And they saw “Surf’s Up”, and they thought, “You know what? It’s got a really fun vibe. It’s really light-hearted. It’s got a lot of goofy, cartoony fun.” It’s about surfing – it’s about sports. So we thought it was a natural fit.

FIRST LOOK: Ghibli’s Amazon Series “Ronja the Robber’s Daughter”

Amazon announced the launch date for Ronja the Robber’s Daughter. This is the new epic new series directed by Goro Miyazaki, animated by Polygon Pictures and co-produced by Studio Ghibli, based on Astrid Lindgren’s classic novel. It will start streaming on January 27th.

The English adaptation was produced by David Freedman in London with a mostly British cast – with top British talent including the legendary Adrian Edmonson (The Young Ones, Star Wars) Rufus Hound, Gillian Anderson and an odd cameo by Swampy Marsh of Phineas & Ferb. Take a look:

PGA Nominates Producers of Disney Trio, Kubo and Pets

The Producers Guild of America (PGA) announced today the motion picture nominations for the 28th Annual Producers Guild Awards. In the category of Outstanding Producer of Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures:

The Award for Outstanding Producer of Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures:

· Finding Dory – Producer: Lindsey Collins

· Kubo and the Two Strings – Producers: Arianne Sutner, Travis Knight

· Moana – Producer: Osnat Shurer

· The Secret Life of Pets – Producers: Chris Meledandri, Janet Healy

· Zootopia – Producer: Clark Spencer

ANIME REVIEW: Studio Ghibli’s “Ocean Waves”

Ocean Waves (Umi ga Kikoeru), sometimes translated as “I Can Hear the Sea” (1993), is Studio Ghibli‘s only TV special. A modest work that’s closer in scope and tone to Whisper of the Heart or From Up on Poppy Hill than to the fragile poetry of The Tale of Princess Kaguya or the grand adventures of Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away, Ocean Waves was the first Ghibli film not directed by either Hayao Miyazaki or Isao Takahata. Rarely seen outside of Japan, it was designed to offer the younger staff members a chance to make a smaller film on a more limited budget.

Told through a series of interlocking flashbacks, the story centers on an awkward high school romantic triangle. Although they’re in different classes, Taku Morisaku (voice by Nobuo Tobita) and Yutaka Matsuno (Toshiko Seki) have been best friends for years. Complications arise when Rikako Muto (Youko Sakamoto) transfers from Tokyo to their school in Kochi, a small city in southern Shikoku.

INTERVIEW: Disney Producers Discuss “Mickey and the Roadster Racers”

A decade after Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Disney is re-vamping its most iconic characters in the new Disney Junior series Mickey and the Roadster Racers, premiering this Sunday, Jan. 15th at 9am. I spoke with producers Mark Seidenberg and Rob LaDuca about the revved-up show, including getting inspiration (and a character) from one of the most famous car aficionados of all-time.

Jackson Murphy: I went to the Fathom Events special preview in November. I was in a theater of 300 kids, parents and grandparents, and everyone loved the whole experience.

Mark Seidenberg: I love to hear that.

Rob LaDuca: Same with the theater we went to. All the kids were jumping up and down. They oohed and awed and laughing just where we hoped.

Mark Seidenberg, Executive Producer, “Mickey and Roadster Racers” and Rob LaDuca, Executive Producer, “Mickey and Roadster Racers.” (Disney Junior/Craig Sjodin)

OFFICIAL TRAILER: Pixar’s “Cars 3”

Disney-Pixar has released its first official trailer for Cars 3 – a sure-to-be summer hit coming out June 16th. Lightning McQueen sets out to prove to a new generation of racers that he’s still the best race car in the world. Helping him to do that is director Brian Fee and a voice cast including Owen Wilson, Armie Hammer, Cheech Marin, Bonnie Hunt – and yeah, Larry the Cable Guy as “Mater”. Take a look:

New York Doubles-Up for an Annie-approved Commercial

Yo! New York is representing at the 2017 Annie Awards with two stalwarts of the east-coast community, J. J. Sedelmaier and Bill Plympton – united for a viral commercial, The Importance Of Paying Attention: Teeth. It is one in a series of three animated spots for the Ford Motor Company, each a gag-themed short about driving safety. For thirty-odd years J. J. and Bill have independently survived the peaks and dips of industry tumult, garnering their share of recognition and awards, but never actually working together until this project. So here are four essential things you need to know about it before the Annies.

Disney’s “Zootopia” Wins The Golden Globe

Winning the Hollywood Foreign Press’ Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature was Disney’s Zootopia. The event was held tonight at Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. Upon accepting the award, director Byron Howard made a statement about the film “We wanted to make a film that not only spoke to kids, but to adults, addressing diversity, even when there are people in the world who want to divide us by using fear”. Director Rich Moore and producer Clark Spencer also accepted.



Top 15 Leading Contenders For Annie and Academy Awards (in order of release)

1. KUNG FU PANDA 3 (1/29/16) Dreamworks/20th Century-Fox. D: Jennifer Yuh Nelson; Co-Director: Allesandro Carloni.

2. ZOOTOPIA (3/4/16) Disney. D: Byron Howard, Rich Moore.

3. FINDING DORY (6/17/16) Disney/Pixar. D: Andrew Stanton, Angus MacLane.

4. THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS (7/8/16) Universal (Illumination). D: Chris Renaud, Yarrow Cheney.

5. THE LITTLE PRINCE (8/5/16) Netflix. D: Mark Osborne.

6. SAUSAGE PARTY (8/12/16) Sony. Sony. D: Greg Tiernan, Conrad Vernon.

7. KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS Focus/Laika. (8/19/16) D: Travis Knight.

8. LONG WAY NORTH (9/30/16) Shout Factory. D: Rémi Chayé.

9. MISS HOKUSAI (10/14/16) GKids. (anime) D: Keiichi Hara.

10. TROLLS (11/4/16) Dreamworks – 20th Century-Fox. D: Mike Mitchell.

11. MY LIFE AS A ZUCCHINI (11/11/16) GKids. D: Claude Barras. (also submitted by Switzerland as its official nominee for Best Foreign Film, 2016)

12. THE RED TURTLE (11/18/16) Sony Pictures Classics. D: Michaël Dudok de Wit

13. MOANA (11/23/16) Disney. D: Ron Clements, John Musker.

14. YOUR NAME (12/2/16) Funimation. D: Makoto Shinka.

15. SING (12/21/16) Universal (Illumination). D: Garth Jennings.


Checklist of Animated Features Slated for U.S. Release for 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. LEAP! (3/3/17) The Weinstein Company. D: Eric Summer, Éric Warin.

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

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

7. SPARK (4/14/17) D: Aaron Woodley

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

9. THE NUT JOB 2 (5/19/17) D: Cal Brunker.

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

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

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

13. THE GIRL WITH NO HANDS (2017 TBA) GKids. D: Sébastien Laudenbach


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

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

17. THE EMOJI MOVIE (8/4/17) Sony. D: Tony Leondis.

18. MY LITTLE PONY THE MOVIE (10/6/17) D: Jayson Thiessen.

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

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

21. FERDINAND (12/22/17) 20th Century-Fox (Blue Sky). D: Carlos Saldanha.

NOTES: 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.

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

ANIME TRAILER: “Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side Of Dimensions”

It’s official! The first animated feature to be released theatrically in 2017, in the US, will be Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side Of Dimensions. Screen Vision Media will give this a two-week release on January 27th.

Supposedly a decade in the making, the film features new designs and an all-new story from the original creator of the 20-year old manga/card-gaming phenomenon, Kazuki Takahashi. This is the fourth Yu-Gi-Oh feature film, following two separate TV series. Playdates, theaters and ticket info can be found here.

Richard Williams Discusses Career With John Canemaker At MoMA

On Saturday, September 24th, animation historian John Canemaker sat down with animator Richard Williams to discuss the Museum of Modern Art’s new release of his classic film, The Thief and the Cobbler: A Moment in Time. An animated masterpiece that was started in 1964, worked on for decades, it was never really finished and had to be re-jiggered into a film in 1992. The Thief and the Cobbler was finally restored and preserved by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science’s Film Academy Archive in 2016. In a vast ocean of potential artistic masters, “Richard Williams is now himself a tasty lobster…” NYU Professor Canemaker declared, in a classically original and complicated metaphor.


During the conversation, the 83-year-old Richard Williams grew livelier and started to relate all sorts of different stories from his long life and career.  When Richard Williams was just 15 years old, he saved up enough money to take a bus from his hometown of Toronto, to California, a long five-day trip. Three times he went on tour of the Disney Studios, where he tried to ditch the guides and talk to the animators. Eventually he succeeded and was kicked out of the lot! Tall tales are sure to grow around such a master of animation… He was kicked out of Disney three times, a hundred times!

FIRST LOOK TRAILER: The Weinstein Company’s “Leap!”

The Weinstein Company is releasing the French-Candian co-production, Leap! on March 3rd – and here is the first trailer. The film stars the voice of starring Elle Fanning as an orphan girl dreaming of becoming a ballerina, making her way to Paris, where she passes for someone else and accedes to the position of pupil at the Grand Opera house.

Directed by Eric Summer and Éric Warin (the latter Eric an animator on The Triplets of Belleville) and produced in Montreal Canada, the film was released in France (under its original title, Ballerina) earlier this month. Here’s out first peek:

Tyrus Wong 1910-2016

Tyrus Wong, a Hollywood production artist and designer, most notable for his delicate work that inspired Walt Disney’s Bambi (1942), has passed away at age 106. A Disney inspirational sketch artist from 1938 through 41 – and later a career film production illustrator for Warner Bros. from 1942 through 1968 – Wong’s work establishing the feel of Bambi was essential to its success as a work of art.

Hired by the Disney studio at first as an inbetweener on Mickey Mouse shorts, Wong became aware of the Bambi production and soon submitted his own landscape paintings as an audition for a job in that production. Walt immediately gave the 28-year-old Wong an opportunity to color key the whole film – make paintings that set the mood of the entire production.