Animation Scoop – Animated News, Reviews and Commentary
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Inkwell Images Revives “Toby The Pup” on Blu-Ray and DVD

Michigan-based video distributor Inkwell Images has just released, this week, a set of previously lost Toby The Pup cartoons on DVD and blu-ray. This series of forgotten cartoon shorts – created by famed Disney/Fleischer animator Dick Huemer and produced by Charles Mintz – lasted one season in 1930-31 with twelve cartoons in theatrical release through RKO.

Associate producer Ray Pointer has found five cartoons from the series and coupled them with a brand new 16-minute documentary – narrated by Huemer’s son, with additional input from veteran animator Berny Wolf – which is peppered with several full length examples of Huemer’s animation at Raoul Barre (Mutt and Jeff) and Max Fleischer (Koko The Clown) studios.

Animator/historian Mark Kausler provides in-depth and expert audio commentary for each cartoon, pointing out lots of tidbits, facts and trivia of interest in each scene.

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TEASER TRAILER: Universal’s Brazilian Live Action/Animation “Woody Woodpecker”

Universal has released the first teaser trailer for its live action/animation hybrid Pica-Pau (aka “Woody Woodpecker”), set to be released next year in Brazil. The teaser dropped during Comic Con Experience, a pop-culture event being held this weekend in São Paulo.

Filmed in Vancouver, Canada 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.

Brazilian actress Thalia Ayala co-stars as Brittany, girlfriend of a con artist named Lance Walters (Timothy Omundson), who goes to war with the Woodpecker. Lance is determined to build his dream home, but to do this he will have to take down the bird house in “a fight that will not be easy”.

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ANIME REVIEW: “Your Name.”

Writer-director Makoto Shinkai’s runaway hit Your Name. (Kimi No Na Wa) is the year’s number one box office hit in Japan and the sixth-highest grossing film of all time there. Since it opened in August, it’s earned more than ¥19.4 billion (about US $174 million), more than any animated film not directed by Hayao Miyazaki. This imaginative, unconventional film could hardly be more different than the lavish CG features that have dominated American animation this year.

Teen-aged Mitsuha live in rural Japan, north of Tokyo, where her family maintains an important Shinto shrine. She participates in the rituals, plaiting ceremonial chords and performing dances at festivals. But, like Disney’s Belle, she’s bored with her provincial life and longs for the excitement of the big city. Taki is a typical high school student in Tokyo: he hangs out with his friends and is shy around girls. He wants to be an architect and draws very well.

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Disney’s Pre-School “Mickey and the Roadster Racers” To Debut January 15th

Disney Junior’s animated Mickey and the Roadster Racers, a madcap car-racing adventure series for preschoolers led by Disney’s #1 star, Mickey Mouse, and his pals Minnie, Pluto, Goofy, Daisy and Donald, will make its television debut in a simulcast Sunday January 15th (9:00 and 9:25 a.m., EST) on Disney Channel and Disney Junior. Two more episodes will premiere Monday January 16th (9:00 and 9:25 a.m., EST) on Disney Channel.

The Emmy-nominated creative talent behind Disney Junior’s hit series Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Jake and the Never Land Pirates comprise the production team: Rob LaDuca is executive producer, Mark Seidenberg is co-executive producer and supervising story editor, and Thomas Hart is story editor. The series is a production of Disney Television Animation.

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2016 Annie Award Nominations: Dory, Kubo, Moana, Panda and Zootopia Take Top Honors

The International Animated Film Society, ASIFA-Hollywood, announced nominations today for its 44th Annual Annie Awards recognizing the year’s best in the field of animation. For a complete list of nominations, please visit The Annie Awards website.

This year’s Best Animated Feature nominations include: Finding Dory (Pixar Animation Studios), Kubo and the Two Strings (Laika), Kung Fu Panda 3 (DreamWorks Animation), Moana (Walt Disney Animation Studios) and Zootopia (Walt Disney Animation Studios).

Nominees in the Annies newest category, Best Feature-Independent, spotlighting features with a much smaller distribution footprint than major studio releases, include: Long Way North (Sacrebleu Productions, Maybe Movies, Norlum Studios, France 3 Cinéma and 2 Minutes), Miss Hokusai (Production I.G.), My Life As A Zucchini (Rita Productions, Blue Spirit Productions, Gebeka Films, KNM), The Red Turtle (Studio Ghibli, Wild Bunch, Why Not Productions) and Your Name (CoMix Wave Films).

The Juried Awards honoring career achievement and exceptional contributions to animation will also be presented. Three Winsor McCay Award recipients have been selected by the ASIFA-Hollywood Board of Directors – legendary animator Dale Baer; independent animation champion Caroline Leaf; and influential anime director Mamoru Oshii, for their career contributions to the art form; The Ub Iwerks Award will go to Google Spotlight’s Virtual Reality Platform for technical advancement; Life, Animated, a documentary about animation’s effect on one young autistic man’s journey will receive this year’s Special Achievement Award; and the June Foray Award will be given to Bill & Sue Kroyer for their career-long benevolent, public-spirited influence within the animation community.

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Late Night Work Club Debuts New Anthology, “Strangers”

The Late Night Work Club collective debuts its the second anthology today, the 42-minute compilation “Strangers” – online now (embed below) – which includes new films from Loup Blaster, Jeanette Bonds, Sean Buckelew, Alex Grigg, Kirsten Lepore, Nicolas Ménard & Caleb Wood with interstitial animation by Charles Huettner and original music by Skillbard, David Kamp, SCNTFC & more.

Late Night Work Club is a loose, rotating collective of indie animators – that is, animators who do independent, non-commercial work. It’s an excuse to bring a whole bunch together and make something great, and to also promote the work of the artists involved. Take a look:

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R.I.P. “Yellow Submarine” Producer Al Brodax (1926-2016)

Longtime King Features animation producer Al Brodax passed away Thanksgiving evening. The news was announced on Facebook by Beatle cartoon historian (and Brodax friend) Mitchell Axelrod this evening.

While his best known screen credit may be as producer (and co-writer) of the ground breaking 1968 animated feature, Yellow Submarine, Brodax had a vast career in film and TV.

After a distinguished career in the military, Brodax spent the 1950s developing TV series for The William Morris Agency, and wrote scripts for early TV productions out of New York. During the decade of the 1960s Brodax was the producer of all TV and movies for King Features Syndicate, producing hundreds of cartoons (and writing a few in the process) featuring Popeye The Sailor, Krazy Kat, Beetle Bailey and Snuffy Smith.

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ANIME TRAILER: “Napping Princess: The Story Of The Unknown Me”

Warner Bros. just posted a trailer for a new anime film by director Kenji Kamiyama – (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Eden of the East) – Napping Princess: The Story of the Unknown Me. I.G Port’s anime subsidiary Signal.MD is animating the film as its first anime film project. The film opens March 18th via WB, and here’s a peek – and note: a cover of The Monkees’ “Daydream Believer” is the film’s theme, performed by lead actress Mitsuki Takahata.

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Academy Awards Best Animated Short – Short List

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today announced that 10 animated short films will advance in the voting process for the 89th Academy Awards. Sixty-nine pictures had originally qualified in the category.

The 10 films are listed below in alphabetical order by title, with their production companies:

Blind Vaysha Theodore Ushev, director (National Film Board of Canada)

Borrowed Time Andrew Coats and Lou Hamou-Lhadj, directors (Quorum Films)

Happy End Jan Saska, director (FAMU – Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague)

The Head Vanishes Franck Dion, director (Papy3D Productions, National Film Board of Canada and ARTE France Cinema Department)

Inner Workings Leo Matsuda, director, and Sean Lurie, producer (Walt Disney Animation Studios)

Once upon a Line Alicja Jasina, director (University of Southern California)

Pear Cider and Cigarettes Robert Valley, director, and Cara Speller, producer (Massive Swerve Studios and Passion Pictures Animation)

Pearl Patrick Osborne, director (Google Spotlight Stories/Evil Eye Pictures)

Piper Alan Barillaro, director, and Marc Sondheimer, producer (Pixar Animation Studios)

Sous Tes Doigts (Under Your Fingers) Marie-Christine Courtès, director, and Ludivine Berthouloux, art director (Vivement Lundi! and Novanima)

Nominations for the 89th Oscars will be announced on Tuesday, January 24th, 2017.

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AWARDS WATCH 2016

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Checklist of U.S. Animated Feature releases in 2016

1. NORM OF THE NORTH (1/15/16) Lionsgate. D: Trevor Wall

2. MONSTER HUNT (1/22/16) Film Rise. D: Raman Hui. (Live action/Animation)

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

4. SNOWTIME (2/19/16) Shout Factory. D: Jean-François Pouliot.

5. THE BOY AND THE BEAST (3/4/16) Funimation. D: Mamoru Hosoda. (anime)

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

7. RACHET AND CLANK (4/29/16) Focus Features. D: Jerrica Vleland, Kevin Munroe.

8. THE ANGRY BIRDS MOVIE (5/20/16) Sony. D: Clay Kaytis, Fergal Reilly.

9. TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: OUT OF THE SHADOWS (6/3/16) Paramount. D:Dave Green.

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

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

12. PHANTOM BOY (7/15/16) GKIDS. D: Jean-Loup Felicioli, Alain Gagnol.

13. ICE AGE: COLLISION COURSE (7/22/16) 20th Century-Fox. D: Mike Thurmeier.

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

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

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

17. SPACE DOGS: ADVENTURE TO THE MOON Epic Pictures Group. (8/26/16) D: Mike Disa.

18. THE WILD LIFE Lionsgate. (9/9/16) D: Vincent Kesteloot, Ben Stassen.

19. STORKS (9/23/16) Warner Bros. D: Nicholas Stoller, Doug Sweetland.

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

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

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

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

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

25. NERDLAND (12/16/16) Samuel Goldwyn. D: Chris Prynowski.

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


Release Dates TBA

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

• THE GIRL WITH NO HANDS – GKids. D: Sébastien Laudenbach

• MY ENTIRE HIGH SCHOOL SINKING INTO THE SEA – D: Dash Shaw


NOTES: Limited-release theatricals (movies going Direct-to-Video (DVD, VOD but getting a theatrical billboard) began this year with theatrical showings of YELLOW DAY, a faith-based live action/animation feature, directed by Carl Lauten, which opened in L.A. on January 8th 2016 via the Alabama-based Idyllic Entertainment Group. Funimation released the anime feature THE EMPIRE OF CORPSES, directed by Ryoutarou Makihara, for two days on April 19th and 20th. Momentum Pictures released the Korean produced BLING!, directed by Kyung Ho Lee and Wonjae Lee, to select theaters on May 6th. Aniplex America released anime feature CLASSMATES (Doukyusei) by Shoko Nakamaura on May 6th. Funimation released the anime feature HARMONY, directed by Michael Arias and Takashi Nakamura, animated by Studio 4°C and based the novel of the same name by Project Itoh, for two days on May 17th and 18th. Shout Factory released the Russian made QUACKERZ, directed by Viktor Lakisov, on June 3rd. NUTS, a documentary by Penny Lane, that uses much animation to illustrate its true story, had its theatrical premiere in New York on June 22nd. Warner Bros. Home Entertainment and Fathom Events partnered to give BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE, a special one-night big screen release on Monday, July 25th in select cinemas across the country. Shout! Factory Kids released the CGI Australian feature BLINKY BILL: THE MOVIE on October 7th in Los Angeles. Barajoun Entertainment released BILAL: A NEW BREED OF HERO in Los Angeles on October 7th. Warner Bros. Home Entertainment and Fathom Events partnered to give BATMAN: RETURN OF THE CAPED CRUSADERS, a special one-night big screen release on Monday, October 10th in select cinemas across the country. Animated documentary 25 APRIL, directed by Leanne Pooley, opened theatrically in LA for an Oscar qualifying run on October 21st.

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TEASER: Pixar’s “Cars 3”

From this moment, everything will change. Or at least feel different, as a new teaser for Pixar’s Cars 3 is here. Brian Fee (animator, designer, storyboard on numerous Disney/Pixar projects) is directing, Owen Wilson returns as Lightning McQueen, Daniel Gerson (Big Hero 6) is writing the screenplay.

Cars 3 is in U.S. Theaters June 2017. Here’s our latest peek:

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TRAILER: Sony’s “Smurfs: The Lost Village”

Forget those other Smurfs movies – Here comes the real deal. In this fully animated (translation: NO live action), all-new take, Sony Pictures Animation Smurfs: The Lost Village solves some of the biggest secrets in Smurfs history: Where are the rest of the Smurfs? And why is there only one Smurfette?

And it looks pretty damn beautiful. A mysterious map sets Smurfette (voice of Demi Lovato) and her best friends on an exciting and thrilling race through a Forbidden Forest, filled with magical creatures, to find a mysterious lost village – before the evil wizard Gargamel (Rainn Wilson) does.

Kelly Asbury (Shrek 2) directs, Sony releases it on April 7th, 2017. Here’s our first look:

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Original Animated Films Aren’t Dead After All!

FOX is doubling-down on animated films, but the really interesting part is that many of those proposed are original adaptations of books! Such news is stunning for its notability if not for the regrettable nature for it being so.

The feature segment of the animation industry has had a bad case of sequalitis for a good many years. The recent acquisition of DreamWorks and the subsequent announcement of yet more Shrek features, one suspects we’ll continue to suffer for a few more years yet. So you have to hand it to FOX for not only trying to grow their animated feature business, but to do so rather substantially based on original ideas. In this modern age, original ideas, especially when you’re talking about animated features, is incredibly risky. Live-action studios are doubling-down on known entities and predictable franchises such as Star Wars (yes, I know that’s Disney) or comic book heroes. Both types are almost guaranteed success even if the only ones that pay to see them are fans.

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