Points for Effort: The Lorax Goes Green for Publicity

Via: ScreenCrave

Illumination/Universal are getting ready to release their latest film The Lorax. the two unusual things about this film are:

  1. My finacee wants to see it
  2. The merchandising/tie-ins are “green”

Normally film studios will give lip service to the idea of the green agenda. Case in point is Captain Planet, which had some decidedly un-environmentally friendly toys.

This time around though, it seems like a genuine effort is being made. From the AP:

The EPA, for instance, is using the Lorax character to help promote low-power appliances that carry the Energy Star label. Hilton’s DoubleTree hotel chain is sponsoring a trip for four to eco-tourism mecca Costa Rica. The Hortus Botanicus in Amsterdam is creating a Lorax-inspired route through its garden, which is home to a number of endangered trees.

Such tie-ins will probably do a good job of raising awareness amongst the public about environmental needs, but will they lead to lasting change? I doubt it. I mean, since when has film merchandise made a significant impact on consumer behaviour?

Normally things go great when the products are on the shelves, but like all tie-ins, their lifespan is limited, and we’ve all seen the products in the bargain bin featuring the film from 6 months ago that now look lost and forlorn. On top of that, we, as humans, are notoriously regimented in our ways. After a few months, most consumers who went green for the Lorax will be right back to their old way of doing things.

I can’t help but feel that stunts like this are more about the positive publicity than making real changes. What do you think? Is this green promotional campaign a gimmick or do you think it’ll stick with consumers?

The Top 10 Animated Film-Related Posters on Allposters.com

Today, just for fun, I thought I would take a look and see what the top 10 best selling posters are for animated films as told by allposters.com. Unfortunately I can’t get a timeframe on these, so I’m assuming it’s over at least the last 6 months but is probably longer.

In compiling this list, I only included anything over c. 22″ x 34″, in other words, the size you see at the cinema. (Clicking on the image will take you to the relevant allposters.com page).

1. Cars

2. Despicable Me

3. Toy Story 3

4. Tangled

5. Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel

6. Toy Story 3 (again)

7. The Nightmare Before Christmas

8. The Princess and the Frog

9. Cars (again)

10. Avatar

5 Hanna-Barbera Shows That Really Should Be Turned into Movies

We’ve had the Smurfs, Yogi Bear, The Flintstones and The Jetsons all make it onto the silver screen, but the Hanna-Barbera library is much more vast than these popular titles. What other properties from the past could be brought back to life with a tasteful big-screen adaptation? Let’s find out.

1. Huckleberry Hound

Via: Yowp

Seriously, eejits are all the rage in movies, especially ones who succeed despite all the odds (a role Will Farrell plays quite well). Huckleberry Hound is ripe for the picking. He’s the ultimate nice guy that even Steve Carrell can’t touch. His film would make a nice turning point towards more character driven entertainment with some physical humour thrown in for good measure.

2. Top Cat

Via: Yowp

Technically this one has already been done in Mexico, but there’s still more then enough room in the crowded US market for a wiseass cat and his gang of misfits. What could a possible plot be? How about a diamond thief accidentally dropping a diamond in Top Cat’s alley. Hilarity ensues as our favourite feline has to evade the thief and the law in order to return the diamond to its rightful owner.

3. Jonny Quest

Via: First Showing

This one is quite literally begging to be made. Action and adventure are all to common in TV shows but once you get to the big screen, things get a bit sparse. Tintin arguably fills one void, but he isn’t Jonny Quest. It’s time to see him in his own film, I mightn’t even mind if it’s live-action!

4. The Snorks

Via: 3DM3

If The Lorax can be made as good looking as it is, there’s no real reason why the Snorks can’t get a similar treatment. Bonus points for updating the concept beyond the horrible 1980s plots of the TV show.

5. The Perils of Penelope Pitstop

Via: Patrick Owsley

This is cinema gold. A [supposedly] rich Southern belle who drives a very fast car constantly being pursued by her evil cousin who’s after her inheritance. You can almost see the crappy live-action “update” now; starring Reese Witherspoon as Penelope and Hank Azaria as the Hooded Claw.

Yuck.

How about an animated version instead, complete with all the physical humour and squash and stretch that it deserves. Not too sure about including the Anthill Mob though. Why were they always following her around?

So that’s what I’ve come up with. Can you think of any others?

The Four Animated Movies of 2012 That I Can’t Wait To See

I’ve used Cartoon Brew’s list as a guide for this:

  1. The Secret World of Arriety – The latest offering from Studio Ghibli; goes without saying
  2. Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax – The future missus wants to see this because Taylor Swift is in it. I’m not going to object.
  3. Brave – Pixar’s latest, how will it’s Scottishness hold up nest to HTTYD
  4. Hotel Transylvania – The concept art is awesome and Genndy Tartakovsky is behind it. This should be good

 

The Atlanta Braves Oppose Pixar’s ‘Brave’ Trademark Application

Hilarious image shamelessly yoinked from Filmdrunk

I’m really not quite sure what to make of this. According to /film (who got it from Stitch Kingdom), the Atlanta Braves baseball team have filed an objection to Disney/Pixar’s use of the word “Brave” as a trademark for the upcoming film, Brave.

Trademark law make a distinction between singular and plural versions of a word, but that has not stopped the baseball team from claiming that:

that damages will occur as a result of Disney’s trademarks being approved as they have used the singular form before on merchandise and insist it is common for fans, media, et. al. to use the singular form when referring to a single player, whereas the pluralized form refers to the entire team.”

Long story short, they’re saying that by Disney trademarking ‘Brave’, poor Joe Public might get confused between a baseball player and a red-haired Scottish heroine who lives in the middle ages.

Yup, that sure is real confusing, especially as one is an actual, real-life team of people playing sports for money and the other is a fictional character who only exists within the film (and on related merchandise).

There’s no way this objection should fly although, as ever, “discussions are ongoing” between the two parties. So expect an “agreement” to come eventually.

Just what a waste of resources though and it doesn’t exactly put the Braves in a good light either, what with the pettiness of their claim and all.

Wanna Watch 90 Minutes of Animated Shorts from 1978?

Of course you do.

Thanks to the Internet Archive, here’s a VHS rip of the Fantastic Animation Festival from 1978. Reviewer Donfield describes it thus:

Good collection of animated shorts, mostly in hand drawn, claymation, and rotoscoping techniques. Represented artists include Loren Bowie, Bernard Palacios, Kathy Rose, Derek Lamb, Steven Lisberger, Marv Newland, Paul Driessen, and Will Vinton (“Mountain Music” and Oscar winning “Closed Mondays” featured).

 

Are R Rated Films Unprofitable By Nature?

Via: Wired

Over on the Animation Guild Blog, Steve Hullett posted a quote the other day from an article quoting Rango director, Gore Verbinski, where he states that he would like to see more mature animated films being brought to market. Ralph doesn’t reject the notion entirely, but he does point out that studios are in the game to make profits, not movies.

This is true, but it raises the important question of whether animation intended for mature audiences is even profitable to begin with.

The article itself has Verbinksi mentioning Ralph Bakshi as a possible reference point although I say that this isn’t necessarily the best idea. If you ask anyone (in the know) about adult animation, the answers inevitably contain either Heavy Traffic, Fritz the Cat, Ghost in the Shell, Akira and perhaps that particular genre of anime that I won’t mention here.

I’d also hazard a guess that mature animation has suffered more as a result of quality than anything else. Because the main studios won’t go near it, the independents have to take up the slack, and sadly they just don’t have the resources necessary to compete on the same level.

Mature animation can be profitable, provided it’s either done cheaply enough, or it maximizes its potential when released to market. Personally, I think that if a film as superb as the Secret of Kells can be made for about €6 million, there is absolutely no reason why studios are using costs as a factor.

There is a market for these kinds of films, it just hasn’t been tapped to its full potential. That’s an opportunity for someone to explore and when they do, there’ll be plenty of profits to be had.

The Surprises I Got Inside the Who Framed Roger Rabbit DVD

It’s quite a while ago since I bought it, but these two “collectable” cards were a surprising find inside. A nice little touch that made the trek to Best Buy worth it.

Four Reasons to Demolish The Disney Vault

 Via: The Orlando Sentinel

 The “Disney Vault” is the term used by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment for its policy of putting home video releases of Walt Disney Animation Studio‘s animated features on moratorium. Each Disney film is available for purchase for a limited time, after which it is put “in the vault” and not made available in stores for several years until it is once again released.

So says Wikipedia.

We all know about the Vault. It’s pretty much been around as long as I’ve been alive, although the Wikipedia article feels it goes all the way back to when Snow White was re-released.

The thing is, in the 21st century, is the Vault even relevant? Here’s a few reasons why it isn’t.

1. DVDs outlive VHS tapes

Yes, back in the day, you bought movies on real tapes that you had to rewind if you wanted to watch again. What everyone seems to have overlooked since the advent of DVDs is that tapes wore out and lost quality the more they were played. DVDs can be played “forever” without any degradation. The end result? The second-hand market for DVDs is much stronger than for tapes and sll those copies of Vault films that are lying around in empty nests have a habit of making it onto eBay.

2. The Vault Doesn’t Make The Films Any More Valuable

Think about it. If you lock a film away for a number of years, does that make it any more valuable? Of course not! Less people can watch it an appreciate it. Right? So if you had to make a decision, would you try and keep a film locked up as much as possible or try and get as many people to see it as possible? Exactly! You’d want the latter so you could sell more merchandise!

3. If You Broadcast The Films On TV, Doesn’t That Make The Vault Moot?

For this one, we have to assume that the studio isn’t attempting to stop people from seeing the films, just from “owning” them. Why? They broadcast the vaulted films almost constantly. You couldn’t find Aladdin on DVD for love nor money but you could easily throw on [shiver] ABC Family and see it being broadcast. The same goes for Snow White, which was supposedly in the Vault until recently but was broadcast last Christmas! Now if that doesn’t send confusing signals, I don’t know what does.

4. The Obvious Reason

Legality aside, the commercial reasons for locking up content are becoming increasingly irrelevant. If I can’t find something in the shop (or online through legal avenues), what is stopping me from wandering over to the bittorrents. My conscience? Oh sure, Disney would like to believe that Jiminy Cricket is sitting on your shoulder telling you no to “pirate” that copy of Pinocchio, but the reality is that he’s just not there for a lot of folks.

Ever growing numbers of internet-native kids are growing up with the notion that all forms of entertainment come from the internet. If they’re led to believe by just about everyone that they can get whatever they want whenever they want it, why should they think they have to wait around for years for something to be “released from the Vault”.

The answer is, they won’t and Disney will be all the poorer for it.

Conclusion

Disney really ought to re-think the limited-release strategy that they’ve branded as the Disney Vault. In this day and age you can’t help but feel its self-defeating on a number of levels and besides, if people want to see the content, they will see it regardless.

Are These The 5 Reasons Why You’re Not Making A Personal Film?

David B. Levy is a man not averse to personal projects. This is his latest film, currently making the festival rounds.

Via

Making a personal film is no easy task. It just isn’t, for a whole host of reasons. It’s a complicated, arduous process that may or may not end up the way you expected it to. Lots of people never finish there’s, but are these the reasons why you’re not starting yours?

1. I don’t have the time

Ah, do you really not have the time, or do you think you don’t have the time. There is a big difference between the two you know. Unless you work 12 hour days or 7 days a week, you really aren’t in a position to say you don’t have enough time. Besides, it’s not about the amount of time you have but how effectively you use the time you’ve got.

When it comes to these kinds of things, the quickest and best solution is to set aside time on a regular basis, say a Sunday morning or an hour every night after dinner. Perhaps more important than setting the schedule is actually sticking to it. You might find it tough, but over time, regular actions, even small ones, can have big results.

2. I don’t have an idea.

Well, go and find one! There are plenty of ideas that could be put on film. Remember, this is a personal project, so essentially, it’s all about you! And the best part about a personal film is that you’re completely unrestricted. The only person telling you what to do is yourself! However, a note of caution, once you have decided on a subject, plan out how you intend to move forward, don’t get stuck in your own version of “development hell”.

3. I don’t have the money

For years, this was the sticky point. Making a short film does cost money. However, the amount that it’ll cost is totally dependent on how much you’re willing to put into it. You could make a film for a million dollars if you wanted to but budgets ain’t the whole story. At the end of the day, be realistic. Do set a budget, and stick to it, that’s just basic common sense.

If cash flow is a problem, the best solution is to trim expenses and/or set aside some funds on a regular basis. You’d be quite surprised just how quickly even $20 a week will add up.

Also remember that while the cost of technology has dropped significantly, you don’t necessarily need the latest Cintiq tablet or Flash software. There are plenty of free alternatives that may not be as feature-laden but will accomplish a lot of the same tasks.

4. I don’t know what to do with it when I’m finished

I’m not too sure about yourself, but films are generally meant to be seen, by lots of people! Throw it up on YouTube! That blog you started to track the production (because you figured it would be a smart idea)? Throw it up on that! Show it to some friends! Have them show it to their friends! Put it in your portfolio! Show it to your boss! Take it to one of ASIFA’s open screening nights!

The possibilities are endless when it comes to a personal film. Some people are happy just to let as many people watch it as possible, others like to get awards from festivals, some folks like to make money from their short films. Although be aware that charging for a personal short may preclude you gaining a reputation first.

5. I don’t see the point

A personal film is essentially a proof of sorts. It says to the world that you can be uniquely creative. It says to potential employers that you have a logical enough mind that you can conceive and create a project using just your own initiative (employers like to see that).  It also gives you plenty of unique experiences that you’re unlikely to have anywhere else.

To conclude, there’s very little holding you back from undertaking a personal film. The challenges can appear to be insurmountable but only if you let them be. Figure out a game plan and before you know it, you’ll be making one.

Violet Parr Does NOT Grow Up Within A Single Scene

Caution: This post deals with mature themes (but in a mature way).

On Sunday, while searching for a suitable picture of Mr Potato Head for that day’s post (yes, really), I managed to stumble across the rather intriguing blog that is ANIMadams, which focuses exclusively on women and females in general and how they’re portrayed in animation (and a few related markets).

Sadly in hibernation since this past June (2011), the blog would take what many would consider to be a feminist view/approach and while I’m no masculine feminist (Jerry Springer can keep that title), I’ve come to appreciate what the three contributors have to say (to a certain extent).

Which leads to today’s post concerning The Incredibles, a film that remains firmly within my top 3 all time favourites. The post from ANIMadams deals with Violet in particular. Now Violet is certainly my favourite characters in that film for many reasons. Chief among them is that I see a lot of myself in her and how she struggles with her shyness.

Entitled “Let’s Talk About Sex-ualization” the post discusses how the writer views the transformation of Violet during the course of the film from an insecure teenager to an assertive super hero:

It’s not until Helen can be honest with herself and the family, being the superhero she loves to be, that she can properly model for her children. She has a heart-to-heart with her daughter after which Violet strikes a stronger pose than the audience has become acclimated to. It is after this that she begins to be much more active, coming out from behind the veil of her own hair.

It’s safe to say that yes, Violet is portrayed in a different light after this talk with her mother, she’s more assertive, she no longer hides away from real life and she can see clearly with both her eyes the challenges she faces. It’s partly why the film is so fantastic; it exhibits the power of individuals to change themselves for the better.

Then, we get to this line:

Violet is then inadvertently sexualized and objectified. While suggesting to her parents – taking charge like an adult would – a way for them to escape, Violet’s rear is placed directly in the foreground of the camera as her parents bicker in the background. Her entire rear and only her rear.

Here is the offending shot:

 

And here is the argument:

Let me emphasize: I do not believe this is intentional. But I do find it to be a very odd coincidence that once Violet has decided to step up and into adolescence, she is immediately sexualized, even for a few seconds.

No, it is intentional, just not in the way youbelieve. Brad Bird is one of the best animation directors out there at the moment and he’s the kind of guy who knows exactly the kind of shot he wants. This one in particular is meant to be seen from a low angle because the rocket has to be shown in the background. It is where the family are ultimately heading. Placing the Incredibles above the level of the viewer also suggests that they have regained/attained their status as superheroes, they’re not superior, but we do look up to them.

The nature of the scene dictates that Violet propose the solution to the family’s problem. Now you could say that having her voice her opinion could easily have been conducted off-screen, however that would result in some jerky direction of the kind that Brad Bird isn’t known for. Having Violet appear in the scene reminds the audience that she’s present before she makes a suggestion. Based on the alignment of the shot mentioned above, it would seem natural that we would not see her head but the lower part of her figure instead.

What the ANIMadams point alludes to is the rapid maturing that Violet’s character leads to her “sexualisation” in this scene. This I disagree with on the grounds that while she does a lot of growing-up in the course of the film, she isn’t sexualised in the slightest during any of it. She is interested in Tony Rydinger before and after the events of the film. The only difference is that she gains the courage to actually talk to him.

Having her butt on-screen for a few seconds does not constitute turning Violet into an object. If anything, the viewer’s attention is focused on Bob and Helen and is only vaguely aware of Violet’s intrusion until both parents turn around, at which point we immediately cut to Violet’s face. Besides, we’re more concerned at this point in the film with how the family is going to stop Syndrome anyway, right?

The ANIMadam’s post over-simplifies the rather complex developments that teenagers undergo in course of a number of years down into a single shot, and not even  a long one at that. While it’s completely fair to say that Violet does begin her path to womanhood during the film, it is completely unfair to say that she was thrust down that path without her consent by the director.

Do you have any thoughts comments? Feel free to leave them below. 🙂