On Thursday, July 20th, over 100,000 comic and film fans united for a single purpose: San Diego’s Comic-Con International 2006. This year, largely represented before the “Con-verts” was a cornucopia of animated undertakings – from feature films to television series to DVD releases. Separating the revelations and speculations by studios, Animated News provides a handy summarization of the animation-related festivities found at Comic-Con, including links to photo and video galleries. To view the report, simply click:
[To whom it may concern, especially younger readers: Many of the reports and videos linked in this report contain mild to strong language.]
Warner Bros. Entertainment
Warner Bros. Animation had a noticeable presence at this year’s Comic-Con, as relayed by MovieWeb and JoBlo. For The Ant Bully, a 10-minute featurette on the film’s making, including a few clips, was screened. Coming Soon landed an interview with the team behind Bully, including writer/director/producer John A. Davis, art director Chris Consani, concept artist Bob Eggleton, concept artist Sarah Mensinga, and lead character animator H. Buck Lewis. As for the Bully postcards passed out, a few have made their way to eBay. Temporary tattoos for The Ant Bully [see right] were likewise given.
Meanwhile, Happy Feet was previewed with an extended trailer featuring a commentary by director George Miller. No representatives for the movie were in attendance.
Animaniacs and Pinky & the Brain, both finally arriving in their first DVD volumes last Tuesday, were also promoted at the event. As a special treat, Rob Paulsen, the voice of Yakko, sang a rousing rendition of “Yakko’s World,” in which the name of every country in the world is set to a tune. Similarly, Jess Harnell, the voice of Wakko, performed “Wakko’s America.” Both performances, as can be seen on You Tube, were greeted with standing ovations. Agent DVD relays the panel’s discussion, as Paulson and Harnell were joined by Maurice La Marche (the voice of Brain); Andrea Romano (the shows’ voice director/casting director); and Earl Kress, Peter Hastings and Gordon Bressak (writers for both shows).
DC Comics’ heroes were not absent from Comic-Con either. Among other announcements regarding the more live action-centered DC activities, a trio of animated direct-to-DVD ventures were unveiled. Covered by DVD Active, the “DC Universe” titles revealed were: Justice League: New Frontier, Teen Titans: The Judas Contract, and Superman: Doomsday. Each of these movies will be released between 2007-08, with Green Lantern, Flash and Wonder Woman animated films also in the works.
Possibly the biggest animation news Warner Bros. rolled out, however, regarded a certain quartet of turtles. A teaser trailer and five minutes of footage for TMNT, next year’s CGI Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, was met with much enthusiasm. Footage from the TMNT game, including looks at the sets found in the film, may be viewed at You Tube. Director Kevin Munroe gave some interesting details about his film, summarized by Ain’t It Cool News and Coming Soon. The latter of those two sites scored an interview with Munroe and producer Thomas K. Gray, as did Latino Review. Also debuting were four character posters for Leonardo, Raphael, Michaelangelo, and Donatello. Meanwhile, to help spread the word on TMNT, a fridge magnet, in the form of a sewer cover, was given, in addition to a comic book [see left].
Sony Pictures Entertainment
Sony Pictures Animation held their ground with some woodland critters and a few penguins, with the festivities excellently described by MovieWeb and JoBlo. The panel for the company’s upcoming Open Season consisted of visual effects supervisor Doug Ikeler, co-director Jill Culton, and Steve Moore, the creator of the In the Bleachers comic strip upon which the movie is based. A few clips, focusing on a trip to the local Punimart and an unstable dam, were shown from the movie. Concurrently, nifty fridge magnets [see right] were free for the public.
Sony further impressed with more information on next June’s Surf’s Up, summarized by Latino Review. “With some archive-looking footage, the opening scene is the history of penguin surfing throughout the ages with hieroglyphs, cavern paintings, etc.,” writes one of our readers, regarding the footage showcased. “The penguins look pretty photo real rather than overly cartoony, and the style is total mockumentary – with some great jokes but to the point where it’s almost artsy.” In addition, a full synopsis for Surf’s Up was finally unleashed: “Living in Antarctica, in a small town called Shiverpool, Cody [Maverick (voiced by Shia LaBeouf)] has always been the one getting picked on until he finds out he’s good at surfing and gets noticed by The Geek (Jeff Bridges). That’s when he goes onto become a very popular penguin.” MovieWeb was granted an interview with the movie’s producer Chris Jenkins. In the meantime, a Surf’s Up postcard received at the Con has been posted to the left of this story.
For folks hoping to catch a glimpse of Monster House, it appeared the best place to be was the theater, as the film was not represented much at the event this year. Nonetheless, a comic book adaptation of the movie was heavily promoted, with storyboard artist Simeon Wilkins on hand to sign autographs. The following is the front and back of the book:
In what might very well be the most talked about aspect of this year’s Comic-Con, the Spider-Man 3 panel, beginning with director Sam Raimi and producer Laura Ziskin, introduced the latest trailer for the visual effects-heavy film. Met with an overwhelming round of applause, the teaser exhibited a first look at Spidey’s popular nemesis Venom. It is rumored that the new trailer may find its way in theaters as early as August 4th, with Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, or as late as December. Either way, the footage is handed a nice rundown at Coming Soon. The site also rehashes the roundtables later provided with Spider-Man 3’s major players, including Kirsten Dunst, Bryce Dallas Howard, Thomas Haden Church, Topher Grace, and Tobey Maguire. Yahoo! Movies likewise has footage of the panel. In the meantime, Ain’t It Cool News has acquired five character posters for the film, sported at the Con.
20th Century Fox
Animated fare mostly for older audiences was presented by Fox at Comic-Con this year. Recounted by MovieWeb, new information on the next seasons of Family Guy and American Dad was introduced, with a panel consisting of David Goodman, Steve Hagley, Mike Shipley, Mike Barker, Matt Weitzman, Chris McKenna, Zach Moncrief, and Michael Henry, among other people. Discovered on eBay are four Family Guy toys – Stewie Griffin (bank), Herbert (figure), Evil Monkey (bobblehead), and Evil Monkey (plush) – sold exclusively at Comic-Con.
The latest on the Simpsons Movie was revealed, along with a new donut-encrusted logo for the motion picture. Now removed from You Tube, two unfinished scenes from the film were shown, both in animatic form with some animation. Descriptions of the clips, along with more info on the Simpsons Movie panel, are at Simpson Crazy and Animation Magazine.
Meanwhile, Steve Sansweet, Lucasfilm’s Head of Fan Relations, was at Comic-Con to talk about some of the upcoming Star Wars projects, including the 2008 animated series. “The animated series is set late during the Clone Wars after Anakin Skywalker has achieved the rank of Jedi Knight,” reports Coming Soon. “Anakin, Obi-Wan, Yoda, Count Dooku, Palpatine, General Grievous and Asajj Ventress are expected to appear in the animated show.” “We’ve been spending the last couple of years building from scratch two new state-of-the-art digital animation companies, one at Skywalker Ranch and one in Singapore,” elaborated Sansweet. “The scripts for the first batch of shows have been completed, and Animation is hard at work on the first episodes.”
As a side note, Moviehole caught up with actor Kenan Thompson at the Con. Interestingly, Thompson expressed interest in two more Fat Albert movies. Although the first movie, a live-action take on the famous 70’s animated series, had a humble box office performance ($48,114,556), Fox’s recent sequels to such modest hits as Like Mike and The Sandlot show hope for at least one direct-to-DVD Albert sequel.
Paramount Pictures Corporation
Promoting Barnyard, Paramount applied a set of temporary tattoos [see right] to the cause. On the DreamWorks front, free Flushed Away pencils made the rounds, while the movie’s trailer was screened at the company’s booth and in the CFQ Trailer Park on Thursday morning. Furthermore, a shirt transfer for Shrek the Third, as well as a trading card promo, were given, lending a look at the project’s logo artwork. The trading card promo is currently on display at eBay, along with the shirt transfer.
For older audiences, Paramount previewed next year’s Robert Zemeckis picture Beowulf, premiering the project’s logo. Straight from Comic-Con, buttons and t-shirts displaying the title’s image were delivered. Of course, examples of the items may be found at eBay.
It should also be noted that Peter Cullen was revealed to be the voice of the computer generated Optimus Prime in Michael Bay’s upcoming Transformers. MovieWeb describes the fun way this revelation was announced. For folks who do not know, McCullen voiced Optimus Prime in the 80’s Transformers animated series and movie.
The Walt Disney Co.
Unfortunately, no feature from Walt Disney Feature Animation was promoted officially. Nonetheless, at the “State of the Animation Industry” panel, Animation Guild leader Kevin Koch mentioned The Frog Princess as being a traditionally animated feature in the studio’s pipeline. Moreover, Eric Goldberg added that directors Ron Clements and John Musker, the brains behind The Little Mermaid and Aladdin, will helm the film. Chuck Williams’ appointment as head of Disney’s animated shorts program was also referenced, as observed by AWN.
The main focus of Disney at this year’s Comic-Con was The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, & the Wardrobe along with Pirates of the Caribbean sequels Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End. Narnia is coming to DVD this December 12th in extended form, complete with sharper special effects and a greater battle sequence. The 4-disc package, explained more at its official website, will be released alongside a gift set, both enjoying a sales run of only seven weeks. An overview of the Narnia panel with producer Mark Johnson, who gives an update on the blockbuster’s sequels, may be read at Latino Review.
The Review also sheds light on the Pirates panel, where Industrial Light & Magic’s John Knoll showed how some of the special effects for Dead Man’s Chest were conducted. Specifically, the presentation conveyed the marvellous work on Davy Jones and his crew, most of whom required a substantial amount of CGI makeup. A blooper reel projected how easily visual effects can go wrong at times.
Concerning Disney’s Miramax extension, a reader writes in to say that the studio heard “great applause” for its Renaissance trailer, displayed in the CFQ Trailer Park. Furthermore, Quentin Tarantino gave insight on the future of Kill Bill franchise, reports MovieWeb. The next two installments will be anime prequels, with one devoted to the past of The Bride, the other one disclosing the early biography of Bill.
At Comic-Con, Universal sent details concerning a King-sized treat. On November 14th, King Kong will become even larger, thanks to an extended version of his movie. Using a special video message, director Peter Jackson filled fans in on some of the details regarding the new cut, running 13 minutes longer, and its 3-disc package. According to Agent DVD’s report, the project will feature 30 minutes of deleted scenes and 230 new visual effects. Meanwhile, the set will also boast a gallery of artwork and handy visual effects featurettes. A scene screened showed Jack Driscoll and Carl Denham involved in a rampage against a “large aligator-like monster,” as detailed by Latino Review.
Concurrently, Universal’s Focus Features division was present to push The Power of the Dark Crystal. On hand to talk about the film were director Genndy Tartakovsky, producers Lisa Henson and Scott Stewart, and conceptual designer Brian Froud. The film, incorporating puppet characters with computer animated backgrounds, was previewed with artwork of characters Jen and Kira, new creatures, and backgrounds. Furthermore, videos celebrating the legacy of Jim Henson and the original Dark Crystal were exposed. Latino Review summarizes the communication coming from the Crystal panel.
Lionsgate Entertainment Corporation
Another group of superheroes made their way to the Lionsgate Home Video screening of Ultimate Avengers 2. The footage was preceded by a panel discussion with voice actors Grey DeLisle (Janet Pym/ The Wasp), Marc Worden (Tony Stark/ Iron Man), and Fred Tatasciore (The Hulk). IGN FilmForce reviews the project and its panel.
Chronicled by MovieWeb and IGN FilmForce, a preview for the animated Hellboy: Sword of Storms was given. Likewise, comic creator Mike Mignola, Sword of Storms directors Tad Stones and Phil Weinstein, writer Matt Wayne, artist/conceptual designer Cheeks (a/k/a Sean Galloway), and Hellboy (live action) director Guillermo del Toro arrived to speak of the project, the animated series, and Hellboy 2. Especially addressed was the conceiving of Hellboy for animation, blending Mignola’s comics and del Toro’s film.
From O-meon comes word of the panel for Dan Lund and Tony West’s documentary Dream on Silly Dreamer, the largest within the group of panels guided by ASIFA Hollywood. For the session, Lund and West were joined by Larry Loc, ASIFA Hollywood board member and Cal State Fullerton animation teacher. Interestingly, the group revealed that Silly Dreamer will soon be working with Shorts International, which provides programming to entertainment companies representing television, broadband internet, airlines, home video, mobile phones, and iTunes.
Toon Zone also offers a helpful list of headlines regarding the animation-related activities surrounding Comic-Con International 2006. In the meantime, Netscape counts down the top 12 Comic-Con stories, as voted by readers, while The Associated Press, through Happy News, abridges the overall event. For all other Comic-Con information, one need only turn to the entertainment extravaganza’s official online domain. With that said, comic fans and movie buffs should go ahead and mark their calendars: San Diego’s next installment of Comic-Con International is scheduled for July 26-29, 2007.
Thanks to fellow Animated News staff member Christian for helping to bring the final product to completion.