Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Bits Journal #7

'Twas a busy week, but boy do I have a lot to cover.

First up, a little trailer recap…

The BoxTrolls "looks" magnificent, but we have seen very little of the actual story itself and we don't get a real taste of what the dialogue or script may be like. That's okay though, it's only March and I'm glad that Focus Features has already unleashed three (very good) teasers. Gotta get the word out, ya know?

Anyways, this teaser is very much like the ParaNorman teaser. Scenes of the film set to a song, very simple yet effective. In ParaNorman's case it was the fitting 'Season of the Witch'. A full trailer should show up some time this summer, but this one indicates that the film will have themes that are similar to ParaNorman's, which is certainly something to look forward to as well.

I also took a look at trailers for some upcoming blockbusters: Godzilla and Transformers: Age of Extinction.

I love the direction they're going in for the marketing. The trailer, like the last one, emphasizes the suspense and then teases some shots of the creature itself. With a good crew and a strong cast behind it, it's sure to be pretty good. We need more giant monster movies, and hopefully this creates a new market for them.

(And the optimist in me hopes that J. J. Abrams will seriously look into Cloverfield 2 after he completes Episode VII.)

Transformers: Age of Extinction certainly looks like it could be a lot of fun, but I have a feeling that this trailer will end up being 10x better than the actual film. Though interesting, it seemed a little desperate, as it was rather super-serious. Actor Titus Welliver said the film will be dark and it's "not a kids movie"… Okay, the first three films with their crazy explosive action and blatant inappropriate humor were? This is all beginning to remind me of Michael Bay's "Oh Transformers 2 wasn't good, this one's gonna be better and darker!" babble when Transformers: Dark of the Moon was coming out. It ended up being a lot like the last one, it wasn't darker.

So yeah, in a nutshell, as awesome as this trailer may look, the movie will probably be a skip.

Jungle Jumps Forward

It seems as if Jon Favreau's live action Jungle Book film is finally going full steam ahead at Disney. For a while, I was wondering where it was hanging because it's set for release in fall 2015 and yet no cast or writers had been announced. Well, we now know who is going to play Shere Khan… None other than Idris Elba!

I think this is perfect casting right here. Elba can definitely pull off the menacing tiger, and he's also in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (he's Heimdall in Thor), so it works for Disney. He can do this before Thor 3, which should arrive in 2016 at the earliest. Believe it or not, I'm actually looking forward to this film a little more now. Again, great choice!

I bet we'll hear more in the coming weeks…

Jon Favreau also updated us on Magic Kingdom, a film that he was working on for the Mouse as far back as 2010. A sort of Night at the Museum set in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, I've always been very iffy on this idea. This could either be really awesome, or it could feel like a crass Walt Disney World advertisement that just craps on the attractions and what makes the parks special… But if Favreau is behind it and he still wants to go through with it, it might end up being pretty cool.

Of course, we all really want Guillermo del Toro's Haunted Mansion movie...

Pronounced Dead

Mr. Peabody & Sherman opened with a solid $32 million stateside, but apparently this spells more doom and gloom. Yep, a Wall Street analysts and some analyst from Denmark predict that DreamWorks will lose money on this picture

This is getting sickening, really. It is. DreamWorks just can't catch a break, and their latest movie has just walked out of the gate and the wolves are already eying it down. Rise of the Guardians lost money, Turbo lost money… Now Wall Street is expecting this to lose money. If it pulls a 4x multiplier, the film would finish up with around $130 million. I can't see it getting that because family-friendly competition may take some of its momentum away, though the last few months have proved that family fare (animated or not) can co-exist on the charts so maybe Peabody will hold on.

That being said, it'll have to pull in some great numbers overseas because if DreamWorks ends up with something that grosses less than $320 million, the studio will probably say it's a dud. This film cost $145 million to produce, making it their most expensive project since Rise of the Guardians. (Croods and Turbo cost less than $140 million to make.) Also, reviews say it's a stronger film than their last two releases, so hopefully it turns something of a profit in theaters. DreamWorks doesn't need another money-loser.

Speaking of DreamWorks…

BuzzFeed was nice enough to release the short film/sneak peek for Home that's playing in front of Mr. Peabody & Sherman in theaters… You can watch it here.

To be honest, I think this actually looks like it could be fun. I know others seem to be unsatisfied with it, but what I saw was a cute, sometimes funny little short with some really cool art direction. It's just aliens running away from their enemies, and every planet they land on is full of dangers. Didn't mind the designs of the Boov, and I'll admit, I laughed a few times. Let's just hope the film's script works (still skeptical about certain elements), and that it's a decent flick. Hey, as long as it isn't all over the place like The Croods was, I'll be fine.

(That title still isn't cool, though. Happy Smekday! was better!)

Sony Loads Their Canon

Sony Animation announced some details about their animation slate, and it's very… Genndy Tartakovsky-heavy. (I bet your inner-fan exploded.)

The mastermind himself will in fact direct Hotel Transylvania 2. He was brought onboard the first one very late in the game, and he had to essentially salvage what was going to be a clunker. (It had gone through 6 directors before he got a hold of it.) The only downside? Adam Sandler will be writing it. Grrrrreat… I wasn't the biggest fan of Hotel Transylvania, I found it to be very forgettable and just mediocre (I only laughed at one joke), but I think that's due to the fact that it went through a lot of hell to get to the big screen. (I remember reading about it way back in 2006!) Tartakovsky directing it from the start rather than finishing/saving it is a good sign, but Sandler is writing. Very, very mixed on this at the moment…

Tartakovsky is still set to direct Popeye as well, as the Hollywood Reporter's article mentions an unspecified 2016 release date (no way was it ever going to come out in 2015, not with Smurfs 3 and Hotel 2 already being scheduled for release that year), so this tells me that it'll either be a spring release (April seems logical) or a late summer release. Sony Animation seems to like the late summer playing field, so Popeye could debut in August 2016 and the currently undetermined project will follow in September.

Then Tartakovsky will direct an original film called Can You Imagine? First of all, Genndy Tartakovsky… Directing his own original film… That's just awesome.

Second, look at the concept artwork!

We don't know much about the plot at the moment, we simply got "it takes place in one boy's imagination". That's basically it, but it already sounds very promising.

Sony Animation really seems to be getting better, after a string of very hit-or-miss offerings. The Smurfs 3, as reported weeks ago, will be all-animated this time and may actually be *gasp* okay. Actually, it won't be The Smurfs 3… But rather an untitled prequel. If anything, the first two films should've been animated and they shouldn't have taken place in a live action New York City. The film is being directed by none other than Kelly Asbury (Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, Shrek 2, Gnomeo & Juliet), after that he will direct Kazorn & the Unicorn for them. (Which I hope moves forward soon.)

Hotel Transylvania 2 has the potential to be pretty decent as well, and the fact that more originals are being put front and center instead stuff like that Adam Sandler Tonka Trucks movie or ALF indicates to me that they are ready to go all-out and experiment a bit. Color me excited!

What does this mean for their schedule? Well, I think it could go this way…

  • Popeye hits theaters in August 2016, so it doesn't open next to Ice Age 5 or other July animated competition. Smurfs 3 and Hotel Transylvania 2 open a month away from each other in 2015 (the former opens August 14th, the latter September 25th), so I can see this happening.
  • The undetermined original film follows on September 23, 2016 as planned. It turns out to be Kazorn & the Unicorn.
  • Can You Imagine? follows on September 22, 2017. Sony might even cram a sequel or something else into the summer spot, unless they consider spring releases in the future.

I will say, they are going about this the right way. Instead of outright saying "Kazorn comes out fall 2016!", they're waiting it out. Disney Animation is doing the same with their 2016 and 2018 releases. To me, that says that they don't want to heap extra amounts of pressure on the crews working on the films, so the films turn out good without running into any major roadblocks.

Building it Up

A director has been attached to the The Lego Movie's currently untitled sequel: Chris McKay. McKay was a supervising animator and co-directing animator on the first film, but prior to that he directed multiple episodes of Robot ChickenMoral Orel and Titan Maximum. I will admit, I am a huge Robot Chicken fan so I'm pretty happy about this announcement. Plus this film did kind of feel like Robot Chicken, which for me was emphasized by the stop-motion feel of the animation. The first film's directors, Phil Lord and Chris Miller, will produce and are said to be very heavily involved.

I'm not expecting this sequel to live up to the greatness of the first one, but I'm hoping for something that's well worth the price of admission. Now let's also hope that Jared Stern and Michelle Morgan's script is up to snuff, and to be honest, I'd like to see it focus on a new set of characters rather than continuing Emmett's story. I think his story concluded on a high note, so it would be nice if the crew came up with a whole new set of characters and new settings. That, to me, would be pretty risky and ambitious.

The Lego Movie's sequel, in case you missed the news, opens May 26, 2017. The first film has already collected $227 million domestically and $362 million worldwide. If you haven't seen it yet, definitely go check it out, it's that good!

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