Thursday, April 3, 2014

Bits Journal #11

Sheep, superheroes and possible sequels… It's time for more bits!

Sheep on the Big Screen

A teaser has finally surfaced for Aardman Animation's next film, which is based on their Shaun the Sheep series…

It's expectedly delightful and cute, and it's got quite a few good laughs. While we all know it's being released in the UK on March 20, 2015, there's still no US release date set for it. No US distributor is currently backing it either, and Aardman's deal with Sony Animation ended with 2012's The Pirates! Band of Misfits. Who will pick it up? Will it be released independently? It'll have to come to theaters here, regardless of how well-known the character is in the states. I don't want to see it go straight to home media or whatever.

Aardman's films are apparently too hard to market here in the states, though DreamWorks had no trouble with Chicken Run, which at one time was actually the highest grossing non-Disney animated film at the domestic box office. ($106 million back in 2000, beating out the previous record held by DreamWorks' own The Prince of the Egypt.) Since then, they haven't had a hit in the states, which is too bad because I think audiences would like their films if they actually went to see them. Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit is hugely entertaining, Arthur Christmas is one of the best Christmas films ever, and The Pirates! is happily weird and fun.

Do you think it'll get a US theatrical release? What distributor do you think will get a hold of it?

Planning Ahead

It was recently revealed that Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige has big plans for the studio… Scratch that, massive plans…

From Businessweek

Or perhaps Iger has a built-in GPS for acquiring studios that can tell stories. Much of Marvel’s success can be attributed to Feige. He has a special understanding of comics, fans, superheroes, and narrative. He concedes that Marvel won’t recover the film rights to Spider-Man or the X-Men anytime soon but says Marvel has something more valuable: a universe of thousands of characters it controls entirely. That means Feige can produce an unlimited number of films with interweaving story lines and characters, creating a vast audience for almost any Marvel movie. People might show up for The Avengers, meet the Black Widow, and come back for her movie, too. There’s a map of films reaching far into the next decade on the wall of Feige’s office. “It’s like looking through the Hubble telescope. You go, ‘What’s happening back there? I can sort of see it,’ ” he laughs. “They printed out a new one recently that went to 2028.”


Iger would like to replicate the success of The Avengers with other Marvel teams. He says Marvel could potentially spin off members of the Guardians of the Galaxy, which include Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Groot, and Rocket Raccoon, in their own features….Iger and Alan Horn, chairman of Walt Disney Studios, recently met with the Marvel team to talk about new heroes who will be introduced in Age of Ultron and could be spun off in their own films as well. Iger declines to name them. “The possibilities are endless,” he says.

Spin-offs featuring those individual characters would be great, and it fits right in with Marvel's 3-4 films a calendar year plan. If they actually succeed in doing that in the next few years, they can have two big tentpole films and two small-scale films every year. Like imagine in 2017, we get Thor 3 and Black Panther as the biggies, with something like a good Punisher movie and a Rocket Raccoon movie functioning as the two small-scale releases in-between.

Warner Bros./DC on the other hand announced that Holly Hunter, Callan Mulvey and Tao Okamato will be in their still-untitled Man of Steel sequel. While this is good, fitting casting (Hunter was Elastigirl, Mulvey is in The Winter Soldier and Okamato was in The Wolverine), Marvel showed today that they clearly have a game plan. Last I heard, the Superman/Batman film script isn't even complete. Jeremy Irons, who will be playing Alfred in the film, said it wasn't finished not too long ago.

There might be some internal bickering going on over the direction of the script. Warner brought in Chris Terrio (writer of Argo) to rewrite the script, and work off of David S. Goyer's script skeleton, but I get the sense that Goyer wants full control like he had over Man of Steel's script. Nolan's not on board the project anymore, either. Goyer's been talkative lately, as a controversial interview of his went up a couple weeks back.

While I have no idea what Goyer is like as a person, I don't think he should be the architect of the DC Cinematic Universe. He may have a knowledge of the comics and may have written a few stories, but he's a better story/idea man than a dialogue writer. He co-wrote the Dark Knight trilogies' stories with Christopher Nolan, but Nolan and his brother handled the dialogue and scripts (sans Batman Begins). If anything, Goyer should just provide ideas and basic structures for the films. Nothing else. But from what I'm reading, it seems like he'll just exert control over this whole series.

No, I'm still thinking that Warner Bros. just wants to ride the superhero/team-up film wave rather than carefully put together a good cinematic universe. Zack Snyder can direct good-looking films, Goyer is an idea man. They need people like Bruce Timm or Paul Dini to be the DCCU architects, much like how the MCU's are Joss Whedon and Kevin Feige. Man of Steel's autopilot writing and structure - along with what's going on with this film right now- more than proves to me that WB just wants to cash in on all of this. Snyder was essentially one of Warner Bros.' golden boys because of 300 and Watchmen, and they apparently think Goyer can do anything just because of his involvement with the Nolan Batman films. Also, Goyer's little comments about fans… Sums it all up for me.

I had a shred of hope when Terrio was brought in to fix the script, as I was hoping - along with many others - that he would bring the series in a new direction instead of looking backwards (i.e. copying the Nolan formula), but I fear this may not be the case anymore. Putting Batman and Superman together on the big screen is the easy way of getting the quick buck, WB knows everyone will flock to see it. Why take your time when you can just easily strike while the iron is hot?

C'mon Warner Bros., you've got Chris Terrio of all people onboard this project. It's time to really think this all out… Cut Wonder Woman out of the picture and give her a solo film for a 2017 release, drop the dark and brooding crap, ditch the Nolan formula, focus on the story rather than exposition and you'll redeem Man of Steel and get folks excited for future installments. Justice League can wait, Marvel's got a 14-year-plan laid out, you can take your time on this.

The Wrecker Returns?

Fan-made poster by Al of Pixar Corner.

Composer Henry Jackman was interviewed by Collider today, as the focus was on his score for Captain America: The Winter Soldier. He will also be providing the score for Disney Animation's Big Hero 6, which is awesome since he did the fantastic score for Wreck-It Ralph. He was asked during the interview if a sequel to that video game adventure was in the works.

Back when the film came out, director Rich Moore had expressed interest in doing a sequel and said that he would like to have Mario appear in it. Jackman said he couldn't reveal much, but he says a story is being written…

I did, to be honest with you. I can’t tell you more, not because I’m being coy, but I believe that it is officially on the cards. I don’t know any more other than a story is indeed being written. I’d be very surprised not to. I’m not blowing my own trumpet. Forget about the music. Just the movie itself I thought was a fantastically imaginative and creative piece of work. Rich [Moore], the director, actually got involved in the writing. There was another writer and I can’t remember his name (Editor’s note: it’s Phil Johnston). Just as a concept, it would be almost remiss of them not to write another one. It’s a great idea and it’s a great character.

Now Walt Disney Animation Studios wisely follows in Walt's footsteps. They have made very few feature film sequels in their 90-year existence, one notable exception of a few being The Rescuers Down Under. The 90s Renaissance hits got direct-to-video sequels that were made by another studio. They won't be making a Frozen 2 because they already have another fairy tale musical in the works called Giants, that'll function as Frozen 2, much like how Frozen was essentially a Tangled 2. No sequels, just revisit the concept/theme every once in a while and make a new movie. That was Walt's way of doing things - instead of continuing Snow White's story, he simply made another film based on a fairy tale with a princess, Cinderella - and the studio sticks to that tradition today.

However, I believe that Wreck-It Ralph is one of the few Disney Animation films that actually calls for a sequel. I mean, the film takes place in an arcade… Think of what else they can tackle in the word of gaming! Console games, online games, mobile games (at one point in production, Ralph was supposed to go to a shallow social network-esque game), the list goes on…

The deleted "Extreme EZ Livin' 2" scene...

Jackman points out that it would be "remiss" of the studio to not write another one. This is a huge world to explore, and I think that's why the film actually deserves a sequel. However, they don't necessarily have to make one. If they have an excellent idea, then I say "Bring it on!" Well apparently one is indeed coming, and Moore is probably directing it. If anything, they could mine ideas that weren't used in the first film, much like how Pixar looked at elements/scenes that weren't used in Toy Story, and used them for Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3.

In a way, it’s like you could keep slinging things at me and I kind of know just instinctively what to do with it now, and I know what the themes are and I know what I’d do. Instead, it’s over and now you’re hanging out with someone else and you go, “Oh wait a minute,” and this person wants a complete reinvention, a totally different sound, has totally different ideas for a totally different kind of film, and you have to start all over again. I haven’t yet done a sequel. I think Wreck-It Ralph 2 might be the first one. Okay. So I know my colors. There’ll be new characters and everything. I have as yet not had the experience of returning to a palette and some themes that are established and I know. Every single film that I’ve done has been like, “Okay, so let’s start again.”

If it is indeed in the works, when will it possibly come out? Anytime after fall 2018 would probably be too late, and the fall 2018 slot is currently up for grabs because Dean Wellins' still untitled space race film/Cosmic 3000 has fallen behind in the development race. Perhaps after Zootopia, Giants and Moana, the studio will give us a Wreck-It Ralph sequel… We shall see. Will Walt Disney Animation Studios revisit this character and continue to build his world? Or will they just stick to making new films and not continue stories that already concluded?

1 comment:

  1. I desperately hope no sequels should ever come out of WDAS again! sure, their sequels r great in their own right, but I want no more. this will differentiate them from their competitors and stand out. Frozen proves to us how originality can pay off.

    However, if they r indeed making one, for some reason, I desperately wish it to come out from DisneyToon. frozen 2, wir 2, tangled 2 can come out from that studio. if they truly care, the films should be taken care of with hard work, and if anything, Disney can have another blockbuster studio in their hand. imagine, if disneytoon makes great sequels and prequels as they dedicate themselves into these only, then Pixar, WDAS, and DisneyToon combined can create billions for Disney. WDAS should stay as home of original films, and DisneyToon should become a great sequel studio.