Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Bits Journal #53

Pandas, princes, and other bits...

Usually I'm one to criticize the way animated movies are marketed here in America, but at the same time a lot of the campaigns for these films pay off... At the box office, that is.

The other day we got a new Japanese trailer for Kung Fu Panda 3, one that's not too far removed from the film's Chinese teaser from this past summer. That teaser and this Japanese trailer, similar to the Japanese trailers for Disney Animation and Pixar's films, emphasize the more dramatic elements of the film. It probably has some sizable spoilers too, so watch with caution. I didn't see anything too bad, but others are saying it spoils a lot so again... Watch with caution, and don't read on if you plan not to watch it...

First off, the trailer is the perfect blend of heart, humor, and action. I love it. Even though I liked the latest domestic trailer, this one's the best by far.

The Japanese really do know how to market animated movies, in my opinion... Then again, I can see these kinds of trailers not going over well here in the states. The glimpses at the film's more surreal scenes are always welcome, and was that Master Oogway in one of them? The latest domestic trailer reveals that the villainous Kai was once allies with the ancient tortoise, so maybe there will be a dream sequence where he appears or maybe it's a sequence where Po can interact with the dead. Who knows!

I also like that it touched on more of the stuff with Po and his father, as I believe that will be the core heart of the film. Kung Fu Panda 2 is up there with the likes of Pixar and Disney when it comes to the more emotional bits, sometimes it even gets a bit dark. It appears that this third installment won't lose any of those elements, the very elements that made that sequel so great.

The film looks like it'll be a perfect trilogy capper to what is an awesome series, if not DreamWorks' best.

Speaking of the moon boy house, there's more expansion going on over there.

Prior to DreamWorks' troubles earlier this year, the company was making all these moves. It was all in an attempt to build a bigger bottom line, because let's face it. A studio like DreamWorks can't survive on just their $120 million-costing animated movies alone, so the company moved into Netflix, theme parks, and other areas. Now, they're looking to move into live-action television. The head of this wing will be the seasoned Katie O'Connell Marsh, who has a background in Gaumont and NBC.

Katzenberg said "Television has quickly grown into one of our most successful businesses and, as the demand for kids and co-viewing content continues to rise, extending the DreamWorks Animation brand to live-action TV in a strategic and financially disciplined way will spur even further growth. Katie’s proven track record of developing hit live-action television programming, coupled with her success in quickly building television businesses from the ground up, makes her the perfect executive to lead us into this new genre."

I think it's a good idea. DreamWorks' expansion, as many have noted, is no different from Walt Disney expanding his company when he realizes that animated features and cartoon shorts weren't enough to keep his company going, especially in the post-war years. He successfully moved into live-action and TV, and then... Of course... Theme parks. DreamWorks' expansion may not be just like that, but it's good for them and the animation studio. Gotta have variety and revenues pouring in from all areas, you know?

On the traditional animation end of things, animation legend Don Bluth has moved his Dragon's Lair movie project from Kickstarter to Indiegogo. On Kickstarter, the project got roughly $240,000, they're hoping for another $250,000 so a sizzle reel can be created.

For those who don't know, Dragon's Lair is based on one of Bluth's own creations from over 30 years ago. Dragon's Lair was a groundbreaking coin-op arcade game that used over 20 minutes of animation done by him and his studio, rather than contemporary video game graphics. You'd see the cutscenes and make decisions with the buttons, and then see what happens from there. As you can imagine, the machines ate up lots and lots of quarters. The game was super-successful and spawned a sequel years later, along with a TV cartoon adaptation. Bluth hasn't made a feature-length film since 2000's Titan A.E., a film that flopped mostly due to Fox's ignorance at the time.

He has teased a Dragon's Lair movie for quite some time, and apparently he's wanted to make one since the mid-80s, and I hope it goes somewhere. I don't know if a mere sizzle reel is going to make heads move, but I like that someone is at least trying to get a feature-length traditionally animated film off the ground. If this thing ever gets a greenlight, perhaps we can rejoice, but who knows how it'll do. The game itself may be good, but the medieval fantasy story it tells isn't anything groundbreaking. How will Bluth and company make something that screams "must-see" out of that? Especially at a time where traditionally animated features have a hard enough time as it is?

Again, who knows what will happen. The optimist in me says it could go somewhere, but right now I'll wait things out...

Arriving earlier today was a new poster for Anomalisa, which sorta-kinda confirms its wide release date. The poster itself pretty much gives you the vibe that this film will have, and it's a pretty effective poster I must say...

I've heard more and more reactions to the film recently, ones that have been - no shock - hyper-positive. Anyways... January? Why no exact date on the poster? Why no exact date at all? I reckon it'll be January 8th or maybe January 22nd, who knows. At least they have an idea of when the wide release will start...

Hopefully when it opens nationwide, it takes in a pretty impressive amount for what it is. It cost less than $10 million to make, so they should be all set.

Speaking of Paramount, I'm a bit late to the party on this bit here, but The Little Prince finally has a domestic trailer! It's a pretty good one, too.

The English dub doesn't sound half-bad, either. Anyways, I'll say what I've said before: The actual Little Prince parts of the movie - since this adaptation uses a framing device around the original story - look absolutely beautiful, and it's great to see a big-scale CG film use a significant amount of that medium to tell the story. I don't how this will go over with American audiences, but I'm glad that the film is getting a wide release here. I'm sure it'll come and go at the box office, but then again it could surprise.

I kind of wish the release date was mid-February, that way it wouldn't have to face blockbusters and family fare like Disney Animation's Zootopia or Disney's live-action Jungle Book. I'm not trying to say that cannibalization will happen, I don't believe in that at all, but the movie should have more room, no? Anyways, I hope it makes a little something on American soil.

The film itself looks very good. It currently holds a 95% on Rotten Tomatoes, and it appears to be - in its dubbed form - a very smart family film, and one with a great theme to it, one that doesn't stray far from the original novella. Definitely on my must-see list, that's for sure.

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