Noah’s Ark cartoon still being produced in 3-D


Four months ago, I passed along a news story to the effect that the French studio Gaumont was making a 3-D animated film about Noah’s Ark called Rock the Boat. Today, Variety reports that the studio wasn’t actually committed to the 3-D aspect of the film until this past week — but now that they have committed to it, they think this could have ramifications all across Europe:

In a groundbreaking decision on one of Europe’s flagship productions, Gaumont announced Wednesday at the Berlin fest that it will produce its $35 million animated feature “Rock the Boat” in digital 3-D.

Gaumont, the Gallic studio, had toyed with the move for several months.

But spectacular $31 million opening for Disney 3-D “Hannah Montana” swayed its decision, Loic Trocme, Gaumont head of sales and acquisitions, said at the European Film Market Sunday.

“Boat” will not be Europe’s first 3-D movie — Ben Stassen’s “Fly Me to the Moon,” a 3-D IMAX movie, screens at this EFM, with Summit onboard for U.S. distribution — but pic is likely to be one of the biggest 3-D films now in production.

A year into production, “Boat” has been slated as a CGI-animated feature, skedded for 2010. “After ‘Hannah Montana,’ 3-D was no longer just an option. CGI is now commonplace,” Trocme said. “Two years from now, we’ll need to deliver something fresh and new.”

Gaumont’s 3-D move assures that digital cinemas that can screen 3-D films will roll out over Europe by 2010. . . .

Billed as “Some Like It Hot” meets “Titanic,” “Boat” turns on the adventures of a porcupine and cheetah who, since their species are already represented on Noah’s Ark, disguise themselves as a fictitious hybrid — porceetahs — to gain passage. . . .

Incidentally, this film is slated to come out the same year as Toy Story 3, which is also supposed to be in digital 3-D. So there is a definite trend here, and I can only hope that Vancouver will have at least one of those newfangled digital 3-D theatres by then.

Victor Morton on 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days


Oh my. I knew I loved Cristian Mungiu’s 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days when I saw it at the local film festival four months ago, and I knew I really regretted not being able to see it a second time before writing my second, longer review of the film last month for CT Movies. But now Victor Morton has seen it a second time and posted two new appraisals of it at his Rightwing Film Geek blog, and I am deeply, deeply in awe, both of the film itself and of Morton’s analysis of it. In this first, brief post, he pays specific attention to the film’s final scene, and in this second, longer post, he re-evaluates claims he had made about the film when he first saw it in September, and he offers some dazzling interpretations of the film’s visual compositions — its use of mirrors, its use of vehicles moving in opposite directions, etc. — and how they lend themselves to the movie’s moral themes. I am so, so glad this film is coming back to Vancouver in April. I can’t wait to see it again.

The darker side of the Sherman brothers.


The other day, Jim Hill complained that far too many Disney DVDs feature interviews with Robert B. Sherman and Richard M. Sherman, the two guys who composed the bulk of the music for Mary Poppins (1964), The Jungle Book (1967), The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977) and several other Disney projects, as well as the non-Disney films Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968) and Charlotte’s Web (1973). In his write-up on the brand new “special edition” of The Aristocats (1970), Hill wrote:

It’s hard to get all that excited about the meager assortment of “Bonus Material” that Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has placed on this DVD. I mean, yet another interview with Richard M. & Robert B. Sherman? Zzzzz …

Don’t me wrong, folks. I grew up listening to the Sherman Brothers. So I love these guys and greatly admire their work. But that said, when you watch as many WDSHE releases as I do, it seems like Dick & Bob are interviewed for every single DVD that Disney puts out. And — to be honest — I’m getting kind of tired of looking at these guys.

Well, maybe this story from today’s Variety will spice things up, then — or maybe it will just add to the Sherman fatigue:

. . . Disney is financing a documentary that will reveal the darker side of the venerable songwriting team of Robert and Richard Sherman.

Jeff and Gregg Sherman, sons of Robert and Richard, respectively, are directing “The Boys” and will produce. Ben Stiller’s Red Hour will exec produce with Permut Presentations’ David Permut. Steve Longi is co-producer.

Stiller hopes to use the docu as the template for a feature biopic that would allow him to play Robert Sherman. Disney has committed only to make and release the docu at this point. The picture will be ready for release late this year.

While they crafted scores of cheerful tunes such as “You’re Sixteen, You’re Beautiful and You’re Mine,” and “It’s a Small World,” the Shermans had a complex relationship that became so strained that cousins Jeff and Gregg didn’t know each other even though they grew up just seven blocks apart.

After meeting, the cousins, who are screenwriters, decided to make a film that would explore the spectacular career and split of the Shermans. . . .

Let’s see if the Sherman brothers do an interview for this DVD!

And hey, if Ben Stiller ends up playing Robert (the one on the left in the above photo), who will play Richard? Owen Wilson?

“Baa baa sheep.”

My kids still don’t talk much when they happen to be watching TV, but these are the words my bright-eyed daughter said today on seeing the image below, at the start of the Wallace & Gromit cartoon A Close Shave (1995). I wonder to what degree she made that association, between those words and this image, because she recognized which episode this was, and to what degree she made that association because she recognized the sheep silhouettes themselves. Or perhaps the menu screen tipped her off.

And oh, man, do I get a kick out of showing my kids, who turned 2 on Monday, a cartoon that I first saw when reviewing an animation festival for one of the student newspapers at UBC.

McG talks, just a little, about Terminator 4.


I might as well offer my own two bits on that interview that Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins director McG did with The 213 recently; it’s been making the rounds today:

(213): How will the TV show play into the film in terms of timelines?

McG: It’s a little tricky, but I mean obviously there’s some liberties taken. What Cameron did with the second picture and what Mostow did with the third and certainly the TV show in the spirit of week in, week out episodic television has to take some license as well. We’re going to do what we can to respect them all, but there are indeed some timeline issues. We speak to the idea of one version of a future, which is clearly articulated by Michael Biehn in the first picture.

Good luck with that! One of the reasons I have always loved the first film is because it is such a tightly-plotted story that there is, quite simply, no way to make a sequel to it. So I was disappointed when I heard almost 20 years ago that James Cameron was, in fact, going to make a sequel to it — and then I didn’t know what to make of the fact that Cameron decided to jettison the first film’s underlying approach to time-travel altogether. The first film is defined by causal loops; the second film says these loops can be ignored, even though the story wouldn’t exist without them. And then, the third film came along and said the loops are still there, just kind of … wrinkled. So it has been a delight to watch The Sarah Connor Chronicles — I have only seen the first three episodes so far — and to see the way this series just ignores the concept of franchise continuity altogether. There is simply no way that this series and the third movie can exist in the same timeline — not unless they plan to wrap the series up in a deeply contrived and unsatisfying way. So really, why bother trying to “respect” all the various sequels and spin-offs? Why not just accept that each story takes place in its own parallel universe, and leave it at that?

And wait a minute, what’s this about Michael Biehn saying something about there being only one version of the future? Didn’t his character say the exact opposite, that there is no fate but what we make for ourselves, when he passed along a message from John Connor to his mother? And even if Biehn’s character did say that there was only one version of the future, haven’t the sequels and the TV spin-off all pretty much disproved that now?

(213): So is this taking off after number three or number two?

McG: This is the space between; this is post Judgment day. So there really is no continuation, you know what I mean? Its sort of a different animal, whereas the first two pictures on this thing are Terminators from the future, this picture takes place in 2019.

Uh, sounds like the answer is: “After number three.” The third picture in “this thing” also featured a couple of Terminators from the future, too. And it was the third film that ended with the missiles flying — apparently no later than 2004. Unless they rewrite the back-story all over again, this would mean the new film is taking place at least 15 years after Judgment Day.

(213): I was curious, you have your own signature style, which is obviously something that’s different from Terminator films we’ve seen before – how do you feel it will mesh with the new film?

McG: It was important to me to honor James Cameron’s pictures and I spoke to him for a long time, he’s down in New Zealand doing Avatar, and he was very encouraging saying “Look, I was in the same spot following Ridley Scott on the second Aliens picture – it’s like, what are you doing, it’s Ridley!” And he said, “I wanted to be respectful of the film by Ridley, but I wanna go in a direction where hopefully I can satisfy the hard core fans, but also build upon what’s put before us.” And I would never be so bold as to say that we’re going to be successful, but we’re certainly going to do our best and I think we’re greatly protected by Christian Bale.

I gotta admit, I like that James Cameron anecdote. And not just because I like Aliens (1986) a fair bit better than Alien (1979) — though in fact, one of the things I like about Aliens is the way it stays very true to the spirit of its predecessor, while building on it. I have no idea if McG can do half as good a job at sequelizing someone else’s work as Cameron did, but at least McG is paying some sort of homage to the guy who started this franchise.

(213): Come on, who would be McG’s “dream Terminator”?!

McG: You know, those are big shoes to fill. If you go back and look at the first picture it’s so funny because there’s such a decided difference between what Arnold was doing in the first picture and in the second and third picture. I mean there’s this decided physicality – look what Robert Patrick did to get ready for the role. He’s a guy who I adore, I put him in every movie I’ve ever done. And it’s very difficult to say because it’s a decidedly masculine role and I think we’re living in a time where a lot of actors are very effeminate and they’re sort of skinny, heroine chic and there’s really a masculine component to the role. And there’s guys out there like Russell Crowe and Eric Bana, bring a good physicality, they do what they do, but I don’t know if they’re exactly right at the end of the day. (Smiles) Josh Brolin is a very exciting actor – we’ll see.

Hmmm, I know Jeffrey Wells at Hollywood Elsewhere thinks this is a bad idea, but I kind of like the sound of that. Though it would be funny to see Brolin play a Terminator so soon after starring in No Country for Old Men, a film in which he played someone who was trying to get away from another character who was described by many critics as resembling a Terminator. In any case, won’t Brolin be busy with Oliver Stone‘s Bush pretty soon?

It’s also interesting to hear Crowe and Bana named so close together, since one was rumoured to be in the running for the part of the villain in Star Trek XI, and the other actually got the part.

New Line Cinema — gasping its last breath?

There is still no official word on whether or not New Line Cinema will go ahead with the sequels to The Golden Compass, but based on recent reports, I’m thinking … not. More specifically, I’m thinking that there might not even be a New Line Cinema any more that can make that decision.

Yesterday, Jeffrey Wells at Hollywood Elsewhere passed on the news that, according to Colin Farrell, the release of the cop movie Pride and Glory has been delayed a full year because “New Line lost the bollocks on The Golden Compass…and they literally don’t have enough money to market things.”

And today, Nikki Finke at Deadline Hollywood Daily reported that Time Warner, the company that has owned New Line since 1996, considers New Line to be “ripe for expense reductions” and is still planning on letting go of Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne, the studio chiefs who founded New Line way back in 1967.

I guess the question that will be on many moviegoers’ minds now is what impact, if any, these developments will have on Peter Jackson’s proposed two-part adaptation of The Hobbit.

UPDATE: Variety magazine adds these details:

[Time Warner CEO Jeffrey] Bewkes said New Line will be the focus of budget cuts and layoffs. The company expects the move to save $50 million a year.

The specific microscope on New Line within the context of a $50 billion media conglom raised some eyebrows.

“There’s real value in New Line as an independent label and brand with its own slate of movies, and New Line’s had great success with certain genres of films that are not historically in the sweet spot of large studios,” Bewkes said. “But with the recent trend toward fewer movie releases across the industry and given the greater importance of overseas revenues, there’s the obvious question about whether it still makes sense for us to have two completely separate studio infrastructures and Warner and New Line.”

One New Liner said while “nobody is jumping up and down” in response to the news, the sense is that cuts could resemble those undertaken in 2000 when about one-quarter of the staff was let go. That pullback came amid the doldrums of “Town & Country” and “Little Nicky” and preceded the bullish run that kicked off in earnest with the first “Lord of the Rings” pic in 2001.

New Line toppers Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne have had talks with Bewkes in recent weeks as they reach the end of their contracts, and have met with deep-pocketed investors to explore their options should they want to leave the conglom. But Wednesday’s earnings call did nothing to support rumors of their setting up a new company, and even the folding in of certain New Line ops into Warners remains, for the moment at least, a theoretical scenario.

“The greater importance of overseas revenues.” Is it safe to assume that this is an indirect reference to the fact that New Line was unable to enjoy The Golden Compass‘s success overseas — the film flopped in North America — because they had pre-sold the foreign-distribution rights to other companies?


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