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After reaping an Oscar bid for Best Original Score for “How to Train Your Dragon” in 2010, John Powell is a strong contender to reap another for the sequel that sees the franchise move into deeper emotional territory. As he explained during our recent webcam chat (watch below), “Our main characters are growing up so the music tried to mature itself a little." This shift in tone meant, "the new tunes…needed to be more -- not complex -- but a little deeper, or capable of being a little deeper.” This second film in the trilogy finds Hiccup and his dragon Toothless defending an ice castle populated with exotic dragons that’s guarded by ...(Spoiler Alert) -Break- Hiccup’s long-lost mother. For Powell, the track ‘Lost and Found’ was instrumental to the score’s success: “I needed a tune that was going to hit every moment in the film where somebody lost somebody, »
James Newton Howard is best known for his large, layered, cinematic scores for films like Maleficent, Snow White and the Huntsman, and The Hunger Games series. These orchestra driven scores are perfect for epic tales of good versus evil, intense battle scenes and journeys of self-discovery. But in Nightcrawler, Howard seems to have found his more edgy, electronic side, turning in a score that sounds more like something you would expect from a composer like Cliff Martinez – and that’s a good thing. Changing up your musical style not only helps push boundaries, it can also give us great music we may not have otherwise expected from certain composers. Danny Elfman created the quirky music for films like Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, and Big Fish, but he also created the dramatic scores for Good Will Hunting and Silver Linings Playbook and action films like Mission Impossible and Planet of the Apes. Randy Newman »
- Allison Loring
The 6th Annual Governors Awards took place on Saturday, November 8, 2014 in The Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood, CA.
Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award recipient Harry Belafonte, Honorary Award recipient Hayao Miyazaki, Honorary Award recipient Jean-Claude Carrière and Honorary Award recipient Maureen O’Hara were honored by their peers during the evening.
The Honorary Award, an Oscar statuette, is given “to honor extraordinary distinction in lifetime achievement, exceptional contributions to the state of motion picture arts and sciences, or for outstanding service to the Academy.”
The Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, also an Oscar statuette, is given “to an individual in the motion picture industry whose humanitarian efforts have brought credit to the industry.”
Pictured (left to right): Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award recipient Harry Belafonte, Honorary Award recipient Hayao Miyazaki, Honorary Award recipient Jean-Claude Carrière and Honorary Award recipient Maureen O’Hara
Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs introduces the 2014 Governors Awards
- Michelle McCue
Harry Belafonte gave one of the all-time great acceptance speeches at Saturday night’s Governors Awards, citing Hollywood’s often-shameful power to influence attitudes, and challenging the heavy-hitters in the room to instead create works that allow global audiences “to see the better side of who we are as a species.”
The performer, receiving the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, pulled no punches, and his words were all the more effective because of the soft, even tone in his voice and the cautious optimism that concluded his speech.
The occasion was the sixth annual Governors Awards, at the Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland, an annual gathering that always mixes a celebration of Hollywood’s past, some words of encouragement to the room’s artists, and a heavy dose of awards-schmoozing.
- Tim Gray
The fifth annual Hollywood Music in Media Awards were held Tuesday night at The Fonda Theatre in Hollywood. "Birdman" composer Antonio Sanchez walked away with top film honors while "How to Train Your Dragon 2" and "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" also brought home awards. "It’s about time drummers get some love — now we have 'Birdman' and 'Whiplash,'" Sanchez said. "This is shaping up to be our year!" The animated film score prize was handed out for the first time ever and is a nice boost for "Dragon 2's" John Powell, who picked up an Oscar nomination for the first film in the series four years ago. Song prizes went to "Lost Stars" from "Begin Again" (with Gregg Alexander performing for the first time in 15 years) and "Everything is Awesome" from "The Lego Movie." Check out the nominees here and a full list of visual media awards below, »
- Kristopher Tapley
DreamWorks Animation’s How to Train Your Dragon is one of my favorite animated films of the past decade, and so I came into this summer’s sequel, How to Train Your Dragon 2, with some sky high expectations. Luckily, director Dean DeBlois delivered a follow-up that maintained the sensibilities that made his 2009 film so great while also expanding the scope and raising the emotional stakes of the franchise with this follow-up. What makes the Dragon films unique is that they are deeply compassionate in nature, which is sadly something that’s all too rare in film these days. Throw in astounding visuals, an incredible score by composer John Powell, and organic, compelling character evolution, and How to Train Your Dragon 2 manages to be not only one of the best animated films of the year, but one of the best films of the year period. In anticipation of the »
- Adam Chitwood
John Powell has received two Hollywood Music in Media Award nominations for DreamWorks Animation’s How To Train Your Dragon 2. Powell is nominated for Best Score – Animated Film and Best Song – Animated Film for “Where No One Goes,” his collaboration with Sigur Ros lead singer Jónsi.
The Hollywood Music in Media Awards will be held at the Fonda Theater in Hollywood on November 4th, 2014.
The How To Train Your Dragon 2 soundtrack is available on Relativity Records. The DVD will be available on November 11, 2014.
The film crossed the $600,000,000 global mark over the Labor Day weekend in September. A record-breaking opening in China coupled with phenomenal success in territories around the world catapulted Dragon 2 to become the highest grossing animated film of the year and one of the top ten grossing films of the year in any genre.
How To Train Your Dragon 3 is scheduled for a June 9, 2017 release »
- Michelle McCue
Oregon-based Laika is heading into awards season with the stop-motion “The Boxtrolls.” Having earned Oscar nominations for its first two efforts, “Coraline” (2009) and “ParaNorman” (2012), the studio is aiming to remain on a roll. Producer (and Laika CEO) Travis Knight (in photo above center) was joined by directors Anthony Stacchi (left) and Graham Annable (right) in a talk with Variety’s Andrew Barker for a Q&A at the Variety Screening Series on September 18.
“Boxtrolls” unfolds in an underground world with a large cast of eccentrics, including a grotesque character voiced by Ben Kingsley. The film required elaborate character choreography — a daunting challenge for animators engaged in the labor-intensive process of stop-motion. Stacchi admitted: “The most difficult sequence was one that Graham and I weren’t aware was going to be difficult. We believed that a big mecha-drill-attack at the end of the film would involve the most effects and require the most difficult animation. »
- Ellen Wolff
The How to Train Your Dragon franchise is a bit of an anomaly in the DreamWorks Animation filmography. Jeffrey Katzenberg’s company carved out its signature style with Shrek, a sweet yet slightly cynical, self-aware family film with a handful of jokes that only the adults may understand. But 2009’s How to Train Your Dragon was an unabashedly cynicism-free feature that was deeply compassionate in nature and epic in scope. That tone continued in this summer’s How to Train Your Dragon 2, once again under the direction of Dean DeBlois, and the Dragon films have enjoyed not only critical but also commercial success at the box office. It was announced shortly after the first film’s release that there would be a trilogy of Dragon films, and when I spoke with composer John Powell this summer he said that Katzenberg had recently brought up the prospect of a How to Train Your Dragon »
- Adam Chitwood
Drawing some 24,000 attendees to the picturesque hamlet of Carmel-by-the-Sea, this year’s fest opens with “Learning to Drive” and will screen some 120 films, an international slate that ranges from feature-length fare (“Nightcrawler,” “Merry Friggin’ Christmas”) to shorts, documentaries and student films.
A special spotlight on animation will feature a DreamWorks master class panel discussion and behind-the-scenes look at “How to Train Your Dragon 2” with producer Bonnie Arnold, supervising sound designer Randy Thom, “Pov” production designer Pierre-Olivier Vincent and composer John Powell. The panel will be moderated by Variety’s vice president and executive editor Steven Gaydos on Oct. 18.
“I love being able to share the inner workings of the production process with movie fans,” says Arnold. “We are so fortunate to have industry icons like Randy Thom and John Powell as part of our team and thrilled they can join me and our production designer, Pierre-Olivier Vincent, this year at Carmel. »
- Malina Saval
How long were you shooting for The Maze Runner?
WB: We shot for 8 weeks, which is a very short period of time to do a movie. It was intense, but it was fun. Some of those limitations help you, working within those parameters sometimes forces out creative ideas, and sometimes you’re just frustrated at compromising so much… It was what we had, and we tried to do the best with it.
This is your first feature film, and it’s shot beautifully. The sparing use of close ups really throws us in with the characters on their intense emotional journey. How did you go about achieving that?
WB: I interpreted it personally as an experience. You’re on this ride with this main character, Thomas, »
- Kat Kourbeti
The Hollywood Music in Media Awards (HMMAs) have announced the nominees in the Visual Media categories.
Showcasing the best and brightest in musical creation for visual media, the 5th Annual Hollywood Music in Media Awards (HMMAs) will be held at The Fonda Theater in Hollywood on Tuesday, November 4, 2014.
The 2014 HMMAs welcome back celebrity hosts including Oscar nominated actor Eric Roberts, former Matchbox 20 member Adam Gaynor, acclaimed Director/Writer/Producer Andy Fickman and Earth, Wind & Fire’s Verdine White. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Education Through Music – Los Angeles (Etmla). Honorees, performers, and special guests to be announced.
The field of entrants were narrowed down to final nominees by the Hmma advisory board and selection committee. The winners will be voted upon by music-media industry professionals comprised of select members of the Society of Composers and Lyricists (Scl), The Television Academy, the AMPAS Music Branch, Naras, performing rights organizations, »
- Michelle McCue
Somehow over the years the Hollywood Music in Media Awards have escaped me. The event's fifth annual slate of nominees were announced today, and it's a pretty standard assortment of names we've been considering at the forefront of this year's Best Original Score Oscar race, from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross to Hans Zimmer to the ubiquitous Alexandre Desplat. The nominees were chosen by an "Hmma advisory board and selection committee," and winners will be voted upon by "music-media industry professionals comprised of select members of the Society of Composers and Lyricists, The Television Academy, the AMPAS Music Branch, Naras, performing rights organizations, film music journalists and music executives," according to the press release. You might raise your eyebrow at something like "Interstellar" being on here when it hasn't been screened for these purposes (or much at all, for that matter). The nominations are also based on hearing music via »
- Kristopher Tapley
On September 19th, 20th Century Fox will unveil the highly anticipated The Maze Runner and according to early numbers, director Wes Ball’s movie is on track for a $30 million opening when it bows next weekend.
Based upon the best-selling novel by James Dashner, when Thomas wakes up trapped in a massive maze with a group of other boys, he has no memory of the outside world other than strange dreams about a mysterious organization known as W.C.K.D. Only by piecing together fragments of his past with clues he discovers in the maze can Thomas hope to uncover his true purpose and a way to escape.
One of the most popular soundtracks Sony Music has released this year, the original movie score is from American film composer and conductor John Paesano.
Originally from Detroit, Michigan, Paesano initially studied classical music with composition professor Sally Dow Miller of Conservatoire de Paris. »
- Michelle McCue
Having stopped the Red Death and ushered in a new age of human-dragon relations, Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and Toothless have left Berk in the hope of spreading their message of inter-species solidarity to the rest of the viking world. It’s a belief they share with the former’s estranged mother, Valka (Cate Blanchett), who he encounters while trying to track down Drago Blundvist (Djimon Hounsou), a figure from his father Stoick’s (Gerard Butler) past who is in the process of building a dragon army. While he and his mother reconnect, Berk’s other dragon riders, Astrid (America Fererra), Snotlout (Jonah Hill), Fishlegs (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), Ruffnut (Kristen Wiig) and Tuffnut (T. J. Miller) use dragon hunter Eret (Kit Harrington) to help find Drago.
- Steven Neish
In a market where the turnaround for sequels is so quick, it feels like it's been a long time since Hiccup and Toothless first arrived on the big screen. How To Train Your Dragon was the film that really made people sit up and pay attention to DreamWorks Animation again after a string of Shrek sequels and tacky celebrity-led reference-paloozas.
By our reckoning, that makes How To Train Your Dragon 2 the most anticipated animated feature of the year by some distance. Young fans will have had the animated series Dragons: Riders Of Berk to tide them over, but assuming that many of us who loved the first film might not have got around to the series, we've been eager to see where the story goes next. »
The mere mention of dragons has moviegoers foaming at the mouth like Pavlov’s dog. That’s part of the reason why How to Train Your Dragon was such a hit in 2010. Sure, Vikings are a large draw too, but nothing compared to dragons. Want proof? Look at how Game of Thrones milks them every season. Often times, sequels or spinoffs fail to capture the magic of the first film, especially for animated films. Since there’s already a built-in audience with the kids (and in this case dragon-lovers too), there’s not always that effort to impress in subsequent films. They usually recycle a lot of what worked – including the structure of the story – beat a recurring joke to death (*cough* Ice Age *cough) and fail to deliver something fresh to the equation. Thankfully, none of that can be said about the next installment of the How to Train Your Dragon trilogy. »
- Ernie Estrella
Tim here. This weekend sees the release of How to Train Your Dragon 2, the first of just two major animated features coming out this summer (and having to imply that Planes 2: The Plane Fight Fire Now is a “major” film tastes like ash in my mouth). More importantly, it’s the sequel to a four-year-old film that’s broadly regarded as the best movie DreamWorks Animation has ever made. And there have been many appreciations advanced through the years as to why How to Train Your Dragon is so good – a comic tone that never trumps the basic sincerity of the story, John Powell’s gorgeous, Celtic-tinged score, the first actual decent animation of normal humans in the studio’s history – I can tell you pretty easily why it’s my own personal favorite: it’s the best movie about cats ever made.
- Tim Brayton
If you’ve seen DreamWorks Animation’s How to Train Your Dragon, you know that not only is it an incredible film, but the entire feature is elevated by a truly magnificent score from composer John Powell. He imbues the compassionate story with a genuine sense of wonder and emotion, and Powell resumes his composing duties on the upcoming sequel How to Train Your Dragon 2 to fantastic results. I recently got the opportunity to speak with Powell for an extended conversation in anticipation of the release of How to Train Your Dragon 2 on June 13th and the soundtrack, which is available now, and we covered a wide range of topics. During the interview, Powell discussed his approach to scoring the follow-up without repeating himself, working with Sigur Rós frontman Jónsi to craft original songs for the movie, whether the knowledge of another sequel (or sequels) impacted his work, »
- Adam Chitwood
How to Train Your Dragon 2 is seriously one of the best movies this year. As much as I loved the first film, this sequel is so much better in every way. DreamWorks Animation has released a new featurette for the animated flick, and it focuses on the music that was created for the feature. The score was composed by John Powell (Kung Fu Panda, How to Train Your Dragon) along with the help of Sigur Ros frontman Jonsi. What they created for this film is beautiful. The music really nails the emotion of the characters. When the score is done right it makes the movie that much better. How to Train Your Dragon 2 hits theaters on June 13th, and it's a must watch! Thanks to Time!
- Joey Paur
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