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Guillermo Del Toro and Jeffrey Katzenberg talk animation in Annecy

17 June 2016 6:04 AM, PDT | ScreenDaily | See recent ScreenDaily news »

Netflix and DreamWorks have 16 TV series in development, says DreamWorks CEO.

Director Guillermo Del Toro was joined by DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg during an Annecy Film Festival masterclass this week in which the two men revealed some insider titbits on projects they have worked on and more general thoughts on animation.

“In my early days at DreamWorks, Jeffrey said I increased the murder rate at the company by 100%,” Pan’s Labyrinth director Del Toro joked.

The colourful Mexican director has been a consultant and executive producer on a handful of DreamWorks titles, and the audience heard how he was responsible for significant edits to 2010 feature Megamind and for some of the more exuberant action scenes in Kung Fu Panda 2.

Del Toro and Katzenberg have most recently collaborated on animated series Trollhunters, of which they showed several clips.

The recent Netflix acquisition about a school kid who takes possession of a magical amulet that transforms him into »

- (Geoffrey Macnab)

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Annecy: Tom McGrath Unveils Alec Baldwin-Starrer ‘Boss Baby’

16 June 2016 11:51 AM, PDT | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

Annecy — For years, CG animation has driven to emulate reality. Technological standards are now so high, however, that animation can now begin to emulate art, even the squash and stretch comedy of hand-drawn classics.

One result: DreamWorks Animation’s “The Boss Baby,” starring Alec Baldwin, Steve Buscemi, Jimmy Kimmel and Lisa Kudrow, set for a March 2017 release via 20th Century Fox. Directed by Tom McGrath, helmer of the “Madagascar” movies and “Mastermind,” “Boss Baby” had an Annecy audience in stitches at a June 16 sneak preview which unveiled a clutch of never-seen-before sequences to a privileged audience including Guillermo del Toro.

McGrath’s peformance-led comedy style goes with his territory. He watched “Bugs Bunny” with his dad on Saturday mornings. “I laughed at the slapstick, my father at the dialogue,” he recalled, presenting “The Boss Baby” to an Annecy Fest audience. He graduated from the character animation program at Cal Arts. At the time, the old Disney animators, such as Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, as well as Chuck Jones, were still teaching there.

“Now we’re kind of going back to our roots in animation and looking to the past to move forward,” McGrath said. “‘Boss Baby’ is very much a cartoony sensibility. There’s a lot of squash and stretch. In “Madagascar,” while many animators on other films were emulating live action, pushing for realistic lighting and textures, “we really wanted to do something cartoony, but the technology wasn’t quite there. Rigs broke if squished too much.

“But as we progressed the technology got better, and what was a lost art became hip again, McGrath added, citing Genndy “Hotel Transylvania” and Doug Sweetland’s “Presto.

”’Boss Baby’ is the first film where I could capture things that 2D was able to capture sixty years ago,” he enthused.

That was seen in the sequences McGrath unveiled at Annecy. Written by Michael McCullers, “Boss Baby” is narrated from the Pov and imagination of a seven-year-old kid, Tim, who gets a baby brother.

In a first sequence shown at Annecy, which McGrath screened to whoops of applause, Tim happens upon baby brother in his cradle, in a executive suit, talking by phone. “I know how important this mission is. You’ve got the right man on the job,” the baby is saying by phone, telling Tim straight off when he realises he’s been outed that he’s the boss, not Tim, and there’s only so much love to go round.

Boss Baby has been sent by Baby Corp. to investigate an evil plot of PuppyCo., to put babies out of business in favour of pets. He spouts businessese: “Think outside the box,” “If you think you can, or if you think you can’t — you’re right,” a Henry Ford dictum. When their parents are captured, however, the siblings finally pull together.

“The theme of the movie, and I don’t think it’s a spoiler, is that there’s plenty of love to go round and it’s not about getting love but giving love,” McGrath said in Annecy.

Looking back to “The Lady and the Tramp” and “Peter Pan,” backgrounds are more “impressionistic,” in “Boss Baby,” McGrath said. “That means you can focus your eye on where to look.

One example: In one climax sequence, as the young brothers escape from the villain’s brother, Eugene, disguised as a nanny. they do so cycling through a white picket suburb, set against a broad stretch of blue sky and green grass.

One pudgy baby friend, Jimbo, has the body of as mini sumo wrestler. As boss baby and elder bro escape to get to Vegas to save their parents, Eugene running after the babies in frantic pursuit attempting to grab a firetruck with Jimbo in it. But it runs away from him down the road, Eugene’s body stretching in desperation as he tries to hold on.

For McGrath, current animation is rapidly widening its gamut. “As Guillermo del Toro put it in his masterclass yesterday at Annecy, animation is not a genre but a medium. There are a lot of different works: Drama, horror, adult-oriented stuff,” McGrath said.

And there are a lot different looks, he added: “‘Madagascar’ is very different from ‘Dragons’ which is very different from ‘Voltron’ which is very different from ‘Trollhunters.’

If McGrath is right, as in live-action, a future animated movie’s success is likely to depend more and more not on its being the latest offering from a big Hollywood studio but on that movie’s originality.


- John Hopewell and Emilio Mayorga

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Jeffrey Katzenberg Receives Annecy’s First – and Surprise – Golden Ticket Award

15 June 2016 9:53 AM, PDT | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

A surprised but moved Jeffrey Katzenberg received the Annecy Festival’s first Golden Ticket Award on Wednesday in recognition of his services to animation. The honor had been kept secret from Katzenberg, who is at Annecy to support a strong DreamWorks Animation presence.

A lifelong supporter of Annecy, Katzenberg’s Golden Ticket now gives him a lifelong pass to the Festival. The surprise presentation took place at the end of a keynote masterclass by Guillermo del Toro, who spent much of its second part talking with Katzenberg about DreamWorks Animation’s upcoming family series “Trollhunters” before a standing-room-only audience in Annecy’s central theater, the 1,000-seat Grande Salle Bonnie.

“This is a set-up,” Katzenberg joked, as Annecy Fest artistic director Marcel Jean came on stage to ask what his career highlights had been so far and as a show-reel featuring DreamWorks and Disney animated films and talking heads such as Steven Spielberg began to play on a big screen.

After a standing ovation, Katzenberg recounted how, in 1984, on his first day at Disney as head of Walt Disney Studios, he had a meeting with CEO Michael Eisner in the office once occupied by Walt Disney. At its end, Eisner motioned him over to the window and pointed to a building across the street. “That’s where they make the animated movies. It’s also your problem,” Katzenberg recalled Eisner telling him.

Despite being neither a student nor fan of animated films at the time, Katzenberg said, animation became “my passion and love,” yielding “30-something years of incredible happiness and joy.”

“Not only has Jeffrey been a longtime collaborator and supporter of all of us here in Annecy, his track-record in animation is nothing short of legendary,” Jean said in a statement.

He added: “From reviving the industry with such critically acclaimed films like ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and ‘The Lion King,’ to launching DreamWorks Animation and giving us such memorable characters in films like ‘Shrek,’ ‘Madagascar,’ ‘Kung Fu Panda’ and ‘How to Train Your Dragon,’ there is no one more deserving of lifetime pass to our festival.”

The award comes less than two months after Comcast’s NBCUniversal confirmed its purchase of DreamWorks Animation, the company that Katzenberg launched in 1994 and that’s now often mentioned in the same breath as Disney or Pixar.

Under the Comcast purchase terms, Katzenberg will now segue from his position as head of DreamWorks Animation to head up a newly created division, DreamWorks New Media, made up of Awesomeness TV and Nova.

But it remains to be seen whether Katzenberg will ever sever completely his connections with the animation world.


- John Hopewell

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Animated family comedy Boss Baby assembles its voice cast

14 June 2016 7:00 PM, PDT | Flickeringmyth | See recent Flickeringmyth news »

DreamWorks Animation’s upcoming family comedy Boss Baby has assembled its voice cast, with The Hollywood Reporter revealing that Jimmy Kimmel, Lisa Kudrow, Patton Oswalt, Steve Buscemi and Miles Bakshi have all signed on for roles in the project alongside Alec Baldwin.

Boss Baby is being directed by Tom McGrath (Madagascar, Megamind) and is based upon Marla Frazee’s award-winning picture book, which “centers on a seven-year-old who decides he has to win back the love of his parents after the arrival of his brother, a bossy baby, who has uncanny ways of hogging the spotlight. In the process, the brothers discover a secret plot and must unite to save their parents and restore order to the world.”

“Tom and [producer Ramsey Ann Naito] have brought together a film that is not only hilarious and heartwarming, but is relatable for anyone who has ever been a parent, a baby, a sibling or a boss,” said DreamWorks Animation co-presidents of feature animation Bonnie Arnold and Mireille Soria. “We believe the best animated stories are the ones that are rooted in personal experience, and then set in an imaginative world that can only be created through the wonder and art of animation.”

Boss Baby is slated for release on March 10th, 2017.


- Gary Collinson

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Denis, Brizé, Gatlif, Panh head to first Paris Virtual Film Festival

14 June 2016 7:01 AM, PDT | ScreenDaily | See recent ScreenDaily news »

French film industry to explore Vr at first edition of public festival running June 17-18 at Paris’s Forum des Image.

Claire Denis, Stéphane Brizé, Tony Gatlif and Rithy Panh will be among filmmakers exploring virtual reality at the first edition of the Paris Virtual Film Festival.

They are set to participate in a Vr Lab aimed at cinema professionals taking place within the public festival running June 17-18 at the Forum Des Images.

Michel Reilhac, the former Arte Cinema chief-turned-transmedia and Vr pioneer, initiated and is co-curating the entire festival.

He says the idea for the lab was born »

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DreamWorks’ Kendal Cronkhite Unveils ‘Trolls’’ Art and Craft at Annecy

14 June 2016 4:29 AM, PDT | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

Annecy — Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrik stole the show at the Cannes Festival’s presentation of DreamWorks Animation’s musical comedy ‘Trolls,’ dueting its finale song “True Colors” in the Palais des Festivals, with Timberlake on acoustic guitar.

At the Annecy Animation Festival on June 14, the central stage belonged to DreamWorks’ trolls themselves, six-inch-high forest folk with pudgy faces and an obelisk of straight-up hair the color of tropical dyes.

In an 80-minute presentation, featuring a continuous 17 minutes of fully-lit final footage, Kendal Cronkhite, “Trolls’” production designer, talked at length about how through film’s interplay of theme and craft contributed towards embodying its directors’ vision. Made up of mostly young animators, many from French animation schools, the sometimes dazzling show of artistry played to an appreciative audience.

An original story directed by Mike Mitchell (“Shrek Forever After”) and Walt Dohrn,  a story artist on “Shrek 2” and “Madagascar,” “Trolls” turns on “finding one’s true self and true happiness, which is all inside,” Cronkhite commented at Annecy. The trolls themselves seem to have mastered that life art. Poppy (Anna Kendrick), “Trolls” heroine, has a slightly hippy air with her straight-up red hair topped off in a pony tail and a blue headband bedecked in green flowers. She scrapbooks, has sleepover parties, and wears a wrist watch which blossoms and lights up every half hour, reminding her to hug all her fellow trolls.

From the extended sequence shown at Annecy, it’s clear that those who could do with more happiness training, are the Bergens – monster urban human-scale trolls who, in a ‘70s retro touch, wear polyester, consume fast food and are pale, poor and miserable. They are only content one day a year, at Trollstice, when they feast on the mini troll folk. Doing so, they experience fleeting joy.

Also in need of a crash course in happiness is Branch (Justin Timberlake), who’s about as downbeat as mini-Trolls get, a near curmudgeonly loner who lives in a bunker, fearing imminent Bergen attack. When the Bergens capture her 12 best friends, Poppy sets out to rescue them. Plucked from “Trolls’” late second act, the 17-minute sequence at Annecy took in Poppy trying to persuade Branch to accompany her to Bergen Town. He refuses. On the way, Poppy sings an anthem, “Get Back Up Again,” as her environment, designed by Cronkhite, goes through 27  fantasy locations.

“Poppy” is a super-positive, happy loving personality,” Cronkhite said, though the near psychedelic environments she encounters on her way to Bergen Town really kick her butt, whether gummy sugar candy geysers or a knit macrame snake that chases her through the jungle of its body, or a hill creature whose mouth she falls into, or popping balloon eyeballs. But Poppy doesn’t lose one ounce of optimism. Branch, a Bergen expert, reluctantly catches up with her to take her into Bergen Town.

Cronkite also showcased the various stages of production. Using a sequence where Poppy sings Simon and Garfunkel classic “The Sounds of Silence” to Branch, Cronkhite broke down the film into a progression reel – a four-panel split-screen – of b/w storyboard drawings with soundtrack; lay-out of sets and characters’; animation, with the characters acting in the scene; and the final surface-light pass. All parts played simultaneously. The demonstration was a testament to the skill of the story artists whose tight work matched pretty closely the end result.

Designing the look of a film, the characters and environments, a production designer boards early on and works in tandem with the head of story, writers and directors and editors, Cronkhite said.

A DreamWorks veteran – she art designed “Antz,” DreamWorks Animation’s first CGI movie – Cronkhite’s challenge was to transfuse “Trolls” informing themes into the look of the movie. Her aim was to create “a very fuzzy, fibre-art inspired world” in CG, she explained.

Danish woodcutter Thomas Dam carved the first troll doll in 1959. The first part of “Trolls’” process was to take the character and break it down, according to Cronkhite. DreamWorks kept the trolls’ hair and the “stubby, fat, rounded fat language of the troll,” she added.

Cronkite had a “lightbulb moment,” she said, when she wondered  “if the whole Troll world could be wool. Because of their positive nature, diversity and their communal lifestyle, it made sense that their environment should reflect them,” she added.

“Since we were going with a fiber-felted world, we decided to do the same with the characters.”

For Cronkhite, the ‘70s was an important inspiration. “That’s when the doll became very popular. We decided that the trolls would be our hippies of the ‘70s. They live in nature. They macrame. They’re probably vegetarians.”

DreamWorks hired Portland-based Sayuri Sasaki Hemann, a fabric, fibre and encaustic paintings artist, to take early development drawings from the film’s stylist, Amelie Flechais, a French comic and children’s book illustrator, and build a fibre, six-feet model world.

The Trolls always have a song on their lips. Indeed, the comedy highlight of the 17-minute continuous footage shown at Annecy was Poppy singing “The Sounds of Silence” to Branch, backed up by a forest creature chorus. In one of the film’s latest talent announcements, Crondhike’s Annecy preview comes as DreamWorks Animation has officially confirmed that Christophe Beck (“Frozen,” “The Hangover”) will serve as “Trolls’” composer. Justin Timberlake is executive producing “Trolls’” entire soundtrack, and has written four original songs for the film, including “Can’t Stop the Feeling” which, released on May 6, has topped charts in the U.S. and U.K. As “Frozen” suggested, Beck is adept at working in such a structure.

“We are delighted to be working with Chris; he is masterfully unifying our patchwork tapestry of song cues from many eras and giving our film an emotional and harmonious sophistication,” said “Trolls’” producer Gina Shay.

From a screenplay by Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger, who co-penned “King Fu Panda 3,” “Trolls” is slated for a Nov. 4 release from Fox becoming Dwa’s second-half 2016 title, before DreamWorks’ “Boss Baby,” another Annecy sneak-peek, bows in the U.S. on March 10, 2017.


- John Hopewell

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Hollywood Helps Boost Annecy to Record Levels

13 June 2016 4:28 AM, PDT | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

Annecy — Energised by the largest Hollywood presence ever, the 2016 Annecy Intl. Animation Film Festival also looks set to the biggest ever, and a bellwether of the forces driving a now near global industry.

Six of the eight upcoming Hollywood studio animation releases for 2016 receive privileged play at Annecy, the Cannes of the animation industry, including one world premiere, a European premiere, a slew of never-seen sequences and a first-time Annecy presence from Warner Animation Group.

Of the big U.S. highlights, Universal’s Illumination Entertainment will world premiere “The Secret Life of Pets” at Annecy on June 16, three weeks before it U.S. July 8 general release.

DreamWorks Animation look set for its biggest roll-out ever at Annecy: a Guillermo del Toro Masterclass, focusing on his career, then a showrunner reel and about 10 minutes-plus of clips or scenes from “Trollhunters”; a sneak peek of Mike Mitchell’s animated comedy musical “Trolls,” presented by production designer Kendal Cronkhite (“Madagascar” film series), who will preview about 20 minutes of final footage; 15-20 minutes of never-before screened footage from Alec Baldwin comedy “Boss Baby,” unveiled by movie’s director Tom McGrath.

From Blue Sky Studios, longtime producer Lori Forte and co-director Michael Thurmeier team to present the new characters, palette and worlds of Fox’s “Ice Age: Collision Course,” via multiple never-seen sequences.

Directorial duo Ron Clements and John Musker (“Aladdin,” “The Princess and the Frog”) will be in Annecy to show new artwork and work-in-progress sequences from“Moana,” Walt Disney Animation Studio’s big late 2016 bow. Slated for a Nov. 23 U.S. release, the comedy adventure turns on a teen girl who sets out on the Polynesian high seas to prove herself a master way finder.

Co-director Andrew Stanton introduces the European premiere of Pixar’s “Finding Dory” which opened at Los Angeles Theater on June 8, Variety calling it “ravishing.” It has scored a Rotten Tomatoes 93% approval rate, though some reviewers thought it just a notch below “Finding Nemo.

Genndy Tartakovsky will be on hand to talk about his reboot for Cartoon Network of cult TV series “Samourai Jack”

Producer Brad Lewis will introduce the Warner Animation Group and its upcoming “Storks,” set for a Sept 23 release. “This is exciting for us because it’s the first time in quite some time that Warner Bros. has a real presence at Annecy and we plan to make a statement there.” said Chris deFaria, president, animation, digital production, VFX, Warner Bros. Pictures.

In other highlights, Aardman Animations will be presented with the Mifa/Variety Animation Personality of the Year Award. The 2016 Annecy Festival kicks off June 13 with a screening of Michael Dudok de Wit’s “The Red Turtle.”

Total accreditations were running on June 10 at 7,800, including Mifa, and expected to end up 10%-15% above 2015, said Patrick Eveno, at event organiser City of Moving Images (Citia). Registered attendance at Annecy’s Intl. Animated Film market (Mifa) was at 2,460 last Friday, 6% up on the same day in 2015, said Mifa head Mickael Marin. Final Mifa attendee numbers could be near to 2,800. Figures are 120% up on 2004, with Annecy posting significant increases in 2015 and 2016.

Explanations for this hiked influx cut several ways.

At 27 for 2012 but 20 for 2014, according to a report, “Mapping the Animation Industry in Europe,” the number of animated features being released in the U.S in recent years may not have grown. With Sony, then Universal and now Warner Bros. driving into animation in the last 10 years, however, the number of Hollywood studios making them most certainly has.

Animation is a huge global box office driver, and not just when it comes to animated features, another argument runs. Factoring in spectacle films that are 90%-plus SFX, the majority of the top 10 global box office is has an animation base. It makes sense that Hollywood studios beyond Disney-Pixar and DreamWorks would want to get more and more involved in this world.

Also, animation, of what is understood as animation, is broadening its technological and artistic options. One example: Google Spotlight Stories will showcase from June 13 a sneak-peek of Felix Massie’s “Rain and Shine,” the Tribeca-screened “Pearl,” from Patrick Osborne, and Aardman’s “Special Delivery,” from Tim Ruffle, all made-for-smartphones 3D Vr animated shorts, allowing viewers to explore stories unspooling in real time in an immersive 360-degree space. “Pearl” was made in five different formats simultaneously, Jan Pinkava, Google Spotlight Stories creative director, told Variety at Annecy.

April’s CinemaCon, which targets exhibitors, and San Diego’s Comic-Con, held in July, both feature animated movies. But Annecy is unique in focus and size. “Annecy is solely focused on animation of different types. It’s the world’s biggest animation festival, pretty unique in its size,” said Mireille Soria, DreamWorks Animation’s co-president, feature animation.

Also building attendance and attracting big players is Annecy-s track record. Illumination Ent. head Chris Meledandri world premiered “Despicable Me,” “Despicable Me 2” and “Minions” there. “Minions” went on to rank as the second highest-grossing animated feature in history.

Over the last few years, Walt Disney Animation Studios bowed shorts “Feast” and “Paperman” in the small French Alps town. Both went on to win an Oscar. Little wonder it’s back this year with new short film, “Inner Workings,” presented by producer Sean Lurie and its director, Leo Matsuda, a story artist on “Big Hero 6” and “Wreck-It Ralph.”

Annecy is a very good place to sneak peek a work-in-progress, said Bonnie Arnold, DreamWorks Animation’s co-president, feature animation.

“You’re really getting a worldwide audience this week, professionals, students, a rapt fanbase. It’s a good place to get good word-of-mouth started,” she added.

“Everybody’s in a good mood. It’s a very good place to work and introduce your company or film,” Marin concurred.

The U.S. presence, including some very-probable award season contenders, has had a knock-on effect.

“There are more and more companies, from more and more countries,” Eveno said.

If production numbers are swelling, it’s in smaller countries in Europe and in world cinema.

“It used to be near impossible to make a high-quality CGI feature for less than $100 million. Now it’s possible to make a beautiful CGI film for a fraction of the cost, at budgets that used to be reserved solely for 2D,” argued Dave Jesteadt at Gkids, the U.S. distributor of eight Oscar-nominated animated features.

For the first time, Canada will host a national pavilion at Annecy. Exhibition space sold has also increased to spill over onto an island on the lake adjoining Mifa’s Imperial Palace location.

“Annecy is now the annual gathering of an industry large enough to need one. “It’s the great meeting place for the animation world, and I literally mean world: The studios, the independents, feature films, experimental films , short films, it’s really representative of what’s going on in the world of animation,” said Arnold adding that the animation community rarely gets together in this kind of way.

In anticipated highlights from outside the U.S., of the deans of European animation, Didier Brunner will present a Work in Progress of “Big Bad Fox and Other Tales,” Benjamin Renner’s TV short series follow-up to “Ernest and Celestine.” Superprod will present classic reboot “White Fang,” Folimage will unveil a 15 short film series turning on France’s Chauvet-Pont d’Arc prehistoric caves, dazzling for their cave art.

Marking another sign of the explosive nature of the sector, 60-plus companies, and not just from the U.S will use Annecy to recruit new animators, Marin said.

Annecy bowed Monday cloudy with forecast of rain. Air and rail strikes may affect French industry access to Annecy, though the town is not much more than a five-hour car ride from Paris. Bused into the festival by its shuttle service from Switzerland’s Geneva, foreign guests should not be affected.

Whatever the weather, animators love Annecy. They’re treated like rock stars. Also, they enjoy its knowledgeable audiences who “have a sense of legacy in animation – the animation that’s come from  the past – how what they’re seeing dovetails and differs from what’s come before – how it’s taking animation someplace new,” said “Moana” director John Musker.

He added: “It’s an amazingly discerning audience it’s like “New York, New York” – if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.”


- John Hopewell

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Vr guru Eric Darnell to speak at Miff

12 May 2016 4:44 PM, PDT | | See recent news »

Eric Darnell's Invasion!


Virtual reality specialist Eric Darnell will give a special session on how to build immersive worlds at the Melbourne International Film Festival.

Darnell is one of Vr's emerging masters, best known as the writer/director of the Madagascar films (a series which has now grossed over $2.5 billion at the box office) and the director of Dreamworks' Antz..

Darnell is also the Chief Creative Officer at Baobab Studios (a company described as one of the "Disneys of early Vr"), with a 25-year career as a director, screenwriter, story artist and executive producer.

Peopled by a collection of ex-Pixar, Dreamworks and LucasArts employees, Baobab has already established itself, with the launch of its Ethan Hawke-starring Invasion!, as one of the formidable, singular talents working in the virtual reality space.

Darnell will talk about lessons learned from the fascinating new world of Vr, building immersive worlds, inspiring audiences »

- Staff Writer

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Jeffrey Katzenberg Tells Staff: DreamWorks Animation Has Found ‘Best Possible Home’

28 April 2016 4:13 PM, PDT | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg reassured staffers Thursday that the best days were ahead of the company behind “Shrek” and “Madagascar” following news that Comcast’s NBCUniversal has a deal in place to acquire the studio.

“The next chapter of our company’s historic journey begins today, and as I’ve said many times, there is no doubt that the best days for DreamWorks lie ahead,” Katzenberg told an all-hands meeting at the company’s Glendale, Calif., headquarters.

“This was not a deal that we needed to do, but it’s the deal I’d always hoped would come along,” he added. “Not only are we passing the baton to a company that understands and values our brand, but it’s also a place that will nurture and grow our businesses to their fullest potential.”

Comcast is shelling out $4.1 billion in cash and debt assumption to buy DreamWorks Animation, hoping »

- Brent Lang

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DreamWorks Animation Acquired by NBCUniversal in $3.8B Deal

28 April 2016 8:27 AM, PDT | LatinoReview | See recent LatinoReview news »

NBCUniversal, a division of Comcast Corporation, today announced the acquisition of DreamWorks Animation. One of the world's most admired family brands, DreamWorks Animation creates animated feature films, television series and specials, live entertainment and related consumer products. The studio will become part of the Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, which includes Universal Pictures, Fandango, and NBCUniversal Brand Development.

Steve Burke, CEO of NBCUniversal said

DreamWorks Animation is a great addition to NBCUniversal. Jeffrey Katzenberg and the DreamWorks organization have created a dynamic film brand and a deep library of intellectual property. DreamWorks will help us grow our film, television, theme parks and consumer products businesses for years to come. We have enjoyed extraordinary success over the last six years in animation with the emergence of Illumination Entertainment and its brilliant team at Illumination Mac Guff studio. The prospects for our future together are tremendous. We are fortunate to have Illumination founder »

- Kellvin Chavez

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Comcast said to be eyeing DreamWorks Animation

26 April 2016 10:48 PM, PDT | ScreenDaily | See recent ScreenDaily news »

A Universal spokesperson declined to comment on Tuesday evening following a report in the Wall Street Journal that parent company Comcast was lining up as the latest suitor to woo Jeffrey Katzenberg in a possible acquisition worth more than $3bn.

Katzenberg has sought a buyer for some years for his DreamWorks Animation stable, which created the Shrek, Madagascar, How To Train Your Dragon and Kung Fu Panda franchises.

However the studio is in the process of a restructure after laying off roughly one-fifth of its workforce in Janaury 2015 following a string of flops with Penguins Of Madagascar, Mr. Peabody & Sherman, Rise Of The Guardians, and Turbo.

Last month the mogul told the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference in San Francisco that he fantasised about a merger with Paramount Pictures.

Now the suitor of the month is Comcast, which according to the report values DreamWorks Animation considerably higher than its current market value of $2.3bn.

A deal would »

- (Jeremy Kay)

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How Tribeca 2016 Pushed Visual Storytelling Forward With ‘the bomb’ and More

25 April 2016 12:17 PM, PDT | The Film Stage | See recent The Film Stage news »

Once upon a time, André Bazin, in his satirical essay The Myth of Total Cinema, attempted to debunk cinematic gimmicks such as 3D, Magnascope and “Percepto” — tools of showmanship that, of course, have a tendency to be overused. Cut to the present: digital cinema has been widely adopted (a few 35mm hold-outs do exist, it should be noted), fueled first by 3D – the killer app, as David Bordwell cites in Pandora’s Digital Box. Continuing down this path, larger film festivals have embraced new forms of storytelling, including virtual reality, episodic content, and interactive media. In addition to Tribeca’s “Storyscapes,” the festival included a Vr arcade as well as its stunning closing night performance the bomb. What follows is our account of the experience, along with select highlights from the festival’s Vr arcade.

Directed by Smriti Keshari, Eric Sclosser, and Kevin Ford and staged by United Visual Artists, »

- John Fink

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Vr writ large over Cannes Marché Next programme

20 April 2016 1:05 AM, PDT | ScreenDaily | See recent ScreenDaily news »

Exclusive: Organisers behind the Cannes Marché’s third Next event set to run from May 12-18 have lined up an expanded future of cinema showcase that places heavy emphasis on the fast-rising world of virtual reality.

For the first time Next events will take place at the entrance of the Village International on the Pantiero side – the site previously occupied by Canal+ – and will feature installations, interactive films, screenings, conferences and workshops on subjects such as big data, theatres of the future, and VOD opportunities.

The Next schedule will include 15 innovative companies that will conduct business at the Next Pavilion. Creative Wallonia and the Canadian Film Center will have their own corner. The full Next programme will be announced shortly.

Vr Days programme

The centerpiece is the Vr Days programme, a rich roster featuring work from the world’s leading exponents that takes place over May 15 and 16 and stems from a clamour by content creators to focus »

- (Jeremy Kay)

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Second Opinion – Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016)

15 March 2016 12:00 PM, PDT | Flickeringmyth | See recent Flickeringmyth news »

Kung Fu Panda 3, 2016.

Directed by Jennifer Yuh & Alessandro Carloni.

Starring Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Bryan Cranston, J.K. Simmons, Kate Hudson, James Hong, Randall Duk Kim, Seth Rogen, David Cross, Lucy Liu and Jackie Chan.


Third instalment of the animated series, in which Po, the titular panda, finally meets his real father, and also has to do battle with Kai, a supernatural villain who drains the chi from every Kung Fu Master he encounters.

The quality of Dreamworks’ animated films has always varied greatly – from poor (Shark Tale) to great (Shrek, How to Train Your Dragon) with a whole lot of mediocre in between (Bee Movie, Rise of the Guardians, Over the Hedge). Their track record with sequels has been likewise uneven – although they were financially successful, each Shrek was weaker than the last, and I’d personally rather watch the new Ghostbusters trailer on an endless »

- Amie Cranswick

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'Sausage Party' trailer: Will Oscars go R-rated for Seth Rogen animated film?

15 March 2016 9:45 AM, PDT | Gold Derby | See recent Gold Derby news »

The "Sausage Party" trailer begins like any other whimsical animated film, like "Toy Story" and "Cars" but with anthropomorphized food items. But we quickly realize that not all is as it seems when the characters become painfully aware of the fate that awaits them in the kitchen. This foul-mouthed animated is co-written and produced by Seth Rogen, who also voices a rebellious hot dog. -Break- Subscribe to Gold Derby Breaking News Alerts & Experts’ Latest Emmy Predictions The Oscars showed last year that they're open to R-rated animation when they nominated Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson's stop-motion film "Anomalisa," but no R-rated toon has ever won the award. Could "Sausage Party" be the first? It's directed by Greg Tiernan (best known for "Thomas the Tank Engine" films) and Conrad Vernon ("Shrek 2," "Madagascar 3"), neither of whom has been feted by the academy...' »

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Oscars 2016: Why Chris Rock Should Host This Show Every Damn Year

29 February 2016 7:21 AM, PST | | See recent Rolling Stone news »

It's official: Chris Rock needs to host the Oscars every year. The whole idea of other hosts has been tried, and it has failed, from the soul-withering void that was James Franco to the locust plague they call Seth MacFarlane. Why would you ever not call Rock for this gig? Ellen DeGeneres and Steve Martin are always welcome, but Rock is just the undisputed king of award-show hosts, and despite all the other things he can do, lampooning a roomful of bloated Hollywood egos is what he does best. He »

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Oscars 2016: 'Spotlight,' 'The Revenant,' 'Mad Max' Win Big

28 February 2016 10:15 PM, PST | | See recent Rolling Stone news »

Epic storytelling and grand cinematic visions won big during a surprisingly edgy, entertaining and often political Academy Awards ceremony Sunday night. The producers of the investigative-journalism biopic Spotlight took home the Oscar for Best Picture, while director Alejandro G. Iñárritu and actor Leonard DiCaprio earned honors for their contributions to The Revenant. Additionally, Mad Max: Fury Road swept a number of technical categories.

The evening's biggest winner, however, was host Chris Rock who walked onstage to Public Enemy's "Fight the Power" and didn't stop challenging the lack of diversity among »

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The Best and Worst of Ben Stiller, A to Z

13 February 2016 7:52 AM, PST | | See recent Rolling Stone news »

Ben Stiller's professional onscreen career is officially turning 30 this year — that's roughly 412 in comedian years. In a business where funny people tend to quickly exhaust their limited charm and sink from telling jokes to becoming a punchline, the restless and versatile Stiller has managed to sustain one of the most consistent comic careers this side of Bob Hope. From his days as a bit player to his later emergence as a force of nature in front of the camera and behind the scenes (you have his production company Red »

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‘Star Wars,’ ‘Hateful Eight,’ ‘Game of Thrones,’ ‘Walking Dead’ Score Cinema Audio Society Nominations

12 January 2016 7:00 AM, PST | Variety - TV News | See recent Variety - TV News news »

After being passed over by every guild and industry group so far this season, “The Hateful Eight” finally caught a break Tuesday with a nomination from the Cinema Audio Society, celebrating excellence in sound mixing. The film joined “Bridge of Spies,” “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “The Revenant” in the live action motion picture category, all three of which have performed well with organizations like the Art Directors Guild, the American Society of Cinematographers and the Producers Guild of America in recent weeks.

The fifth spot went to “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” an on-again, off-again player on the circuit this season with mentions from the American Cinema Editors and the art directors and costume designers guilds. That left Ridley Scott’s “The Martian” as the surprise exclusion for a group that, it should be noted, has a slightly different makeup than the Academy’s sound branch, featuring a wider »

- Kristopher Tapley

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‘Star Wars,’ ‘Hateful Eight,’ ‘Game of Thrones,’ ‘Walking Dead’ Score Cinema Audio Society Nominations

12 January 2016 7:00 AM, PST | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

After being passed over by every guild and industry group so far this season, “The Hateful Eight” finally caught a break Tuesday with a nomination from the Cinema Audio Society, celebrating excellence in sound mixing. The film joined “Bridge of Spies,” “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “The Revenant” in the live action motion picture category, all three of which have performed well with organizations like the Art Directors Guild, the American Society of Cinematographers and the Producers Guild of America in recent weeks.

The fifth spot went to “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” an on-again, off-again player on the circuit this season with mentions from the American Cinema Editors and the art directors and costume designers guilds. That left Ridley Scott’s “The Martian” as the surprise exclusion for a group that, it should be noted, has a slightly different makeup than the Academy’s sound branch, featuring a wider »

- Kristopher Tapley

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