Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Fruits VS Bugs - Agent Pineapple Steals (3D animation)

Here's a new bit from the world of Fruits VS Bugs. Agent Paul Pineapple and Agent Carl Coconut teach you about stealing. =^)

Special thanks to our logo animator, James from HowardCarterOfficial.
Go sub him here:

If you're new to Fruits VS Bugs, you can catch up:

Fruits VS Bugs Episode 1:

Fruits VS Bugs Episode 2:

Agents Always Win:

Extra Fruity:

Writer/Director/Animator - Ed 'word' Price
Animators - Chris Chin, Aric Norine, Scott Warren
Intro Animation - James from HowardCarterOfficial:

Agent Paul Pineapple - Ken Boynton
Agent Carl Coconut - Wes Mitchell
Agent Brett Banana - Mike Madeoy

Software: 3DS Max and Photoshop

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Movie Review - How to Train Your Dragon

by Alex Popp

In "How to Train your Dragon," a teenager from an island in viking times is dying to be a dragon killer like the other island residents. But he shoots down an attacking dragon known as the Night Fury that everyone hardly knows anything about. But as he sets out to kill the dragon he shot and impress his father, he gets a change in heart, but is still forced to be trained to kill dragons. In his spare time he tames the black dragon and learns to ride it.

This animated film really doesn't deserve the ratings its been getting on the internet. Although there are parts that are cute and funny, it's still a bit hard to enjoy as it's painfully predictable. Although there isn't anything particularly wrong with it, the plot is basically where "The Little Mermaid" meets "Ratatouille" in the viking world.

Rated PG for sequences of intense action that may scare young kids.

Two stars (out of four) for "How to Train your Dragon."

Review by Alex Popp for The Animation Empire blog.


I have to watch the film in order to counter this review. But from what I've heard, a lot of people like it (and it did very well in theaters, having "legs" where it kept going where other films would lose steam). I think the reason is because it's simply fun and enjoyable, although I should see for myself.

This film is also notable because the director Chris Sanders, is a Disney animation veteran in the 90s, and he wrote and directed Lilo & Stitch (playing the voice of Stitch). He followed it up with American Dog (renamed to Bolt), but Lassetter cut up the movie so much (Lassetter called it too quirky for its own good) that Chris bolted from Disney.

Chris Sanders then went to DreamWorks, and this was his first film (I think he actually started working on a caveman film, Crood, but he switched over to this one as soon as they got the rights to the book and were probably looking internally for the right director. The other film, Crood, will probably be out next year. I think Chris just pressed pause on that one and is finishing it up now.

In a year of Shrek 4, Toy Story 3, How to Train Your Dragon, Megamind, Despicable Me, Legend of the Guardians (Owls), and Tangled, I think it's anyone's game for the Academy Award. The Academy doesn't really like sequels, and I see Megamind as too much of a sellout and not endearing enough (and it didn't fair nearly as well as the similar but better Despicable Me), which means it's down to How to Train Your Dragon, Despicable Me, Legend of the Guardians, and Tangled. Guardians has the fact that Happy Feet (from the same studio) won the award previously, but it wasn't nearly as successful as Happy Feet. Likewise, Tangled was a step in the right direction for Disney, but the lack of character development (other than Rapunzel) and the lack of Disney magic and spectacular songs/numbers, means it might not win. So my money is on either How to Train Your Dragon or Despicable Me. I can't decide right now. We'll see.

- The Emperor

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Movie Review - The Polar Express

by Alex Popp

Don't miss the holiday film of the season, "The Polar Express," directed by Robert Zemeckis.

Tom Hanks voices five characters in this brilliantly animated movie, based on the book by Chris Van Allsburg. I always loved trains when I was a little kid and I got the book when I was 6. You can bet I was really excited to see the movie in theaters.

An pre-teenager who is losing belief in Santa Claus gets a ticket to ride on the magical steam train, The Polar Express. The boy steps on to the train on its way to the North Pole and meets up with several other non-believers. On the way, the boy goes through a lot of intense action, riding up and down roller coaster-like mountains, sliding over the ice cap and getting off the top of the train before it hits a low-clearance tunnel.

I saw it when I was 10 and I am still very impressed with this piece of art. They stuck very well with the book (beside the things they added in to make it a movie). The animation is incredible, even better than the animation of other movies like the Pixar films. The sound is so well designed and the action is so supenseful, it is impossible not to enjoy the movie, even if you aren't still a believer in fantasy. Though the movie isn't in theaters anymore, the 3D effects are almost overwhelming, too. I loved the movie so much, I saw it two more times in theaters.

Rated G, but probably should be PG for sequences of intense action.

Four stars (out of four) for the dazzling Holiday flick, "The Polar Express."

Review by Alex Popp for The Animation Empire blog.


Whenever I read "Don't miss the holiday film of the season" I can't help but think "the 2004 holiday season," because just "season" isn't accurate enough for me. It sounds recent. =^)

- The Emperor

Monday, December 20, 2010

Weakly EDitorial: Cartoons about real people

12/20/10 Update: Added ProStars and The Beatles, and we updated some images. Originally posted 7/18/10.

I was talking to my uncle about all those cartoons that have been about actual celebrities. It made us wonder who voiced themselves and who didn't. That brings us to the latest Weakly EDitorial.

A lot of the celebs voiced their cartoon selves. Here are a few...

3 Stooges:

Gary Coleman Show:

New Kids on the Block (they started voicing themselves and later stopped):

MC Hammer:

Chuck Norris:

Mr. T (lasted 3 years, which is quite impressive):

And the ones who didn't voice themselves...

ProStars (Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, and Bo Jackson fought evil for about a month and a half):

The Beatles (lasted two years from 1965-1967; the producer and director of this series also did the very-different Yellow Submarine animated Beatles film):

Jackson 5ive:

Hulk Hogan's Rock N Wrestling (Hulk was played by Raymond's brother):

Harlem Globetrotters:

Super Globetrotters (they brought it back for more):

Jackie Chan Adventures (Jackie did the live action bits, but not the voice; lasted 5 years, which is probably the most successful):

And honorary mentions go to Bill Cosby's Fat Albert and Little Bill, characters loosely based on himself and his stand-up comedy.

Maybe we'll add more to this later. Leave a comment if you can think of any more. Thanks!



Movie Review - The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

by Alex Popp

Return to magic.  Return to hope.  Return to Narnia.

Your wait has ended.  Based on the novel by C.S. Lewis finally comes "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader," the third installment of the Chronicles of Narnia, which are now being directed by Michael Apted, who previously directed "The World is not Enough" and "Amazing Grace."

Lucy and Edmund return to Narnia with their snobby cousin Eustace (brilliantly played by Will Poulter) and climb aboard the Dawn Treader where they are reunited with King Caspian to find seven lost Narnian lords.  They sail quickly over the Eastern Ocean toward the end of the world.  Along the way, they are given the task of breaking the spell of the green mist and the Dark Island, the island where dreams come true.

If you loved the first two movies, as I did, this one will blow you away, particularly if you see it in 3D.

This is without a doubt the funniest of the three, and like the first two, the special effects are so well done.  In addition, it has majestic 3D aspects, that seem to give your more than your money's worth, and the art direction of the ship are deserving of an Oscar nomination.  There aren't as many fight scenes as its predecessor, "Prince Caspian," but still with some very entertaining action sequences, especially the battle with the Sea Serpent. 

It is a bit different from the book, but it's difficult to mind, though my family are fans the novels.  There is a new subplot involving the Narnian lords' swords, but no movie is ever the exact same as the book.  You must understand, I am very visual and I love great cinematic experiences.  Normally, I would say that a movie is better than its book, though most seem to diagree.  With the Narnia series, I don't bother comparing.  The books and the movies are both great in different ways and I love them both.

So are there still the Biblical messages that were in the book?  Even more.  Lucy, Edmund and Eustace all learn morals about self-worth, loyalty and living by faith and not by sight.  None of these were in the book.  The final scene when Aslan appears is even tear-jerking and you really feel for the characters.  In my opinion, the movie stirs more emotion than the novel.  I was glad that my dad wasn't too disappointed; The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is his favorite book of the series.  He was pleasantly surprised that they did include the most important line in the series: Aslan's words, "In your world, I have another name."  If the movie was a bit more like the book, I bet even C.S. Lewis would have loved it.

Rated PG for sequences of fantasy violence and some fairly scary images, but didn't scare my ten-year-old sister too much.

Four stars (out of four) for the entertaining and deeply touching "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader."  It makes the first two movies look like "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King."

Review by Alex Popp for The Animation Empire blog.


I'm confused by that last sentence. I thought Return of the King was the best of the LOTR films. =^)


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Movie Review - The Nativity Story

by Alex Popp

Here's a Christmas movie that we should review!

Her child would change the world.

"The Nativity Story" is the lousy version of the story of Mary and Joseph's journey to Bethlehem to give birth to Jesus Christ, directed by Catherine Hardwicke.

Why do I call it lousy?  Some may find this just a reminder of what Jesus did for us, but there is a lot of inaccuracy that draws your mind away from the story.  For example, the Bible says that a multitude of the Heavenly Hosts filled the sky, praising God.  How does a multitude translate as one?  I also wish they had put it in Hebrew and the other languages that were used at the time and location of this historical event, like "The Passion of the Christ."

I'll leave the inaccuracy for a minute to another thing that offended me.  You may think I'm dumb for cringing at this, but Jesus was shown naked.  Sure he was only a baby, but still he's our Savior and I find it disrespectful.

But the thing that disappointed me the most about the movie was that there was trouble getting to Bethlehem because Joseph and Mary didn't want to marry each other.  Does anyone remember this incident in the Bible?  Didn't think so.  God's Word says specifically that they were, in fact, engaged.

They really could have done a great deal better if they had stayed with the Bible.

Rated PG for some brief scenes of violence.

Two stars out of four for "The Nativity Story."

Review by Alex Popp.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Phineas and Ferb interview Jack Black and Andy Samberg

From Wikipedia...

Take Two with Phineas and Ferb is an upcoming spin-off to Phineas and Ferb, premiering December 3, 2010.
Episode list:

December 3, 2010 - Phineas and Ferb interview Jack Black.

December 10, 2010 - Phineas and Ferb interview Andy Samberg.

Known guests:
  • Seth Rogen
  • Tony Hawk
  • Taylor Swift
  • Regis Philbin
  • Neil Patrick Harris
  • Emma Roberts
  • Randy Jackson
  • Cedric the Entertainer


Friday, December 03, 2010

New Disney Junior block of kids shows

Disney Channels Worldwide prexy Carolina Lightcap mapped out the rollout of young kids brand Disney Junior, which replaces the "Playhouse Disney" block on Disney Channel in early 2011, and takes over SoapNet's channel in 2012.

In the hopes of broadening the channel's aud slightly, Lightcap said Disney Junior would target kids 2-7, as opposed to 2-5. Lightcap said playing down the preschool age range makes it easier for 6- and 7-year-olds, many of whom still aren't ready for older fare, to tune in.

Among programs to join Disney Junior: "Jake and the Neverland Pirates," which uses Captain Hook in 2011; and then "Doc McStuffins" and "Little Princess" in 2012. Disney Junior will give "Minnie Mouse" her own show, in which she runs a hotel with Daisy Duck.

"It's 'Laverne and Shirley' meets 'Fawlty Towers,'" Marsh quipped.



To recap, Disney Jr. is both a block to replace Playhouse Disney (adds older shows for 5-7 year olds and competes more with Dora and other Nick toons), and it is also a dedicated cable channel that will replace Disney's SoapNet. I'd rather see Disney focus on family fair anyway (SoapNet was more of an offspring of ABC than Disney).

Here's the Disney Jr. teaser page:


Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Disney XD to unleash Marvel cartoons

(This Incredibles/Captain America image is just a fan image.)

Disney XD ordered the live-action comedy "Wasabi Warriors," about a ragtag group of kids at the worst martial arts studio in the country. Starring Jason Earles ("Hannah Montana") and Leo Howard, show comes from exec producers Jim O'Doherty ("Grounded for Life") and Marc Warren. Among other series in the works for Disney XD is the stylish, futuristic toon "Motorcity."

And Marsh touted Disney XD as one of the biggest beneficiaries of Disney's Marvel acquisition. "Ultimate Spider-Man" joins the tween boy cabler in spring 2012, when the channel will also launch a Marvel-branded programming block.



Monday, November 29, 2010

New Tron cartoon on Disney XD

Disney XD orders 'Tron: Legacy' toon

Tron Legacy:

Disney is spinning its upcoming "Tron: Legacy" feature into an animated TV series.
Boy-centric cabler Disney XD has given a series order to "Tron: Uprising," which is set for a summer 2012 bow.

Charlie Bean ("Samurai Jack") will exec produce and direct, while "Tron: Legacy" writers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz will serve as consulting producers. "Tron: Legacy" co-producer Justin Springer is also on board.

"Tron: Uprising's" voice cast includes Elijah Wood, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Mandy Moore, Paul Reubens, Nate Corddry and Lance Henriksen. Bruce Boxleitner will reprise his role as Tron.

Disney XD had already picked up a 10-part "Tron" microseries, which airs next fall.

Disney TV Animation is behind the show. Disney Channels Worldwide entertainment prexy Gary Marsh called the new show "a culmination of an extraordinary collaboration between Disney Television Animation and our feature film studio."

"Tron: Uprising" will focus on Beck (voiced by Wood), who leads a revolution inside the Grid's computer world.



Saturday, November 20, 2010

Tangled: "Mother Gothel" - Movie Clip

Mother Gothel looks like she'll be a fun villain with a small spin on the Evil Queen from Snow White. But it's hard to beat the evil Fairy Godmother from Shrek 2. Tangled definitely has a lot of comparisons going against it right from the start. Hopefully it will shine through.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Tangled: "Reluctant Alliance" - Movie Clip

So Flynn, Rapunzel, the horse, Maximus, and the chameleon, Pascal, form a reluctant alliance.

Looks like fun!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tangled: "Snuggly Duckling" - Movie Clip

The Snuggly Duckling feels a lot like the "Bad Apple" bar in Shrek 2, but not as cool. It's got to be hard to make a fairy tale and not get comparisons to Shrek.

I can't wait for Tangled! It looks so good!


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Movie Review - The Blind Side

by Alex Popp

Based on the extraordinary true story of Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy, who take in a homeless teenage African-American in "The Blind Side."

The teenager has no idea who his father is, and his mother is a crack head. Michael has had little formal education and few skills to help him learn. Leigh Anne, played by Sandra Bullock, soon takes charge, however, as is her nature, ensuring that the young man has every opportunity to succeed. When he expresses an interest in football, she goes all out to help him, including giving the coach a few ideas on how best to use Michael's skills. They not only provide him with a loving home, but they hire a tutor to help him improve his grades to the point where he would qualify for an NCAA Division I athletic scholarship. Michael Oher was the first-round pick of the Baltimore Ravens in the 2009 NFL draft.

At first, this looked like just another sports movie, but it was far more than that. In fact, the sports are focused on little enough that you can't exactly class this as a sports movie. Rather it's a movie about family and unconditional love, just as touching and sigh-worthy as "The Last Song."

I was not surprised at all that Sandra Bullock won the Academy Award for Best Actress this year. She made a phenomenal performance. When my dad and I saw this in the theater, we both agreed that she deserved to win Best Actress. He and I also agreed that it was one of the best films of 2009. I think the only one he liked better from that year was "Knowing." I was mostly glad that I picked to see a movie that he enjoyed; it rarely ever happens.

Rated PG-13 for some racial issues and a crude reference to the male anatomy that was necessary, but it could have been rephrased.

Three and a half stars (out of four) for "The Blind Side," and the only way you couldn't like it is if you were blind.

Review by Alex Popp for The Animation Empire blog.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

"Winnie the Pooh" Official Trailer - is it enough?

Send Winnie the Pooh back to his roots. I get it. But in 2D? His TV show is in 3D. Is this enough? Sure it worked 40 years ago, but is this really enough by today's standards? I think 2D animated films in general can work if the story is right, but the last times where I saw that work were Mulan and Tarzan, over a decade ago (with "Lilo & Stitch" and "Princess and the Frog" to smaller extents). It's a big risk, and I just don't think this is enough. Sure they are throwing in some 3D effects (like the honey and the pot), but is that enough to get today's audience into the theater?

My recommendation (after this does okay but not great in the box office) would be to try again, but do it all in 3D and try to capture the look and feel of how the characters would look in a semi-realistic version of their world. Rather than make them rubbery like the TV show, give them real lighting and texture, with real fur, colors, and lighting/shadows (in realistic environments). And then throw in effects like the transformation from plush to real characters and you could really begin to take it some places visually (and not just relying on the great story, although that is also essential). I think that's the only way to make a hit Winnie the Pooh animated film.

A similar alternative is to go toward "Alvin and the Chipmunks" by shooting the woods and Christopher Robin in live action but to do all the animals in CG (also done successfully with Scooby Doo and now with Smurfs, but Garfield should be a lesson on how not to do it).

Personally, I would prefer the first option, which would be the more Pixar-like approach to it.

Feel free to drop thoughts if you have them.

- The Emperor

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Movie Review - Avatar

by Alex Popp

Enter the World.

Sam Worthington plays a former marine in the incredible flick "Avatar," directed by James Cameron, who previously directed "Titanic." And it took over "Titanic"'s place as the most popular motion picture of all time.

A lame man, "a member of the Jarhead clan," goes on an expedition to the sacred planet of Pandora in a program designed to help him get his legs back. He steps into the body that resembles that of an inhabitant of the planet, with blue skin and standing eleven feet high. As he explores the new world, he gets acquainted with Neytiri, a member of the Na'vi, and he eventually learns to call the planet home.

It was no wonder everyone was talking about it. This film is 60% dazzling CGI, unlike anything I have ever seen on screen before. The moviemakers spent 15 years and $280 million putting this movie together, not just the visuals, but also the art direction, sound, and the beautiful score composed by James Horner. I also don't think anyone liked the plot more than me. Everyone's been saying that the plot is nothing new. We've seen it in "Dances with Wolves," "Pocahontas," etc., but, although I don't think many others would agree, I considered the plot this time to be used in a different way. Of course someone might transfer to a different part of the world, but another world altogether? That's scary stuff to me. And I saw a lot of spiritual content, including the Na'vis philosphy that every member of the Na'vi are born twice, and the second time they're part of the people. Does that sound familiar?

This was one I wanted to give four stars to, however it does have an environmental theme. In fact, Ey'wa, the deity of the Na'vi people, is meant to be a mixed-up pronounciation of Yahweh. But although some might say that this movie is just flat out against Christianity, some of the spirituality that doesn't involve their goddess was interesting to me.

Rated PG-13 for intense battle sequences, sensuality, and unneccesary language.

Three and a half stars (out of four) for the stunning cinematic experience, "Avatar."

Review by Alex Popp for The Animation Empire blog.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Movie Review - Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel

by Alex Popp

The chipmunks, voiced by Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler, and Jesse McCartney, are back in "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel."

When Alvin, Simon, and Theodore go back to school, they are given the task of saving their school's music program that is in jeopardy when Ian, the boys' evil ex-manager, introduces "The Chipettes," a gain of female chipmunks who Alvin, Simon and Theodore fall for. Now the battle of the bands is on.

I have a short review here, but I encourage you to choose a different movie. Like in the first "Alvin," the chipmunks are cute with their sped-up voices, but the plot is just a bit dumb and flat.

Rated PG for some mildly suggestive humor.

Two stars (out of four) for "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel."

Review by Alex Popp for The Animation Empire blog.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Movie Review - Extraordinary Measures

by Alex Popp

Don't hope for a miracle. Make one.

"Extraordinary Measures" tells the true story of John Crowley, portrayed by Brendan Fraser, who went against all odds to find a cure for Pompe Disease that his children had. John contacts Dr. Robert Stonehill, played by Harrison Ford from the "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones" sagas, on an enzyme treatment. He has little money to pursue his research and a thorny personality that drives away colleagues and funders. John and his wife Aileen, played by Keri Russell from "Bedtime Stories," raise money to get Stonehill going, and then John takes on the task full time, working with venture capitalists and then a rival team of researchers.

The trailers and tagline made it look like a moving flick, but to tell you the truth, I turned off the TV dry-eyed. It was a lot more foul than it needed to be, and I almost would have made it PG-13 rather than PG. It was more interesting than moving. (SPOILER WARNING!) These were actual events about how two men together found a cure for a deadly disease.

Rated PG for the fairly mature theme, plenty of language, a crude reference to the male anatomy, and a mild sex moment.

Two and a half stars (out of four) for "Extraordinary Measures," which goes to the average measure of movie quality.

Review by Alex Popp for The Animation Empire blog.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Movie Review - Alice in Wonderland (2010)

by Alex Popp

Fantastic fun for the whole family.

Not really.

In "Alice in Wonderland," directed by Tim Burton, now 19-year-old Alice is welcomed back to the fantastical land that she went through 13 years earlier. There she meets up with the Mad Hatter, played by Johnny Depp, and encounters random creatures and objects including a floating, ghostly cat and a smoking caterpillar. Alice realizes that she is there to conquer the horrific Jabberwocky and restore the rightful queen to her throne.

How this film made over $1 billion, I will never know. Maybe everyone just wanted to see another performance by Johnny Depp. He isn't a bad actor at all, but his role as the Mad Hatter doesn't come close to the charming wittiness of Jack Sparrow.

I felt like I was on speed or something watching this movie. I guess it's supposed to be kind of a sequel to the hand-drawn version from the fifties and I actually remember being seven and liking it. But this one was just plain weird. The effects are pleasant to the eye, though nothing like "Avatar." I'll tell you when we saw trailers for it, my brother said it looked to him like a children's horror flick.

Rated PG for intense violence and perilous situations, far out of anything that young kids could view. But it was also PG for something that no other movie has been before: a smoking caterpillar. Yes, it literally says that in the MPAA rating! I guess they had to tell you some way that it isn't a human smoking.

Two stars (out of four) for the weird and vaguely unsatisfying, "Alice in Wonderland."

Review by Alex Popp for The Animation Empire blog.


Emperor's thoughts... I think there was a little more to it. I really enjoyed Anne Hathaway as the White Queen. Johnny Depp's performance was great, but it did seem similar to his Willie Wonka.

And the movie had a fun story with good action and effects. I could tell, though, that Burton was having a lot of fun with creepy things like having Alice jump onto floating decapitated heads.

Overall, I have to agree that it was a tad too creepy for Disney. Was it strange and seem like a bad trip? Sure, a little, but then again, so do the books. Disney originally painted the weirdness with a fun and light perspective. But Burton views the weirdness with a haunting and violent perspective.

- The Emperor

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Movie Review - To Save a Life

by Alex Popp

Some people are just dying to be heard.

The most popular kid in High School feels like he's got the whole world at his feet until a childhood friend commits suicide in "To Save a Life."

The teenager had everything. He had a beautiful girlfriend, he was the champion in basketball and beer pong, and everyone loved him, but now after the death of his friend, he is forced to ask himself "Could I have saved him?" As he sets out to find out how he can stop others from doing the same, he gets acquainted with a local church and begins to have a change of heart, and it all leads to very surprising results.

This is definitely the kind of movie that should not have famous actors, and most of them are unknown except for Sean Michael Afable from "Akeelah and the Bee."

I was there when the whole youth group saw it back in February. The great thing was that I hardly knew anything about the movie until I saw it, and I was completely blown away. In fact, it's part of the reason I went to Reaching: Seattle. This film is so influential; it gets you waking up to the fact that there are some people who are literally dying to be heard.

By the way, if you search this title on the Internet Movie Database, you'll see all the data under "Fun Stuff," such as trivia, goofs, movie connections and quotes, which are, believe it or not, all posted by me.

Rated PG-13 for mature themes involving suicide, drugs, sex, partying and other bad teen habits, but should be seen by all teenagers. The rating is necessary, though it never gets anywhere near as bad as R-rated comedies. Focus on the Family even made a remark in their review that suicide, alcohol, sex, teen pregnancy, divorce, drugs, cutting, and hypocrisy aren't usually things they would list under positive elements. In this extraordinary flick, all this sin is dealt with in a Christian way.

Four stars (out of four) for the extraordinary and influential "To Save a Life," bound to be the best of 2010. I doubt even "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" is going to beat it.

Review by Alex Popp for The Animation Empire blog.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Movie Review - The Last Song

by Alex Popp

Do you ever really forget your first heartbreak?

Miley Cyrus plays a seventeen-year-old girl who is sent to a Southern beach town for the summer to stay with her father, whom she hasn't really forgiven for divorcing her mom in "The Last Song" from Nicholas Sparks, the author of "The Notebook."

There she meets a handsome young man and they fall in love with each other. And being in a good mood, she is helped to reconnect with her father.

First of all, this movie is incredibly touching. I have never cried in the theater before since "Eight Below" from four years ago. I will say for the record, you can't exactly class this as a chick flick.

Also, you may be hearing rumors going around that Miley Cyrus can't act. That is incorrect. She made an excellent performance. As a matter of fact, her whole personality in the film reminded me of my sister. And that's what I like to see, as you may have guessed. I'm sorry to break it to you, Matthew, but Miley Cyrus can act. I mean it, she made like third or fourth best performance I've seen by an actress in a lead role (I haven't seen any Meryl Streep movies). And there were other great performances by Greg Kinnear as the girl's dad and particularly Bobby Coleman as her younger brother. If anyone in the movie is deserving of an Oscar nominee, it's him. I probably wouldn't have enjoyed the movie half as much if it didn't have the girl's brother. He was played brilliantly.

I am a guy and I liked this film a lot. However, the thing that made me not love it was that there was a lot of kissing going on between the girl and her boyfriend when they had just started dating. I remember my mom leaning over to me in the theater and she whispered "I probably won't like this movie." But later it just turns around and she agreed.

Rated PG for this sensuality, mild language and some violence. I'd say it's okay for audiences over the age of 10. What surprised me was that they aimed the movie toward teenagers, male and female. Usually doing that, they would brought the negative content to more extreme measures, but not in this case.

Three and a half stars for the incredibly moving tear jerker, "The Last Song." It's one of the best films of the year.

Review by Alex Popp for The Animation Empire blog.

Friday, October 22, 2010

THOR 2011

Can't wait to see Thor!

Disney owns Thor now! =^)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Movie Review - Hubble 3D

by Alex Popp

The Imax sparkles in the new documentary, "Hubble 3D."

This astounding 45-minute film, narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio, tells the true story the effort of seven astronauts aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis to repair the Hubble Space Telescope and to take pictures of the outside universe. Meanwhile, we see examples of other galaxies and stars billions of miles from earth.

And of course, the narrator asked, "How could all this have possibly gotten here?" We Christians have the answer: it's just more evidence that there must be a Creator. The 3D effects are neat, but never overwhelming.

Three and a half stars for the dazzling Imax movie, "Hubble 3D," playing now at the Pacific Science Center.

Review by Alex Popp for The Animation Empire blog.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Movie Review - Prince of Persia: Sands of Time

by Alex Popp

Defy the future.

Jake Gyllenhaal plays a rogue prince who has a problem to settle with his uncle in the mystical lands of Persia in "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time," based on the very popular video game.

He and a mysterious princess race against dark forces to safeguard an ancient dagger capable of releasing the Sands of Time -- a gift from the gods that can reverse time and allow its possessor to rule the world. The two of them embark on a perilous quest to stop an evil mastermind's plot for ultimate power with the mystical weapon.

This was one I did not expect my mom to love. There is a ton of action including parquor and a storyline partially based on belief in multiple gods. If you're easily offended by that kind of thing, than maybe you should pick a different movie. But I kinda liked "Prince of Persia." The action scenes are fun and the sub plot of the prince and the princess was original, although the main plot may remind you of "The Lion King." The art direction, visual effects and costume design are neat though, making up for any unoriginality.

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence throughout.

Three stars (out of four) for "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time."

Review by Alex Popp for The Animation Empire blog.


Click here to see why it wasn't as big of a hit as it should have been:

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Why Prince of Persia wasn't as big of a hit as it could have been

The Prince of Persia film had a lot going for it...

Jerry Bruckheimer produced it. Jerry has produced 18 films to gross over 100 million dollars in the US, including Beverly Hills Cop, Top Gun, and The Rock.

Mike Newell directed it. Mike directed Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which brought in $290 million in the US.

The actress, Gemma Arteron, was amazing as the Princess. She is one to watch out for. She was also Io in Clash of the Titans (2010), and she was in RocknRolla.

Prince of Persia only brought in $90 million in the US, even though it cost $200 million to make it. Fortunately, it also made $244 million outside the US, so whatever it had, it was good enough for foreigners.

Essentially, Prince of Persia had the Orlando Bloom character from Pirates, but it was lacking the Jack Sparrow character. And that explains why it was piopular in places that cared more about the action and effects than the characters.

However, one redeeming character was brought to life by Alfred Molina, in what I think was his second-best performance. His best was in The Man Who Knew to Little with Bill Murray.

I give the film three out of four stars.

The Emperor

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Tangled Trailer 2, Despicable Me 2, Gnomeo & Juliet: Beyond The Trailer

Great insight into the success of Despicable Me!


Thursday, October 07, 2010

Movie Review - Letters to God

by Alex Popp

Hope is contagious...

A young boy fighting cancer writes letters to God, touching lives in his neighborhood and community and inspiring hope among everyone he comes in contact with in "Letters to God," from the church that brought you "Fireproof."

An unsuspecting substitute postman, with a troubled life of his own, becomes entangled in the boy's journey and his family by reading the letters. They inspire him to seek a better life for himself and his own son he's lost through his alcohol addiction.

I would say that this film is about as good as "Fireproof" and is more suitable for younger audiences. The parts with the kids are cute, even touching at times. Like most low-budget movies, there are parts that are badly played with mostly unknown actors, except for Maree Cheatham from "Total Recall." But this touching little film will without a doubt move Christian families.

Rated PG, despite the Family Approved seal that it got, for references to cancer and alcohol, but it should be suitable for kids over the age of 6.

Three stars (out of four) for "Letters to God."

Review by Alex Popp for The Animation Empire blog.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Movie Review - Toy Story 3

by Alex Popp

In "Toy Story 3," the toys are mistakenly delivered to a day-care center instead of the attic right before Andy leaves for college, and it's up to Woody to convince the other toys that they weren't abandoned and to return home.

I was expecting a bit more from this film. It isn't as the tagline says "The Breakout Comedy of the Summer." There were only a few parts that were really funny. And I think Pixar wasn't trying very hard to put together a middle-of-the-movie plot. I kinda saw the villain in the movie, Lot-so Huggin' Bear, as the same character as The Prosvector in "Toy Story 2," which I would have to say is the best of the three. But the first fifteen minutes and the last half-hour of the movie are very poignant and it seems that the adults were more moved than the kids. It is vaguely worth it.

Rated G, but it might get a bit too scary for very young movie goers.

Three (out of four) stars for "Toy Story 3."

Review by Alex Popp for The Animation Empire blog.


To see The Emperor's review of Toy Story 3 (why Toy Story 2 was better), click here:


Saturday, October 02, 2010

Tangled Movie Trailer 2 Official (HD)

Check out this new trailer for Tangled. It keeps looking better and better!


Friday, October 01, 2010

Movie Review - Despicable Me

by Alex Popp

Superbad. Superdad.

Steve Carell voices a criminal mastermind in the ridiculous animated comedy "Despicable Me." Just the sound of the title made me giggle.

The wanna be supervillain isn't good enough for his boss, so he and his stupid minions put together an outrageous plot to steal the moon. In order to get a weapon known as the Shrink Ray from his arch nemesis, he adopts three adorable girls to sell him cookies while he takes what he needs. But he finds out he's put a lot more work on his hands with the three girls at his place.

I haven't laughed so hard since "Horton Hears a Who!," and it wasn't much of a surprise because it had the same co-financer, Blue Sky Studios. The minions are impossible not to laugh at, and at the same time I had to nod my head at the last fifteen minutes of the movie. It meant a lot to me and my family, because I have an adopted sister.

Rated PG for rude bodily-functioning humor, but should be suitable for kids over the age of 4.

Three and a half stars (out of four) for "Despicable Me," which isn't very despciable.

Review by Alex Popp for The Animation Empire blog.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Farmville Parody - Farm Time VS

Farmville Parody - What's your favorite part?

Here's the link in the video - GO TRY IT OUT:

Animation by BowlingBallOut.

Written by Randy at Treasure Trooper. Music by Kevin Macleod. Produced by Ed 'word' Price.

This is our fourth animation with BowlingBallOut...

(1) Dating Game

(2) Ducks Playing Duck Hunt

(3) Farmville Parody (this one)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Movie Review - Inception

by Alex Popp

Your mind is the scene of the crime in "Inception," directed by Christopher Nolan, who previously directed the mega-hit, "The Dark Knight."

In a world where technology exists to enter the human mind through dream invasion, a highly skilled thief, played by Leonardo DiCaprio from "Titanic," is given a final chance at redemption which involves executing his toughest job till date, Inception.

I saw the film with my dad and brother, and from what I've read on the Internet Movie Database, it turns out that my dad was the only one who didn't like it. Through the first half of the movie, you may be wondering why things are happening, but the second half explains it all, so pay attention to speech. The visual effects and sound are excellent and you can't help but enjoy from all the points about dreams that it makes. It's, in my opinion, the greatest flick of the summer.

Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense violence through about three quarters of the movie.

Four stars out of four for the original and intriguing film, "Inception," which will without a doubt become a classic.

Review by Alex Popp for The Animation Empire blog.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

TANGLED new release date - January 6, 2011

Meet our new star, Flynn Rider...he may be a touch self involved.

Walt Disney Pictures presents TANGLED, one of the most hilarious, hair-raising tales ever told. When the kingdom's most wanted—and most charming—bandit Flynn Rider (voice of ZACHARY LEVI) hides out in a mysterious tower, he's taken hostage by Rapunzel (voice of MANDY MOORE), a beautiful and feisty tower-bound teen with 70 feet of magical, golden hair. Flynn's curious captor, who's looking for her ticket out of the tower where she's been locked away for years, strikes a deal with the handsome thief and the unlikely duo sets off on an action-packed escapade, complete with a super-cop horse, an over-protective chameleon and a gruff gang of pub thugs. In select theatres in Disney Digital 3D™, TANGLED is a story of adventure, heart, humour and hair—lots of hair.

TANGLED only at the movies January 6, 2011

Friday, September 10, 2010

Pepsi VS Coke - Battle of the Century (collab with MashBrothers)

Check out our latest animation...

From the same animator as Talking Muffins and The Phone is Ringing!

Animated by Adam from MashBrothers. Go subscribe:

And check out their hilarious Sleep-o-matic commercial! It's as hilarious as a Smosh commercial parody (well more so):

This is our 7th animation from Adam...

1. Talking Muffins:

2. The Phone is Ringing:

3. An Elephant and Darth Vader

4. Breaking News - Jello Jumper:

5. The Carrot and the Pea:

6. T-Time with tED (select animations):

7. Pepsi VS Coke (this one)



Sunday, August 29, 2010

Johnny Depp and Keira Knightley - Animation test

Check out this animation test that GagamanMusic is working on with us! We'll refine it and keep you posted.



Thursday, August 26, 2010

Kirk De Micco goes from Space Chimps to Crood

Kirk De Micco has made a fantastic career jump from Space Chimps to Crood.

Kirk started out as a writer...

Quest for Camelot (1998) (screenplay)
Racing Stripes (2005) (story)
Here Comes Peter Cottontail: The Movie (2005) (V) (screenplay) (story)
Casper's Scare School (2006) (TV) (story)
Space Chimps (2008) (screenplay) (story)
The Croods (2012) (post-production) (writer)

The Croods will be his second directorial effort (after Space Chimps). So somehow with Space Chimps, Kirk managed to pitch the story and script and get attached as the director. Then he nailed that film, which is what got him into DreamWorks.

Jumping from Vanguard to DreamWorks is huge, because it's like bypassing WB, Universal, Sony, Fox, and Disney. The only animation studio more successful than DW right now is Pixar.

The Croods is also directed by Chris Sanders, who directed Lilo & Stitch and How to Train Your Dragon. Chris also left Disney when Lassetter demanded a reset of Bolt (which Chris was then directing).

And Kirk's not done with The Croods. He's got quite the lineup that he's writing and maybe directing after that...

Pig Scrolls
The Twits
Gil's All Fright Diner
Hong Kong Phooey

So Hong Kong Phooey is the only one that's obvious. That's a return to Warner Bros (who owns the Hannah Barbara stuff), seeing how Quest for Camelot was at WB.


Monday, August 23, 2010

Space Chimps 2 is coming direct to DVD for the US release

"Space Chimps 2: Zartog Strikes Back" is coming the 5th of October, 2010 (DVD premiere).

This is interesting, because the first one didn't perform in the US as well as they hoped, and so the sequel has been released in theaters in other countries, but in the US it's going straight to DVD.

Here are the international releases...

UK - 28 May 2010
Israel - 22 July 2010
Kazakhstan - 5 August 2010 (3-D version)
Russia - 5 August 2010 (3-D version)
USA - 5 October 2010 (DVD premiere)
Netherlands - 16 December 2010

Wikipedia still thinks Andy Samberg is going to be in the DVD release, but it doesn't have the news that Space Chimps 2 is coming to DVD for the US.

The director of Space Chimps 2 is John H. Williams. This is his directorial debut (sad that he's debuting on DVD in the US). He produced all four Shrek movies. Using that momentum, he started Vanguard Animation (not a huge leap, considering he was already running Vanguard Films), so that means he also produced Valiant, Happily Never After (but he let the DVD sequel go to the studio execs, which is why it has no name actors and why it's so horrible), Space Chimps, and now Space Chimps 2. Their next project is Emo Boy, based on a comic book. More on Emo Boy:


Thursday, August 19, 2010

New X-Men movie: X-Men First Class

"Damages" star Rose Byrne is in negotiations to join the cast of Fox's "X-Men First Class," being directed by Matthew Vaughn.

Fox is gearing up for a London shoot at the end of this month and zeroing on the last key pieces of its important franchise.

The movie, whose story line remains under wraps, focuses on Marvel's superpowered X-Men team in a younger incarnation than seen in the previous trilogy.

Byrne will play Moira MacTaggert, a scientist and an authority on genetic mutation. She'll be the love interest of James McAvoy, who plays mutant telepath Charles Xavier.

Among the cast are Michael Fassbender, Kevin Bacon, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult and Alice Eve.

Read more about Rose here:


Monday, August 16, 2010

Our cartoon: Spider-Man will fall to Dr. Octopus' LASER!!!! (& a butterfly)

Spider-Man can't stand up to Dr. Octopus' new laser! Hahahaha. The technology of Dr. Octopus' new laser is going to take Spider-Man off guard!

Not for the squeamish! Also includes a bonus cartoon: Buttterfly!

Animation by Chris from ItsChrisLife. Go check out his other great animations and GO SUB HIM:

Subscribe above if you haven't! We've got longer spoofs and shorts coming, as well as more short ones!

Thanks for watching!


Friday, August 13, 2010

Disney's King of the Elves got shelved

This is old news, but still.

Back in April of 2008, Disney revealed their line-up of animated movies through 2012. One of them listed for release at Christmas in 2012 (three full years from now) was a project called King of the Elves based on Philip K. Dick's short story. Disney hired Brother Bear co-directors Aaron Blaise and Robert Walker to direct this and we thought it was moving along smoothly.

King of the Elves is a fantasy story about an average man living in the Mississippi Delta, whose reluctant actions to help a desperate band of elves leads them to name him their new king. Joining the innocent and endangered elves as they attempt to escape from an evil and menacing troll, their unlikely new leader finds himself caught on a journey filled with unimaginable dangers and a chance to bring real meaning back to his own life.

Read more:

There’s two obvious reasons that King of the Elves may have been axed. The first is that it could be very hard to merchandise; the second is that the source story is actually not really what you’d first think of as a Disney toon. Here’s a minor spoiler - the lead character ends up killing his best friend.

It may simply be that they couldn’t get an expanded version of the short story to play well. The writing and storyboarding process at Disney, as per Pixar and some of their rivals, is a long and arduous one. Sometimes, a film just doesn’t come together.

Read more: Have Disney Canned Their Philip K. Dick Adaptation, King of the Elves? | /Film


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Learn Your ABCs (our animated song)

Join Daz's Zeke character as 5 Star in this simple song about learning your A-B-Cs. Let us know what you think! This includes any preschoolers you have, since that is the intended audience for this.

Animation and Designs by Darren Boyce from Hitmanimation

Produced by Ed 'word' Price.

Rap by Zekness aka 5 Star


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Why is Sorcerer's Apprentice doing so horribly?

Why? Why? WHYYYY????

It looked so good, and yet here it is...

Domestic Total as of Jul. 25, 2010: $42,609,020

Well, is it doing better overseas? No, it's doing worse...

Foreign: $25,300,000

Well, how much did it cost? Much more than it's making...

Production Budget: $150 million

So with Prince of Persia hitting below expectations (I think it's because the movie had an Orlando Bloom--Jake Gyllenhaal--but no Jack Sparrow), and Sorcerer's Apprentice bombing hard, does this mean Jerry Bruckheimer's clout is going down?

Maybe he should stick to adult action movies instead of trying to bridge gaps to the family market?

My best guess is that this movie fell in the middle. With the lack of exotic locations and adventure that was missing from the trailer (just some jokes and cool effects), the audience really didn't get any sense of story or fun from the trailers, which means it didn't appeal to women and families: the action and dragons were aimed more at an adult male audience. However, the adult male audience looked at the humor and Disney branding and wasn't interested.

The result is that the film got lost in the middle, between the two audiences.

Anyway, that's my best guess why this movie didn't do well, because a lot of people were pleasantly surprised by it when they saw it (which is another hint that the trailer wasn't doing it justice).


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Space Chimps 2 - oh the drama

Wikipedia thinks Andy Samberg will play Ham again for the sequel:


Andy Samberg - Ham III

Cheryl Hines - Luna

Patrick Warburton - Titan

Zack Shada - Comet

Stanley Tucci - Senator

Laura Bailey - Kilowatt

The discrepency is that Andy's voice doesn't seem to be used in the trailer or the UK release:

So my best guess is either Wikipedia is wrong or they are redubbing Andy's voice over for the U.S. release (which would also explain why they haven't released it in the U.S. yet), seeing how IMDB last thought it would be released in June in the U.S.

IMDB doesn't list out all the official cast yet.
Also, the film was already released in the UK:

Interestingly, this is the first directing effort by John H Williams, a successful animated film producer who started Vanguard Animation (the studio that made Space Chimps, Valiant, and Happily N'ever After). In addition to producing all his studio's animated films, he also produced all four Shrek films. I guess that means DreamWorks kept inviting him back and never saw his other animated films as an actual threat. =^)


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Top 10 Highest Grossing Animated Films of All Time

So this is a work in progress. I'll start with this list and keep building off of it and making it more interesting.

Second, I'm making this list because while the information is out there, you cannot find it in a list like this. You can find the top grossing domestic films. But this is the only list that lists the top grossing international sales... both domestic and overseas.

But why should the domestic sales matter? The point of making films (by the investors and studios that back them; not necessarily the point of the artistic film-makers) is to make money and gain profit on the initial investment. So what should matter is the gross income and not the domestic income. For example, taking domestic comparisons, Shrek 1 made $267 million and Up made $293 million, which isn't a huge difference. However, worldwide, Shrek made $484 million and Up made $731 million, which is a much bigger difference. As another example, Kung-Fu Panda is 15th in Domestic but 6th in world-wide.

That said, the cost of the film is also significant, because that helps determine the net profit (so I include the cost, but I don't bother calculating the net profit, since theater costs also aren't calculated). For example, you could have a movie like Jimmy Neutron be a huge hit because it made $80 million domestic and only cost $30 million. Compare that to Beowulf, which made $82 million domestic, but it cost $150 million to make.


Note: Listed in order of world-wide grosses.

1. Shrek 2
STUDIO: DreamWorks | WORLD-WIDE: $919.8 mil | DOMESTIC: $441.2 mil | YEAR: 2004
COST: $150 mil

2. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
STUDIO: Fox | WORLD-WIDE: $886.7 mil | DOMESTIC: $196.6 mil | YEAR: 2009
COST: $90 mil

3. Finding Nemo
STUDIO: Disney/Pixar | WORLD-WIDE: $867.9 mil | DOMESTIC: $339.7 mil | YEAR: 2003
COST: $94 mil

4. Shrek the Third
STUDIO: DreamWorks | WORLD-WIDE: $799.0 mil | DOMESTIC: $322.7 mil | YEAR: 2007
COST: $160 mil

5. Lion King
STUDIO: Disney | WORLD-WIDE: $783.8 mil | DOMESTIC: $328.5 mil | YEAR: 1994
COST: $45 mil

6. Up
STUDIO: Disney/Pixar | WORLD-WIDE: $731.3 mil | DOMESTIC: $293.0 mil | YEAR: 2009
COST: $175 mil

7. Ice Age: The Meltdown
STUDIO: Fox | WORLD-WIDE: $655.4 mil | DOMESTIC: $195.3 mil | YEAR: 2006
COST: $90 mil

8. Kung Fu Panda
STUDIO: DreamWorks | WORLD-WIDE: $631.7 mil | DOMESTIC: $215.4 mil | YEAR: 2008
COST: $130 mil

9. The Incredibles
STUDIO: Disney/Pixar | WORLD-WIDE: $631.4 mil | DOMESTIC: $261.4 mil | YEAR: 2004
COST: $92 mil

10. Ratatouille
STUDIO: Disney/Pixar | WORLD-WIDE: $623.7 mil | DOMESTIC: $206.4 mil | YEAR: 2007
COST: $150 mil


To be fair to the old timers and to give you a bonus list, here's a list of the top animated films with adjusted income. So that means we can truly compare to ticket sales and how much those movies would have made today. However, the system isn't a one-for-one comparison because (1) films would sell differently at different times, (2) the world-wide market isn't taken into account, mostly because the older films didn't initially release internationally, and (3) the older films were also re-released a few times, and those sales are added in to the total. In other words, even though this is a fair comparison for some reasons, it is unfair in the sense that we have no clue how well the older films would perform if they were released today (probably not as well).


Note: We're including the adjusted foreign income where available.

1. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
STUDIO: Disney | DOMESTIC, ADJUSTED: $866.6 mil | YEAR: 1937
ADJUSTED COST: $7.02 mil

2. 101 Dalmatians
STUDIO: Disney | DOMESTIC, ADJUSTED: $794.3 mil | YEAR: 1961
FOREIGN, ADJUSTED: $389.2 mil | WORLD-WIDE, ADJUSTED: $1,183.5 mil / $1.183 bil
COST: Unknown

3. Fantasia
STUDIO: Disney | DOMESTIC, ADJUSTED: $660.2 mil | YEAR: 1941
COST: Unknown

4. The Lion King
STUDIO: Disney | DOMESTIC, ADJUSTED: $614.0 mil | YEAR: 1994
FOREIGN, ADJUSTED: $851 mil | WORLD-WIDE, ADJUSTED: $1,465 mil / $1.465 bil
ADJUSTED COST: $88.3 mil

5. The Jungle Book
STUDIO: Disney | DOMESTIC, ADJUSTED: $585.8 mil | YEAR: 1967
FOREIGN, ADJUSTED: $264.4 mil | WORLD-WIDE, ADJUSTED: $850.2 mil
COST: Unknown

6. Sleeping Beauty
STUDIO: Disney | DOMESTIC, ADJUSTED: $577.8 mil | YEAR: 1959
COST: Unknown

7. Shrek 2
STUDIO: DreamWorks | DOMESTIC, ADJUSTED: $564.8 mil | YEAR: 2004
FOREIGN, ADJUSTED: $612.7 mil | WORLD-WIDE, ADJUSTED: $1,177.5 mil / $1.178 bil
AJUSTED COST: $192 mil

8. Pinocchio
STUDIO: Disney | DOMESTIC, ADJUSTED: $535.9 mil | YEAR: 1940
COST: Unknown

9. Bambi
STUDIO: Disney | DOMESTIC, ADJUSTED: $506.5 mil | YEAR: 1942
FOREIGN, ADJUSTED: $818.7 mil | WORLD-WIDE, ADJUSTED: $1,325.2 mil / $1.325 bil
COST: Unknown

10. Finding Nemo
STUDIO: Disney/Pixar | DOMESTIC, ADJUSTED: $447.9 mil | YEAR: 2003
FOREIGN, ADJUSTED: $696.4 mil | WORLD-WIDE, ADJUSTED: $1,144.3 mil / $1.144 bil
ADJUSTED COST: $123.94 mil




Friday, July 16, 2010

Despicable Me - box office so far

Domestic Total as of Jul. 13, 2010 (Day 5): $72,073,885

Production Budget: $69 million (about $80 million less than its competitors)

Okay, now let's compare it to how well other films did on Day 5...

Madagascar: $64,847,402

Domestic Total: $193,595,521

Kung Fu Panda: $72,620,491

Domestic Total: $215,434,591

Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs: $66,732,868

Domestic Total: $196,573,705

My current domestic projection for Depsicable Me: $212 million

Yup, I was right; I think it's going to break 200 million. Universal's in the animation game! Take that, naysayers!


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

More about Miley Cyrus leaving Disney

Anony had a great message from a perspective that helps shine some light on what Miley and/or her fans might feel about her leaving Disney:

It's time for Miley Cyrus to part company with Dinsey. While she's taking a break from her music, she's got movies to film. When she resumes her music, we'll be talking about Miley as a country singer- she's done with pop. Disney does have a bad reputation and the infamous propensity of mistreating its stars, and Miley refuses to have anything further to do with that. I could see her signing with Disney's arch-rival, Warner Bros- that'll get Disney's attention, all right. Could anyone possibly see her doing a commercial promo on Cartoon Network? I do, and she'll be good at that. "Hannah Montana" will be no more and movies and her return to country music await Miley Cyrus- I wish her all the best.

I think Anony sums it up well and sheds light on the perspective Miley and other Disney stars feel... they aren't getting their due.

Miley Cyrus definitely has a music career (and I think she'll continue to rock both pop and country for the rest of her life; or at least she can if she wants), but I think she's divorcing Disney too soon. The attitude of "you treat me bad and so I'll teach you" is a poor attitude, and so far it's mostly ruined stars like Hilary and Haley Duff.

Miley chose not to graduate into doing a movie deal with Disney, something that didn't work well for Hilary Duff. However, Lindsey Lohan, Anne Hathaway, and Shia Labeouf are examples of actors who did well starring in Disney films before getting out there in dramas and blockbusters.

The fact is that Miley has a huge fan base watching her on Disney. If she walks away from that fan base, most of the fans might move on to Wizards and other shows. Will her audience graduate to watch her in adult, independent films?

So far, the answer is "Yes" with The Last Song (since it's hard to tell from Bolt and her Hanna Montanna films if it was the TV show fan base). The romantic drama (The Last Song) made $84 million and cost only $20 million to make. So far so good. The movie has given her another 4 projects. So that's four more chances to get another hit.


Monday, July 12, 2010

Despicable Me - cast featurettes

So more new Despicable Me featurettes are coming out to promote the new movie.

Film Release Date: 9 July 2010

First, here's Steve Carell giving parenting tips:

Second, here's a TV commercial called "Hero and Fluffy"

Third, here's Julie Andrews gives advice and introduces her character in the movie:

Fourth, here's Steve Carell talking about being a bad guy:


Saturday, July 10, 2010

Despicable Me - about the film makers

Release Date: 9 July 2010


Pierre Coffin - A new director, he animated on We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story (1993).

Chris Renaud - He has a little more experience. He worked on "Bear in the Big Blue House" (1997), "The Book of Pooh" (2001), Robots (2005), "It's a Big Big World" (2006), Ice Age: The Meltdown (2006), Horton Hears a Who! (2008), and Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (2009). He also wrote and directed No Time for Nuts (2006). He's scheduled to co-direct The Lorax, which is an animated follow-up of sorts of Horton (although Lorax will be done by Universal and not Fox).

Essentially, Chris couldn't get much directing opportunities at Fox (where he worked on Robots, Ice Age 2, Horton, and Ice Age 3), but Universal gave him his first feature film to direct (Despicable Me), and he's already got a second one lined up (Lorax).

Universal Pictures has been trying to join Pixar, Disney, DreamWorks, and Fox in the animated film battle, but they haven't had any hits yet (Curious George, Pirates Who Don't Do Anything, The Tale of Despereaux, and Coraline). Plus they have new attempts coming (Dispicable Me, Lorax, Flanimals). Although I was rooting for Despereaux, it failed to hit the right cords. So now I'm rooting for Despicable Me.

For Despicable Me they seem to have the formula down that DreamWorks and Fox uses (get stars to be funny; get stars to promote film). In fact, the proof is that it seems that DreamWorks is copying them with Megamind, a version of this same story (the bad guy is the actual hero), but Will Ferrell and Brad Pitt play the main characters instead of Steve Carell and Jason Segel.

Plus add Tina Fey and Jonah Hill, as well as the director of Madagascar 1 and 2, and it seems that Megamind might have more star power. However, I think the story of Despicable Me (villain becomes father) is far better than Megamind (villain kills hero and doesn't know what to do).

So, yeah, I'm rooting for Despicable Me. I also like the art and animation style better (and that the hero is more lame and disgusting than the villain is pretty funny). Go underdogs!


Friday, July 09, 2010

Despicable Me - how well will it do?

Despicable Me (Universal)

Starring (the voices of) Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Russell Brand, Will Arnett, Kristen Wiig, Danny McBride, Miranda Cosgrove, Jack McBrayer, Mindy Kaling, Jemaine Clement, Julie Andrews

Directed by Chris Renaud (animation department at Blue Sky Studios, "No Time for Nuts" short, upcoming The Lorax), Pierre Coffin; Written by Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio (The Santa Clause 2, College Road Trip, Horton Hears a Who!, upcoming Hop and The Lorax)
Genre: Animation, Comedy
Rated PG
Tagline: "Superbad. Superdad."

Plot Summary: The diabolical super-villain Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) has a plot to steal the moon, but to do so, he needs to get his hands on a shrink ray possessed by his arch-nemesis Vector (Jason Segel). To do so, he adopts three orphan girls with hopes they'll get into Vector's lair and get the shrink ray, but Gru suddenly finds himself falling for the little girls' charm and having to act more like a father to them.


With Pixar's Toy Story 3 having been in theaters for three weeks now and last week's The Last Airbender receiving scathing reviews and bad word-of-mouth that should kill its second weekend, there's presumably room for a new family-friendly animated movie. Along comes Universal who is not a studio who has had great success with animation, their last attempt being the holiday-released fantasy The Tale of Despereaux. This time, they have a movie that falls more into the realm of Brad Bird's The Incredibles, DreamWorks Animation's Monsters vs. Aliens or Disney's Meet the Robinsons in that its central character is a supervillain and the movie is clearly trying to tap into an older geek audience as well as younger kids and their parents.

Despicable Me will mainly be trying to benefit from the abundance of comic talent, including a lot of Judd Apatow's people, an odd dichotomy since most of them have appeared in R-rated movies, and there's nothing to say any of their teen or older fans will have much interest in a kids' movie.

First and foremost is Steve Carell, who got a big break when Apatow cast him in his first movie The 40-Year-Old Virgin shortly after the start the hit NBC sitcom "The Office." Carell's had a number of hits in recent years, but he's also a regular voiceover actor in animated movies like Over the Hedge and Horton Hears a Who!. He also starred in Universal's PG Evan Almighty, a sequel to the far-more-successful Jim Carrey movie Bruce Almighty in which Carell played a small part. Because of this previous success, Carell is really the biggest sell for the movie, and he's appeared in various promos and probably will appear on some talk shows this week to support the movie even if this isn't his best character.

Jason Segel has been part of Apatow's crew going back to "Freaks and Geeks," getting his big break when he co-starred in Knocked Up and then got his own starring vehicle Forgetting Sarah Marshall along with Russell Brand, who also provides a voice for this. Brand went on to star in that movie's recent follow-up Get Him to the Greek, which has only done moderately well this summer. Both guys are doing the talk show rounds to help support the movie. Other voice roles include Danny McBride, Kristen Wiig, Jack MacBrayer (from "30 Rock") and Mindy Kaling (from "The Office."), with Wiig doing the most previous animation work before. Even with so many funny people providing voices, most of them tend to be better known for their R-rated movies and there's nothing to say that any of the actor's teen and older fans will have any interest in a kids' movie. On the other hand, the biggest draw for girls--who normally might not be interested in a movie about a supervillain--is the presence of Miranda Cosgrove, the star of the popular Nickelodeon show "iCarly," who has also been doing the rounds promoting the movie including an appearance at the MTV Movie Awards with Segel. Cosgrove is on her way to being the next Miley Cyrus, so having her in this movie is pretty big, although having Cyrus in Disney's Bolt didn't do much to help that movie do well against the first Twilight movie.

At this point, there have been so many computer-animated movies released in the past few years, they literally run the gamut of enormous blockbuster hits to absolute and total flops. Unfortunately, unless you're a movie made by Pixar or DreamWorks Animation or Blue Sky Studios (makers of the "Ice Age" movies), you're really taking a chance by spending a ton of money to make and market a computer-animated film, assuming it will do as well. Sony Animation Studios took some time to get off the ground, having had a summer bomb with Surf's Up, not helped by the release of the Oscar-winning Happy Feet months earlier, but they rebounded and had a solid hit last year with Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. Warner Bros. had Happy Feet while Disney has had a couple of moderate CG-animated hits coming out of their own animation house. Universal only has The Tale of Despereaux under their belt in terms of 3D animation, though at least Despicable Me is closer in tone to hits by other studios.

As we've learned many times, just because a movie has a funny voice cast, that doesn't necessarily mean a movie is funny, and Universal doesn't seem to care much about even mentioning the former, instead focusing their marketing on the odd "Minions" of Gru, which have been everywhere for the last few months. It's a smart move since the cute critters will be targeting the women and kids who'll find them adorable. The older guys who are likely to find them annoying will probably be seeing Predators anyway. The trailers and commercials are funny enough, but they focus too much on these minions, who play a relatively small part in a movie that doesn't really break new ground. Following after such strong animated films as Toy Story 3 and How to Train Your Dragon, this one really doesn't stand out and it's not likely to get overwhelmingly positive reviews, which would normally help a movie. Universal has also taken a cue from Pixar and other animation studios by putting these minions in commercials for Best Buy and IHOP (the latter being an odder choice knowing that Universal has another animated movie coming up that was once called "IHOP.")

Universal could really use an animated hit because currently, they're behind all the other major studios in terms of CG animation, except maybe Summit, and having this movie break out can go a long way toward getting more money to develop their animated films. (They have a couple in the works, including a Dr. Seuss adaptation.)

At this point, the fact that the movie is being released in 3D is almost a non-issue, because every animated movie seems to be, but the backlash on 3D has begun, and it's doubtful people will want to pay for the high-priced tickets. Either way, there should certainly be a number of families with small kids who've already seen the other choices who'll give this a look, but it certainly won't seem like a priority for anyone, so it'll probably end up in the lower-mid range for a computer animated movie.

Why I Should See It: This has a nice premise, a great voice cast and lots of those adorable (or annoying) minions.
Why Not: Toy Story 3 is a really hard act to follow for any animated movie.
Projections: $22 to 25 million opening weekend and roughly $75 million total.


What? $75 million? Naw! You can't review a movie based on opinions like this. Incredibles made hundreds of millions. This one is going to do at least $135 million, and it has a chance at breaking $200 million domestic.

And having adult comedians works. It worked for Madagascar, Ice Age, and Shrek. The kids want to go because of the cute kids and minions, the boys like the super hero theme, and the parents say, "Sure. Why not. Steve Carell and Kristen Wiig are in it." It works!

What do you think?


Thursday, July 08, 2010

Nintendo's new 3D system

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Nintendo is showing off its 3-D handheld gaming system and introducing updates to classic game franchises like "Donkey Kong" and "Kirby."

It's part of an effort by Nintendo to stay ahead of its rivals by sticking to what it knows best - video games. Meanwhile, Sony and Microsoft are working to expand the reach of their consoles beyond gaming.

At the E3 Expo in Los Angeles on Tuesday, an industry conference of 45,000, Nintendo introduced the 3DS, the latest version of its popular handheld device. But unlike other attempts at 3-D screens, the gadget works without special glasses.

Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter says Nintendo "blew people away." But the big question is the price. Nintendo didn't say how much the 3DS would cost or when it will be available.


Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Toy Story 3 Review: Toy Story 2 was better

WARNING: Spoilers

I think my opinion differs from my friend Sibry (and others), but nonetheless I think Toy Story 2 was better.

Sure, the animation was up a notch, they spanned more sets, upped the effects, and cut to humans more. And the Spanish Buzz Lightyear gag was so funny that you get dissappointed when normal Tim Allen takes back over... something I think they recognized, so they put the gag at the end where Buzz danced to the Spanish music.

And sure, the movie's going to make more money. Actually, it's currently the #2 Pixar movie and will easily become the #1 Pixar movie and #2 animated film of all time, and it might even give Shrek 2 a run for it's money as the #1 animated film of all time.

But really, was Toy Story 3 better?

I say no. Perhaps it was better than the first one, and it definitely deserves the box office it's getting, and it's entertaining and hilarious, but I don't think it's better than the second Toy Story movie. This one:

First, I liked the Toy Story 2 villains better. I liked the Wayne Knight human villain, Al (even Toy Story 1 had Sid as a villain), and the villain just doesn't seem as difficult to beat when it's another toy (which I think Toy Story 3 recognized, so they made the villain into a gang of toys). Even Toy Story 1 has Sid as the villain (and no real toy villains).

So the villains in Toy Story 2 were Kelsey Grammer's Stinky Pete, Wayne Knight's Al, and Emperor Zurg was sort of a comical villain that really brought Buzz's character to life (not as funny as Spanish Buzz, but it tied in better to Buzz's character).

So when Lotso shows up in Toy Story 3, I can't help but feel that it's obvious he's the villain and he's doing exactly what Stinky Pete did (stabbing the other toys in the back to create his toy utopia). Stinky Pete was slightly more interesting because he wasn't a stuffed animal, and he had more of a turn because you thought he was stuck in plastic wrapping.

The "demise" was even similar for both Lotso and Pete. Pete got what he deserved by being picked up by the artistic girl in the airport, and Lotso got what he deserved when the trucker attached him to the grill. It's sort of a sentence to an eternity of torture (verses the more common deaths that Disney and DreamWorks villains get).

So that's all the first reason.

The second reason is how personal and direct the theme was to the key characters. In the sense of how they related to Andy, the third movie actually did that better than the first two. However, in the sense to how the story related to Woody, the primary character and Buzz, the secondary character, Toy Story 3 did that the least. And the best one was Toy Story 2.

In Toy Story 2, Woody explored this whole new world of how he was from a puppet-based TV show called Woody's Roundup. It was personal, it was fun, and the new characters were instantly tied in to him (verses the new Toy Story 3 characters; the most interesting one was Michael Keaton's Ken, because he was connected to Barbie). Likewise, Buzz's littler interactions in Toy Story 2 with Zurg were also much more personal and interesting.

So there you have it. Those are the two reasons why I liked Toy Story 2 better.

Was Toy Story 3 a great movie? Yes. Go watch it if you haven't. And if you haven't watched it, I kind of just spoiled it for you (but I warned you first). So sorry about that.

Is Toy Story 3 worth watching in 3D? No. I see no signs that the makers tried to optimize it for 3D. Maybe a tiny bit of thought, especially on things like the title letters, but nothing super impressive.

Overall, it was a worthy successor a great film.

- The Emperor

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Despicable Me - new theatrical trailer

Here's an amusement park clip:

And here's the new, full trailer (that's playing before Toy Story 3):


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