Main

Disney - Pixar - Marvel Movies Archives

April 26, 2017

Cars 3: Tales of Production, Design, and Lou

jeaninebanner.jpg

Cars3586e9008eb2d4.jpg

"Cars 3" is rapidly approaching the finish line for release this June 16th. To learn more about it, AllEars.Net was invited up north for an early look.

[Non-attributed photos and video are courtesy of Disney.]

The trip began with a visit to Pixar Studios for a screening of some scenes from the movie still in production.

IMG_6563.JPG

P1070966.JPG

P1070971.JPG

IMG_6891.JPG

Director Dave Mullins and Producer Dana Murray screened and spoke on the adorable short "Lou," that will accompany "Cars 3" in theaters.

Cars358e8092829487.jpg

_MDF8184.jpg
Dave Mullins

--John Lasseter gave Mullins guidelines on the specific ingredients that make up a Pixar film: Heart, entertainment, setting, and animation.
--Heart: The main character is flawed, but experiences personal growth throughout the film.
--Entertainment: The story must be unpredictable and funny.
--Setting: The film must transport the viewers to a place both exciting and new.
--Animation: The film must call for being animated and must use animation's full potential.
--After eight years of pitching ideas, Mullins came up with a story revolving around a character who could hide in plain sight, and a character who longed to be accepted.
--The final story stars a Lost and Found pile that loves returning toys, but fights back when a bully starts stealing from kids.
--The characters were reworked several times to make them more sympathetic.

LOU-m100_362m_pub.pub16.237.jpg

The next day, presentations on the making of "Cars 3" kicked off with "Start to Finish: Pixar’s Production Pipeline." Supervising Animator Bobby Podesta, Supervising Technical Director Michael Fong, and Effects Supervisor Jon Reisch spoke on the film's technical process.

20170329Cars3LongLeadPressDay017.JPG
Michael Fong, Jon Reisch, and Bobby Podesta

--Making something visually tangible is rooted in making something emotionally tangible.
--A sequence where Lightning McQueen is in a Demolition Derby is a physical manifestation of his intangible feelings of being out of his element.

CARS_3_2015.10.07_demolition.5.redo_Cone.jpg

--After a research trip to real-life Demolition Derbys, the animators tried to come up with ideas as to what it would feel like, to be different types of cars in that situation, and how different characters would react to that environment.
--Technical effects are vital to creating believable interactions that ground the characters in this world. At their best, by making physical jeopardy believable, they increase the emotional stakes.
--Simulating mud was one of their big challenges for this film, much like snow was for "Frozen," and hair was for "Brave."

CARS_3_a360_152d_pub.pub16.151_RGB.jpg

--The mantra "Story Is King" effects every department at Pixar, including the technical ones.
--All the visual effects in the scene need to be adjusted to avoid stealing focus from the story beat, which is McQueen's emotional state.
--If McQueen's fear, anger, and embarrassment in this sequence isn't conveyed effectively, it makes his subsequent scenes where he lashes out feel unearned.
--The goal is not photorealism, which is not always aesthetically pleasing or best for the story. The goal is Directed Realism, in which physics can be broken if true physics would detract from the storytelling.

CARS_3_2015.10.07_Fritter_Exploration_Mnolte_001.jpg

Next up was Directing Animator Jude Brownbill, Production Designer Jay Shuster, and Characters Supervisor Michael Comet talking about the new characters to "Cars 3"--"The Next Generation."

_MDF8415.jpg

--Looking at the next generation of cars introduced to the world of "Cars," they display all the advantages of the technological advances since the first movie came out.
--With generally better aerodynamics, they are lower to the ground with a better wind profile than McQueen.
--The virtual construction of the cars mirrors actual car construction with various shading passes done for different layers of paint, gloss coating, etc.
--McQueen is the baseline, from which all the other cars should differ in comparison.
--Subtle changes were made to McQueen to make him appear slightly less stable and older on the track.
--Aspects of all the "Cars 1" models had to be revised because the rendering quality is so much better now and flaws more evident.

CARS_3_forPub_Storm_Orthos_drawover.jpg

--McQueen's new nemesis Jackson Storm is designed in stark contrast to McQueen: All sharp edges and corners compared to McQueen's friendlier, rounded body.

CARS_3_205.02.19_Storm_jmays.jpg

--Low to the ground, Storm has a tight suspension so he has less vibration and can make tight turns.
--He drives with precision and calculation and appears to race almost effortlessly, which makes him more of a threat to McQueen.
--Personality-wise, Storm is overconfident, arrogant, and intimidating. He cares about nothing but winning and himself.
--Outside of racing, Storm holds himself relatively still, which helps give him the aura of power. Vocally, he over-articulates and often expresses with his eyes a disdain that is in opposition to what he is saying.

CARS_3_Cruz%20Vis%20Development.jpg

--Cruz Ramirez, McQueen's young high-tech trainer, has a design somewhere between Storm and McQueen.
--She's a powerful technologically advanced racer, but in contrast to Storm, also has a heart and a passion for the sport.
--Full of enthusiasm and energy, Ramirez has done all of her training on simulators and is a little out of control when it comes to real life racing.
--Ramirez's character is based largely on her voice actor, Cristela Alonzo: Smart, determined, funny, and from modest beginnings.

"Cars 3" opens in theaters June 16, 2017.

March 16, 2017

"Beauty and the Beast" Press Junket

jeaninebanner.jpg

BeautyAndTheBeast58726d5b9fac8.jpg

March 17th, Walt Disney Studios will once again captivate moviegoers with a Tale As Old As Time, their live-action version of "Beauty and the Beast."

[All non-attributed photos and video courtesy of Disney.]

To talk about the journey they took to revisit the animated classic, cast members Gugu (“Plumette”) Mbatha-Raw, Josh (“Le Fou”) Gad, Luke (“Gaston”) Evans, Emma (“Belle”) Watson, Dan ("Beast") Stevens, Bill (Director) Condon, Audra “Garderobe” McDonald, and Alan (music/score by) Menken gathered at a recent press junket.

DSC06559.JPG

First, however, we were treated to a short concert by Alan Menken, in which he played us some of the old and new songs from "Beauty and the Beast," with the help of a couple friends.

DSC06489.JPG

Select moments from the press conference video above:

DSC06553.JPG

Condon on the process of adapting "Beauty and the Beast" as a live-action film: "Get over the terror first, I think...but then you know, you just start with that basic idea: You’re going to take it into a new medium, which is live action. They’re going to be actors. Emma’s going to be playing a character on real locations who has to fall in love with the beast. So all the behavior which is, you know, let’s face it...an animated film is sort of, you know, a little more exaggerated, has to come into reality, and once you start to investigate that, then you realize, wow, there are questions maybe you never asked before that you want to know about. How did Belle and Maurice wind up in this village where they’re outsiders, you know, and that leads to then new songs and suddenly you’re creating something new."

DSC06514.JPG

Menken on developing "Evermore," a new song for the Beast: "In the Broadway show there was a song called 'If I Can’t Love Her.' But you know, each iteration of Beauty and the Beast is a different medium in a way. There’s an animated musical, there’s a stage musical, and there’s this--and they all have sort of different shapes. And the stage musical is definitely a two act structure, so we wrote this song for the Beast, because at that act break is the moment where the Beast out of anger has driven Belle away and it was important--we needed at that moment for the Beast to sort of howl for redemption or just say I’ve given up. But in the structure of a live action film, which is more of a three act structure, Bill felt, and I agree with him, that the more satisfying moment is the moment when the Beast lets Belle go because she’s no longer his prisoner, and he loves her, and the spell will not be broken now, but at least he knows what love is."

DSC06517.JPG

McDonald on joining the cast of "Beauty and the Beast:" "...I said yes the minute that Disney called because you say yes when Disney calls. If they told me that, you know, you were gonna sell churros in the park, I’d be like, yeah, I’m there, I'll do it. But knowing not only did it have this incredible creative team but that Emma Watson was going to be Belle, and knowing how much Emma has affected girls of my daughter’s age--and my daughter is someone who now asks for people to donate money to charities for her birthday gifts instead of presents, and that’s because of you, Emma--so knowing full well that Emma was going to make sure that Belle was somebody who was independent, who was strong, who was educated, who was sticking up for girls and women, and who does all the rescuing in the film. That’s why I knew it was going to be important for me to be a part of and for my kids to see.

DSC06532.JPG

Stevens on the physical demands of portraying The Beast: "Well, it was a very physical engagement, I think just to support that muscle suit on stilts was a challenge that I’d never really encountered before. I’ve definitely been taking a more physical approach to my roles in the last few years and just training myself in different ways. I think with the backstory we decided that the prince before he was the Beast was a dancer, that he loved to dance, and so I trained myself like a dancer and learned, you know, three quite different dances for this movie and worked very closely with Anthony (Choreographer Anthony Van Laast,) just in terms of, you know, his general deportment, both for the prince and the Beast, you know, and there was a lot of work dancing in stilts. And getting to know Emma, first and foremost, on the dance floor was probably, you know, I think it’s a great way to get to know your costar, and I’m going to try and do with every movie I do now, whether there’s a waltz in the movie or not.

DSC06523.JPG

Watson on taking Belle into the real world: "...I think when I knew I was taking on this role, I wanted to make sure that I was championing that same spirit, those same values, that same young woman that made me a part of who I am today. And so, you know, every time we would address a new scene that Bill or Steve or Evan had put together, you know...I just always had the original DNA of that woman in mind, you know, and I had my fists up. I was ready to fight because she was so crucial for me. And you know, it was just taking what was already there and just expanding it. And I love that in our version Belle is not only kind of odd and doesn’t fit in, and you know, you see her reading, and you see her not really a part of the community. In our film she’s actually an activist within her own community. She’s teaching other young girls who are part of the village to read, and you know, moments like that where you could see her expanding beyond just her own little world and trying to kind of grow it, I loved that, and yeah, that was amazing to get to do."

DSC06529.JPG

Evans on humanizing Gaston: "Well, I just think a villain shouldn’t start out as the bad guy. A villain should end up being the bad guy, and I think with Gaston, outwardly, you know, to a lot of people in that village, he is the hero. He’s a bit of a stud, you know. He’s got the hair, he’s got the looks, he’s always impeccably dressed, not a bad singing voice...

"...So that when the cracks start to appear, which they do very subtly, even from the door slam, you know, there’s something inside of him that he’s like...this is not what she’s supposed to be doing. And although he keeps believing that Belle will change her mind, that’s where the cracks appear in my thought process and then slowly, you know, the jealousy takes over, and who he becomes, especially Gaston as opposed to other Disney villains, he has no book of spells, he has no magic powers. He’s a human being, and he uses his status within that village to rouse a crowd and he does it all from just being himself, which is quite terrifying in a way. So I played on that, I played on the humanity of the character as much as he is larger than life. There was a lot to pull on, and obviously he was a war hero of sorts, we decided, didn’t we, Bill, from the past. That’s why his murals are all over the pub that he drinks in. And there is...this animalistic soldier, in him when he finally fights the Beast on the rooftops. You see this man out for blood, and it’s a scary moment to see the arc of somebody who was the loveable buffoon of the village to become the absolute Beast almost, the monster."

DSC06542.JPG

Gad on horseback riding:
"I learned a couple of great lessons on this movie, one of which is that Jews don’t belong on horses. Specifically overweight Jews. My horse was an anti-Semite...they told me was trained for this movie but I believe they found (him) in the wilds of England...So Luke and I are walking into the village on our horses, and on action all our horses need to do is walk side by side, it’s so simple. Luke’s horse does it. The two of them worked on 'The Hobbit' together, 'Three Musketeers,' have this incredible background."
Evans: "We share a trailer."
Gad: "Mm, hm, they share a trailer. Mine is a cold-blooded killer. And he proceeded to moonwalk, he walked backwards. Then, he ran through multiple extras in the village, ran around--I didn’t even know it was possible--but ran through these like pillars around, up and back again. I heard 'cut' and I heard laughing, and the laughter was coming from the horse’s trainer, and he came up to me and he goes, 'I’m so sorry. I’ve never seen this happen before.' And it was so sad. It made me feel so awful about myself. Ironically, my horse’s name was Buddy. That is a true story. He’s nobody’s buddy. I’m begging Disney to press charges against him, and I’ve told my agents to never send me another script with a horse in it again."
Evans: "Unless it’s on wheels."
Gad: "Unless it’s on wheels. In the sequel to 'Beauty and the Beast' I drive a DeLorean."

DSC06552.JPG

Mbatha-Raw on doing voice work: "...For me it was, you know, working on the French accent, you know, both myself and Ewan had the same dialect coach, and then just playing in the studio with Bill encouraging us to, you know, embrace that sort of inner child and that real sort of let’s pretend kind of freedom. And for me, you know, having done a few serious roles that year, you know, to be able to embrace the feather duster Plumette and to also be able to really not be limited by your own face and your own body that you can really, as I say, just play, was so joyful."

DSC06563.JPG

Condon on representation and inclusion:
"You know, I talked before about how we translate this into a live act – that means filling out the characters. It’s also a translation to 2017, you know? And what is this movie about? What has this story always been about? For 300 years it’s about looking closer, going deeper, you know, accepting people for who they really are, and in a very Disney way we are including everybody. I think this movie is for everybody, and on the screen you’ll see everybody, and that was important to me, I think to all of us.

DSC06564.JPG

Menken on doing justice to the original film:
"My mantra throughout the whole thing was don’t screw it up. I mean, for myself."

"Beauty and the Beast" will open in theaters March 17, 2017.

December 14, 2016

"Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" Press Junket

jeaninebanner.jpg

RogueOne57fea27d27575.jpg

Fans of the pop culture juggernaut "Star Wars" will get their next installment in theaters December 16, when Lucasfilm and Walt Disney Studios present "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story." The first in what they originally called the Anthology films, "Rogue One" starts a series of standalone films that detail different parts of the Star Wars timeline, but are not directly connected to the Saga films that tell a continuing story of the Skywalker clan.

"Rogue One" details the events alluded to in the original "New Hope" title crawl, in which rebel spies steal the plans for the Empire's ultimate weapon--the DEATH STAR. It takes place between Episode III and Episode IV, at a time when Order 66 has all but destroyed the Jedi Order and nothing but the bravery and daring of ordinary citizens can hope to free the galaxy.

[All non-attributed photos and video courtesy of Disney.]

Up at Lucasfilm's Skywalker Ranch, the cast and creatives behind "Rogue One" gathered to briefly discuss the film and their roles in it. The first panel consisted of Producer Kathy Kennedy, Director Gareth Edwards, Diego "Cassian" Luna, Alan "K2SO" Tudyk, Donnie "Chirrut" Yen, and Executive Producer John Knoll, who was also the VFX Supervisor, and who contributed the original story idea.

DSC05869.JPG

Some video highlights from the press conference:

DSC06282.JPG

Edwards on getting George Lucas' feedback: "So two days ago, we got to show George the movie, and we all had a phone call and I got to speak with him yesterday, and I don’t want to put words into his mouth, but I can honestly say that I can die happy now. He really liked the movie, so it meant a lot. To be honest, and no offense to anyone here, it was the most important review to me...what George thought of it. You know, you guys are important too, but come on, he’s kind of God when it comes to Star Wars."

DSC06235.JPG

Kennedy on diversity and representation in "Rogue One:" "I think, you know, having a cast that represents and reflects the world today and having characters that people can relate to all over the world, this is very much a global industry. Films mean something to people all over the world, and it was certainly important to this story...It lent itself very, very well. These are a group of people who come together in ways that are kind of inexplicable, but they share a very common belief and they feel very strongly in their desire to do the right thing and they work together incredibly well, and having that sense of diversity as people come together was really important to our story. Every movie has reasons for why you cast certain people, but I think what we’re doing today is just being much more mindful of that, and I think it’s important."

DSC06239.JPG

Yen on how his martial arts background helped him relate to the Force: "You know, I always think of the force–we all have the force, it’s just we don’t realize it. It’s kind of like–I think it’s interesting to see...to me, the Star Wars story is about reminding us of the things that we neglect and forget. And the force is–we always have these kinds of ability, and to answer your question, I don’t think of it as having the martial arts ability, it’s just being a human being–you do have the force."

DSC06266.JPG

Tudyk on getting into character on set as the CG droid K2SO: "I was wearing a, you know, fully body jumpsuit sort of thing, and it’s such a new technology, even still. We’ve been introduced to it a lot of different ways. Sometimes people wear cameras on their heads, sometimes there’s dots all over their face, they have balls all over their suit. The way that ILM did it, I wore a suit that was very comfortable, it didn’t have all of that restriction on it, it just had interesting designs on it which..it was very cool looking. Come on. It was like a luge costume from like the Italian team, like it looked cool. And yeah, I mean, it didn’t have the colors, but still–and then I was on stilts so I was 7 foot 1, so I towered over everyone most of the time, and it was great, you know, just even at that height it colors how you move and helped me get into character. It was fantastic."
Luna: "It wasn't."
Tudyk: "It was basically just acting, but then the makeup and the costume came later, but because you’re on set you are able to create a character with the other actors. Without that, you can’t tell a story with the true character who can react in a moment. With some of the stuff Diego’s throwing at you, you need to be able to throw it right back."

DSC06271.JPG

DSC06231.JPG

Luna on Cassian's moral complexity: "I think it’s a modern approach to Star Wars, and we live in a different world today, you know. If you revisit all the films, it’s kind of like a stamp of what was going on and a reflection on the world back then, you know? And ours has to do the same. And we live in a diverse...world where racial and cultural diversity is in fact making us richer and more interesting. But it is a complex world we live in, and making the right choice many times looks horrible, you know? And these people are in war. You know, when you mentioned Cassian doing something not heroic, I would say, no, Cassian is a true hero, as Jyn and everyone in this team, you know? It’s just that they are the heroes we can be, just regular people doing amazing stuff you know, and no special powers, no Jedis, it’s just conviction and teamwork and yeah, that hope of actually being able to shape the reality we live in, and that makes them great, you know? But yes, they have to make choices on the way and war is horrible. I mean, no one wants war to happen, none of these characters would choose war, you know, but it’s the last chance, you know, and they have to do it."

DSC05877.JPG

The second panel then took place with Producer Kathy Kennedy and Director Gareth Edwards returning, along with Felicity “Jyn” Jones, Ben “Krennic” Mendelsohn, Mads “Galen” Mikkelsen, and Riz “Bodhi” Ahmed.

DSC06278.JPG

Jones on finding her Inner Warrior: "Yeah, well, it’s in Jyn’s head, it’s very clear. She hates the Empire. So anytime she sees Stormtroopers she has this kind of a very clear instinct to take them down. So I just tapped into that, into that energy that Jyn has. And I’d never done that kind of thing before. It was very new, the whole kind of physical preparation, that side of acting. I’m kind of used to lots of, you know, talking in corsets so it was really nice to be running around with a blaster and a baton to bash Stormtroopers with. But yeah, it was an extraordinary process and you work very closely with the stunt team who take you through every kind of move and moment and support you throughout the whole thing and I’m very lucky to have a great support from the stunt team doing it."

DSC06298.JPG

Edwards on working with Ben Mendelsohn: "And Ben is so relaxed in front of the camera that he would start like just messing around, like he’s very playful. And I thought he was reciting Shakespeare or something, like to get himself into character, and then I would listen carefully to the lyrics and realize he was singing Billie Jean by Michael Jackson, and even like Frozen, I think. There was like times where..."
Mendelsohn: "Oh yeah, I did sing a bit of Frozen."
Edwards: "Yeah. What was it – we used to be friends or whatever?"
Mendelsohn: "Yeah, that’s right, yeah, yeah, yeah. I did the we used to be friends – no, it’s escaping me now, but yes."
Mikkelsen: "I remember it vividly."

DSC06303.JPG

Mikkelsen on Galen's moral complexity: "...I think that as actors we always try to find, like, the two sides of a character, but definitely it’s in this one because he’s working together with this gentleman (Mendelsohn) something that he believes from the very beginning as a project that has the ability to change the world into a better place. And though be it that it turns out that he’s working on something that he didn’t know, and for that reason he’s in a gigantic dilemma. And for other reasons I will not spoil here, the dilemma gets even bigger. So yes, that’s a gray zone here. As you said, you used to be maybe in the ‘70s and the ‘80s a little more black and white, but there are a lot of grays in here.

DSC06292.JPG

Ahmed on becoming an action figure: "I did get an action figure. I was very pleased because I think he’s a lot better-looking than I am. I think they accidentally modeled it on Diego or something, we're easily confused. Yeah, it was a kind of surreal, amazing moment, to be honest. I remember kind of playing with those toys as a kid and so to be part of that universe, you know, in plastic, is an amazing thing.


"Rogue One" will open in theaters December 16, 2016.

December 7, 2016

7 Things I Learned from 28 Minutes of "Rogue One"

jeaninebanner.jpg

RogueOne5789817d38788.jpg

This last weekend, Lucasfilm and director Gareth Edwards screened 28 minutes of "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" up at Skywalker Ranch. While the footage seemed deliberately cut to avoid major spoilers, it was enough to get some preliminary impressions.

*If you want to go in completely spoiler free, now is the time to cut out.*

1. As a move likely intended to distinguish the anthology story "Rogue One" from the main legacy movies, the film does not begin with the usual Star Wars title crawl--just the traditional "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.."

2. What I gather: Our heroine Jyn Erso's story begins when her family is fractured by Director Orson Krennic and his Death Troopers who need her dad, Galen Erso, to work on a secret Death Star project. In a jump forward, we then see a Rebel Alliance desperate to get the plans for the Death Star from Galen. In a bid to contact him, they recruit an adult Jyn to help them assemble the people they need--Bodhi Rook, a defector pilot, and Saw Gerrera, a militant rebel offshoot leader and Jyn's old protector.

3. Asians! For those of us who remember when JJ Abrams was asked at SDCC when Asians would figure into Star Wars, and his response was "go Asians!" Lucasfilm finally delivers with Donnie Yen's Chirrut Imwe--a blind monk who is one of the few remaining believers in the Force. As you'd expect from the martial art star, his fight scene in the clips we saw was suitably impressive.

RogueOne57ff8b775caac.jpg

4. "Rogue One" is clearly designed to show a grittier, morally complex side to the Star Wars Universe. Far from the black-and-white 1930's film serial view of heroism that influenced Episode 4, the rebels here have apparently accepted that war means occasionally distasteful compromise.

5. Alan Tudyk continues to earn his keep as Disney's good luck charm--his K-2SO droid is a hilarious CGI blend of HK-47 from "Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic" and Marvin the Paranoid Android from "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." Easily my favorite part of everything I've seen so far, he is BB-8 for the disaffected set.

RogueOne57ff8b715d2e4.jpg

6. Things continue to be grim if you are a mom in a Disney movie.

7. Stormtroopers are still questionable shots.

"Rogue One" enters general release December 16, 2016.

November 16, 2016

"Moana" Press Junket

jeaninebanner.jpg

Moana57d7ae7e1548f.jpg

On November 23rd, Walt Disney Animation will debut its next Disney princess in "Moana"--a story of a young girl who must cross the ocean on a quest to save her island from a withering death. To accomplish this task, she must surmount any number of impediments, including a reluctant, egotistical demigod, coconut-wearing pirates, a shiny crab, a demon of earth and fire, and an intellectually challenged rooster.

[All non-attributed photos and video courtesy of Disney.]

At a recent press junket, a collection of the impressive talent behind "Moana" gathered to talk about the film's creative process. In attendance was Dwayne (Maui) Johnson, Auli'i (Moana) Cravalho, Lin-Manuel (Original Songs by) Miranda, Ron (Director) Clements, John (Director) Musker, Opetaia (Original Songs by) Foa'i, and Osnat (Producer) Shurer.

IMG_5112.JPG

Select moments from the video above:

DSC05805.JPG

Miranda on getting The Rock to sing: "I get a lot of questions from reporters this week being all 'how did you get The Rock to sing?' That's not what happened here. When Dwayne accepted the role, he said, 'so what are you giving me to sing?' He was really excited for this, and for me--I went to YouTube, where the answers always lie, and...I'm a big fan of his wrestling days and there was a time...where he would pull out a guitar and taunt whatever town he was in. And so I got a really good sense of his vocal range from that ten minute supercut, and then the rest of it was just writing lyrics that embody the spirit of Maui, who is this amazing demigod/trickster god...and once I had the title 'You're Welcome," which only Dwayne can pull off and still have you love him and root for him, we were off to the races."
Johnson: "...One of the best times I've ever had in my career was working on this project and certainly working on that song, because also like--we all love challenges, and this was a challenge that the bar's set so incredibly high in a Disney film to sing!"
Musker: "Dwayne's the new Angela Lansbury."

DSC05810.JPG

Cravalho on what it means to be Moana: "This is my first job. It's been an incredible journey for me. I'm fifteen going on sixteen, and I'm working with the best people in the entire world of whom are making a film inspired by my culture--a culture I have lived every day of my life. That is something so incredibly special for the rest of the world to see...for me, as someone who is hoping to continue in show business (now that I'm in 'show biz,' which is really exciting)...I was wondering how would I continue in this and still be Polynesian? And that might be an interesting concept...As I might potentially leave my home, what does that make me? Does that still keep me Polynesian? Am I still grounded and rooted in the way that I want to be? And I can honestly say 'yes." Because being surrounded by my family and by the Hawaiian culture every day, it seems as though I would never lose it. But to have a film like this that will inspire me, and to have a character that will inspire others as well to become rooted in who they truly are...that's something that inspires me and that I hope will inspire others as well."

IMG_5119a.JPG

Foa'i, Johnson, and Cravalho on what they hope Polynesians get out of "Moana:"
Foa'i: "My journey has been from the village to the city...There are many other cultures that will see this movie and be interested in it, but there are also, there will be Polynesians who were born in the cities who will then start the journey back to the village. That's what I'm thrilled about."
Cravalho: "I'm really excited for everyone to see this film. I know my friends are thrilled, my family is thrilled and I think we're all very proud of this film. I will admit, and I will admit this truthfully, that before I was working on this film, I was a bit wary of it. Because I think when anyone thinks of someone making a film inspired by their culture, they want it to be done right. And Disney has done a wonderful job--the Oceanic Trust that has been put together, as well as the research trips that Ron and John and Osmat were on as well. All of that has created such a wonderful well-rounded film that I'm excited for my people to see and for everyone else to see as well as they'll hopefully be inspired to research on our culture. Because our culture is, like, awesome!"
Johnson: "What Opetaia said, I think, is very resonant in the pride that they will have in the film. And there were a lot (and understandably so)...there was some hesitance from a lot of people in our culture about 'well, what's going to happen if our culture's going to be showcased for the very first time on this level, this capacity from Disney? What's going to happen?'

"I feel like the Polynesian people are going to be incredibly proud of this movie. Overall, all cultures by the way...I think what's going to touch upon all of us, regardless of where we're at in the world, where we're from, cultures, class, religion, is the voice. So, our world today, so relevant in this moment, so full of noise, there's so much noise that's happening in our world, but
the little voice that you've always gotta listen to, your gut, your intuition...you can do things. You can go beyond boundaries. And you have to trust that gut and instinct. So those are the things I think our people are going to take away and the rest of the world will take away."

IMG_5116.JPG

After the "Moana" presentation, Director Leo Matsuda and Producer Sean Lurie gave a short presentation on "Inner Workings," the terminally adorable short that will play in theaters before "Moana." Taking a stylistic reference from the acetate anatomy diagrams that used to figure heavily in encyclopedias back in the day, the short demonstrates the perpetual battle between the responsible anxieties of the brain, and the careless hedonism of the heart.

DSC06218.JPG

"Moana" will open in theaters November 23, 2016.

November 9, 2016

"Moana" Press Day: Filmmaker Presentations

jeaninebanner.jpg

Moana575f024d56a90a.jpg

As the release date for "Moana" rapidly approaches, we continue our look at the film's development with presentations by the filmmakers. Jared Bush (Screenwriter), Dave Pimentel (Head of Story), David Derrick (Story Artist), and Sunmee Joh (Story Artist) came together to talk about developing the story of "Moana," in "Building a Legend."

[All unattributed photos courtesy of Disney.]

Moana%20LLD%20Selects%207-26-16%2041.jpg

Jared Bush on writing a scene vs. storyboarding a scene: "'This is in a cavern of the ancestors, water rushing down to the boats. Walking amongst the huge canoes in awe, she spots a smaller canoe near the pool of water leading through a waterfall. Water jumps out of the hull from the nearest lagoon, and as the sails swell, it reveals a massive double-hulled canoe.' So something like that took me about three minutes to write, but then I hand it over to Dave...and it becomes a lifetime."

Moana5461303bc085b.jpg

David Derrick, who has Samoan ancestry, noted that he was able to reconnect with it on various research trips, and put the pattern of his own family's tapa print throughout the film.

want%20saongtapa.jpg

Sunmee Joh on Saving Heihei: "He was a character we had from the very beginning and he was in many versions of the story, but as the story progressed, we suddenly found Heihei on the chopping block. The directors really wanted to keep him, but we were having a hard time fitting him in...Then, I thought...what if we added him to the Kakamora scene?"

Heihei_Complication_Boards.001.jpg

"Tell them what happened in this panel, when John Lasseter saw it."
"He got up with a big clap and said 'YES, HEIHEI IS SAVED!'"

Hank Driskill (Technical Supervisor), Kyle Odermatt (Visual Effects Supervisor), Marlon West (Head of Effects), and Dale Mayeda (Head of Effects) then presented some of the amazing special effects in "Moana."

Moana%20LLD%20Selects%207-26-16%205.jpg

--Water is an important and central figure both in the movie and in Polynesian culture.
--Conversations with colleagues at Pixar and Industrial Light and Magic helped to define what "state of the art" water rendering was, so that they could then determine how to then push the boundaries.
--80% of the shots in this movie have effects in them.
--In addition to making the water look believable, they also had to make the water a believable and interactable character.
--The general process was that the character animators would come up with a silhouette they wanted, the directors would make decisions on timing and performance, and then Effects would add fluid simulations along the surface, interior bubbles, and surrounding splashes.

HighFive_Progression.jpg

Finally, animators Bill Schwab (Art Director, Characters), Amy Smeed (Head of Animation), Malcon Pierce (Animation Supervisor, Moana), and Neysa Bové (Vis Dev Artist) came together to introduce us to the film's heroine.

Moana%20LLD%20Selects%207-26-16%2048.jpg

Moana%20LLD%20Selects%207-26-16%2052.jpg

Neysa Bové on costume design: "Costume design is such an important part of filmmaking--you're not only trying to tell the story of the character, but you're trying to also put the personality, what they're about in it...For Moana, one challenge that I had was to come up with something that was...relevant to 2000 years ago in the Pacific Islands. We were lucky enough to have the Oceanic Trust and they were able to share with us that at that time they were working with two different fabrics--tapa and pandanus--and tapa is what she's wearing in her bodice, that's actually made from the mulberry tree, and the skirt is pandanus, (which is) sort of woven."

10.moana_village_costume_less.jpg

--Her Taualuga costume is for Moana's coming-of-age ceremony.
--Moana's costumes figure in red primarily, because it is a sign of royalty in the Pacific Islands.
--The red feather is a sign of currency.
--Construction of the costumes is taken into account during the design. Without sewing machines, the clasp on her back is a boar's tusk.

Moana_dance_village_costume_final_prints_working-small.jpg

--A concerted effort was made from all departments to push the anatomy and clarify details like the interaction between eyelids and brows, folds in the hand while making a fist, and patterns of teeth and gums.
--180 different controls exist to pose just Moana's face.
--Even the eyelashes are posed separately to sell the eye motions.

m037.jpg


"Moana" will be opening November 23, 2016.

September 7, 2016

"Moana" Press Day: Producer/Director Presentations and "Inner Workings."

jeaninebanner.jpg

Fresh off their popular/critical hit "Zootopia," Walt Disney Animation Studios invited us last month to take a sneak peek at what will be their 56th animated feature: "Moana."

Moana575f024d56a90.jpg

[Non-attributed photos courtesy of Disney]

DSC05606-001.JPG

Leading off the day was Director Leo Matsuda and Producer Sean Lurie discussing the conception and creation of their fantastic short "Inner Workings" which will accompany "Moana" in theaters. The short portrays a working man caught in the middle of his brain and heart's conflicting desires.

Moana%20LLD%20Selects%207-26-16%2030.jpg

Leo Matsuda on the "Inner Workings" inspiration: "As you can see, I'm Japanese-Brazilian--you can probably tell from my accent--I have a Japanese side that is very disciplined and logical, but I also have my Brazilian side who loves Carnival and parties, so I feel that I've always had this tug-of-war between the two extremes in my life, and I think this short portrays some of that."

Moana57c4771f929a3.jpg

--Other influences on the short include the works of Jacques Tati, Wes Anderson, Ward Kimball, Golden Books, and the Encyclopedia Brittanica.
--Paul, the main character, was initially envisioned as a generic white guy, but the crew insisted that Matsuda's sketches looked like him, and after his fiancee agreed, he changed the character design to reflect that.
--The overlying shape of things in Paul's office is square, indicating the rigid world of the brain, as opposed to the world of the beach which is wavy and curved and where the heart wants to be.
--The journey to developing an art style that would make bodily organs adorable vs. disgusting took influences from aquatic animals and how they move in water.
--Ultimately, the story is about finding balance between the demands of the brain and heart as opposed to either abandoning all responsibilities or failing to live life to the fullest.

Inner-Workings_visdev_paul_leo.jpg

Next up was Producer Osnat Shurer introducing "Moana."

Moana%20LLD%20Selects%207-26-16%2032.jpg

Shurer on the journey to making "Moana": "A few years ago, after 'Princess and the Frog,' Ron (Clements) and John (Musker)...were talking about what their next feature should be. John had long been fascinated by stories of the...South Pacific. This incredible, beautiful area of the world that many of the residents call 'Oceania.' And he read a lot of Polynesian folktales and looked at the varied and really fascinating stories of the demigod Maui, and the various stories there. Ron loved the idea, and they went together to our Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter, and pitched some ideas."

--As part of the extensive research they conducted, the filmmakers went on several trips to multiple islands in the South Pacific which significantly changed the direction of the project.
--The Moorean phrase "know your mountain" became an important concept to the story: In order to know where you're going, you have to know where you come from.
--They were introduced to the concept that the ocean does not divide the islands, but in fact unites them as one.
--A variety of people they met on their voyages became regular references to them on matters of cultural representation--an "Oceanic Story Trust."
--The task of creating a soundtrack incorporating the musical rhythms of the South Pacific with a contemporary sound eventually fell to the team of Opetaia Foa‘i, Mark Mancina, and Lin-Manuel Miranda.
--All the leads of the film have South Pacific roots.

Moana57c476d2b04e8a.JPG
Auli‘i Cravalho, voice of Moana

Moana55d27a090eb16.JPG
Dwayne Johnson, voice of Maui

Directors John Musker and Ron Clements then took the stage.

Moana%20LLD%20Selects%207-26-16%2034.jpg

After a short recap of their illustrious careers at WDAS, the two recounted the story development of "Moana": "In our research trips in the South Pacific, we learned first hand the importance of navigation to this culture. So really, we built the whole story around the true fact of the Pacific Islanders being the greatest navigators the world has ever seen. 3,000 years ago, they found their way across the Pacific starting in Taiwan, going through New Guinea, working their way from West to East. And in one of the greatest feats of nautical exploration, they used dead reckoning, they had no instruments whatever, and based on their knowledge of the stars and the currents, they found their way across the ocean in a great feat. And we wanted to celebrate that.

"But according to experts that we spoke with, about 3,000 years ago, everything stopped. All voyaging stopped. For a thousand years, everyone just stayed put and they didn't migrate. And then about 2,000 years ago, it started up again. And then they proceeded to populate the Eastern Pacific, including Tahiti, Hawaii, and New Zealand. And because it was an oral culture, nothing was written down. To this day, no one actually knows why the voyaging stopped, or how it started again. It's a mystery.

"We came up with a theory, which is the basis of our movie...What if there happened to be one young girl that was responsible for things starting up again?"

Moana%20LLD%20Selects%207-26-16%2033.jpg

--"Moana" means "ocean" in many different South Pacific languages.
--She is 16 years old, the daughter of a chief, fearless, smart, and high-spirited.
--Her pet pig is "Pua."
--Moana's desire to explore is at odds with her father's decree that no one ever venture beyond the reefs of their island, but is fanned by the stories of her Gramma Tala.
--Her intellectually challenged rooster is "Heihei."
--Maui has a magical fishhook "like Thor's hammer."
--He is covered with tattoos, and one in particular of himself--"Mini Maui"--was supervised in 2D by famed Disney animator Eric Goldberg.

Next time, we'll be recounting presentations from animators in charge of the environments, characters, effects, story, and more.

"Moana" will be opening November 23, 2016.

August 8, 2016

"Pete's Dragon" Press Junket

jeaninebanner.jpg

PetesDragon56c77f528f40e.jpg

Opening in theaters this August 12th, Disney's latest live-action film "Pete's Dragon" reimagines the 1977 film's story of a lonely boy, the dragon who protects him, the shyster who threatens him, and the family that accepts him.

[All non-attributed photos and video courtesy of Disney.]

Recently, a sampling of the talented folk involved in the making of "Pete's Dragon" convened at a press junket to discuss the film.

PetesDragon5760281210cf7.jpg

Bryce Dallas Howard (“Grace”) on comparing this movie to the original 1977 film: "I think there were no throwbacks, intentionally, other than what was at the genesis of this idea, which is that it's about a boy who is orphaned, whose family, in essence, is a dragon. You know, it's his best friend and no one believes that a dragon exists, and then we come to see that magic is actually possible. It's a story about what it takes to find your family. And I think that thematically, is very obviously similar to the first film, but this really was...it's not even like 'inspired by'...it's really an original film. It's not meant to step on the memories of the 1977 version of 'Pete's Dragon.'"

Howard on what families should take away from the film: "I think it's the power of family, and I think it's the magic of family. You know, the miracle of family, honestly. Ooo--getting a little emotional!"

PetesDragon578e95883eb56.jpg

Director David Lowery on similarities between "Pete's Dragon" and his 2013 film "Ain't Them Bodies Saints": "A little bit of facetiousness on that part, but I really do think that both of those movies are about characters who are searching for home, searching for family. And in that movie, Casey Affleck was a guy who thought his family was one thing, and thought his life would be one thing, and turns out not to be the case, and in his pursuit of it, he realizes that he's missed out on something. And so here we have a story of a little boy and a dragon who...the little boy ultimately finds a new home as well, and the parallels became immediate to me when I realized the scene in this movie where the dragon goes and looks through a window and sees Pete, with his new family, curled up on the bed, and there's a scene in 'Ain't Them Bodies Saints' when Casey Affleck walks up to a window and sees his wife and daughter sitting with a new guy on the couch...and like it's almost shot-for-shot the same. It wasn't conscious on my part, but oh, there you go."

Lowery on casting Robert Redford: "I'd been working on another project with him...but in the meantime I had been working on this script, and this one started to come together, and we were thinking of...actors to play Mr. Meacham. We had had a different idea of who that character was in mind and it was supposed to be sort of like a kind of crazier old guy, like a guy who, like, maybe doesn't have all his marbles, a little more comic relief. But then I'm like 'what if we got Robert Redford? That would be unbelievable.' And so I sent him the script and he read it and was all 'oh, this is really interesting, it's really cool--I'm not sure it's necessarily the right thing for me..." And then we rewrote the script for him, because I was like 'yes...this character is obviously not someone you could play, because...he's nuts, and you are clearly not. You are very put-together.' But we rewrote it for him, and then he agreed to do it."

PetesDragon576027c82766a.jpg

Oakes Fegley (“Pete”) and Oona Laurence (“Natalie”) on their relationship to Disney:
Fegley: "I like all the animated films...like 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,' or 'The Jungle Book'...and I like 'The BFG'--I hope I like it, I haven't seen it yet, but it seems like something I would like."
Laurence: "I mean, Disney was my childhood, and it still is my childhood, so..."
Fegley: "Now it's even more."
Laurence: "...Yeah, I've seen almost all the Disney films, I love 'High School Musical,' I've seen it so many times. I love Disney. I feel so lucky to be in an actual Disney film."

PetesDragon576027aa39b0b.jpg

Robert Redford (“Meacham”) on how he approached making this character unique: "Well, first of all, Lowery came to me and allowed me to step in and develop the character further than was written, so that sort of allowed me to take responsibility for the character and have a little bit of authorship. So my whole thing about the character was that he was a storyteller; and since storytelling was a big part of my life, growing up here in Los Angeles...it was a very difficult time, difficult life, lower working-class neighborhood...people didn't have much, so storytelling became a huge thing--a way out of a tough situation, and that played a big role in my life, as a kid.

"So I thought, well here's a story that really is storytelling. It involves fantasy and realism together. When I read the script, I thought, well this reminds me of my childhood, with the Disney movies that I saw, and how much I loved that when I was a little kid. "Bambi," "Fantasia"...things like that. And then he stopped making those films and went into adult stuff and I lost interest.

PetesDragon578e968ea0123.jpg

"What I love about it, is that (Lowery) has created a kind of atmosphere of magic. I think magic was such a part of my life, when I was young...that was your hope factor. That was that thing you hope...there's something out there beyond me, that's good. Something out there beyond me and this small world I'm living in, that's bigger and special...So you kind of hung on to that, someday I'm going to be out of here, and go.

"And what Lowery did with the character, was that, when I first read it, I was "well, it's a nice idea for a movie, but the character is..." I felt it was underdrawn, and he opened it up, and said, 'look, why don't you step in and be part of the development of the story,' so he allowed me to step in and work on the character. And then things changed. I felt like I was part of things, I felt like what could be developed was more in the storyteller, and more of him trying to see things beyond what you see in front of you. He tells his daughter, he says 'you only see what's in front of you. There's other stuff. Look around, look beyond.' I like that concept a lot."

PetesDragon579fe4faa4e6b.jpg

"Pete's Dragon" will open in theaters August 12, 2016.

June 7, 2016

Tick-Tock Tea Time with "Alice Through The Looking Glass" and the El Capitan Theatre

jeaninebanner.jpg

AliceThroughTheLookingGlass56c20221afcf7.jpg

On selected days throughout the run of "Alice Through The Looking Glass" at the El Capitan Theatre, a special tea service was offered in conjunction at the Chado Tea Room in the Hollywood and Highland complex.

DSC05431.JPG

"Tick-Tock Tea Time" took place about two hours prior to the start of selected showtimes, and provided guests with a pleasant selection of scones, sandwiches, and desserts, along with all the tea you could drink.

DSC05435.JPG

The service began with a choice of five teas, some of which were Alice-themed, and some of which were Chado's most popular blends. The servers were diligent in pointing out which ones were caffeinated and non-caffeinated in case parents had a preference in what their children ingested. Each person received their own pot of tea, along with a glass of iced tea.

DSC05429.JPG

The first tier of treats for each person was a scone accompanied with strawberries and cream, and assorted jam flavors.

DSC05437.JPG

Next up were finger sandwiches: An open-faced salmon, cucumber with cream cheese, chicken with cranberry-lingonberry sauce, and tea-marinated egg salad.

DSC05438.JPG

The dessert course consisted of cookies, strawberries, and a chocolate mousse cup.

DSC05436.JPG
For Gosh's Sake, don't throw your crusts under the bed!

As a parting gift, each person also received a nice "Alice Through The Looking Glass" mug, presumably in which to drink their own tea at home.

DSC05433.JPG

The food was very nice and the whole experience fairly soothing, despite the fact that every other table was generally celebrating a birthday. Although the menu sounded a trifle twee initially, it actually was a pretty hardy meal and after sucking down a pot of tea each we were all relatively full.

Afterwards, guests marched down the same stairs the Academy Award attendees walk to get to the Dolby Theater and crossed the street to the El Capitan Theatre to watch "Alice Through The Looking Glass." [Reviewed by Kristen Ford here.]

IMG_2938.JPG

As part of the tea package, VIP tickets were provided that included drinks and a commemorative popcorn bucket.

IMG_3042.JPG

Rob Richards started off the show as usual, with a snazzy performance on the theater's Wurlitzer Organ.

DSC05452.JPG

After previews, the audience was treated to a new psychedelic light and projection show featuring some of the film's prevalent images.

00064.jpg

00064-003.jpg

00064-004.jpg

After the movie, guests could then appreciate a display of concept art, hero props and costumes on display around the El Capitan.

DSC05440.JPG

DSC05445.JPG

DSC05447.JPG

DSC05449.JPG

DSC05451.JPG

IMG_3039.JPG

On the whole, the tea/movie package was a very pleasant way to extend the movie-going experience at the El Capitan, and a great way to celebrate a special occasion. For similar future events I would note that the room was pretty small--so if you were interested in booking it, you probably wouldn't want to wait, because the chance of it selling out is high. Also, the tea room validates parking for two hours, but the theater validates for four hours, so it's best to wait until getting across the street to take care of that. (Despite that, the chances are the tea and the movie will take longer than four hours, so be prepared to add on another $2-6 onto the usual $2 parking toll.)

Unfortunately, the Tick-Tock Tea has finished its last session--however, the Chado Tea Room offers very similar tea services on a routine basis, more information about which can be found on their web page here. "Alice Through The Looking Glass" continues at the El Capitan Theatre through June 12, 2016.

AliceThroughTheLookingGlass55d27d3ce5ba0.jpeg

Daily showtimes are 10 a.m., 1:10 p.m., 4:20 p.m., and 7:30 p.m., with a 10:40 p.m. on opening weekend (Friday through Sunday) and each Friday and Saturday during the engagement of the film. Tickets are on sale now through June 12, available at the El Capitan Theatre (6838 Hollywood Blvd.), online at www.elcapitantickets.com or by calling 1-800-DISNEY6. Special group rates for parties of 20 or more are available by calling 1-818-845-3110. Showtimes and dates are subject to change.

May 26, 2016

"Alice Through the Looking Glass" Press Junket

jeaninebanner.jpg

AliceThroughTheLookingGlass56c20221afcf7.jpg

On May 27, "Alice Through the Looking Glass," the sequel to Tim Burton's hit film "Alice in Wonderland" opens in theaters throughout the US.

[All non-attributed photos and video courtesy of Disney.]

As part of the recent appearances the cast and crew have been making to promote the movie's premiere, a press junket was held in Beverly Hills. In attendance was Anne (“The White Queen”) Hathaway, Mia (“Alice Kingsleigh”) Wasikowska, Director James Bobin, and Producer Suzanne Todd.

DSC04982.JPG

Some points of interest from the discussion:

DSC04984.JPG

Suzanne Todd on why she decided to make this sequel: "Well, it took us a long time now, after the first movie, to come up with an idea that we felt was worth taking on--as everyone here knows, these movies are very difficult to make. So we went back into the literature: We went back into what was so popular for 150 years, and themes came up that we were were interested in...that Linda Wolverton, the screenwriter, wanted to take on, and when James [Bobin] came on board, that he was interested in. And we really focused on what you see in the movie now, which is time, and the preciousness of time, and the importance of spending time with loved ones...and also what a pretty, kick-ass girl can do if she sets her mind to it! And she does!"

DSC04981.JPG

Mia Wasikowska on revisiting the character of Alice: "Yeah, it was great...at the beginning of this film she has been traveling around the world for the last two years, and she’s the captain of her own ship, so she’s coming from a very empowered place. I just love that she has this really strong sense of who she is, and despite the fact that expectations for her are really low when she returns to England, she’s able to hold onto that sense that she’s worth more than what other people want for her. Yeah, I think she’s great.”

DSC04979.JPG

Anne Hathaway on wearing the film's elaborate costumes: "You know, I thought that Colleen’s [Atwood] costume probably created my character. I knew I had had certain kind of incorrect ideas about who she was, and then as I found the dress I just thought, ‘oh, she’s air.’ I also started to think about the relationship between her and Helena [Bonham Carter] and I thought, if you have a family member who has a very very large personality, who has a lot of emotions, you compensate by taking up less space...and so I thought, ‘here’s somebody who’s turning herself into almost weightlessness.’ And yet, it’s still so ornamented, so I just thought it’s very rich and very airy..and that’s how I kind of came up with my airhead.”

DSC04974.JPG

James Bobin on how to make the new film distinct from the original, while still paying respect to it: "Of course we really owe a debt to Lewis Carroll...having Time be a person was of course Lewis Carroll’s idea. Lewis Carroll wrote in the book, when the Hatter meets Alice for the first time, ‘I’ve been stuck here since last March, when Time and I quarreled,’ so it’s kind of those bits. It’s basically trying to incorporate elements of Lewis Carroll, whilst maintaining a Tim [Burton] world, but then bringing something of what you think those things are."

DSC04978.JPG

Suzanne Todd on her first introduction to "Alice in Wonderland": "Growing up in California, I went to Disneyland and I rode the Alice ride! There are actually two Alice rides at Disneyland, there's Mad Tea Cups and there's an Alice's Adventures ride, and yes, as a very young girl I was, and still am, obsessed with Disney--not just Disneyland, but all Disney parks. They're the happiest places to be! After going on the Alice ride, I did get very interested and I did read the books and have a very literary reaction to it, but yes, it all started with the rides at Disneyland."

May 3, 2016

"Captain America: Civil War" Part 1: Team IRON MAN - Press Junket

jeaninebanner.jpg

CivilWar56d9eccd2645f.jpg

This May 6th marks the debut of Marvel Studio's latest film, "Captain America: Civil War." Directed by Anthony & Joe Russo, the start of Marvel Cinematic Universe's Phase III sees the Earth's Mightiest Heroes splintered into two factions over the question of government registration and oversight--Team Iron Man, advocating for accountability, and Team Cap, dedicated to free will and independence.

[All non-attributed photos and video courtesy of Disney.]

CivilWar56df1b8f5f589c.jpg

At a recent press junket the two sides made an appearance to discuss the new film--separately, of course. Team Iron Man was up first, represented by Robert Downey Jr., (“Tony Stark / Iron Man”) Don Cheadle, (“James Rhodes / War Machine”) Paul Bettany, (“Vision”) Emily Van Camp, (“Sharon Carter / Agent 13”) Director Anthony Russo, and Producer Kevin Feige. Guest Blogger Amanda Bulat attended for AllEars.Net.

FullSizeRender.jpg

Some points of note from the video above:

Snapshot%201%20%285-3-2016%2012-48%20AM%29.png

Robert Downey Jr. on Tony Stark's emotional center: "I'm still reeling from the fact that Paul Bettany was Jarvis and now he's Vision...If you just stop, you go 'so here's what's going on with Tony,' I go 'waitaminute. Did he make a guy?!' Look at him!"
Bettany: "Dad!"
Downey Jr.: "So proud of you."

Snapshot%202%20%285-3-2016%2012-59%20AM%29.png

Anthony Russo on technological advances in film-making: "You sort of reap the benefits and you sort of push forward every film and this movie has a very remarkable sequence I think where Robert Downey Jr. plays a twenty-year old man...which, you know, is pretty incredible."
[Downey Jr. begins to have a stroke.]
Bettany: (Reassuringly) "Wait a second, I don't think it's that hard to believe!"
Russo: "I mean, he plays someone who's around the age he was when we all first saw him on the screen."
Downey Jr.: "Aw. It's nostalgic. Very expensive nostalgia, I'm told."

Snapshot%203%20%285-3-2016%201-12%20AM%29.png

Don Cheadle on War Machine getting new upgrades: "Thank God somebody finally laid it bare...I think we'll see. It's not over...unless it is, 'cause I haven't seen the movie. Do...I live? Does War Machine live? (That's some hubris.) You'll see in the next one...wait a minute..."

Snapshot%204%20%285-3-2016%201-28%20AM%29.png

Kevin Feige on the casting of Black Panther: "It was relatively early on in the development process of the movie that Joe and Anthony and our screenwriters Chris and Steve thought it would be very valuable to have somebody...people who weren't quite as invested. We wanted somebody who perhaps was invested but didn't have allegiances to any one side. Who was essentially in it for very personal reasons himself. We knew we wanted to make a Black Panther movie at some point, but at that time we weren't sure exactly when that would be, but as these discussions were going on, we thought 'I think we're going to bring Black Panther into this movie...' I'm not kidding when I say Chadwick (Boseman) was the only choice. His performance in '42,' his performance in 'Get on Up,' how different those performances are...and my memory is that we called him on the conference room speaker when we were developing the movie, and...he was in his car either about to get out or had just gotten back in, and we said 'have you ever heard of Black Panther,' and he went 'YES. YES. WHY ARE YOU ASKING ME THAT.' And we said 'do you want to play the part,' and he was very excited.

Snapshot%205%20%285-3-2016%201-41%20AM%29.png

Emily Van Camp on hitting a stride in portraying Sharon Carter: "I think I was definitely slightly intimidated in the first one, in 'Winter Soldier,' you know, just kind of getting used to it. I think that lent itself well for the character, she was sort of more in like a rookie stage, and it's great to see her come back in a little bit more of a mature light, she's confident..."
Moderator: "And she's still good with guns, girl!"
Van Camp: "Still good with guns!"

Snapshot%206%20%285-3-2016%201-55%20AM%29.png

Paul Bettany on Vision's process of finding himself while establishing relationships with other characters: "You find Vision in 'Age of Ultron,' he is just born and omnipotent yet naive, and then in this movie you find him trying to figure out what humanity is, and how you have loyalty, because logic doesn't afford loyalty. So I think he's really interested in working out what love is, and there's this woman who has a similar problem that he's facing, which is he doesn't know the limits of his power, nor does she. Of course, love can make you feel loyal, and at the end of this movie, I think it's double-edged sword, because his response at finally having a human response, is he makes a big mistake. Which is interesting."

April 13, 2016

Review: "The Jungle Book"

jeaninebanner.jpg

thejunglebook56b9139b64afd.jpg

"The Jungle Book," a new live-action retelling of the classic 1967 animated feature from Walt Disney Studios and Director Jon Favreau, reinvents the Rudyard Kipling fable for our time in dazzlingly photorealistic CG.

While keeping some of the songs and whimsy of the Disney feature, Favreau's "Jungle Book" leans more towards the darker tones of the original Kipling tales. In it, Mowgli, a boy orphaned in the jungle, is raised by wolves until the vicious tiger Shere Khan declares open season on him and he is forced to leave the only home he knows.

thejunglebook55f856edc4aa8.jpg

As he makes his way towards the Man Village, Mowgli is alternately advised by the orderly, regimented Bagheera and the free-spirited Baloo...

thejunglebook56b918f52fcee.jpg

...While eluding the grasps of both the predatory Kaa...

thejunglebook55f856ed99cb5.jpg

...And the ambitious King Louie.

thejunglebook568ecebf85c81.jpg

To get the obvious out of the way, the CG on this film is amazing. Filmed in Downtown Los Angeles, it is astonishing how convincing it is--the environment, the animals, the wind and the water all are almost indistinguishable from real, and are absolutely convincing as characters and backdrop for the story.

thejunglebook56cf89289a828a.jpg

The voice cast is used to good effect and is as skillful as their combined star power would lead you to expect. Bill Murray shows an impressive sensitivity behind the jovial Baloo and Lupita Nyong’o's Raksha has a goodbye moment with Mowgli with more emotion behind it than many a similar scene between human actors.

thejunglebook570051f748ad6.jpg

The only voice that rings a little light for the role is Scarlett Johansson, whose Kaa never really sounds quite as menacing as she looks. In contrast, the one voice I really wasn't sure about from the trailers was Christopher Walken--however he turned out to maybe be one of the few actors possessing the ideal skill set for the alternately creepy menace/song-and-dance man/Gigantopithecus, King Louie.

thejunglebook56f01e19bb74e.jpg

Speaking of music, one could hardly think about the 1967 "Jungle Book" without its deservedly popular score. While Murray does hum a few bars of "Bare Necessities," the big number is reserved for Walken and "I Wanna Be Like You," on which Richard Sherman consulted and wrote new lyrics.

Neel Sethi has the lion's share of the business on this one as the only physical character in the film. Fortunately he's naturally engaging, giving Mowgli a cleverness and initiative the animated one lacked, while easily avoiding the child actor pitfalls of annoying and cloying.

thejunglebook568ecec0234d7.jpg

Ultimately, I think the film works well because it deviates strongly from both the original book and animated predecessor. Each version on some level reflects the time it came from: Kipling's story, in which Mowgli is abandoned/betrayed by both the wolves and mankind and winds up living solitary and apart is often thought to be commentary on British Imperialism in India. The 1967 feature, coming at a time of social revolution and the Vietnam War shows Mowgli retreating from the jungle and all its dangers, to the safety and familiarity of Man's Village. Today's Mowgli faces a Shere Khan as fueled by fear and hatred as revenge: Whose most chilling scene is that where he amiably teaches the wolf cubs that caring for others who are not your kind, is only to impoverish and weaken you and yours.

thejunglebook56f01e2c5adfa.jpg

While the filmmakers tend to stress the themes of family in "The Jungle Book," what I found most prominent in the film was Mowgli's journey to discover what it means, to be a Man. Is it simply DNA and opposable thumbs? The ability to use tools and understand Physics? A facility for slaughter and destruction? Or a capacity for acts of compassion for others who look, speak, and act differently, at great personal cost? How interesting to live in a time where film animals often display the best of humanity, while TV politicians continually demonstrate the worst of beasts.

thejunglebook5700520305349.jpg

"The Jungle Book" is presented by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. Rated PG, it stars Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong’o, Scarlett Johansson, Giancarlo Esposito, Neel Sethi and Christopher Walken.

Directed by Jon Favreau and produced by Jon Favreau and Brigham Taylor. Screenplay by Justin Marks.

The film enters general release on April 15, 2015.

March 14, 2016

"Zootopia" at the El Capitan Theatre

jeaninebanner.jpg

People looking for the complete "Zootopia" viewing experience can head towards Disney's El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood for some charming extras.

IMG_1954.JPG

As usual, House Organist Rob Richards starts off every show with a rousing Disney medley.

DSC04540.JPG

After the trailers, a Wild Animal Encounter show takes place, in which audiences are given a glimpse of some of the prominent animals seen in the film, along with some short but informative presentations.

00208.jpg

00208-001.JPG

00208-002.JPG

Subsequently, Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde take the stage and dance up a storm to the tune of Shakira's "Try Everything."

00208-004.JPG

The movie itself is presented in Dolby Vision™ and Dolby Atmos® and looks and sounds as great as you'd expect. (AllEars Blogger Kristin Ford reviewed it here.) Afterwards, moviegoers can enjoy a exhibit downstairs detailing some of the research and concept art that went into the making of "Zootopia."

DSC04543.JPG

DSC04544.JPG

DSC04545.JPG

DSC04549.JPG

On your way out, "Zootopia" photo ops are available, as is a wide variety of merchandise in the adjoining Disney Studio Store and Ghirardelli Soda Fountain.

DSC04546a.JPG

DSC04537.JPG

So if it's your first time seeing it, or even your seventh (it's really good, you guys,) head on over to the El Capitan Theatre for a full night of "Zootopia."

IMG_1957.JPG

"Zootopia" is currently playing at the El Capitan Theatre until April 10, 2016. On select dates, El Capitan guests may enjoy breakfast, meet Judy Hopps and receive a commemorative photo before seeing the 10 a.m. movie. Seating is limited and advanced reservations are required with purchase of movie ticket. El Capitan guests may also enjoy a Dave & Busters Movie & a Meal Offer, which includes a reserved seat for “Zootopia,” choice of entrée from the Dave & Busters Eat & Play menu and a $10 Dave & Busters game card. Reservations required 24 hours in advance with movie ticket. The El Capitan Theatre will also host a special Tiny Tot Tuesday every Tuesday at 10 a.m. during the run of “Zootopia.” During these screenings, parents and small children may enjoy the movie with lights dimmed and reduced sound levels.

March 1, 2016

"Zootopia" Press Day, Part 4

jeaninebanner.jpg

So as you might recall from our first, second, and third installments, we took a visit to the Walt Disney Animation Studios Tujunga Campus to get some exciting details on their upcoming 55th animated feature, "Zootopia."

OR5C0938.JPG

[Photos provided by Disney.]

The next department to speak to us was Animation with Head of Animation Renato dos Anjos and Animation Supervisors Kira Lehtomaki (Judy Hopps,) Nathan Engelhardt (Clawhauser, Gazelle,) Jennifer Hager (Chief Bogo, Gazelle,) and Chad Sellers (Mr. Big.)

OR5C1785.JPG

"Our great challenge was that our guys were walking around on two legs, and the real animals are walking around on four legs...We did a lot of testing, a lot of trying/figuring things out and we kind of figured that if you could capture, like, the movement of their head or the cadence of their walk then it really felt like the animal, even though it didn't really look like the animal."

--Although they looked at some of the classic Disney animated films, they wanted most of their animal modeling to reflect real life.
--While they had some animals come into the studios, they also went on a research trip to Kenya.
--An effort was made to reflect how prey animals tend to move in herds, almost like one large organism.
--Wildebeest turn out to be not the brightest animals on the Savannah.

"The African Cape Buffalo...we learned that these guys are one of the scariest, meanest animals in Africa. They're really nasty. They have a horrible temper, and we learned that if they see somebody coming...they'll just stop and turn and stare you down. It's very creepy."

Zootopia562eb98301cc9.jpg

--Cheetah have strong, piston-like legs and keep their heads relatively stationary as they run...which was a challenge to implement into the less-than-athletic Clawhauser.

"Another animal found in Zootopia is the weasel...You can see in the reference...this really erratic quality to the movement style and it's almost like it's very broken, too. We have a weasel in Zootopia and he's a thief, and so you see him running with this duffel bag over his head and really found fun areas to pepper in that erratic, ropy quality into his lower torso/hip area. You can see him bouncing all around while his upper torso is remaining isolated."

--John Lasseter, in order to illustrate something specific he wants in a scene, will occasionally film reference material of himself.
--Rabbits turn out to be relatively athletic, with a specific jump mechanism called "binky" in which they jump in the air and flick their head around. This was incorporated into Judy's movements as part of her police officer physicality.
--The character of Judy Hopps changed when Ginnifer Goodwin was cast, from a more seasoned, sarcastic, disillutioned police veteran to an optimistic, genuine personality.

zootopia-Judy2.jpg

After the main presentation, Renato dos Anjos and Kira Lehtomaki gave us a few minutes for some individual discussion.

Kira-Lehtomaki_OR5C9300_CR.jpg

On what was some of their biggest challenges to animate:

"Nick was a challenge with his long muzzle, because we're used to having human characters with the mouths more on the front of the face, but then suddenly we had this character that had this big long muzzle...and I think that's where "Robin Hood" came into it as a big help, looking back at it because you'll see as he opens up his mouth, his jaw is receded back because you don't want this kind of crocodile-look...where it's just hinged here and it just opens. But it was really tricky to kind of design all the mouth shapes around that long muzzle because it's so different from what we've got."

Zootopia562eb988ac409a.jpg

On whether the acting in animation is different for a more contemporary story:

"I think Disney always, regardless of whether it's more contemporary or classic...there's always sincerity, and there's always heart and that's always present so that's always what we're trying to communicate through our characters."
"What drives me, as an animator, is making our characters believable. My hope is, when people watch the film, they're not thinking 'oh, that's an animated movie," I want them to just enjoy the movie for what it is and the characters for the situations they're going through..."
"We want them to think it's all real."
"Because it is in my head!"

Renato-Dos-Anjos_OR5C6217_R.jpg

The last department was Story, with Writer and Co-Director Jared Bush, Writer Phil Johnston, Story Artist Marc Smith and Head of Editorial Fabienne Rawley.

OR5C1713.JPG

The panel illustrated the process they go through revising the movie by showing both an older version of a scene and then the scene as it plays in the finished film.

--They took us through a scene at the end of the first act where Judy faces disappointment and showed how the initial pitch would have been acted, and then the fully animated and voiced track.
--Then they said they threw the whole thing in the toilet, because the movie had developed so that Judy was a stronger character and the scene didn't work anymore.
--They reworked it to be funnier to give it more energy as the story flows into the second act.
--New small actions give Judy more agency.

An example of the progression of a scene from a different part of the movie:

1_STORY_ZOOT_250.0_017.00.0477.tif%20%20.jpg

2_LAYOUT_frame.0310_r.jpg

3_ANIM_ZOOT_250.0_017.00_anim.17308.v1.0225.0303.jpg

4_DMV_Trailer.jpg

On what drew them to the project:

"I...was really attracted to the comedy...and then the themes of the movie. While it's not, in no instance...it's not a message movie, it's not preachy--it's a comedy, but it is about something. It deals with bias and the way we prejudge each other and I like that I'm going to be able to talk to my kids about that, using this as a tool to do that. And that to me was very attractive."

Finally, the day ended with Producer Clark Spencer giving us a few minutes to discuss how he came to be involved with "Zootopia."

WDAS-Headshots-Clark-Spencer_98A7019_Ra.jpg

"So what happens is, when you finish a film (I finished 'Wreck-it Ralph') you come off and there are lots of projects in development and they always want a team of people who are going to work well together. I had worked with Byron on 'Bolt,' and I love him. I had worked with Byron all the way back on 'Lilo and Stitch' when he was a supervising animator and I was producing that movie and I have always thought that I wanted to be able to work with him again because of the fact that he is so talented. He's got such a great sense of humor and a real warm heart so I know every story he tells is going to have all those elements in it, and a real sense of appeal because there is nobody who draws like Byron. His designs are unbelievable.

"Then he pitched me this story and when I thought about this incredible mammal world and this incredible city I was immediately drawn to it. But the most important thing was I loved the message of the film. I thought 'how bold to go out there and tell a story about predator and prey, two groups that assume something about each other and then realize that they're actually wrong.' I thought, in today's world, that was a really profound thing to tackle. And I knew it would be super hard--very hard to figure out the balance of it throughout the film--but I thought it was a really important idea that I wanted to be a part of."

Zootopia52057b70da421.jpg

"Zootopia" opens in general release March 4, 2016.

February 22, 2016

"Countdown to Zootopia," at the El Capitan Theatre

jeaninebanner.jpg

For seven days, the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood is having a special movie series called "Countdown to Zootopia."

Countdown-to-Zootopia_Guests_V5.jpg

Building up to the general release of "Zootopia" on March 4th, each night will feature a different movie from Disney's Second Renaissance/Revival period complete with giveaways, raffles, and appearances by special guests from the films' cast and crew at the 7pm showings.

IMG_1736.JPG

In the lobby there is a display of concept art and maquettes from all the films, along with a variety of photo-ops.

DSC04447.JPG

DSC04448.JPG

DSC04450.JPG

DSC04446.JPG

DSC04442.JPG
People were calling him "Olaf." Just NO.

DSC04443.JPG
THIS is Olaf.

Everyone attending the 7pm shows will get a special piece of artwork designed from that particular film, with the first 75 people in line getting the chance to have it signed by the filmmakers!

IMG_1757.JPG

DSC04437.JPG
"Wreck-It Ralph" director Rich Moore

IMG_1770.JPG

DSC04458.JPG
"Frozen" Co-Directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee

After the traditional Wurlitzer Organ pre-show performance, the filmmakers take the stage for a short presentation and raffle.

Having attended the first two nights, I can say that it's a treat to see these animation classics (and their accompanying shorts) up on the big screen again--they look gorgeous and have all the beauty and cleverness you'd expect from Walt Disney Animation Studios. Some of the older films have not been seen in the theaters since their original release, and others may have failed to get the full reception they deserved, considering Pixar was coming strong out of the gate, co-releasing such films as "Up" and "Toy Story 3" at the time.

For the price of the ticket, which includes the giveaways, potential autographs, presentations, and popcorn and soda, "Countdown to Zootopia" is a great way to pass the time while waiting for WDAS to release their next classic.

DSC04444.JPG

Tickets for "Countdown to Zootopia" are available at www.elcapitantickets.com Prices: Single reserved seat admission -- $10 includes small popcorn and drink; Single VIP preferred reserved seat -- $20 includes VIP popcorn and drink. The El Capitan Theatre is located at 6838 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood CA 90028


January 20, 2016

"Zootopia" Press Day, Part 3

jeaninebanner.jpg

So as you might recall from our last installment, we took a visit to the Walt Disney Animation Studios Tujunga Campus to get some exciting details on their upcoming 55th animated feature, "Zootopia."

OR5C1036.JPG

[Photos provided by Disney]

Different departments took turns revealing some of the process involved in creating a big animation project like Zootopia. The first subject was "Characters: Creating the Citizens of Zootopia," with Character Design Supervisor Cory Loftis, Character Look Supervisor Michelle Robinson, Character CG Supervisor Dave Komorowski and Simulation Supervisor Claudia Chung Sanii.

OR5C1660.JPG

"Early on in the film, we partnered with Cory and Cory has drawn us this lineup of the kinds of characters we wanted to place in Zootopia...we quickly found that scale was going to be a big issue because our smallest critter is our mouse, over there, and our largest character is our giraffe and actually the discrepancy is such that it would be...you'd have to stack 97 of those mice head to toe in order to reach the top of the giraffe's head."

zootopia-LineupComp.jpg

Other considerations:
--Shots had to be framed so that Judy Hopps, the protagonist, is visible and on the same level with animals both much larger and smaller than she is.
--Each habitat had to have representation, so animals from all ecosystems needed to be developed in both male and female varieties, using color and shape.
--Clothing specific and appropriate to each animal and environment had to designed.
--Quadruped animals required adaptation to bipedal movement, without losing their distinctive animalness.

"One of the things we discussed were all the classic Disney animal movies...we ultimately decided that it was the personalities that were so memorable about them. We wanted to make sure those personalities came across in the characters of Zootopia, and that's not necessarily through the design, but you have to give the animators all those dials to push so that they can get the performance to get that character across."

zootopia-Nick2b.jpg

--Pants proved a specific problem, as animal and human anatomy had to be blended to make them look like they fit right.
--Some animals couldn't wear pants because their legs were too short, so they were kept in shorts.
--The hardest part was getting the cloth of the clothes to move believably, given the different anatomy and movement of each species.
--Designs for both Nick and Judy evolved throughout development to accommodate the changes made in their characters.
--Research started at Animal Kingdom Lodge and San Diego Wild Animal Park.
--A small team went on a two-week safari to Kenya.
--The differences in fur became apparent after many trips to the Natural History Museum: Texture, light refraction/reflection/transmission, etc.
--At the time, there were around 400 unique species and costumes that dress the world of Zootopia.

zootopia-Judy3.jpg

Afterwards, Loftis gave AllEars a few minutes to talk about differences he noted working on video game-related animation ("Wreck-it Ralph") versus actual video games ("Wildstar.")

Cory-Loftis_OR5C8075_RC.jpg

"The work itself is actually very similar...what we spend our time focusing on is very different...When you're running around in a game, you're always thinking about the player, right? And they're doing all the action, they're making their own story, so you're trying to put as much cool stuff in front of them as possible. Give them the coolest armor and the coolest creatures to kill and the coolest environments to be in and the coolest stuff to ride--you're always doing that. But when you go to film, you're trying to create the same things, except all those things are in service to the story. So if that cool thing is distracting from the performance happening on the screen--it's no good, right? Everything is in service to that acting, that performance, that scene, and that's the biggest thing it took to get used to, is trying to make stuff not too cool and not too distracting in the background and have it add to the story instead of distract from it."

The next panel was "Production Design/Environments: Building a Magnificent Mammal Metropolis," with Art Director of Environments Matthias Lechner and Environment Look Supervisor Lance Summers.

OR5C1072.JPG

"When we designed the city of Zootopia, we wanted to make it feel like a real city. Not just some typical future city, but with dirt...buildings from different eras, some better kept up, some falling down...all the stuff that you find in a real city."

zootopia-8KLUTBakedA_SMALL.jpg

--On arranging the various habitats of Tundratown, the Rainforest District, etc., around the downtown of Zootopia where all the animals mix, the layout ended up slightly resembling that of a Disney park with a central hub and surrounding lands.
--Sahara Square is the first part of the city Judy Hopps encounters--a ritzy area with beaches and lots of nightlife, given that most of the animals are nocturnal.

zootopia-ml_saharaSquareNight.jpg

--A surrounding wall radiates heat from one side for Sahara Square, and cold from the other, to create Tundratown: An city covered with ice and snow, and influenced heavily by Russian architecture.

zootopia-tundratown02.jpg

--The Rainforest District is marked by constant rainfall and moist vegetation. With a preponderance of vertical structures, aerial forms of transportation are necessary.

zootopia-ml_rainforest14.jpg

--Little Rodentia is designed to be a perfect tiny town that's set off so it won't get trampled by larger animals.
--Of course it gets trampled by larger animals in a madcap chase.
--Elements of the city appear to be repurposed elements from larger structures. Vegetation is strategically placed to reinforce scale.

zootopia-Rodentia_alnimal%20pass%20matthias.jpg

On whether the hub-and-spoke transportation system of Zootopia was influenced by the Progress City models: "Well, it's Zootopia with utopia in it, so yes, that's part of what you were supposed to see when you look at that city. It's also a very green city...it's a nice environment. You get a chance to make a city, you might as well make a nice one."

Next time with "Zootopia:" We hear from the Animation and Story departments.

December 12, 2015

"Zootopia" Press Day, Part 2

jeaninebanner.jpg

So this last October, Walt Disney Animation Studios invited us in to their studios to see and hear about their upcoming 55th animated feature, "Zootopia."

[Photos provided by Disney.]

OR5C0955.JPG

DL8A2381.JPG

The day started off with a presentation of some footage by Directors Byron Howard and Rich Moore, and Producer Clark Spencer.

OR5C1615.JPG

OR5C1528.JPG

Clark Spencer: [On the four ingredients in every movie WDAS makes] "First, we strive to tell timeless stories for today's audiences. Second, we make these movies to be entertaining for all ages around the world. Third, our films must contain a combination of both great humor and deep emotion; and fourth, these films must live up to the standard of Walt Disney--after all, his name is on each and every one of these movies."

[On the genesis of Byron Howard's concept for Zootopia] "...One day he came up with the idea of an all-animal city named "Zootopia." When he pitched it to John Lasseter, John literally picked Byron up and hugged him--true story. John had always wanted to do a talking animal film and he was so excited to return to this great legacy. But he charged Byron and the team with one very important thing: He said we have to make an animal movie that no one has seen before. And that's been our mantra on this film as we've been making it."

OR5C1535.JPG

Byron Howard & Rich Moore
: [On the construction of Zootopia] "Zootopia had to be built for every size animal and safety was a big concern for us--mice had to be able to cross the street safely near elephants and rhinoceroses...hotel beds have to safely and comfortably accomodate a rhino, an elephant, a fox or a mouse or a shrew..."

3Poster_SaharaSquare.jpg

"...For desert animals, this is Sahara Square, a huge desert area which is hot and dry. It's kind of like an upscale Dubai or Monte Carlo with lots of casinos and high-end shops--just glitz through the roof. We actually took a research trip to Vegas..."

4Poster_TundraTown.jpg

"...Tundra Town, where the cold weather animals live like polar bears, moose, and arctic shrews, and the cool thing about this is that they have coolers and refrigerated coolant under the sidewalks to keep it cold, they have something called a 3 o'clock blizzard...and lucky for us, we get to reuse a lot of that snow from 'Frozen!'"


2Poster_RainforestDistrict.jpg

"And then there's the Rainforest District...where it's wet and humid....And the question was, and this all goes back to research, how do you get a Tundra and a Desert into one city?...We talked to people who were experts in air conditioning and they said if you had enough money and determination, and these animals do, you could build a massive air conditioning and heating wall that stretches across the city."

1Poster_Burrows.jpg

"And there's also in town a little itty bitty neighborhood called 'Little Rodentia'...and there is Bunny Burrows which has millions and millions and millions of adorable super-cute bunnies."

Zootopia55d26eac62b34.jpg

[On casting Shakira as Gazelle] "...(After the pitch) she walked up and said 'I love it guys, I hope you guys keep me on the list and I hope you call me,' we're all like 'NO NO NO, IT'S JUST YOU, THERE'S NO ONE ELSE ON THE LIST,' and so she said 'oh, well then I'm in,' and it was like the shortest meeting, the shortest deal in Hollywood history."

[On having a moral vs. becoming preachy] "We never want to preach...what we like to do is to take an issue and examine it, and not try to beat it over the audience's head...What I take away from this film, if there's a message, a moral, or a theme to it, it's that you define you. The world has opinions, of who you are, but you ultimately define yourself, not the world....What we always discussed in creating this story is...we're going to give Judy this mantra, that "anyone can be anything," and we are going to test it for three acts of a film, and how are we going to have her walk away from this thing?...Personally, that's what I take away from this film."

Next time: We hear from the specific animation departments involved in creating the world and denizens of Zootopia.

December 1, 2015

"Zootopia" Press Day, Part 1

jeaninebanner.jpg

Zootopia56031c046bb5c.jpg

Earlier this year, Walt Disney Animation Studios gave us a sneak peek at some of the work they've been doing on their 55th animated feature, "Zootopia."

[All photos and video provided by Disney]

"Zootopia" tells the story of Judy (Ginnifer Goodwin) Hopps--a bunny from out-of-town, whose dream is to come to the big city of Zootopia and become the first bunny on the police force. Unfortunately, this proves more difficult than she anticipated, when the larger, more predatory animals on the force relegate her to the position of meter maid.

Zootopia562eb949df2e8.jpg

Still determined to do the best job she can, Hopps pursues her job with enthusiasm until she runs afowl of Nick (Jason Bateman) Wilde: A con artist fox with more angles than a dodecahedron.

Zootopia562eb988ac409.jpg

When Judy's big (and only) chance to become a real police officer ends up depending on getting Nick's cooperation to solve a dangerous case, Judy's determination and Nick's wits will be tested to the utmost.

Zootopia56554cc5ba066.jpg

On the way to untangling Judy's case, the two unwilling allies also abut ideologies--Nick's fatalistic view that each animal's position in the natural order of things is immutable, and Judy's optimistic belief that in Zootopia, no matter what you are, you can be anything.

Zootopia5579e34cd2f2d.jpg

In the next installment, we'll look at the Walt Disney Animation Studios Tujunga Campus, where filmmakers Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jared Bush, Clark Spencer, and many other talented animators shared insight into the detailed research and development they did for "Zootopia."

November 23, 2015

"The Good Dinosaur" and "Sanjay's Super Team" Press Day

jeaninebanner.jpg

TheGoodDinosaur556df0fdac6ac.jpg

Coming out this week is Pixar's latest film, "The Good Dinosaur." Helmed by Peter Sohn, it follows Arlo the dinosaur as he tries to navigate his way past his fears in order to make his mark on the world.

[All photos and video courtesy of Disney/Pixar.]

At a recent press day, some of the cast and creatives sat for roundtable discussions about the movie and their thoughts on it.

IMG_1314.jpg

First up was Jeffrey (Poppa) Wright, and Raymond (Arlo) Ochoa.

TheGoodDinosaur564953a5acb8e.jpg

IMG_1292.jpg

Jeffrey Wright: [On what the movie says about fatherhood.] "...That's the core issue/challenge for Papa, for my character. And so, what I tried to draw on in order to understand the emotions and the dynamics of...this relationship, was to draw on my relationship with my son and my daughter. And it's a lesson I think that, we all, if we're trying to be responsible parents, come up against in our work with our kids. It's really the central question of how--what level of encouragement or what level of...when pushing your kids does more damage than good. And how do you strike that balance between a nurturing posture and one that's a bit too overbearing? All parents go through that. And so that's what is so wonderful about this movie, because you are experiencing this movie through the relationships you have through either your parents or your children. So we, as audience members, therefore bring a lot to the table as we're watching this. I think it's a fantastic story to take in--for parents to take in with their kids, or for kids to take in with their parents.

"...And on Thanksgiving, too, I mean, come on. What else you gonna do, right?"

IMG_2550.jpg

Raymond Ochoa: [On what he liked best about the movie.] "Well, on a movie side, where it's like, 'what is your favorite scene?' That was really when my Papa takes me out to the field and he shows me when you move your tail these fireflies come out...and I like that scene so much because I felt it was a bonding moment between me and my dad, and the reason why is because later on, I do the exact same thing to Spot. I show him the fireflies. And I felt like I connected with him in a bonding moment.

"...You know at the beginning of the movie, I hated Spot. I did not like him. So, to know the change in the level between you not liking him and bonding with him, like he's my pet, that's what I found so cool about it."

Following them was AJ (Nash) Buckley, Anna (Ramsey) Paquin, and Sam (Butch) Elliot.

TheGoodDinosaur55d271268dadb.jpg

IMG_2605.jpg

IMG_2572.jpg

Anna Paquin: [On getting called to be a Pixar character.] "Well, I'd already said yes before they actually told me what I was about...and, I want to say that they seemed ever so slightly nervous that I might be offended that they wanted me to be this like, big, bad-ass T-Rex, that I was...I was so bracing myself to be like, some little thing like this, that's really wimpy, 'cause I'm a girl. And I'm like, 'That's fantastic!' And they're like, 'really?' And I'm like, 'yeah, that's awesome! I get to be, you know, one of the dudes.'

"Except a girl! Even cooler!"

IMG_2615.jpg

AJ Buckley: [On developing his character.] "I asked (Pete Sohn) when we sat down, 'why did this happen?' He said, 'I saw your character on Justified, and I loved the sound of your voice.' And these guys were already cast, and they took scenes from Justified, and examined it, and mixed it with them, and it fit, and I was like, 'okay.' He said, 'I just want you to do Danny Crow,' and Danny Crow on Justified was this horrible, like, sociopath...And I'm like, 'Huh?' So...We were trying to find the voice and I was trying to figure out like, how to be a dinosaur...and so, my character on the show chewed--on Justified, chewed. So, I needed chew. And they only had Jolly Ranchers there. So I picked up a Jolly Rancher, and put the Jolly Rancher...in my lip there, and Nash came out."

IMG_2610.jpg

Sam Elliot: [On being part of the Pixar legacy.] "Well, I think it's huge. For obvious reasons. It's huge for me, personally, because the 25th of November, if my mother were still living--she passed away three years ago--would've been her 100th birthday. So that's like, a milestone for me. But, I mean, anytime you get to be involved with a company like Pixar, it doesn't matter what day it is, or date it is, or anything else. I mean, this is a gift. I just look at this as a gift, and a grand opportunity, over the long haul...and the great reward is gonna be on Tuesday. I'm going to be seeing it with an audience, see it with my family, and I know my mom's up there, thinking, 'that's my boy.' Pretty cool."

The next session was with Director Peter Sohn and Producer Denise Ream.

IMG_1182.jpg

Peter Sohn: [On being the Pet Collector.] "Every character that Arlo meets was all in terms of support of Arlo's journey. In terms of the world, of the frontier, that he was kind of this...transient character that's been living out in the woods too long. But it was almost meant to represent...the end-of-the-line version of Arlo. Like, if he was stuck out in the woods, would he be afraid of everything...and so terrified that he would come up with these protection things that would project him from there. Like, would Arlo fall into this world. 'You have to keep him, so that he can protect you.' And never grow up, essentially."

TheGoodDinosaur561434f55faa1.jpg

Finally, from the fantastic short "Sanjay's Super Team," we had Director Sanjay Patel and Producer Nicole Grindle.

IMG_1309.jpg

Nicole Grindle: [On conceiving the short.] " So, Sanjay has written a number of books. He's been at Pixar for 20 years, doing traditional Pixar animation, art, but over the years, he developed an interest in pursuing South Asian art and learning more about his culture, and that led to him writing these books, and that led to there being several shows of his work at the Asian Art Museum.

"And eventually some folks at Pixar sort of figured he was doing all of this cool stuff. And they said, 'oh. Let's bring your artwork in-house. Let's do a show at Pixar.' We do that every now and then. And when we did that, John Lassiter saw this show, this beautiful artwork, and said, 'Sanjay, you have to make a short film.' That's not usually how short films are chosen at Pixar. People don't usually get invited. So, Sanjay was invited to do this and he said, 'no,' at first. He didn't want to do it, it wasn't what he had set out to do. And he was eventually persuaded to do it."

Sanjay Patel: [On the emptiness of the portrayed home environment.] "This is an immigrant that left all of that ethno-stuff back in the home country, and they got nothing here in some part of Southern California...that choice was really, really important to me and the artists that we were explaining this to, they got it instantly. Especially the immigrants. They were like, 'oh, I had apartment like that, we got it.' And, you know, story-wise, there's other reasons why we did this...it's incredibly important that that room have--it's kind of like this room. There is...nothing in here. And it really creates a vacuum. So, imagine if there's a big-screen TV in here, playing awesome cartoons. Of course this kid's gonna escape into that world, because his home is just this beige-on-beige box, without detail, without color, without any kind of interest. We save all of that for when he wakes up in his daydream--that's the payoff. And that's also the truth of most immigrants. The truth of my parents' experience as well."

TheGoodDinosaur5614359c32f79.jpg

Sanjay Patel: [On the importance of representation.] "When you don't see any reflection of you, or your community, or your parents on TV, or in pop culture, other than a show, you just kind of figure out a way to exclude yourself. You figure out a way to...not be included, or you're suddenly told that you're...not important. You don't matter.

"This is the number one reason I wanted to make this short. This is the number one reason, that I have nieces and nephews, and...I make all this great stuff for Pixar, but they were never going to get stuff that had any reflection from--that looked like their families, and so the second I had this opportunity, that was the purpose for me."

September 25, 2015

"Emperor's New Groove:" 15th Anniversary Celebration at the El Capitan

jeaninebanner.jpg

Recently, as part of Oh My Disney's annual Throwback Week at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, they celebrated the 15th Anniversary of the classic animated film "Emperor's New Groove."

GROOVE_1163x2100.jpg

Theatergoers were treated to a night of Kuzcotainment including a Mickey Ear headband decorating station, trivia contest, spinach puffs (non-poisoned,) and costume contest.

DSC04252-001.JPG

DSC04255-001.JPG

The heart of the evening was a hilarious panel with the film's creators, including Executive Producer Don Hahn, Director Mark Dindal, Producer Randy Fullmer, Screenwriter David Reynolds, Head of Story Steve Anderson, and Story Writer Chris Williams.

00011-001.jpg

Some panel highlights:
--The Peruvian-influenced art direction was the only constant during the switch over from the originally planned/boarded "Kingdom of the Sun," to the existing "Emperor's New Groove."
--"We learned very quickly that the best way to make a movie is to use up most of the money and most of the time, and then get some really wacky people and put them in a room and a good movie comes out." --Randy Fullmer
--Steve Anderson had actually wanted to work on a different movie, called "Sweating Bullets," which ended up as "Home on the Range."
--"Sting had written a song or two for her (Eartha Kitt) in the first version, that was incredible, that we had to explain to Sting that we would no longer be using. And that was a bad moment, but we had a lot of bad moments." --Randy Fullmer
--"This is actually like group therapy, fifteen years later." --Don Hahn
--David Spade had grown a little tired by the time he was recording the second script. "We had embraced that we were incompetent, but it was new to him." --Randy Fullmer
--"I remember I boarded that scene where the angel and devil Kronk were talking to each other, doing the one-armed pushups and all that, and it went over and it seemed like 'this is actually going to be in the movie!...This movie can contain this!' But then I remember another day, I pitched a scene that involved live-action footage of the space shuttle...and I could tell by their faces that it was not going to be in the movie. So I figured out one of the boundaries." --Chris Williams
--They showed some clips from the documentary "The Sweatbox," which recorded the struggle the film went through, from initial development to its eventual metamorphosis. As far as I know, it has never been released in its entirety, although it does pop up online from time to time.
--Adam West recorded a deleted character for the film.
--"It was a terror ride." --Randy Fullmer
--"Physicians are standing by for Randy." --Don Hahn

September 23, 2015

"Aladdin" Back at the El Capitan

jeaninebanner.jpg

IMG_0399.JPG

One of the classic jewels of the Disney Animation Renaissance Era, John Musker and Ron Clements' "Aladdin" returns to the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood for a limited engagement from September 17 to October 7, 2015.

Aladdin_KS1_IMG0042%5B2%5D.jpg

As part of a special opening night presentation, the first 50 applicants that showed up for auditions at the El Capitan earlier that day were winnowed down to five who each got to sing parts of "A Whole New World" with Aladdin's singing voice Brad Kane, American Idol style. The audience then selected one lucky winner who then sang the whole thing with him over the animated sequence on stage.

As part of every showing, audiences will be treated to a song and dance by the Genie, as well.

IMG_0386-001.jpg

Along with previews for "Zootopia" and "The Good Dinosaur," the new Pixar short "Sanjay's Super Team" is showing with "Aladdin." Giving an insightful (based on the director's own experiences) and non-pandering glimpse at the difficulties of reconciling different beliefs and traditions with American pop culture, it is a thoughtful and touching piece that I think is the best short Pixar has done in awhile.

635713951832537854-XXX-SANJAYS-SUPER-TEAM-T10-3DCS.SEL16.RGB.227-DCB-74209668.JPG

As a film, Aladdin still holds up to repeat viewing. The art direction and character design is great, and the whole project is given added poignancy when you remember it was the last film Howard Ashman worked on before passing. Still and all, it's hard to think that it would still remain in our collective consciousness as vividly as it does, without the genius mix of Robin Williams and Eric Goldberg. Perhaps never before or since has a voice and caricature so seamlessly blended together to realize the potential of the animated character.

Aladdin_KS2_IMG0096%5B2%5D.jpg

Not all frenetic standup (unlike some of his live action performances,) Williams does some impressive acting as well. On rewatching, it is the Genie's need for freedom that becomes the more compelling storyline, versus a young boy's struggle for self-validation.

Aladdin_KS1_IMG0071%5B2%5D.jpg

Daily showtimes are 10am, 1pm, 4pm and 7pm. Tickets are on sale now, and available
at the El Capitan Theatre (6838 Hollywood Blvd.), online at www.elcapitantickets.com, or by
calling 1-800-DISNEY6. Tiny Tot Tuesday showings are at 10am each Tuesday, and a special breakfast with Genie can be reserved in advance--call for details.

July 17, 2015

Review: "Ant-Man"

jeaninebanner.jpg

www.wdsmediafile.com.jpe

"I know a guy."
--Everybody

"Ant-Man," the final entry of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's "Phase Two," is a lighter, smaller film (in more ways than one) than its world-shattering brethren, and serves as a refreshing change of pace as we head into what appears to be a grimmer time for all our heroes.

www.wdsmediafile1.com.jpe

Our story begins when Scott Lang, a Quixotic modern-day Robin Hood, is released from jail from stealing one too many times from the rich and giving to the poor. Turning over a new leaf, his only concern is to be a part of his daughter's life from which his incarceration has long absented him.

www.wdsmediafile.com2.jpe

Unfortunately, his ex-wife and her policeman fiancé somewhat rightfully expect him to present himself as a financially responsible father figure before they will let him see Cassie, and in a world where not even Baskin-Robbins will give an ex-con a job, it looks like she might be ready to leave for college before he can fulfill his obligations. Desperation sets in and leaves him vulnerable when his good-tempered ex-cellmate Luis brings him a plan for a heist that could net him the money he needs.

www.wdsmediafile.com3.jpe

It turns out, however, that fortune comes in different manifestations, and what he takes from the Pym vault may bring him something more valuable than money--a second chance to prove himself a hero, both to his daughter and to himself.

www.wdsmediafile.com4.jpe

Like all the Marvel Cinematic Universe films, the big splashy action scenes are expertly done and look wonderfully convincing as Scott navigates a miniature world of ants and water droplets and toys. Probably the most impressive effect however, is in the beginning flashback, where we see Michael Douglas some thirty years in the past as SHIELD scientist Hank Pym refuses to share his Pym Particles with a suspiciously militaristic world. Now, it's not like I don't know that Michael Douglas is some years past his "Romancing the Stone" years, but minutes went by before I remembered that, because the job they did digitally making him younger was amazing. Not a hint of the "Tron Legacy" plastic-y look, this looked like the real deal.

MV5BMjEyMTYyNjcwMV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTEyNjQzMQ%40%40._V1_SX640_SY720_.jpg

As Pym, tortured by guilt over both the implications of his scientific discovery and his inability to keep his family together, Douglas does the masterful job that you'd expect from a star of his caliber. Strong enough to sell his past turn at super-heroics, he's professional enough to keep the more teary interactions with his daughter, Hope van Dyne, from becoming maudlin.

www.wdsmediafile.com5.jpe

If there is one aspect that rings a little tired, it's the variation on the "Chosen One" trope present in Hope van Dyne. As one more super-competent female character who is relegated to hating/helping/liking the goofier male character fulfill his destiny, she takes her place in a wide pantheon of girls from "Matrix's" Trinity to "Lego Movie's" Wyldstyle. It is true, though, that the movie is called "Ant-MAN," and at least here, we're given a rationale for her status and the hope that she will evolve past it in future movies.

www.wdsmediafile.com6.jpe

Ultimately, "Ant-Man" is a self-contained heist movie, as much as "Ocean's Eleven," with just enough references and cameos to connect it to the rest of the MCU. This does it the favor of not burdening it with the sometimes-ponderous backstory of Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet that peppers the main timeline movies and keeps its storytelling light and nimble.

www.wdsmediafile.com7.jpe

While the film has more than its share of laughs, it also tries to maintain an emotional core of how people are shaped by the belief others have in them--whether it's Scott, trying to "become the hero (Cassie) thinks (he) is," or the villainous Darren Cross, trying to overcome his hurt at Pym's rejection, or even the comical Luis stepping up to infiltrate Pym Technologies.

www.wdsmediafile.com8.jpe

"Ant-Man," much like last year's "Guardians of the Galaxy," is both fun and funny. With it, Marvel Studios adds the heist film to its superhero subgenres next to "Winter Soldier's" spy thriller and "Guardians'" SF movie and gives us a breathing moment of levity before hurdling into next year's divisive and dramatic "Civil War" storyline.

www.wdsmediafile.com9.jpe

"Ant-Man" is presented by Marvel Studios. Rated PG-13, it stars Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly,
Corey Stoll, Bobby Cannavale, Michael Peña, Tip “T.I. ” Harris, Wood Harris, Judy Greer, David Dastmalchian, and Michael Douglas as Dr. Hank Pym

*Always stay to the end of the credits.

Directed by Peyton Reed and produced by Kevin Feige. The Executive Producers are Louis D’Esposito, Alan Fine, Victoria Alonso, Michael Grillo, Stan Lee, and Edgar Wright. Screenplay by Edgar Wright & Joe Cornish and Adam McKay & Paul Rudd, based on a story by Edgar Wright & Joe Cornish.

The film enters general release on July 17, 2015, and is distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

**Looks like we're coming up on the end of the line.

June 15, 2015

"Inside out" Press Conference

jeaninebanner.jpg

"Do you ever look at someone and wonder 'what is going on inside their head?'"
--Joy

InsideOut5473b3b17344e.jpg

Blockbuster factory Disney-Pixar's fifteenth film "Inside Out" examines the turbulent mechanisms and dynamics of the five primary emotions driving an eleven year-old girl's mind.

At a recent press junket, Director Pete Docter, Producer Jonas Rivera, and cast members Amy Poehler (“Joy,”) Bill Hader (“Fear,”) Mindy Kaling (“Disgust,”) Phyllis Smith (“Sadness,”) and Lewis Black (“Anger”) gathered for some equally unruly panels discussing everything from emotions, to Pixar, to Islands of Personality.

[Photos provided by Disney/Pixar]

(Audio from the Q&A follows. WARNING: SPOILERS THROUGHOUT THE INTERVIEW. PLAY AUDIO/READ FURTHER AT YOUR OWN RISK)

IMG_6617.jpg

Some notes from the panels:

IMG_6550.jpg
Pete Docter

--Pete Docter on the influence of "Cranium Command:" "I actually animated on that when I was at Disney in '89, and at the beginning, there's a preshow with all the heads. So I did a lot of the Xerox, and my head was in it, so that was kind of cool. But I think it actually showcases kind of the difference between the approach."

Fullscreen%20capture%206142015%20123738%20AM.jpg

"In this film, we really made it − well, let me talk about that one. It was like they were talking to the stomach and the heart and the liver and different things. In this one, we said, let's just differentiate from the body and make it the mind. And so that allowed us a whole different playground."

IMG_6553.jpg
Jonas Rivera

--Jonas Rivera on the Pixar synchronicity: "I'll tell a quick story about Michael Giacchino because he scored both films. We got into the car. This is the first scoring day on 'Up' back in 2009...Michael had done some of the films at Pixar, but we had never really worked with him. And we get in the car at Warner Bros. after we're done scoring that first day. We were gonna do what you do. You go to Disneyland after you're done scoring your movie...And so we're driving down the freeway. We get in Michael's car. And he turns on his car, and he had had some CDs...Blasting out of the stereo was the theme of the Muppet Show, right? And I'm in the back, and Pete says, 'Oh, wow, I was listening to that same disc on the way to the airport.' And I thought, oh, my God. What two cars on the planet Earth had those two songs in, right?"

IMG_8924.jpg

*Caution: While the panel was hilarious in parts, they also used mature language and referenced mature topics.*

IMG_8992.jpg
Phyllis Smith

--Phyllis Smith: on life with the characters beyond the film: "I'm very happy to be Sad.'"

IMG_8889.jpg
Mindy Kaling

---Mindy Kaling on relating to her character: "...The character Disgust has a lot of qualities of a very impatient, judgmental adolescent girl and because I seem to be recurring in playing that role over and over again in my career – she just says the things I say on a really bad day – the thing I really wanna say but then don’t say it. Basically, in my mind the parenthetical role or her lines is 'I can’t, I can’t with this;' it’s just like what she’s always thinking."

IMG_8881.jpg
Bill Hader

---Bill Hader on how he would convince a child to see "Inside Out:" "...What’s so great about this movie is that they chose to make a film about a time in your life that we all have to go through – when you go from being young and then you start to go – when you’re an adolescent, things start to change and things start to get a little hard for you and a lot of normal movies don’t talk about that. I wish I had that growing up because I would go through that and you look for answers and you think you’re the only one going through this thing and they did in this film in such a beautiful, fantastical way and that’s why you have to see it. It’s a movie I wish existed – my life would have been a little easier I think if this movie existed when I was a kid."

IMG_8990.jpg
Amy Poehler

--Amy Poehler on the emotionally sophisticated themes of "Inside Out:" "Pixar doesn’t patronize their young audience and they don’t underestimate the intelligence of their audience...So they keep raising the bar and also they assume that you and your big brain is gonna show up and your big heart. They assume you’re gonna take all those things with you when you go see their movies; and you’re so rewarded when you do."

IMG_8887.jpg
Lewis Black

--Lewis Black on his own Islands of Personality: "Barbecue Island...Pork in a variety of fashions served in all sorts of delightful ways lathered with sauce. That’s a big island and the other is Tahiti...That’s where I go. When you look at me and you’re like 'Where’s Lewis?' He’s in Tahiti."

After the panels, Director Jim Murphy and Producer Andrea Warren gave a presentation on the adorable short "Lava," which is playing with "Inside Out."

IMG_9296.jpg

Murphy briefly recounted his long-standing affection for Hawaiian music and culture, and then displayed some of the concept art that was produced during the project's long development phase.

IMG_9250.jpg

Additionally, he sang a rendition of the equally adorable song "Lava" that he wrote himself, which involved him traveling to Hawaii, buying a ukelele, and then learning to play it.

"Inside Out" and "Lava," rated PG, will be released in theaters June 19, 2015.

May 22, 2015

Review: "Tomorrowland"

jeaninebanner.jpg

tomorrowland5536a4061130c.jpg

"If I was walking down the street and I saw somebody with a jetpack flying over me, I'd believe that anything's possible. I'd be inspired. Doesn't that make the world a better place?"
--Frank Walker

"Tomorrowland," Brad Bird's latest oeuvre, is a paean to a time when the future was perceived as bright and limitless, and technology inspirational rather than oppressive.

tomorrowland5542b7937c5a5.jpg

The filmmakers have been fairly insistent on maintaining secrecy over the details of the plot, but in brief, "Tomorrowland" tells the story of why an essentially optimistic world might lose its sense of wonder and turn towards cynicism and despair. It does so through the eyes of a bright young girl named Casey Newton who gets a glimpse of Tomorrowland--where the best of all possible futures is being developed--and then is determined to see more.

tomorrowland543c0ebe42e93.jpg

On her adventure, she will encounter any number of dangers, and enlist the help of Frank Walker, a bitter loner who knows more about Tomorrowland than he would like to admit, and Athena, a young girl who is at once much more and much less than she appears.

tomorrowland5542b800f333f.jpg

Long-time Disney fans might remember that the first reveal on this film was in the summer of 2013, when Disney unveiled an alternate reality game called "The Optimist." Based around the story of another bright young girl investigating a secret society of visionaries, players traveled around Disneyland and Los Angeles to different Walt-Disney-related landmarks, uncovering clues and special items. Ultimately, the game revealed that Walt Disney (among others) was a member of the Plus Ultra society--people who believed in and worked to make a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow. They operated out of a secret/hidden locale that was accessible through the "it's a small world" exhibit at the 1964-65 World's Fair.

tomorrowland5542b807baba9.jpg

The game culminated at the 2013 D23 Expo, where people solved riddles, took a ride on the Lily Belle, and ended up in the Main Street Cinema, where a short film confirmed the society's existence and proffered membership pins for those ingenious enough to make it to the end.

tomorrowland5542b80ee5adc.jpg

At the same Expo, Bird and Lindelof uncovered the "Dusty Old Box" that apparently was found in the Walt Disney Studios and dated back to 1952. In it were articles and blueprints that seemed to verify Walt Disney and his Imagineers' Plus Ultra involvement. The contents, along with a variety of other artifacts were on display and viewable through a mobile app: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/tomorrowland-d23-2013-disney/id684585068?mt=8

IMG_9228.JPG

I go through this backstory, so that, like me, you can go in with a knowledge and appreciation of the depth of thought that went into the world of this movie, and unlike me, will not have the expectation that it will all have much to do with this particular movie. The retro World's Fair segment and the futuristic Tomorrowland are beautiful and beautifully done, but make up relatively short sequences in the beginning and end of the film. The bulk of the film is the "Wizard of Oz" style journey Casey takes that spans time and space, and utilizes motorcycles, bicycles, rockets, and a Chevrolet Volt.

DSC02807.JPG

George Clooney, although not making an appearance until after the film is well underway, is a good choice for the part of the cranky, defeated Walker. His innate charm keeps the character likeable despite his initially forceful repulsion of Casey and complicated relationship with Athena.

tomorrowland553532d134e3f.jpg

The highlight of the movie however, is Raffey Cassidy who is fabulous as Athena. In some ways carrying the bulk of the film on her tiny, sturdy shoulders, she has all the bright appeal of a young girl, but the depth and maturity of something quite a bit older.

tomorrowland5542b80266a39.JPG
"I'm the Future, Frank Walker."

At the end of the day, "Tomorrowland" proves to be an enjoyable action-adventure movie with some nice performances and some beautiful set pieces. As you'd expect, from someone with Bird's eye for detail, the World's Fair recreation (keep a look out for Composer Michael Giacchino as the "it's a small world" ride operator) and especially the Tomorrowland visions are spectacular--so much so that it comes as something of a let-down that after a brief glimpse it's taken away from us, just as with Casey.

tomorrowland54fdf04f68fff.jpg

The movie's message, that the Future is likely to be as good or bad as you make it, is a positive one, and the emphasis on a teenage girl's intelligence and perception over her romantic proclivities is refreshing. If I still think wistfully on the film that might have been, that focused more on Walt Disney and Disneyland's involvement in "Tomorrowland's" secret society (material that was included in the film's precursor novel "Before Tomorrowland") it is more on me than on Bird or Lindelof. It's hardly their fault, after all, that I went in wanting "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea," and they gave me "In Search of the Castaways."

tomorrowland5542b80b6f9dc.jpg

"When I touched this pin, I saw this place--someplace amazing. And it felt like anything was possible. And then it was gone."
--Casey Newton
tomorrowland543c02a23b457.jpg

"Tomorrowland." Rated PG, it stars George Clooney, Hugh Laurie, Britt Robertson, Raffey Cassidy, Tim McGraw, Kathryn Hahn, Keegan-Michael Key, and Thomas Robinson.

Directed by Brad Bird, with a screenplay by Damon Lindelof and Brad Bird, based on a story by Damon Lindelof, Brad Bird, and Jeff Jensen. Produced by Damon Lindelof, Brad Bird, and Jeffrey Chernov. The Executive Producers are John Walker, Bernard Bellew, Jeff Jensen, and Brigham Taylor.

The film enters general release on May 22, 2015, and is distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

May 16, 2015

"Tomorrowland" Walks the Blue Carpet

jeaninebanner.jpg

1-DSC02765.JPG

On May 9, 2015, Walt Disney Studio's "Tomorrowland" had its world premiere at the AMC Downtown Disney 12 in Anaheim. Celebrity attendees walked a futuristic blue carpet down to the theater, greeting media and enthusiastic fans alike.

Present for the opening of the film were cast members George Clooney, Britt Robertson, Raffey Cassidy, Kathryn Hahn, Keegan-Michael Key, Tim McGraw, and Thomas Robinson, as well as Director/Producer/Writer Brad Bird, Producer/Writer Damon Lindelof, Producer Jeffrey Chernov, Executive Producer John Walker, Executive Producer and Story Writer Jeff Jensen, Composer Michael Giacchino, and Co-Producer/VFX Tom Peitzman. Other luminaries attending included Disney Legends Tony Baxter, Bob Gurr, and Richard Sherman, along with Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn, TJ Miller from "Big Hero 6," and Brett Dalton from "Marvel's Agents of SHIELD."

Among those kind enough to share a few words with us were Jeff Jensen, Richard Sherman, Tom Peitzman, Tony Baxter, Alan Horn, Michael Giacchino, Brett Dalton, and George Clooney.

"Tomorrowland" will be opening in general theaters on May 22, 2015.

April 27, 2015

"Avengers: Age of Ultron" Press Junket

jeaninebanner.jpg

"Avengers...Time to work for a living."
--Tony Stark

Avengers253dc06ad7f308.jpg

So, excluding those currently undergoing life in a hermitage, most of the movie-going public is likely aware that the new and upcoming addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe is "Avengers: Age of Ultron."

As part of the media blitz for the movie's opening, the extensive cast, along with Writer/Director Joss Whedon and Producer Kevin Feige stopped by the Walt Disney Studios for a brief press conference.

IMG_9146.JPG

(Audio from the Q&A follows. WARNING: SPOILERS THROUGHOUT THE INTERVIEW. PLAY AUDIO/READ FURTHER AT YOUR OWN RISK)

(In the interests of making this a family-friendly blog, one word has been clipped from one of Robert Downey Jr.'s responses.)

Some notes from the panel:

DSC01560.JPG
Scarlett Johansson

--Biggest challenge for Whedon: Making sure everyone in the cast ("there are like...47 of them...") got their moments and fit together into the same narrative.

DSC01561.JPG
Joss Whedon

--Whedon's starting point for creating a sequel to "The Avengers" was to think of the smallest moments he hadn't covered yet: "How can I get inside their hearts; how can they be funny?"

DSC01562.JPG
Elizabeth Olsen

--Make sure you open your press conferences with a question for RDJ.

DSC01549.JPG
James Spader, Mark Ruffalo, and Chris Hemsworth

---James Spader on his experience with motion-capture: "I really don't have any idea what was happening...it all happened very quickly. I was really just trying to hold on and stay on the train that was moving very very quickly..."

DSC01550.JPG
Robert Downey Jr.

---Chris Hemsworth's favorite superhero growing up was Superman, on the basis of it being the only superhero film available to him then. James Spader had no comic books growing up.

DSC01540.JPG
Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans

--Jeremy Renner on Hawkeye's development: "I speak in this movie, which is awesome."

DSC01551.JPG
Chris Evans

--Scarlett Johansson on Black Widow's development: "...She had this moment of false hope where she kind of felt like she had put in the work and there should be some sort of personal payoff...she realizes that her calling is a greater one...that is what is most heroic about her..."

DSC01532.JPG
Jeremy Renner, Paul Bettany, and Cobie Smulders

--Mark Ruffalo on creating Bruce Banner a character distinct from the Hulk: "I was helped out by the fact that I'm GREEN and HUGE, that helped me with the distinction between the two characters so I can't take full credit for that."

IMG_9151.JPG
Aaron Taylor Johnson and Kevin Feige

--Whedon used to be in love with a woman named Betty.

DSC01544.JPG
Kevin Feige

--"Veronica" is the opposite of "Betty."


"Avengers: Age of Ultron," rated PG-13, will be released in theaters May 1, 2015.

Return to Blog Central

About Disney - Pixar - Marvel Movies

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Salute to All Things Disney but Mostly Disneyland in the Disney - Pixar - Marvel Movies category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

December to Remember is the previous category.

Disney Cruise Line is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.