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Comic-Con: ‘Boxtrolls’ Producer Travis Knight Gives Shout-Out To Tracy Morgan; Urges DIY Attitude On Filmmaking

By | Saturday July 26, 2014 @ 3:06pm PDT

Comic-Con: ‘Boxtrolls’ Producer Travis Knight Gives Shout-Out To Tracy Morgan; Urges DIY Attitude On FilmmakingUPDATES THROUGHOUT: Boxtrolls producer Travis Knight gave an update on cast member Tracy Morgan during the Focus Features panel for the pic today at Comic-Con. Morgan was seriously injured in a June crash that killed his mentor, comedian James McNair, in New Jersey. “Thankfully he’s home with his family now and recovering… I’ve come down to Comic-Con for five years and not found a family as loving, kind and generous as the Comic-Con family,” he said. Knight and the cast and crew of Boxtrolls led the 6,500 strong Hall H audience in a round of “We love you Tracy” cheers, filming the moment to send to Morgan back home.

The Laika stopThe Box Trolls motion animation pic has been ten years in the making, but comes after the Portland-based studio’s first two feature hits. Development began before the studio’s Coraline (2009) and ParaNorman (2012) on the tale of a young boy named Eggs who’s raised by a family of underground-dwelling trash-collecting creatures known as the Boxtrolls.

"The Boxtrolls" Panel - Comic-Con International 2014Game Of Thrones‘ Isaac Hempstead-Wright voices Eggs, and got a huge response from fans as he took the stage just a day after the HBO series packed Hall H with its own panel. Elle Fanning and Ben Kingsley also “star” and joined Hempstead-Wright, Knight, and co-directors Anthony Stacchi and Graham Annable to present charming footage from the September 26 release. Laika has created a richly detailed world inspired by works of “Roald Dahl, bits of Monty Python, and Charles Dickens,” according to Knight. Read More »

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Anna Kendrick To Voice Lead In ‘Trolls’; David Harewood Joins ‘Tulip Fever’ Cast

By | Monday June 16, 2014 @ 7:52pm PDT

Anna KendrickAnna Kendrick has landed the lead voice role in Trolls, director Mike Mitchell’s musical comedy for DreamWorks Animation. She will play Poppy, a relentlessly upbeat princess, in the film based on the toy doll series. Kendrick’s recent credits include Drinking Buddies, Pitch Perfect and ParaNorman. She has several upcoming projects including The Last Five Years, Into The Woods, Mr. Right and Pitch Perfect 2. The actress is repped by CAA.

David HarewoodDavid Harewood has booked a role in the Weinstein Company drama Tulip Fever for director Justin Chadwick. He will play Prater, Amsterdam’s foremost tulip grower/dealer, in the film about a 17th century Dutch woman who begins an affair with an artist hired to paint her portrait. Harewood’s credits include TV’s Homeland and Robin Hood, and upcoming roles include ABC’s Selfie, HBO’s The Money and features Free In Deed and Grimbsy. He is repped by APA, Conway van Gelder Grant and Authentic Talent & Literary Management.

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Hot Trailer: Focus Features’ ‘The Boxtrolls’ Aims To Join DWA’s ‘Dragon’ As Early Animated Oscar Bet (Video)

Pete Hammond

It looks like the 2014 Oscar race for Best Animated Feature is already heating up. Boxtrolls First Official TrailerDreamWorks Animation’s How To Train Your Dragon 2 opens today and could be No. 1 for the weekend. At any rate, it is getting such superlative reviews  (especially for a sequel) that it is already looking like a front-runner for that Oscar that was denied to the original in 2010, when it had to compete against the Disney/Pixar juggernaut Toy Story 3, which also benefited from a Best Picture nomination.  That movie of course was a second sequel and it obviously wasn’t hurt by the label. how-to-train-your-dragon-2-trailerDWA has already started its campaign with mailings to various awards groups of the hardcover coffee table book The Art Of  How To Train Your Dragon 2 (I have already gotten two copies including one yesterday that came in a black leather backpack that looked suspiciously like Toothless, the star Dragon of the title).

With a sterling 92% fresh score at Rotten Tomatoes, Dragon 2 is definitely in play and many pundits are already predicting it to win, even though it’s only June and there’s more to come including the latest from Focus Features, The Boxtrolls. Focus started its campaign for their animated film even earlier by sending select media a big toy box container with special slots for the various characters in the film starting with Eggs and Fish and the promise of two more shipments. Yesterday, a second shipment arrived containing Winnie and Shoe. Yes folks, the campaign has started in earnest. Here’s the first full trailer:

Laika, the Portland, OR-based animation studio behind Boxtrolls, received Oscar nominations for its first two animated features ParaNorman and Coraline, and now are hoping the third time is the charm with The Boxtrolls, which opens September 26 as the company’s third stop-motion release with Focus Features. Read More »

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Renny Harlin Takes Helm Of Jackie Chan Action Comedy ‘Skiptrace’

By | Monday May 19, 2014 @ 2:39pm PDT

Renny Harlin Jackie Chan SkiptraceCliffhanger and Long Kiss Goodnight helmer Renny Harlin has been tapped to direct the Jackie Chan buddy action comedy Skiptrace following the departure of previously announced director Sam Fell (Paranorman).

Chan is set to star opposite Seann William Scott and X-Men: Days Of Future Past‘s Fan Bingbing in the tale of a Hong Kong detective (Chan) who teams up with a mouthy American gambler (Scott) to save his niece and take down the city’s most notorious criminal. Dasym Entertainment and Beijing-based Talent International Film are co-financing and co-producing the vehicle, which was first scripted by Jay Longino from Chan’s original idea. The Sitter scribes Brian Gatewood and Alessandro Tanaka did a rewrite ahead of the project’s Cannes presentation last year, and since then Geoff Moore and David Posamentier (Grandma’s Intergalactic Bed & Breakfast, Food Fight) and BenDavid Grabinski (Machinima’s Enormous) have also contributed revisions. Read More »

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Hot Teaser: ‘The Boxtrolls’

By | Thursday March 6, 2014 @ 6:53am PST

The latest peek at Focus Features‘ upcoming 3D stop-motion pic is a more a dialogue-free look at its look than a preview of its story. To fill you in, The Boxtrolls – from ParaNorman and Coraline toon studio Laika and based on Alan Snow’s novel Here Be Monsters! — centers on a boy raised by a group of cardboard-clad subterranean beings. Directed by Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi, the voice cast includes Isaac Hempstead Wright, Ben Kingsley, Elle Fanning, Simon Pegg, Toni Collette, Nick Frost, Jared Harris and Richard Ayoade. It’s all set to CeeLo Green channeling Elvis on an oft-covered Leiber & Stoller classic. Check it out:

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Hot Teaser: ‘The Boxtrolls’

By | Thursday November 28, 2013 @ 12:02pm PST

The video below is part teaser, part behind-the-scenes tribute to the meticulous detail that goes into stop-motion. From Coraline and ParaNorman animation studio LAIKA, The Boxtrolls is still some way off – Focus opens it on September 26, 2014 – but the folksy tune that accompanies this new teaser seems fitting for a holiday. The Boxtrolls is based on Alan Snow’s novel Here Be Monsters! and follows a boy named Eggs who’s raised by an unconventional family of underground-dwelling creatures who live in cardboard boxes. Among the voice cast are Isaac Hempstead Wright, Ben Kingsley, Elle Fanning, Simon Pegg, Toni Collette, Nick Frost, Jared Harris and Richard Ayoade. Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi co-direct.

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Zombie Comedy ‘Life After Beth’ Adds Cast As Production Begins

By | Tuesday July 16, 2013 @ 12:50pm PDT

As flicks about the undead continue to disinter, Anna Kendrick, Molly Shannon and Cheryl Hines have boarded I Heart Huckabees writer Jeff Baena’s directorial debut. Shooting is underway in Los Angeles on Life After Beth, which stars Amazing Spider-Man 2 heavy Dane DeHaan as a guy mourning the death of his girlfriend (Aubrey Plaza). But when Beth comes back to life, he tries to live their relationship to the fullest — until things take a turn for the much worse. John C. Reilly, Paul Reiser and Matthew Gray Gubler in the pic, which Baena also wrote. Liz Destro and Michael Zakin are producing the film alongside American Zoetrope, Starstream Entertainment, and Abbolita Pictures. Charles Bonan, Tim Nye, and Kim Leadford exec produce. CAA and WME are co-repping the domestic rights to the pic. Beth is the second horror comedy to flesh out its cast in the past week; Elijah Wood’s Cooties tapped Rainn Wilson, Alison Pill and others on Friday.

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Hot Trailer: ‘The Boxtrolls’

By | Tuesday July 2, 2013 @ 12:30pm PDT

“Families come in all shapes and sizes.” A teaser for the next stop-motion animated pic from Laika (Coraline, ParaNorman) has arrived just days after DOMA and Prop 8 were struck down by the Supreme Court. Based on Alan Snow’s novel Here Be Monsters!, The Boxtrolls follows a boy named Eggs (Game Of Thrones‘ Isaac Hempstead Wright) who’s raised by an unconventional family of underground-dwelling creatures who live in cardboard boxes. Ben Kingsley voices the villainous Archibald Snatcher, on a quest to exterminate the Boxtrolls. Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi co-direct the pic. Focus opens The Boxtrolls September 26, 2014:

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OSCARS: Academy Invites 276 To Join

By | Friday June 28, 2013 @ 11:15am PDT

Related:
Analysis: Did The Academy Just Get A Lot More Diverse?

Academy Membership Quotas Dissolved: Does It Mean Anything?

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is extending invitations to join the organization to 276 artists and executives who have distinguished themselves by their contributions to theatrical motion pictures. Those who accept the invitations will be the only additions to the Academy’s membership in 2013. “These individuals are among the best filmmakers working in the industry today,” said Academy President Hawk Koch. “Their talent and creativity have captured the imagination of audiences worldwide, and I am proud to welcome each of them to the Academy.”

The 2013 invitees are:

Actors
Jason Bateman – “Up in the Air,” “Juno”
Miriam Colon – “City of Hope,” “Scarface”
Rosario Dawson – “Rent,” “Frank Miller’s Sin City”
Kimberly Elise – “For Colored Girls,” “Beloved”
Joseph Gordon-Levitt – “Lincoln,” “The Dark Knight Rises”
Charles Grodin – “Midnight Run,” “The Heartbreak Kid”
Rebecca Hall – “Iron Man 3,” “The Town”
Lance Henriksen – “Aliens,” “The Terminator”
Jack Huston – “Not Fade Away,” “Factory Girl”
Milla Jovovich – “Resident Evil,” “Chaplin”
Lucy Liu – “Kill Bill: Vol. 1,” “Chicago”
Jennifer Lopez – “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” “Selena”
Alma Martinez – “Born in East L.A.,” “Under Fire”
Emily Mortimer – “Hugo,” “Lars and the Real Girl”
Sandra Oh – “Rabbit Hole,” “Sideways”
Paula Patton – “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol,” “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”
Michael Peña – “End of Watch,” “Crash”
Emmanuelle Riva – “Amour,” “Hiroshima, Mon Amour”
Jason Schwartzman – “Moonrise Kingdom,” “Rushmore”
Geno Silva – “Mulholland Drive,” “Amistad”
Danny Trejo – “Machete,” “Heat”
Chris Tucker – “Silver Linings Playbook,” “Rush Hour”

Read More »

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Disney, ‘Iron Man 3′ Dominate 2013 Golden Trailer Awards

By | Sunday May 5, 2013 @ 1:55pm PDT

Golden Trailer Awards Winners 2013The annual marketing kudos went big for Disney pics Iron Man 3, Wreck-It-Ralph, Monsters University, Brave, and The Avengers at the Golden Trailer Awards Friday night. The GTAs didn’t just fete the best movie promos of the year. They also doled out Trashiest Trailer (to A24′s Spring Breakers) and gave indie comedy Hit & Run the Golden Fleece award, awarded to a trailer better than its actual movie. Here’s the full list of winners:
Read More »

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Amy Pascal Asks Hollywood To Eliminate Gay Slurs And Stereotypes From Movies

By | Friday March 22, 2013 @ 12:20pm PDT

Sony Amy PascalIt’s rare for moguls to push moral responsibility to Hollywood, let alone action. Last night at a sold-out LA Gay & Lesbian Center gala that raised $1 million for homeless gay and lesbian youth, honoree Amy Pascal asked the industry to scrutinize its depiction of LGBT characters in film and television: “How about next time, when any of us are reading a script and it says words like fag, or faggot – homo – dyke – take a pencil and just cross it out”. Below are excerpts from the Sony Pictures boss’ prepared speech.

No matter who we are, no matter what we are, no matter where we come from, we learn about ourselves and each other in two ways. The first way is what we hear – in our families, from our friends, and from our schoolmates. The second way is what we see – on television and in the movie theater. Now, there is not much any of us can do about what people hear from families and friends, but there is a whole hell of a lot we can do about what people see.

The images that impacted me as a teenager had lasting influences on my entire life and I bet that is true for most of us. What we see in the media today affects everybody, whether it’s film, TV, radio, magazines or the internet. What the media says about your sexual orientation, and the color of your skin, and the shape of your eyes, and your ethnicity… what you look like, what you weigh, what you wear, how poor you are, how awkward you are, how educated you are, and how different you are… this stuff really sinks in. What we see teaches us about how to feel about ourselves and how to feel about each other.

And now, I’m talking about kids who are gay and I’m talking about kids who aren’t gay. One group needs affirmation and the other group needs education. And, if I’m being honest, neither of those issues are high on any movie studio or TV network’s agenda…

The Celluloid Closet was made almost 20 years ago and certainly attitudes have changed, but maybe not quite so much as you or I would want or hope. Television has been much more progressive and credit has to be given to producers like Max Mutchnick and David Kohan and Ryan Murphy for really changing things.

Now movies need to catch up. There are magnificent movies being made about gay subjects with gay characters, like Brokeback Mountain and Milk. Anyone would have been proud to have made those movies. I know I would be. But when you think about some of these films, even our favorite ones, there is a theme that runs through them.

Brokeback Mountain, Milk, Boys Don’t Cry, Philadelphia, The Hours, Gods and Monsters, The Talented Mr. Ripley, A Single Man, My Own Private Idaho, Cloud Atlas – in all these movies, the main character is murdered or martyred or commits suicide or just dies unhappily. And there are far more pernicious and dangerous images that confront gay kids and their parents: the lesbian murderer, the psychotic transvestite, the queen who is humiliated and sometimes tossed off a ship or a ledge. It’s a big joke. It still happens.

Read More »

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‘Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes’ Casts Kodi Smit-McPhee

By | Friday February 22, 2013 @ 4:19pm PST

Dawn Of The Planet Of The ApesEXCLUSIVE: Kodi Smit-McPhee has scored a lead role in 20th Century Fox‘s Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes. The follow-up to Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes is directed by Cloverfield‘s Matt Reeves, who also helmed Smit-McPhee in Let Me In opposite Chloe Moretz. Smit-McPhee is currently filming The Young Ones, directed by Jake Paltrow, alongside Nicholas Hoult, Elle Fanning and Michael Shannon. The Australian native most recently voiced the title character in the Oscar-nominated animated feature ParaNorman.

The Fox sequel is ramping up for a May 23, 2014 Memorial Day weekend release, which the studio announced last year. Meanwhile, 16-year-old Smit-McPhee’s been busy. He’s completed Ari Folman’s The Congress with Robin Wright, Paul Giamatti and Harvey Keitel; plays the title character in Michael J. Johnson’s The Wilderness Of James opposite Isabel Furman, Virginia Madsen, and Evan Ross; and has the lead role in A Birder’s Guide To Everything opposite Ben Kingsley. He’ll also appear as Benvolio in Carlo Carlei’s version of Romeo & Juliet (adapted by Downton Abbey‘s Julian Fellowes) with Hailee Steinfeld, Douglas Booth, Ed Westwick, and Paul Giamatti. Smit-McPhee is represented by ICM Partners and managed by The Schiff Co.

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OSCARS: Hammond’s Down-To-The-Wire Predictions For 2013 Winners & Losers

By | Monday February 18, 2013 @ 7:45pm PST
Pete Hammond

Can’t we just end all this suspense about winners or losers and call it one massive tie this year? The 2012 crop of Oscar nominees, and films in general, is so impressively dense with quality it seems a shame the Academy has to pick just one winner in each category. But that’s the name of the game we play this time of year, and with ballots going out just as I had to turn this piece in, it is still a fluid situation as to just what the final results will be. With so many movies spread across many categories that are genuine contenders, a split vote resulting in some surprising twists and turns is possible, even though the various guild awards give strong clues about industry sentiment. If the past is any indication, I am aware some readers might take these predictions as gospel and bet the farm on it in their Oscar pools, so I offer a disclaimer before we begin. I am not responsible for any monetary loss you might incur, nor do I expect 10% of any winnings. I am just trying to read the winds of Oscar after several months of analyzing every tea leaf. Here is where I have a hunch it stands, but please note I have made a few tweaks since the original version of these predictions were published in last week’s print edition of AwardsLine (I switched in production design and makeup/hairstyling). Results at BAFTA, WGA, and several other guild award shows have now been taken into account since then, but it is all still a crap shoot in one of the craziest Oscar years in memory.

BEST PICTURE

All season long, this has been about as wide open a race, and as competitive a field of contenders, as we have seen in many years. With nine nominees, the same number as last year, it has taken a while to figure out a surefire winner. But with key awards from the PGA, DGA, WGA, BAFTA and SAG, in addition to best picture honors at the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Movie Awards, Argo has clearly emerged as the frontrunner, a remarkable turn of events considering its director, Ben Affleck, was snubbed by the Academy’s directing branch Jan. 10. Oh, what a difference a few weeks makes. The big question is, can the Warner Bros. juggernaut maintain momentum and win Oscar’s top prize, even without that directing nomination? If so, it would be only the second film to win without a directing nom, following Driving Miss Daisy’s feat at the 1990 ceremony. With the best picture category holding the strongest possibility for success among Argo’s seven nominations, could it actually win here and nowhere else? Not likely, but it’s possible, especially in a year in which I think the Academy will be spreading the wealth. Lincoln, with a leading 12 nominations (a good, if not always correct, indicator), Silver Linings Playbook, and Life of Pi are probably still in the mix here as well but…

The Winner: Argo

The Competition: Amour, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Misérables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty

RELATED: OSCARS: Best Picture Nominees Had Uphill Production Battles

BEST DIRECTOR

With the quirky director’s branch going out of their way to snub DGA nominees Kathryn Bigelow, Tom Hooper, and DGA winner Ben Affleck, we know for sure we can’t count on the usual spot-on correlation between the DGA winner and the eventual victor in this category. Affleck actually would have been my prediction to win here, but, alas, he’s not even nominated, which means voters might very well be splitting their vote for director and picture this year — certainly not unheard of in recent years but increasingly rare. As directors of the two films with the most nominations, Steven Spielberg for Lincoln and Ang Lee for Life of Pi, are the likely frontrunners, with Silver Linings Playbook’s David O. Russell coming up on the outside. If initial frontrunner Lincoln has been eclipsed in the Best Picture race, this is the place voters could come to kneel at the Spielberg-ian altar. Or not. Lee’s triumph in even managing to bring the “unfilmable” Pi to the screen just screams “directing”, and that could play very well here.

The Winner: Ang Lee, Life of Pi

The Competition: Michael Haneke, Amour; Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild; Steven Spielberg, Lincoln; David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook

BEST ACTOR

This is Daniel Day-Lewis’ to lose at this point. Playing such a well-known biographical figure is, of course, a big plus. But Day-Lewis brought a lot to the table and remains the guy to beat in an impossibly fine field of contenders. Day-Lewis’ biggest drawback is that he has already won this prize twice, and a third would be unprecedented for lead actors in Oscar history. Also no actor has ever won an Oscar for playing a U.S. president, another potential first. The Academy might want to reward equally deserving newcomers to the category like Hugh Jackman or Bradley Cooper instead, but judging from the pile of precursor awards Day-Lewis has already won, it looks like you can bet a very large pile of $5 bills that he will make Oscar history with honest Abe.

The Winner: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln

The Competition: Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook; Hugh Jackman, Les Misérables; Joaquin Phoenix, The Master; Denzel Washington, Flight

RELATED: OSCARS: Best Actor/Best Actress Race Handicap

BEST ACTRESS

I got this one wrong last year when Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady) beat Viola Davis (The Help), and this is another tough one. The race for lead actress is hotly competitive, with both Silver Linings Playbook’s Jennifer Lawrence and Zero Dark Thirty’s Jessica Chastain claiming other early awards and also impressing with strong performances (Naomi Watts is magnificent in The Impossible, but that film got no other nominations, putting it at a disadvantage here against four other actress nominees from Best Picture contenders). Plus, never underestimate the so-called “babe factor” (thanks to the Academy’s dominant male membership) that this category often, but not always, favors. A win here for either one could be a chance to give either of their movies an important award, while shutting them out elsewhere. The real wild card in this race is 85-year-old Emmanuelle Riva, whose performance in the foreign language film Amour has been widely praised and admired, particularly by her fellow actors, who comprise the Academy’s largest voting block. As the oldest Best Actress nominee ever (she actually turns 86 on Oscar Sunday), she could trigger a sentimental factor and a feeling that the others will have another shot someday. SAG champ Lawrence probably has the edge and is where the smart money’s going, but a split in this very fluid category could provide one of the evening’s most interesting stories. So going way out on a limb…

The Winner: Emmanuelle Riva, Amour

The Competition: Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty; Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook; Quvenzhané Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild; Naomi Watts, The Impossible
Read More »

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OSCARS Q&A: Tim Burton

By | Sunday February 17, 2013 @ 1:04pm PST

Anthony D’Alessandro is Managing Editor of AwardsLine

In the final stretch before the Oscar ballot deadline, there’s still hope that voters remain undecided in the animation category. Though Disney has cornered the Oscar slot with three titles, its Frankenweenie, directed by Tim Burton, stands as an island against the epic Brave and the existential crisis comedy of Wreck-It Ralph. The film is an auteur’s youthful dream short, once buried by the studio that has resuscitated it as a 3D stopmotion feature — the first in black and white. This Frankenstein homage about a boy who brings his dead dog back to life is signature Tim Burton. Many will argue Burton is overdue for an Oscar. He was nominated in the animated category for 2005’s Corpse Bride. His 1994 absurdist biopic Ed Wood garnered a supporting actor win for Martin Landau (as Bela Lugosi) and best makeup, while 2007’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street won best art direction and earned noms for Johnny Depp as best actor and for Colleen Atwood’s costumes. Another appealing Burton attribute for Oscar voters is that he remains an iconoclast among big-studio directors working today — he’s a visual artist with a spooky canon that appears alienating with its deep subtext but lures the masses with its fanciful spins on children’s tales such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Alice in Wonderland. AwardsLine recently spoke to Burton about his career and Frankenweenie’s place in it.

AwardsLine: Why was this the best time to make Frankenweenie as a stopmotion feature. You could have conceivably made it in 1993 instead of Nightmare Before Christmas.
Tim Burton: All these projects take a long time. I remember when I first designed Nightmare, it took about 10 years to get that in place because nobody really wanted to do stopmotion, and in a way, there weren’t a lot of facilities that were doing it. We did the Frankenweenie short many years ago, and I never really planned on it being anything else. Over the years, I just kept kind of thinking about the relationship with my dog, but also other monster movies, the kids and teachers from my school, and even the downtown places in Burbank. A lot more thoughts came into Frankenweenie, Read More »

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OSCARS: Tim Burton’s ‘Frankenweenie’ Featurette ‘The Puppet Hospital’

By | Friday February 15, 2013 @ 4:21pm PST
Pete Hammond

EXCLUSIVE: Tim Burton received his second animated feature nomination for Frankenweenie, perhaps his most personal movie yet. His first nom came for 2005′s Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride. Both are products of the art of Stop Motion animation, a technique that fell on hard times after CGI took over for most animated films. But thanks to Burton and others it is back with a vengeance. Three of the Animated Feature nominees this year (ParaNorman and The Pirates! Band Of Misfits are the others) and two of the Animated Short nominees (Head Over Heels and Fresh Guacamole) are all done with Stop Motion technique. In this exclusive featurette a visit to the “puppet hospital” shows some of the magic behind Frankenweenie.

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Hot Featurette: ‘ParaNorman’ Aims To Shake Up Animated Feature Race

By | Friday February 8, 2013 @ 5:57pm PST
Pete Hammond

EXCLUSIVE: In terms of awards campaigns for the Best Animated Feature Oscar this year, ParaNorman, a nominee from Focus Features and Laika seems to be the one making the most noise, at least as far as advertising goes. Taking a cue from the Juno campaign a few years ago there is even a ParaNorman coffee truck driving around town serving up goodies. Hey, why not? If an Academy member happens to be strolling by what could be a better way to get their attention than selling them a cappuccino from Norman himself? Focus and Laika are clearly proud of their work and want Oscar voters to know they actually have racked up more critics awards than any other animated film this year, although at Rotten Tomatoes it is an extremely close race for the title of Best Reviewed animated feature among the five Oscar nominees with Frankenweenie at 88% fresh barely ahead of ParaNorman and The Pirates! Band Of Misfits at 87% while Wreck-It Ralph has 85% and Brave 78%, all healthy scores indicating this could turn out to be an extremely tight race in the end even with Ralph scoring big wins at the Annies and PGA over the competition. ParaNorman is aiming to turn the tide. Here’s an exclusive featurette:

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Focus Features Seals Pact For LAIKA Pic ‘The Boxtrolls’

By | Thursday February 7, 2013 @ 9:17am PST
Mike Fleming

BREAKING: Moments after setting a deal with Random House Studio for Longbourne, Focus Features has locked its third animated movie project with ParaNorman and Coraline partner LAIKA. This one is called The Boxtrolls, which is in production, and Focus will release it October 17th, 2014. Focus has worldwide distribution rights and Universal Pictures International will release the movie overseas (with eOne Distribution handling Canada).

The Boxtrollsis a 3D stop-motion and CG hybrid animated feature based on Alan Snow’s bestselling fantasy adventure novel Here Be Monsters. It’s directed by Anthony Stacchi (co-director of Open Season) and Graham Annable (story artist on Coraline and ParaNorman), and produced by David Ichioka and Mr. Knight. The voice cast includes Oscar winner Ben Kingsley, Toni Collette, Elle Fanning, Isaac Hempstead-Wright, Jared Harris, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Richard Ayoade, and Tracy Morgan.

The Here Be Monsters deal was brokered by Hotchkiss And Associates. Read More »

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SXSW 2013: Abigail Breslin In ‘Haunter’, ‘Lords Of Salem’, ‘You’re Next’, ‘Big Ass Spider’ Lead Midnighters

By | Wednesday February 6, 2013 @ 12:00pm PST

Sixteen-year-old Abigail Breslin leads her first horror pic in Haunter, from director Vincenzo Natali (Cube, Splice), which will world-premiere in the Midnight line-up at the 2013 SXSW Film Festival. The slate also reunites Innkeepers (SXSW ’11) duo Pat Healy and Sarah Paxton, who star with Ethan Embry and David Koechner in first-time director E.L. Katz’s Cheap Thrills, while the Greg Grunberg-starring creature feature Big Ass Spider (sold overseas as, ahem, Mega Spider) sends creepy-crawly shivers through the midnight crowd.

Also unveiling for the late-night genre crowd at the fest, held March 8-16 in Austin, are Rob Zombie’s Lords Of Salem, releasing April 19 via Anchor Bay, the festival slasher fave You’re Next, which Lionsgate will open August 23, the anthology sequel V/H/S/2 (re-titled from S-VHS) snapped up by Magnolia last month at Sundance, and Xan Cassavetes’ sexy vampire pic Kiss Of The Damned starring Milo Ventimiglia and Joséphine de La Baume.

Below, descriptions of the nine features in SXSW’s Midnight selection along with the fest’s extensive slate of short films including narrative shorts, doc shorts, and music videos:

MIDNIGHTERS
Scary, funny, sexy, controversial – provocative after-dark features for night owls and the terminally curious.

Haunter (Canada)
Director: Vincenzo Natali, Screenwriter: Brian King
Lisa Johnson is one day shy of her 16th birthday and will be forever. She and her family are doomed to repeat the fateful day before they were all killed in 1985. Cast: Abigail Breslin, Stephen McHattie, Peter Outerbridge, Michelle Nolden, David Hewlett (World Premiere)

Read More »

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VES Awards: ‘Life Of Pi’ Wins 4 Including Feature, ‘Brave’, ‘Game Of Thrones’ Other Big Winners

By | Tuesday February 5, 2013 @ 11:05pm PST

Ross Lincoln is a Deadline contributor.

Life Of Pi and Brave were the big winners in the feature film categories tonight, each taking four awards at the 11th Annual VES Awards and HBO’s Game Of Thrones led the TV honors with four nods. Life Of Pi took the top feature award for Outstanding Visual Effects in a Visual Effects-Driven Feature Motion Picture. It also won Outstanding Compositing in a Feature Motion Picture, Outstanding Animated Character in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture and Outstanding FX and Simulation Animation in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture. Brave’s four wins included Outstanding Animation in an Animated Feature Motion Picture. In features, The Avengers also took two awards, and The Impossible and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey nabbed one each. In the TV contingent, Game Of Thrones led the way with four including Outstanding Visual Effects in a Broadcast Program and HBO’s Boardwalk Empire also took one award.

Life Of Pi director Ang Lee, nominated for two Oscars, received the VES Visionary award, given to an individual “who has uniquely and consistently employed the art and science of visual effects to foster imagination and ignite future discoveries by way of artistry, invention and groundbreaking work”. In his acceptance speech, Lee said “This is not visual effects, it’s visual art”. Paying tribute to the effects industry, Lee said “they are the expression of our heart, and for that I salute you”. Five-time Academy Award winning special effects cinematographer Richard Edlund, notable for his contributions to the original Star Wars trilogy, Raiders Of The Lost Ark and Ghostbusters, was honored with a lifetime achievement award. The complete list follows:  Read More »

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