An international English-language trailer has dropped for Studio Ghibli‘s Arrietty, the directorial debut of animator Hiromasa Yonebayashi. The new spot features the UK voice cast, which includes Saoirse Ronan as Arrietty, Olivia Coleman, Tom Holland, and Mark Strong.

Based on Mary Norton‘s classic children’s series The Borrowers, the film revolves around a 14-year-old girl named Arrietty Clock, who is one of a group of tiny people who secretly reside in the homes of regular-sized people and “borrow” supplies from them as needed. When Arrietty is discovered by a human boy, the two strike up a friendship that has big repercussions for the Clocks’ lives. Watch the trailer after the jump.

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With innumerable mountains to climb on the way to remaking Akira, such as the dark storyline, escalating budget and lack of a star, the one constant the film had in recent months was a director. Now the remake of the classic Katsuhiro Otomo anime/manga is without a captain as director Albert Hughes (seen above right with his brother Allen) has reportedly left the film. This comes mere days after news broke that Keanu Reeves was the latest to pass on the lead role of Kaneda and that Warner Bros. had shut down a department working on pre-production. We ask again, what does this mean for Akira? Find out after the jump. Read More »

Cool Stuff: Life-Size ‘Akira’ Replica Bike

While looking around Craigslist last night, I came across a listing for a Life Size replica of Kaneda’s Bike from Akira. Built by Hollywood Fabricator Eddie Paul for Rapper/singer/record producer  Kanye West, this Akira Bike is for sale for only $4,000. The only catch is that it is a collectible meant to be displayed, not ridden. Made from steel and vacuum-formed plastic with rubber tires, the bike was built for the Kanye West Music Video “Stronger” (but was cut from the final video). Kanye West and the music video producer signed the bike. Hit the jump to see more photos.

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Last year, there was a great deal of controversy surrounding the casting of M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender, a live-action movie version of the heavily Asian-influenced cartoon. The characters in the original series appear to come from a range of ethnic backgrounds, but the film version recast the majority of them as white. More recently, bloggers and Hunger Games fans voiced unhappiness with the casting of blond-haired, blue-eyed Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen, who is described in the books as olive-skinned with dark hair and grey eyes — in other words, not necessarily white and definitely not blond-haired and blue-eyed.

Now, the latest project to get flak for “whitewashing” (as it’s called) its roles is Warner Bros.’ live-action remake of Akira, the iconic Japanese animated film. A recently revealed shortlist indicated that only Caucasian actors are currently in the running for the lead roles of Kaneda and Tetsuo. (The shortlist also showed that the studio is only considering actors ten years older than the originally teenaged characters, but that’s an issue for another day — we already knew it wouldn’t exactly be a faithful adaptation.) Read more after the jump.

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All animation is essentially dubbed when you get right down to it, but there’s still something valuable about seeing animated pictures with their original voice track intact — the timing and tone of that original dialogue is important. But Studio Ghibli’s films have earned a spot as some of the few animated pictures where I’ve been surprised to enjoy the English-language cast, to the point where I actually anticipate news about the talent used to make the new dubs.

So here’s your first notice about the localized voice cast for Studio Ghibli’s new Arrietty the Borrower: the young Brigit Mendler is voicing Arrietty for the North American release. Read More »

Harald Zwart Tapped To Direct ‘Bakugan’

In Hollywood, it’s never about what you’ve done, it’s about what you’ve done lately. Before this summer, Harald Zwart directed One Night at McCool’s, Agent Cody Banks and The Pink Panther 2. Not exactly box office or critical bonanzas. Still, he found himself in China directing the remake of The Karate Kid for Sony. From a $40 million budget, that film made almost $400 million worldwide and now Universal is entrusting Zwart with one of their precious possible franchises. He’s been tapped to direct Bakugan, based on the popular game and anime show Bakugan Battle Brawlers. Read More »

Are You Ready For Six ‘Kung-Fu Panda’ Movies?

Kung-Fu Panda was silly fluff, but likeable enough as a child’s introduction to kung-fu movies. (Assuming someone wouldn’t just show their kids the safer Jackie Chan movies at some point — maybe those come after Panda.) Taken against the Shrek and Madagascar sequels (and before How to Train Your Dragon) it made DreamWorks Animation look better than usual. But would I want to see six Kung-Fu Panda movies? Probably not.

Six films is what DreamWorks is planning, according to Jeffrey Katzenberg. And speaking of How to Train Your Dragon — for which we knew at least one sequel is in development — expect to see at least three films in the series. Oh, and at least four Madagascar movies. Read More »

I’ve been anxiously awaiting confirmation that Zac Efron will in fact not star in Albert Hughes’ upcoming live-action adaptation of the popular anime/Katsuhiro Otomo‘s six-volume manga Akira, but instead all we’ve gotten are more rumors. At least this bit of potential casting is much more appealing: it seems Morgan Freeman is circling the role of the Colonel, aka Colonel Shikishima.

(After the break, more on Akira, and an unfortunate realization dawns: Hollywood might make a Rubik’s Cube movie.) Read More »

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