Alice in Wonderland

Walt Disney Studios has finally announced their schedule for the 2009 San Diego Comic-Con International. Full details after the jump.

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the princess and the frog

Update: The High Definition trailer is now available on Apple. Full trailer still embedded after the jump.

As you probably know, the full trailer for The Princess and the Frog will be attached to Pixar’s Up, which hits theaters later this month. Well guess what? The Disney Channel has premiered the trailer early and the video has shown up on YouTube. I think this looks just wonderful, like the classic Disney films from my childhood.

This is Disney’s return to hand-drawn animation, a new take on E.D. Baker’s novel The Frog Princess (which was actually the original title of the film).  Did you know that this is actually the 49th animated feature in the Disney canon? Thanks to /Film reader jaynbalt for the tip. Watch the trailer after the jump, and please leave your thoughts in the comments below.
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The Princess and the Frog

The first reader reviews of McG’s Terminator Salvation and Disney’s return to hand drawn animation, The Princess and The Frog have shown up online.

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The Princess and The Frog

Frogless has uploaded a clip from the television show/special Backlot Buzz which has John Lasseter talking about and showing clips from Disney’s upcoming return to hand drawn animation, The Princess and the Frog. The footage includes a bunch of new never-before seen footage, including our first real look at the film’s villain. At the end of the clip Lasseter says that “To actually see a hand-drawn animation this well done is like seeing something brand-new again.” I definitely agree. After the last decade of mostly computer animated films, this return to classic-Disney hand-drawn animation feels so new and magical. Watch the footage embedded after the jump.
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Video Blog: ShoWest 2009

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I just got back from ShowWest in Las Vegas. ShoWest is a convention for theater owners where, among other things, Hollywood previews some of their upcoming movies. You’ve seen some of my ShoWest overage on the site over the last week, but there was so much going on that I couldn’t get to it all. Frosty from Collider joins me in this video blog wrap-up, where we take a look at nearly everything that we saw over the course of the four day convention. We broke it into two parts because it runs a little bit long. Here is some of the stuff we talked about:

Neill Blomkamp’s District 9, Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes, Tron 2 3-D, Beauty and the Beast in 3-D, Angels & Demons,  G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Woody Allen’s new film Whatever Works, The Hurt Locker, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, The Hangover, Terminator Salvation, Robert Zemeckis’ A Christmas Carol, Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, The Proposal, The Princess and the Frog, Men in Black 3, Spider-Man 4, Ghostbusters 3, The Ugly Truth, Julie and Julia, and The Year One.

In the last 5 minutes of the video, George (El Guapo) from Latino Review, Alex from First Showing, Ed from Coming Soon, and Katey from Cinemablend make a cameo appearance and briefly discuss their favorite things from the con. A big thanks goes to Katey Rich for producing this segment. She did the camera work and helped us organize the talking points. Without her, we would have been babbling even more than we did. Part 2 is after the jump.

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princess and the frog concept art

AICN has gotten their hands on some new character concept art from Disney’s return to 2D handdrawn animation — The Princess and the Frog. Head on over to AICN to see the individual images in higher resolution. What do you guys think so far?

the princess and the frog

It looks like those of you who are eagerly waiting for Disney’s The Princess and the Frog, which represents a return to Disney’s traditional hand-drawn animation, won’t have to wait as long as originally thought: Disney is now moving up the film’s wide opening date and staggering its release, with a limited run in New York and LA starting on November 25th, followed by a wide release on December 11th. The new December data is two weeks earlier than its original Christmas Day opening, taking it out of opening weekend competition with Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel (and yes, it’s sad that a Disney film needs to be worried about losing business to a film called Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel). Instead, it will now be going up against Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones.
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princess and the frog

Not much going on at WonderCon today. The big event seemed to be a small panel on Walt Disney Animation’s Art of 2D Visual Effects. A bunch of the movie writers from all the movie sites were crammed into the front rows of the small conference room in hopes of seeing the first footage of The Princess and the Frog, Disney’s return to 2D hand-drawn animation. And while we did get to see a glimpse of that movie, the panel was mostly uneventful. I guess we were hoping that it would be less about the art of 2D animated visual effects and more about Princess and the Frog, but that teaches us for not trusting the official panel description.

The panel was hosted by Marlon West, a animated visual effects artist for Walt Disney Animation Studios. He started with the company 15 years ago on Lion King, and has since made the transition from 2D to 3d back to 2D again. Most recently he worked on the Goofy short film How to Hook Up Your Home Entertainment System. His job is basically to add effects to animated sequences. When a dust cloud rises from the ground after someone falls, that’s Marlon. When you see some shadows or background props moving around due to an earthquake, that’s Marlon. I learned a lot about the job of an effects animator, probably more than I’ll ever need to know. It was fascinating.

But what about The Princess and The Frog and the future of 2D hand-drawn animation at Disney? One thing West made clear is that Disney is trying to go back to their roots. He said hybrid films that combined hand drawn animation with computer animated backgrounds now have a stigma attached. And because of that, John Lasseter and company have mandated that The Princess and the Frog not look like it was touched with computers at all. In fact, most of it is not. There are no digital characters or backgrounds, and the film returns to the old multi-plane roots of Snow White. The only thing created for Princess and the Frog that is “digitally created” is the animated effects.

We were shown an early sequence where the film’s villain, a Voodoo hustler named Dr. Facilier, is giving a prince a tarot card reading. The Doctor flips the cards through the air in “maneuvers more inspired by the Harlem Globetrotters than Rickey Jay.” At one point, the arm of the chair the prince is sitting in turns into a snake and a green cocoon engulfs the royal son, as Facilier appears to grow into a giant. None of the footage was finished enough or long enough to really give you any fair review of it, but I will say it looked like an old school Disney feature film, and that made a lot of the people in attendance very happy. West showed us how he integrates computer animated effect elements into the hand drawn character and background elements in a way that everything blends together. And while future hand drawn animated features might feature more computer generated elements such as backgrounds (a la the dance sequence from Beauty and the Beast), the plan is to blend the elements together so that they seem stylistically as one.

West says that Disney plans to have a digital animated film out every 18 months and a traditional hand-drawn animated feature out every two and a half years. The Princess and the Frog is scheduled to hit theaters later this year, and the digitally animated Rupunzel is scheduled for 2010. But what does Disney has up their sleeves for Summer 2011?

Every year, the stockholders and business partners of the Walt Disney Corporation and their many subsidiaries receive a lavish annual report. There’s a pdf version, for the paperless e-heads, and also, I imagine, a printed one, for those who don’t care for laptops, Blackberries and, apparently, trees.  I’ve never seen one of these solid ones, but I bet it’s printed on beautiful stock, shimmers in the twilight and smells of varnish – oh, these Disney’s don’t do stuff by halves – but I have perused the cyber copy for a few years running now.

There’s a mean ol’ credit crunch on, but the only sign of reduction in the lastest Disney AR is the extreme shrinkage in number of exciting new images included. Only two upcoming films get teased, with one gorgeous image for The Princess and the Frog, and two for Robert Zemeckis’ A Christmas Carol. Here’s one of the Christmas Carol ones, with the other two pictures secreted below the break.

As you can see, this is concept art, but as the film is a mo-cap piece, Zemeckis could, potentially, be following it very closely with his digital sets. We saw a version of this image before – a very long time ago – but not at such high-resolution, I believe. I’m a dyed in the wool Zemeckis fan but I want to see Jim Carrey’s approach to Scrooge before I give over entirely to excitement for this one.

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Cool Posts From Around the Web:

Warner Bros, Fox, Universal, Disney and Sony have released a bunch of new photos to the Los Angeles Times for their 2009 movie preview. I’ve included a few of the photos after the jump.

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