There's nothing unique about being a Disney fan. It's very easy to say you like something that was obviously meant to have mass appeal. So in my everlasting attempt to stand out, I decided that rather than become the billionth sale for Disney's big furry flick of the year, I'd try and vouch for the underdogs – those dark-horse films such as Rock Dog, Sly Cooper, and what we're discussing here: Angry Birds.
It's a lot harder to make a case for a movie when no-one has any expectations for it. It was like fighting a losing battle, but I was happy to at least give these some attention.
And now, the first of these films which I championed has been released! I was fortunate enough to see it on release weekend and I can say that the theater was definitely packed. Was this film the embodiment of perfection or did it leave something to be desired? Let's see.
We came across this announcement from Screen Daily: “Kaleidoscope Film Distribution (KFD) is handling world sales on animated feature Danny Diamondback, which Aardman Animation alumni Darren Walsh (Shaun The Sheep TV series) will direct. It’s the story of a young rattlesnake with a musical talent in his tail. The film is based on the children’s novella of the same name, first published by Harper Collins and written by illustrator and production designer Barry Jackson (How The Grinch Stole Christmas). Jackson has written the script and will be heading up production design on the project. Siege Train Studios’ Curtis Augspurger (Valiant), Matthew Hampton, and Cora Palfrey will produce the film alongside Jackson. Bibo Bergeron (Shark Tale) will serve as executive producer.” That’s one heck of a lotta veteran anthropomorphic talent on one project. No word yet on if the film is to be CGI or claymation. Guess we’ll find out after they give us a projected release date!
Best Anthropomorphic Motion Picture
- Inside Out (Directed by Pete Docter and Ronaldo Del Carmen; June 19)
Padak, a 2012 South Korean CGI feature, is coming to America – but not to theaters. EigoMANGA, a San Francisco-based media publisher, has announced that it has been acquired from Lionsgate to be distributed beginning on June 6 on Linux, Mac, SteamOS, Windows, and all other online Steam-supported platforms.
The 78-minute feature, directed and written by Lee Dae-Hee and produced by the E-DEHI studio, will be released with the original Korean voice actors including Kim Hyeon-ji, Si-Yeong-joon, Ahn Yeong-mi-l, Hyeon Kyeong-soo, and Ho-san Lee, and subtitled in English. It was first shown at the Jeonju International Film Festival on July 25, 2012, and has also been shown at international film festivals in Warsaw, Dallas, Melbourne, Vladivostok, Seoul, and other cities, winning awards at many of them.
Okay, here’s another stealth movie.
Billu Gamer, a 90 plus minute live-action/animated Hindi comedy-fantasy feature from director/producer/writer Pankaj Sharma at Astute Media Vision, coming in India in May 2016. Sharma says that it’s slightly over half VFX and 3D animation.
Patty is a live-action teenage boy at a school where a lot of Bollywood-style singing and dancing goes on. When he’s depressed from being bullied, the animated Billu from his favorite video game comes to life to be his best friend. Everything seems great, until the video-game villains follow Billu into the real world. Patty and Billu have to team up in the video world to win. The first half of the trailer is live-action; then the animated Billu and some dog-headed humans appear, and there are an animated tiger and an angry elephant. There’s more information at The Hans India.
The Chinese aren’t finished with releasing animated anthropomorphic features almost on top of us – in China, anyway. Big Fish and Begonia (Da Hai), 100 minutes, directed by Liang Xuan and Zhang Chun, produced at Studio Mir (maker of The Legend of Korra) in Seoul, South Korea in traditional cartoon animation, and distributed by Enlight Media, is scheduled to be released in China on July 8.
The story is from a traditional Taoist legend, taken from Zhuangzi. The gods – or celestial beings, anyway – control time, tides, and the changing of the seasons of the Middle Kingdom (a.k.a. our Earth). When the young Chun is 16 years old, she is turned into a dolphin to experience our world at first hand. She is engulfed by a storm and gets caught in a fishing net, from which she is rescued by a human boy at the cost of his life. Chun is moved by his sacrifice and determines to restore him to life. To do this she must give his soul rebirth as a tiny fish, and protect him as he grows. Over time Chun grows to love the fish, but when he is grown, she must release him to become human once more.
The synopsis does not say where the story is set, but the boy is noticeably blond, implying that the feature is intended for international audiences.
Good news, everyone! Rock Dog is not dead! It even has a release date, again, at least for China; July 8. The movie still doesn't have a North American release date yet (though IMDB has some further international dates); however, the movie is a Chinese/American co-production, and features a cast of Americans with an American director (Ash Brannon), so the plan has always been to release the movie in America, apparently. Eventually. Probably.
If it does get that American release date, it will be the fourth confirmed fully anthropomorphic animal world movie released here in 2016, counting (fellow Chinese/American co-production) Kung Fu Panda 3, Zootopia and Sing (with Spark and Sly Cooper bringing the possible total up to six, if they, like Rock Dog, could be bothered to get a release date out there).
Let us not forget, Disney is a corporation. To a certain extent, we hold the 55 (and counting) full length animated movies produced by the Disney Animation Studios to a different standard than, say, the 32 (and counting) full length animated movies produced by DreamWorks Animation, or even the 16 (and counting) full length animated movies produced by Pixar, despite the fact that there really isn't much reason to, at this point. Just the fact that the brand is much older maybe should count for something, but, let's face it, just because it is so old, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs has less in common with Zootopia than Kung Fu Panda 3 does (even when factoring out the furry aspects and the use of CGI).
We still treat many of those early animated Disney movies almost like sacred texts, despite the fact that Disney never has. Disney has always treated them like what they are; products to be sold. So, you've got annual theatrical re-releases for most of last century, a practice that only died when home video became a thing. To combat that, they introduced the "Disney Vault", which basically extended the "re-release" strategy indefinitely even with home video. Then came the direct-to-video sequels; finally, when those became a bit too damaging to the brand, the live action adaptations began. And the most recent movie to get that treatment is Jungle Book.
Whine all you like about originality and creativity, but Disney's got a business to run. This strategy is pretty much a brand-strengthening exercise, but at least part of the branding is based on "quality," so at least they're going to try and do right by the old movie (if not exactly Rupyard Kipling). And, hey, most of the older Disney movie's are based on properties that are public domain; if Disney doesn't do it, someone else will (and in fact, Warner Bros. has its own Jungle Book movie planned). And its not like Disney hasn't done this before (or, for that matter, that they were even the first movie studio to adapt The Jungle Book). If you want originality from Disney, go watch Zootopia again.
If you want to watch a good movie, well, actually, watching Zootopia again is okay, but do take some time to watch this version of The Jungle Book. It's actually really good.
Toho Films has just released an aw-it’s-cute trailer for its August 6 CGI theatrical feature adaptation of author Hiroshi Saitō’s children’s book Rudolph and Ippaiattena. But Toho has also added a mention of one of its other big summer releases, Godzilla: Resurgence. Japan still has theatrical monopolies, so these features released by Toho Films will only play in the Toho Cinemas theatrical chain.
Anime News Network has news on the film’s voice actors, Saitō’s original children’s book series, and a translation of the trailer’s text.
So, anyway, earlier this year, a movie came out called Zootopia. We, uh, might have mentioned it. Despite being anticipated, or even known, by just about nobody who wasn't a furry or, perhaps, a major Disney fan, the movie managed to become a rare hit at both the box office and with professional critics (though gathering up Flayrah reviews, the consensus was more in line with Metacritic's "good, but whatever" score, because furries, am I right?).
One thing that was repeatedly and pointedly not mentioned by anyone involved with the movie was another movie a little over a decade old, called Chicken Little. Lots of interviews, and even a semi-independently produced 45-minute making of documentary, all went on at length at how this Disney's first fully anthropomorphic animal world since Robin Hood, and the first set in the furry equivalent of a modern world, despite the fact that it, well, wasn't. Chicken Little became the animated equivalent of a "disappeared non-person" in some sci-fi dystopia.
Which makes it incredibly interesting, in a weird kind of way; in a company that mines its past productions for nostalgia like there is no tomorrow (only yesterday, repeated), Disney has gone out of its way to avoid reminding anyone this movie exists. And this is actually a fairly important movie in the history of the company; it was the first full length computer animated feature by Disney (and not Pixar). So, is it really that bad?
Yes. Yes it is really that bad.
According to box office tracking site Box Office Mojo, Zootopia has just passed Deadpool to become the highest grossing movie of 2016. It's still early in the year, and Zootopia will most likely have relinquished the crown by 2017, but the beginning of the year has seen furries and superheroes battle it out for dominance at the box office.
As of press time, the current weekly box office champ, on its second weekend, is Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, a superhero showdown of franchise-launching proportions; when the dust settles, it will probably come out ahead of Zootopia, though some film pundits have sensed weakness. The film, while doing massive box office by any standards, has still underperformed compared to predictions both weeks, and has had massive box office drops both from day to day and week to week. Zootopia, while never as massive an opener, has sustained smaller drop-offs and consistently overperformed compared to box office pundit predictions.
But the story of 2016's box office hasn't just been Batman v Superman v Zootopia; as noted, the previous biggest box office of the year was Deadpool, while a look back at the weekly charts reveals its been furries versus superheroes since nearly the beginning of the year.
The Boy and the Beast (aka Bakemono no ko – English trailer) is a 2015 animated film from Japanese director Mamoru Hosoda, who directed the film Wolf Children in 2012. Both are of furry interest; this one even more so!
Ren is a 9-year-old boy who runs away to the busy streets of Tokyo after his mother dies. He has no way of contacting his father, whom his mother divorced, and has no love for his mother's relatives who want to take him in. Angry and upset, he wanders by accident into a parallel Earth, the beast world, where everyone is an anthropomorphic animal.
In the city of beasts, the current Grand Master (a rabbit) intends to transcend and reincarnate into a god, with two possible successors: a bear named Kumatetsu, or a boar named Yozen.
Furry fans who have long been debating whether Cthulhu, Shub-Niggurath, Nyarlarathotep, and the other often-squiddly “indescribable horrors” of author H.P. Lovecraft’s dark imagination count as “furry”, will find their arguments heating up in October when the animated feature Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom is released in Canada.
Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom, written, directed and produced by Sean Patrick O’Reilly and currently in production by Arcana Studios, to be distributed by The Shout! Factory (a company known more for its DVD releases than for theatrical distribution), is adapting the movie from the popular comic book written by Bruce Brown and illustrated by Renzo Podesta. It was reprinted as a 96-page trade paperback by Arcana in February 2010 that is still in print.