Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What Makes it Timeless: An Introduction

I have recently been reflecting and thinking a lot about Disney, etc. I like the articles that I write, but there simply aren't enough of them. And not only that, but they are all about news. While news is very important and I will continue posting on it, I want to do more to share my passion for all things Disney, Pixar, movies, and everything in-between.

That is why I am starting a new feature on Disney, etc. entitled What Makes it Timeless. I was inspired by the NPR series, What Makes it Great, which is a segment of their radio program in which Rob Kapilow, a renowned composer and conductor, discusses what makes our favorite songs so great. He goes into vivid detail regarding melody and the smallest things within the music that you'd never think to listen to--all in order to tell us what makes the song so great. I highly encourage you give the show a listen, especially when he discusses what makes Over the Rainbow so great--that one is my favorite.

Instead of music, I'm going to be writing about Disney movies, Pixar movies, shorts, scores, Disney songs, theme park attractions, theme park songs, studios in general, directors, producers, other Hollywood films, and even voice actors--I will delve into every facet of Disney, Pixar, and movies in general to describe just what it is that makes that specific thing timeless to us. Much like Rob Kapilow, I will be going beyond face value in order to discover why a certain film or song or ride makes our brain believe it to be so amazing and special. I'll combine each aspect, no matter how mundane or obvious, of the given film or song or studio in order to help describe why we like it so much.

This is very experimental and still in development, but, nevertheless, I am very excited to start sharing more of my opinions and ideas about animation, movies, Disney, Pixar, and everything in-between with all of you, my beloved readers.

Expect to see the first edition of What Makes it Timeless within the next few days. But I won't tell you what the topic is yet--that's a surprise.


Saturday, August 28, 2010

'Toy Story 3' Passes $1 Billion, Disney Breaks B.O. Record

You have undoubtedly heard about it by now, but Toy Story 3 has officially passed the $1 billion mark at the worldwide box office. It is only the seventh film in the history of cinema to do this, and the only animated film. As if that record weren't enough, Toy Story 3 has made Disney the only studio in history to have two $1 billion films released within the same year (their other billion dollar flick is Burton's Alice in Wonderland).

Hit "Read more..." for the full press release from Disney:

BURBANK, Calif. – August 27, 2010 – Two weeks after becoming the highest-grossing animated film of all time, Disney•Pixar’s Toy Story 3 will cross the $1 billion mark at the global box office today, joining Alice in Wonderland as the second $1 billion film this year from The Walt Disney Studios – the first studio in history to accomplish this feat. Disney first crossed the $1 billion threshold with Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest in 2006. Toy Story 3 becomes the only animated film to reach this milestone and the seventh title in industry history. “It’s been an incredible year as we saw the Pixar team bring Buzz and Woody back to the big screen and watched Tim Burton’s vision for Alice in Wonderland take the world by storm,” said Rich Ross, Chairman, The Walt Disney Studios. “These box office triumphs prove that creative storytelling brought to life by imaginative, inspired and talented professionals is something audiences respond to the world over.” As of Thursday (8/26/10), Toy Story 3 tallied more than $592.9 million internationally, Disney’s largest international animated release. Latin American audiences have contributed $138 million making Toy Story 3 the highest grossing Disney film ever released in the region. Toy Story 3 is the most successful UK release in Disney history and currently stands as the fourth biggest title in territory history with $102.4 million in box office receipts so far. In Japan, the film has taken in $111.2 million and spent five consecutive weeks as the #1 movie. Toy Story 3 currently ranks as the #7 film in global box office history and domestically ranks #9 with $404.6 million in receipts to date. Alice in Wonderland began setting records during its opening weekend (March 5-7), becoming the biggest March opening in industry history, the highest 3D opening ever and The Walt Disney Studios’ biggest opening for a non-sequel film. Internationally, the film went on to tally more than $690 million, becoming Disney’s biggest overseas release of all time and the fourth biggest title ever released overseas. Worldwide, the film took in $1.0243 billion, ranking it as the #5 film in global box office history.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Teddy Newton on 'Day & Night' picture book

Above you'll find a nice little slideshow narrated by Teddy Newton all about his new Day & Night picture book.

I'd like to thank Chronicle Books for the video, as well as my review copy of the book.


Sunday, August 22, 2010

'Prep & Landing' Wins 4 Creative Arts Emmys

Prep & Landing, the first TV special produced for ABC by Walt Disney Animation Studios, won four Creative Arts Emmys Saturday night. This "pre-show" at the Nokia Theater in L.A. was a lead-up to the Emmys, which will air live, August 29.

Prep & Landing swept the animation categories, winning Outstanding Animation Program (Exec. Producers Chris Williams and John Lasseter, Producer Dorothy McKim, and Directors/Writers Kevin Deters and Stevie Wermers-Skelton were singled out for this award), and three Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation (a juried award won by Background Key Designer William M. George III, Art Director Andy Harkness, and Storyboard Artist Joe Mateo).

Other winners of the night include The Simpsons, the Robot Chicken Christmas Special, and The Ricky Gervais Show.

This portion of the Emmys will air this Friday on E!, while the main Emmys ceremony will air live on August 29, with host Jimmy Fallon.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Funny Correspondence with Walt

If you click the "Read More..." link below, you will get a real treat. It is a correspondence involving Walt Disney, Walter Lantz, and a rather confused little girl. It is really funny, and it gives great insight into the kind of guy Mr. Disney was. Enjoy...

...and here are the transcriptions, courtesy of TopCultured:

Letter One

March 7, 1964

Dear Walt Disney,

I watch Woodywood Pecker every week and see you on it. I like it very much and so do my younger sisters. Would you please send me a picture of you and some of the characters. Thank-you very much. Well, I guess I’ll go and watch Bugs Bunny.

From one of your true fans,


Letter Two


April 6, 1964

Dear Wendy -

Even though Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, Pluto, Ludwig Von Drake and the rest of our characters aren’t related to Woody Woodpecker, I’m glad to know you like him because he belongs to my good friend Walter Lantz. And I know Mr. Lantz will appreciate knowing you are a fan of Woody Woodpecker.

I am enclosing the autographed picture of me and a couple of my friends which you asked for….and I’m sending your note on to Woody Woodpecker. Perhaps you will get a picture from him, too.

Many thanks for your letter…and all best wishes.


(Signed, ‘Walt’)

Letter Three


April 6, 1964

Dear Walter -

As you can see by the enclosed….I get blamed for everything that happens in Hollywood!

However, this time it’s obvious this little girl has her Walters crossed — although I don’t know how the hell Bugs Bunny got in the act.

All best -

(Signed, ‘Walt’)

Mr. Walter Lantz
Walter Lantz Productions Inc
861 Seward
Hollywood, California

Letter Four

Walter Lantz

8 April 1964





Walter Lantz

Source: TopCultured.com


Thoughts on the 'Day & Night' Picture Book

I had a great day today because I received my review copy of the Day & Night picture book. Based on the great Pixar short by Teddy Newton, this 40-page picture book is a delight. It follows the same plot as the ground-breaking short and has equally-awesome art. While it doesn't strike you quite like the animated short does, it is still a great book due to its style--it almost reads more like a comic than a children's book.

Although it is intended for children, it will feel right at home as a part of your geeky Pixar collection. It fits right into mine.

You can purchase it wherever children's books are sold, or from online retailers such as Amazon.com.


The Toy Story Trilogy Box Set

Sure, I might already have the Toy Story and Toy Story 2 DVDs. Yeah, I can find the majority of the featurettes from almost any Blu-ray online. Nevertheless, I have already pre-ordered the 10-disc Toy Story trilogy Blu-ray+DVD combo pack. And I recommend you do the same.

It just went up for pre-order on Amazon.com at $69.99, with a list price of $100. Not much is known about the set yet, but I'm sure it will be jam-packed with all kinds of great featurettes that cater to the tastes of folks just like you and me--folks who love Pixar.

The set will be released on the same day as Toy Story 3, November 2 this year.


Giacchino to Score Star Tours 2.0

Once again, John Williams has declined to score a theme park attraction for Disney. So, for Star Tours 2.0, they have turned to music extraordinaire Michael Giacchino--the Oscar-winning genius behind the scores of Ratatouille, The Incredibles, Up, Partly Cloudy, Day & Night, Mission Impossible: III, and Star Trek, among others.

This is great. Ever since The Incredibles, Giacchino has been my favorite contemporary composer. But then he wrote that glorious score for Up, which moved him up to possibly being my favorite composer of all time (he's definitely in the top three).

Hearing how he utilizes the original Star Wars and Star Tours themes to compose his own score is going to be very, very cool. My favorite composer combined with one of the most recognizable film themes ever written? Yes, please.

We'll get to hear his brand new, intergalactic score next year when Star Tours 2.0 makes its debut.


'Epic Mickey' Video

Above you will find the recently released video that provides the set-up for the upcoming video game, Epic Mickey.

The game is a part of a campaign by Disney to re-brand Mickey from his perfect, clean personality to one of mischief. It is being developed solely for the Wii console, and is expected to come out later this year.

I am very excited for this game. Although I don't think it will be as good as Kingdom Hearts (Square Enix+Disney was a dream come true), I still think it will be great. I can't decide if the graphics are too cartoon-y for me or not--I guess I'll just have to wait and see some gameplay footage before I make up my mind. Also, I don't quite agree with Disney's decision to re-brand their iconic character, but I guess we should be glad they aren't scrapping Mickey altogether.

Stay tuned for a review of Epic Mickey later this holiday season.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

'Pirates' Filming in Hawaii Completed

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides began filming on Kauai's Napali Coast on June 14 this year. They have been constantly filming in Hawaii since then, at Oahu, Halona Beach Cove, and, mostly, at Kaneohe's Heeia Cove aboard Blackbeard's infamous vessel, the Queen Anne's Revenge.

Videos like the one above have been popping up all around YouTube as hundreds of guests gathered each night to watch their favorite pirate battle Mr. Edward Teach. Those on the island didn't get to see much of the stars during their off-hours, although Johnny Depp would always greet the crowds when he showed up for the day's shoot, and would occasionally be seen at various restaurants around town.

Expect to see the film, very surprisingly, released next year. I'd also expect to see a teaser trailer premiere before Rapunzel later this year.

I can't wait to see more of Captain Jack Sparrow, one of my favorite characters of all time...


Friday, August 13, 2010

'Toy Story 3' is the Biggest Animated Film of All Time

Only days ago, Toy Story 3 became Pixar's highest grossing film. Now it has surpassed that record to become the highest-grossing animated film ever at a whopping $920 million worldwide.

Not only that, but the film has become the 14th most successful film ever, the 3rd most successful film ever in Hong Kong, and it is enjoying its fourth consecutive week as the #1 film in the U.K.

Good work, Pixar!


TS3, Cars Toons Coming Home Nov. 2

Briefly: Amazon.com has just put up their pre-order pages for the Toy Story 3 and Cars Toons DVDs and Blu-rays. They are all set to come out on November 2 later this year.

For Toy Story 3, there are currently 3 announced versions: a basic 1-disc edition, the 2-disc Blu-ray version, and the ultimate 4-disc combo pack with everything (including a digital copy). I like the 2-disc Blu-ray cover the best, but will definitely go for the full 4-disc set.

In addition to this release, Cars Toons: Mater's Tall Tales is also coming out as a Blu-ray+DVD combo pack this November. The set will include nine Cars Toons, including two never-before-seen shorts, Mater Private Eye and Moon Mater. I'll definitely be ordering this one, too.

Source: DVDizzy.com, The Pixar Blog


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Move Over Nemo, 'TS3' new reigning Box Office Champ

Briefly: Well F.A.O. my Schwartz! This past weekend at the box office pushed Toy Story 3 over the edge to become Pixar's best-grossing film ever! Worldwide, Pixar's latest feature has earned over $895 million, beating Finding Nemo's $867.8 million. This means that Toy Story 3 has broken every Pixar box office record, from opening weekend numbers to how it did domestically.

It should be taken into account, however, that Toy Story 3 may not have necessarily sold more tickets than Nemo just yet, since the 3D designation means that some tickets for TS3 cost more than those for Nemo. Still, this is a major achievement for Pixar and the whole Toy Story crew. They all certainly deserve everything that's coming their way.