December 7, 2010 |
Pixar has won the Academy Award for best animated feature three years running. The "Toy Story" movies, in one of the academy's more glaring oversights, have never won a single Oscar. (The animation feature category didn't exist when the first two "Toy Story" films were made.) Will the third time be the charm for Buzz and Woody? Here are their main rivals in a year that, because there were only 15 eligible movies, will feature just three nominees for the animated feature category.
December 7, 2010 |
"Toy Story 2" had the perfect ending. Woody accepts the idea that his beloved boy owner Andy will grow up someday, but "it will be fun while it lasts. " Besides, he tells pal Buzz, when it ends, the toys will have each other. So, when John Lasseter, who directed the first two "Toy Story" movies and now runs Pixar and Disney Animation, gathered his creative team to the same remote Tomales Bay cabin north of San Francisco to hash out ideas for the third "Toy Story" movie, he started with one basic question: How do you reopen a story that resolved itself so beautifully?
December 3, 2010 |
Whether any animation industry can ultimately compete with Japanese anime and the Disney/Pixar-led American juggernaut remains to be seen, but for now "The Dreams of Jinsha" at least marks a painstakingly if awkwardly assembled hand-drawn entry from Chinese animators. Supposedly the priciest animated film ever produced in China (yet still a fraction of what something like "Toy Story 3" costs), it attempts a wistful merging of childlike cuteness, anime-inspired fantasy adventure and cautionary fable in the story of a self-obsessed, modern-day city boy who is whisked 3,000 years back to an ancient kingdom named Jinsha.
November 15, 2010 |
Walt Disney Co. has begun rolling out its plan to spur digital movie purchases by removing the technological obstacles that thus far have stymied growth. The studio has quietly launched Disney Movies Online, which lets consumers buy or rent digital versions of Disney and Pixar films and watch them on the Internet. The site was conceived as a bridge to gently transition the family entertainment company's mainstream consumers from the physical to the digital world. It debuted in May without fanfare.
November 14, 2010
The granddaddy of American theme parks changes little from year to year but seems to get better with age. Among my favorite Disneyland standbys: The Space Mountain indoor roller coaster, the Indiana Jones Adventure dark ride and the venerable Haunted Mansion. The Anaheim theme park recently brought back the 1980s-era "Captain EO" 3-D movie as a tribute to Michael Jackson (which is hopelessly dated or wistfully nostalgic, depending on your point of view). In 2011, Disneyland plans to reboot the Star Tours simulator ride with multiple story lines and unveil the music-themed Soundsational parade.
November 2, 2010 |
If indications hold true, voters Tuesday will deliver a powerful rebuke to the Obama administration and its plans to transform America. Also, "Toy Story 3" will come out on DVD. These two events are not unrelated. Last summer's Pixar blockbuster ? one of the best American films in a decade ? was a similar rebuke, not perhaps to the Obama White House specifically but to its underlying ideas. The fact that the film was such an immense hit, earning back over half its estimated $200-million budget in a single weekend, should have served as a warning that Americans, though they might like the president personally, do not share his agenda.
October 17, 2010 |
Animated features have long been the favored medium for telling kid-friendly stories about princesses and cuddly creatures. But if New York-based animator Bill Plympton were to have his way, moviegoers would also see more hand-drawn offerings depicting hard drinking, fooling around, murder and deception. "As a kid, I loved kids animation, but now I'm an adult," Plympton, 64, said by phone. "Idiots and Angels," Plympton's fifth independent animated feature, follows a bitter, lonely man named Angel who discovers he is growing wings.
July 26, 2010
Summer's biggest hits at the U.S. box office had a huge weekend overseas. "Inception" debuted in several major foreign countries and generated strong receipts in all of them, proving that its sophisticated plot can translate well around the world. Japan was the biggest market for "Inception," thanks in part to publicity work done by native costar Ken Watanabe. The movie took in $8.9 million in the country. It opened to $8.1 million in France, $6.8 million in South Korea, virtually the same in Russia and $6.4 million in Australia.
July 17, 2010 |
Mattel Inc. reported robust second-quarter sales fueled by strong demand for its Barbie, Hot Wheels and Toy Story 3 lines, but earnings just missed Wall Street estimates. For the quarter ended June 30, the nation's largest toymaker reported profit of $51.6 million, or 14 cents a share, more than double its year-earlier profit of $21.5 million, or 6 cents. Worldwide sales increased 13% year over year, helped by a 6% increase for Barbie dolls and accessories and an 11% gain for Hot Wheels toys.
July 12, 2010 |
Few rites of passage are more fraught with collective angst than the kids leaving home. Parents stare at empty bedrooms and brood over noiseless dinners. Young people discover that freedom brings unwanted responsibilities and challenges they may not be ready to handle. Relationships change. No blueprint sets forth how to break away or even when, since some children fly the nest at 18, some bolt in their 20s, and some never summon the gumption — or these days have the money or job — to go at all. "Nobody is correctly equipped to manage what's happening," noted Los Angeles-based author and psychotherapist Stacy Kaiser.