Tuesday, December 29, 2009

"9" DVD and Blu-Ray Available Now

You can now purchase the post-apocalyptic animated thriller 9 on DVD and Blu-ray. Click the previous links to buy the film at Amazon.com.

According to DVDTalk.com, DVD extras include:

Feature-length commentary track with director Shane Acker, animation director Joe Ksander, head of story Ryan O'Loughlin, and editor Nick Kenway.

U-Control PIP:
This picture-in-picture interactive feature takes recorded footage, some mentioned below in the special features and others recorded/taken at the same time, and pairs them within a green box at the lower-right portion of the screen. Interviews with Shane Acker, Tim Burton, Elijah Wood, Pamela Pettler, and others elucidate the process, while a sizable chunk of the dialogue recording footage mixes within raw concepts and behind-the-scenes footage.

9 -- The Long and Short of It (16:28, HD):
This feature discusses Shane Acker's process of assembling the short, and how it's adapted to the big screen. Discussion pops up about Acker's process of building the film as his college thesis, along with how earning an Oscar changed his life. It then shifts over into how the short film fell over into Tim Burton's hands as a producer. Then, Acker and screenwriter Pamela Pettler (Corpse Bride) guide us through the process of bridging that gap between his short to the feature length, as well as whether they wanted to include dialog or not in telling the story. Interview time crops up with Acker, Burton, Pettler, as well as with Elijah Wood and other members of the cast, taken from both original interviews and archive footage.

On Tour with Shane Acker (5:36, HD):
Shane Acker takes us through the Starz Animation workhouse for the construction of 9, illustrating each depart in great detail. He talks about editorials, the art department, modeling, animation, layout, effects work in "the dungeon", and lighting. Hearing discussion about the film itself is great, but the behind-the-scenes shots of the computer imaging and the concept sketches are the real draws to this featurette.

The Look of 9 (13:12, HD):

Composing the visual look for 9 falls into focus here, as Shane Acker and others discuss the time placement of the story. They discuss the "caution tale" elements of the film, as well as the Industrial Revolution look about the picture that slaps it in the middle between World War I and II. It also discusses the low-angle construction of the film, and how it allows for a lot of great up-glancing shots. They also discuss the beauty used behind the rust, garbage, and industrial grunge appeal to the film, and how the feel of the film reflects on its influences.

Acting Out (4:54, HD):
To round out the featurettes, this piece covers how the animators become actors themselves as they construct the burlap dolls in the film. It discusses how they have mirrors at their desk to see facial expressions, and the dual uses behind having the recorded dialogue footage of the actors for both lip sync and emotion purposes.

9 -- The Original Short (10:33, Letterbox 4x3 HD):
As a very special treat, Universal have also included Shane Acker's original short on the disc -- with a commentary featuring Shane Acker and animator Joe Ksander. The commentary is very dense, as they discuss the differences between the two features -- where elements of the short went into the feature, the dynamics between the two puppets, the lack of dialogue, etc. -- and the entire "guerilla" feel to the camera movement. What's a shame is that it's a letterbox HD version of the short; and, since it's in 1080p, most Blu-ray players and internal zoom televisions can't zoom in on it. Still, the simple inclusion of the piece itself is absolutely wonderful.

Also included on this disc are five Deleted Scenes (7:24, 16x9 SD), available in striking storyboard illustrations. This Blu-ray Disc has also been activated in order to hop onto Universal's online framework, as well as containing pocketBLU interactivity. However, the online functions weren't active yet as of this testing. It's also been incorporated with Chapter / Bookmarking of "favorite scenes", like all of Universal's other discs, and activated with D-BOX motion control.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

New "Wonderland" Promo Art

This cut-out can be seen in some movie theaters today.

Click the image below for a high resolution version:

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Wasikowska on "Wonderland"

Mia Wasikowska, the star of Alice in Wonderland, discussed her experiences working on the phantasmagorical film with the Los Angeles Times.

How did shooting the film feel to the 20-year-old actress? "Isolating," she said, considering that 90% of the shooting was in front of a green screen. Instead of conversing with a caterpillar or Chesire Cat, Wasikowska had to interact with a bit of sticky tape, a tennis ball, or, at best, a cardboard cutout of the said character.

"I was basically planted in this sea of green," the Australian actress said. "I really had to use my imagination."

While Alice is 7 years old in Lewis Carroll's original stories, the character is a young woman at the age of 19 in Burton's upcoming film. “She’s grown up a lot and is somewhat a different person, and she’s kind of going back to her roots and discovering herself," said Wasikowska.

The actress also talked about her co-star, Johnny Depp, who plays the Mad Hatter.

“I think he’s so brave and smart with his choices. He can play a crazy character but still give it a core humanity which I think people can identify with,” Wasikowska said.

But as insane as he may be, Wasikowska assured that Alice and the Hatter are allies (and, evidently, are much in the spirit of Tim Burton's other outsider characters). "They"re on the same side," Wasikowska said. "They have an understanding about each other. They both feel like outsiders and feel alone in their separate worlds, and have a special bond and friendship."

Depp tends to prepare for his roles by drawing his characters, and sought the wild orange hair as an allusion to the mercury poisoning (many hatter used mercury to cure felt). Depp previously said, "I think he was poisoned, very, very poisoned, and it was coming out through his hair, through his fingernails and eyes."

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Wallpapers from "Wonderland"

Four new Alice in Wonderland wallpapers have appeared online, featuring the March Hare, the White Rabbit, the Dormouse, and the Chesire Cat. Click the images below for the high resolution versions:

New Caterpillar Image

A new image of the Caterpillar has made an appearance on Facebook:

Friday, December 11, 2009

Johnny Depp as Batman?

There have been a few rumors floating around on the Internet regarding Johnny Depp playing the Riddler in Christopher Nolan's Batman universe -- but Depp almost played the Dark Knight himself for Batman Forever. The actor was recently interviewed by Robert Genola of ComicBookMovie.com:

Q: Are rumors true that you are playing The Riddler in the third Batman movie?

Johnny Depp:
No, that was just one of those things that is speculated on the internet and what not. But I was fortunately considered to play Batman in "Batman Forever".

Q: Were you not interested?

Johnny Depp:
Not at all, I was very interested. What happened was Tim (Burton) was producing it and he was trying to talk Joel Schumacher (the Director) and the movie bosses to give me a shot at the role but it just never really worked out.

What if you were offered to play The Riddler in Batman 3?

Johnny Depp:
I would not be quick to say no, yeah. I would certainly not turn it down right away, but I'm not sure I could do it justice. Especially after how well Heath did as The Joker, I think my playing Riddler would be a step back for the films. But hey, never say never.

Watch Tim Burton on "The Charlie Rose Show"

In case you missed it, here is the superb interview with Tim Burton on The Charlie Rose Show, which premiered on Thursday, November 26th, 2009. This is most of the episode. It begins with the three curators from the Museum of Modern Art discussing Burton's art, then goes to the man of the hour himself. Rose describes Burton as the "perfect guest", as they enthusiastically talk about a plethora of topics including his most personal films, being a parent, children's artwork, his creative process, and much more:

A Little More on "Dark Shadows"

Producer Graham King spoke with Shock Till You Drop's Perri Nemiroff on the current status of Dark Shadows and a bit of its development:

Can you talk a little about Dark Shadows?

King: [Laughs] I said to someone last week in L.A., I said, "You know, I think, you know the script's being rewritten – I know that the studios are hoping to move it next fall," suddenly it's on the internet everywhere I said the movie's going next October. Waiting for a script. I know Johnny wants to do it and Tim wants to do it and just has to get the script.

How'd you get introduced to the idea in the first place? Will you maintain the show's original tone in the film?

King: Through Johnny's company [Infinitum Nihil]. You know, I have a deal with Johnny's company and Johnny was really interested in it and we have a great great relationship. I didn't know of Dark Shadows. We didn't have it in the U.K., so I went out and got a bunch of DVDs. I started watching this thing and I said, yeah, I'd love to be involved. I'd love to come in and produce that. To answer your question, I think we have to wait to see.

There are over 1,200 episodes. Will you include a little of as many as possible or make an origin story?

I'll know as soon as I get the script.

So you're not dictating how this will come together?

John August is writing it. Yeah, again, this is me and more notes and I think when Johnny and Tim – I've never made a movie with Johnny and Tim - but when they make a movie, they've got it down pretty much what they want and you don't really get involved in that process.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

DeVito: Being the Penguin "Fun"

MTV News got a hold of Danny DeVito at the MoMA retrospective of Tim Burton's art in New York. DeVito enthusiastically reminisced about his role as the twisted Penguin in Burton's Batman Returns:

"I loved being with [Burton] on the set. We love hanging out," DeVito told MTV News during the red carpet opening of the exhibit. "I love to watch where he's going, what he's trying, all the different things he does."

"Talking about 'Batman Returns,' he's got me in this armadillo suit and I'm in a place that's so freezing — the stage was so cold — I was the only one comfortable," he laughed. "Everyone's walking around in scarves and hats ... I'm in pounds of latex or whatever the hell it was."

"I had a great time with him," said DeVito.

An Interview with Tim Burton

An interview with Tim Burton from Wired, in which the filmmaker discusses the new generation of 3D cinema, original ideas vs. remakes, his creative process in creating characters, and anthropomorphic objects, among other topics:

Wired: How did you find a life’s worth of work to give to the MoMA?

Tim Burton: I’m not a very organized person. Luckily I had a bunch of stuff that had just been moved to England from a warehouse in America. I don’t really go through things very much, so it was interesting for me to go back through it all.

It was an interesting process. It helps ground you and gets you to remember what interested you to begin with. It’s you, but a different you. You can look at yourself objectively.

Not many directors have retrospectives of their artwork and illustrations. How did having a fine arts background influence your directorial visions?

Burton: The films I grew up loving were very visual. They were the kinds of things that get etched in your memory. To me, film is a very visual thing, so I’m very grateful for my animation background. It’s kind of everything. It’s art, it’s design, it’s film. At that time all I wanted to be was an animator, but through the backdoor you learn how to do everything else. When you make an animated film you have to act it out, design the layouts, shoot it, and edit it. It was a great overall experience.

Wired: What’s your creative process? Do you find yourself doodling and suddenly you’ve got a character for a movie?

Burton: The whole sketching and drawing process to me is the equivalent to how some people write notes. I’ve never really felt like a writer. It was always a visual thing for me. With Jack Skellington, for example, that was just a doodle I kept drawing over and over and over for no apparent reason.

Things can grow from an image that keeps coming up, like the Scissorhands image. They just come as ideas or thoughts, and sometimes they go on to something.

Edward Scissorhands came from a feeling that became a sketch of different forms over the years. It was an idea from when I was a teenager, so it had been in my mind for a long time.

Wired: A lot of your films are original ideas, but you have dabbled with remakes, such as Planet of the Apes and now Alice. Is it easier to get support from Hollywood to remake a film than to start something from scratch?

Burton: There’s a trend right now, where every TV show is remade, and there’s a certain idea of safety in certain properties. At the same time, they can be equally as dangerous. Something like Alice in Wonderland, with the opportunity to do it in 3-D and to experiment, it actually feels like a completely new property.

Wired: Is it more intimidating to take a story people are familiar with and make it your own?

Burton: The reason Alice in Wonderland isn’t as daunting as past productions is that every version I ever saw of Alice in Wonderland was of a girl walking around passively with a bunch of weird characters. It never really had any feeling or grounding to it. It felt like a new challenge to me. There isn’t a great version that I have to live up to.

Wired: Did you feel like Alice was the perfect story for you to debut a live-action movie in 3-D?

Burton: The element that intrigued me was Alice in Wonderland in 3-D. Nightmare Before Christmas was converted to 3-D, and it was really good. I was really amazed. It showed me that this was exactly the way Nightmare was meant to be seen. Now, 3-D just seems to really lend itself to the Alice story. The thing about Alice for me was not so much the literalness of the story, but the trippy nature of it and still trying to make that compelling.

Wired: How hard is it to continue working in more traditional special effects, like stop motion animation, when the rest of Hollywood is drinking the CG Kool-Aid?

Burton: I think stop motion has proven itself as a valuable art form, as has animation. A few years ago it was a dead medium, and while there’s still a lot of uncertainty, there’s enough diversity now. If people like the movie, it doesn’t matter what medium it’s in. It’s actually better now than it was a few years ago, when CG was really kicking in.

Wired: You love stop motion. What’s your fear of CG?

Burton: Take Nightmare Before Christmas, for example. I was offered to do it in drawing animation and I held out for stop motion, because that was the right medium for that project. It’s up to each project and what you’re technically trying to achieve that decides what medium should be used, whether it’s stop motion, animation, or CG.

From Pee-wee’s Big Adventure to Beetlejuice, furniture, inanimate objects tend to come to life in your films. Do you anthropomorphize objects on a daily basis?

Burton: Well, I’m lying in bed here with my coffee pot… That’s where you need free time to space out. People don’t do that enough in life. Those are the moments where a tree turns into a little character.

Wired: Are you excited about the retrospective?

Burton: It’s such a strange and surreal event to me. I haven’t quite grasped it. I might as well put my dirty laundry basket in there as well.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Friday, December 04, 2009

"The Art of Tim Burton" Now Available

The Art of Tim Burton is now available to purchase directly from SteelesPublishing.com -- and ONLY from SteelesPublishing.com in the U.S. This book is not available in bookstores, Amazon.com, or any other online shops.

Quantities of this lavish, comprehensive book are limited. So order it soon!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

"Frankenweenie" Character and Plot Details Revealed

Casting has begun on the new stop-motion animated version of Frankenweenie. Right now, Disney is looking for voices for characters between the ages of eight and eleven years old. Bloody-Disgusting.com has provided some information from an official fax. There are a few minor SPOILERS, but it gives you a good idea of how the new film will differ from Burton's original 1984 short:

[EDGAR] A Caucasian Male 8-11 years old. Edgar is a needy little kid who wants desperately to be accepted by the cool kids in his class. Naturally a little nerdy, he gravitates to Victor and basically annoys him until he agrees to let him be his lab partner. He is more than a little gullible and is easily tricked into giving away Victor’s precious secret and unwittingly starting the whole mess with the other monsters.

[TOSHIAKI] A Japanese Male 8-11 years old. Toshiaki is the natural leader of the cool kids in Victor’s class. He is a good athlete, and an avid little league baseball player but Toshiaki has a mischievous side. He is the one that ultimately manipulates E into giving up the secret of Sparky and it is his idea to turn the other animals into monsters. He is Japanese and his monster creation is a little Godzilla lizard.

[BOB] A Caucasian Male 8-11 years old. Bob is the dumb, jockey kid. He has more brawn than brains. He follows Toshiaki and Nassor around even when it means that he has to be the one to test the home made jet pack that Toshiaki has created.

[NASSOR] A Middle-Eastern Male 8-11 years old. Nassor is the star of the little league team and just goes along with Toshiak’s plan. He is a bit more serious than the others but still doesn’t see the impending chaos when he chooses to bring his hamster mummy back to life.

[WEIRD GIRL] A Caucasian Female 8-11 years old. She has a very dark and ominous take on even the most mundane occurrences and jumps at the chance to bring some dead animals back to life.

[ELSA] A Caucasian Female 8-11 years old. Elsa is a sweet girl who likes to follow the rules and not cause too much trouble. A bit of a “goody two shoes,” she is not afraid to speak up and even corrects the teacher when he makes a mistake. She is excited about the festivities planned for the town’s Dutch Day parade and even has a solo dance number in the show.

A shooting date has not been announced yet. John August (Big Fish, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) will be writing the screenplay.