Instead of doing lots of individual, short news articles I figured I’d gather all the animation news and trailers from round the web that I find, and shove them into one article from time to time and add my opinion on it, too, so it isn’t exactly the same thing that you read everywhere else.
Here’s an exciting piece of news. The director of Aardman’s superb festive film Arthur Christmas wants to launch a new animation studio in the UK. According to this article by Den of Geek, Sarah Smith is looking into a CG animation studio for these fair isles to rival box office giants Pixar, Dreamworks and Sony. Smith says that “We have an amazing special effects industry here, who do very high end work at good prices. We have a lot of children’s literature. I think it’s possible to put it together, but it’s difficult, because it’s an ambitious thing to do in the UK, when much of the film industry is run on fairly small scale lines.” So it sounds like, at this stage, it’s still very much an idea and not an actuality, but I can’t help but be enthusiastic about this.
Britain has such a rich history of story tellers, and our children’s literature is, as Smith points out, a varied, imaginative canon, packed with great novels, plays and poems. The thought of merging these with animation, and getting some strong home grown talent behind it, is an exciting prospect indeed. As British genre cinema is becoming increasingly successful with directors like Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish and Ben Wheatley producing critically acclaimed films, it’s about time we got properly stuck into animated cinema, too. Aardman have been holding the fort for a long time, but any new input into British animation is most welcome. My only minor qualm is the suggestion that it will be entirely CG. It is an undoubtedly successful medium, and big studios are afraid of hand drawn animation or 2D box office flops. Yet I’m always far more excited by anything done in traditional animation, so I would love to see a mixture of mediums from this potential studio. As it is, it doesn’t exist yet, but I can’t wait to see what Smith does next.
Slightly overshadowed by behemoths such as Breaking Dawn and Skyfall, Dreamworks’ latest film Rise of the Guardians has had a modest opening box office. It’s the studio’s weakest opening weekend in years, but perhaps strong word of mouth and critical acclaim, plus the festive theme, will give it a better go at the box office in the run up to Christmas. I’m never really that fussed about Box Office figures, especially when terrible franchise entries earn over a billion worldwide, but it is surprising to see this not do so well. CG animations tend to bring in kids and, of course, parents, but perhaps they are all still going to see Wreck-It Ralph, which is still going strong in US cinemas. Regardless of how well it is doing at the box office, I can’t wait to see it this weekend when it hits the UK. Head over to www.boxofficemojo.com if you are into stats.
Finally, there’s a new trailer for Sony‘s Epic that’s been doing the rounds. I’m quite cynical about this studio, and if this film has a single song and dance routine, I’m going to be exceptionally annoyed; the talking ‘comedy’ slugs are a real worry. Yet, in spite of these concerns, Epic looks to be just that. It’s the kind of film I would have devised as a twelve year old, when I would use sticks as swords to fight my friends with, and I took up archery in my back garden. It looks wonderfully inventive, the animation is impressive, and it has the kind of fight scenes that past me (and present me, if I’m honest) would have gone absolutely nuts for. Just one thing, though: please stop casting Christoph Waltz in villain roles. He’s an immensely talented actor, he can do more than snarling German.