Creators of Korra and Last Airbender split

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DiMartino, left, Koneitzko, right, creators of “Avatar: The Last Airbender” and “The Legend of Korra.”

During the past decade, Mike DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko cemented their mark in the animation industry with their two well-known television series, Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra.  The finale of Avatar: The Last Airbender scored 5.6 million viewers, and Korra’s finale was seen as positively progressive for its stance on homosexuality.

It was officially announced that the co-creators will split and begin to work on their own projects. The question remains: will the individual creators be as strong as the team? Stay tuned for more updates on DiMartino’s and Konietzko’s projects.

Animated horror film on Kickstarter

Can you think of any animated horror films off the top of your head? Maybe The Corpse Bride or Caroline, but besides those two and maybe a few others, there are not many straightforward animated horror movies. One man wants to follow his dream and make one about a demented figure that has been haunting him since his childhood.

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This figure is BoxheadIt is currently crowd funding on KickstarterBoxhead will be about an alcoholic and reclusive writer who is able to see a creature that brings out the greatest fears in people. Judging by the video on the Kickstarter page, the style of the film looks rather minimalist and despairing. However, the completed animation looks very fluid. If the entire film can be finished, it will definitely be a visual treat.

As of this writing, the film is $8,500 away from its intended $26,000 goal with 34 days remaining in the campaign. In today’s industry, it can be tough to raise funds to make a project, so it is very good news that Boxhead is on track to reach its goal.

Although the film probably won’t attract a wide audience, it certainly will be a big talking point in the animation community. An animated horror film: such a little used phrase.

Stop-motion studio Laika grows

The stop-motion animators behind films such as Caroline, ParaNorman and Boxtrolls is about to get an upgrade. They plan to increase their studio size by 70 percent. With these changes, the company hopes to release films in a shorter timeline.laika

This is fantastic news, since Laika has only released three films since they started making producing feature films six years ago. The Portland Business Journal cited that they are planning to make one film a year. This schedule has not begun yet, based on the fact that their next film, Kubo and the Two Strings, is set for a 2016 release. The Boxtrolls was released in 2014.

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Nickelodeon animation scholarship launched

Nickelodeon knows animation talent is out there. Sometimes it just takes a little bit of financial help to find it.

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Nickelodeon is teaming up with the Get Schooled, a non-profit, to offer a $25,000 scholarship to a young animator. The award will go to one 17 to 24-year-old talented animator. The early scholarship application is available, but more details on submission requirements are yet to be released.

After writing about the professional industry on my last few posts, I think it’s important to switch gears a bit and focus on how the animation community plans to produce new leaders for the future. Writing about Disney and other major studios is very informational and interesting, but even those animators started somewhere.

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Frozen fever: A Disney sequel timed right

Sequels have always been a trend in the animation industry. The very concept of them probably dates back to animated shorts from the early 1920’s, such as Felix the Cat. Disney’s first theatrically animated sequel was 1990’s The Rescuers Down Under. For Disney, they are still a new breed.

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Anna is happy; along with a few billion other people

Now it’s time to present what inspired this post: Frozen sequel was announced today.  This is a huge step forward for Disney, because in the past, whenever the company released a sequel, it never feel relevant nor necessary. For example, Return to Never Land, released in 2002, was a sequel to Peter Pan, released in 1953– 49 years before. Audiences were just begging for this. I’m not even going to get into the various direct-to-video sequels such as Bambi 2 (ready or not, the deer was back) because I am only discussing theatrical sequels.

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Now live-action: Tim Burton’s Dumbo

It seems with each new month, another live-action adaption of an animated movie is announced. Last summer was Maleficent, Cinderella will be released in a few days, casting has been announced for Beauty and the Beast  and now we have Tim Burton’s Dumbo.

Tim Burton and Dumbo: could there be a stranger match? When Burton adapted Alice in Wonderland in 2010, that universe fit his Gothic and dark fantasy style. In terms of atmosphere, Alice in Wonderland and something like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (another Burton film taking place in a whimsical fantasy land) do not seem all that different.

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The outcast protagonist: how dark will Burton go?

Disney’s 1941 hit, Dumbo, is the story of an outcast elephant who hopes to find his way home to his mother. He overcomes a variety of situations, such as being forced to fly in the circus. Yes, the elephant can fly. Surprisingly, the story works well for Burton: most of his movies revolve around an outcast protagonist. There’s Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood, Willy Wonka and Sweeny Todd. But for me, seeing Dumbo in a typically dark Burton environment is discomforting. I will always see Dumbo as the bright Technicolored piece; I fear a dark Dumbo.

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Dreamworks no longer a dream?

This is the age-old question: what does Disney animation have that Dreamworks does not? The most famous mascot in the world? Maybe. An avid following from both children and adults? Possibly. A solid financial and film schedule? Yes.

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Dreamwork’s Penguins of Madagascar can’t be too happy about this

On March 4 Dreamworks announced a fourth-quarter net loss of $263.2 million and the abandonment of two unfinished films. The How to Train Your Dragon films and The Croods have made great profits, but other recent films such as Mr. Peabody and Sherman and Turbo have cost Dreamworks millions of dollars in losses.

Dreamwork’s current financial turmoil began in 2012 when it announced its 12 film release schedule (over four years) with Fox in 2012. It was described as the most ambitious slate for an animation house in Hollywood history. Although this seemed impressive at the time, few of those films were very successful.

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Retro revival: DuckTales to return

It was announced this week that new DuckTales episodes are returning to television on Disney X D in 2017. The Rotoscopers make the interesting point that older animated works have had a revival on the big screen lately, (think Mr. Peabody & Sherman, The Smurfs). However, this is not common for animated television revivals.

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DuckTales originally aired in 1987. Reading through a few articles, it seems individuals are excited to see its return; it was a show many watched as a child. I always have the feeling that transitional generations (current generations who remembered living without the internet as a child) enjoy revivals of childhood shows if they are done correctly. This is the key. If the generation that grew up with the show does not approve of it, the viewership will be low.

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