27 April 2013
Israeli director Ari Folman's new film, The Congress, will open the Director's Fortnight at the Cannes film festival on 16 May. It's the follow-up to Folman's brilliant Waltz with Bashir, which was based on his experiences as an army conscript in the occupation of Lebanon in the 1980s. The Congress is part live action, part-animated (by Belgian studios Walking the Dog and Entre Chien et Loup and partners in Poland, Germany, Luxembourg and France) and is a sci-fi piece based on a short story by Stanislaw Lem. He also wrote the book that Laloux's Planete Sauvage was based on.
13 January 2013
Out this week is the list of European movies being screened or pitched at this year's Cartoon Movie. Seven completed films will be shown (three of which have not so far been released in cinemas, as far as I know), another eight in production will be presented, and another 39 will be looking for funding (18 of which are in development, the others in concept). One film already in production was unknown to Aniumation Europe and has been added to the database: Lisa Limone and Maroc Orange, an Estonian/Finnish co-production which claims - certainly correctly - to be the first stereoscopic 3D animated opera. More information and a short clip available on Nukufilm's website here.
24 December 2012
Old news, but new to me, this: Arte France is backing Un Monde Truque, based on a BD by Tardi. According to the excellent Catsuka website, production is starting next year after some five years in development. Studios involved in the production include Je Suis Bien Content, who worked on Persepolis. Meanwhile Xilam Animation is in production on a film version of its TV series/computer game franchise,
6 November 2012
A few updates have been added to the database, including the first Turkish 3D animation film, The Fountain of Youth and a new Czech/Slovak/France/Germany co-production, Malá z rybárny. The former, co-produced with a Dutch partner, was the only animated film to get a Eurimages grant this year. This follows three films last year, four in 2010 and three the year before that. I don't know whether this has any implications for European funding (it could easily be that there was only one application). As for the Czech film, the producer Miracle Film contacted me directly. This is a rare occurence, but if you do have a project and it's not listed, please do get in touch. You could get a pic of your film on Animation Europe's homepage!
28 September 2012
Three films are up for the award for European Film Academy Animated Feature Film at this year's European Film Awards. They are: Alois Nebel (a Czech Republic/Germany/Slovakia co-production) directed by Tomáš Luňák, model animation The Pirates! In An Adventure with Scientists (Aardman/Sony Pictures), directed by Peter Lord, and Arrugas (Wrinkles) by Ignacio Ferreras. The nomination committee was made up of producers Antonio Saura and Per Holst as well as CARTOON representatives Brigitte Baronnet (France), Tony Loeser (Germany), and Tomm Moore (Ireland). EFA's 2,700 members will choose a winner which will be presented at the EFA awards ceremony in Malta on 1 December. Previous winners include Chico y Rita (2011), The Illusionist (2010) and Mia et le Migou (2009).
6 August 2012
News of what sounds like a really interesting project: A Liar’s Autobiography – The Untrue Story of Monty Python’s Graham Chapman based on the memoir of the late and great man, is due in the cinema at the end of the year and features contributions from 14 different animators using 17 different animation styles. The press release I got today mentions: A for Animation, ArthurCox, Beakus, Cake, Made Visual Studio, Mr & Mrs, Not To Scale, Peepshow, Sherbet, Steven Lall, Superfad, Treat Studios, Trunk and Tundra. The image (below) is from A for Animation's blog and dates from November 2011. Apparently it's the only one they were allowed to show. The release says the movie, produced by Trinity, Brainstorm Media, and EPIX (the US pay TV network) will premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival and then on EPIX and selected US film theatres on 2 November, and then in the UK. The PR people could not tell me when the UK release is (update: 16 October, apparently) or send any artwork, but they did helpfully forward a link to imdb with details of cast and crew. Interestingly, it lists all the Pythons (apart from Terry Gilliam) as being in the cast, though one of them is Chapman himself, who shuffled off this mortal coil in 1989.
19 July 2012
According to the film's producer Isabel Rey, speaking to Michael Dahan, O Apostolo is tentatively set for release in Spain in October. The distributor is to be confirmed. Artefacto Productions’ feature stop-motion film made its long-awaited debut at the Moscow Film Festival in late June to rave reviews from critics and audiences. Talks are already underway with distributors for release around Europe hopefully around the same time as Spain. Originally planned as a 3D feature, O Apostolo will now be released in 2D with hopes of being reformatted to 3D at a later date. Check out the trailer here.
17 June 2012
Two new films from Italy are close to being completed: Gladiatori di Roma (Gladiators of Rome) is from the prolific Iginio Straffi (creator of the hugely successful Winx Club) and is being released in Italy by Medusa Film on 19 October. It's in CGI and stereoscopic 3D and looks to be pitching for the all age comedy audience. Pinocchio, directed by Enzo d'Alo, comes out in Christmas week on 21 December. The latest version of the Collodi classic is a co-production between Cometa Film, 2D 3D Productions of France, Vivifilm (Belgium) and Iris Production (Luxembourg). Distributor is Lucky Red.
7 June 2012
Thanks to Michael Dahan of Animaze for this: director Michael Hegner and Crone Film’s latest 3-D animated release, Gummi T (English title: Jelly T), has made a splash in the Danish box office, opening at number one for the weekend of 17 May, beating out blockbusters The Dictator and The Avengers with more than 50,000 admissions. Weeks 2 and 3 proved the big debut was no fluke and the movie has now racked up 106,745 ticket sales and grossed more than $1m. While the film has only been released in Denmark, hopefully its success will prompt more nearby countries to pick it up. An English dub version is in the works.
12 March 2012
Back from last week's Cartoon Movie (my first time since 2008), I have a full notebook, a rather modish delegate bag, and some impressions on the general state of the European film animation industry. In terms of numbers, the event has grown: 700 participants (up from 530 four years ago, and 190 buyers (versus 146) and 105 distributors (71). That's a healthy increase, and it was standing room only in many of the screenings of some 55 projects at various stages of production. I could not see every one, having still not perfected the art of being in two places simultaneously, so my own highlights are perforce based on less than half of the projects.
Zarafa, directed by Rémi Bezançon and Jean-Christophe Lie, is already out in France and we were treated to a free screening. A very nice film for children about the voyage of the first giraffe brought to Paris in the 19th century. A little reminiscent of Kirikou, with a strong storyline, compelling characters and only one talking animal. This kind of film really should get a wide release, and I'm sure it will. I didn't see any of the other completed films, opting for Zarafa over Ronal the Barbarian because the queue was shorter, and missed the opening night screening of Arrugas (Wrinkles) but am going to see the film this week.
Of the 11 films in production, we saw some excerpts from the soon-be to released The Pirates! Band of Misfits from Aardman. Looks like it will be a hoot, and while it will be judged on whether the jokes are funny, the film is an immense technical achievement, involving some 500 animators. On average, each animator at Aardman produced one second of animation a day. One scene with multiple characters took a year to produce.
Phantom Boy (below right) is Alain Gagnol & Jean-Loup Felicioli's follow up to Oscar-nominated Une Vie de Chat. The film - about a gravely ill boy who has a gift of leaving his body - continues the very beautiful, distinctive style of Une Vie de Chat. The film-makers are understandably being courted by Hollywood, although you would have thought being sponsored by Caran d'Ache was excitement enough. This was one of several films (Le Jour de Corneilles, Ma Vie de Courgette (below), Pelican, Another Day of Life for example) which boasted a really strong and distinctive visual style.
Deep was interesting; the producers, Brown Bag Films, are planning to develop a game at the same time as the film, using the same assets, and use the Steam computer games network as a promotional channel. The Miffy movie was aimed at a different target audience (children 0-5) and a midday timeslot where most cinemas have nothing to show and no audiences. (Similarly commercial thought processes were generally missing from most projects.)
Cartoon Movie is a development event, so many of the projects on show may never actually get made. The attendance numbers still indicate that producers dominate, so most projects are being pitched to people who are just interested to see what their confreres are doing rather than the people who might actually give them the money to do it. However, given that distributors were in an event shorter supply four years ago, the event is certainly going in the right direction. The elephant in the room is that producers are making films for a public which on the whole is indifferent to their efforts. After four weeks, Zarafa has racked up an excellent 1.1m admissions in France. But Puss in Boots got 3.75m in France (3m after four weeks) and The Adventures of Tintin 5.3m (5m after four weeks). In Germany, last year's most successful home-grown animation was Prinzessin Lilifee with 626,000 admissions, compared to 3.1m for Puss in Boots and 2.7m for The Smurfs.
6 February 2012
The list of projects at this year's Cartoon Movie includes 50 European animated films at various stages of production, ranging from films 'in project' (very early development) to films already completed. I'm going to be there this year (first time in Lyon) and will aim to post some musings here and my (hitherto mostly mute) twitter feed. I will hope to identify which of the 18 films in development and 19 films in project look like ending up as successful; movies. However I will try to give priority to the six films in production and seven completed films being screened. Details of all of these bar three are already in Animation Europe's database. The three missing are: Deep (Ireland/UK), Knight Rusty (Germany) and Phantom Boy (France/Belgium) from Oscar nominee Alain Gagnol.
25 January 2012
Two European films made the shortlist for best animated film at this year's Academy Awards: the Spain/UK/Cuban Chico y Rita and France's Une Vie de Chat. They will be up against two Dreamworks Animation movies, Puss in Boots and Kung Fu Panda 2 and Rango from Paramount. There were no nominations for Pixar - or, for that matter, Aardman. Since both DWA movies are spin-off/sequels/wringing more life out of a franchise, Chico y Rita could be worth a bet, though I have a hunch Rango might get the nod, though for me it was a bit too much of a Johnny Depp riff.
3 January 2012
Last year, there were 27 animated feature films both produced in Europe and released in European cinemas (for the details, go to the Film List page). That's more than 2009 and 2010 (19 films each year) and the most for any year in the last decade except 2006. Despite the recession which hit towards the end of 2008, film output seems to have been unaffected (although of course there are many projects which will have stalled or never seen the light of day in the tough financial climate). Countries where some form of public financial support is available predominate: France was especially active last year with 11 films released (including co-productions), ahead of Germany with seven and Denmark with four. Two French films garnered more than one million admissions at their home box office (Titeuf and Un Monstre a Paris), while Orla Frøsnapper was a definite hit in Denmark. There are at least two Spanish films which have been completed and not secured cinema release.
20 November 2011
Disappointingly for many Tintin purists, the Spielberg Tintin seems to have been a rip-roaring sucess at the international box office. So far (the film isn't released in the US until next month) it's a pretty sobering riposte to anyone (including me) hoping the CGI Tintin would fail horribly. The film has been a rip-roaring international success, especially in France and the UK. In France, Tintin was up to 4.7m admissions after three weeks, which included 3.1m in its debut week (starting 26 Oct). Europa Corp's by no means unsuccessful Un monstre a Paris was at 1.5m after five weeks. After four weeks in the UK, Tintin had grossed £12.7bn at the UK box office (equivalent to about 2m admissions), while Aardman's Sony-released Arthur Christmas, after two weeks, was up to £2.1bn (about 332,000). All the reviews I read were pretty scathing, which just goes to show that the cinema audience does not have the same sensibilites as the average newspaper critic.
1 November 2011
This Monday, Dreamworks Animation's shares fell eight per cent because of a disappointing opening weekend for Puss in Boots. According to the LA Times, even though the film was no.1 this weekend and grossed $34m, investors have dumped shares because this was well short of the expected $40-45m. One analyst wrote that this was the worst opening for a DWA CGI animated feature since Antz in 1998 and is 'further evidence that increasing competition in the animated film space significantly degraded the domestic box office potential for individual animated films'. This just goes to show the expectations that saddle a single animated movie from a Hollywood studio (is the point that a pair or a trio of animated films stands a better chance? Not sure). Admittedly, DWA is somewhat unusual in that it is the only 'pure play' film studio stock. But it's hard to imagine the short term mindset that would sell shares on the basis of the two-day performance of one film. Maybe also someone could have made a wild guess that after four Shrek movies a Puss spin-off was a case of flogging a dead horse which might get a cold shoulder from consumers?
18 September 2011
MFA+, a German film distributor with long experience of European animated movies, is to release Einstein Film's fantasy comedy Ronal the Barbaren in Germany. The film comes out in Denmark later this month and it will be interesting to see whether the movie lives up to the promise of its teaser trailer (see the trailers page). Of course, just as you can't judge a book by its cover, you can't judge a movie by its trailer... It's also notoriously difficult for humour to cross borders (or is it just that a lot of animated films that try to be funny are just not funny?).
17 August 2011
France's Le Chat du Rabbin and Denmark's Orla Frosnapper are the European hits of the summer so far. Le Chat du Rabbin (The Rabbi's Cat) by Joann Sfar has racked up 423,892 admissions (according to allocine) after five weeks. In Denmark (obviously a lot smaller than France), Orla Frosnapper (Freddy Frogface) came out on 1 June and is on 169,294 admissions so far (source: DFI). Les Contes de la Nuit is up to 215,549 after three weeks in France, while La Nuit des Enfants Rois registered only 126,150 admissions after two weeks. The latest Werner movie, released on 23 June in Germany and Austria, was on 374,867 after four weeks (Filmstarts).
16 July 2011
This Wednesday (20th July) sees the release of Michel Ocelot's Les Contes de la Nuit (Tales of the Night). Like the same director's 1999 Princes et Princesses and, for that matter, Prinz Achmed the film uses a silhouette animation technique. The black, two-dimensional characters are combined with striking colourful backgrounds and, interestingly, the film is in stereoscopic 3D. It was produced by Nord Ouest Productions, Ocelot's own Studio O and Studio Canal, which is also distributing in France. No news on whether it's being released outside France or Belgium yet. Hope so... The next project for Ocelot is a third Kirikou movie, due out in 2012. Details of both films are in Animation Europe's searchable database, which is gradually expanding.
13 June 2011
The 35th edition of the Annecy International Animation Film Festival wrapped up last week. In the closing awards ceremony, the Cristal for best feature went to Le Chat du Rabbin (The Rabbi’s Cat) directed by Joann Sfar and Antoine Delesvaux and produced by Autochenille Production, France 3 Cinema and TF1 International. Based on Sfar's BD of the same name, the film is set in Algeria in the 1930s, and is about a rabbi's cat who learns how to speak after swallowing the family parrot and then decides to convert to Judaism. The film was released in France last week, gaining a respectable 173,060 admissions. Sfar's first film was the biopic Gainsbourg (2010), which was mainly live action but included some animation provided by Xilam. As it happens, Gainsbourg was executive produced by Marc du Pontavice, part of a three-man Cristal jury. It was a brilliant film, by the way, probably the most inspired biopic I've ever seen. So why not roll that log?
18 May 2011
With the entire archive of more than 400 films transferred to a database, it can now be searched using any of the boxes in the top right hand corner of each page. The In Production, Film List and Upcoming US Films pages should now automatically update every time new films are added. The Distributors page now includes a much more comprehensive list of distributors and the European films they distribute. There is more detail to be added to individual film entries. As ever, if anyone wants to correct any of the information here I would be more than happy to hear from you. Just go to the Contacts page. I am also adding admissions numbers where I can get them. A vast improvement I hope you agree and thanks to Tom Power for helping with the lengthy process of bringing Animation Europe kicking and screaming into the era of Web-something-like-1.9.
30 April 2011
It's 2011 and I am the man who discovered free online video... It will come as no surprise to, well, anybody, that you can watch a lot of animated movies online. However, while conducting a major review of my film archive, I've appreciated the wealth of movies uploaded to YouTube. It doesn't matter how obscure these movies are - if they have been on VHS or DVD, someone has ripped them and posted them on YouTube. Many of these films have close to zero value in terms of rights exploitation, so the loss to copyright holders is tiny. Of course you can also download illegal copies if that's your thing - a majority of the links spewed out by my own Google alerts for movies in production are torrent sites. But if you constitutionally cannot abide watching anything non-legal, you can still find a lot of free mainstream stuff on sites like Blinkbox. I'm presuming this particular site does not work outside the UK, but if you can see it, you can currently view Anders Morgenthaler's Princess and René Laloux's seventies sci-fi classic La Planète Sauvage free. That's a pretty good deal I'd say. And for a couple of pounds you can stream The Illusionist, Jasper, Laura's Star and others.
16 April 2011
Tim Burton's stop motion film Frankenweenie is currently in production at Three Mills Studios in London. Frankenweenie is based on a short live action film of the same name made by Burton a few years back (worth looking up on YouTube here. After his pet dog dies in an unfortunate accident, a boy decides to bring him back from the dead. The film is being made in black and white and will be in stereoscopic 3D. Distributors will be Walt Disney and the UK release date is Friday 5 October 2012. Three Mills, where Burton made The Corpse Bride and which has also hosted Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr Fox and Jackboots on Whitehall, is emerging as a major stop motion studio. Interestingly, Three Mills was bought last year by the Olympic Park Legacy Company.
22 March 2011
Eurimages is funding two animated films this year, the Council of Europe body annouced last week. Niko - Family Affairs is produced by Animaker Oy (Finland), Ulysses GmBH (Germany), A-Film (Denmark) and Magma Productions (Ireland). The film is a sequel to Niko - Lentäjän poika (Niko and the Way to the Stars), released in 2008. The directors are Jorgen Lerdam and Kari Juusonen. Eurimages grant is €600,000. Tante Hilda! (above) from Folimage Valence (France) and Melusine Productions (Luxembourg) was awarded €500,000. The film is directed by Jacques-Rémy Girerd. Last year, Eurimages funded four animated films to the tune of €2.3m. All four, still in production, are: The Congress, The Moon Man, The Suicide Shop and Le Tableau.
13 February 2011
Fimfárum — Third Time Lucky 3D, released last week in the Czech Republic, is certainly the first Czech 3D animated feature film, and possibly the first made using stop-frame animation. The Fimfarum books are, it seems, modern fairly tales devised by the writer/actor/playwright Jan Werich, and third time lucky is the third film it's generated. According to Wikipedia (so it must be true), Jan Werich was the original Blofeld in the James Bond movie, You Only Live Twice. For more on Fimfarum, here's an informative article in Czechposition and a trailer on the Bioscop website.
31 January 2011
Aardman, already deeply in production on two feature films, is developing another based on Shaun the Sheep, its preshool TV series. According to the BBC, writers are working on a script for a movie to be released in 2013 or 2014. There's nothing on the Bristol studio's website, though it does mention that a total of five movies are currently in development, including one by Nick Park. And it's released a teaser trailer for its end of 2011 release, Arthur Christmas.
8 January 2011
Completed films being screened at this year's Cartoon Movie are: Chico and Rita, l'Apprenti Pere Noel (Santapprentice) and Der Sandmann und der verlorene Traumsand (already released) and Noche de ¿Paz? (above), The Magic Crystal and Den kæmpestore bjørn (The Great Bear). Cartoon Movie is in Lyon from 2-4 March 2011. Another seven films in production will be presented at the event, plus another 17 in development. No less than 23 more films are "in project" - seeking funding. The In Production page has been updated accordingly.
3 January 2011
Happy new year!
6 December 2010
The UK funding page has been updated – to reflect the demise of the UK Film Council in the Coalition government’s spending review. Given that the Council funded only one completed animation film I can think of (A Christmas Carol) the impact on UK animation film-making will be pretty negligible. And Lottery Money will still be available via the British Film Institute. Ireland, facing a similarly savage round of cost-cutting, is cutting the Irish Film Board’s budget by a modest 3% so its support will also be largely spared. Feature films benefiting from IFB Euros include Cartoon Saloon’s Moon Man and the in-development Hound from Paul Bolger’s Pillar Stone Productions and BreakThru Films.
16 October 2010
Still no news on when exactly O Apostolo (The Apostle), a 3D stop-motion movie from Galicia in Spain, is going to make its debut. Should be soon, because according to the Artefacto Producciones website the shooting was completed in April. Some truly spectacular footage can be seen on the studio's website here, or on YouTube here.
PS 31 October: it appears the movie will be released in 2011.
1 September 2010
After three weeks in French cinemas, the 3D European film Sammy's Adventures: The Secret Passage (Le Voyage Extraordinaire de Samy) has sold a respectable 943,500 tickets. The film, about a turtle's 50-year journey around the world, is the second mass market 3D movie produced by Belgium's nWave Pictures. With backing from Illuminata Pictures (US) and Motion Investment Group (Belgium), the film is directed (like Fly me to the Moon) by Ben Stassen. The film outsold both of the US heavyweights - Toy Story 3 and Shrek 4 - in the week beginning 25 August. However it should be added they had been on release for some time and accumulated 3.8m and 4.6m admissions respectively.
In its first week on release, 577 copies of Sammy were distributed compared to 735 copies for Toy Story 3 and 842 copies for Shrek 4.
27 July 2010
It's been far too long since the last entry on this page, but I have been keeping the site up to date, with plenty of new additions to In Production, Upcoming US films and the database. To follow on from the last entry, The Illusionist has now got a UK release through Warner Bros and Pathe next month, while Jackboots on Whitehall (Vertigo Films, apparently, though it's not mentioned on their site at time of writing) and A Town Called Panic (Optimum Releasing, again not seemingly worth publicising) are coming out in October. Three Mills Film Studios could not confirm whether Tim Burton's stop-frame Frankenweenie was in production there... but referred me to Walt Disney Co.
28 February 2010
Change to the programme of this week's Cartoon Movie in Lyon: there will a screening of images from Sylvain Chomet's The Illusionist as opposed to the whole film. Makes me wonder what is amiss with this long in gestation follow up to the Oscar-nominated Triplettes de Belleville. The film seems to have been shown at Berlin earlier this month and got this favourable write-up (though not a full-scale review) from Wendy Ide in The Times. Clips from the film can also be found on You Tube here.
16 February 2010
In a first for an animated movie based on a 9th Century book, The Secret of Kells has been nominated for this year's animated film Academy Award. This makes it the fifth European movie to be nominated since the category was introduced in 2001, the others being Les Triplettes de Belleville (2003), The Corpse Bride and Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Wererabbit (2005) and Persepolis (2007). Not a bad record for a truly European effort from Ireland's Cartoon Salon, Les Armateurs and Vivi Film. I actually really enjoyed the film (which in an era of overblown 3D crafts real beauty out of two dimensions), but Up seems close to a dead cert to bring Pixar its fifth award next month. Wider release for Kells might, of course, be the real upside for the film's nomination.
10 February 2010
Cartoon Movie will be in Lyon on 3-5 March this year. New films being presented, currently in production and added to the In Production page, are: Lotte and the Moonstone Secret from Eesti Joonisfilm (of Estonia) and Rija Films (Latvia); Moomins and the Comet Chase from Oy Filmkompaniet Alpha AB (Finland); Project Chopin - The Flying Machine from Denis Friedman Productions (France) and BreakThru Films (Poland); Ramon (IB Cinema, Spain) and The Great Bear (Copenhagen Bombay, Denmark). Another 11 films in development will be presented and the eight films completed and screened include Around the World in 50 Years from stereoscopic 3D specialists nWave and Yona Yona Penguin (Denis Friedman Prods). There will also be a special screening for Sylvain Chomet-directed The Illusionist.