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Future Features: A sneak peek at "Bee Movie," "Horton Hears a Who" and "Kung Fu Panda"

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Future Features: A sneak peek at "Bee Movie," "Horton Hears a Who" and "Kung Fu Panda"

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For months now, JHM has been talking up Walt Disney Feature Animation's March 2007 release, "Meet the Robinsons," a CG time travel tale.


Copyright 2007 Disney Enterprises 

But "Meet the Robinsons" isn't the only new CG feature that's coming out next year. There's a veritable flood of animated features headed our way in 2007. Everything from an eagerily awaited "Shrek" sequel ...


Copyright 2007 DreamWorks Animation

... (Which hits theaters on May 18, 2007) to Pixar's next production ...


Copyright 2007 Disney/ Pixar

... (Which bows at your local multiplex on June 29, 2007).

But today, we're going to focus on some animated films that are a little further out. CG features that won't be " ... coming to a theater near you " 'til the latter half of 2007 and beyond. Starting with DreamWorks Animation's "Bee Movie."


Copyright 2007 DreamWorks Animation

This CG feature (Which is tentatively slated to hit theaters on November 2, 2007) has been creating a lot of buzz lately (Sorry. That'll be the only bee-related pun I use in this piece. I promise). Mostly because "Bee Movie" is Jerry Seinfeld's first real project of size that this acclaimed comic has taken on since he shut down production of his Emmy-Award-winning sitcom back in the Spring of 1998.

Of course, the other reason that this upcoming DreamWorks Animation release has been getting a lot of attention is because of the number of hats that Seinfeld is wearing on this project. You see, Jerry isn't just doing voice work on "Bee Movie." He also wrote the original screenplay for this film. In addition to serving as this new animated feature's producer.

So obviously we're talking about a pretty personal project here. One that will (hopefully) reflect Seinfeld's distinct comic voice. 


Copyright 2007 DreamWorks Animation

As for the film's storyline ... "Bee Movie" chronicles the adventures of Barry B. Benson (Voiced by Seinfeld), a bee who has just graduated from college. Barry -- who had hoped for a life filled with excitement & adventure -- is somewhat disconcerted to learn that the only career choice that's currently open to him is the one that every bee must eventually embrace. And that's making honey.

But Barry's life takes an interesting turn one day when he's rescued by Vanessa (Voiced by Renee Zellweger), a human florist who lives in New York City. While he's in Vanessa's care, Barry learns humanity's dark secret. That they actually eat most of the honey that bees produce.

Seeing as humans haven't ever paid bees for their labors, Barry ...


Photo by Jeff Lange

... sees this arrangement as a real travesty of justice. Which is why -- with the help of his best friend, Adam ...


Photo by Jeff Lange

... (Who will be voiced by Matthew Broderick), Barry decides to sue humanity to recover all of that lost income.

Speaking of lost income ... There are those in the entertainment industry who are wondering if it's really wise for DreamWorks Animation to release "Bee Movie" on November 2, 2007. Given that this is the very same day that Disney Feature Animation's highly anticipated "Enchanted" is expected to hit theaters.


Copyright 2007 Disney Enterprises, Inc.

Given this Kevin Lima film is the very first Walt Disney Pictures production to feature traditional animation since "Home on the Range" was released to theaters back in 2004, one wonders if this would really be the very best time to release a CG film. Particularly given all the talk lately about a computer animation glut.

Okay. Enough about "Bee Movie." Let's move a little further down into the alphabet now, as we turn our attention to the letter ... 


Photo by Nancy Stadler

... As in "Horton Hears a Who."  Blue Sky Studios' next big release. Which 20th Century Fox will be sending out into theaters sometime in March of 2008.


Photo by Nancy Stadler

Jim Carrey has just been signed to provide the voice for the film's title character, while "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" 's Steve Carrell has agreed to do vocals for the mayor of Whoville.

The folks at Blue Sky are already working over-time to make sure that the CG characters that you'll see in this big screen adaption of this classic Dr. Seuss tale really do justice to Theodore Geisel's original illustrations. And as you can see by this sculpture of Vlad Vladikoff (I.E. The black-bottomed buzzard who flies off with the clover that Horton the elephant is trying so hard to protect) ...


Photo by Nancy Stadler

... They've been able to get pretty-darn close to replicating the look that Seuss achieved in his original 1954 children's book.

Jumping ahead now to May of 2008 ... Well, judging by this poster, it looks like virtually every character in DreamWorks Animation's "Kung Fu Panda" ...


Copyright 2008 DreamWorks Animation

... will eventually be leaping through the air in this new CG feature. Reportedly inspired by recent chop-socky films like "Kung Fu Hustle," this comic adventure tells the story of Po ...


Photo by Jeff Lange

... (Voiced by Jack Black), a lazy panda who has been prophesized to be the great protector of the Valley of Peace. Will master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) as well as Monkey (Jackie Chan) be able to get Po in shape in time to do battle with Tai Lung (Ian McShane), an evil snow leopard?

Mind you, Tai Lung isn't the only serious competition that "Kung Fu Panda" will be facing in the late Spring / early Summer of 2008. Come back tomorrow and we'll talk about Disney's "American Dog" and "Rapunzel" as well as Pixar's "Toy Story 3."

Your thoughts?

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  • Is the release date wise? Well, probably things will change, but site unseen I would venture Jerry's movie will probably be better anyway. He has a successful writing background, and for better or worse, was probably given what he asked for - so you should get a movie with a singular vision instead of Enchanted's screenplay by committee, combined with desparately trying to appeal to all focus groups. It probably won't be Enchanted bringing Jerry down, but rather how much Paramount is willing to spend promoting the Dreamworks stepchild release.

    Jim Carrey signed on for another animated film? So I guess we should look forward to Bruce Willis actually voicing Horton. Yippie Kay Who.
  • Even if you -like- Seinfeld's humor, does anything about the design look remotely interesting or appealing?  >_<
    (He sues the humans!...It's lawyer jokes, kiddies!)

    And in Shrek 3, Shrek and Fiona have a baby, right?...Wrong:
    Shrek has to road-trip some other kingdom's "Prince Artie" brat back home, and grudgingly learns basic father-son bonding, just in time to hear the news that...Tune in to Shrek 4, already in pre-production for 2009!
    (So, uh, what was that about "Audiences won't sit still for Pirates 2&3's cliffhanger ending?"--At least things actually happened -in- Pirates 2, and didn't stretch out an hour and a half of Network Time-Filler to boost up the franchise sequel-numbers.)
  • Interestingly, both Bee Movie and Enchanted will take place in New York City! Which movie will draw the bigger crowd at Central Park???
  • Bee movie. Great. Yet another CG bug movie, this time featuring bug lawyers in yet another "exploited masses vs evil humans" plot. I trust it was greenlighted before "Ant Bully" took a nosedive to gross earnings heck.  At least Katzenberg can hire better writing talent, so maybe it will still break even.
  • I'm actually quite interested in "Bee Movie" just because it's a rare example of an animated film being made under the auspices of (mostly) a single author. "Antz" probably would have been a lot better if it had been written and conceived by Woody Allen.

    Good animated films can be made by teams, obviously, but one of the reason we keep seeing the same formula rehashed over and over again is that there are simply too many cooks in the case of most films, as curmudgeon said. Strong, unique creative visions are desperately needed in animation, and this represents at least a step in the right direction.
  • Lessee . . . Seinfeld humor, CGI movie, more bugs.  I'm having trouble containing my lack of enthusiasm.  And Vanessa (Vanessa??) looks even creepier than the kids in Polar Express.

    I'm not usually a DreamWorks basher, but this looks like a real tire-biter.

    And didn't Dr. Seuss's wife swear off letting filmmakers trash the good Dr's books after the travesties of the Grinch and the Cat in the Hat?  And Jim Carrey's involved!  Ick ick ick!

    Kung Fu Panda seems to have potential . . . .
  • The only thing The Bee Movie has going for it Jerry Seinfield.  You know that will be exploited in the marketing.  The plot doesn't interest me.

    I can't wait to hear about Toy Story 3.  I wonder if Pixar is keeping any of the ideas from when Disney was working on it like the whole recall plot.
  • Is it just me or does Bee Movie sound like it could tread ground already covered in Antz?  A bug upset with his place in the world and deciding to rebel against it?
  • The competition between Bee Movie and Enchanted will depend on several factors.

    1) How well the next few DreamWorks movies do (I would've reconsidered doing any additional Shrek films, since the second was more of a lucky break than anything).
    2) How much more CGI films people can stomach in the next year or so. Seeing as how most are riding on another film's success, expect more flops and/or underperformances in the competition.
    3) (Most important) How much enthusiasm is brought towards Enchanted. This will depend heavily on how well Disney promotes the film, and how people will react to the one hand-drawn film amongst a crowd of CGI films.

    We'll have to wait and see...
  • semaj86 said:
    "The competition between Bee Movie and Enchanted will depend on several factors.
    1) How well the next few DreamWorks movies  do (I would've reconsidered doing any additional Shrek films, since the second was more of a lucky break than anything)."
    ---
    Also the fact that S1&2's Andrew Adamson is already busy with his own lucrative fantasy franchise (so, how about an article on "Narnia: Prince Caspian" updates?), so DW's main showroom product has been left to the head writer and animator to co-direct, for -both- sequels.  Again, a "Matrix/Pirates"-style presold combo.

    ---
    "3) (Most important) How much enthusiasm is brought towards Enchanted."
    For the last time:
    NONE!!  ZERO!!  ZILCHAROONIE!!  IT'S A [BLEEP]IN' DISNEY GRRL COMEDY!
    Look, did -you- go see "Ice Princess"?  Well, did you?--Stand up and tell everyone how good it was...Oh, I'm sorry, you missed that one?  Well, I'm sure we'd be happy to know your reactions on "Princess Diaries 2: the Royal Engagement"--What, you were waiting for that one on video too?  Heavens!

    -----
    Prankster said:
    "I'm actually quite interested in 'Bee Movie' just because it's a rare example of an animated film being made under the auspices of (mostly) a single author. "Antz" probably would have been a lot better if it had been written and conceived by Woody Allen"
    ---
    First time I heard news mention of "Jerry Seinfeld in 'Bee Movie'", I SWEAR I thought the reporter was deliberately making up his own cynical parody of DW's lack of creativity, and kicking "Antz" while it was down.
    "Antz" tried to appeal to all those 9-yo. Woody Allen fans--by replicating artificial Allen dialogue--but at least this movie has the real Seinfeld creatively making "The beehive about....nothing" for all those 9-yo. Seinfeld fans.
    (Which's a shame, really, since Jerry's "Halloween" children's book actually -did- have some appeal for kids, more than most celebrity children's books, but don't think that was particularly going through his mind when he was conceiving this movie deal.  Or Katzenberg's.)
  • Seinfeld, hm?  Well, at least we know ahead of time it won't be funny.

    Narnia, Schmarnia.  Do an article about "Legend"! (or maybe I should...)
  • Hehe... You guys make me laugh....

    **************************************
    Let me Explain something to you... Kevin Lima might not have made an above all perfect Disney movie, but 101 Dalmations was an alright movie, above average if atleast... And as for The Emperor's New Groove, this was the most awesome movie ever, although ill conceived by audiences, I'm sure it was because the Disney promotion team didn't quite know how to pitch a comedy animation...

    And as for the Future of disney's "Enchanted" vs "Bee movie"...

    **************************************
    Are you serious? Let me tell you, I'm pretty dang sure Enchanted is going to draw in a considerable crowd... Parents have children, some girls and some boys, but when my brother wanted to go see "Cars" and my sister didnt' want to see it, she still tagged along to watch it, she did. And as a matter of fact it was one of her favorite movies, now I'm not comparing Pixar's work to Kevin Lima's. I'm just saying that daughters, girls basically, are going to want to watch "Enchanted" and not many boys are going to be attracted to the "Bee movie" either, so dont expect a surefire hit there just because of seinfeld's name in it, since when did you see a 5 year old watching seinfeld at 10 PM, please tell me. Never... Enchanted is also a live action film, romantic, which will ofcourse draw crowds in the teen women section, and older women demographics searching for a love film and by golly will they get it. "Bee Movie" does stand a chance against "Enchanted", but let me just say, Dreamworks rep might seriously be damaged by shrek 3, because the original director and producer is no longer there... and "enchanted sounds awesome, And Disney has animation legend Alan Menken on their side, prety sure their promotional adds will say "with music from academy award winning composer alan menken, from "The Little Mermaid", seriously you guys, music has heart... and if alan gets his hands to work on the trailer, let me just say this, "Bee Movie's" future is not looking very swelll....

    *********************************
    Oh and by the way, if for some reason, someday, "Toy Story 3, were to go against Shrek 4, believe me Toy story would knock shreck's butt off
  • No Derek, I did not see either the Princess Diaries or Ice Princess.

    Disney just has to market Enchanted to more than just girls. They have to learn not to polarize their films. (Who's to say if Pirates of the Carribean are all-male films?) I mean, they surprised the hell out of everyone when The Little Mermaid and later Beauty and the Beast drew adults, and not just those taking their kids to a movie for the sake of it.

    If they can get it together by the end of next year, not all hope is lost.
  • agreed that there have been to many bug movies. but almost all of them have been ant-related. maybe bees will be more bee-lievable? haha, sorry i couldn't help myself!
  • >>Dreamworks rep might seriously be damaged by shrek 3<<

    Yeah.  And Ice Age the Meltdown ruined things for Blue Sky, POTC: DMC destroyed the Pirates franchise, and we don't even want to talk about how Star Wars 1 and 2 gutted the box office performance of 3.

    Some franchises are more-or-less suck-proof.  Shrek is one of them.  The proof is at a Universal Studios theme park near you.
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