Animated Discussions
by Rudy Panucci and Melanie Larch

Pixar Moves In

The Disney/Pixar merger went through in record time. The $7.4 billion-dollar deal sees Pixar’s Steve Jobs taking a seat on the Disney board of directors, and John Lasseter adding creative executive duties for Disney Feature Animation to his title as the creative head of Pixar. He’s also in charge of the “Imagineering” department for the Disney theme parks, which has fans of the parks rejoicing.

On Wednesday, Jan. 25, Lasseter’s first day on the job, production on “Toy Story 3” was shut down. A sequel will not be made without the original production team from Pixar. Lasseter is said to have plans in store for the folks working on “Toy Story 3,” so they won’t be laid off, just reassigned.

A New Animation Glut

2006 is shaping up to be a banner year for animated feature films. According to some sources, as many as 15 major animated feature film releases are set for this year. That number includes the already-released “Hoodwinked”, as well as a smattering of independent or foreign releases. The big-money major studio releases include:

Universal: “Curious George”

20th Century Fox: “Ice Age 2: The Meltdown,” and “Yankee Irving”

Pixar: “Cars”

Disney: “The Wild,” and “Meet The Robinsons”

Warner Brothers: “The Ant Bully,” and “Happy Feet,” the computer-animated tale of a dancing penguin, directed by George Miller of “Mad Max” fame.

Dreamworks: “Over The Hedge” and “Flushed Away” (the latter made by Aardman Animation

Columbia: Director Robert Zemeckis’ “Monster House,” done in the same creepy motion-capture manner as “Polar Express”

And that’s leaving out lesser offerings from Paramount/Nickelodeon, The Weinstein Company, and Bill Plympton. Looks like a heavy year for fans of animation. True to the trendy nature of Hollywood, of the above-mentioned movies, only “Curious George” is traditionally-animated. “Flushed Away” is done in clay animation, while everything else on the list is all done with computers.