Sunday, March 14, 2010

Mission 2 Mars

No, I'm not referring to this Disney dud from 2000.  Last week, Disney announced a release date for Mars Needs Moms, based on the children's book by Berkeley Breathed, creator of the classic 80s comic strip Bloom County.  The movie will open on March 11, 2011, occupying the slot successfully used this year by Alice in Wonderland.  To be honest, I had completely lost track of this project.  I remember reading a long time ago that Disney was developing it, which delighted me given that I'm a huge fan of Breathed.  The movie will be another film produced by Robert Zemeckis using his 3-D motion capture technique (The Polar Express and Disney's A Christmas Carol) and will star Seth Green and Joan Cusack.  I'm hoping that instead of creating "dead eye" replicas of the actors involved, the motion capture technology will be used to bring Breathed's distinct illustrations to life intact.

Ironically, Disney also announced last week that it was shutting down Zemeckis' motion capture studio facility, effective January 2011.  The new ImageMovers Digital studio was originally supposed to be the start of a long and fruitful partnership with the Academy Award-winning director that put Disney on the cutting edge of mo-cap special effects.  But given the high costs and disappointing returns associated with A Christmas Carol, Disney has apparently decided to cut its losses.  I assume that waiting to close the facility next January will give Zemeckis time to complete both Mars Needs Moms and Yellow Submarine.

Meanwhile, Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland opened to a record breaking $116 million last weekend which, I'm sad to point out, already surpasses the lifetime box office of The Princess and the Frog.  By the end of this weekend, it will likely cross the $200 million mark, and could potentially be on its way to becoming one of Disney's all-time highest grossing live-action films (not taking into account the inflated ticket prices for 3-D and IMAX shows).

Also last weekend, Pixar's Up took home two Oscars, one for Best Animated Feature and another for Best Original Score.  The second Oscar was a nice little surprise and a much deserved recognition for composer Michael Giacchino.  Giacchino is a Disney regular, having also composed the music for The Incredibles, Ratatouille, and tv's Lost.  He will next perform scoring duties for Disney on John Carter of Mars, currently in production.

Finally, if you haven't seen this yet, do yourself a favor.  It just about blew my socks off.

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