Top Animation News is a weekly column that rounds up the biggest, best and breaking stories from the animation industry. This edition covers September 27 to October 4, 2019.
1. Walt Disney Animation puts more diversity in the director’s chair
Walt Disney Animation has named four filmmakers who will produce original content for the studio including directors Carlos Lopez Estrada (Blindspotting) and Suzi Yoonessi (Dear Lemon Lima), as well as House of Mouse veterans Josie Trinidad and Marc Smith. They are all developing new animated features for theatrical release; the company’s chief creative officer Jennifer Lee is working to drive up its diversity and inclusivity efforts. She says, “We are so thrilled to have these four talented artists join our 96-year-old studio as directors and help us build the stories of our future — adventures in completely original worlds, stories from around the globe, and the next generation of musicals.”
Get all the Disney director and diversity details on Variety.
2. Big Mouth creators working on Human Resources for Netflix
Netflix announced at New York Comic Con that it has ordered Human Resources: a new animated workplace comedy from the team behind Big Mouth, which includes creators Nick Kroll, Andrew Goldberg, Mark Levin and Jennifer Flackett as well as producer Kelly Galuska. The new series will be a spinoff of the adolescence-based series, set in the office of its hormone monsters. This is part of a deal signed between Netflix and Brutus Pink, the new animation production company launched by Kroll, Goldberg, Levin and Flackett.
Book a meeting with the Human Resources details on Deadline.
3. BoJack Horseman’s sixth season will be its last
Netflix has announced that the upcoming two-part sixth season of adult animated comedy BoJack Horseman would be its last, with the first set of episodes coming on October 25 and the second on January 31, 2020. This comes hot on the heels of the cancellation of sister series Tuca & Bertie. Actor Aaron Paul, who plays Todd on BoJack Horseman, tweeted: “We had a wonderful time making Bojack. Couldn’t be more proud. Fell in love with these characters just like everyone else did but sadly Netflix thought it was time to close the curtains and so here we are. They gave us a home for 6 beautiful years. Nothing we could do about it.”
Gallop into all the BoJack Horseman season six details on NME.
4. OIAF 2019: Top prize winners announced
The Ottawa Animation International Festival (OIAF) 2019 wrapped this last weekend, with the event’s award winners announced. Among those who took home prizes was Kenji Ebisawa’s On Gaku: Our Sound for Grand Prize for Feature Animation, Thomas Renolder’s Don’t Know What for the Nelvana Grand Prize for Independent Short and Theodore Ushev’s Physique De La Tristesse / The Physics of Sorrow for Canadian Film Institute (CFI) Award for Best Canadian Animation. Looney Tunes Cartoons: Curse of the Monkey Bird (produced with Toon Boom Storyboard Pro and Toon Boom Harmony) also won the Animation for Young Audiences 6-12 award.
See the full OIAF 2019 award winners list on Animation Magazine. Also, watch Toon Boom’s interviews from the event with artists and animation industry leaders like Sonya Carey, Spencer Moreland and Pete Denomme.
5. Disney is open to doing more 2D hand-drawn films
As The Princess and The Frog turns 10 years old, the House of Mouse could be producing more 2D animated films in the future. Disney producer Peter Del Vecho said, “I think we’re one of the only studios in the world that can do both [3D and 2D animation], and how that evolves over time and how we experiment with different styles. But it ultimately comes down to the filmmakers and how they want to tell that particular story.” When asked if Disney would be open to a hand-drawn film pitch, director Jennifer Lee responded, “Of course. And it really is, the style is driven by the filmmakers and certainly there’s a lot of, as we’ve developed new talent, excitement to try different styles.”
Read the full Disney hand-drawn film interview on /FILM.
6. Abominable lands 2019’s highest original animation debut
DreamWorks Animation and Pearl Studio’s Abominable scored $20.6 million at the domestic box office last weekend, giving it the biggest debut for an original animated film in 2019. The feature is set in China, was co-produced by a Chinese studio and includes a largely Asian-American voice cast — a strong indication of the Sino toon industry’s booming growth. Read more about that in Toon Boom’s report on the Chinese animation market.
Journey to the Abominable box office details on Screen Daily.
7. The Last Fiction could be Iran’s first animated feature at the Oscars
Iran’s nascent animation industry could get a huge boost if homegrown animated film The Last Fiction qualifies for the 2020 Academy Awards. It is the debut feature from the Tehran-based Hoorakhsh Studios and will screen in Hollywood’s Arena Cinelounge from October 18 to 24, making it eligible for Oscars consideration. The Last Fiction is based on a chapter of Shahnameh, Iran’s national epic, and it will compete for the Best Animated Feature Award.
Learn more about The Last Fiction qualifying for the 2020 Oscars on Cartoon Brew.
8. Legendary animator Alan Zaslove passes away
Veteran animator, producer and director Alan Zaslove has passed on at 92. He began his career in 1942 as an office boy at Leon Schlesinger’s Studios before subsequently going over to UPA and Hanna-Barbera, where he worked on series like The Smurfs and The Jetsons. As a producer and director, Zaslove also led Disney projects like Darkwing Duck, Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers and The Return of Jafar.
Remember the inspiring life and career of Alan Zaslove on Animation Magazine.
9. Star Wars’ first gay characters debut on animated series
The Star Wars universe has its first two out characters in Orka and Flix. They appear on the Star Wars Resistance animated series and are voiced by Jim Rash and Bobby Moynihan, respectively. When asked about the characters’ relationship, executive producer Justin Ridge said, “I think it’s safe to say they’re an item. They’re absolutely a gay couple and we’re proud of that.”
May the details be with you on The Guardian.
10. Kristine Belson renews contract as Sony Pictures Animation president
Sony Pictures Animation president Kristine Belson will remain in her role after renewing her contract with Sony Pictures Entertainment, including expanded responsibilities. She will now also oversee producing animated series for television as well as streaming. Belson has been in the role since 2015 and has helped turn Hotel Transylvania into a $1.3 billion dollar franchise and was in charge of the team behind Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which webbed Sony Picture Animation its first Oscar and earned over $375 million globally.
See all the details on Kristin Belson’s renewal at Sony Pictures Animation on Kidscreen.
What Top Animation News were you most excited about this week? Was there something we forgot to mention? Let us know in the comments below!
Banner image source: Netflix