Top Animation News is a weekly column that rounds up the biggest, best and breaking stories from the animation industry. This edition covers June 28 to July 5, 2019.
1. Halle Bailey to play Ariel in live-action The Little Mermaid
Singer and actress Halle Bailey has been cast as Ariel in the live-action adaptation of its classic 2D animated feature, The Little Mermaid. This will mark the third time a Disney Princess is portrayed by a black actress, following The Princess and the Frog in 2009 (created using Toon Boom Harmony) and Brandy playing the title role in a 1997 Cinderella TV movie. Filming is set to begin on The Little Mermaid live-action remake in early 2020.
Be part of this diverse, inclusive world (and find more details) on HuffPost Canada.
2. Gremlins is getting an animated prequel
WarnerMedia is joining the likes of Netflix, Hulu and Apple in investing in original adult animated content. It recently announced its upcoming streaming service has ordered a 10-episode first season of Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai — a toon prequel to the classic 1984 comedy horror film, Gremlins, aimed at mature audiences and set in 1920s Shanghai. Tze Chun (Gotham) will be writing and co-executive producing alongside Brendan Hay (Robot Chicken).
Feed your curiosity (but not after midnight) with more Gremlins animated series details on The Hollywood Reporter.
3. OIAF 2019: Shorts competition selections announced
North America’s largest animation festival, the Ottawa International Animation Festival, has announced the shorts in this year’s competition. Chosen from 2,200 submissions, the 54 selections are spread across four categories: narrative, non-narrative, student, and commissioned. Among those on the list of acclaimed and high-profile pieces including Bruno Collet’s Cristal Award-winning Memorable and Tomek Popakul’s Acid Rain, which took home the grand prize at Animafest Zagreb. OIAF has already announced its selections for its features, series and young audience competitions, with the latter including Pete Browngardt’s The Curse of the Monkey Bird (one of the installments in the latest Looney Tunes series, animated in Toon Boom Harmony).
Review the full list of OIAF shorts competition selections on Cartoon Brew.
4. Milton Quon, Disney Golden Age animator, passes away
Fantasia and Dumbo animator Milton Quon has passed away, aged 105. Born in 1913 to Chinese immigrants in Los Angeles, his artistic abilities helped him land a role at Walt Disney Studios during its Golden Age. From there, he moved into the studio’s publicity department before leaving and becoming the first Chinese-American art director at a national advertising agency in 1951, followed by work in teaching and acting.
Discover more on Milton Quon’s life and career on The Wrap.
5. Animation is getting another magazine in January 2020
Parlez-vous français? You’ll have to brush up on your French if you want to read Revue du Film d’Animation (Animated Film Review) — a new 160-page print magazine all about animation that was previewed at Annecy last month and will launch in January 2020. Publications about the medium and industry are rare, with the team behind it hoping “to help expand [animation’s] reach beyond its close-knit target audience, and to contribute to the recognition of animation as an art” through essays, interviews, reviews and opinion pieces aimed at fans, students, industry professionals and academics.
Explore the Revue du Film d’Animation details further on Cartoon Brew.
6. An Akira anime series has been announced
Japanese artist, writer and animation director Katsuhiro Otomo has announced his classic manga-turned-film Akira is being continued in a new anime series. The original 1988 movie is also being remastered and re-released in Japan and the United States in 2020, with a live-action adaptation directed by Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok) due out in May 2021. Otomo is partnering with Japanese animation studio Sunrise on the Akira anime series and is also working with them on a new feature, Orbital Era.
Read all about the Akira anime series on Polygon.
7. It looks like a 2D animated Pokemon film is coming in 2020
Following the Pokemon: Mewtwo Strikes Back – Evolution premiere at Anime Expo 2019, a post-credits teaser indicated a new Pokemon movie would be coming in 2020 and it appears that it will be animated in the 2D anime style of Pokemon the Series: Sun & Moon (brought to life in Toon Boom Harmony). Details were scarcer than Bulbasaurs in Diglett’s Cave, so watch this space as things develop.
Catch all the Pokemon animated film info on IGN.
8. Legendary Canadian animator Kaj Pindal passes away
Kaj Pindal, the Danish-born Canadian animator behind Oscar-nominated short What on Earth!, and NFB shorts Peep and the Big Wide World and I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly has died. He was 91. Pindal began his career as an underground, anti-Hitler cartoonist in German-occupied Denmark during WWII; he emigrated to Canada in 1957, joining the country’s acclaimed National Film Board and going on to teach animation at Sheridan College and author his own book, Animation Begins Where Live-Action Gives Up.
Find more details about Kaj Pindal’s incredible life story on Animation Magazine.
9. The Room’s Tommy Wiseau is back with a new animated series
Tommy Wiseau, the filmmaker behind cult classic film The Room, collaborated with his former co-star Greg Sestero on a six-minute pilot for a new animated sci-fi comedy series, SpaceWorld. Released on animation studio Octopie’s YouTube channel, it stars Wiseau as TX — an inept starship captain and bounty hunter who is essentially a toon version of himself. The SpaceWorld pilot pokes fun at him and is appropriately absurd.
Watch the SpaceWorld pilot above and read more about it on Engadget.
10. Cuphead developers delay DLC (for great reasons)
The team behind the popular 2D video game Cuphead (partially coloured in Toon Boom Harmony) have delayed the release of its DLC expansion, Delicious Last Course, until 2020 in order to focus on quality and sustainable development practices. “We want to be absolutely certain that this next adventure feels at home in the world of Cuphead and is full of moments that surprise and delight players,” said the game’s co-director Chad Moldenhauer of Studio MDHR. “Furthermore, the development of the original game taught us a great deal about the importance of making things in a way that’s healthy and sustainable for our team.”
Plug into all the Cuphead DLC expansion delay details on “Kotaku”.
11. US politician Doug Lamborn calls to defund PBS over Arthur gay marriage
As we featured in our article last week, “Five family-friendly LGBTQ animated series for Pride Month“, a recent episode of children’s series Arthur featured a same-sex wedding between the titular character’s teacher Mr. Ratburn and his partner Patrick. Now, Republican congressman Doug Lamborn is citing it as a reason to remove government funding from PBS. While widely celebrated by fans on social media, the Arthur episode was also banned by Alabama’s public broadcaster.
Learn more about the call to defund PBS on “PinkNews”.