Fine Tooning Ep 110
11:21PM Feb 16, 2021
walt disney animation
Welcome to fine tuning with Drew Taylor your one stop shop when it comes to animation news and commentary. I'm Drew's co host entertainment writer Jim Hill. And he and I are recording this show on Friday, February 12 2020. a crazy week for newsprint and animation. With obviously, the big story being that Disney's decision to shutter Blue Sky Studios, coming in April, the week that 450 people learn that they're losing their jobs at an animation studio, maybe not the best time to run the inside out Pixar feature that talks about how that anilmation studio has its own dedicated pastry chef, or for that matter. There's a facility manager who one of her duties is to help set up the elaborate indoor miniature golf tournament that they hold every couple of years. Yeah. Yeah. Just not the right. Right, right. All right. Anyway, let's start with the news that officially broke like five minutes ago, My Little Pony headed to Netflix.
Oh, what what version of My Little Pony, this is so recent that I don't even know about this Jim. This
This happened like five minutes ago. Evidently, this was the version that was supposed to be released to theaters, but entertainment one, which is producing the film. Sole off the rights in Netflix. It's another one of those situations where distribution rights for China, we were held back out of the deal, but it's supposed to land on Netflix later this year.
This was also another former Paramount title.
Well, yes, yes. You know, and Reed Hastings, the Chief Executive Officer at Netflix is has flat out said that he's looking to challenge Disney for domination in animation. And we've got coming later this year, we'll Mitchell's vs machines, which they put did they buy that one?
That was from Sony as well wished wish dragon was from Sony also.
Yeah, and previously, we've had Klaus, but then also the Willoughby's which we just found out was shortlisted for the animated Academy Award.
Did you see that? Now I say that SpongeBob is no longer on the list.
I wanted to talk about that. In fact, we will get to that in a sec. And at the same time look at the people that Netflix is making deals with. I mean, for example, Patrick hailed it a guy behind the wonderful over the garden wall limited. Yes. He's now working on. It's a red wall feature and which to set up a series does that sound right?
yeah, he Well, he also I think he he wrote the screenplay for the Pinocchio the Guillermo del Toro. Yeah, that's coming, which is another exciting Netflix thing.
That's exactly. But again, here's great Reed Hastings saying we're going to challenge as a for domination animation. And here's blue skies nimona, which is 10 months away from completion . Yeah. Now, I was supposed to be theatrical released, I guess, January of 2022. You have an animation studio with a film that is 10 months away from being completed. You have Disney plus, which is the Grand Canyon equivalent of consuming content.
Yeah, I mean, and if the studio is open until April, then it'll be six months away, or seven months away from completion. You know,
it's bad thing. This is a film that's being directed by Patrick Osborne, who actually won an Academy Award for Disney with his feast back in 2014. And it's not like this thing doesn't already have a built in audience it was. It's based on a graphic novel by Nicole Stevenson, who has had lots of success. Well, again for Netflix, with Shira and the princesses of power. It literally you have a film that you're gonna finish in 10 months, couldn't need just as completed this thing. And then shown it on Disney plus,
yeah. I mean, there's
people who actually move from the west coast to the east coast to come work on nimona.
Yes, yeah, that's the thing that I mean, they say that they're gonna look for different positions for people in the company. But Greenwich is not la that's really far away. And I a
more to the point, we are still I mean, yeah, I know this vaccines I know. But just yesterday, we had Bob Chapek, at the quarterly earnings statements at Disney and basically talking about Yeah, well, I expect the will be masked free by 2022. Yeah. And it just sort of like,
that seems optimistic as well.
Yeah, I made some calls because it's one of these things where it's like, it just made no sense to me to do literally be this close to the end and to end it ceasing production. It's not a question of, we're gonna shop it around, it's ceasing production. And I was told this is basically a Monkey's of Mumbai situation. Do you remember the stories about ga h Kevin Lima actually walked that film around. And after DreamWorks got sold off to NBC Universal, they had the blueprint of a film with a potentially hit score. But it was just one of these situations where DreamWorks wouldn't bend on... they had to recover all of the costs every month spent cent they'd spent on development and, and eventually, it was one of these producers situation where, you know, it was worth more as a flapper and never made film than it would have been as a completed film. Yes, and that supposedly the situation with Nimona, that by ceasing production, it allows Disney to have that much bigger tax write off, and people just poured their heart and soul into it. Well, if
you'll remember, the good thing about monkeys remember was that when people left the building, they took their files with them, Jim, and we have seen a lot of money's a move by so I'm hopeful that at least so I would never, you know, I would never tell anyone just to steal any intellectual property. But if you forgot a hard drive at home with a lot of this artwork on it, maybe even some completed scenes, and you happen to take it home. You know, we would love to see that. I think great, Jim.
I just so many people reached out about how special this film was. And Alright, we're getting ahead of ourselves. We're supposed to talk about the second half of the show. Getting back to the news of the week, you were just mentioning about the SpongeBob thing. Yeah, this is sponge on the run that we're talking about. And in pre pandemic days, this was supposed to get an actual theatrical release, in summer of 2020, then it was supposed to help set up camp coral, the series, and since then that there was going to be a video on demand run and that it was going to cbsl access. And then, you know, it's anybody who wants a Super Bowl knows this is helping to launch the Paramount plus streaming service on March 4. Was this really ever going to be seriously considered for the academy? I
mean, you and I have both watched it, Jim via 300 clips on YouTube that we have to pick out together. And I thought the animation was pretty strong, actually. And no,
no, absolutely. I think we talked on a previous show, there's a sequence where all the characters are inside of one suit of armor and they have to battle. That is I mean that. That's Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton level calm. Yes.
This also having been the third or is it the fourth third? You know, spider? Third. Okay.
But still, I mean, it's got some great vocal performances. I mean, I really liked it. But yeah, I guess they sent an email out to Academy members that said, oh, by the way, they're pulling this movie from contention in the Best Animated Feature category. And it will be leaving the academy screener website today. So I hope people watched it, at least.
I hope so. I hope so too. Oh, well. Speaking of which, I guess there have been 26 Films shortlisted for feature that yes, Best Animated Feature, and I'm happy to report that crew to New Age is in there. Likewise, just last week, we were talking about how much you enjoyed Lupin the third, the first. That's made the shortlist also, that wonderful film that you wrote the making a
book on? onward. Yes.
And Glen Kane's over the moon is in here. Even Scoob. But again, these are the 26 that will get crunched down to five, I'm gonna say yeah,
four or five, depending on how, what how the nominations go. But, you know, I think it's really gonna boil down to wolf walkers versus soul, which is tough, because they're both wonderful, wonderful films.
They're there. But um, you did
you see the list of the animated shorts and the
Mac. Yes. I in fact, I just called that up. And I'm so happy to see that too. Jared is included that that one really, really deserves consideration. But also did you see where Pixar is out? Yes. Stephen Clayton hundreds. They're also borough.
Yes. Which is your favorite of those two, Jim.
That's hard to say because I love outs message and it has a nice stylization. But at the same time, you know, it was so interesting to see Pixar do handwrite
Yes, I agree.
That's a hard one, though. Again, I have to say if I'm pushing the favorite though, it does have to be to jet right. Just because the notion that you know Taylor, the the former production coordinator get omitted to figure out just the right number of elements to pull that thing up.
And hope for us all, Jim, let's hope for a
three way tie.
Did you see the VFX category and did you see Oh, what particular title is in the VFX category.
Hang on, hang on, hang on. Okay, scrolling through and scrolling. Okay, I'm looking at the
Oh, so soul is nominated for VFX Oscar, it or it's in a shortlist and it is the first time an animated feature has ever made the shortlist for visual effects. So that is huge.
Is that the Jerry's, do you think?
I mean, what FX animation includes everything from particles to atmospherics to backgrounds to water splashes to everything. So yeah, I don't really know what they're pinpointing Exactly. But it's still pretty neat. I mean, it's it sort of blurring lines, right. And sort of crossing boundaries in a really cool, unique way. So I don't know.
Why do I miss it the first time, right. That is Yeah, totally. Yeah.
Pretty cool. Along with, you know, some great, some great live action films like you know, this one, one and only Ivan Tennant, bloodshot. manque 11 monsters, so pretty great list. Yeah.
Yeah. Wow. Okay. pivoting back to television here. We got the news of the clone high revive?
Yes. But they're getting two seasons. We did not know that. That's very cool. And it's headed to HBO Max, which is also great.
Yeah, I'm kind of hoping with it away from MTV, you know, again, toward the end didn't get that kind of controversial because of the Was it the Gandhi thing?
Oh, yes. Yes, yes.
All right. Well, cool. Yeah. It's nice that that that has a safe harbor there. But
you also see that that close enough is getting a second season. Jim.
I did that.
Yes. It'll be out in in on February 25. This is what I mean by there's so much news, Jim. I didn't even mention this when we were talking before the show.
Wow. Okay. Well, it's speaking of this is somewhat sad news. Because this is we now can get or not disturbed up trouble again. But again, you were the guy who broke the news about you know, the DuckTales was in its third and final season. Law number one DuckTales
Twitter fan. Site duck talks jam. That's how personally they took this. I am. I am Dan Cox. But anyway, yes. Good. I'm
so sorry. All right. Well, we're now getting to that last night on Monday, February 22. And these episodes coming up are the ones with the tailspin crossover. And let's say other projects that have gotten announced just in the past week, we have our spinoff from Scooby Doo Velma. But with Mindy Caitlin. Yeah,
people seem to think that it might be like a, almost a Harley Quinn type angle, which I think would be very cool. I don't know.
Huh? Okay. And speaking of this is a show that could actually end up on sci fi in another world. But it's going to the CW The Powerpuff Girl live action show, which is being written I do have look, Cody, what do you make of this? drew?
I'm into it. I mean, I think it's gonna be an interesting new thing. I can't wait to see what she's got cooked up. Because I really liked the property and I love Diablo So yeah, I mean, it's gonna be live action. It's going to be there older, the you know, it's gonna be really interesting.
Do we know if Professor Newtonian is still around at this point?
I don't know. I think there's gonna be I hope that they actually do investigate the kind of relationships between the characters in some interesting ways. I think there's some some room to explore some interesting sort of territory there, Jim, but Okay, we'll see if it gets picked up. Right.
All right. All right. I just touch a big fan of the original I mean, it Tom Kenny's, you know, the mayor, and, you know, Mojo Jojo. But I've just, it was one of these things where it's like, you're gonna do with that and age them up and do it live action. It's like, Okay, well, what do I know, I was the one who looked at the sonic movie and went, Okay, that's not gonna work. And, you know, we just got an I found out this week, we're getting Sonic to write to it. Do we have we have a release date? April 8 2022. But again, this is coming from Paramount, and I'm a little concerned because Didn't we just get rumble pushed off to 2022. And let's be
honest, they're both going to be on amazon prime. You know, Paramount does not like releasing movies, but Sonic two made a lot of money and they see it as a viable franchise. So we'll have to do Jim at one point, the story of how there were two different Sonic the Hedgehog cartoons. on at the same time. Oh, and that's a great story.
Yeah. Okay. Yeah. Okay. All right. Well, we'll put that in the to do pile. Okay. And And speaking of things we're about to do, or we're about to do a deeper dive on the whole blue sky story. Are we right back?
We talked on the front half of the show about how it just it makes no sense to shut down blue sky with the Mona, or just 10 minutes away from completion. But this is a studio that's existed for 34 years down true.
Well, yeah. And what's what's interesting is that they they were formed out of another VFX company that Disney shut down after the failure of Tron. So Right, right, it is sort of a beautifully cyclical story, although one that is still rather depressing. But yeah,
yeah. And blue sky has had a huge impact on Disney people forget, that kind of came on the map with bunny in 87, which we were just talking about shirts were animated for our Oscars, and a bunny was definitely in the pile that year. But it was Ice Age, which arrived in theaters March 15 2002, that you could draw a straight line from Ice Age coming out and making as much money as it did, for roughly a third of what isn't he was spending on animated features that point to the closure of Feature Animation, Florida in 2003. How they regrouped. And they were going from having animation cities in France and Florida to just one and you know, everybody's in house. And we're going to CG I mean, remember that. In fact, it was it wasn't till 2006. One alacer came through the door that is at least flirted with bringing back. Well, again, remember, we used to call it traditional, but john insisted we change it to handdrawn. Right? They would definitely a player.
Well, I also feel like they they set the model of lower budget, and also outside of Hollywood, sort of framework that illumination has embraced to a much bigger degree because they're in France, obviously. And blue sky was just in Greenwich. But both studios made these movies for a fraction of the cost of a Walt Disney Animation Studios or Pixar budget. Or DreamWorks, for that matter. So, yeah.
Andrew Milstein, who who'd been with Disney since 97, he goes out to Connecticut after Disney completes the acquisition of Fox and middle of 2019 and inspires and disguises coming in for a landing at that point. And they do some retooling. Right. I mean, you know, I want to say they brought in Reba McEntire, to voice the head of the special spy organization, that sort of thing.
Yeah. Yeah, it seemed like they did some recasting. And then they didn't they bring in Mark Ronson, to do some music, new music.
They did, they did. So nimona was a next one in the pile. And you have an old Disney hand and Patrick Osborn, you have an intriguing project in the graphic novel with our already built an audience from normal students. And it just makes me crazy that all these talented people out in Connecticut are going to be cut loose in in April. And again, where are they going to go? Yeah, in a weird sort of way. Yeah, you can draw a parallel to what happened when Disney shut down Feature Animation Florida. And when they were talking with those folks in 2003, it's like, we will take a certain number of people with us out to California, and that kind of just boiled down to Marchand. So 300 people, but we'll take mark,
there were a few more people. I think Byron Howard was down there, too.
Okay, that is probably true. But two people Yeah. What's a very small life. Yeah, I guess we to be fair here, we need to read the statement that Disney gave to the Hollywood Reporter. Given the current economic realities, after much consideration and evaluation, we have made the difficult decision to close filmmaking operations at Blue Sky Studios. Please note the filmmaking operations. Yeah, cuz Blue Sky Studios is still going to exist in some form at Disney. If only for the licensing arm and we get that Yeah, spinoff
coming next year, right. Yeah, the adventures of crash and buck wild or whatever. Yeah, I mean, if you if you go, if you listen to our show from December, Jim, you will hear me say that animation that they showed during Disney investor day was not a blue sky animation. So my hunch is we're up. At least that far back about the fate of this studio. But yeah, it's really sad because I feel like they could be used in a number of different capacities at The Walt Disney Company.
No Absolutely. And the other thing that's maddening is that there's this library of characters that Disney is, in fact, going to use and imaginary has been working on some ice age related ideas for a while now, because this is the 18th highest grossing film franchise in a Hollywood history, you know, those, those five films have made $3.2 billion. So it's like Disney has this set of characters that people love that they they want to bring into the parks that they want to do more things with. But it's just not going to be done by the really for real blue sky team. It'll be done in house, or more likely contracted out to somebody.
Yeah, at one point, wasn't it the highest grossing animated franchise of all time?
It was it was. Yeah. So I don't know. And, you know, and again, that that's another story we have to do at some point, because I remember I mean, again, I have been keeping tabs on you know, blue sky forever. And, you know, I remember when they were looking for the voice of Manny and kind of at one point, Robert De Niro and Steve Martin with the two top candidates and Ray Romano kind of came in sideways on them. They couldn't cut a deal with De Niro or Martin and Romano was was available and affordable.
And he said, Hey, it's me, Ray Romano.
What is his animated feed? should do?
I plot that type of thing. Okay. But you know, it's well, it's kind of the Billy Crystal Toy Story situation all over again. I remember when they went to him for buzz and just to get Oh, no, at that point. It was still lunar to Larry, wasn't it? In fact, I remember talking with Billy Crystal at one point. It was loaded, Larry. Alright. Would you want a voice little Larry, if they told me it would Buzz Buzz Lightyear? That's a cool name. I would have played Buzz Lightyear, but looter, Larry, right. All right. Anyway, folks, we're getting a wee bit off track. But in putting together your show notes today, you wanted to point out that blue sky actually had a hand in some really big films outside of animation.
Yeah, I wanted to point out two things. One is that they at one point Fox after Fox had acquired them they were a half of an animation studio, half a visual effects company. And they actually contributed I believe, to the spaceships and Titan a which is an animated film, but not an animated movie they made. Yeah. Yeah. And then they did stuff like the penguin and David Fincher is Fight Club. They worked on Gore Verbinski, his mouse time, they worked on that amazing sequence from alien resurrection with the the aliens swimming underwater, which is maybe the best sequence in that whole movie. And so they Yeah, they contributed amazingly, to these different movies. And then the other thing that was sort of buried in the announcement, but was that Andrew Milstein was leaving the company. And I just wanted to talk about him for a minute, because that guy is a survivor, Jim, I mean, are you talking about how he came to the company in 97. He was just a production executive. And then he became General Manager of DreamWorks images, Dream quest images when Disney bought them, and then oversaw the secret lab, and then became executive vice president and general manager for Walt Disney Animation Studios, and disneytoon Studios, and then became president of Walt Disney Animation Studios. I mean, I cannot in the modern Disney era, I cannot think of somebody who has lasted through that many regime changes and in that many positions during such a tumultuous time in the company, because 97 was not the easiest place to be and, and the secret lab was a huge disaster. So yeah, I would love to, I would love to talk to him at some point and see what that was like for him. And
in fact, that was initially when Disney bought Fox and everyone was like a third animation studio, but it was like when Andrew went over to blue sky, it's like, for a lot of people that telegraphed Okay, Disney's taking this series that they sent, you know, I mean, president of Walt Disney Animation Studios going over to blue sky, okay, that's a great gesture that suggests they're serious, they're gonna say, and it's like, No, we are less than two years later and 34 years ago, we're doing great work. And, you know, it's all done in April. So, I honestly our heart goes out to the folks at Blue Sky. If anyone wants to reach out and share some stories about what's going on there. We'd love to talk with you. But in the meantime, if you're looking for some great stories to listen to, there is always a light there fuse and like the weekend What's going on over there now drew
I don't even know Charles Charles his wife went into labor this morning so I don't even know where we are on things he is but he is you know could be he could be another father again right this instant as we are
very easy labor and the a beautiful and a healthy child. So
yes, so yeah we are we are keeping going with the light the wick for an excellent while and as I told you, at some point we will circle back to the great Paul Hirsch and all of his amazing stories. So, yeah, we work in depth. Yes.
Okay. Well, if you're not listening to like the wick or like the fuse, you can head over here, or the Jim Hill media podcast check where we've got diseases with one testo we've got marvelous Disney just recorded a brand new universal drink with Dustin fuse, which in fact should be posted by the time you folks hear this. I am working on a brand new looking at Lucasfilm which will deal with the whole Kara situation. Tell you what, folks. So if you could do drew an eye a favor if you get hold of an apple podcast and rate and review, not only light the fuse like the wick, but also the show you're listening to right now fine tuning. That would be helpful. If you really, really, really liked what you heard here. If you could head over to band camp and subscribe. That helps as well. You can find us on Twitter and Instagram is cumulus media and on Facebook at Jim Hill media news. And sorry about the quick fade out here, folks, but drew has places to go. And could you tell folks where you're going to be tonight because this is kind of a cool video animation news.
Yeah, I'm going to a Disney plus drive in date night drive in for Valentine's Day and I'm going to go see 1991 Beauty and the Beast, which is going to be super duper fun. I cannot wait. And I will dutifully report back next week. And to see what you know, how it was what what surprises there were and yeah, there's gonna be a big like three course dinner that they're serving and all this fun stuff. So I'm looking forward to it. It'll be a lot of fun.
Okay, just to see just try the gray stuff. Okay. That's gonna do it. tonight. Thanks for listening, folks. We'll be back soon.