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COMIC-CON 2006: Sony Pictures Animation's Open Season and Surf's Up

By — July 21st, 2006

OPEN SEASON

Straight from the floor of Comic-Con International, we have the latest info from Sony Pictures Animation - their first film under the company, Open Season. The film stars Martin Lawrence as a lovable bear named Boog, and Ashton Kutcher as a high strung mule deer.

The pair find each other in the most unusual of circumstances, but must stick together once they get lost in the forest. Oh, and did I mention they're also being hunted by a mullet-bearing lunatic, voiced by Gary Sinise.

And speaking of the mullet, we were on the panel for Sony Pictures Animation and Doug Ikeler, the visual effects supervisor for the film said, "This is the first time someone's ever had to create a mullet in an animated movie." And most likely, he's probably right.

The panel consisted of Doug, along with the director, Jill Culton and the creator of the comic strip that the film is based on, Steve Moore. We were first shown the trailer for Open Season and the three walked up right after. The trailer was ok; of course, the animation was spectacular! But now a days, if it isn't you've got a serious problem. I really couldn't tell what the plot of the movie was from the trailer. But, it was funny and there were some decent one-liners thrown in there.

Jill started off by talking about living up near San Francisco in the woods and at first didn't really want to come down to Los Angeles to start working on the film. But she said, "After page 5, I knew I was going to move to LA; this was my story."

That comic strip it's based on is called In the Bleachers; Steve actually spoke a little on creating the characters and got up and drew Elliot on a pad. He started out with the nose, then the eyes, and then the body - he joked that he did all the animation himself for the movie; obviously, he didn't, but his drawing of Elliot looked pretty darn good.

We were then treated to another sequence from the film, that was just completed two weeks ago. The scene had the reunion of Elliot and Boog - they had met once before, and Boog thought he would never have to see Elliot again. He was wrong in a big way; Boog had never stepped outside, living in the garage of a house.

Elliot forces Boog to travel outside his normal elements; their first stop - the PuniMart, a 7-11 type joint. That's where the temptation of the outside world takes over for the two; they destroy the store, and must flee the neighborhood and try and survive in the woods. Once again, the animation kicks ass! There was great attention to detail on both characters and their other surroundings.

Doug Ikeler then stood up and gave about a 10-minute presentation on what went into the process of the animation. When Gary Sinise comes into play, there's a chase sequence through the rapid waters. Doug said, "We wanted to make it like a San Francisco car chasse on water." It definitely felt like that, equipped with an 'in-camera' log shot.

Overall, I was very impressed with Open Season; I think the humor will definitely come through as kids and adults will enjoy it. Open Season took three and a half years to make; it hits theaters September 29th, rated PG.

SURF'S UP

Also at the Sony Pictures Animation panel, they presented Chris Jenkins, producer of Surf's Up. The film is a pseudo documentary on the life of a surfing penguin, Cody Maverick, voiced by Shia LaBeouf.

Living in Antarctica, in a small town called Shiverpool, Cody has always been the one getting picked on until he finds out he's good at surfing and gets noticed by The Geek (Jeff Bridges). That's when he goes onto become a very popular penguin.

Chris talked about working on the film and said, This is not just another penguin movie." He also showed us some footage from the movie; really funny stuff, some good gags, great music from some extremely popular bands, one being Incubus!

I really think this is going to be a fantastic film! Surf's Up opens in theaters June 8th of next year. As always, be sure to stay tuned to Movieweb for all kinds of info on this film and all goings on at Comic-Con.

CLICK HERE to listen to Chris Jenkins talk about the film!

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