Today at 2006 Comic-Con International, Warner Bros. previewed some of their upcoming animated releases.
Up first was The Ant Bully. This is a film from Academy Award nominated filmmaker John A. Davis (Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius) and producers Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman (The Polar Express), The Ant Bully tells a witty and heartwarming story about a 10-year-old boy who embarks on a remarkable journey.
New in town, friendless and tormented by a neighborhood bully, young Lucas Nickle has been taking out his frustration on the innocent ant hill in his yard. But one day the ants retaliate. Using a magic potion, they shrink Lucas down to ant size and sentence him to live like an ant in their colony. In this strange new world Lucas will learn important lessons about friendship, get a whole new perspective on life and ultimately find the courage to stand up for himself.
Director John Davis discussed how this was a story that Tom Hanks used to read at night to his son Truman and that's basically how the whole project started. In designing the characters, he wanted to emulate the style of the books and that's when he showed a visual presentation detailing just how this movie came together. A big portion of this was devoted to explaining how the main character Lucas Nickle (voiced by Zach Tyler) became an ant.
After this we were treated to the creation of the film's bad guy Stan Beals (voiced by Paul Giamatti). It was explained to us that a "devilish Henry Kissinger" was the character's inspiration. As for the character of Hova (voiced by Julia Roberts), the main thing was making her look like an ant with "big, expressive eyes." The rest of the presentation looked at such technical things as rigging characters, testing characters and rigging crowds of ants so that the scenes with lots of ants look realistic.
Davis then went on to say that the last name of the main character was taken from The Ant Bully author John Nickle's last name. In closing, Davis stated that they had "free reign with the book and the rights," however it was really important for him to stay true to the tone and ideas of the book.
The Ant Bully hits theaters July 28, 2006 from Warner Bros.
Next up, was a presentation for the highly anticipated TMNT with director Kevin Munroe. Taking on a franchise like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is no small feat and Munroe said that they held off showing any real footage so they could specifically present it at this years Comic-Con.
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie will be the first all CG animated movie in the history of the franchise. The PG-rated movie will derive its tone from the original comic-book series and will be grittier than the previous live action pictures.
Munroe than presented a teaser trailer whcih showed some sweeping shots of a city, as all the Ninjas assemble themselves in an alley. Although brief, the animation in this movie looked quite well done. Munroe went on to say that he appreciated people's patience because very little had been known about the movie up until that point. He further explained that TMNT was "the next step in the theatrical version of the series."
Munroe went on to discuss his relationship with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle creator Peter Laird. He talked about how he got the job of directing the film and that his goal was to give the movie an original family feel. "Having Peter as my co-pilot... he helped reign things in." He expanded on this by stating he had the voice actors play things straight "so you could go as serious as you want."
As the director continued to talk about the film with his rapt audience he explained that "no celebrities" had contributed voices to the main characters in the film.
"There's no Vanilla Ice... Corey Feldman is not involved." He laughed when asked if certain aspects of the other films would be repeating themselves. "I wanted to create a realistic universe."
Perhaps the largest tidbit the director discussed was the fact that certain characters, namely Shredder is "not the bad guy" in this film but that he's "not gone from the series."
Munroe ending the event by showing a five minute clip of the film that he said was "60%" done. In a nutshell, this was an unfished, non-narrative clip that incorported some scenes from the movie, models and some core Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle themes to drive home what we had just seen. This clip was met with a thunderous applause.
"We're treating the film like an event movie." Munroe smiled.
TMNT comes to theaters nationwide on March 30, 2007.
CLICK HERE to watch the new teaser trailer!