<p>Will Robert Zemeckis reinvent the visual style of 'Yellow Submarine,' or will his version of The Beatles look like this?</p>

Will Robert Zemeckis reinvent the visual style of 'Yellow Submarine,' or will his version of The Beatles look like this?

Credit: Apple Films/MGM/UA

Another 'Yellow Submarine' surfaces with Zemeckis at the helm

Director adapts Beatles songs to new mo-cap production for Disney

It's been a big week for Beatles fans.

I'd say the biggest announcement was about the remastered catalog that's getting a release on 9.9.09.  I still remember when the Beatles albums all hit CD for the first time, and what a big deal that seemed to be.  As "Star Wars" films are to a home video format, so the Beatles are to audio formats.  They're never the first ones out the gate, but by the time they are finally released, you can figure that whatever the format is, it's reached a certain saturation point that is considered by the studios or the music industry to be "everyone."

In a way, the announcement about the remastered catalog is no surprise at all.  It was a given, a matter of "when," not "if."  In the same way, the track list for "The Beatles: Rock Band" is not terribly shocking.  I've never owned or even really played any of the "Guitar Hero" or "Rock Band" games.  I think I played one song on "Guitar Hero" one time, and that was it.  They're going to make me buy "The Beatles: Rock Band," though.  I'll have no choice.  It sounds way too cool, way too much fun.

But the strangest news about the band this week is the news that director Robert Zemeckis is deep into final negotiations with Disney and whatever army of lawyers and businessmen currently represent the Beatles catalog to bring his motion-capture technology to Pepperland with a new version of "Yellow Submarine," the psychedelic cartoon that paid tribute to the band's music in 1968.

Of course, the first question is "Why?"

[more after the jump]

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<p>When you gaze into the 'Toy Story' in 3D, so then does the 'Toy Story' gaze into you</p>

When you gaze into the 'Toy Story' in 3D, so then does the 'Toy Story' gaze into you

Credit: Walt Disney/Pixar

SDCC 2009: Disney Animation Round Four - Lee Unkrich

Pixar veteran takes the helm of 'Toy Story 3'

One of the highlights of the Disney animation panel was when Lee Unkrich introduced Ken, played by Michael Keaton, from "Toy Story 3."  Makes sense, right?  After all, Barbie was a big part of "Toy Story 2," and evidently plays a much larger part this time out.  The Ken that Keaton plays is very touchy about his identity as a Barbie accessory instead of his own man, and it's a great riff on a pop culture icon that's been mercilessly satirized for decades now.

Unkrich is an active user of Twitter, constantly talking about who is recording voices, how the production's going... basically, anything except story spoilers, and that's fine.  I'd much rather read someone's Twitter feed for a sense of the day-to-day life on a picture than just to try and piece together story on something I plan to see anyway.  That's why I started the last of the four roundtables (you can look back at the Miyazaki/Lasseter article, the Ron Musker/John Clements article, and the Kirk Wise article if you want) with the following greeting:

Drew McWeeny:  You, sir, are an exceptionally good user of Twitter.

Lee Unkrich:  I wouldn't call myself exceptionally good, but...

Drew McWeeny:  Your teases are very frustrating, but in the right way.

[more after the jump]

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<p>Lawrence Bender, Eli Roth, Diane Kruger, Quentin Tarantino, Melanie Laurent, and Christophe Waltz take a victory lap at the NY premiere of 'Inglourious Basterds'</p>

Lawrence Bender, Eli Roth, Diane Kruger, Quentin Tarantino, Melanie Laurent, and Christophe Waltz take a victory lap at the NY premiere of 'Inglourious Basterds'

Credit: AP Photo/Peter Kramer

The Motion/Captured Interview: the 'Inglourious Basterds' cast

Drew McWeeny sits down with Basterds and Nazis alike

In case I haven't made myself clear yet, I'm firmly on the side of "Inglourious Basterds," a film I think it one of the best things released so far this year, and the best thing Tarantino's done since "Jackie Brown." 

And I say that as a fan of "Kill Bill" and "Grindhouse."  This is a whole different level of film from Tarantino... smart and adult and outrageous, and a big part of what I like about the film is the cast.

When I went to the recent press day, I was sorry to miss an opportunity to sit down with Brad Pitt or with Tarantino himself, but it still turned out to be a great afternoon of conversation about the film, starting with Eli Roth, who I've known since he first showed up at Butt-Numb-A-Thon years ago.  Seeing Eli play such a major role in the film was odd, but I think he absolutely stepped up and gave life to "The Bear Jew," Donny Donowitz, and we talked about him making the jump from one side of the camera to the other:

[more after the jump]

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<p>Kirk Wise's Oscar-nominated 'Beauty And The Beast' is heading back to theaters in 2010 in newly rendered 3D</p>

Kirk Wise's Oscar-nominated 'Beauty And The Beast' is heading back to theaters in 2010 in newly rendered 3D

Credit: Walt Disney Animation Studios

SDCC 2009: Disney Animation Round Three - Kirk Wise

The animation legend talks about turning "Beauty And The Beast" 3D

First, let me say that after listening to this tape again, I sort of took over this particular roundtable, and I feel bad that no one else asked... well... anything, pretty much.  I think Kirk Wise was the guy who the people at the table were least familiar with or who they had the fewest questions for, so I just did my best to keep the conversation going.  I thought Wise came across in person as very mellow and very fond of his job and his movie.  He also seemed perpetually amused by us, which is preferable to perpetually annoyed, I suppose.

At the actual animation panel, Wise screened the entire opening sequence from "Beauty And The Beast" in full-rendered 3D, and the results are sort of amazing.  It's not just a matter of popping each layer of the animation out to a different plane, which would be the easy way of doing things.  Instead, they've tried to give the characters a rounded, dimensional appearance, and the results feel more organic than I would have expected for a movie that was retrofitted.

So by this point, we've had Hayao Miyazaki and John Lasseter talk to us, followed by Ron Musker and John Clements.  And as they get up to walk away, Kirk Wise steps up, checking out the array of recording equipment that's been pushed to his side of the table.

Kirk Wise:  Hello?  Everybody good?  Everybody have their recording devices in place?  Excellent.

[more after the jump]

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<p>Sam Worthington and his Na'vi Avatar in one of the first official images from James Cameron's 'Avatar'</p>

Sam Worthington and his Na'vi Avatar in one of the first official images from James Cameron's 'Avatar'

Credit: 20th Century Fox

TMR: 'Avatar' day approaches and more 'Boosh' on BoingBoing

Plus 'Zombie Girl' on Hulu and why you should never trust The London Mirror

Welcome to The Morning Read.

Hi, there, Cartoon Network.  Congratulations.  You're the new MTV.  Remember when they stopped playing music videos to become the "reality shows about teenagers you hate" channel?  Well, that's you now.  Way to maintain the brand, guys.

Okay, "Lord Of The Flies" just got infinitely creepier.

I thought Kim Voynar's piece on movies and her father was wonderful, and does a nice job of describing the way we attach memories to movies until they become interchangeable.

I find Molly Ringwald's tribute to John Hughes to be both surprisingly frank and unsurprisingly moving.  What a clear-eyed way of summing up the way our relationships with our mentors evolve as our lives progress, completely with disappointment and reconciliation.

Craig Mazin's new story at Popcorn Fiction is another winner from this young but already essential site.  Great stuff.

[more after the jump]

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<p>Chloe Moretz is thismuch closer to superstardom with the news that 'Kick-Ass' has found a distributor</p>

Chloe Moretz is thismuch closer to superstardom with the news that 'Kick-Ass' has found a distributor

Credit: Marv Films/Lionsgate

Lionsgate pays $50 million for Matthew Vaughn's 'Kick-Ass'

Commits to a 3500 screen release for the indie superhero film

I've seen a number of reactions to the news that Lionsgate has signed on distribute Matthew Vaughn's "Kick-Ass," and I'm curious to see how this plays out.

I'll confess that part of me was a little disappointed at first that it's at Lionsgate instead of Universal or Warner Bros., who were both also heavily in the running, but then I started thinking about it.

Lionsgate has something to prove with the film.  I mean, they spent $50 million to pick it up.  That would be a ton of money for a major studio, but for Lionsgate?   That's pushing all the chips to the center of the table and betting on red.  That's not what you do if you're going to half-ass a release. I'm not sure how much of that $50 million was cash up-front and how much was a guarantee of P&A money, but overall, that's a heck of a price tag, and I think it indicates how serious the studio is.

[more after the jump]

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<p>Ron Clements and John Musker help usher in what they hope will be a return to hand-animation at Walt Disney with 'The Princess and the Frog' this holiday season</p>

Ron Clements and John Musker help usher in what they hope will be a return to hand-animation at Walt Disney with 'The Princess and the Frog' this holiday season

Credit: Walt Disney Animation Studios

SDCC 2009: Disney Animation Round Two - Ron Clements and John Musker

An indepth look at 'The Princess and the Frog'

Time to get these done, yes?

I'll have three of these today and tomorrow, and I apologize for them lingering as long as they have.  The second of the Disney animation roundtables I attended, following the chat with John Lasseter and Hayao Miyazaki, was with the directors of "The Princess and the Frog."  That is to say, Disney legends Ron Clements and John Musker.  Their first three movies are all Disney pictures that hold up, and they helped rebuild the company with "The Great Mouse Detective," "The Little Mermaid," and "Aladdin." 

So this is all in the same room, happening one right after another, like we're speed dating.  It's a dosey-do of some of the biggest names in modern animation, and we can still see Lasseter and Miyazaki walking away as Clements and Musker sat down, everyone at the table greeting them warmly as they reset their various recording devices:

Drew McWeeny:  So, this is the return to hand animation, and you guys... obviously there was first big wave in the 90's and in the late 80's,  and there were a number of directors who made what are considered now the classics.  And of those guys, you guys got to be the ones to come back and kick start this next... hopefully the next wave of hand animation.  Is that exciting for you?  And how did you guys end up being the ones to spearhead this?

Musker:  Well, I mean... I think as John Lasseter says... I mean, Lasseter's approach at Disney is exactly the same as his approach to Pixar, and it's like a filmmaker led studio in the way that directors are very empowered, I think.  That's kind of the way they are.  We had left Disney for about 6 months.  I think John coming onboard brought us back when...

Clements: We kind of had run afoul of the previous folks, and they turned their backs, sort of, on us.  I mean, basically they didn't have much confidence in us making a film.  And John brought us back.  John knows our work and everything, and when we came back, it was John who sort of said, "Do we want to do 3-D or 2-D?"  And we pitched to John, "We'd like to do a hand-drawn fairy tale."  He's a huge fan.

[more after the jump]

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<p>David Koechner, Kathryn Hahn, Jeremy Piven, and Ving Rhames are all part of the ensemble cast in Neal Brennan's 'The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard'</p>

David Koechner, Kathryn Hahn, Jeremy Piven, and Ving Rhames are all part of the ensemble cast in Neal Brennan's 'The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard'

Credit: AP Photo/Paramount, Sam Emerson

The Motion/Captured Review: 'The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard' is raunchy and often hilarious

Plus more interviews with Alan Thicke, Rob Riggle, Ed Helms, and David Koechner

Have you ever seen the John Landis documentary "Slasher?"

Fascinating stuff.  It's about a guy named Michael Bennett who is brought in by car dealerships when they're struggling.  He's the expert, the guy who will figure out a way to get that stock off the lot.  He's the proverbial salesman's salesman, able to convince Eskimos they're not paying enough for snow.  The real miracle of Landis's film is that he manages to get past that confidence to reveal something of the real Michael Bennett, the family man who lives out of a suitcase, the guy whose artificial hyperconfidence takes a heavy toll on him personally.  It's a really great late-era movie for Landis, and I would imagine Andy Stock & Rick Stempson, the screenwriters of "The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard" must have seen the movie at some point during the creative process.

That's not to say that Neal Brennan and his cast have just ripped off the Landis film; far from it.  But they're definitely playing in the same sandbox, and it's fairly ripe comic ground.  This was one of the films that got orphaned a bit when Paramount Vantage folded into big Paramount, but to their credit, Paramount did indeed get behind the film and push it, especially once they started showing it to people and seeing how well it plays with crowds.  You can feel the comic signatures of producers Will Ferrell and Adam McKay on this one... there's something about the comedy of men behaving like in-need-of-medication-lunatics that seems to particularly entertain these guys... and to its credit, most of "The Goods" avoids the trap of sentimentalizing the characters.  There are a few perfunctory moves towards the end of the film, meant to humanize Don Ready (Jeremy Piven) and make us like him more, but overall, the film is mainly interested in making us laugh.

And for the most part, it does.

[more after the jump]

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<p>Sharlto Copley leads a disastrous government raid on the shantytown where the aliens live in Neil Blomkamp's 'District 9'</p>

Sharlto Copley leads a disastrous government raid on the shantytown where the aliens live in Neil Blomkamp's 'District 9'

Credit: AP Photo/Sony Pictures

The Motion/Captured Review: 'District 9' delivers as sci-fi and drama

Did Neil Blomkamp just make a classic?

Van Der Merwe goes on vacation to England, and when he comes back, he says to his friend, "Those English aren't so bad.  They're friendly, even to strangers.  They'll take you home, offer you a bed, and even give you a bit of breakfast in the morning.  For free.  No charge."

"That happened to you, Van Der Merwe?" asked Von Tonder.

"No, but it happened to my sister," Van Der Merwe said.  "Every night!"

That's an example of a "Van Der Merwe" joke.  Told by South Africans from childhood on, the jokes are all about the same central character, a buffoon.  Always the butt of everything.  I'm sure it's not an accident, then, that director Neil Blomkamp (who co-wrote the film with Terri Tatchel) kicks his movie off with first-time film actor Sharlto Copley playing Wikus Van De Merwe, the main character in the movie, as a flaming tit.  He's not the most likeable lead of all time.  He gets a job promotion because his father-in-law is the head of his agency.  He makes some callous, morally repugnant decisions in the first 20 minutes of so, and he manages to seriously annoy everyone around him.  Once again, Van De Merwe is the bumbling ass.

But he doesn't deserve what happens to him.

[more after the jump]

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<p>One of the iconic images from Hayao Miyazaki's magical new film, 'Ponyo'</p>

One of the iconic images from Hayao Miyazaki's magical new film, 'Ponyo'

Credit: Walt Disney/Studio Ghibli

The Motion/Captured Interview: Hayao Miyazaki

The legendary animator discusses his new film 'Ponyo'

I published my first interview with animation legend Hayao Miyazaki on September 21st, 1999.  Since then, he's done pretty much no American press for any film he's released here, and it's always seemed to me like he was perfectly content to not worry about the American reaction to his films.  He just never seemed to care.  He makes movies for a Japanese audience, primarily, and if other countries enjoy them, that's just a nice bonus, not his main goal.

When Disney asked me if I was interested in putting together a special screening of "Ponyo" at Comic-Con this year, I didn't hesitate.  I know how much it means to people to get a chance to see Miyazaki in person, and how uncommon that experience is.  Introducing him to a Comic-Con crowd sounded like a truly worthwhile way to spend some of my time in San Diego this year.

So many people showed up for that screening that the theater ended up playing the movie three times in a row.  I wish Miyazaki and I could have stayed for all three screenings to introduce them, but he was on his way out of town, and I had my family with me.

Speaking of which... one of the strangest moments of the entire San Diego experience this year was when Miyazaki first arrived at the Gaslight, the theater where we held the event.  He came in with a group of people, including his translator, and walked up to where I was standing with the lovely Mrs. McWeeny and the infamous Toshi.  For weeks, Toshi practiced saying "Miyazaki," and as this titan of cinema walked up, Toshi waved at him and said, "Hi, Meee-ya-zaki!"  Miyazaki considered this tiny greeting committee for a moment, then one of his people handed him a long flat white box.  He offered it to me, and as he spoke, his translator said, "Miyazaki-san is very pleased to be here this evening, and thanks you for hosting this event for him."  When I walked my family into the theater to sit down, we opened the box, which turned out to be a beautiful "Ponyo" watch from Ghibli, which Toshi and his mommy promptly explained was not mine.  Toshi's been wearing it every day since, and every morning when we put it on, he asks me to tell him what time it is on his watch, and what time it is where Miyazaki lives.

[more after the jump]

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