Dec. 05, 2010 | 9:13 a.m.

Oswald the Rabbit returns: Walt Disney’s lost bunny hops into 21st century

Epic Mickey paint wide
Entertainment icon Walt Disney was born 109 years ago Sunday, and one of his early creations is back on the scene in a surprising way. Susan King and Geoff Boucher take a look at the unlikely 21st century revival of Oswald the Rabbit. Epic Mickey, the much-anticipated new video game from Disney, has two venerable characters sharing the spotlight — Mickey Mouse and Oswald the Rabbit. That first little guy needs no introduction, of course, but who exactly is Oswald, and what is his history with Walt Disney, the American entertainment icon who was born 109 years ago Sunday? The answer to that question leads back to the early Hollywood days of Disney, not long after he headed west to Los Angeles from Kansas City, Mo., and brought along the family of a young star named Virginia Davis, who starred in his silent-film “Alice” comedy shorts, which were distributed […]
Dec. 01, 2010 | 3:00 a.m.

‘Pirates of the Caribbean 4′ event (and stars?) at Disneyland on Dec. 13

EXCLUSIVE “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” won’t hoist its sails at theaters until next summer but Disney has a lot riding on its flagship film franchise. The first trailer for the film will premiere on Dec. 13 with a promotional event in Anaheim that will bring lucky fans in for a 3-D screening of the trailer at Downtown Disney, special admission to the Disneyland theme park, an after-party and commemorative prizes. The event promoting the fourth film in “Pirates” franchise will be announced Wednesday morning — Southern California residents will be able to tune in to KIIS-FM (102.7) to hear the news, but fans anywhere can enter to win a vacation for four to the event by “liking” Yahoo! Movies on Facebook or entering the sweepstakes via Disney Movie Rewards. Will any of the stars be on hand? Disney sources […]
Nov. 24, 2010 | 10:10 a.m.

REVIEW: ‘Tangled’ has bumpy start but soars by the end

tangled sword
Los Angeles Times film critic Kenneth Turan says “Tangled” isn’t perfect, but delivers in the end. Here’s an excerpt from his review. For “Tangled,” the studio’s 50th feature-length cartoon, the team at Disney has taken a deep breath and tried to be all things to all animation-loving people. There are some hiccups along the way, but by the end there is success. Whether you like stirring adventure or sentimental romance, traditional fairy tales or stories of modern families, musicals or comedies, even blonds or brunets, “Tangled” has something for you. Sampling so many animation touchstones has its risks, but once “Tangled” calms down and accepts the essential sweetness of its better nature the rewards are clear. As directed by Nathan Greno and “Bolt” co-director Byron Howard, one of those rewards is a gorgeous computer-animated look that features rich landscapes and […]
Nov. 24, 2010 | 8:15 a.m.

Johnny Depp and Gore Verbinski will reunite for ‘Lone Ranger’

Johnny Depp at the British Premiere of ”Public Enemies" (Max Nash/Getty Images)
The Lone Ranger will ride again and “Pirates of the Caribbean” director Gore Verbinski will be calling the shots for the Disney. Disney and producer Jerry Bruckheimer have been talking about a Lone Ranger feature film for years and announced in 2008 that Johnny Depp would play the role of Tonto, the faithful friend to the masked man. The project has been slow to the screen, though, with Depp’s dense schedule and the emphasis by the studio, producer and star on their massively successful “Pirates” franchise, which has pulled in $5.35 billion in worldwide box office with three films and has a fourth scheduled for release next summer. Now, though, with Verbinski on board, the Lone Ranger revival might move into gallop mode. The 45-year-old Verbinski has been working as director and producer on “Rango,” the Nickelodeon and Paramount Pictures animated feature with Depp […]
Nov. 23, 2010 | 1:19 a.m.

‘Tangled’ may close the book on Disney princess films

The end of an era at Disney? It sounds like it in this report by  Dawn C. Chmielewski and Claudia Eller. This is an excerpt from their front-page story in the Los Angeles Times. Once upon a time, there was a studio in Burbank that spun classic fairy tales into silver-screen gold. But now the curtain is falling on “princess movies,” which have been a part of Disney Animation’s heritage since the 1937 debut of its first feature film, “Snow White.” The studio’s Wednesday release of “Tangled,” a contemporary retelling of the Rapunzel story, will be the last fairy tale produced by Disney’s animation group for the foreseeable future. “Films and genres do run a course,” said Pixar Animation Studios chief Ed Catmull, who along with director John Lasseter oversees Disney Animation. “They may come back later because someone has a […]
Nov. 21, 2010 | 9:37 a.m.

Epic Mickey: Disney looks for bright future in a dark realm

epic mickey 3
Alex Pham and Dawn C. Chmielewski take a walk on Disney’s dark side with this in-depth tour of Epic Mickey and its gaming aspirations. This is an excerpt from a story in today’s Los Angeles Times. The happiest place on Earth has a doppelganger. It’s called Wasteland. Its denizens are forgotten, dejected and resentful. But they’re not seething with rage. This is after all still a Walt Disney Co. property, even if its moniker is a topsy turvy twist on the Disneyland theme park where no one really dies and fairy princesses always prevail. This is Epic Mickey, a video game whose dark undertones and tale of redemption Disney hopes will intrigue teenagers and adults when it comes out Nov. 30. While Disney executives vehemently denied any attempt to remake the company’s mascot, the game is garnering buzz precisely because […]
Nov. 18, 2010 | 4:13 p.m.

Lego Pirates of the Caribbean game will set sail in May

Pirates of the Caribbean Stranger Tides
The Walt Disney Co. on Thursday said that, arrrr, it be releasin’ a game in May based on its “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise. Instead of Johnny Depp’s salty rendition of Jack Sparrow, however, players will get the somewhat sanitized Lego mini-fig version. Developed by TT Games, the title takes place in a Lego setting that’s aesthetically similar to the U.K. studio’s other big-selling titles: Lego Batman, Lego Star Wars and Lego Harry Potter. In the two-player game, players would be able to assume the roles of more than 70 characters from the movie and take them through 20 levels. We wonder whether Barbossa’s pet monkey will be one of them. Don’t fancy games? Disney promises a shiny new line of Pirates of the Caribbean Lego building sets in the spring. And, of course, the film franchise sails on with the release […]
Nov. 08, 2010 | 9:24 a.m.

‘Tron: Legacy’ pulls fans into its world

The 1982 film “Tron” was not a major commercial success, but it became a pivot point in Hollywood history as the first feature film to use computer-generated animation in a big way. The movie holds a special (and quirky) spot in pop culture history, and there are passionate fans of its legacy. One of them is Jay West, who has written a series of guest columns on Disney’s elaborate promotions for the sequel, “Tron: Legacy,” which is due out Dec. 17. “Tron Night” is coming, and Jay is on top of it. As part of the ramping marketing for “Tron: Legacy,” a preview “Tron Night” was held at select IMAX theatres and Digital 3-D theatres. I attended “Tron Night” at the Universal City IMAX and the vibe from the audience while queued up was one of bottled excitement. Some wore “Tron” T-shirts and […]
Oct. 28, 2010 | 12:01 a.m.

EXCLUSIVE: The sights (and sounds) of Disney’s Epic Mickey game

Epic Mickey (Walt Disney Co)
With video game budgets in the tens of millions of dollars, it’s no wonder that their musical compositions have become as polished as any Hollywood score. With Epic Mickey, a video game that’s set for release Nov. 30, the Walt Disney Co. spared no expense in hiring Jim Dooley, an Emmy Award-winning composer who has created music for “The DaVinci Code,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” and “Pushing Daisies.” Though Dooley is not featured in the video below, his music is. And singing Dooley’s praises are a number of the game’s developers, including Warren Spector, the creative director, who called Dooley’s work “the best music I’ve ever had in a game. There’s stuff in here that will bring you to tears. I promise.” Bring on the tissues! – Alex Pham RECENT AND RELATED 2010′s best? […]
Oct. 18, 2010 | 7:26 p.m.

Iron-Man at Disneyland? Marvel moves closer to theme park presence

Everybody (Marvel)
Ben Fritz at our must-read sister blog Company Town reports that the Mouse is moving into a new phase with Marvel… Disney wants to dominate the Marvel universe as soon as possible.  Resolving a long-standing question since Walt Disney Co. bought Marvel Entertainment last year for $4 billion, the Burbank studio has signed a deal to take over marketing and distribution of “The Avengers” and “Iron Man 3” from Paramount Pictures…. Later in the story he makes an interesting connection… For Disney, the deal enables the studio to exploit “The Avengers” and “Iron Man 3″ across all of its entertainment businesses, including movies, television, consumer products and theme parks. Capitalizing on the Marvel properties in such a way was the primary reason Disney cited for its acquisition of the comic company. “In completing this agreement, Disney will leverage these two highly anticipated films across the multiple global platforms of the […]
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