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This Week in Animation: June 2 to 9

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This Week in Animation is a weekly series for the Toon Boom blog, rounding up the most buzzed about animation stories from the past seven days. 

1. China pressures Annecy into pulling “Have a Nice Day”.
It seems Chinese censorship extends beyond its borders. The country’s government was uncomfortable with Liu Jian’s black comedy and social commentary “Have A Nice Day” being selected for the Annecy International Animated Film Festival’s official competition, and requested it be nixed from the event months ago. The festival ignored the demands until one of the film’s producers personally asked for its removal. Given China’s history of turning artists into political prisoners (see: Ai Weiwei), the festival felt it did “not have the right to endanger the film team”.

For more on the “Have a Nice Day” controversy, see “Cartoon Brew”.

2. Studio Ghibli is launching a theme park in Japan.
Hayao Miyazaki’s legendary film “My Neighbor Totoro” will soon be personified as a theme park. Set to open in 2020, the anime-turned-attraction will be located at the Aichi Expo Park near Nagoya, Japan. While it aims to recreate the setting of “My Neighbour Totoro”, it will do so in a way that will not disturb the surrounding wildlife or fell any trees. The timing is likely tied to the 20th anniversary of the film, which is next year.

Check out “Forbes” for more on the Studio Ghibli theme park.

captain-underpants-dreamworks-animation.jpgSource: DreamWorks Animation.

3. Is “Captain Underpants” the future of the animation industry?
High quality, low cost — “Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie” could hero a new model for producing animated feature films. DreamWorks Animation’s cinematic version of the comedic children’s book series was outsourced to Canada and created on a budget of just $38 million. This is dramatically lower than other hits from the studio, including “Kung Fu Panda 3” and How to Train Your Dragon 2”, which cost $145 million each. The difference? The “Captain Underpants” team committed to the story early on and didn’t tinker with it too much during production, says director David Soren.

Find out more about the finances on “The Hollywood Reporter”.

4. Sneak peek: “Marvel’s Spider-Man” on Disney XD.
Spider-Man will be swinging onto both the big and small screens this summer. Regarding the former, “Spider-Man: Homecoming” will web its way into cinemas on July 7. Disney XD will also be releasing a new cartoon, “Marvel’s Spider-Man”. The series was produced in Toon Boom Storyboard Pro 2D animation software and follows Peter Parker, “an unsure (but courageous) teen who has to figure out how to be a Super Hero (sic) from the very beginning”, according to the studio.

Watch the first look at “Marvel’s Spider-Man” above and read more on “Entertainment Weekly”.

5. Find an animation job at Mifa 2017!
The Annecy International Animation Film Festival and Mifa 2017 kick off next week! The latter is the world’s premiere animation festival, bringing together the industry’s top talent. Leading production companies will also be recruiting the best and brightest young creatives. As the bridge between schools and studios, we at Toon Boom put together our top tips for finding animation employment opportunities including a pro list from our VP of Sales and Marketing, Francois Lalonde.

Read all our Mifa 2017 tips on the Toon Boom blog.

Willoughbys-bron-animation.jpgSource: Bron Animation.

6. Bron Animation’s “The Willoughbys” gets an all-star cast.
The feature film based on Lois Lowry’s children’s book of the same name, “The Willoughbys”, has a superstar voice cast including Martin Short, Maya Rudolph, Jane Krakowski, Terry Crews and Sean Cullen, with Ricky Gervais previously announced as the narrator. It follows the four Willoughby children, who must fend for themselves after being abandoned by their selfish parents. “The Willoughbys” is produced by Bron Animation of Burnaby, Canada, and is being written and directed by Kris Pearn with Cory Evans co-directing.

Get all the “The Willoughbys” details on “Variety”.

cowboy-bebop-live-action-remake.jpgSource: Sunrise.

7. “Cowboy Bebop” is getting the live-action treatment.
Classic 90s anime “Cowboy Bebop” is being turned into a live-action American television series by Tomorrow Studios. Sunrise, the Japanese studio that created the original, will also be involved as producers. Christopher Yost, the screenwriter behind “Thor: The Dark World” and the upcoming “Thor: Ragnarok”, will also work on the reboot. “Cowboy Bebop” follows an interplanetary bounty hunter in 2071 and is widely regarded as one of the best anime of all time.

Jump to “Metro” for the full “Cowboy Bebop” reboot story.

8. “Wallace and Gromit” voice actor Peter Sallis passes away.
British actor Peter Sallis, who is best known for voicing Wallace in Aardman Animations’ classic “Wallace and Gromit” series, passed away at his home on June 2. He was 96. Born in London, his six-decade career included more than 150 credits, including the role of Norman Clegg on the comedy “The Last of the Summer Wine” from 1973 to 2010. He first played cheese-addicted Wallace in Nick Park’s 1989 short “A Grand Day Out”, which won a BAFTA and was nominated for an Oscar. The 2005 film “Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit” earned Sallis an Annie Award for voice acting and took home the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.

Discover more about Peter Sallis’ incredible career on “Animation Magazine”.

9. Animation in Ireland is worth €100 million — and it’s not slowing down!
Ireland, a relatively small country of just over 6.3 million people, punches well above its weight in animation. The industry there is worth €100 million, with a new generation of Irish studios elevating the island nation’s influence from regional to global recognition. Among them are Cartoon Saloon, Brown Bag and Jam Media.

See the “Irish Examiner” for the full look at animation in Ireland.

10. Could AI automate 2D animation?
Video game animation is the latest industry to be impacted by Artificial Intelligence (AI). Developer and Pixar veteran Jiayi Chong used his experience working on films like “Toy Story 3” and “Wall-E” to inspire tool Midas Creature. The AI animation technology allows artists and designers to feed instructions into an automated engine, which then interprets the character and how it would move.

Inform yourself on AI in animation on “VentureBeat”.

What animation industry news were you most excited about this week? Was there something we forgot to mention? Let us know in the comments below!

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