When DreamWorks Animation released the first How to Train Your Dragon back in 2010, it was being thrown out into a world where Pixar absolutely ruled the animation game—at least as far as critical reception was concerned. At that point Pixar had dominated the awards circuit three years in a row with Ratatouille, WALL-E, and Up, and pundits were starting to doubt if any of the other studios would be able to touch the work they were doing ever again, as far as wit, emotional maturity, and pure visual spectacle were concerned. After everyone got to take in the heartwarming coming of age tale and thrilling flying sequences of How to Train Your Dragon, the talk suddenly turned to how DreamWorks had finally created something that could match Pixar’s best though, and ever since then we’ve been living in a more diverse world when it comes to our animated features—a world where a truly great movie could come out of any studio at any time. With How to Train Your Dragon 2, it very much looks like DreamWorks is trying to once again change the game, because the footage in the trailer for their new film is impressively epic, so much so that it could be the first glimpse we get of a new dynasty being formed where they take over as the undisputed kings of animated family fare.



We are guaranteed to see them before every film, most of them we can recall beat by beat with perfect memory. They were made by artists whose names we don’t know, and feature mystery figures and unknown places we’ll never see in real life. But they were real at some point, and in some cases still are. Here are the people and places behind the studio logos you see every day.


Shadow and Bone Map

Here’s a piece of writing advice: write a really great Young Adult fantasy novel right now. Don’t wait another second. Who knows if we’re in the middle of a long-term trend or the waning days. So get to it. Also, it might help if you can get it to Harry Potter producer David Heyman. He’s the man behind the big screen adaptation of what DreamWorks is hoping will be the next big thing in YA filmmaking — “Shadow and Bone” from author Leigh Bardugo. The story focuses on a kind of magical version of Russia where the people are under siege by dark forces who prefer human meat for dinner. Fortunately for the public at large, a young woman discovers she has the power to manipulate light and save her people from ruin. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the project (for which rights were secured back in September) has taken the next step by hiring screenwriter Christopher Kyle (K-19: The Widowmaker, Alexander). Kyle is a heady choice. He’s a writer that can deliver big, steamy historical drama without falling into soap opera territory. That streak will undoubtedly continue when we see the release of his latest work, the Susanne Bier-directed Serena, which reunites Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper in Depression-era South Carolina, but his hiring on Shadow and Bone is a great move to imbue an all-ages fantasy with a bit of prestige.


Robopocalypse No More

The idea of the world’s biggest director tackling a film that would feature man vs robot action on a large scale was an exciting one to be sure, but some things just aren’t meant to be apparently. Get ready to taste some conspicuously salty robot tears. Steven Spielberg knows his way around a science fiction film, and no one would argue that he lacks action chops too, but according to the man himself (in a recent 60 Minutes interview) action films no longer appeal to him. That lack of interest may be at least part of the reason why Spielberg has announced that he’s stepping away from what was expected to be his next directorial effort… an adaptation of Daniel H. Wilson‘s bestselling novel, “Robopocalypse.”



It’s always excellent when movie studios want to engage in experimentation, especially when it’s to test the elastic limits of how cutely annoying a character can be. If something’s funny for a few minutes of comic relief, can it work for an entire movie? Dreamworks and Illumination are betting that their minions can. According to Deadline Abernathy, the tiny yellow creatures from Despicable Me and the upcoming sequel might possibly get their own feature flick. They’re just like the Madagascar penguins except they speak entirely in bleeps and bloops and slapstick. Hopefully there will be subtitles. It feels like it could be a lot of fun, but there’s a twinge of the terrifying possibility that it’s a horrific idea – like giving the Crazy Frog Ringtone its own reality show. Or the aliens from Toy Story getting a book deal. Or something. The point is that it’s going to be two hours of high-pitched screeching.



The flames are hot here in development hell, and there’s way too much cocaine. Way, way too much. So why wouldn’t we come back? When we first examined 8 Promised Movies That Still Haven’t Been Made, it was an exploration of the complex world of filmmaking where the smallest issue can derail an entire project potentially worth millions. Nervous executives, scheduling conflicts, hangnails. Getting a movie made is a miracle, and even those that get hailed in the press as moving forward are sometimes abandoned. Considering our national grand obsession with hypotheticals, here are 8 more movies we were told would happen that haven’t (including some that won’t).


Disney Memo

On January 11, 1991, the then-head of Disney studios, Jeffrey Katzenberg, circulated an incredibly important memo about the state of the movie industry and the products they were making. It was called, “The World is Changing: Some Thoughts on Our Business,” and it had a simple purpose: to locate the root of a growing problem and to take steps to avoid falling victim to it. Katzenberg began the memo by stating: “As we begin the new year, I strongly believe we are entering a period of great danger and even greater uncertainty. Events are unfolding within and without the movie industry that are extremely threatening to our studio.” As we begin a new year two decades after this memo was written, it’s critical to look back at the points Katzenberg made to see that his period of great danger is now our period of great danger, to note that the same events unfolding within and without the industry still threaten the entire studio system in 2012, and to predict our future based on the past.



It looks like some hardcore cinephiles will have less worry when it comes to choosing a film outing this Christmas, with DreamWorks announcing today that they’re set to hold “special word-of-mouth screenings” for the upcoming Steven Spielberg epic, War Horse, over Thanksgiving weekend. The film is scheduled for a nationwide opening on December 25, but these special sneaks have been crafted to build buzz for the film with almost a month of lead time. Just last week came news that 20th Century Fox was launching a massive sneak peek for their own Christmas release, We Bought a Zoo, over the Thanksgiving holiday, rolling the Cameron Crowe film out to 800 theaters around the country on Saturday the 26th. But this Spielberg sneak will be a decidedly more quiet affair, with screenings taking place on Sunday the 27th in just ten cities.There’s no news yet on how the public will find out about these screenings, but it’s probably best to hang around the film’s Facebook page or its Twitter feed for a hint or two.


Alma, by Rodrigo Blaas

Many people think that DreamWorks Animation is in a constant battle against Pixar. That’s because they are. However, the near-total domination from Disney’s arm means that DreamWorks gets a bit of leeway as the underdog, and they’ve capitalized on that standing with some offbeat and clever choices for production. It’s that mentality that must have given them license to bring Alma to life. The beautiful, unnerving short film from Pixar animator Rodrigo Blaas (which we featured on the site back in September) is going to grow into a feature length film under the tutelage of Guillermo del Toro and the team over at DreamWorks. With any luck, they’ll maintain the crawling sensibility featured prominently in the story of a young girl in a toy store. To that point, there’s an odds on chance that the feature will feel a lot like the short simply because DreamWorks has the brass buttons to do it. So is this reason to celebrate? Absolutely. Why? Watch the short for yourself and you tell me:


Puss in Boots

Finally, a supporting character from the Shrek franchise who earned their chops the hard way, enduring arduous animated battles and even more arduous stunt voice casting, has gotten a film of their very own, a fuzzy family affair that will make the whole brood giggle. No, sadly, it’s not those adorable flying Donkey-Dragon babies (trivia! Wikipedia tells me they are named Debbie, Coco, Bananas, Peanut, Parfait, and Éclair), but it’s Dreamworks’s own answer to “what would Zorro be like if he was, stop me if you’ve heard this one before, actually a cat?” That’s Puss in Boots to you, amigo. Antonio Banderas returns to the role he originated, a Zorro-meets-French-fairy-tale feline famous for stealing both bullion and babes. But what if Puss was, gasp, not a criminal at all, but a misunderstood kitty desperate to return to the mother he loves, a innocent cat framed for a crime he didn’t commit, a bipedal boot-wearing bad boy who is quietly concealing a heart of gold? What if then? Well, you’re about to find out.



Recent times have been tough for once-unstoppable giant Netflix. The end of a deal with Starz that afforded them streaming rights to a bevy of films ended, leaving customers complaining about the dwindling selection of the Watch Instantly feature. A separation of the streaming service and the DVD by mail service created a huge price hike that saw customers canceling their accounts in record numbers. A creation of a new company called Quikster lead to the entire Internet pointing and laughing. It’s like those guys can’t catch a break! You know what they say though, “it’s always darkest before the dawn.” I’m not sure exactly what that means, but I think it’s fancy-speak for “just chill.” Netflix may not be doomed after all. As a matter of fact, the New York Times has recently broke the news that the company has just struck a new, very important deal with DreamWorks that will give them exclusive rights to a whole host of their films. That potentially means access to kids’ stuff like Antz, Shrek, and Kung Fu Panda, dramas like Almost Famous, A Beautiful Mind, and American Beauty, and comedies like Road Trip and Old School. This is quite a coup for a company that people have spent the last week predicting the death of. Normally exclusive rights to studio collections like this go to HBO, who has a whole warehouse of money to throw at studios, Scrooge McDuck style. Striking this new deal with Netflix over HBO has a couple […]



A couple months back it was reported that in between will-he-won’t-he work sessions on his often talked about, never produced Tupac Shakur biopic, Training Day director Antoine Fuqua would be making a boxing drama called Southpaw starring rapper turned occasional actor Eminem. The film was said to be about a lower class welterweight boxer struggling through drama in his daily life and boxing career on the way to greatness. It had a script by Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter that was loosely based on Eminem’s own rise in the rap world, it was financially back by DreamWorks, and it was all set to start shooting in January. Sound like smooth sailing right? Not so fast. Suddenly DreamWorks has pulled out of the project and left it back in the hands of its creators to shop around to other studios for funding. Deadline River Rouge reports the studio’s decision, but doesn’t have anything to offer other than speculation as to why they may have backed out. It’s strange for a studio to drop a project like this that already has script, star, and director packaged up and ready to go. Theoretically, Fuqua and company should be able to find somebody else to set them up pretty quick, seeing as most of the heavily lifting has already been done and all they need is some funding. And I hope that’s true, because I just don’t want to live in a world where the entertainment industry’s preeminent white rapper can’t get a […]


Rejec Radio Logo

This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, we talk with The Hangover Part II screenwriter Craig Mazin and continue the screenwriting/sequel theme with Kung Fu Panda 2 writers Jon Aibel and Glenn Berger. Plus, Katey Rich from Cinema Blend battles Jordan Raup of The Film Stage in the Movie News Pop Quiz Arena of Death. The result? You’ll have to listen to find out, but we end up talking about the bad week that 3D has been having. Reject Radio brings it on home this week, so kick off you shoes and stay awhile. Listen Here: Download This Episode



Why anticipate a remake of an 80s horror flick? For one, it’s that rare breed of remake where the original has a lot of great material to work with but can still clearly be improved upon. Or at least updated. Still, it was unclear what tone the new Fright Night was going to nail down. Would it have that tinge of comedy that made the original so perfect? Would it get disgusting? Would it be overly influenced by the new string of teen horror that’s hollow and dull? This trailer seems to provide an answer alongside the motorcycle it throws into your car window.


Universal Pilgrim Variant Logo

Studio logos are an iconography all their own, but nothing puts a grin on my face like a spiffy send-up of a traditional company emblem tailored made to gel with the film I’m about to watch. Don’t get me wrong — nothing’s going to top classics like Alfred Newman’s Fox fanfare, Jerry Goldsmith’s Universal tune or the countless other openings ingrained in our cinematic memories. But when someone takes the recognizable logo and makes it their own…well, that’s when I get giddy. For decades, movie studios have been allowing filmmakers to tinker slightly with the prestigious logos that preface every film they release. Nothing too crazy — maybe a color shift or a throwback to a retired bumper — but nothing that would tarnish their reputations. These days, most movies are free to run wild. Many stick to the time-honored traditions of their studios, but the ones that don’t feel that much more special. Regardless of a film’s quality, a great logo is like the cherry on top for most movie buffs. Here are fourteen modern variants that bring a little extra magic to the pictures they kick off:



If you steal enough scenes, you’ll end up becoming the star. That’s the theory at least, and it seems to have worked beautifully for the tuxedo-esque Madagascar comic relief known as Skipper, Kowalski, Private and Rico – voiced by Tom McGrath, Chris Miller, Christopher Knights, and John DiMaggio respectively. The screenwriters behind Megamind, Alan Schoolcraft and Brent Simons are currently working on a feature film to follow-up the success of the characters that’s already spilled over into their own special short and television show. This is actually pretty cool. You’ve got proven characters that are consistently funny, Megamind was on the higher end of children’s flick quality, and with Mr. Popper’s Penquins, it seems like there’s a new trend emerging. Pretty soon Young Adult novels will focus on teenage girls falling irrevocably in love with cold-hearted, way-too-casual penguins. Here’s another opportunity for DreamWorks to prove themselves in a Pixar-dominated world. [THR]


Oscar Week Best Animated Film

There’s no secret that the certified sub-sections of “best picture” are not only somewhat backhanded, they’re getting increasingly more robbed of any shred of surprise at who the potential winner is as the Academy expands the number of films qualifying for the biggest prize. Increasing the number of nominees to ten whilst retaining the sub-categories of, generally, the same award (best animated *film*, best foreign *film*, best documentary *film*…) seems nearly needless; especially in this particular category because Pixar has removed any degree of competitiveness the past two years.

It isn’t because Pixar has a stronghold on the award of Best Animated Film itself (despite their current 4 for 6 record and running on 3 consecutive), but mainly because now that the Best Picture category has been extended to 10 films they’re more likely to have already announced the winner of a sub-category film by having announced the nomination of one (and only one) of the sub-category films in the larger category.

It is still nice to see as many films as possible get deserved recognition even though there’s about as close to a guarantee that they will lose as can possibly be without actually being able to guarantee a guarantee. Though, assuming the illogical can actually occur it would be interesting to see the black hole in the Oscarverse that would develop if Toy Story 3 is not announced as the victor.

As such, the Winner and two “Waydagoers” are…



I know what you’re thinking: they’re making a sequel to Legend of the Guardians? There. I proved I’m psychic. James Randi owes me a million dollars. The answer, though, is no. They aren’t. Rise of the Guardians is simply a confusingly-titled also-animated also-children’s movie that Dreamworks is prepping for 2012. Apparently the book’s title “The Guardians of Childhood,” was too good for the movie version. Fortunately, the story is a contemporary slant on Santa Claus, The Easter Bunny, The Tooth Fairy and Jack Frost as a heroic foursome. According to Variety, Alec Baldwin will be voicing Claus, Hugh Jackman will be voicing The Bunny, Isla Fisher will be voicing the Fairy, and Chris Pine will be voicing Jack Frost as played by Captain Kirk. The heroes will be battling the demon Pitch (voiced by Jude Law) in what is most likely a plot to destroy the magic of childhood. I came up with that using ESP as well. The strong cast  is complimented by screenwriter David Lindsay-Abaire (Rabbit Hole) delivering the script for an expected release at the end of November 2012. It sounds like a huge adventure and a continuation of Dreamworks’ continued growth in the quality department (even if they pushed the release date to avoid sparring directly with Monsters Inc 2…). The most important thing? Alec Baldwin as Santa. You’ve been daydreaming about it already, haven’t you?


The Reject Report

Halloween has past. October is no more. We have now entered the cool, gray month of November, and with it comes the Fall holiday movie season. They’re kicking it off early this year, right here at week number one with two big releases. Both of them, Megamind and Due Date, will surely come out of the gate full force. Even Tyler Perry’s new film will add to the collective change being pulled in this weekend. The theaters are going to be jammed packed this weekend, and it probably won’t matter who comes out on top. Everyone’s sure to be a winner.


With most screenwriters, you normally either mostly enjoy their work or mostly dislike it. With Alex Kurtzman, you probably both love and hate his work with equal amounts of blind passion because he and co-writer Bob Orci wrote almost every single movie that was released in 2009. Hyperbole aside, it looks like Kurtzman has put down the pen in order to pick it back up again while sitting in the director’s chair (because directors use pens, too) for the Dreamworks project Welcome to People – another sign that his relationship with Steven Spielberg is getting stronger. Especially in the face of their collaboration on Cowboys and Aliens. The plot is about a man who is prompted to reach out to an alcoholic sister he never knew about by his late father’s will and a large sum of money. It sounds like gut-wrenching indie fare, but could be wrapped in a large Dreamworks budget.

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published: 01.30.2015
published: 01.30.2015
published: 01.29.2015
published: 01.28.2015

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