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There’s been a great deal of news lately about various upcoming Disney and Pixar productions, what with this year’s release of WALL-E inching closer and the first hard news starting to leak out about Up and Toy Story 3. Rather than crank out a couple of posts a day with each small story – other sites are bound to have them up quicker anyway – they’re collected here en masse in case you’ve missed anything. I’ve also included a few stories concerning Ratatouille and its director Brad Bird, as they begin to reap the fruits of the end-of-year awards season.

Ratatouille

RatatouilleAside from its Oscar nominations and other awards, Ratatouille has collected the Golden Tomato for best-reviewed wide release of the year from critic metasite Rotten Tomatoes. Director Brad Bird spoke to the website about the award and the film’s critical reception. Other honors the film has earned include an award from the Broadcast Film Critics Association for Best Animated Picture and nominations for awards from the Art Directors Guild for production design, the BAFTAs for Best Animated Film, the Producers Guild of America, and the American Cinema Editors for Best Editing (Darren Holmes).

Your Friend the RatIn a series of interviews, Bird has spoken about his influences and demanded respect for animation writers, as well as describing the process behind the writing of Ratatouille‘s screenplay.

Finally, as a neat little extra, Pixar artists have created a Little Golden Book featuring art from the short Your Friend, The Rat. The short, which premiered with the DVD release of Ratatouille, was directed by Pixar story man Jim Capobiano, who highlighted the creation of the film on his blog. The book features actual production art from the film and is available at Amazon.

WALL-E

WALL-EBuzz for WALL-E continues to build as more information leaks out from the film. Musician Peter Gabriel has revealed on his website that he is writing music for the picture, while new images have been posted on /film and the Disney Reporter (shown here). I’ll speculate that the other robot in the stylized drawing is EVE, the futuristic robot with whom WALL-E falls in love. She can also be seen on the recently-revealed cover of The Art of WALL-E, shown below and available for pre-order at Amazon.

More merchandise is on the way; a few screenshots have been released for the tie-in videogame under development at THQ. The fan community has gotten in on the act, with a group dedicated to building their own real-world replicas of the titular robot. We’ve even seen the first WALL-E case mod.

Art of WALL-E

Expect interest in the film to expand after its upcoming Super Bowl ad.

Up

Up

Upcoming Pixar linked to the above image, as seen in the Disney animation exhibit at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It’s the first piece of character art released from the film depicting the protagonist, who has been described as a senior citizen who “travels the globe, fights beasts and villains and eats dinner at 3:30 in the afternoon.” Reports say that the story is loosely modeled on the tale of Don Quixote, perhaps indicating that the hero is more imaginative than actually daring. Personally, the above picture strongly reminds me of Spencer Tracy in his later roles, such as Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner? or Inherit the Wind.

Toy Story 3

Toy Story 3-DPossibly the biggest story to come from this update is that not only will Toy Story 3 be produced in 3-D for its 2010 release, but it will be preceded to theaters by 3-D re-releases of Toy Story and Toy Story 2. John Lasseter, Pixar co-head honcho and director of the first two films, will oversee their conversion to 3-D from the original data elements. Toy Story 3 is being directed by Lee Unkrich.

As the Variety article linked above points out, Disney is increasingly using 3-D technology to draw viewers to cinemas. What remains to be seen is whether this will prove a viable artistic tool or just another cyclical trend such as when 3-D surged in the 1950s and the late 1970s and early 1980s. Will the technology add anything besides gee-whiz factor to the new film, and especially the already existing films, or will it just be a gimmick? It’s estimated that the number of 3-D capable theaters nationwide will be in the thousands by the time of the film’s release; while I trust Pixar not to pull a Fozzie Bear (“cheap 3-D tricks?!”), it will be interesting to see how this plays out. The release schedule:

- Toy Story – October 2, 2009
- Toy Story 2 – February 12, 2010
- Toy Story 3 – June 18, 2010

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