‘Norm of the North: Family Vacation’ Travels to Digital and DVD Feb. 25 From Lionsgate

The animated feature Norm of the North: Family Vacation arrives on digital, DVD, and on demand Feb. 25 from Lionsgate.

From writers Alec Sokolow (Toy Story, Cheaper by the Dozen, Garfield: The Movie), Elie Choufany (TV’s “Arabs in Space”), and director Anthony Bell (Alpha and Omega, The Jetsons & WWE: Robo-WrestleMania!), Norm of the North: Family Vacation stars Andy Toth, Brian Drummond, Cole Howard, James Higuchi, Jennifer Cameron, Jonathan Holmes, Lee Tockar, Lisa Durupt and Paul Dobson.

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In this next installment in the series, overwhelmed by his kingly duties, Norm struggles to make time for both his kingdom and his family. When his crown is mysteriously stolen in the dead of the night, Norm must embark on an epic journey — disguised as a family vacation. Norm sets out to track down the thief and find his crown and learns the valuable lesson that by working together as a family, nothing is impossible.

‘Angry Birds Movie 2’ Brings New Characters to the Game-Based Universe

Turning an online game into a movie has its challenges, but it also provides some room for creativity, said executives who have worked on the films based on the iconic web product Angry Birds.

“When you have a project based on a book or comic book series, so much of that has been defined,” said producer John Cohen. “Everything is set in a mythology, and you’re translating it  into a movie and trying very hard not to veer from what’s already been created. But with Angry Birds we’ve had this amazing opportunity where not a lot had been defined.”

Cohen and co-director Johnny Rice attended a special event for the home entertainment launch of The Angry Birds Movie 2 Nov. 9 at the Los Angeles Zoo. The sequel was available Oct. 29 on digital and debuted Nov. 12 on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Joining the returning cast, which includes Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Bill Hader, Danny McBride and Peter Dinklage, are Leslie Jones (TV’s “Saturday Night Live”), Rachel Bloom (TV’s “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”), Awkwafina (Crazy Rich Asians), Sterling K. Brown (TV’s “This Is Us”) and Eugenio Derbez (Dora and the Lost City of Gold).

In the sequel, a new threat emerges that puts both Bird and Pig Island in danger. Red (Sudeikis), Chuck (Gad), Bomb (McBride) and Mighty Eagle (Dinklage) recruit Chuck’s sister Silver (Bloom) and team up with pigs Leonard (Hader), his assistant Courtney (Awkwafina), and techpig Garry (Sterling K. Brown) to forge an unsteady truce and form an unlikely team to save their homes. Jones stars as Zeta, a new villain threatening the islands.

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“We’ve got a lot of new characters; of course, the Leslie Jones Zeta character is a big new character,” said Rice. “She’s bigger than life in every way. Leslie brought a voice to the character that is just incredible. She really stands out in the movie as a huge force. And it’s kind of interesting as that’s the way our story works as well. She’s a force that comes into the world, into the birds’ world and the pigs’ world that just changes everything.”

“Our other big new character is Silver, voiced by Rachel bloom, and Silver is actually Chuck’s sister,” added Cohen. “Chuck, the Josh Gad character, is the bird who moves very fast. Everything about him is quick. He talks fast. He moves fast. And we started to ask ourselves, well, if he had a sister who shares the DNA, what would she be like? Silver’s superpower is that she thinks fast. And so she is hypersmart and is an engineering major at Avian Academy, which is the college on Bird Island. And when the birds and pigs come together in the movie and have to team up to fight these mortal enemies and for the very first time have to work together, Silver ends up as the leader of the group because she’s just the smartest and kind of the best people person.”

Co-director/animator Johnny Rice drew the character Red at a Nov. 9 event for The Angry Birds Movie 2 at the Los Angeles Zoo.

Because the animators are filling out the online game, “we bring our own experiences, our own life experience and attitudes into it,” said Rice. “I really connected with Red on the first one and in the second one as well, where I felt like I totally understood who he was. And the voice actors add a lot to that of course.”

Animators use the performances of the accomplished comedians who play the characters to inform the animation.

“Their comedic sensibility and their ad-libs and improvisation do so much to bring that character to life in a way that you couldn’t have even imagined,” Cohen said.

“The animators pay a lot of attention to every nuance in the voice,” Rice said.

“We film the actors to see their mannerisms. Even an eye movement or just a gesture can inform the animation of the character,” Cohen added.

The actors often recognize themselves in the animated pigs and birds that end up in the movie, Cohen said.

Bonus features on the sequel disc include a new mini movie “Live Stream,” DIY activities inspired by the film, behind-the-scenes featurettes with cast and crew, a feature on the birds at the L.A. Zoo, and six Hatchling shorts directed by Rice.

The baby bird Hatchling characters are played by children, rather than adults using child-like voices, which brings an authentic humor to the characters, said Rice and Cohen. The child actors are encouraged to be themselves, which provides for some surprising humor.

“They do the funniest things,” Rice said.

“It’s not ad-libbing in the traditional sense,” Cohen said. “It’s more just the weird things and the surprising things that kids might say and the way in which they would say them. We love to capture real kids’ voices and that’s what’s given the Hatchlings so much charm.”

The Hatchlings in Angry Birds 2 are played by Alma Versano, daughter of Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman); Genesis Tennon, daughter of actress Viola Davis; Brooklynn Prince (The Florida Project); Jojo Siwa (TV’s “Dance Moms”); and Sunday and Faith, daughters of Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban.

“Most of them it was their first time ever acting, and they were really, really fantastic,” Cohen said.

‘The Swan Princess’ Swims to Blu-ray and 4K Digital Oct. 29 for 25th Anniversary

The animated film The Swan Princess will be released Oct. 29 in a collectible anniversary edition Blu-ray and in 4K HDR on digital from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment for its 25th anniversary.

One of the last major theatrically-released films in the U.S. to utilize a hand drawn, hand painted cel animation style, the film went on to receive a 1995 Golden Globe nomination and become the top selling home video title in the United States when first released.

To celebrate the new release, creator and producer Seldon Young is bringing the film back to the big screen for a special Pink Carpet Premiere event showcasing the new, fully remastered version at the ArcLight Cinemas in Hollywood Oct. 24.

“For the restoration and remastering process we retrieved the vintage, vaulted negatives and set to work using the amazing advances in HD conversion technology, to create an even more vivid and stunning film than ever before,” said Young in a statement.

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The story is inspired by the German fairytale and ballet about a princess who is swan by day and princess by night. Princess Odette is transformed into a swan by an evil sorcerer’s spell. Held captive at an enchanted lake, she befriends Jean-Bob the frog, Speed the turtle and Puffin the bird. Despite their struggle to keep the princess safe, these good-natured creatures can do nothing about the sorcerer’s spell, which can only be broken by a vow of everlasting love.

The Blu-ray release includes a new featurette entitled “A Look Back, Tease Ahead,” plus a variety of additional archival features.

Animated ‘Wonder Park’ Rides to Digital June 4, Disc June 18 From Paramount

The animated adventure Wonder Park will be released on digital June 4 and Blu-ray combo pack and DVD June 18 from Paramount Home Entertainment.

It’s the story of a young girl named June who makes an incredible discovery — the amusement park of her dreams has come to life filled with wild rides operated by fun-loving animals. When trouble hits, June and her misfit team of furry friends begin an unforgettable journey to save the park. Wonder Park features the voices of Jennifer Garner, Mila Kunis, John Oliver, Kenan Thompson and Ken Jeong, among others.

The film made $45.2 million at the box office.

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The Blu-ray combo pack includes access to a digital copy as well as bonus content, including the deleted scene “Gus Yodeling”; “The Wonder Chimp Channel”; “The Pi Song Sing-Along”; “Making Noises (It’s Actually a Job?!!)”; “June’s Guide to Wonderland”; “June’s Welcoming Crew”; “Boardwalk Caricatures”; “Drawing Boomer”; “Drawing the Wonder Chimp Pirate”; and “Drawing the Wonder Chimp Princess.”

Best Animated Film Oscar Nominee ‘Mirai’ Coming to Disc and Digital April 9 From Universal

The Academy Award nominee for Best Animated Film, Mirai, is coming out on Blu-ray combo pack, DVD, digital (including Movies Anywhere) and on demand April 9 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

The Japanese film follows a young boy who embarks on a fantastical journey when his new baby sister is born and learns the importance of family. The voice cast includes John Cho, (Star Trek, Searching), Rebecca Hall (The TownChristine), and Daniel Dae Kim (“LOST,” “Hawaii Five-0”).

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Mirai is the first animated feature from Japan to garner a Golden Globe nomination for Best Animated Feature and is the 2019 Annie Award winner for Best Animated Feature — Independent.

Bonus features on Blu-ray and digital include Japanese cast interviews, in which the cast of the original language version of Mirai is interviewed by host Hiroyuki Amano; “Mirai at Cannes Film Festival,” in which director Mamoru Hosoda and Moka Kamishiraishi (voice of Kun) attend the Cannes Film Festival for the world premiere of Mirai; “The New World of Mamoru Hosoda,” a behind-the-scenes look at Studio Chizu with Hosoda as he builds a new world for Mirai; “Mirai in Japan,” in which the  the director and cast of Mirai greet audiences across Japan following the release of the film; “Mamoru Hosoda Visits Toyoma Prefecture,” in which Gen Hoshino (voice of Father) gets a special tour of Studio Chizu guided by the director; and a message from the director and Japanese cast of Mirai to their future selves.

Bonus features on Blu-ray, digital and DVD include an interview with the director; “Visiting Studio Chizu,” in which Gen Hoshino (voice of Father) gets a special tour of the studio guided by the director; trailers and TV spots.

‘Incredibles 2’ First Day Sales Set Record on FandangoNow

Pixar and Disney’s Incredibles 2 Oct. 23 posted the best-ever first day sales for an animated movie on streaming service FandangoNow, according to Fandango.

The first day sales surpassed first day sales for previous record-holder Disney’s Moana.

Fans buying Incredibles 2 on FandangoNow also get the Pixar short, “Bao,” and the new Edna Mode short, “Auntie Edna.”

Incredibles 2 is the kind of movie you want to bring home to your family and watch again and again,” said Fandango managing editor Erik Davis in a statement. “It’s no wonder that America’s favorite family of superheroes would smash the record for best first day sales of any animated movie on FandangoNow.”

Top Animated Films in First Days of Sales on FandangoNow

  1. “Incredibles 2”
  2. “Moana”
  3. “The Boss Baby”
  4. “Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation”
  5. “Coco”

 

Earlier this year, Incredibles 2 also broke the Fandango record for top advance ticket sales for any animated film in theatrical release.

Oscar Winning Director Guillermo Del Toro to Produce Animated ‘Pinocchio’ for Netflix

Academy Award-winning filmmaker Guillermo del Toro is making his animated feature film directorial debut at Netflix with Pinocchio, which he will also write and produce as a stop-motion musical.

Pinocchio will be del Toro’s first feature film since The Shape of Water, which garnered four Academy Awards last year, including for Best Director and Best Picture.

Del Toro has set his retelling of the classic tale of Pinocchio in Italy during the 1930s.

“No art form has influenced my life and my work more than animation and no single character in history has had as deep of a personal connection to me as Pinocchio,” said del Toro in a statement. “In our story, Pinocchio is an innocent soul with an uncaring father who gets lost in a world he cannot comprehend. He embarks on an extraordinary journey that leaves him with a deep understanding of his father and the real world. I’ve wanted to make this movie for as long as I can remember. After the incredible experience we have had on ‘Trollhunters,’ I am grateful that the talented team at Netflix is giving me the opportunity of a lifetime to introduce audiences everywhere to my version of this strange puppet-turned-real-boy.”

“Throughout his distinguished career, Guillermo has exhibited mastery in inspiring people through his magical worlds filled with unforgettable and magnificent characters, from the monsters in Pan’s Labyrinth to the aquatic creature in The Shape of Water,” said Melissa Cobb, VP of kids and family at Netflix. “We are incredibly excited to expand our relationship with Guillermo and we know that his deeply touching vision for bringing Pinocchio to life on Netflix will be embraced by audiences the world over.”

This marks an expansion of Netflix’s existing relationship with del Toro, who created the Emmy award-winning television series DreamWorks’ “Trollhunters,” the first installment of the DreamWorks’ “Tales of Arcadia” trilogy. He is also the creator of the upcoming Netflix series, “Guillermo de Toro Presents 10 After Midnight.”

Pinocchio is a production of Guillermo del Toro, The Jim Henson Company (The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance), and ShadowMachine (“Bojack Horseman,” “The Shivering Truth”), which will house the stop-motion animation production.

Netflix expects production on Pinocchio to begin this fall.

Animated ‘Hotel Transylvania 3’ to Haunt Fans on Digital Sept. 25, Disc Oct. 9 From Sony

The animated Hotel Transylvania 3 will make its debut on Digital HD Sept. 25, and on Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD Oct. 9 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

The family comedy has grossed more than $425 million in theaters worldwide.

In the third installment in the series, Mavis surprises Dracula with a family voyage on a luxury, haunted monster cruise ship. The unexpected happens when Drac falls for the ship’s human captain Ericka.

The voice cast includes Adam Sandler (Grown-Ups), Andy Samberg (TV’s “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”), Selena Gomez (Spring Breakers), Kevin James (Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2), David Spade (TV’s “Rules of Engagement”), Steve Buscemi (TV’s “Boardwalk Empire”), Keegan Michael Key (TV’s “Key and Peele”), Molly Shannon (TV’s “Saturday Night Live”), Fran Drescher (TV’s “The Nanny”), Kathryn Hahn (Bad Moms), Jim Gaffigan (Super Troopers 2) and Mel Brooks (Young Frankenstein).

Bonus materials include three sing alongs, “Dennis Had a Giant Dog,” sung by Dennis & Winnie, “Monsters Like to Party Down,” sung by Johnny, and “Oh These Wolf Pups,” sung by Wanda Werewolf; the featurette “Plan Your Own Spook-tacular Sleepover,” with details on snacks to crafts to games; a “Vampire Make Over: Mavis and Drac Tutorial,” about how to turn yourself into Hotel Transylvania 3 characters; “Behind the Screams – The Voices of Hotel Transylvania 3,” showing how the characters are brought to life in the recording booth; “Johnny’s Home Movies (Franchise Recap)”; “I See Love Monster Dance Party Dance Along”; “Drac’s Zing-tastic Read Along”; and two mini movies, “Puppy and “Goodnight Mr. Foot.”

Animated Film ‘The Boxcar Children: Surprise Island’ Due on Disc From Shout! Factory Aug. 7

The animated feature film The Boxcar Children — Surprise Island will come out on Blu-ray and DVD Aug. 7 from Legacy Classics and Shout! Factory’s Shout! Kids.

A movie adaption of the popular children’s book of the same name, The Boxcar Children — Surprise Island follows the adventures of the orphaned Boxcar Children as they spend a summer living on their grandfather’s small, nearly uninhabited island. There they meet the mysterious Joe, who is inexplicably living on their island. The film features the voices of Martin Sheen (“The West Wing”) as James Alden, J.K. Simmons (Whiplash) as Dr. Moore, Dane DeHaan (Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets) as Joe, Joey King (Independence Day: Resurgence) as Jesse Alden, Carter Sand (Frozen) as Benny Alden, Gil Birmingham (Twilight) as Lonan Browning, Griffin Gluck (Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life) as Henry Alden, Stephen Stanton (Star Wars Rebels) as Capt. Daniel and Talitha Bateman (Love, Simon) as Violet.

The title is available for pre-order at Amazon.com or shoutfactory.com and is Dove approved for all ages.

The Boxcar Children — Surprise Island is the first of three new animated features to be adapted from the “The Boxcar Children” book series as part of a partnership between Shout! Kids and Legacy Classics.

“The Boxcar Children” series from author Gertrude Chandler Warner is one of the best-selling children’s book series of all time, which having just marked its 75th anniversary, has sold more than 70 million books worldwide.

Headquartered in Los Angeles, Legacy Classics has animation and visual effects studios in Seoul, Jakarta and Bali. Founded by Dan Chuba and Mark Dippé, the company is dedicated to creating family entertainment and educational tools based on classic and award-winning children’s literature.

Peter Pan: Signature Collection

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Disney;
Animated;
$39.99 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘G.’
Voices of Bobby Driscoll, Kathryn Beaumont, Hans Conried, Paul Collins, Tommy Luske.

One thing Disney has been doing more frequently with its Blu-ray re-releases of its animated classics is making the legacy bonus material available through the digital edition, for which a code is included with the disc. So featurettes or deleted scenes that were available on the previous disc version of the film are accessible through Movies Anywhere or other digital retailers, though the content tends to vary depending on who’s offering it.

The degree to which this material is left off the disc tends to vary, however, depending on how much the new material takes up space on the disc. This could be somewhat frustrating to fans and collectors who want the new extras but may be wary of swapping out the version they have in their collection because they like having those extras on physical media, just in case.

For the new “Signature Collection” of 1953’s Peter Pan, it seems most of the previously released material managed to survive the cut to be included on the latest disc, which should be a relief to collectors for the most part, even though there are a few extras that didn’t make it to the latest round.

Compared with the 2013 “Diamond Edition” Blu-ray, the most notable omission is the introduction by Walt Disney’s daughter, Diane Disney-Miller. However, since she passed away in 2013 a few months after that Blu-ray came out, it’s perfectly understandable why it wouldn’t be included this time.

The other notable extra that was left behind is the “Disney Intermission” function, during which a secondary video depicting fun activities will start to play whenever the movie is paused. Given that this somewhat defeats the purpose of pausing the movie, leaving it out also makes sense.

But almost all the rest of the legacy material is here, from comprehensive “Backstage Disney” documentaries to deleted scenes, and even the optional “DisneyView” that frames the movie between illustrations based on the film rather than the black bars that would appear on widescreen TVs because the film was cut in the 4:3 standard of its era.

The animation remains bright and vivid, and appears to be the same transfer from the 2013 version, though the film has garnered some attention in recent years for how its depiction of Indians rubs up against the PC sensibilities of an expanding sub-culture of social media.

The new material amounts to a few short supplements that reflect on the making of the film and why Walt wanted to do it. The most prominent is the latest of the “Stories From Walt’s Office” vignettes that have been appearing on these Signature Collection releases. This one is called “Walt & Flight” and is a four-minute look at Walt’s love of airplanes and flying in them.

The disc also turns up the sentiment with “A Darling Conversation With Wendy & John,” a new, eight-minute retrospective conversation between actors Kathryn Beaumont and Paul Collins, who voiced Wendy and John in the film.

The disc also includes sing-along versions of two songs: the film’s signature theme “You Can Fly” and the deleted sequence “Never Smile at a Crocodile.”

The sing-alongs should be fun for younger viewers, while the healthy mix of old and new bonus material should satisfy older fans looking to add this to their collection or upgrade from the 2013 version.