The Summer of 2016: Making Animated Memories
Issue: Volume 39 Issue 3: (May/Jun 2016)

The Summer of 2016: Making Animated Memories

For some time now, summer has been defined by that one special feature film that drives moviegoers out of the bright sunshine and into dark theaters. You know, that one film everyone talks about from May through August. 

Most people associate summer blockbusters with big visual effects films. And, with little wonder. Our favorite archaeologist Indiana Jones led us on many summer adventures, as did our favorite pirate, Captain Jack Sparrow. Action heroes have saved the world inIndependence Day and Armageddon, as did those men in black. And superheroes of all shapes and forms have been battling evil, and more recently, one another, in many top-grossing summer hits.

This year, a number of films will certainly gain attention: Captain America: Civil War, X-Men: Apocalypse, Independence Day: Resurgence, Warcraft, Star Trek Beyond, Ghostbusters, Jason Bourne, Ben-Hur, Suicide Squad, Alice Through the Looking Glass, The Legend of Tarzan, Pete’s Dragon, and more. But, we also need to acknowledge animated movies in the role of summer blockbuster.

This year, we have some newcomers to the big screen, as well as some returning in popular franchises:The Secret Life of Pets, Ice Age: Collision Course, Kubo and the Two Strings, and others. 

We kick off the summer animation withThe Angry Birds Movie, based on the ultra-
popular mobile game. But, how do you turn a very simplistic app title – based on the premise of loading angry-faced, ball-like birds into slingshot and shooting them at little green pigs – into a feature film story line? It seems that Rovio managed, and thanks to the talented artists at Sony Pictures Imageworks, the end result is a colorful, funny movie that exceeded my expectations. 

For quite some time, it seems that Rovio had bigger plans forAngry Birds outside the game world. Indeed, the characters have been featured in other forms of media, including “Angry Birds Toons.” Throughout these appearances, however, the characters were never shown speaking or with wings and legs – until now. In fact, Rovio has gone to great lengths to protect the origin story of these flightless birds. 

Are fans ready for this character makeover that transforms the simple, 2D shapes into sophisticated furred and feathered 3D characters? In all likelihood, yes. After all, who wants to watch a full-length movie whose main characters are, in essence, little bouncing balls? This film has legs, as do the characters (pun intended). And, they have depth and personality. For a look at the technology behind the film, see “Birds of Paradise” on page 6.

Another animated feature film, Finding Dory, is a sequel to the summer 2003 blockbuster Finding Nemo, in which the forgetful blue tang befriends the clownfish Nemo as he tries to find his way home. A lot has changed since then. Now it is Dory who is searching for her family. But the biggest change of all is in the animation technology. See how the team at Disney•Pixar revived these characters and spawned new ones in “A Fine Fettle of Fish” on page 12. Also, check out our May 2003 coverage of Finding Nemo in the CGW archives for a trip back in time.

Of course,CGW will be covering a plethora of VFX and CG films being released this summer in upcoming issues and online at Meanwhile, have a safe and happy summer, and make time for some summer theater!