No one makes animated family musicals better than Walt Disney Animation Studios!
Now the company that brought you Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella, Peter Pan, and The Jungle Book, as well as contemporary classics such as Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King returns with Frozen, which opens in theaters on November 27th. The film was directed by Chris Buck (Tarzan) and Jennifer Lee (screenwriter, Wreck-It Ralph) and is inspired by Hans Christian Anderson’s The Snow Queen.
Frozen features a sensational cast of talented voice actors and singers including Kristen Bell (Hit & Run), Idina Mendez (Enchanted), Jonathan Groff (TV’s Glee), and Josh Gad (The Internship). The story revolves around princess Anna (Bell) who is forced to team up with Kristoff (Goff), his reindeer sidekick Sven, and a snowman named Olaf (Gad), on an epic journey to find Anna's sister Queen Elsa (Mendez), whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom in an eternal winter. The film also includes soon-to-be classic songs from Tony Award-winner Robert Lopez (The Book of Mormon), and his wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez (Winnie the Pooh).
I recently had an opportunity to sit down with directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee to talk about their work on Frozen. The animated filmmakers discussed their new movie, pitching the idea to Walt Disney Animation Studios chief creative officer John Lasseter, their research, the animation process, creating the story and characters, casting, the music, how the film falls in the tradition of Walt Disney animated musicals, and which classic Disney animated films helped inspire the movie.
This holiday season, one of the most celebrated and beloved plays of Langston Hughes finally makes the transition from stage to screen.
Black Nativity hits theaters this Wednesday, November 27th.
The film is based on the gospel musical of the same name, which the playwright and towering Harlem Renaissance figure first staged more than half a century ago.
In adapting the play, Black Nativity brings the story into a contemporary setting, following Langston, a streetwise teen who ventures from his native Baltimore to New York for Christmas. Raised by his single mother, Langston is forced to spent the holidays with estranged relatives Reverend Cornell and Aretha Cobbs. Bristling under the Reverend's strict rule, Langston sets his heart on returning home to Baltimore, but finds himself on a journey that teaches him new lessons about himself, family, forgiveness, and God.
Written and directed by Kasi Lemmons (Eve's Bayou), Black Nativity features an all-star ensemble led by Jacob Latimore (Vanishing on Seventh Street) as Langston. Forest Whitaker (Lee Daniels' The Butler) plays Reverend Cornell, with Angela Bassett (Olympus Has Fallen) as Aretha Cobbs, and Jennifer Hudson (Dreamgirls) as Langston's mother, Naima. Lending support are Mary J. Blige (Rock of Ages) and Tyrese Gibson (Furious 6).
At the Los Angeles press day for Black Nativity, IAR Managing Editor Jami Philbrick had the opportunity to speak with Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Jennifer Hudson, and Mary J. Blige. The actors enthusiastically discussed their connection to the material, the role of spirituality, challenges inherent in musicals, working with Lemmons, and the film's uplifting messages.
Take refuge indoors where it's warmer, folks, because a blizzard of character posters from Frozen are arriving online.
Disney announced just last week that production on the star-studded musical Into the Woods is in full swing in London.
Wasting no time, the studio has released the first official image from the fairy tale adventure, showing off three-time Oscar winner Meryl Streep as the Witch. And in related, though less official, news, a small batch of photos from the set have also revealed Anna Kendrick and Chris Pine in costume as Cinderella and her Prince.
The first full theatrical trailer for Disney Animation Studios' next, Frozen, plays up the film's wacky characters and sense of adventure, but opts out of sharing any musical numbers.
The big screen adaptation of popular stage musical Into the Woods has kicked off principal photography, according to an official announcement from Disney.
Opening in Los Angeles and New York theaters, as well as VOD on March 22nd is the British musical Hunky Dory from Welsh director Marc Evans (Patagonia). The film stars Academy Award-nominee Minnie Driver (Good Will Hunting, Grosse Pointe Blank), Robert Pugh (Robin Hood), Steve Speirs (Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace), and Kimberley Nixon (Cherrybomb).
IAR's Managing Editor Jami Philbrick recently had a chance to sit down with Minnie Driver to talk about her work on Hunky Dory, as well as her overall career. The talented actress discussed her new movie, its similarities to Glee, her own musical abilities, shooting the film's music scenes, her love for David Bowie, if she were to make a rock musical out of a Shakespearian play - which play would she choose and what contemporary music would she use, how she chooses her roles, what's more important - a great script or a great director, and what film in her long and impressive career she is most proud to have been a part of.
Beasts of the Southern Wild may have been shut out at the Academy Awards, but the film's young lead has received a solid consolation prize.
Quvenzhané Wallis is set to star as the title character in Sony Pictures' new take on Annie, the frequently adapted stage musical.
In Les Misérables, Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway star as a pair of characters with history, characters familiar to readers and audiences across generations.
After all, the novel by Victor Hugo was published 150 years ago. Jackman stars as Hugo's hero, Jean Valjean, a peasant who spends nineteen years prisoner 24601 after stealing bread for his starving sister and her family. Hathaway, meanwhile, plays Fantine, a factory worker subjected to all manner of horrors in the story of injustice, identity, redemption, and revolution in nineteenth century France.
Directed by Oscar winner Tom Hooper (The King's Speech, The Damned United), Les Misérables is not a literal adaptation of the novel, but instead translates the phenomenally popular musical, performed on stages all over the globe for the last three decades. The film utilizes the beloved play's music and lyrics by Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil. To belt out the musical's big numbers onscreen, Hooper assembled a cast which, in adddition to Jackman and Hathaway, boasts players such as Russell Crowe (Gladiator), Amanda Seyfried (Dear John), Eddie Redmayne (My Week With Marilyn), Helena Bonham Carter (Fight Club), and Sacha Baron Cohen (The Dictator), and Samantha Barks, who has played Eponine on stage to great acclaim.
The film arrives in domestic theaters on Christmas Day, December 25th. While promoting Les Misérables earlier this month in New York, Jackman and Hathaway graciously sat down for a roundtable interview in which they discussed playing these famous characters, finding the contemporary relevance of Hugo's original text, the camaraderie of the cast, and physical transformations.
"Everybody loves Hugh Jackman," a new featurette for Les Miserables implicitly says to its viewer. "Now let's see if we can get him an Oscar for his performance as Jean Valjean, shall we?"