In a story on Kristen Bell joining the cast of Jennifer Getzinger‘s cinematic adaptation of Neil LaBute‘s play “Some Girls,” The Hollywood Reporter has exclusively revealed that the actress-formerly-known-as-Veronica Mars will “provide the speaking and singing voice” as the lead in Disney‘s upcoming feature “Frozen,” which means she will play the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale character the Snow Queen (first published way back in 1845). Additionally, the trade states that Warner Bros. and Weed Road (Akiva Goldsman‘s WB-based production shingle) have picked up the forthcoming graphic novel “Bolivar” for Irish animator Kealan O’Rourke to write and direct.
Tucked away in the “Some Girls”/”Frozen” story is the tidbit that Chris Buck, a legendary animator who worked on everything from Brad Bird‘s “Family Dog” episode of “Amazing Stories” to “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” to “Little Mermaid,” before co-directing Disney’s lush 1999 animated feature “Tarzan” (with Kevin Lima), will direct. In recent years, Buck was swayed to Sony Pictures Animation to co-direct penguin surfing movie “Surf’s Up” (with Pixar ex-pat and “Toy Story 2” co-director Ash Brannon). Well, it looks like he’s been brought back to Disney (a very good thing) and is helming “Frozen” single-handedly.
Two more things about “Frozen” that have seemingly been revealed: one, that it’s a musical. This has never been confirmed or even commented on, so the fact that Bell has been signed up thanks to her vocal and singing chops, is fairly big news. (Hopefully we’ll know who are writing and composing the songs very soon.) Secondly, Buck’s involvement points to the movie being computer-animated and not traditionally animated. Disney has never clarified what artistic direction they were going on, and while Buck has worked in traditional animation (like “Tarzan” and “Pocahontas“), his last traditional animation gig was way back in 2004 for “Home on the Range,” the film that was, at the time, thought to be the last traditionally animated Disney film ever. (Since then, two stellar efforts have been released – 2009’s Southern Gothic “The Princess and the Frog” and last year’s heart-tugging “Winnie the Pooh.”) Our guess is that “Frozen” will be a computer generated feature (released in 3D, naturally), and that the next traditionally animated Disney feature will be “The Name Game,” a quirky take on the Rumpelstiltskin tale being readied (in secret) by Ron Clements and John Musker. Supposedly the reason why that project is gaining momentum is because of the runaway success (and synergistic opportunities) of ABC’s Sunday night series “Once Upon a Time,” which features Rumpelstiltskin as the show’s main villain.
Meanwhile, Warner Bros. has picked up “Bolivar,” a graphic novel written and illustrated by Sean Rubin, about a young girl named Sybil who moves to New York and discovers her neighbor is Bolivar, the last living dinosaur (who is now a Howard Hughesian shut-in). In the grand tradition of “E.T.,” “The Iron Giant,” and “Lilo & Stitch,” the young girl and the dinosaur fortify an unusual (and, we’re guessing, incredibly touching) friendship. While the graphic novel (from smaller house Archaia) doesn’t come out until May 2013, Warner Bros. has already attached some big time talent.
It’s writer-director Kealan O’Rourke, an insanely talented young animator whose gorgeous, Alan Rickman-narrated “Boy in the Bubble,” is stylistically bold and also wonderfully melancholy (it reminded us of the early animated works of Tim Burton). The Hollywood Reporter notes that it won a best animation prize at last year’s Irish Film and Television Awards. Goldsman and Kerry Foster from Weed Road will produce alongside Archaia editor-in-chief Stephen Christy and the comic book publisher’s P.J. Bickett will executive produce. Given how long animated movies take to develop and animate, this project is probably a long way off.
Also keep in mind that “Bolivar” is the second dinosaurs-in-modern-day animated tale currently being developed, with Pixar’s untitled dinosaur film, which takes place in a world where dinosaurs have evolved alongside humans. That film, which is being directed by “Up” co-director Bob Peterson and longtime Pixar vet Peter Sohn (who wrote and directed that great “Partly Cloudy” short that was attached to “Up”), is slated for release sometime after 2014.
Finally, a new trailer for “Ice Age: Continental Drift” has arrived. It seems this time around, they’ve given up on plot and will just have the entire cast screaming for 90 minutes.