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Pixar’s Monsters University opened with a powerful first-place finish in the United States. The Dan Scanlon-directed film nabbed an estimated $82 million in its opening weekend, which makes it the second-biggest Pixar opening ever behind Toy Story 3′s $110.3M opening in 2010. The real test will be next weekend: will the film decline in the mid-40% range as Toy Story 3 did or will it drop over 60% as Cars 2 did? Overseas, Monsters University opened in approximately three dozen international territories with an international cume of $54.5M, also good enough for a first place finish. After one weekend, the film’s total gross is $136.5M.
Meanwhile, as expected, Monsters University pummelled Blue Sky’s Epic at the American box office. Epic plunged a massive 72.5% percent for an estimated fifth-weekend total of $1.7M. The film finally crawled its way across the $100M mark, but it will now certainly end up as Blue Sky’s lowest grossing film in the U.S., and among its lowest grossing films internationally.
Blue Sky’s Epic continued its mild box office run last weekend with a respectable decline of 28.5% and $11.8 million in U.S. box office earnings. The film has now racked up $83.9 million over its three week U.S. run. The film has one more weekend of clear-sailing ahead of it before it will succumb to another kiddie flick, Monsters University.
Overseas, Epic placed sixth, with approx. $12.7M from over sixty international territories, pushing its overseas total to $105.4M. Blue Sky’s features tend to overperform in international markets—the studio’s last three features have averaged $582 million overseas—but Epic will be lucky to break $200 million internationally.
In its second weekend at the U.S. box office, Blue Sky’s Epic plummeted a troubling 51.1% for an estimated take of $16.4 million. The week two drop is far more substantial than other recent animated originals like Wreck-It Ralph (-32.7%), Hotel Transylvania (-36.4%), and The Croods (-38.8%). Even the DreamWorks dud Rise of the Guardians only dropped 43.7% in its second weekend. In the U.S., Epic has grossed $65.1 million and could potentially become Blue Sky’s lowest-grossing domestic feature.
The LA Times notes that Epic has also struggled to connect with overseas audiences. Craig Dehmel, a Fox v-p, suggested to the Times that, “Epic is unique and a more complex story than much of the typical animated fare and that can sometimes make it more challenging for international audiences to discover.” The film expanded into 57 international territories last weekend, but managed to pull in just $28.5 million for a fourth-place finish. Its foreign total is now $86.3 million.
Blue Sky’s Epic, directed by Chris Wedge, opened its U.S. box office run in fourth place with a respectable weekend take of $33.5 million. If you add in earnings from Monday, which was a holiday in the States, Epic’s 4-day total stands at $42.8M.
The film was based on a story by children’s author/illustrator Bill Joyce, whose movie projects have had difficulty capturing the attention of audiences. Similarly, Epic is the weakest opening ever for a Blue Sky feature. While Epic outperformed the dismal openings of the last two films based on Joyce properties—DreamWorks’ Rise of the Guardians ($23.8M) and Disney’s Meet the Robinsons ($25.1M)—it still failed to match the opening weekend of the Blue Sky/Bill Joyce collaboration Robots which had a 3-day total of $36 million in 2005.
Fox president of dommestic distribution, Chris Aronson, was optimistic about the film’s long-term potential, telling the Hollywood Reporter, “I think it’s a fantastic start. We have a four week run before Monsters University opens, and I’m very bullish on where Epic goes.”
In other box office news, after ten weeks in theaters, DreamWorks’ The Croods continues to show great legs and remains in the top ten. The film took ninth place last weekend with $1.2 million. As of yesterday, its U.S. total stands at $179.6 million and its foreign total is $383.4 million for a grand total of $563 million.
Finally, GKIDS is headed for its first million dollar-grossing release in the U.S. with Goro Miyazaki’s From Up on Poppy Hill. The film earned $17,281 last weekend pushing its grand total to $958,610.
Today, we wrap up our week of featuring artists who worked on Blue Sky’s Epic by focusing on the drawings of Jake Panian.
Jake Panian works as a visual development artist at Blue Sky, where he started as a junior designer during the production of Ice Age: Continental Drift. A few of his pieces from that production are below, and some larger pieces can be seen here:
Jake’s personal drawings are often created in pencil and explore how shadows and light impact characters. He posts personal drawings and sketchbook work on his blog JakePanian.blogspot.com.
Blue Sky’s eighth feature film, Epic, directed by Chris Wedge and based on a book by children’s author Bill Joyce, opens in the United States today. Reception to the film has been fair to middling. The film currently owns a 63% critics’ rating and 74% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Stephen Holden in the NY Times sums up the majority viewpoint: “As beautiful as it is, Epic is fatally lacking in visceral momentum and dramatic edge.”
Check out the film and report back here with your opinion in the comments below. As always, this talkback is open only to those who have seen the film and wish to share an opinion about it.
Continuing our week of Epic artists, we take a look at the designs of Blue Sky visual development artist Sandeep Menon.
Sandeep works as a designer, drawing and painting concepts for objects, vehicles, environments and structures.
Sandeep studied at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California where for one project he developed concept art about a future India which included flying elephant cars and robots designed with traditional Indian motifs integrated into their structures.
Sandeep previously worked as a product designer in India, which gives him practical experience in designing functional, real objects that he can apply to his current work designing fantasy worlds. See Sandeep’s animation design work on his blog.
Continuing our week of looking at some of the artists behind Blue Skey’s Epic, we focus on storyboard artist Tom LaBaff.
“Print illustration is one of Tom’s passions,” according to the bio on his website. Tom creates editorial and book illustration work in addition to working on animated features.
Tom extends the energetic, rough line often used during the animation process to his illustration work. He works with ink and watercolor washes and sometimes with a digital/analog hybrid technique demonstrated in this time-lapse video:
Tom also has a blog here where you can see large versions of his illustrations.
Continuing our week of looking at artists who worked on Epic, we focus on Sang Jun Lee.
Sang Jun has designed characters and concepts for many blockbuster movie franchises including Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean and Men In Black. After a stretch of working in California on these live-action films, he moved to New York to work on Blue Sky features such as Horton Hears a Who, Rio, and most recently, Epic.
Sang Jun’s website has a generous amount of drawings and digital paintings to explore. He also keeps a blog here.
This week we’re taking a look at some of the artists who contributed their artistry to the production of Blue Sky’s Epic, which opens in the United States on May 24th.
First up is Stephen P. Neary, a story artist at Blue Sky who has worked on two Ice Ages and Rio, in addition to Epic. He also creates his own short films such as Dr. Breakfast (embedded below) and Let’s Make Out, which you can find on his YouTube channel.
Stephen’s train commute provides daily sketchbook time and he shares a lot of drawings on his blog and Tumblr. Also being a pie enthusiast, Stephen naturally has a pie blog.
The next major animated release in the U.S. will be Blue Sky’s Epic, out on May 24th. Fox just released this new trailer for the Chris Wedge-directed film.
This trailer has a lot of the same shots from the original trailer, but it’s very different in tone. Also, Aziz Ansari’s slug character now says, “What’s going on, girl?” whereas in the first trailer he said, “What’s going on, babygirl?” This makes me wish so badly that I could have been a part of the meeting where they discussed the nuances of a slug saying ‘girl’ versus ‘babygirl.’
I’m always impressed with the individual elements of Blue Sky’s films, even if they never seem to amount into a satisfying film experience. This trailer has the same top-level quality we’ve come to expect from them—lush production design, appealing characters, funny bits of animation, and gorgeous lighting. I’ve got high hopes that they’ll pull it together into a solid package.
Here is a treat from one of my dear friends and a talented author. My review of the first book in her inspirational epic fantasy:
I am enthralled by this wonderful new world. Reminiscent of the character journeys of both Star Wars and Wizard of Oz, I am looking forward to the complete epic of Hidden Earth. Maycly Part 1 is a fabulous beginning, arming the reader with the history of Maycly and introducing the reader to Iona. Iona has suffered some great tragedies, yet still manages to maintain a childlike innocence. She struggles with her faith and only truly begins her adventure when she opens her heart up to the Grand Wizard, SUL (a metaphorical reference to God). While this book is only the beginning of Iona's story, it introduces us to an imaginative ensemble of characters and creatures. The stage is set for the classic battle of Good vs Evil. Having had the opportunity to meet the author, it is easy to see her spirit captured in these pages. The author's personal story is a great inspiration and her passion fuels the world of Maycly!
The best part is that you can get it for ONLY 99 Cents on Kindle:
About the book:Part 1 of the trilogy is titled "Two Altered Worlds." Discover the dreams, the magic, the quest. Kids of all ages will love this inspirational epic fantasy adventure, suitable for the entire family. The three parts of Maycly found in the paperback are sold separately as Ebooks. Part 1 is an amazing start to an epic journey. Get attached almost immediately as the protagonist, Iona, is thrown into circumstances beyond her control. Just as you're getting acquainted with her, you'll find yourself being taken back in time on Maycly, where the stage is being set for their queen's hopeful arrival. Part 1 offers a great cliff hanger, leading you right into Part 2.
About the author:Janet was born and raised in Ohio. She and her husband, Don, moved to Florida in the 1980′s to not only escape the cold winters, but to also pursue their careers as live event and production specialists. It was through their parent company, Multi-Tech Productions, Inc, that Janet's creativity was given free reign to soar. She was published in trade specific magazines, published non-fiction books, spoke at international conferences nationwide, and developed training classes pertaining to technical theater applications. When chronic illness stopped her in her tracks, it didn't stop her as a creative genius. Once she was back on her feet she took over the family gourmet dog treat business and expanded it by adding a full scale bakery to the already established "BARK"-ery. Again she collapsed, and again she didn't let it keep her down. Her creativity crested new horizons, and after putting herself through schooling at age 49 she became an epic fantasy author. She birthed JLB Creatives, a subsidiary of Multi-Tech Productions, Inc., which handles the publishing and authorship side of the business. Volume 1 - Maycly in her HIDDEN EARTH series was an eight year project brought to fruition by her determination, dedication, and zest for life! Janet and Don still reside in Florida. Janet is a dog lover who enjoys tandem kayaking, photographing nature, and baking cupcakes.
What a wonderful and busy last few days! I’m so excited to announce my newest release. Of course wordpress was being difficult and not letting me sign in, so this post is a few days delays. ~grumble~
Getting Broken Aro finally out is such a great pleasure (and relief). It’s a while in coming, with some ups and downs and too many edits to count. Finally it is here and has a kick butt cover to boot. I couldn’t be happier!
Broken Aro is the first in a new series, The Broken Ones. It is a YA epic fantasy and was a great book to write. I hope you all enjoy the story and characters as much as I do. My current goal is to have the second book, Broken Prince, written by Christmas and published in the beginning of 2013.
If you pick up a copy do drop me a note and let me know what you thought!
Broken Aro (Book One of The Broken Ones)
Published by Untold Press on Sept 14 2012
70 000 words
Available at all Amazon stores for 2.99. Free to borrow for Prime members!
Open your eyes to darkness. What do you see? Does the darkness frighten you? Now imagine the darkness being the cargo hold of a slave ship. Your city has fallen. Your family is most likely dead. You don’t know anyone around you, and some of them aren’t even human. Giving up would be so easy to do, but not for Arowyn Mason. Not after being raised in a military family with seven brothers. Every great story should begin with a plan. Aro’s was to escape and to survive.
Escape comes, but at a price. As they reach the shore, Aro and the other survivors learn that freedom doesn’t mean safety. The slavers want their property back and will do anything to get it. The party uses every ounce of their brute strength, a hearty helping of cunning, and even ancient magics to keep themselves alive. Sickness, danger, and even love surprise them at every turn. Dealing with danger becomes their way of life, but none of them ever considered that nothing can be quite as dangerous as a prophecy. Running turns into another race altogether as her world falls to pieces again and again.
Our friends at ComingSoon.net snapped some intriguing images from the floor of The Licensing Expo, the industry trade show that started today in Las Vegas. Here’s another look at Chris Sanders highly anticipated The Croods; Dreamworks’ racing snail film, Turbo; and Chris Wedge’s Epic (formerly known as The Leaf Men), based on William Joyce’s book. Which one are you most excited about?
Our children are not only the readers and writers of the future.
They ARE the voice of the future.
EPIC has given that voice a place and time.
Here is that place.
Now is their time.
EPIC wants to share the excitement about e-publishing with young writers and introduce them to the variety and versatility of e-books. We want to encourage them to spread their wings and soar by turning their creative dreams into reality, giving their voices a place in the books of now and the future.
EPIC’s New Voices Writing Competition Contest is their perfect opportunity.
We established this competition to encourage writing among Middle School and High School-aged students. The New Voices Writing Competition has been an astounding success in its short history, welcoming talented young entrants from all parts of the globe. Help us continue to offer these writers the opportunity to fly.
We invite your writers, poets, schools, and local organizations to participate in this ELECTRONIC COMPETITION and welcome all Middle School and High School aged writers attending public, private, or home schools.
Winning entries are compiled into special anthologies. EPIC donates two versions of the current anthology (one copy on CD, the other in print) to each winning entrants’ school library, doing our part to promote e-book awareness within school systems. Additional electronic copies are available for download at no cost from our website:
For more Guidelines and Entry forms, please go to:
Presented as a translation of an ancient legend, The Naming is epic fantasy at its most classic. The Dark (working for what someone else forces you to do) threatens to extinguish the Light (working for what you hope for and believe in the depths of your heart) in the ancient civilization of Edil-Amarandh. Cadvan, a magically gifted Bard, believes that sixteen-year-old Maedra is the One who is Foretold to defeat the Dark. He finds her living wretchedly as a slave nine years after she survived the destruction of her home of Pellinor.
Eager to leave her life of slavery, Maedra and Cadvan embark on a long and dangerous journey during which she confronts enemies and realizes her special gifts. On this journey, Maedra finds her little brother, Hem, who she thought had been killed. They must separate at the end of The Naming, as Maedra continues her quest in The Riddle. Hem’s story is taken up again in the third book, The Crow. In the last book, The Singing, brother and sister are reunited for a final effort against the growing power of the Dark.
The edge of danger never lags in this series and the evil ones are plenty scary. The characters are complex and the line between the Light and the Dark is often blurred. Maedra is strong-willed, intelligent, kind, and brave. Because of the strength of her character, this series has been well-liked by the middle and high school girls in my classes, but boys who are avid fans of fantasy have also liked it. The protagonist is a teenager and as such there are some themes of romance and maturing development, but these are more implicit than explicit. Though this series has been compared to The Lord of the Rings, I think it is a slightly easier read and could be appreciated by younger, experienced readers also.
Welcome to the Summer Reading Club & Book Blog Tour of Edith Pargeter's The Brothers of Gwynedd Quartet. We begin withSunrise in the West: Book One of The Brothers of Gwyneddby Edith Pargeter. Organized by Danielle at Sourcebooks, the Summer Reading Club & Blog Tour covers the novels Sunrise in the West, The Dragon at Noonday, The Hounds of Sunset, and Afterglow and Nightfall over a period of four months.
The opening lines: "My name is Samson. I tell what I know, what I have seen with my own eyes and heard with my own ears. And if it should come to pass that I must tell it so certainly that I tell it as though I had been present. And I say now that there is no man living has a better right to be my lord's chronicler, for there is none ever knew him better than I, and God He knows there is none, man or woman, ever loved him better."
The blurb: Lleweln, prince of Gwynedd, dreams of a Wales united against the English. But first he must combat enemies nearer home. His brothers vie with him for power among themselves, and their infighting threatens the very soil of their fathers. David, brought up in the English court of King Henry III and torn between two loyalties, may be Llewelyn's most dangerous foe -- especially since Llewelyn has no sons. Simon de Monfort promises his daughter to Llewelyn, but the quest to give Wales an heir may not be enough to prevent tragedy for the country and its prince.
Acclaimed novelist Edith Pargeter spins an absorbing tale of tragedy, traitors, and triumph of the heart.
1 Comments on Book Blog Tour of Sunrise in the West: Book One of The Brothers of Gwynedd by Edith Pargeter, last added: 5/22/2010
Enter the lands of Leland Province, where dragon and human societies have long dwelled side by side. Superstitions rise sharply, as a severe drought strips the land of its bounty, providing fertile ground for the darker ambitions of Fordon Blackclaw, Dragon Council Leader, who seeks to subdue humans or wipe them off the face of the land.
As the shadow of danger creeps across Leland Province, a young dragon named Kallon Redheart, who has turned his back on dragons and humans alike, comes into an unexpected friendship. Riza Diantus is a young woman whose dreams can no longer be contained by the narrow confines of her village, and when she finds herself in peril, Kallon is the only one with the power to save her. Yet to do so means he must confront his past, and embrace a future he stopped believing in.
A tale of friendship, courage, and ultimate destiny, Redheart invites readers to a wondrous journey through the Leland Dragon Series.
How did you go about building the world of Leland?
I started with the characters. As I envisioned Kallon and the challenges he needed to face, I began to see his environment as a direct impact on his emotional development. Why has he chosen to isolate himself? Why would a human need his help? And the world grew from there.
What was the first scene you wrote for this novel? How has it changed over the course of the publishing process?
Wow, let’s see. I believe one of the first scenes I wrote is the scene where Kallon must find the Gold dragon, and risk his own safety to do it. It’s a pivotal scene, and one way I challenged myself to “write toward” it, with a Kallon that wouldn’t even consider such a risk in the beginning, but becoming someone who does. I think most of the changes came throughout the writing process itself, as I tweaked and re-tweaked – but the scene is still there after publishing as I envisioned it beforehand. Which is very cool.
Could you describe the Leland dragons for us? Why did you envision them this way? What inspired your interest in this mythical creature?
I’ve always seen the Leland dragons as fully developed, emoting creatures, with all the complications of the human experience. It’s certainly easier to identify with a character who shares one’s own qualities, but more than that, I wanted to explore motivation. As sentient, speaking animals, couldn’t there be more to them than hoarding gold and eating maidens?
Pondering the stereotypes drew me to dragons as fascinating characters to interpret. The mythology is the inspiration. I wanted to shatter it.
I was writing a short introduction about how summer has finally come to New York, and how lovely it’s been, but I went to a meeting and by the time I came back to this post, it was raining. At least I have my links.
Release Date: September 27, 2011 Series: Trilogy TBA Publisher: Little, Brown and Company Buy:Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.
In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.
And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.
Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages--not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out.
When one of the strangers--beautiful, haunted Akiva--fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?
Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a rich, imaginative tale of magic and monsters, war and heartbreak. The world-building in this novel is breathtaking, the backstory a tapestry woven with strands of legend and otherworldly secrets. Laini Taylor's style is beautiful and intelligent, bewitching in its elegant flair. The pacing is perfect with never a dull moment, whether the intensity comes from the heat of battle, the awe of discovery or the mystery of Taylor's monsters.
Laini Taylor's imagination knows no bounds. This is the most creative, original story I have ever read. Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a book that cannot be easily defined. It is a long history of war and senseless hate, otherworldly races and ancient magic. It is a fantasy and a tragedy and a romance. It is all these things and more. The descriptions are lush and vivid, the characters terrifying and oddly compelling, the lines between good and evil hopelessly blurred. It is a tale of self-discovery and irrepressible love, a coming-of-age story like no other.
Karou is such a compelling heroine, the kind of girl that shouldn't be crossed. She is quirky and mysterious -- from her naturally blue hair to her bullet-scarred belly -- a complex character who is alive and engaging from page one. Her mental life runs deep as she struggles with a lifelong sense of emptiness, and the constant frustration of vague answers from the only family she's ever known. Karou is smart and skilled, and she knows there's more to the story than she's been told. She is fearless when she needs to be, but vulnerable at heart. It's impossible not to fall in love with this one-of-a-ki
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by Craig Thompson
A sprawling, epic graphic novel of love and... no. Just love. But also a lot more.
Chance throws together Dodola and Zam, a pair of child slaves, and there's is an intricate story of love, admiration, and survival. It's a love that survives all the worst things that can happen to lost and forgotten children, and it is a love that seems to span thousands of