It’s Friday, February 3rd. Here are the major news stories in voice acting and animation this week.
Animation Industry: Massive Class-Action Lawsuit Closes with $100mm Settlement
Over two years ago, three of the biggest animation studios were sued by their animators and artists. The suit alleged that Disney, Pixar, and Lucasfilm had colluded in “wage-fixing”. In other words, the artists claimed that the studios worked together to keep artist salaries low, to the benefit of all three companies.
The legal battle has been raging since September 2014, but Cartoon Brew reports the parties have finally come to an agreement. The studios will pay $100 million to the class, which includes animation artists who worked at any of the three companies from 2004-2010. According to Cartoon Brew, that’s likely to be several thousand people.
The lawyers take their cut as well, which means each individual artist will only take home a small fraction of the cash. The real hope is that this victory will lead to better treatment of artists in future… and maybe voice actors, too?
Video Game Voice Actors Strike Continues
— Liam O'Brien (@VoiceOfOBrien) February 2, 2017
There are few real developments here. SAG-AFTRA union members in the video game voice acting field are still on strike.
February 1 saw a new rally of video game voice actors at SAG-AFTRA headquarters. David White, director of SAG-AFTRA, spoke at the rally to say they have negotiated better deals on a number of the points detailed at their website. Check The Vocal Range’s previous coverage for details.
Stranger Things Star Returns to (Very Serious) Animation
Matthew Modine, best known today as the sinister Dr. Brenner in Stranger Things, has signed on to My Love Affair With Marriage. The film, conceived by Latvian animator Signe Bauman, chronicles a young woman’s struggles through life. She finds herself locked in a series of marriages, none of which quite work.
Modine is now the executive producer of the film, and will also provide voice acting for the second husband. Variety says he has “a shocking secret that eventually destroys their marriage.”
The protagonist is described as a “fiery young woman with a wild imagination.” It sounds like a more depressing version of Amélie.
Big Stars Join Enviro-Toon Arctic Justice: Thunder Squad
Slated for release in 2018 is Arctic Justice: Thunder Squad, a CG-animated production directed by Aaron Woodley. This is his first animated release as a director, though he did head several episodes of Glen Martin DDS. The film is a Captain Planet-esque look at global warming (melting ice caps, specifically) through the lens of superheroics.
Open Road Films acquired the production and quickly signed on an amazing voice cast. Jeremy Renner, Alec Baldwin, Heidi Klum, James Franco, John Cleese, Anjelica Huston, and Omar Sy top the credits.
Arctic Justice chronicles a group of young heroes who team up to fight the dastardly climate-destroying plans of Doc Walrus (voiced by Cleese), who is presumably a walrus doctor. It’s not immediately clear why a walrus would like to melt the arctic circle, but all should become clear in 2018.
Illumination Going Big on Sequels
Those last two are a little artsy. How about some good old-fashioned family fare? Illumination Entertainment (of Minions fame) just announced their production slate for the next five years.
Sequels, sequels, sequels! Of course, we can’t complain. Sing was awesome, and Despicable Me just gets better and better. Not every studio can be Disney with the original projects every year.
- June 2017 – Despicable Me 3
- November 2018 – Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas
- July 2019 – The Secret Life of Pets 2
- July 2020 – Minions 2
- December 2020 – Sing 2
Live Action Remakes Take a Dark & Ratty Turn
Disney has been riding the “live action remake” train for years now, and for the most part they’ve been good. The Little Mermaid should be a hit thanks to involvement from Lin-Manuel Miranda, and The Jungle Book was very well received. The occasional misstep is forgivable, and Cinderella has largely been forgotten.
MGM is joining the trend, and the first classic animated feature in their crosshairs is a doozy. The Secret of NIMH, with its adult themes of industrialization and its trippy tale of hyper-intelligent lab rats, made our list of the most disturbing cartoons ever created.
James Madigan, who worked in the special effects departments of Iron Man 2, Insurgent, and other blockbusters, is set to direct. I’m sure you and I will love the film, but I can’t help but worry for the sanity of the next generation.