Wednesday, May 27, 2015

New Inspector Gadget Live-Action Movie Being Developed By Lin Pictures and Disney

Absolutely insane news - and NOT necessarily in a good way whatsoever. I came across this through a DeviantArt journal, which links to what seems to be the first article breaking the news, and also one of the very few sources we have at the moment. But it's not April 1, and I don't see why a movie news site with the tagline "Hollywood's Insider Information" should just make this up... so I guess I'll have to report it. Via The Tracking Board, then...

MAY 22, 2015 [4:22 pm]
The iconic cartoon character is getting another live-action film treatment 
Everybody’s favorite bumbling cyborg policeman is making his return to the big screen via Lin Pictures and DisneyDan Lin will produce the INSPECTOR GADGET reboot, which sources confirm will be another live-action interpretation of the beloved cartoon classic. The film is expected to wash away the existence of the 1999 Matthew Broderick outing, as well as the subsequent follow-up with French Stewart. Classic characters Gadget, Penny, and Brain are expected to appear, once again battling their unseen enemy, Doctor Claw. Lin Pictures’ president of production Jonathan Eirich will oversee development alongside Mark Bauch. 
Inspector Gadget intitally ran from 1983 to 1986, but remained in syndication into the late ’90s. The series followed a dimwitted half-robotic policeman who could summon nearly limitless amounts of useful, and often useless, gadgets by saying “Go-Go-Gadget,” and then inserting the name of the item. Though his gadgets almost regularly malfunctioned, Gadget solved capers and crimes with his niece Penny and dog Brain in tow, often thwarting the schemes of the nefarious Doctor Claw and his diabolic agents working for the evil M.A.D. syndicate. 
A live-action adaptation loosely based on the series was released by Disney in 1999, starring Matthew Broderick, Michelle Trachtenberg, and Rupert Everett. The film was generally poorly received, but still led to a straight-to-DVD sequel starring French Stewart as the titular hero. The character returned in an updated CGI-animated series, which just recently premiered in the U.S. on Netflix this past March. 
Lin Pictures most recently produced Warner Bros.’ massive animated hit The Lego Movie. Other credits include the Robert Downey Jr./Jude Law Sherlock Holmes series and the Josh Brolin/Ryan Gosling pulp-crime outing Gangster Squad. Lin is currently in development on an impressive array of high-profile projects, including the third Sherlock Holmes and The Lego Movie sequel and spinoffs.

I don't know what to say. In fact, right now, I have pretty much nothing to say, except I don't think it's a good sign that Disney is involved with this thing. The only good-sounding part of the press release (if it is a press release - that part feels unclear) is the sentence, "...expected to wash away the existence of the 1999 Matthew Broderick outing, as well as the subsequent follow-up with French Stewart." So much the better, obviously. Both of those movies were trainwrecks, with absolutely no respect for their source material and riddled with terrible writing, direction and acting. But is it really to be expected that the same, big Hollywood corporation - today much bigger, with all the buyouts that has taken place over the past decade - will do a more respectful and (not least) better adaptation this time around?

From what the news piece says, of course, Disney will not be doing it just by themselves this time. Dan Lin of Lin Pictures is set to be the producer, which I'm guessing might mean that his company will be handling most of the actual production, with Disney co-financing and distributing the film. That is at least my theory for the moment. But I can't say Dan Lin as a producer makes me feel more optimistic, either. The Lego Movie was wonderfully fun and entertaining, but that's clearly a testament to the film's directors, not its producers. Plus, several years ago Dan Lin was heavily involved with developing a CG/live-action movie of another cartoon series, Tom and Jerry. That whole concept sounded quite awful... and in the end, thankfully, nothing came of it (although Warner is currenty developing an all-animated feature with the cat and mouse instead).

To that end, we should remind ourselves that this new Inspector Gadget movie is only in the earliest stages of development. Any information given now is subject to change. If you check The Tracking Board's tag list for 'Inspector Gadget', you'll find a link to an "Inspector Gadget (Sales)" site which teases more information about the film; though you have to be a registered member of the site to see it. But it doesn't seem much more info is available yet anyway, judging by the sentence next to the "In Development" thumbnail picture: "Kept under wraps, but pitched as another live-action interpretation of the beloved cartoon classic about the dimwitted cyborg policeman."

Some other sites mentioning the project are also worth noting. AceShowBiz, in addition to a May 23 piece quoting The Tracking Board, lists the film in its movie section with a tentative "2018" as the release year. I don't know if that's an assumption by AceShowBiz or sourced from the "Sales" site behind The Tracking Board's subscription wall. Meanwhile, Sci4Me has a news piece posted on the same day as The Tracking Board's article, but with partly different information. I especially found the following interesting:

While [the 1999 Disney live-action film] spawned a live-action straight-to-DVD sequel starring French Stewart, the two films weren’t as popular as hoped, and the franchise faded away. Recently, an updated CGI series premiered on Netflix, paving the way for a new version to hit the big screen.

And I'm pretty sure that last sentence is true, too. We already know that the reboot series has been doing well in ratings, so this makes sense to me. But it's interesting: very often with franchise reboots of this kind, a big-screen movie paves the way for new animated productions. It happened with Garfield, it happened with Alvin and the Chipmunks. It even happened with Gadget, 16 years ago. The (purely commercial) success of Disney's 1999 film paved the way for a new TV series, Gadget & the Gadgetinis, as well as two direct-to-video animated films.

In this case, however, it's the other way around. A new animated TV series gets made - not because of any live-action movies, but because the original show performs strongly in reruns and instant video; and a 2010 mobile game closely based on it becomes a surprice hit. Teletoon Canada, which already has the 1983 show airing around the clock on their Teletoon Retro network, orders an updated version for their main channel. Following the reboot series' global launch in early 2015, a big-screen movie enters development. The chronology of events is clear... and undoubtedly the clearest sign yet of the new TV series' success, not to mention the lasting success of the 1983 original.

ANYWAY. What matters most of all here is whether the new movie, should it get produced, will be any good. But I think its producers would do well to realize the chronology of events I just described, and realize that the cornerstone of Inspector Gadget's popularity is still, after all these years, the original 1983 series. The two Disney movies are largely forgotten today, and for good reason: they were awful. If the new live-action reboot could manage to actually be a good movie - one which works to capture the spirit and essence of the 1983 series, rather than do everything to steer away from it - Lin Pictures and Disney could have a long-term franchise hit on their hands.

Whether that will happen is impossible to say right now, and I can't say for certain how closely I'll be following this project, either. It will depend on how much it interests me... right now, not too much.

But who knows. That one sentence with "wash away" does provide a tiny glimmer of hope. Plus, there's nothing inherently wrong with the sentence immediately following: "Classic characters Gadget, Penny, and Brain are expected to appear, once again battling their unseen enemy, Doctor Claw." Good so far.

Final question: why do these Hollywood adaptations of cartoon shows always have to be live-action? Why not do an all-animated Inspector Gadget theatrical feature?

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Canadian Update: Teletoon Premieres Inspector Gadget's Reboot in the Fall of 2015

As shared a few hours ago on Inspector Gadget's official Facebook site...

Attention Canadian Gadget Fans: The brand new series Inspector Gadget will be premiering on TELETOON in the Fall of 2015! Stay tuned for more details.

This marks a change from the tentative June 2015 premiere that animator Scott Baltjes mentioned back in December. The Fall 2015 launch has actually been revealed one other place online - in this April 12 article on Gadget voice actor Ivan Sherry that I previously wrote about here (though I neglected to mention the following then): 

Sherry said the new Inspector Gadget started to air in January in 65 different countries around the world. In March, the show started on Netflix in the United States, and will air on Teletoon in the fall.

Now we have two sources of info, one of them being the show's official Facebook account; so the new Canadian premiere time is clearly legitimate. Stay Teletooned!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

News Flash Roundup: Gadget's New Voice Speaks, DHX Is Considering To Leave Halifax

Some interesting newspaper articles of late...

Ivan Sherry talks about Inspector Gadget. The article "Former Kingstonian new voice of cartoon classic" is essentially a fluff piece (not much of real depth is revealed), but it's still the first interview I've seen with Gadget's new actor.

One of Sherry's quotes brings the production timeline into perspective a bit:

Sherry said all 52, 11-minute episodes have been voiced and produced. 
"We finished recording them last summer," Sherry said. "Then, they animate after we've recorded. A lot of people assume it's the other way around. 
"So you actually have a lot of influence over what the animators are going to draw, because you're bringing the energy, and you're making the decisions for the character based on the script, you're bringing your own take on it."

What the animators are going to "draw"? Sigh. And then there's this quote which is kinda frustrating...

"I haven't found many people who don't know the theme song (to Inspector Gadget) or they all say 'wowzers,' 'go go gadget,' everybody knows Inspector Gadget," Sherry said. "It's unbelievable, I had no idea."

...simply because that wonderful theme song which everybody knows is NOT USED in the new series. Not that Sherry is to be blamed in any way for that.

In other news: DHX Halifax, the division of DHX which produced and animated the new Gadget series, may be shut down or moved if recent changes to the film tax credit for Nova Scotia (the Canadian province of which Halifax is the capital) go through. The reasons are detailed in the linked piece "Cape Breton comedian: reduction of tax credit could see demise of N.S. film industry". As far as I can understand, though, the bottom line is this:

Over the past few years, the Canadian government has given generous, monetary support - in form of a hefty tax credit - to film and television productions which are hundred percent Canadian. This has led to many more animated productions coming to Canada than would otherwise have been the case; simply because producers can save a lot of money by having a series done there, with a wholly Canadian cast and crew, and save tax money. Now, however, this very convenient tax reduction arrangement is about to change for Nova Scotia: of July 1, the film industry tax credit will only cover 25 per cent of eligible costs with the remaining 75 per cent available as a non-refundable tax credit. The credit used to be 100 per cent. A new $6-million Creative Economy Fund has been established to fill the void but it won't be available until 2016 and it will be available to a variety of creative industries, not just the film industry. 
"If they go through with this cut, this government is going to leave Nova Scotia with the poorest and least attractive tax programs in North America, so that means that productions which have come here before are going to go elsewhere," said MacDonald. "And there's lots of places for them to go. 
"Why would you come and make your television show or your film in Nova Scotia when you can drive up the road and make it in New Brunswick and get the proper tax credit? If they make this decision and follow through with it, as soon as they do it, just watch, everything will shut down." 
The rumblings have already begun with DHX Media in Halifax suggesting they may leave the province if the changes to the tax credit go ahead. They are the producers of the "Inspector Gadget" animated series and employ more than 150 people...

The tax reduction likely goes a long way toward explaining why the new Inspector Gadget series is a 100% Canadian production. It probably even explains, to an extent, some of the new voice actor choices. As the Ivan Sherry piece mentions: "...all the [voice] talent is Canadian, and includes Tara Strong, originally from Toronto, who lives in Los Angeles, Calif." Of course, a ton of different reasons play into how and why the new actors were selected, but it does sound like they needed to be Canadian.

I wonder what will happen with DHX Halifax now that the tax situation is (seemingly) changing. If the new Gadget series is popular enough to warrant a second season, will that season be produced elsewhere?

UPDATE: I corrected some details regarding the tax credit situation pointed out by this anonymous commenter.

UPDATE #2: For those wishing to delve into the tax credit situation more, Mark Mayerson has written an interesting piece on it.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

New Inspector Gadget Series Gets Canadian Pre-Premiere at the TIFF Kids Film Festival on April 19

Are you living in Canada? And are you feeling slightly annoyed that nearly every country on the globe has already premiered the new Gadget series, while Teletoon Canada is not airing it until June? Then the following may be for you.

Via the official site of the children's film festival TIFF Kids, which takes place in Toronto, Canada from April 7 to 19:

Inspector Gadget
The bumbling detective is back in action! Come enjoy four episodes of the brand new animated series as Gadget, his resourceful niece Penny, and her dog Brain set out to stop the sinister Dr. Claw and his global crime syndicate MAD from conquering the world! 
Director in attendance, April 19! 
N.B.: Some scenes may be scary for younger audiences; cartoon violence 
This programme is rated G.

TIFF's Inspector Gadget screening starts at 11:00 AM on Sunday, April 19 (eight days from now). Tickets can be bought online by pressing "BUY - 11:00AM" at the Inspector Gadget site. The program will consist of the following four 11-minute episodes:

Gadget 2.0 Part 1 (#01a)
Gadget 2.0 Part 2 (#01b)
A Hole in One (#10a)
Operation Hocus Pocus (#10b)

The credited directors for these episodes are William Gordon and Phillip Stamp (who is also a supervising producer on the series). I'm not sure which of them will be there for the TIFF screening, but it is kind of cool that one of the directors is participating. Also, of course, with this being a pre-premiere in Canada, it's cool that they're starting off with the very first episode, "Gadget 2.0".

While I'm at it, here's some more info about TIFF Kids via a PDF press release...

March 4, 2015
Young audiences are treated to pancakes, Peanuts, parties and plenty more between films at the TIFF Kids International Film Festival 
Toronto – Now in its 18th of year celebrating the best in children’s cinema from Canada and around the world, the TIFF Kids International Film Festival™ enhances the festival-going experience for young movie lovers with activities, and special events happening throughout TIFF Bell Lightbox, encouraging kids and their families to engage with the festival in a variety of ways. Running from April 7 to April 19, the festival kicks off with a night of food, activities and fun at the Opening Night Party on April 10, with the Canadian premiere of Shaun the Sheep: The Movie, the latest claymation feature length film from Aardman Studios, the creators of Wallace & Gromit. 
TIFF Kids is also presenting a sneak peek of Inspector Gadget, the brand new animated series, produced by DHX Media and airing on Teletoon later this year - which sees the detective back in action, along with his resourceful niece Penny, and her dog Brain.  
Special Screening: Inspector Gadget
Canadian Premiere
Sunday, April 19 at 11 a.m. 
Recommended for ages 6 and up. 
Gadget 2.0—Part I, dirs. William Gordon, Philip Stamp, Canada 
When the evil Dr. Claw escapes from his iceberg prison, Gadget is called out of retirement to take on his old arch-nemesis once more—but a double agent inside HQ could sabotage his mission before it even begins! 
Gadget 2.0—Part II, dirs. William Gordon, Philip Stamp, Canada 
Hot on the heels of Dr. Claw’s nephew Talon, Gadget, Penny and Brain embark on a globe-trotting pursuit that takes them from the South American rainforest to the Antarctic. 
A Hole in One, dir. Philip Stamp, Canada 
Which came first, the chicken, the egg… or the doughnut? Investigating a mysterious wave of chicken-napping, Gadget, Penny and Brain uncover Dr. Claw’s plot to sedate the world’s population through his evil (but delicious) confectionary treats. 
Operation Hocus Pocus, dir. William Gordon, Canada 
Dr. Claw springs the evil MADgician out of an asylum to destroy Gadget—a task made all the easier by the fact that the oblivious inspector believes the nefarious necromancer to be his friend!

...and some hi-res screenshots which were included on the presentation site (you saw one of them up above). These don't seem to necessarily stem from the episodes which will be screened, but look nice regardless.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Episodes 1-7 of "New Inspector Gadget" Hit Australian iTunes in 1080p HD!

I've felt something of a lack of energy to devote to this blog lately, and so I've been remiss in reporting various news bits I've observed over the past month. Time to try and change that. Especially since this latest thing I just learned is pretty interesting.

As I already mentioned here, the new series got its first-ever DVD release in Australia not too long ago, on April 2. Titled "Inspector Gadget - Season 1, Volume 1" - or alternately "Inspector Gadget 2.0" or "New Inspector Gadget" on various sites - this PAL Region 4 release from Universal Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has been revealed to contain the first 7 half-hour episodes on 1 disc, with a run time of 151 minutes.

What I didn't know when I reported this earlier, though, is that episodes 1-7 have also gotten an Australian iTunes release through that same distribution deal (and on the same date, April 2), under the title New Inspector Gadget, Season 1, Vol. 1! Why is this so interesting? Well, the iTunes store actually offers the episodes in HD - 1080p and 720p - as well as standard definition. Meaning that Australian consumers can now choose between a physical, standard-def DVD edition or both HD and SD versions of the episodes on iTunes. Aside from the 16 half-hours currently available on Netflix in North America, this is the first HD release the new Gadget series has seen, and the first which is not streaming video. Because of that, this iTunes version is probably the best-quality release the series has received so far. 

It's a bit disappointing that Universal is not doing a Blu-ray release, though. What we have here seems to be a standard way of releasing new animated series these days -- both HD and SD on iTunes, but only SD DVD in terms of physical media. I mean, we're in 2015. Are Blu-rays STILL that much more expensive to put out than DVDs, and that much less profitable when it comes to kiddie shows? This series was clearly meant to be seen in HD. At least the iTunes version offers that... but it would be nice to see a collector's edition Blu-ray of all 26 half-hours eventually.

Oh, and one more slight downside. According to Cartoon Central Australia, the tentative release date for "Inspector Gadget 2.0 Season 1 Volume 2" from Universal is June 18. I'm guessing the next Australian iTunes release will also follow the DVD release... so Australian consumers will apparently have to wait a bit for more episodes. According to the Australian Government's classification (how's that for official info?), the Volume 2 release has a run time of 130 minutes, meaning that it will likely contain the 6 next episodes, #8 through #13.

(This makes sense because only the first 13 half-hours - of 26 - were launched on Boomerang worldwide and Germany's Super RTL back when the Gadget reboot initially premiered around the globe during January-March. The last 13 half-hours of Season 1 have been held back, and have only begun to hit airwaves during the last few weeks. Meanwhile, episodes 17-26 are still being held back by Netflix US. But I digress...)

Ideally, I'd say one new half-hour per week would be a better release strategy for iTunes than two months between a new batch of episodes. But hey, at least Australia is offered several decent purchase options already!

Saturday, April 4, 2015