Don Hall & Carlos López Estrada (2021)

Raya and the Last Dragon is an upcoming American computer-animated adventure fantasy film produced by Walt Disney Pictures and Walt Disney Animation Studios for distribution by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. The 59th film produced by the studio, it is directed by Don Hall and Carlos López Estrada, co-directed by Paul Briggs and John Ripa produced by Osnat Shurer and Peter Del Vecho, written by Qui Nguyen and Adele Lim, and music score composed by James Newton Howard. The film features an almost-entirely Asian American cast, including the voices of Kelly Marie Tran as the titular Raya and Awkwafina as Sisu, the last dragon, along with Gemma Chan, Daniel Dae Kim, Sandra Oh, Benedict Wong, Izaac Wang, Thalia Tran, and Alan Tudyk.

Raya and the Last Dragon is scheduled to be released theatrically in the United States on March 5, 2021. The film will also be simultaneously available on Disney+ with Premier Access, particularly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic’s negative impact on movie theatres across the United States, with many of them remaining closed.

Tara Billinger & Zach Bellissimo (2021)

Rawhide and Snag aren’t always the best sheriffs of the strange land known as “The Gulch”, when crossing off their wanted poster list leads to the two in hot water, they must fight for what they care about most, while going up against a rogue’s gallery of bizarre characters.

Created by Tara Billinger (Mickey Mouse shorts) & Zach Bellissimo (Victor & Valentino, Rick & Morty), this hand drawn, 2D animated, adventure, fantasy pilot is a result of a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2016. Five years in the making, the creators hired talented industry professionals and prolific freelancers to fulfill their vision. Along with well known voices you’ve probably heard before (E.G. Daily of Powerpuff Girls and Danny Cooksey of Xiaolin Showdown) and an insane surf rock soundtrack by Kreeps (Red Dead Redemption), the world of Long Gone Gulch is full of thrills, chills, laughs, and many surprises.

Masami Hata & William Hurtz (1989)

A young boy whose dreams transcend reality is sucked into his own fantasy, which is everything he has dreamed of until he unleashes a century old secret that may not only destroy this perfect dream world but reality itself.

Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland is a 1989 Japanese-American animated musical-comedy adventure fantasy film directed by Masami Hata and William Hurtz. Based on the comic strip Little Nemo in Slumberland by Winsor McCay, the film went through a lengthy development process with a number of screenwriters. Ultimately, the screenplay was credited to Chris Columbus and Richard Outten.. The original soundtrack was penned by the Academy Award-winning Sherman Brothers. The film features the English dub voices of Gabriel Damon, Mickey Rooney, René Auberjonois, Danny Mann, and Bernard Erhard.

Will Vinton (1985)

Join Mark Twain on his airship to meet Halley’s Comet!

The Adventures of Mark Twain is a 1985 American stop motion claymation fantasy film directed by Will Vinton and starring James Whitmore. It received a limited theatrical release in May 1985.

The film features a series of vignettes extracted from several of Mark Twain’s works, built around a plot that features Twain’s attempts to keep his “appointment” with Halley’s Comet. Twain and three children — Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, and Becky Thatcher — travel on an airship between various adventures.

The concept was inspired by a famous quote by the author:

“I came in with Halley’s Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it. It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don’t go out with Halley’s Comet. The Almighty has said, no doubt: ‘Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together.'”

Twain died on April 21, 1910, one day after Halley’s Comet reached perihelion in 1910.

Included are sketches taken from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Mysterious Stranger, The Diaries of Adam and Eve (Letters from the Earth), Captain Stormfield’s Visit to Heaven, and, a rendering of Twain’s first story, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County. References are made to his other works, including The Damned Human Race.

This animated film was shot in Portland, Oregon.

Ralph Bakshi (1977)

Wizards is a 1977 American animated post-apocalyptic science fantasy film about the battle between two wizards, one representing the forces of magic and one representing the forces of industrial technology.

Director: Ralph Bakshi
Producer: by Ralph Bakshi
Writer: Ralph Bakshi
Starring: Bob Holt, Jesse Welles, Richard Romanus, David Proval, Steve Gravers
Narrator: Susan Tyrrell
Music: Andrew Belling
Cinematography: C. Bemiller
Editor: Donald W. Ernst

The film is notable for being the first fantasy film by Bakshi, a filmmaker who was previously known only for “urban films” such as Fritz the Cat, Heavy Traffic, and Coonskin. The film has since become a cult classic.

Ralph Bakshi had long had an interest in fantasy, and had been drawing fantasy artwork as far back as 1955, while he was still in high school. Wizards originated in the concept for Tee-Witt, an unproduced television series Bakshi developed and pitched to CBS in 1967. In 1976, Bakshi pitched War Wizards to 20th Century Fox. Returning to the fantasy drawings he had created in high school for inspiration, Bakshi intended to prove that he could produce a “family picture” that had the same impact as his adult-oriented films.

The film is an allegorical comment on the moral ambiguity of technology and the potentially destructive powers of propaganda. Blackwolf’s secret weapon is propaganda, used to incite his legions and terrorize the fairy folk of Montagar; but Avatar’s willingness to use a technological tool (a handgun pulled from “up his sleeve”) destroys his evil twin. Bakshi also states that Wizards “was about the creation of the state of Israel and the Holocaust, about the Jews looking for a homeland, and about the fact that fascism was on the rise again”.

British illustrator Ian Miller and comic book artist Mike Ploog were hired to contribute backgrounds and designs. The crew included Vita, Turek, Sparey, Vitello, and Spence, who had become comfortable with Bakshi’s limited storyboarding and lack of pencil tests. Artist Alex Niño signed a contract with Bakshi to work on the film, and was granted a work visa, but was unable to gain permission from the Philippine government to leave for the United States until two months afterward, and later found that by the time he had arrived in the United States, not only had the film’s animation been completed, but Niño’s visa did not allow him to submit freelance work on any other projects.

The film’s main cast includes Bob Holt, Jesse Welles, Richard Romanus, David Proval, and Steve Gravers. Bakshi cast Holt based on his ability to imitate the voice of actor Peter Falk, of whom Bakshi is a fan. Welles, Romanus, and Proval had previously worked with Bakshi on Hey Good Lookin’, where Romanus and Proval provided the voices of Vinnie and Crazy Shapiro, respectively. Actress Tina Bowman, who plays a small role in Wizards, has a larger role in Hey Good Lookin’. Actor Mark Hamill auditioned for and received a voice role in the film. Bakshi states that “He needed a job, and he came to me, and I thought he was great, and Lucas thought he should do it, and he got not only Wizards, he got Star Wars.” Bakshi had wanted a female narrator for his film, and he loved Susan Tyrrell’s acting. Tyrrell performed the narration for the film, but Bakshi was told that he couldn’t credit her for her narration. Years later, Tyrrell told Bakshi that she got most of her work from her narration on the film, and that she wished she had allowed him to put her name on it.

John Grant writes in his book Masters of Animation that “The overall affect of the animation is akin to that of the great anime creators – one has to keep reminding oneself that Wizards predates Miyazaki’s The Castle of Cagliostro (1979), not the other way round. The backgrounds are especially lovely, even the simplest of them; and in general the movie has a strong visual brio despite occasional technical hurriedness.” Notable artists involved in the production of Wizards include Ian Miller, who produced the gloomy backgrounds of Scortch, and Mike Ploog, who contributed likewise for the more arcadian landscapes of Montagar.

Bakshi was unable to complete the battle sequences with the budget Fox had given him. When he asked them for a budget increase, they refused (during the same meeting, director George Lucas had asked for a budget increase for Star Wars and was also refused). As a result, Bakshi finished his film by paying out of his own pocket and using rotoscoping for the unfinished battle sequences. According to Bakshi, “I thought that if we dropped all the detail, it would look very artistic and very beautiful. And I felt, why bother animating all of this? I’m looking for a way to get realism into my film and get real emotion.” In his audio commentary for the film’s DVD release, Bakshi states that “There’s no question that it was an easier way to get these gigantic scenes that I wanted. It also was the way that showed me how to do Lord of the Rings, so it worked two ways.” In addition to stock footage, the film used battle sequences from films such as Zulu, El Cid, Battle of the Bulge, and Alexander Nevsky for rotoscoping. Live-action sequences from Patton were also featured.

Vaughn Bode’s work has been credited as an influence on Wizards. Quentin Tarantino describes Avatar as “a cross between Tolkien’s Hobbit, Mel Brooks’ 2000 Year Old Man, and Marvel Comics’ Howard the Duck” and Blackwolf as physically similar to Sergei Eisenstein’s Ivan the Terrible. In Jerry Beck’s Animated Movie Guide, Andrew Leal writes that “The central figure, Avatar sounds a great deal like Peter Falk, and clearly owes much to cartoonist Vaughn Bodé’s Cheech Wizard character.”

As War Wizards neared completion, Lucas requested that Bakshi change the title of his film to Wizards in order to avoid conflict with Star Wars, and Bakshi agreed because Lucas had allowed Mark Hamill to take time off from Star Wars in order to record a voice for Wizards.