Kudos will be unveiled February 5
Did Disney-Pixar’s withdrawal from the Intl. Animation Society make a difference in this year’s Annie Awards nominations? We’ll never know, but DreamWorks Animation racked up 39 noms — including 15 for “How to Train Your Dragon” — while no other company came close. (Disney and Pixar combined for a grand total of eight nominations.)Disney-Pixar’s “Toy Story 3″ and Disney’s “Tangled” were among the nominees for best animated pic. Others vying for the top prize are DWA’s “How to Train Your Dragon,” Illumination’s “Despicable Me” and Django Films’ “The Illusionist.” “Dragon’s” 15 bids included feature, direction, writing and voice acting. “Despicable Me” was second in total noms with seven. “Dragon” received mentions in every category for which the filmmakers submitted it, according to producer Bonnie Arnold. The film “has been very well received by people in the animation community,” she told Daily Variety. Whether its domination of the Annies nominations gives “Dragon” a boost for a best pic Oscar nom remains to be seen, but Arnold didn’t mind politicking. “It is as good a film as any film under consideration by the Academy,” she said. “It’s heartfelt and has something to say.” In addition to its feature nom, B.O. juggernaut “Toy Story 3″ scored bids for director Lee Unkrich and writer Michael Arndt. “Tangled” scribe Dan Fogelman also picked up a nom. The 38th annual Annie Awards, hosted by ASIFA-Hollywood, will be held Feb. 5 at UCLA’s Royce Hall. Disney withdrew its support from ASIFA and the Annie Awards in August over the org’s judging practices. The Mouse House was irked that ASIFA membership is open to anyone, not just industry pros, much like Film Independent, whose paying members vote for the Spirit Awards. ASIFA made some tweaks to its judging last year, limiting voting in individual achievement categories to animation pros, and has made significant changes this year so that non-pros can’t vote in any category. Those changes didn’t appease Disney, which wanted an advisory committee made up of reps from each studio to recommend rule changes to the ASIFA board. ASIFA-Hollywood prexy Antran Manoogian said nominating committees are made up of industry professionals and that every effort is made to ensure there is no conflict of interest. They review all of the submitted material and have the leeway to include a project that may not have been submitted by filmmakers or a studio. “Our nominating committees do a great job,” he said. “Any one of these nominees is deserving of receiving the Annie.” Disney and Pixar’s absence from many of the individual achievement categories suggests that the Disney contingent refrained from submitting, and that the few nominations it did receive may have been at the discretion of the nominating committee. “Toy Story 3″ is the most successful toon ever and the fifth-highest grossing film of all time, pulling in more than $1 billion worldwide. Disney’s latest, “Tangled,” dislodged “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1″ last weekend from its hold on the box office top spot, with a global take so far of $142 million. “How to Train Your Dragon” pulled in $491 million overall, while “Despicable Me” has brought in $534 million. French toon “The Illusionist,” from helmer Sylvain Chomet, has made $4 million. In addition to “Toy Story 3′s” Unkrich, helming bids went to Chomet for “The Illusionist,” Pierre Coffin for “Despicable Me,” Mamoru Hosada for Madhouse/Funimation’s “Summer Wars” and Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois for “Dragon.” Joining Arndt and Fogelman in the feature writing category are “Illusionist’s” Chomet; “Dragon’s” Sanders; DeBlois and William Davies; and Alan J. Schoolcraft and Brent Simons for DreamWorks Animation’s “Megamind.” Voice acting noms went to Jay Baruchel and Gerard Butler for “Dragon,” Steve Carell for “Despicable Me,” Cameron Diaz for “Shrek Forever After” and Geoffrey Rush for “Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole.” As “Dragon,” “Megamind” and “Shrek Forever After” scooped up feature noms, DWA also dominated in the TV categories, with its “Kung Fu Panda Holiday” and “Scared Shrekless” among the nominees for television production. Other nominees are “Futurama” (the Curiosity Co. in association with 20th Century Fox), “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” (Lucasfilm Animation) and “The Simpsons” (Gracie Films). Nommed in for TV production for children are Cartoon Network’s “Adventure Time” and “Regular Show,” Nickelodeon’s “Fanboy and Chum Chum” and “SpongeBob SquarePants” and GIMC’s “Cloud Bread.” Directing in a TV production bids went to Bob Anderson for “The Simpsons,” Peter Chung for Cartoon Network’s “Firebreather,” Duke Johnson for ShadowMachine’s “Frankenhole: Humanitas,” Tim Johnson for “Kung Fu Panda Holiday” and Gary Trousdale for “Scared Shrekless.” ASIFA will hand out special honors at its awards gala to Brad Bird, Eric Goldberg and Matt Groening for career contributions to animation; Ross Iwamoto for benevolent or charitable impact on the art and industry of animation; and Autodesk for its development of digital entertainment creation tools that have played a significant role in all aspects of animation, including film, videogames and commercials. Don Hahn’s doc on the resurgence of Disney Animation, “Waking Sleeping Beauty,” will receive a special achievement award.