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First Peek: "The Book Of Life"

by Jerry Beck
February 27, 2014 12:01 AM
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The Book Of Life logo

From producer Guillermo del Toro and writer/director Jorge Gutierrez comes one of the most exciting animated releases of 2014 - an animated comedy with a unique visual style, based on Mexico's "Day Of The Dead" holiday.  

The Book of Life is the journey of Manolo, a young man who is torn between fulfilling the expectations of his family and following his heart.  Before choosing which path to follow, he embarks on an incredible adventure that spans three fantastical worlds where he must face his greatest fears. The Book Of Life encourages us to celebrate the past while looking forward to the future. 

The cast includes Diego Luna, Channing Tatum, Zoe Saldana, Ice Cube, Ron Perlman, Christina Applegate, Kate del Castillo, Cheech Marin, Placido Domingo, Hector Elizondo, Gabriel Iglesias, Ricardo “El Mandril” Sanchez, and Danny Trejo. The animation was produced at Reel FX, Twentieth Century Fox will release The Book Of Life on October 17th, 2014. 

At an art gallery reception this past Monday night in Beverly Hills, Reel FX and Fox showed off several production paintings for the cast and crew. Here are two pieces that reflect the sensibility of the art direction (click on image to enlarge, to see more of the image and view detail):

Production concept art featuring character designs from the upcoming animated feature THE BOOK OF LIFE.
Reel FX Animation Studio Production concept art featuring character designs from the upcoming animated feature THE BOOK OF LIFE.


  • hopeful joe | March 3, 2014 7:50 AMReply

    Judging from their recent horrible feature Free Birds, I'm not very optimistic about this film. those artworks look good but as mentioned earlier there is a lot of change between the concept and the final product.

    One thing that's very puzzling, I looked up some of the key people in charge of Free Birds and most of the animation supervisors at least are ex-pixar, ex-dreamworks guys with amazing track record and experience, how on earth did these people make something as awful as free birds?

  • eeteed | March 3, 2014 7:06 PM

    Hopeful Joe wrote, "... how on earth did these people make something as awful as free birds ..."

    possibility 1) executive meddling
    possibility 2) the cartoon industry is rank with nepotism and cronyism. people don't always land jobs because of talent.
    possibility 3) the cartoon industry is filled with people who are technically proficient, but lack creativity. the industry needs such people to follow and imitate the work of others. it's not unusual for such people to work their way up the ladder, and then after years of service be given a chance to shine ... but sadly they can only shine like a mirror, reflecting the glow of others.

  • Peteykins | February 28, 2014 2:28 PMReply

    These look very promising. Let's hope these interesting designs don't get put through the "blanderizer" too many times.

  • WWWDD? | February 27, 2014 5:30 PMReply

    Concept art and what eventually ends up on the screen can vary wildly. Before gushing let's remember that this is the same studio that gave us the decidedly underwhelming "Freebirds". Here's to hoping for something hot and fresh, but preparing and expecting, a cold and bland tamale in a pretty wrapper.

  • eeteed | February 27, 2014 4:59 AMReply

    i'm not exactly thrilled by these images, and i'm going to need to see a lot more before I can decide if this film is indeed "... one of the most exciting animated releases of 2014 ...", but I CAN tell you that from what i'm seeing/reading here it appears that the people who are handling this film are bungling things.

    this film has a release date in about 8 months, the animation has already been produced, and the only thing you are offering us to see is 2 pre-production images? big studios like Pixar and dreamworks show more/ talk about more for their projects YEARS before their release.

    you need to build interest in your work. if you just throw a few tv ads on the air a week or two before the film's release people aren't going to have any idea what your film is and they're just going to ignore it.

    further, these images are fussy detail oriented scenics. animation fans are interested in ANIMATION. show us some great ANIMATION ... and some engaging CHARACTER DESIGNS. give us some characters we can relate to, and a unique and thrilling story line.

    and the man on the clothesline looks a lot like manny's dad from "el tigre".

  • Eduardo | March 6, 2014 8:47 PM

    "this film has a release date in about 8 months, the animation has already been produced..."

    8 months from release is actually quite a lot of time. You might be surprised just how much work is completed in the last eight weeks of production.

    I hope that Jorge gets a chance to do some interviews soon -- I have never heard anyone speak so passionately about a project as he does. Looking at his track record, this movie is the culmination of a dream that started a long while ago - it's a project built on love. You can't say that for a lot of movies. The artists at ReelFX are working immensely hard to realize his vision for the show.

    Marketing is always a problem for small studios, it's a massive investment, often more money than the production of the film itself. Luckily, 20th Century Fox is an excellent partner to have for distribution.

    I think saying nay at this point is premature. Give it a chance.

  • Trick | February 27, 2014 11:28 AM

    I like your use of CAPS for emphasis.

    Also if you are going to talk about Disney AND character design look at Tangled and Frozen... Pretty much looks like re-use to me.

    You're comparing a studio with one feature under its belt to a big power house like Disney or Pixar. I don't understand your frustration, but I would like to. I think the character designs are excellent and I really enjoy how they are different from the big eyed, polished skin, simple designs of other major studios. This is something different, something unique, and I am definitely looking forward to it.

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