Disney/Pixar’s Dia de los Muertes-themed Oscar frontrunner Coco topped the 45th Annie Awards on Saturday, winning 11 trophies including for best animated feature, direction and writing. The ceremony was held at UCLA’s Royce Hall.Accepting the awards, helmer Lee Unkrich emphasized “building bridges not walls,” while producer Darla Anderson urged inclusion and diversity.
GKIDS’ The Breadwinner won the trophy for best independent animated feature. The pic’s team, including director Nora Twomey, executive producer Angelina Jolie, producer Anthony Leo and lead voice actress Saara Chaurdy, came onstage to accept the award. The audience applauded as Leo noted that it was the first time a winner in the category had a solo woman director.
The Breadwinner, the story of an Afghan girl growing up until the Taliban rule, and Coco are both nominated for the best animated feature Oscar, alongside DreamWorks Animation’s The Boss Baby, Fox/Blue Sky’s Ferdinand and indie Loving Vincent. In four of the past six years, the winner in the best animated feature Annie category went on to win the animated feature Oscar (in 2015, the Annie category was split in two with the addition of the best animated independent feature category).
Oscar-nominated animated short Dear Basketball won the Annie for animated short; Oscar-nominated animated short Revolting Rhymes nabbed an Annie for animated special production; and Weta’s work on VFX Oscar nominee War for the Planet of the Apes collected the Annie for best character animation in a live-action production.
The TV category winners represented multiple productions, led by Disney Mickey Mouse and Samurai Jack, which took home three trophies apiece.
Winsor McCay Awards for career contributions were presented to James Baxter, Stephen Hillenburg and Canadian animation duo Wendy Tilby & Amanda Forbis.
SpongeBob Squarepants creator HIllenburg, who was diagnosed with ALS this past year, was seated and received a standing ovation. Tom Kenny, who is the voice actor for SpongeBob, made the stage presentation and accepted the award.
The Ub Iwerks Award for technical advancement went to TVPaint; a special achievement award was presented to Studio MDHR Entertainment for its 1930s-inspired video game Cuphead; and the June Foray Award for charitable impact was given to animation historian Didier Ghez.
This year, the International Animated Film Society, ASIFA-Hollywood, dedicated its Annies ceremony to veteran voice actress June Foray, who died in July at the age of 99.Coco added $11.6M this weekend in 35 material offshore markets as it strums its way to $500M overseas. The story of Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez) and his musical dreams traveled for the first time to Sweden and Norway this session, opening No. 1 in both. With domestic, the global frame was $13.2M.
In notable new ascensions, Coco is now the No. 4 Disney/Pixar release and the No. 2 Pixar release ever in Korea where the cume is $22.5M.
The story centers on the young Miguel, who wishes to be a crooner just like the late great Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt). But, music is of the devil in Miguel’s family, and de la Cruz is largely to blame for the curse. Following a mysterious and otherworldly chain of events, Miguel meets charming trickster Héctor (Gael García Bernal — voicing himself in the Spanish and English versions). Together, they set off on an adventure of music and mystery, resulting in the most unusual family reunion.
Coco began its otherworldly trajectory back in November, bowing in Mexico to tie into the Dia de los Muertos holiday and going on to become the highest-grossing movie ever in the market (local currency). From there, the adventure continued in the U.S. and other offshore hubs with majors rolled out bit-by-bit (the UK only recently opened).
China was a huge win for the film and for Pixar whose titles have traditionally not found similar favor in the Middle Kingdom as they do elsewhere. But Coco‘s themes of family and the afterlife struck a chord locally. That propelled the box office to $183.5M with a rare extended run granted. Coco should also have the knock-on effect of helping set up The Incredibles 2 in China, mixing recent positive brand recognition with superhero and family themes.
Elsewhere, Miguel and his trusty dog Dante have seen great holds. In Latin America, Coco is still No. 1 this weekend in Argentina, Ecuador, Bolivia and Uruguay. In Chile, the film grew 4% this session with just a 27% drop in France and 29% in Spain.
The Top 5 markets are China ($183.5M), Mexico ($57.8M), France ($32M), Korea ($22.5M) and Spain ($20M).
Among the Annies Coco scooped last night were prizes for Best Animated Feature, Directing, Writing, Production Design, Music and Editing. It previously won the Golden Globe as well as Best Animated Film honors from the National Board of Review and New York Film Critics Circle. It is nominated as Best Animated Feature at the BAFTAs and Oscars.“Coco,” Pixar’s Oscar-frontrunning love letter to Mexico and Día de los Muertos, took animated feature honors Saturday at ASIFA-Hollywood’s 45th Annie Awards (at UCLA’s Royce Hall). GKids additionally earned the independent award for “The Breadwinner,” the powerful Afghan drama, directed by Nora Twomey of Cartoon Saloon, and executive produced by Angelina Jolie.
“Coco,” in fact, swept the Annies with a record 11 wins (including directing for Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina, writing for Molina and Matthew Aldrich, character animation, character design, production design, effects, storyboarding, voice acting for Anthony Ganzalez as Miguel, music, and editorial).
Pixar’s animated Coco is wholly inspired, from story to design, by the Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos. And at one point during its development, the film also paid tribute with a showstopping opening.
The uplifting tale (debuting on digital HD platforms Feb. 13, and Blu-ray/DVD Feb. 27) of young Miguel (voiced by Anthony Gonzalez) and his journey to the Land of the Dead to visit his ancestors is full of catchy tunes. Remember Me is up for best original song at the Oscars, where Coco will also compete for best animated movie.
But there used to be a bunch more songs when Coco was envisioned as a wall-to-wall musical, and usatoday.com has the exclusive debut of a scrapped beginning that offered a colorful introduction to Dia de los Muertos and the colorful cinematic world.