Pottermore to open for all in April

The Pottermore beta has been going on so long and the opening delayed for so long that I, for one, had almost forgot about it. But today, the site announced that the interactive Harry Potter site will be opening for everyone in “early April.”

Part of the holdup, it seems, has been a move to “an entirely different platform” that should (hopefully) hold up to the expected amounts of users. (The beta was/is notoriously slow.)

Rango gets best animated film at lackluster Oscars

Per usual, the Academy Award had little accolades for genre, though Industrial Light & Magic Rango took advantage of the Pixar-free spread to take the Oscar for Animated Feature.

Martin Scorsese’s Hugo – one of the few lead nominees that had any (tentative) connection to genre – swept the technical awards, with Oscars for Cinematography, Art Direction (beating Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallow Part 2,) Sound editing (over Potter and Transformers 3,) Sound Mixing, and Visual Effects (over Potter, Transformers, Real Steel and Rise of the Planet of the Apes.)

Harry Potter also lost out in Makeup, to The Iron Lady. One bright spot: The Muppets took Original Song.

As for the show itself…. It seemed like they just gave up on the younger demographic entirely. The whole show had a tone of ‘Remember how great movies used to be? Before blockbusters and computers? When we, the voting members of the Academy, were young?’ (Nothing, perhaps, says this better than The Artist wins: Old stuff and Hollywood self-absorption.) Billy Crystal may be ‘classic’ but about halfway through his painful song melody I was checked out of his performance and wishing for someone new. (Tom Hanks? Everyone loves Tom Hanks. And he doesn’t sing!) Or just bring back Jon Stewart, who made the montages actually fun. (Also, blackface? How far we’ve come, America.) Hell, let the Muppets host the whole damn thing. Last year may have been a disaster but is the answer really to pretend that anyone who’s clocked less than half a century cares? The Oscars have never been known for being populist, but this year the gap was especially glaring.

I’m glad the Oscars haven’t gone the Grammy route of rewarding their industry’s biggest moneymakers (no offense to Adele, but that path would lead to Oscar nominations for Twilight) but just… Mix it up a little, will ya?

Genre makes a showing in Oscar nominations

We’re generally not used to seeing a lot of science fiction and fantasy films up for the big prizes at the Academy Awards, but this year does hold a few suprises. Although neither the final Harry Potter film or Andy Serkis’ motion-capture work failed to procure any major nods, there are still a handful of genre films in the big spots.

Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, a steampunk-tinged story of early film based on Brian Selznick’s novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret, is one of the 9 nominees for best picture, along with Woody Allen’s time-travel comedy Midnight in Paris. (Allen’s Annie Hall beat out Star Wars for the same prize in 1977.) Hugo scored 11 nods, including best director, making it the most-nominated film.

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 got a nod for Visual Effects, where it will compete against Hugo, Real Steel, Rise Of The Planet of The Apes and ILM’s Transformers: Dark of the Moon.

ILM can also celebrate an Animated Feature nomination for Rango, which is up against Shrek spin-off Puss and Boots, Kung Fu Panda 2, A Cat in Paris and Chico & Rita.

Warner Bros. to put Harry Potter in the vault

Taking a page from the Disney handbook, Warner Bros. announced that they will stop shipping all the Harry Potter films on December 29, 2011 – less than two months after the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 and the 8-film collection on November 11.

Marketing ploy? Sure. But is Warner Bros. sacrificing long-term sales for a blockbuster holiday season? Or will we see the next release just in time for the 2012 holidays? One interesting sign of the times – the moratorium will not include digital methods of delivery.