Last week at a San Diego Comic-Con panel, 20th Century Fox presented clips from its upcoming animated film, The Book of Life, directed by animator and CalArts alumnus Jorge Gutiérrez (Film/Video MFA 00).
Produced by award-winning filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro, The Book of Life stars Diego Luna, Zoe Saldana and Channing Tatum as three childhood friends turned sides of a love triangle. In last week’s panel, Del Toro, Gutiérrez and Tatum were joined by co-stars Christina Applegate and Ron Perlman in presenting the film and fielding questions from fans. At one point in the panel, rapper Biz Markie came out on stage and performed “Just a Friend,” one of the songs featured in the film.
The Book of Life celebrates the Mexican tradition of Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) and follows Manolo (voiced by Luna), a bullfighting musician who finds himself competing with Joaquin (Tatum) for the love of their childhood friend, Maria (Saldana). Things go awry when two ethereal beings’ meddling in the mortal world sends Manolo into the afterlife.
For Gutiérrez, the significance of Dia de Los Muertos cannot be stated enough. “The Day of the Dead is very dear and near to my heart,” he said at the panel. “I got married on that day because one of my best friends had passed away and I wanted him to be there and that was the day he would be.”
The Book of Life opens in theaters on Oct. 17, just weeks before the holiday from which it draws its inspiration. Watch a trailer for The Book of Life above.