Electronic Arts and its Austin, Texas subsidiary, ORIGIN Systems have announced they will release ULTIMA ONLINE: THIRD DAWN early next year. THIRD DAWN is the third upgrade to the popular game that currently boosts more than 200,000 active subscribers. The new version will have enhanced gesturing and motion-captured 3D animations. In addition, THIRD DAWN will include an enhanced lighting and shading system, one new environment, over a dozen new monsters and improved music and sound effects.
R!OT, a creative digital studio, has produced a new, CGI commercial for Suissa Miller Advertising and its client SkyTel Communications. "Colorful Conversation" introduces the Talkabout, a wireless communications device made by Motorola that can be used on the SkyTel system to send and receive e-mail messages and pages. In the spot, several of the devices appear like small UFOs in the sky above a large city. While flying around, they send messages to one another about a party in the city below. "The Talkabout is made of a unique plastic," said spot director Carl Seibert.
Santa Monica, California-based COMPUTERCAFE recently created a pair of 3D animated characters for two new spots for Nerf. In "BallZooka," a boy is pitted against a towering wrestler who looks like he could tear him limb from limb, but he uses his BallZooka, a motorized toy capable of rapidly firing Nerf balls, to pin his opponent to the canvas. In "Power Clip/Wildfire," another boy, armed with a Nerf Power Clip DX 100 Blaster, unleashes a barrage of foam darts that helps him defeat his silver super-speedy foe.
Anime 18 is set to unveil MASQUERADE "Darkness of Love" on video November 14, 2000. From Masaki Kajishima, the creator of PHOTON, MASQUERADE is an erotic thriller that delves into the desires and devastation of discovering eternal life. The video will sell for US$29.99.
VIRGIN FLEET is sailing onto video November 14, 2000. From Ohji Hiroi, creator of SAKURA WARS, VIRGIN FLEET follows the wartime adventures of a Navy girls' school. The video is being released by U.S. Manga Corps and will sell for US$19.99 for an English dubbed version.
ADV Video is about to release the ninth installment in the BUBBLEGUM CRISIS: TOKYO 2040 series. Hitting stores November 14, 2000, "Kill Zone" will continue the adventure of the Knight Sabers in their mission to save Tokyo from the evil Genom. The new installment will include episodes 19 and 20. Volume 10-12 will be released on December 5, 2000, January 23 and February 13, 2001 respectively. The tapes sell for US$19.98 for English dubbed and $29.95 for English subtitled.
ADV Films is proud to present the sequel to the popular SAMURAI X anime feature entitled SAMURAI X: BETRAYAL. After the Great Fire in Edo, Kenshin and Tomoe find peace on a small farm, however the rebellion is slowly rebuilding and the duo's peaceful existence is disrupted when dire news arrives from the city. ADV will release SAMURAI X: BETRAYAL in an English dubbed version on VHS. The DVD release of the film will contain both the English dubbed and subtitled versions. An English subtitled VHS version will be released under the original Japanese title, RUROUNI KENSHIN: BETRAYAL.
ADV Films is releasing the first three episodes of the first 3D animated TV series REBOOT on VHS and DVD. Produced by Mainframe Entertainment, REBOOT chronicles the adventures of Bob and his friends as they surf cyberspace in search of their missing friend. The release will retail for US$14.95 VHS and $24.98 DVD. Currently, REBOOT airs on Cartoon Network in their Toonami programming block.
In celebration of the initial release of FANTASIA/2000 on VHS and DVD, Walt Disney is releasing the original FANTASIA on DVD. Hitting stores November 14, 2000, fans can own the magic and spectacle of both of Disney's masterpieces. The FANTASIA/2000 DVD will feature: a 48-minute making of documentary; two commentary tracks featuring artist Al Hirschfeld, executive producer Roy E. Disney and many of the filmmakers; the 1953 Oscar winning short film, TOOT, WHISTLE, PLUNK AND BOOM; and the never-before-released short entitled MELODY.
The Mad Cow Picture Company has just opened its doors in Sydney, Australia. The new studio specializes in Flash animation and animation pre-production, including storyboarding and character design. Mad Cow Picture Company offers a mix of digital and traditional animation. The company is currently creating pilot episodes for StupidHeroes.com and 00STEVEN: PLAYGROUND PRIVATE EYE. For more information contact The Mad Cow Picture Company at: Tel.: ++612 9808 4153; Fax: ++612 9808 1041; or Web: http://www.madcowpictures.com.
Stan Lee Media (SLM) has signed a deal with Warner Bros. Pictures to develop a new feature film based on the Conan character. Andy and Larry Wachowski, creators of THE MATRIX, have signed on to produce with CONAN THE BARBARIAN director John Milius set to write and direct. The deal allows SLM to exploit the brand across several media outlets with an animated series in the works for television and Internet distribution. SLM only bought the rights to Conan from Conan Properties, Inc. in September.
USA Network announced that it would air SINBAD: BEYOND THE VEIL OF MISTS, the first-ever 3D motion-capture animated feature. The movie will premiere on Thursday, November 30, 2000 at 8 pm ET/PT. SINBAD is the tale of the legendary Sinbad and his crew, who are recruited by a beautiful princess to travel beyond the forbidden Veil of Mists in a quest for the cure to an evil spell placed on the King.
Nickelodeon has ordered 26 additional episodes of LITTLE BILL, their daily preschool series created by Bill Cosby. BILL has scored strong rating for the network since its debut in November 1999, averaging a 7.9 rating/36 share among kids 2-5. Since airing on CBS' Saturday morning block in September, the series has averaged a 4.1 rating/16 share for Viacom-owned CBS. BILL chronicles the daily discoveries of an inquisitive 5-year-old, voiced by Xavier Prichett. The voice cast also includes Gregory Hines, Phylicia Rashad and Ruby Dee.
On October 31, 2000, Missouri Circuit Court Judge Robert H. Dierker threw out the US$24.5 million judgment against Spawn creator Todd McFarlane, originally awarded to former hockey player Tony Twist in July. Twist had sued McFarlane for unauthorized use of his name in the comic book series SPAWN.
The London Effects and Animation Festival handed out its awards at a ceremony on November 14, 2000. DreamWork's GLADIATOR, with visual effects by Mill Film, took home the prize for best effects feature, beating out DINOSAUR and the TV miniseries ARABIAN NIGHTS. The works were judged by a panel of industry experts, media buyers and trade media. The awards kicked off the three day event, which will include screenings, panel discussions, presentations and a sneak peek at PDI and DreamWork's new 3D animated feature SHREK. Below is a complete list of this year's winners.
Walt Disney Internet Group (WDIG) (WDIG) has promoted Erik Flannigan to senior VP of non-Disney-branded entertainment Websites. Previously, Flannigan served as VP of MrShowbiz.com, Movies.com and Wall of Sound. In his new position, Flannigan will continue to be responsible for those three sites as well as ABC.com and Oscar.com. He will relocate to Los Angeles from Seattle. Flannigan joined MrShowbiz in 1995 as an associate editor. Before joining Mr.Showbiz, Flannigan was managing editor of the music publication ICE and senior editor at the Rocket, an independent music newspaper in Seattle.
Montreal television producer TVA International has decided to decrease its production of primetime TV content and focus on animation and international distribution. As part of the move, the company cut 20 jobs and its head of longform production, Jacques Methe, resigned. The company said it would continue to distribute primetime productions worldwide, but would stop producing them. In addition, TVA Intl. announced its has signed a three-year pact with Studio Canal + to distribute the French production house's films in Canada. The deal is said to be worth several million dollars. TVA Intl.
Cinesite the visual effects arm of Kodak, has named Michael Fink as their senior visual effects supervisor. Fink's visual effects supervisor credits include WAR GAMES, THE SEVENTH SIGN, BRAVEHEART, LETHAL WEAPON 4 and X-MEN. He earned an Oscar nomination for BATMAN RETURNS in 1993. Fink led a start-up venture, Warner Digital Studios, for Warner Bros., in 1995. The full service visual effects shop had a 150 staff at its peak. They created visual effects for BATMAN AND ROBIN, ERASER, MARS ATTACKS, CONSPIRACY THEORY and CONTACT.
Over the past week at the international box office, DreamWorks' WHAT LIES BENEATH and Miramax's SCARY MOVIE have fought it out for global wealth. In the U.K., WHAT LIES over took the top spot by grossing US$2.98 million, thus pushing its 3-week U.K. cume to $12.28 million. Dropping 64% in its fourth full week, DINOSAUR fell to fourth in the U.K., with a gross of $1.44 million, escalating its cume to $17.44 million. In seventh, THE LITTLE VAMPIRE grabbed $670,689, growing its U.K. cume to $4.52 million. In Australia, WHAT LIES BENEATH's debut claimed first place with a gross of $1.72 million.
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X-MEN director Bryan Singer is in early talks with Fox to take the helm of the X-MEN sequel. When signing onto the first film, the original cast, which included Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan, agreed to return for up to two sequels. The talks may be just a matter of ironing out financial terms, for Singer said going into the first picture he was interested in developing the film into a franchise. A start date and how Singer will work around his prior directorial commitments are yet to be announced. X-MEN has grossed US$157.2 million in the States alone.
Sony Corp. has announced that it's cutting its initial U.K. shipment of PlayStation 2 gaming consoles from 200,000 to 165,000 units. The cut-back is due to a computer chip shortage, which also led to Sony halving its originally projected 1 million unit shipment to the U.S. Arriving in the U.S. on October 26, the next generation console made an estimated $165 million in its first 72 hours of release. In addition, PlayStation 2 has sold approximately 3.5 million units in Japan since its release there in March.
AtomFilms has signed a deal with Century Theatres to screen six short films before each feature showing at the newly opened CineArts 6 in Evanston, Illinois. This move is part of Atom's plan to spur other theater chains to start screening shorts. The screenings also provide eligibility for the short subjects to be nominated for the Oscar, which could gain even more exposure for Atom and its film library. Harry Warren, AtomFilms' VP of broadcast and theatrical distribution, said, "AtomFilms strives to provide the best exposure for its talented filmmakers.