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Disney Hopes for Blustery Box Office As Piglet Movie Opens

Walt Disney Picture's gift for the start of spring and a safe film for parents to take their kids to is PIGLET'S BIG MOVIE, opening in theaters across America March 21, 2003. The second ever original animated Pooh feature created for the big screen, it follows in the successful footsteps of the 2001 release of THE TIGGER MOVIE. The Hundred Acre Wood characters have appeared in four previous theatrical featurettes, three Disney Video Premiere releases, four holiday-themed primetime television specials and two TV series. Production began in March 2000 at DisneyToon Studios, a division of Walt Disney Feature Animation in Burbank, California. Once art direction, character designs, storyboarding and voice recording were completed and approved, scenes were sent to Walt Disney Animation Japan, where the majority of the film was animated. Additional work was done in Disney's Australian studio, as well. Some 300 artists, animators and technicians contributed to the final film. The story, by Brian Hohlfeld, has Piglet take off when his friends tell him he's too small to help in a honey harvest. He sets out to prove that small guys can be big heroes in a lot of ways. Music plays a big part in the film with several new songs written and performed by Carly Simon. The original score was composed and conducted by Carl Johnson. John Fiedler, in his 35th year as the voice of Piglet, is the last member of the cast of Disney's original Winnie the Pooh productions to continue provide the voice of his character today. Other now familiar Pooh voices include Jim Cummings as Pooh and Tigger, Peter Cullen is the donkey, Eeyore, Andre Stojka is the voice of Owl, Kath Soucie is Kanga the kangaroo and Ken Sansom can be heard as Rabbit. Roo is voiced by 11-year-old Nikita Hopkins while 11-year-old British actor Tom Wheatly is Christopher Robin, all cast and directed by Jamie Thomason. Francis Glebas directed with Michelle Pappalardo-Robinson as producer. "Walt Disney Animation Japan did a fantastic job," raves Sharon Morrill, EVP of DisneyToon Studios. "They add wonderful little touches to the animation that we are always pleasantly surprised to see when the animation comes back." But some American puns and humor bits had to be explained to the overseas studio, including the concept of a snow angel and the classic pin the tail on the donkey party game. Mokoka Yasuet was supervising visual effects animation director. Some computer-generated animation was used in the production for effects but the emphasis was on the classic Winnie the Pooh watercolor art direction audiences have known since the late 1960s. Art director was Fred Warter and animation director was Takeshi Atomura. Studio Fuga contributed backgrounds. Additional digital ink-and-paint (using Toon Boom Technologies software), was provided by T2 Studio. Buena Vista Sound did sound services, recordings were done at Sony Studios, Right Track Studios, Parr Audio, Eastwood Scoring Stage at Warner Bros. and Todd AO Studios. The score was mixed at O'Henry Studios. Ivan Bilancio was supervising film editor while technical directors were Charlie Luce and Darren Clark.