As part of the recent studio trend, DreamWorks SKG has formed a new specialty division, Go Fish Pictures, with MILLENNIUM ACTRESS, the critically acclaimed anime title by Satoshi Kon, as its first release. MILLENNIUM ACTRESS opens September 12, 2003 in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco and Toronto. INNOCENCE: GHOST IN A SHELL II will follow in the spring of 2004, but there may be more titles in between, including live action.
Go Fish will be headed by Joan Filippini, who runs non-theatrical sales, and overseen by Jim Tharp, president of distribution. Marketing exec Michael Vollman will oversee publicity and marketing. Go Fish, considered by DreamWorks as a lab experiment, will look to indie filmmakers and small production companies for product.
"We are looking for anything that is compelling whether it is animation or live action," Tharp told VFXWorld. And why did DreamWorks decide on the Go Fish moniker? Because it got the best internal response and because the fishing pole logo perfectly complements the now-familiar dreamy DreamWorks logo.
While Tharp admits that anime has had a difficult time in the theatrical marketplace (with all of its kudos, SPIRITED AWAY was not a commercial success), Go Fish will experiment with MILLENNIUM ACTRESS and GHOST to see if it can attain better box office results. "It is very difficult, and we realize that you can't overpay for them," he added. You can't overspend, either, which is why the new specialty division will focus first on targeting the core anime fan base with MILLENNIUM ACTRESS before reaching out more broadly if the movie performs in its limited theatrical run. And if it exceeds expectations, Tharp said the studio may even push back the DVD release, which is now scheduled for Oct. 28 through DreamWorks Home Entertainment.
Speaking of which, there will be a larger window between theatrical and DVD for GHOST, which, unlike its predecessor, may be rated PG-13 instead of R. For the GHOST sequel, which will finish filming early next year, Go Fish will aggressively target college towns to energize the franchise's cult following. Ultimately, though, underground publications will be utilized most in trying to market these two anime titles, which has been done before. Plus Tharp said they would screen the films for critics and radio station staffs and guests in an attempt to broaden appeal.
In terms of other types of animation that Go Fish might acquire, Tharp explained that both Filippini and Vollman would begin attending festivals around the globe to find "interesting and compelling" features. Go Fish is particularly mindful of the diversity in independent animation, and the fact that it is not consumed by the current computer animation craze. "We are aware that subject and story matter more to indie filmmakers than whether something is made in 2D or 3D." Judging from the first two releases, this certainly bodes well for fans of 2D.