India-based UTV Toons, a division of UTV Group a media and entertainment company, has signed a US$65 million deal with Ottawa-based Funbag Animation to produce nine animated series. Funbag will produce 26-episodes of each program over the next 3 years. Both companies will own all global merchandising rights. "This deal clearly puts India on the global map for animation," said UTV Group chairman Ronnie Screwvala. Recently, UTV produced JASON AND THE HEROES OF MOUNT OLYMPUS for Fox/Saban, co-produced KONG with BKN and co-produced FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE with Funbag.
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Lycos becomes the first major Internet portal to launch a programmed video network with tv.lycos.com. Three of the twelve channels will feature animated content. The first of the channels presents Mondo Media's Webtoons LIKE, NEWS and THUGS ON FILM. The second channel presents Animation Express' Net series WENCHELL BOGUM, BULBO, MR. MAN, SEX SLAVE and FATMAN, which is produced by Honkworm International. The final channel broadcasts Animation Express shorts like SLEEP ELUSIVE and THE BUS STOP. Lycos plans to launch more Webcasters in the upcoming months.
London-based feature film visual effects company Mill Film has been assigned the principal visual effects for the highly anticipated Paramount Pictures' TOMB RAIDER. Directed by Simon West (CON AIR, THE GENERAL'S DAUGHTER), the live-action feature film is inspired by the popular interactive video game of the same name. Principal photography is scheduled to start at Pinewood Studios this summer.
Fox Family Channel will be shopping for a new head now that president
and CEO Rich Cronin has stepped down from his post. Awaiting the
announcement of Cronin's replacement, programming and marketing
decisions will go through exec VP and Fox Kids general manager
Maureen Smith. Before coming to Fox Family from Viacom, Cronin was
locked up in a breach of contract suit with his former employers.
Once clear of his Viacom commitment, Cronin took Fox Family's reins
On Monday, May 22, 2000, The Walt Disney Co. announced that its majority-owned Toysmart.com has gone off-line. Disney purchased 60% of the e-commerce site for educational toys in August for an estimated US$50 million. Disney execs, which made up 3/5s of the board, decided to shut down operations after a new round of financing was denied. One hundred-ten of the remaining employees were laid off. In April, 205,000 Web surfers visited the site compared to 1.3 million for Toysrus.com and 1 million for EToys said Media Metrix.
Phillip Bowman and Malcolm McGookin have formed a new animation house in Brisbane, Australia called ASTERISK* Animation. Bowman will serve as executive producer and McGookin as producer and director. Bowman has vast experience in both live-action production and animated television series. His credits include ABC network's LIZZIE'S LIBRARY and KITU AND WOOF. McGookin first started his animation career on the Cosgrove Hall shows COUNT DUCKULA and DANGERMOUSE. Afterwards, McGookin moved on to writing and directing AVENGER PENGUINS and TABALUGA in the U.K and Australia.
Four of the U.K.'s leading CGI artists, Richard Scott, Graham McKenna, Stuart Aitken and Dana Dorian, together with Scottish new media group VIS Interactive PLC, have launched Axis Animation, a high-end 3D and digital post-production facility based in Glasgow, Scotland. Axis' focus will target the advertising, broadcast, film and computer game markets for animation and visual effects. The four founders were the core team at award-winning digital content creators Digimania.
Paramount Parks and Stan Lee Media, Inc., in association with Blur Studio, have teamed up to create "Stan Lee's 7th Portal 3D Simulation Experience." This deal marks the first time an Internet property has been turned into a location-based entertainment experience. The project is scheduled to debut at all U.S.-based Paramount Parks in spring 2001. Under the pact, Paramount will sell branded merchandise and provide links between its own Web sites and those of Stan Lee Media. The attraction will also be distributed to a worldwide network of simulation theaters by Iwerks Entertainment.
* Wednesdays from May 24 - December 13, 2000. Glendale, California, U.S.A.
ASIFA-Hollywood and Glendale Community College are offering life-drawing workshops. The workshop offers live models in pose from one to fifteen minutes in duration, about forty poses per session. Professional assistance is available from the workshop supervisor. The classes run from 7 to 10 pm. The price is US$10 for the public and $7 for ASIFA-Hollywood members. For more information contact ASIFA-Hollywood at Tel.: (818) 842-8330.
For the week ending May 21, GLADIATOR still reigned in the U.K. and Australia and conquered new territory in Italy. By more than doubling the debut of FINAL DESTINATION, the DreamWorks colossal hit grossed another US$5.11 million in the U.K. The world champ has garnered $13.96 million on the British Isle. More than tripling the second placed newcomer ROMEO MUST DIE, the Roman ruler grossed $3.32 million in Australia, raising its cume in that country to $7.79 million. In its Italian premiere, the maker of Maximus coin landed $1.89 million.
Proving the further back in history movies go the more money they make, Disneys DINOSAUR stepped over the two week champion GLADIATOR. The nine-digit price-tagged prehistoric epic grossed US$38.85 million. DreamWorks GLADIATOR dazzled audiences to the tune of another $19.75 million. The Roman romp in only three weeks of release has made a total of $103.1 million. Slipping a spot to #4, U-571 grossed an additional $4.64 million. The Universal U-boat adventure has made $64.39 million thus far in the U.S. New Lines FREQUENCY dropped to 5th place making $4.34 million.