Hayao Miyazaki's masterpiece, PRINCESS MONONOKE, is arriving on DVD from Miramax Home Entertainment. Hitting stores December 19, 2000, the film follows young warrior Ashitaka's quest to cure a disease that plagues his body and create peace between humans and the forest gods. The DVD features a special production featurette, English-language theatrical trailer and three language tracks in English, Japanese and French. The film will retail for US$34.99.
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Rome production and distribution company Medusa Films has acquired financially strapped Italian toon house Lanterna Magica. The 20-year-old animation factory will remain under the watchful eye of executive producer Maria Fares and stay in its home in northern Turin. As part of the deal, Lanterna will produce an animated feature each year and an animated TV series for Medusa sister firm Mediaset every two years. Medusa CEO Federico di Chio will serve as president with Lanterna's Guido Manuli and Maurizio Forrestieri remaining in their roles as artistic and creative directors respectively.
Falling behind the debuts of the live-action comedies, WHAT WOMEN WANT and DUDE, WHERE'S MY CAR?, HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS surrendered its U.S. box office crown, falling to third. The Who-ville fable, with primary visual effects by Digital Domain, grabbed $13.81 million, elevating its cume to an astounding $213.6 million. Disney's new animated feature THE EMPEROR'S NEW GROOVE made a lackluster debut in fourth grossing $9.81 million. The screwball buddy film could see increased dollars over the upcoming holiday vacation, helped by good reviews across the board.
eyeon Software recently announced a major new release of their powerful digital effects and compositing software, Digital Fusion DFX+. DFX+ is a "modular" offering. eyeon has chopped Digital Fusion up into 5 different packages, created a new licensing system and presto their flag ship package is now highly customizable and accessible to all! eyeon also announced that a demo of the software is now available for download from their Website. "If you want to know how a software package performs in the real world, you have to kick the tires and take it for a spin.
Milan-based Phoenix Tools announced the release of RealFur 2.0 a major upgrade to their fur rendering technology. The new version introduces renders up to 10 times faster than the previous version. The key to this speed is that the old volumetric technology has been replaced with a new geometry-based system that allows artists to render millions of polygons without having to display them in the 3D authoring application. An optimized cylinder, with the given color, transparency and other global material parameters, replace each hair strand at the rendering stage.
AntEye has closed its eyes and its doors. The Los Angeles Netcaster shut down on Friday, December 15, 2000 and laid off its 20 employees. The company decided to finally close up shop after finding a buyer was unsuccessful. Matti Leshem, company CEO, told the DAILY VARIETY, "The party is over. We're shutting for the same reason that everyone else has; the market can't support this kind of company.
iFilm has laid off 15 employees, or 10% of its staff. The move was made to release some pressure on the Netcaster's capital. The cuts were across many divisions and come on the heels of the firm's launching of three new projects the iFilm portal, the relaunch of iFilmpro and an online testing business. In the past year, iFilm has purchased film industry business-to-business services such as Film Finders, the Hollywood Creative Directory, Lone Eagle Publishing and TV Tracker. However, rumors have flourished that the company is backing away from a b2b model and refocusing on content.
On Friday, December 15, 2000, Stan Lee Media (SLM) stopped operations and laid off "substantially all of its [140 person] staff." The company will keep an executive core to look into possible new directions for the company including selling off the firm's assets. The move comes as a result of the Netcaster's plummeting stock and inability to raise a new round of financing. Early in December, SLM announced it had obtained US$2.2 million as a bridge loan until it could finalize a $40 million financing round.
* Wednesday, April 4 Sunday, April 8, 2001. Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.A.
Entry Deadline: January 10, 2001.
The fifth annual KC Filmmakers Jubilee is a celebration of independent filmmaking. All experimental and animation entries must be 30 minutes or less. A US$1000 prize will be awarded in each category. For more information contact: Tel.: (913) 649-0244; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; or Web: http://www.kcjubilee.org/.
* Thursday, January 11, 2001. Westwood, California, U.S.A.
The Women In Animation Writers' Group starts up their new Seminar Series at Saban Entertainment, 10960 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood at 7:30 pm. Find out the differences between writing for animation and live-action. Learn comedy and gag writing techniques. Fee is US$5. RSVP is required to Jean Ann Wright at: Tel: (818) 360-8321 or E-mail: email@example.com.
NewTek has reinforced its commitment to the Macintosh platform by announcing that their newly released Lightwave [6.5] will also be available for Apples new OS X platform. Although NewTek only released Lightwave  on the MAC earlier this year, they have slowly moved their efforts toward the fruity platform.
Berlin children's producer TV Loonland has bought a 65% stake in Seoul distribution firm Saerom Entertainment. Saerom is the third-largest video and DVD distributor in Korea and controls a leading Internet film portal, which it has been leveraging as a new means of distribution. TV Loonland will pay US$9.5 million for its share of the company, which foresees sales of $14 million and profits of $2 million for the year 2000. The move is yet another step in TV Loonland's global expansion, giving the company a strong distribution and Internet foothold in Asia.
AWN's Web Animation Guide is the place for what's new on the Net. In this week's edition John K's George Liquor hits Icebox, the finale of Stain Boy, first two Webisodes of The Critic, Undercover Brother's second season premiere and much, much more!
Get your Web Animation Guide here!
Also every week AWN's associate editor Rick DeMott highlights what he thinks is the top new toon in cyberspace in "Rick's Picks!"
On Thursday, December 14, 2000, the Federal Trade Commission approved America Online's US$111 billion acquisition of Time Warner. As part of the approval, AOL must open its high-speed Internet access to competitors. At least three Internet service providers (ISPs) must be offered when AOL/Time Warner enters a new market. "Our concern was, and has always been, about access," said FTC chairman Robert Pitofsky.
Shockwave.com and AtomFilms announced they have signed a definitive merger agreement. Under the terms of the agreement, shockwave.com will acquire AtomFilms in a stock-for-stock deal giving Shockwave shareholders 70% of the combined company. In addition, Macromedia, parent of shockwave.com, will now own less than 50% of the new firm. The combined company will announce its new name at the closing of the deal.
December's feature articles are based on the themes of location-based entertainment and anime. Karl Cohen is profiling Imax -- is animation's next frontier in peril? Also, Martin "Dr. Toon" Goodman is discussing the past and future of LBE, specifically VR. On the anime side of things Fred Patten is profiling "Vampire Hunter D," the latest anime release to arrive on U.S. soil. Andrew Osmond is interviewing a number of experts and scholars on the stylistic merits of Japanese animation. Be ready to put on your thinking cap before reading this one.
Vancouver, B.C., Canada's a.k.a. Cartoon, Inc., producers of a television series currently airing on Cartoon Network, is looking for a STORYBOARD SUPERVISOR to supervise an in-house staff of storyboard artists. . . Santa Maria, California's BSR Entertainment Group, a movie production company, is looking for EXPERIENCED LIGHTWAVE ANIMATORS with strong character animation skills. . . Fenton, Michigan's Creative Reign has immediate openings for several ANIMATORS and MODELERS to work on a 3D animated children's movie set for release in 2002. . .
This week's updates to the Calendar of Events includes the Noam Markus Mime Workshop in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, January 6, 2001; the Australian Effects & Animation Festival in Sydney, Australia, February 26-28, 2001; Culture2Culture at the "Tricky Women" event Vienna, Austria, March 2-8, 2001; and BroadCast WorldWide Market and Conference in Busan, Korea, June 5-8, 2001.
When Bob was a kid, a typical Saturday morning would begin with a bowl of Apple Jacks cereal, then watching melodrama, horror and wrestling with his parents...