Nelvana Limited announced it has acquired the development, production, distribution and associated merchandise licensing rights for animated television programming, based on the 13-book series, DOCTOR DOLITTLE, written and illustrated by Hugh Lofting. Nelvana has also acquired the production publishing tie-in rights to animated television programming, which the company will develop and produce from its adaptation of the book titles. Nelvana will also develop and produce original stories based on the classic character, who made his book debut in 1920.
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Five Disney On-line producers, programmers and Flash engineers, and four veterans from Disney Feature Animation and Walt Disney Imagineering, have jumped ship to join Stan Lee Media (SLM). The team includes Jamie Wilkinson and Gary Manfredi, who will lead the company's new in-house research and development studio, focusing on new digital productions and technologies. The new division Squnkwurx was named as a tribute to the once-secret Lockheed division (the Skunk Works) which developed the first experimental production jet aircraft during World War II.
In July, Warner Bros. will start shooting HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERERS STONE at Leavesden Studios in the U.K. The deal with Warner is similar to the one Lucasfilms struck for EPISODE 1. The production will occupy the entire 286-acre studio for about 18 months. The movie is based on the young adult book by the same name, which follows a young wizard during his training. Chris Columbus is directing the film. The scheduled release date for the picture is November 2001. No doubt the production will tap into the local talent just like George Lucas did for his 13-month PHANTOM MENACE shoot.
Makati City, Philippines-based pasi and BKN Kids have teamed up to co-produce 40 half-hour episodes of KONG, THE ANIMATED SERIES. As part of the pact, pasi and BKN will also produce a direct-to-video feature entitled KONG, KING OF ATLANTIS. The series is scheduled to air in over 80 territories. KONG will put a modern twist on the classic King Kong character by pitting the gentle-hearted giant against his enemies, who want to capture the power of the Internet. The demands of producing 40 episodes at a rapid schedule pace will require pasi to utilize several allied studios throughout Asia.
DreamWorks' GLADIATOR continues to plunder the pockets of moviegoers around the globe. Complete box numbers from Germany, France, Australia and a number of other countries were not available due to local holidays, however GLADIATOR looks like it is still slaying the competition. The bloody blockbuster is still topping the charts after five weeks in release in both the U.K. and Australia, regaining the top spot from MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2 in the later. In its four weeks in release, the Roman revenge tale took the #1 spot in both Italy and Spain.
Swedish-based animation studio Filmtecknarna F. Animation has produced a 90-second short for Cartoon Network entitled JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS IN MUSICAL EVOLUTION. The film is part of the Cartoon Networks "Shorties" series. In the spot, classic Hanna-Barbera characters Josie and the Pussycats take viewers on a journey through musical styles including punk, country, disco, heavy metal and techno. The spot was directed by Jonas Odell and produced by Leila El-Zein. Craig "Sven" Gordon was the Cartoon Network creative director.
Finishing up on June 4, 2000, The World Animation Celebrations competition has announced its winners. Prizes in over 30 competition categories were awarded. There were over 500 entries from all over the world. Annecy 1999 and Cannes winning short WHEN THE DAY BREAKS by Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis took home the grand prize. Taking the top prize for theatrical features was STUART LITTLE. The live-action/CGI animated feature beat out DreamWorks PRINCE OF EGYPT, which took home the second place prize. Below is a complete list of the winners.
With the new actioner from Nicolas Cage racing in to the #1 spot at the U.S. box office, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2 fell to #2 in its third weekend in theatres. Disneys GONE IN 60 SECONDS grossed US$25.33 million on its way to receiving the checkered flag. MISSION, with primary visual effects by Pacific Data Images, Double Negative Ltd. and CFC, grossed another $17.23 million, raising its exploding cume to $158.1 million and is on a pace to beat the finishing cume of the original MISSION installment. Disneys DINOSAUR has slipped to fourth grossing another $8.82 million.
Warner Bros. Pictures and Cartoon Network are joining forces to bring THE POWERPUFF GIRLS to the big screen. The shows creator Craig McCracken will supervise the feature. This film marks the first-ever feature based on an original Cartoon Network series. This collaboration will be the first production of a full-length animated film at the newly opened Cartoon Network Studios in Burbank, California. THE POWERPUFF GIRLS is targeted for a summer 2002 release.
The Oscar winner for best short animated film, THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA, has won the coveted grand prize at the International Festival of Animated Film at Annecy. In a lively ceremony held on Saturday, June 10, 2000, the awards were handed out by the festivals artistic director, Serge Bromberg. The short and feature film jury, comprised of Meral Erez (Turkey), Aida Ndiaye (Senegal), Georges Schwizgebel (Switzerland), John Lasseter (U.S.A.) and Jimmy T. Murakami (Ireland), bestowed the top honor to the adaptation of Ernest Hemmingways novella.
In the wake of the booming on-line entertainment world, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) has created a new contract for made-for-Internet writers of live-action and animation scripts. As part of the new contract, Guild affiliated Net firms will have to sign a Minimum Basic Agreement (MBA) and provide financial reports regarding Internet revenue. The new rules guarantee scribes MBA minimums for Internet content that is the impetus for a TV pilot or series.
Former Disney chairman Joe Roths Revolution Studios, a film and television production company, has released the details regarding the roles that its investors will serve. Sony Pictures Entertainment, Starz! Encore Group and Fox Entertainment Groups were among the investors that have sunk US$3 billion into the five-month old production house. Additionally, Revolution has gained a controlling stake in the on-line entertainment channel MediaTrip.com.
Speaking at an investors conference in London, Viacom president and COO, Mel Karmazin, emphasized to attendees that if UPN doesnt begin to make a profit it would either be shut down or sold off. Karmazin said Viacom expects UPN to meet the performance criteria set for all its operating divisions. The total losses for the five-year old network have risen to nearly $800 million. "UPN will become profitable, or it wont exist," Karmazin said.
Thirteen of the largest computer and video game producers have filed suit against six game pirates who have been selling bootleg titles over the Net. The suit claims that James Cabot of Brook Park, Ohio; C. Graves of Raleigh, North Carolina; Tim Knoblich of Daytona Beach, Florida; Travis Lallman of Burley, Idaho; Derek Rufo of Vancouver, British Columbia; and Carol Scott of Columbia, South Carolina allegedly copied games, advertised them on six separate Web sites and sold them via mail.
Pulse Entertainment has received US$35 million in private equity funding led by Softbank Venture Capital, and others like Time Warners Web destination Entertaindom and Autodesk Inc. As part of the deal, exclusive content will be provided by Pulse for Entertaindom. "We cant release the names yet, but we have at least two shows in production," said Pulse CEO Fred Angelopoulos. However, the shows will come from Entertaindoms access to the Warner Bros. portfolio of characters. Currently, Pulse produces a 3D Webtoon based on the Looney Toons character Marvin the Martian.
After only two airings, ABC has cancelled Kevin Smiths animated TV series CLERKS. The teen-targeted toon debuted on May 31 with a poor rating of 5.2 and slipped to a 4.1 for its Tuesday, June 6 episode. Insiders say that ABC became initially scared of the toon when advertisers balked on its edgy humor. The series was original scheduled to be a 1999-2000 midseason replacement series. Advertising jitters may have lead to ABCs decision to make the toon a summer release, which drew much publicized heat from creator Kevin Smith [AWN 3/13/00].
St. Louis, Missouri-based Technisonic Studios is looking for 3D ANIMATORS. . . Lombard, Illinois-based Big Idea Productions Inc. is looking for 3D MODELING SUPERVISORS. . . Max Ink Cafe, LLC is looking for 3D MAX CHARACTER ANIMATORS and MODELERS to animate CG characters for game cinematics, and a SYSTEM ADMINISTRATOR to maintain NT operating system and network. . .Santa Monica, California-based Zeros & Ones Inc., a rapidly-growing broadband company, is looking for ANIMATORS for a Web-based animated series and DEVELOPMENT ASSISTANTS for TV and Web animation. . .
AWN is excited to announce that it has launched the AWN Animator Affiliate Program, an extensive initiative dedicated to providing independent animators worldwide with high profile exposure to the professional creative community through AWNs official Web site. The program officially kicked off this Tuesday at the Annecy International Animation Festival, where AWN co-hosted a cocktail party given by the festival in honor of the directors in official selection.
Plympton's new series of comics extracted from the comic book, "Sleazy Cartoons of Bill Plympton," is for ADULTS ONLY...
Toronto-based TOPIX/Mad Dog has created the visual effects for three 30-second spots for Visa´s latest campaign. The "Penguins" ad, which promotes the Visa Gold card, is currently airing in Canada. The commercial follows a family outing to the beach where a seemingly passive penguin pilfers the family´s Visa card. Likewise, the other two spots "Monkey 2" and "Cat Burglar," feature a Machiavellian monkey and crafty cat who walk away with unknowing victims´ Visa cards. TOPIX/Mad Dog Inferno artists had to replace the live-action animals with puppets.
iXL, an Atlanta-based Internet solutions firm, designed, edited and composited a 60-second spot to promote ESPN International´s coverage of the NBA Finals, the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Triple Crown, the French Open, the U.S. Open golf tournament and other top sporting events. The "Champions of the World" spot opens with a golden hued 3D graphic of the ESPN logo and "Champions of the World." The camera moves quickly around the graphic, while an animated gold circle, like a medal, forms.