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AWN Headline News
CAST AWAY continues to sail atop the international box office, with VERTICAL LIMIT making a climb upward. In Germany, CAST AWAY maintained its #1 finish with a gross of US$5.74 million, escalating its cume to $12.74 million. In second, BEDAZZLED bounced in $1.2 million in its German debut. UNBREAKABLE crash-landed in third with a gross of $954,843, pushing its German cume to $11.95 million. In seventh, CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON collected $561,558, raising its German cume to $1.25 million. POKEMON 2000 grabbed another $420,338, lifting its German cume to $6.65 million.
Discreet recently announced that they have begun shipping the long-awaited upgrade to 3D Studio MAX, 3ds max 4. 3ds max 4 delivers a new and extensible character animation architecture, advanced game development tools and extensive rendering productivity with ActiveShade, Render Elements and unparalleled support for the new Direct 3D technology.
New reports have the Walt Disney Co. throwing its name into the hat to help bail out German producer EM.TV & Merchandising by purchasing its Jim Henson Co. EM.TV acquired the Muppet makers last February in a cash and stock transaction valued at US$680 million. However, rumors have voiced former president and CEO Brian Henson's disapproval over the deal due to the devaluation of the company's stock. In the past, when the Jim Henson Co. was privately held, Disney and the Muppet masters had signed a licensing deal with each other that brought Henson-owned characters to Disney theme parks.
Warner Bros. has folded its TV Animation, Feature Animation and Classic Animation under the single Warner Bros. Animation roof. Rumors have been flying of late about massive lays off and the closing of the Classics division, however a Warner Bros. spokeswoman has told AWN that under ten employees were let go as a result of the restructuring. Warner Bros. Animation is transforming into a running production business model, instead of its overhead model of the past. The new plan will create more accountability and efficiency throughout the division.
With live-action comedy THE WEDDING PLANNER and drama SAVE THE LAST DANCE taking the top two slots respectively, CAST AWAY sunk to third with a gross of US$8.09 million. The island adventure, with primary visual effects by Sony Pictures Imageworks, has rescued $193.2 million to date. Next, TRAFFIC skidded into fourth with a gross of $6.46 million. The drug war saga, with primary visual effects by Cinesite, has dusted off $56.19 million thus far. Leaping from eighth to sixth, CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON dazzled audiences to the tune of $5.06 million.
Tom Snyder Productions' entertainment division has changed its name to Soup2Nuts. The firm provides writers, casting, audio, editing, post-production and animation for its various productions, which have included DR. KATZ: PROFESSIONAL THERAPIST and THE DICK AND PAULA CELEBRITY SPECIAL. Currently the company is producing the upcoming Cartoon Network series HOME MOVIES, HEY MONIE for Oxygen Network's X-CHROMOSOME series and LIVE AT THE TEACHERS' LOUNGE for PBS online (www.pbs.org). Soup2Nuts is owned by Torstar, a Toronto-based information and entertainment communications company.
Embattled Montreal-based Cinar Corp. has announced that its self-imposed auditor, Ernst & Young, has resigned due to the company's failure to produce key information about possible fraud and other illegal acts at the animation production house. Due to the fact that the auditor will not sign off, Cinar will release unaudited versions of its reworked financial statements from 1997-1999. The company intends to release these long awaited documents to investors sometime during the week of Monday, January 29, 2001.
Walt Disney Co. has announced that it will close down the Walt Disney Internet Group and its Go.com portal. As a result, 400 out of nearly 2,000 employees will be laid off. Shares in the Walt Disney Internet Group will be converted in to Disney common stock. As a result, Disney will take a US$790 million second-quarter charge, or 37 cents per share, for the issuing of 8.1 million new shares in the entertainment mega-firm. In addition, Disney will also take a $25-$50 million charge for severance packages and other additional costs.
Cartoon Network has signed the original voices from the POWERPUFF GIRLS TV series for the upcoming feature. After long negotiations, Tara Strong (Bubbles), Catherine Cavadini (Blossom) and E.G. Daily (Buttercup) have signed deals which Brian Miller, general manager of Cartoon Network Studios, said in VARIETY, "All parties are happy at this point." He added, "It was always our intent to have the original voices. Reports of negotiation breakdown have been greatly exaggerated." The film, set for a summer 2002 release, is being written, produced and directed by series creator Craig McCracken.
In January 1997, Absolut Vodka launched Absolut Panushka, an online advertising campaign for its famous brand of vodka...
Chris Oarr has announced that he is resigning as executive director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. Oarr headed the CBLDF, a non-profit organization protecting First Amendment rights in the comics industry, for more than three years. "It's been great working for such an important cause," said Oarr. "And I feel like we've accomplished a lot. The Fund will continue to stand ready to provide the highest quality legal advice and service to the comics' community.
Director Nick Hewitt has joined Stockholm-based Filmtecknarna F. Animation AB. Previously Hewitt worked for San Francisco-based Curious Pictures. In his new role, he will work as a commercials director for Filmtecknarna but will also continue to pursue the creation of long-format animation. Hewitt joins Filmtecknarna directors Jonas Odell and Jonas Dahlbeck.
iXL Digital Video Group has wrapped up the visual effects for a new 30-second spot promoting the new toy from Tiger Electronics entitled Chibibotto. In "Attack of the Chibibotto," a giant Chibibotto wreaks havoc in city, resembling a cheap GODZILLA movie. "The spot is an intriguing hybrid between retro monster movie and techno chic," said iXL Digital Video Group senior visual effects designer Doug Dimon.
This month we take a look at one area of animation that has been showing enormous and steady growth. With game development on the rise and the emergence of new platforms, the gaming industry is rich with possibilities - not only economic but also artistic. Jacquie Kubin tells us why gaming is bigger than ever and how animators can bank on it in the future. Paul Younghusband discovers why Artworld UK is one of the leading, innovative gaming companies using digital images across several mediums for both continuity and profits. Plus, we are also going to look at the future of gaming: What are games going to look like in the distant future? You may not even recognize them. We also have a very special interview with voice actor and director Charlie Adler, conducted by the always entertaining Will Ryan. So, sit down with one of the hardest working actors and directors in Hollywood today. In the Student Corner, Glenn Vilppu returns to discuss the next step in expanding your landscape sketching skills. Gregory Singer will profile eKids, the latest player to tackle the sensitive Internet kids' market. Fred Patten returns with his new anime picks, as well as Maureen Furniss with her short film reviews. And don't forget to find out what the Animation Pimp has to rant about this month. Also, get ready to take an indepth look at messiah, animation's latest software darling and hear what AWN associate editor Rick DeMott has to say about the latest book on animation scriptwriting.
Santa Monica, California-based The Joneses' Jim Manera has directed an effects-filled new campaign for Chevrolet's Silverado Heavy Duty. Each of the three 30-second spots, featuring effects created by DIGITAL DOMAIN, pictures giant workmen and a giant Silverado operating in otherwise normal-sized environments. In "Construction," a workman picks up a 50-feet long tool belt as he walks past a normal-sized skeletal frame of a new building. In "Ranch," cowboys use a giant Silverado to help track down a runaway horse.
West Midlands, England's Artworld Studios, one of the UK's leading producers of animation for television, film, video games and rendered comics, is looking for ANIMATORS, COMICS AND GAME ARTISTS. . . Montreal, Quebec, Canada's Crater Software Inc., developers of CTP Pro, a 2D cel-animation software, is looking for a PRODUCT MANAGER. . . North Hollywood, California's Film Roman, an independent producer of animated, live-action and Internet programming, is looking for a PROP DESIGNER for the "King Of The Hill" television series. . .
Sony Computer Entertainment has spun off PlayStation.com as a separate arm of the mega-firm to handle the company's online game initiatives. The Foster City, California-based division will oversee Sony's e-commerce and online distribution of Sony's games, music and movies. On Tuesday, January 30, 2001, the Website will begin to sell the tough-to-obtain PlayStation 2 gaming console. There are already plans in the works to spin the division off in a public stock offering or tracking stock.
EM.TV & Merchandising's supervisory board has announced that it is still debating whether to accept or reject German media conglomerate KirchGroup's financial rescue offer. The deal would give Kirch a 25% voting share in EM.TV and half of the company's 50% stake in Formula One racing group SLEC. In addition, Kirch would buy out EM.TV's half of kids television rights group Junior TV for US$550 million in cash. However, recently another offer has come onto the table for EM.TV. Herbert Kloiber's Tele-Munchen Group and U.S.
Visual Magic Magazine is currently seeking individuals interested in writing software and book reviews, interviews and feature articles...
A re-mastered version of the anime classic AKIRA is coming to theaters in the U.S. Long Beach, California-based Pioneer Entertainment, a top U.S. anime licensing company, is putting US$1 million into restoring the 1988 sci-fi epic. International Video Conversations is re-mastering and re-mixing the audio in Dolby Digital AC3 Surround Sound. In addition, the film will contain a new English dub created from a fresh translation of the Japanese script. Pioneer will release this restored version on DVD and VHS in the fourth quarter.
ASIFA-Colorado, ASIFA's newly-formed chapter, is hosting the following events: On Thursday, February 1, 2000 at 6:30 pm, animation historian Giannalberto Bendazzi (author of "Cartoons, One Hundred Years of Cinema Animation") will give a lecture on Italian animation. ASIFA-Colorado members, guests, animation students, animation lovers or members-to-be are welcome.