Walt Disney has promoted Leo Chu to the position of vice president, creative affairs for Walt Disney Feature Animation. Chu will now oversee the development of new features at the California, Florida and Paris-based Disney studios. Previously Chu had worked in various development roles on MULAN and DINOSAUR. Prior to joining the animation wing, Chu helped develop projects for Walt Disney Pictures. Currently, Chu is focusing his attention on next year's ATLANTIS: THE LOST EMPIRE.
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Mainz, Germany-based ZDF Enterprises is planning to re-invent the popular TV detective DERRICK as an animated feature film. Last year DERRICK finished its unprecedented 24-year run on German television and 100 plus other territories worldwide. The theatrical release is being produced by ZDF, Ireland-based Magma Film and Hamburg-based neue deutsche Filmgesellschaft (ndF). The producers on the project are ndF's Matthias Walther, Magma Film's Ralph Christians and ZDF's senior VP of North American operations, Horst Muller. The trio have been developing the project for the last two years.
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.
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.
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.
* 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.