An event has happened that comic book fans have been debating over late night games of Dungeons and Dragons for decades -- What would Batman be like if Stan Lee created him? DC Comics announced the teaming of living legend Stan Lee, the co-creator of Spider-man, the Hulk and the X-Men and founder of Stan Lee Media, with longstanding rival DC Comics to present Lee's alternative interpretation of such super-heroes as Batman and Superman.
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Mattel Interactive has entered into a deal with Danish company, TV Animation, the creators and owners of the animated interactive TV series THE NELLY NUT SHOW and the real-time technology, The Cartoon Broadcast System. The partnership will further develop the series for world TV markets. Mattel Interactive will represent the partnership in North America and other English speaking territories around the globe.
Bristol-based Harvest Films has been commissioned by BBC1 to produce a half-hour animated special entitled, HAMILTON MATTRESS. Developed in conjunction with the BBC Animation Unit, the stop-motion special features a cast of characters created by John Webster, writer of some of the most successful television advertising campaigns. The special will follow the story of an unloved Aardvark and his canny caterpillar companion, who embark on an epic adventure in which friendship and talent triumph over vanity and greed.
If you're waiting for the bus and a poster talks to you don't be startled. To promote, the debut of the hit series ANGELA ANACONDA on Cartoon Network Europe, the toon TV channel has designed talking posters to be placed in bus shelters all over the U.K. The posters will be fitted with a hidden movement sensor that will make it talk whenever a person passes by. There will be five different sound bites plus a song emanating from the posters for Cartoon Network Europe's new 52 part series created by Joanna Ferrone and Sue Rose, creator of the highly successful PEPPER ANN and voice of Angela.
Blue Sky Studios has brought dead fish to life for THE SOPRANOS. Blue Sky's Animation Director Mark Baldo and Lead Technical Director Cliff Bohm were given the task to create the special effects for a pivotal scene in the season finale. The scene features Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini), who is wracked with guilt and indecision about his long-time friend, Pussy (Vincent Pastore), who he knows has turned FBI informant.
Turner Broadcasting System (TBS) has signed a multi-year deal with Israel's first and only DTH operator Yes to show Cartoon Network. The Turner toon network will be offered as a 24-hour channel alongside TCM (Turner Classic Movies) and CNN International on Yes' channel packages which will launch in the second half of 2000. "Yes is extremely proud of its association with TBS," said Yona Wiesenthal, Senior Vice President of Content, Yes.
Manga Entertainment brings Hayao Miyazaki's first film to DVD and VHS. THE CASTLE OF CAGLIOSTRO is the first film written and directed by anime pioneer and visionary Hayao Miyazaki (PRINCESS MONONOKE, KIKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE). Loosely based on French novelist Maurice Leblanc's ARSENE LUPIN: GENTLEMAN THIEF adventure, the film follows Lupin, an underworld version of Sherlock Holmes, who is famous for swindling goods from the rich around the world.
DRAGOON descends onto video. Sedon finds the beautiful May unconscious in the snow and that's when this young swordsman's troubles begin. May, the product of an evil experiment, has special powers that her creators will go to unthinkable extents to regain. The U.S. release date is scheduled for April 11, 2000. The English dubbed version will sell for US$19.98 and the Japanese with English subtitled version for $29.95.
SPELL WARS: SORCERER HUNTERS' REVENGE 2 casts a spot in stores in April. The evil Zaha is growing in strength and plans to exploit the Hunters' secret power. However, before they can challenge the villain they must save a small village from the deadly gymbots. SORCERER HUNTERS' REVENGE 2 will hit stores April 11, 2000. The English dubbed version will sell for US$19.98 and the Japanese with English subtitled version for $29.95.
"The turn-out was terrific. It's better than we ever imagined. It shows the depth of emotion in Hollywood toward this issue," said Tom Sito, president of the Screen Cartoonists' Union Local 893. With bright, artistic signs in hand, a crowd of nearly 250 people consisting of both working and non-working animation professionals showed up to picket in front of Los Angeles PBS affiliate KCET. The picket even drew members from SAG and the American Film union. The event was a show of support against the recent move by PBS that sent their network's animation work to Canada.
Eruptor.com has launched their new live-action/animated series, JONNI NITRO. The Web series stars Olivia d'Abo (TV's THE WONDER YEARS) and Thomas Jane (DEEP BLUE SEA). The show is being directed by comic book artist Marc Silvestri. The series follows femme fatale, Jonni, as she tries to bring justice to a world that's not as black and white as it appears. "Getting to watch such a talented animator make another art form come to life, is a real honor," said Brad Foxhoven, Eruptor's Co-Founder, President and CEO.
Stan Lee Media, Inc. (SLM) announced a strategic alliance with Canadian-based Toon Boom Technologies for the development of Web-based animation software, which SLM will utilize in constructing its episodic Web comics. Jamie Wilkinson, executive vice president, Internet strategy for SLM, will oversee Beta testing in late summer/early fall 2000, to take place in Montreal and at a number of animation houses throughout the world. Pentafour Software & Exports Ltd., a leading developer of 2D/3D graphics and animation, special effects and software, will also participate in the project.
PuppetTime, Inc. and Prosoft Engineering, Inc. announced a strategic development partnership that will provide PuppetTime with access to Prosoft's engineering resources to accelerate the development of PuppetTime's patent pending Web 3D storytelling technologies.
Canadian-based TV and film company Alliance Atlantis Communications and Munich-based kids producer TV Loonland have joined to create animated joint ventures. The German producer will supply CA$110 million (US$ 76 million) over the next three years to co-create up to nine new children's series. As part of the deal, TV Loonland will hold all European rights, while Alliance will control the remaining worldwide rights. For an additional $14 million, TV Loonland has acquired European rights to Alliance's portfolio which includes YVON OF THE YUKON.
Film Roman Inc. and The Harvey Entertainment Company announced an agreement whereby The Harvey Entertainment Company will serve as Film Roman's international sales representative. As part of the deal, Harvey will handle sales and distribution of the Film Roman library beginning at MIP and will manage all servicing and collections for Film Roman. Jon Vein, Executive Vice President of Film Roman said, "Our companies both share the belief that independents need to combine their sales and distribution efforts in order to successfully compete internationally.
3Dlabs, Inc. Ltd., a high-end 3D graphics tool creator, announced that it has acquired the assets of the Intense3D operations of Intergraph Corporation. The stock transaction is expected to add to earnings on a goodwill (EBG) basis from the third quarter of 2000 onwards. Under the terms of the agreement, 3Dlabs will issue up to US$3.69 million common shares of 3Dlabs to Intergraph as initial consideration for the acquired assets and goodwill, with an earn-out provision totaling up to an additional $25 million, payable in stock and/or cash.
George Lucas has decided to go mostly digital with the live-action segments of STAR WARS EPISODE II. On Sunday, April 9, 2000, Lucas said, after four months of testing high-definition cameras, he will start shooting most of the next STAR WARS installment with Sony digital cameras. Jim Morris, president of Lucas Digital, said the cameras had "exceeded expectations." In June, the film will start shooting in Australia for two months, then move to Italy and Tunisia in August for another month, followed by 18 months of post-production.
DreamWorks has brought on Jodie Foster and Morgan Freeman to do voices for TUSKER. The CGI film about a herd of elephants making a trek across Southeast Asia is being directed by Tim Johnson and Brad Lewis. Foster will voice a young female elephant and Freeman will voice one of the herd's elders. The targeted release date is Christmas 2002.
Mainframe Entertainment is set to produce two new TV movies based on the characters from their TV series REBOOT. The two telepics are being produced in partnership with Canadian cable broadcaster YTV Canada, Inc. for broadcast in the Spring and Fall of 2001. REBOOT was the first ever half-hour computer animated TV series produced in the world. The series was originally shown in North American in September of 1994 on YTV in Canada and on ABC Television in the U.S.
One week after THE SIXTH SENSE broke records on video, PHANTOM MENACE doubled the SENSE's first week total in only two days. "VHS is still alive and well, despite reports from others to the contrary," said Fox spokesman Steve Feldstein. Fans of STAR WARS were disgruntled over George Lucas' decision not to release the new installment on DVD. Nonetheless, they were not alienated enough to boycott the VHS release of EPISODE I. The video has made an estimated US$100 million in just two days and is forecasted to reach $200 million in its first week in release.
In its second week in theatres, THE ROAD TO EL DORADO has swerved to #3 at the U.S. box office. With new military drama RULES OF ENGAGEMENT and ERIN BROCKOVICH finishing one and two respectively, EL DORADO settled down one spot making US$9.09 million and raising its total pile of gold to $25.1 million. ROMEO MUST DIE dive bombed from fourth to seventh. The Jet Li action flick, with primary special effects by Manex Visual Effects, kicked in another $4.55 million to its cume of $45.8 million. FINAL DESTINATION descended into ninth place.
Alias|Wavefront announced this week that the fifth major release of their Maya next-generation animation software will feature a universal rendering policy that enables Maya Complete and Maya Unlimited to "float" the Maya Batch Renderer across any number of machines. This new announcement furthers Alias|Wavefront's aim at synergy between all of Maya's tools throughout the production and post-production process and Alias|Wavefront's earlier announcement that Maya 3 will feature a new Trax compositing system further backs up this position.
At NAB this week MAXON released the new version of their flagship 3D animation software, Cinema 4D XL. Version 6 features masses of new features and improvements, ranging from a new non-linear construction history, to particle effects and motion sequencing. The new version also takes advantage of Intel's Pentium III and Motorola's G4 processors which makes workflow much faster than in previous versions. The new software is shipping now and upgrades cost $495 US for registered users.