pmG (project:messiah Group) announced earlier this month that they have been invited by Intel to be one of twelve leading digital content creators and software developers to demonstrate products designed for the upcoming Itanium processor. The young company (started in January 2000) has already made a big impact on the industry. To be approached by Intel along with companies like Discreet, Avid|SOFTIMAGE, and NewTek in such a short time, is rather impressive.
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The producers of award winning 2D professional animation software Animo announced key corporate and product changes at Digital Media World. As well as launching their new corporate image, Cambridge Animation Systems (CAS) announced a new reseller strategy that includes the appointment of 30 new resellers. The company also told press that the company had undergone some major management changes and restructures in fitting with their new strategy.
* Saturday, March 10 Sunday, March 18, 2001. Durango, Colorado, U.S.A. Entry Deadline: January 2, 2001.
Discreet made several announcements at Londons Digital Media World conference, most of them revolving around the upcoming 3D Studio Max 4. The newly named product, 3D Studio Max 4, is to be released in January 2001, and Discreet announced that the details of the product were premiering on their new Animation Zone Website (www.discreet.com/animation). Version 4 of their award winning 3D app will feature new Inverse Kinematics tools and better rendering technology.
* Thursday, April 5 Sunday, April 8, 2001. Taos, New Mexico, U.S.A. Entry Deadline: January 5, 2001.
Ed Hooks is bringing his "Acting for Animators" seminars to book form. Arriving in stores in December, ACTING FOR ANIMATORS explores the connections between thinking and physical action and thinking and emotion. He also includes effective character analysis and the dynamics of a scene. The book also includes a CD-Rom featuring video-clips of improvs based on the seven essentials of acting and highlights of Rudolph Laban's movement theory. Hooks has taught acting for animators' classes around the globe since 1996. His new book will sell for US$18.95.
Warner Home Video (WHV) will release the documentary CHUCK JONES: EXTREMES AND IN-BETWEENS, A LIFE IN ANIMATION on November 21, 2000. Whoopi Goldberg, Matt Groening, Ron Howard, John Lasseter, Leonard Maltin, Steven Spielberg and Robin Williams are among the stars featured in the film. The flick features never-before-seen artwork and original pencil sketches from Jones' personal archive in addition to clips from such classic works as RABBIT OF SEVILLE, WHAT'S OPERA, DOC?, ONE FROGGY EVENING, DUCK AMUCK, HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS! and Academy Award winner THE DOT AND THE LINE.
GLADIATOR director Ridley Scott and mega-producer Jerry Bruckheimer have teamed up to produce a new pirate picture entitled CAPTAIN KIDD, based on the life of the 17th century pirate. The film will be a co-production between Disney and Scott's Scott Free Films with Scott directing. Disney bought the idea in a near six-figure deal with writers Doug Cook and David Weisberg (THE ROCK and DOUBLE JEOPARDY).
ADV Films and DIC will release the first two compellations of the popular TV anime series SAILOR MOON on November 21, 2000. The series is the story of Serena, a junior high school student who discovers that she has mystical powers and must defend the world against Queen Beryl and the evils of the Negaverse. ADV Films has licensed the first 82 episodes of the series from DIC and will be releasing them periodically. "The Legend Begins" and "The Power of Friendship" will be the first two volumes released, containing four episodes each. The tapes will retail for US$12.98 each.
The critically acclaimed animated flick, CHICKEN RUN, will fly into video stores on November 21, 2000. Fans of the US$105 million box office hit will be able to own the death-defying adventures of Ginger and the rest of the Tweedy Farm hens as they race time to avoid the chopping block. The film features the voices of Mel Gibson, Julia Sawalha and Miranda Richardson. The DVD will feature audio commentary from directors Nick Park and Peter Lord, "The Hatching of CHICKEN RUN" featurette, a "making of" documentary and interactive games.
Aardman Animations and BBC Video have announced they will be releasing "The Incredible Adventures of Wallace & Gromit" featuring all three of the Wallace & Gromit shorts. A GRAND DAY OUT has Wallace and Gromit traveling to the moon in search of cheese. THE WRONG TROUSERS chronicles the mishaps that ensue when Wallace takes in a shifty penguin as a lodger. A CLOSE SHAVE uncovers how Wallace and Gromit unravel a countrywide sheep-rustling ring. The volume will retail for US$19.98. Note the shrewd timing of this video -- on the same day that Aardman's CHICKEN RUN is released in stores!
ATTIK, a global creative solutions company, produced and designed the new branding campaign to launch the Sony PlayStation game, MOTORACER WORLD TOUR. The campaign contains a 30-second spot with a 15-second cutdown, a full spread and single page print ad, the front cover of the game and its point of purchase packaging. The spot features game footage woven together with typography and a CGI motorcycle.
Stockholm animation studio Filmtecknarna F. Animation AB has just wrapped on a new 30-second commercial for McDonald´s. The spot features an animated prince, sleeping beauty and dragon. The commercial was directed by Filmtecknarna´s Jonas Dahlbeck, who has previously directed spots for Boddingtons, Sky and Cartoon Network. The 3D backgrounds were designed and produced by Boris Nawratil with Lars Ohlson producing. The ad was created for the British agency Leo Burnett.
Warner Bros.' exec VP of production Robert Guralnick will leave his post after his contract expires at the end of November. Sources say that the executive is pursuing other offers at various media companies. Currently, Guralnick was overseeing the Arnold Schwartzenegger film, COLLATERAL DAMAGE and the live-action adaptation of SCOOBY-DOO. Guralnick is an 11-year vet of Warner Bros., who was hired in 1989 as a production VP. After Guralnick's exit Warner Bros.' will be left with only two executive VPs of production, Kevin McCormick and Jeff Robinov.
PDI/DreamWorks (formerly PDI), the animation and visual effects arm of DreamWorks SKG, has named Teresa Cheng as head of production. Cheng will oversee all of the global production efforts for PDI/DreamWorks. Previously, she has served as production manager for the DreamWorks animated feature film, SPIRIT, currently in production. Prior to DreamWorks, Cheng served as visual effects producer for Warner Bros.' BATMAN AND ROBIN.
Despite the threat of an actors' strike at the end of June, Columbia Pictures and Amblin Entertainment have decided to start the production of MEN IN BLACK 2 on June 3. Priority will be set on New York exteriors and heavy effects shots. Therefore, if an actors' strike does disrupt shooting the visual effects artists can start on the effects in the interim. The first MEN IN BLACK stars Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones are set to return with Barry Sonnenfeld reprising his role as director.
Soviet animator Vyacheslav Kotenochkin, creator of the world-famous slapstick cartoon NU, POGODI, died on November 20, 2000 after a battle with a long illness. He was 74-years-old. NU, POGODI, which screened in theaters around the globe, chronicled the misadventures of a hungry, dimwitted wolf that constantly chased a wide-eye rabbit. The Roadrunner-esque cartoons always ended with the wolf shouting, "Nu, pogodi!
Despite a report in the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER that the company is bankrupt, Internet animation producer and distributor Dotcomix is in discussions to be bought. AWN spoke with founder and chief creative officer Brad DeGraf and he said the company "just couldn't keep producing as it had in the past." DeGraf said the production staff has been laid off until the transition period is finished. However, president and CEO Damon Danielson has left the company to become the CEO of Video4I, a multi-platform video streaming company.
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SCARY MOVIE, WHAT LIES BENEATH and CHARLIE'S ANGELS all held strong at the international box office. In Italy, SCARY MOVIE debuted at #1 with a strong gross of US$2.28 million. Dropping a lofty 59%, X-MEN fell to sixth, grossing $466,646, thereby lifting its Italian cume to $4.1 million. In seventh, FREQUENCY channeled $460,570 in its Italian premiere. In France, SCARY MOVIE held onto the top spot with a gross of $2.32 million, raising its cume to $15.24 million. The French debut of SHAFT, therefore, had to settle for second, grossing $1.62 million.
Despite DreamWorks and Imagine Entertainment's downfall with Pop.com, Steven Spielberg and Ron Howard plan to create Webtoons for CoutingDown.com, the movie-fan site purchased by DreamWorks to be part of Pop.com. Howard's toon will be based on a recurring nightmare he has been having, where he is trapped on a crazed and out-of-control film set. Spielberg's toon will also be based on one of the filmmaker's dreams, but no plot has been released. The site will debut one toon early in December and the other in January.
KING OF THE HILL creators Greg Daniels and Mike Judge have teamed to develop a live-action series based off of the series' TV preacher Monsignor Martinez. Jim Dauterive, a supervising producer on KING, is set to produce the new show. Martinez is a recurring character on a TV soap that Peggy Hill and the rest of her family watch religiously. The spinoff would chronicle the vigilante adventures of the rough and tough priest. Insiders say that Fox TV is close to placing a script order for the series.
ADV Films is releasing the third volume of the LOST UNIVERSE series on video November 14, 2000. The series is a zany space adventure following the exploits of the starship Swordbreaker and its crew. Included in the third installment, the crew's only bathroom gets lost in a giant maze. Each tape features 4 episodes. The first two volumes in the series were released earlier this year. The film retails for US$19.98 for English dubbed and $29.95 for English subtitled.
In a report commissioned by Nickelodeon U.K., BBC's plan to form two new children's networks could cause commercially funded networks up to £400 million (US$580 million) in funding over a five-year period by undermining the economics of the commercially funded stations. Therefore the other 14 children's networks in the U.K. would have to rely more on cheap imports and repeat programming to stay viable against the publicly funded BBC networks. The report was conducted by independent analysts at Arthur Andersen. Nick U.K.