With live-action film ERIN BROCKOVICH staying firm at #1, the new special effects enhanced action flick, ROMEO MUST DIE, finished at #2 in the U.S. box office. In its first week in release, the new Jet Li film brought home US$18.01 million. Opening in theatres Wednesday, March 22, the Warner Bros.' martial arts pic has made a total of $24.6 million. The teen terror pic, FINAL DESTINATION, stayed dead still at third, grossing $7.22 million. The New Line flick has made a total of $20.4 million in two weekends of release.
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With the AOL merger coming near, Warner Bros.' Entertaindom.com employees are threatening walkouts and blackouts of the site. Reuters reported that staffers are angry with parent company Time Warner's lack of interest in Entertaindom as the America On-line deal is coming to a close. Hopes of Internet-made millionaires at the fledgling entertainment site were dashed when Time Warner called off the planned spin-off of Entertaindom as a public stock. In addition, the amount of previously agreed-upon Time Warner stock that Entertaindom employees will receive continues to drop.
Nelvana Limited has announced the introduction of Nelvana New Media, a new division that will focus on developing new applications, products and delivery channels for Nelvana's valuable character library. The new branch will create a children's Web entertainment site and interactive games based upon their characters for both CD-Rom and Internet distribution. "Nelvana New Media is an initiative that solidifies the future success of the Company," added Michael Hirsh, Nelvana Limited's co-chief executive officer.
On March 21, 2000, Macromedia, Inc. announced the formation of a venture unit to invest in companies that share Macromedia's vision of Web infrastructure and the interactive, multi-device, broadband Internet of the future. The unit's first investments include Spiderdance, Context Media and iHarvest Corporation. Spiderdance, with branches in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New Jersey, develops a software system that synchs the Web with TV broadcasts.
The executive producer of STUART LITTLE, Stephen Waterman, has signed on to exec produce the new animated feature STARCARS, a co-production between Korean-based entertainment conglomerate Ameko Entertainment Company Ltd. and Hyper Image LLC, an American animation studio specializing in sci-fi CGI. Dong Chung, COO of Ameko will co-executive produce the project. "I am genuinely excited about taking animation beyond the next level and into a new universe," Waterman said.
Todd McFarlane Entertainment (TME) has agreed to work with Jodie Foster's production company, Egg Pictures, on a new film, THE DANGEROUS LIVES OF ALTAR BOYS. ALTAR BOYS, directed by Peter Care and featuring Foster in a supporting role, tells the tale of a group of Catholic school friends who are caught drawing an obscene comic book. TME will produce the animation segments for the film, which is set to begin shooting in May.
Giant Studios' Motion Reality system has been selected as the technology of choice for motion-capture services on the highly anticipated New Line Cinema feature film trilogy, THE LORD OF THE RINGS. New Line Cinema has signed Wellington, New Zealand-based Weta, Ltd. to handle the visual effects, and Weta has named Giant Studios as the exclusive motion-capture resource for all three films.
On March 24, 2000, Joe Cartoon Co., the producers of popular Web toons FROG IN A BLENDER and LEMMINGS, was awarded a preliminary injunction against John Zuccarini for cybersquatting. The court order bars Zuccarini from using or endorsing the use of the domain names joescartoon.com, joecarton.com, joescartons.com, joescartoons.com, cartoonjoe.com and any other derivative of Joe Cartoon Co.'s joecartoon.com URL.
India-based company Colorfront has announced the release of their high-end colour correction tool color*star. color*star is the industry's first plug-in for digital film grading, advanced selective colour correction and creative look-creation running on Discreet's high-end visual effects and editing systems. The plug-in currently runs on inferno*, flame*, flint*, effect* on O2, fire* and smoke* systems from Discreet. Colorfront has recognized the convergence of film, HDTV and video to the 1080p/24 Universal Mastering solution and have standardized color*star's workflow in this format.
ITV has ordered 26 episodes of the half-hour, 3D CGI animated series BUTT-UGLY MARTIANS. The Mike Young Productions, The Just Group PLC and DCDC-produced show follows three Martians, who came to Earth to overthrow it but stayed because the loved it. The director of the first season of TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES, Gary Selvaggio, is the creator of series. DCDC handles the TV rights for the show in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, while the U.K.-based The Just Group handles all other international TV, video, merchandising and licensing rights. BUTT-UGLY MARTIANS has not yet found a home in the U.S.
On Saturday, March 18, 2000, Cartoon Network announced the winner of their inaugural CARTOON CAMPAIGN 2000. "Political" ads started airing on January 15, 2000 toting the 50 candidates, but a crime-fighting Great Dane has become the clear winner. Scooby-Doo captured 17.4 percent of the more than three quarters of a million votes received, followed by The Powerpuff Girls with 11.1 percent and Bugs Bunny with 8.6 percent. A mini-marathon of Scooby-Doo cartoons celebrated the election winner on Sunday, March 19, 2000. With endorsements from ex-U.S.
The Harvey Entertainment Company and Felix the Cat Productions have come to a new corporate agreement to bring Harvey characters to Latin America. Harvey Entertainment has appointed Felix the Cat Productions, Inc. as their exclusive licensing agent for Latin America. In turn, Donald Oriolo, president & CEO of Felix the Cat Productions, and the other heirs of Casper creator Joseph Oriolo have turned over to Harvey all rights and claims to the trademarks and copyrights of the Casper character.
On Thursday, March 16, 2000, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences announced its nominations for the Daytime Emmy Awards. The 27th annual event highlights the best in daytime television where animation makes much of its home. Besides the specific categories for animation, animated TV series have a strong presence in various other areas of recognition. BLUE'S CLUES racked up nominations for Outstanding Directing In A Children's Series, Outstanding Pre-School Children's Series and Outstanding Writing In A Children's Series.
Shockwave.com has finalized an exclusive deal with Oscar and Emmy award-winning director, producer, screenwriter James L. Brooks' Gracie Films to create animated programming. Gracie Films and Brooks, whose credits include executive producer of THE SIMPSONS, THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW and TAXI, will hold complete artistic control over the characters and properties created for shockwave.com. "We couldn't be more pleased about being in business with Gracie Films," said Rob Burgess, chairman of shockwave.com. "Jim's creative talent and versatility has entertained so many of us for so long.
At the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences Oscar Awards on Sunday, March 26, 2000, THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA by Alexander Petrov won for best animated short film. "Having been nominated twice before, now I can look at this award without irony," Petrov said. "I'm very happy to have received the Oscar as it has given THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA and my earlier films recognition. And like any artist I wanted to be first. I'm happy that the Academy has the category of animated short film, because it gives a chance to independent artists to show their work.
Jeffrey Kramer has been named the new president of Honkworm International's cross media division. Kramer's main role at Honkworm will be to attract new major talent to the Internet company. Kramer comes to Honkworm from David E. Kelley Productions, where he served as president. He was the executive producer on ABC's THE PRACTICE and Fox's ALLY MCBEAL.
Renowned director Paul Vester has left Rhythm & Hues to become the creative director, digital and mixed media for Class-Key Chew-Po Commercials. Vester has helmed spots for Xerox, Listerine, Hershey, Twizzlers, Geico Direct. He also served as the animation director of the Grammy-nominated music video for Oasis' "All Around the World." Recently, Vester's film ABDUCTEES was featured in the animated short film compilation, CARTOON NOIR, which has played in theatres across the U.S. Some of his other animated short film credits include SUNBEAM and PICNIC.
Steve Ziolkowski has signed on as director of animation at SuperToons, the new animation division of the Super 78 Company. At SuperToons, Ziolkowski will help build the company into a top-of-the-line producer of animation for PlayStation 2, the Internet and digital TV. Ziolkowski will also oversee Moscow-based Super 78/Russia, which specializes in CGI animation. Before moving to SuperToons, Ziolkowski was a senior animator at Disney's DreamQuest Studios (recently renamed The Secret Lab).
For the rest of this month, the Sundance Channel will be showcasing the films of Faith Hubley, her late husband, John, and their daughter, Emily...
New Orleans, Louisiana-based Imprimatur, Inc., a production, multi-media marketing firm and event planning company is looking for a 2D ANIMATOR for contract work on a children's television program. . . San Francisco, California-based Mondo Media, a new media company that creates and syndicates digital animation for the Web, television and film, is looking for 2D TRADITIONAL CHARACTER ANIMATORS and CHARACTER DESIGNERS to work on original on-line animations and shows. . .
Shockwave.com, a leading Internet entertainment destination, announced it has signed a deal with Joe Shields, the creative mind behind www.joecartoon.com. Shields is known for his popular Webisodes, including FROG BENDER 2000 (a.k.a. FROG IN A BLENDER) and MICRO-GERBIL 2001. Shields will produce 10 new original animated properties to debut exclusively on shockwave.com.
The classic animated character ELMO AARDVARK is making a come-back on the Web. The new weekly animated series, ELMO AARDVARK, OUTER SPACE DETECTIVE!, debuted in March on renegadecartoons.com. The new Elmo adventures feature voice talent from June Foray (ROCKY & BULLWINKLE), Diane Michelle (ALLY MCBEAL), Corey Burton (DUDLEY DO-RIGHT), Phil Lollar (ADVENTURES IN ODYSSEY), Keith Scott (ROCKY & BULLWINKLE: THE MOVIE) and Will Ryan, grandson of Elmo Aardvark creator Terwilliger Ryan. The series follows the space-capades of the ukulele-playing marsupial.
For the rest of March, the Sundance Channel will be showcasing the films of Faith Hubley, her late husband, John, and their daughter, Emily. Hubley films have won three Academy Awards, and numerous other film festivals. Sundance's "Spotlight on the Hubleys" highlights the family's short films such as PIGEON WITHIN and EVERYBODY RIDES THE CAROUSEL. Charles Silver, a curator in the film and video department of New York's Museum of Modern Art, said to CNN, "It is a well-deserved tribute.
Fox Kids Europe has acquired the exclusive U.K. and French rights to DIGIMON: DIGITAL MONSTERS from Toei Animation of Japan. The POKEMON-like series will hit Fox Kids Europe on April 1 and premiere on Britain's ITV network. September will see the debut of the show in France on TF1 and Fox Kids France.