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Sesame Workshop and Sony Pictures Family Entertainment have inked two big licensing deals for their PBS series DRAGON TALES. Kellogg USA has renewed its sponsorship of the series. Kellogg will be a strong presence in the advertising and marketing of the show, including positioning in the English and Spanish editions of SESAME STREET magazine and a link swap between Kellogg, Sesame Workshop and PBS' DRAGON TALES Websites.
In its last year on CBS, A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS is nothing but a holiday miracle. Airing at 8 pm on Monday, the 35-year old special scored an amazing 10.8 rating/16 share to finish in 17th place for the week. After its Christmas day airing on CBS, the classic holiday special will move to ABC. At #33, THE SIMPSONS took home a steady 8.7 rating/13 share for Fox. KING OF THE HILL placed #58 with a 6.4 rating/10 share. The Sunday 7:30 special broadcast of THE SIMPSONS finished in the 72nd slot with a 5.2 rating/9 share. CBS' Tuesday night Christmas block took the next two toon slots.
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HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS and DINOSAUR picked up steam at the international box office as former champ CHARLIE'S ANGELS faded a bit. In Mexico, THE GRINCH made its debut in first with a gross of US$2.29 million. BEDAZZLED fell to second with a ticket take of $1.51 million, raising its Mexican cume to $3.51 million. In fourth, CHARLIE'S ANGELS flew in another $645,425, elevating its Mexican cume to $3.91 million. Rounding out the Mexican top ten, THE CELL captured $48,406 to push its cume to $2.36 million.
Hayao Miyazaki's masterpiece, PRINCESS MONONOKE, is arriving on DVD from Miramax Home Entertainment. Hitting stores December 19, 2000, the film follows young warrior Ashitaka's quest to cure a disease that plagues his body and create peace between humans and the forest gods. The DVD features a special production featurette, English-language theatrical trailer and three language tracks in English, Japanese and French. The film will retail for US$34.99.
Rome production and distribution company Medusa Films has acquired financially strapped Italian toon house Lanterna Magica. The 20-year-old animation factory will remain under the watchful eye of executive producer Maria Fares and stay in its home in northern Turin. As part of the deal, Lanterna will produce an animated feature each year and an animated TV series for Medusa sister firm Mediaset every two years. Medusa CEO Federico di Chio will serve as president with Lanterna's Guido Manuli and Maurizio Forrestieri remaining in their roles as artistic and creative directors respectively.
On Friday, December 15, 2000, Stan Lee Media (SLM) stopped operations and laid off "substantially all of its [140 person] staff." The company will keep an executive core to look into possible new directions for the company including selling off the firm's assets. The move comes as a result of the Netcaster's plummeting stock and inability to raise a new round of financing. Early in December, SLM announced it had obtained US$2.2 million as a bridge loan until it could finalize a $40 million financing round.
* Wednesday, April 4 Sunday, April 8, 2001. Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.A.
Entry Deadline: January 10, 2001.
The fifth annual KC Filmmakers Jubilee is a celebration of independent filmmaking. All experimental and animation entries must be 30 minutes or less. A US$1000 prize will be awarded in each category. For more information contact: Tel.: (913) 649-0244; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; or Web: http://www.kcjubilee.org/.
* Thursday, January 11, 2001. Westwood, California, U.S.A.
The Women In Animation Writers' Group starts up their new Seminar Series at Saban Entertainment, 10960 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood at 7:30 pm. Find out the differences between writing for animation and live-action. Learn comedy and gag writing techniques. Fee is US$5. RSVP is required to Jean Ann Wright at: Tel: (818) 360-8321 or E-mail: email@example.com.
Falling behind the debuts of the live-action comedies, WHAT WOMEN WANT and DUDE, WHERE'S MY CAR?, HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS surrendered its U.S. box office crown, falling to third. The Who-ville fable, with primary visual effects by Digital Domain, grabbed $13.81 million, elevating its cume to an astounding $213.6 million. Disney's new animated feature THE EMPEROR'S NEW GROOVE made a lackluster debut in fourth grossing $9.81 million. The screwball buddy film could see increased dollars over the upcoming holiday vacation, helped by good reviews across the board.
eyeon Software recently announced a major new release of their powerful digital effects and compositing software, Digital Fusion DFX+. DFX+ is a "modular" offering. eyeon has chopped Digital Fusion up into 5 different packages, created a new licensing system and presto their flag ship package is now highly customizable and accessible to all! eyeon also announced that a demo of the software is now available for download from their Website. "If you want to know how a software package performs in the real world, you have to kick the tires and take it for a spin.
Milan-based Phoenix Tools announced the release of RealFur 2.0 a major upgrade to their fur rendering technology. The new version introduces renders up to 10 times faster than the previous version. The key to this speed is that the old volumetric technology has been replaced with a new geometry-based system that allows artists to render millions of polygons without having to display them in the 3D authoring application. An optimized cylinder, with the given color, transparency and other global material parameters, replace each hair strand at the rendering stage.
AntEye has closed its eyes and its doors. The Los Angeles Netcaster shut down on Friday, December 15, 2000 and laid off its 20 employees. The company decided to finally close up shop after finding a buyer was unsuccessful. Matti Leshem, company CEO, told the DAILY VARIETY, "The party is over. We're shutting for the same reason that everyone else has; the market can't support this kind of company.
iFilm has laid off 15 employees, or 10% of its staff. The move was made to release some pressure on the Netcaster's capital. The cuts were across many divisions and come on the heels of the firm's launching of three new projects the iFilm portal, the relaunch of iFilmpro and an online testing business. In the past year, iFilm has purchased film industry business-to-business services such as Film Finders, the Hollywood Creative Directory, Lone Eagle Publishing and TV Tracker. However, rumors have flourished that the company is backing away from a b2b model and refocusing on content.
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Nickelodeon Movies and Paramount Pictures have tapped top Hollywood actors to voice characters in their upcoming 3D animated feature, JIMMY, NEUTRON: BOY GENIUS. Patrick Stewart (STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION) and Martin Short (INNER SPACE) have signed on to voice characters for the film. The film will chronicle Jimmy's journey into space as he attempts to rescue all the parents from his town who have been kidnapped by the alien Yokians. The feature will start production under the direction of John Davis in January. The scheduled release date is holidays 2001.
Oscar-winning director/actor Billy Bob Thornton is teaming with Acme Productions on a new TV animated series. The currently untitled series is based on an idea by Thornton about a father who has been in a garage band for the past twenty years. The SLINGBLADE director will team with Emmy-winning SIMPSONS writer, Ron Hauge, on developing the project. Thornton will also voice the main character. Acme Production is the six-month-old production company formed by former 20th Century Fox executives Mindy Schultheis and Michael Hanel.