Microsoft announced on Friday, March 10, 2000, that it will create its own video-game unit entitled X-Box. The high-end console will be in direct competition with Sony's PlayStation 2 and Sega's Dreamcast. "We want X-Box to be the platform of choice for the best and most creative game developers in the world," said Microsoft chairman Bill Gate at the Game Developers Conference in San Jose. Intended to be a hybrid of the personal computer and traditional gaming console, the new system is expected to hit stores sometime in 2001.
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Sony Corp. shares took a gouge on Friday, March 10, 2000 after the company reported it was investigating customer complaints about a glitch in their new PlayStation 2 gaming system. A spokesman for Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE), Sony's game unit, said it was looking into problems associated with the new console's playing of DVDs. The company's shares fell 6.41% to end at ¥26,300 (US$249), extending a seven straight day losing streak that has brought a 22% price drop in the stock.
The Brussels Cartoon and Animated Film Festival has announced their winners. Each year the festival programs the "crème de la crème" in international animation and serves as one of the top festivals on the international cartoon and computer generated images circuit. This year's jury consisted of Canal +'s Servane Calmant, director Catherine Montondo, "RTBF" journalist Hugues Dayez, "Plateau" journalist Luc Joris and producer Steve Walsh. Brussels nominates four films for the prestigious Cartoon d'Or, the winner of which will be announced in September.
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On March 9, 2000, the winners of the British Animation Awards were announced to a packed audience at London's National Film Theatre. The big winner was ROBBIE THE REINDEER: HOOVES OF FIRE directed by Richard Goleszowski, which took home three awards. The half-hour TV special tells the story of the trainee reindeer, Robbie (son of Rudolph), and his bulbous nose. The film was a BBC Animation Unit/BBC Worldwide production in association with Comic Relief. Oscar short-listed films HUMDRUM and SILENCE both picked up awards. Below is a full list of winners in each category.
March focuses on Production Technology and has a number of special contributors and features. J. Paul Peszko discovers how DreamWorks integrated digital technology with traditional animation for their latest release "The Road to El Dorado." Eric Huelsman interviews Mike Milne, the man behind the amazing "Walking with Dinosaurs," a show which took Britain by storm and is now coming to the U.S. Howard Beckerman takes a historical look at a few early "real-time" animation techniques, like Mobilux Lumia.
In response to PBS directing its animated work to Canada, MPSC Local 839 Cartoonists Union is set to picket Los Angeles' PBS affiliate KCET. PBS, the United States' public broadcasting network, is funded by U.S. tax dollars and recently struck a US$40 million deal with Canada's Nelvana [AF 1/5/00]. Upset with the ever increasing practice of studios sending work outside the States, the Union will picket in front of the KCET building on Thursday, April 13, 2000 between 11:30 am and 1:30 pm. Local 839 members earn credit toward dues for picketing or sign-drawing.
Over the weekend beginning Friday, March 10, 2000, TOY STORY 2 made history in Japan by grossing US$3.8 million on only 364 screens to become the biggest opening for a U.S. animated film in Japan and finishing #1 at the box office. The Buena Vista International release crushed the old record set by Disney's THE LION KING by nearly 80%. Woody and Buzz more than doubled this weekend's debut of the 21st installment of the Japanese animated feature series, DORAEMON.
With bad reviews a side Buena Vista's MISSION TO MARS finished #1 at the U.S. box office. Serving as the closest thing to an event flick currently in U.S. theatres, MISSION TO MARS became the third highest March debut in U.S. history. The space spectacle, with primary special effects by ILM and Dream Quest Images, grossed US$22.9 million in its first weekend. Finishing in second place in its opening weekend was THE NINTH GATE, with primary special effects by Sony Imageworks and Mikros Image. Teaming Roman Polanski and the Devil once again, the film released by Artisan grossed $6.6 million.
In Chennai, India, Penta Media, 3D Max Media and Hewlett Packard have announced plans to produce a film, STARWAY, which will star two deceased Indian actors, brought back to life through CGI. The TIMES OF INDIA reported that no decision has been made on which stars would be reincarnated as themselves. In regards to ethical concerns, the newspaper published a comment from S. Rangarajan, director of special effects at Media Dreams: "This mixing of the real and unreal has a dangerous dimension.
The new NBC animated series, GOD THE DEVIL AND BOB, received heavenly ratings in spite of the devilish controversy surrounding the sitcom. After being axed or shifted by a total of nine NBC affiliates due to religious concerns, GOD, THE DEVIL AND BOB garnered time slot-winning scores of 14.42 million viewers, a 7.3/19 rating in adults 18-49 and 8.0/23 in adults 18-34. However, the show's premiere, positioned between the network's top shows FRIENDS and FRASIER, lost about 30% of the viewers from its FRIENDS lead-in.
As part of the four-picture deal with DreamWorks, Nick Park and Aardman Animations have started the planning stages on a WALLACE AND GROMIT feature. Based off of the Oscar winning franchise, no details have been released on the plot or intended release date for the film.
The new animated series MAX STEEL premiered at #1 for its rating slot. The new CGI series scored a 7.6 rating/24 share, finishing #1 with Boys 6-11 against all of its Saturday morning competition. The show also garnered Kids WB! a #1 rating with teens for the first time since May of 1999. The series, set in the fictitious, futuristic city of Del Oro Bay, centers around Max Steel, a young secret agent pitted against the evil plots of the mercenary organization, DREAD.
DIGITAL ENTERTAINMENT NETWORK, INC. (DEN), an on-line network targeting Generation Y, announced the appointment of MORRIS SIM as head of digital programming. Formerly with Microsoft, Sim held a variety of top-level managerial positions, supervising entire teams of programmers and designers for Microsoft's extensive line of consumer software. During his seven-year tour-of-duty, Sim was a key player in the development and design of some of Microsoft's top software products, like Access, VisualFoxPro, Visual Basic, Microsoft Works, Home Suite and Microsoft Office.
High-end 3D software developer Alias|Wavefront began shipping Maya Fusion 2 last week. Maya Fusion is Maya's NT-based compositing and effects software, which is integrated within the Maya UI to give artists the power to combine their live action footage with their Maya CG elements realistically.
During the week of March 6, 2000, NewTek began shipping the eagerly anticipated Windows NT versions of LightWave . This is NewTek's most significant upgrade to LightWave in 10 years, and the new upgrade features advanced modeling tools, groundbreaking rendering capabilities, advanced character animation features and a refined working environment. The new version boasts more features than we could possibly list.
In its first weekend on the market in Japan, Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.'s PlayStation 2 has reached 980,000 units sold. This initial sales milestone blows away the original PlayStation's three-day mark in 1994 by nearly 10 times. A total of 26,400 retailers in Japan, including 18,500 convenience stores, approximately 7,900 retail stores, current PlayStation retailers, as well as PlayStation.com (Japan) Inc., began selling the PlayStation 2 units on March 4.
Former Time-Warner chairman and CEO Robert A. Daly has signed a check for an undisclosed million-dollar figure to animation Netcaster Shockwave.com. As part of the investment, Daly joins the board of the San Francisco-based company, which broadcasts games, animation and music programming on-line for free. Since leaving Time-Warner, Daly has been focusing on his chairman and CEO post overseeing all operations of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team. At Shockwave, he will help sign up big name talent to produce original programming for the site.
London-based publisher Dorling Kindersley has lost US$40 million on the book adaptation of STAR WARS EPISODE 1: THE PHANTOM MENACE. The educational and CD-Rom publisher had 13 million of the STAR WARS books printed for last holiday season and sold fewer than 3 million copies. After the initial news was released earlier this year, shares plummeted 40% and CEO James Middlehurst resigned. Chairman and 30% shareholder Peter Kindersley has taken over the head position. An unnamed worker told the LONDON DAILY EXPRESS that founder Kindersley has "fallen victim to a terrible error of judgment." Mr.
Wolfmill Entertainment has signed a worldwide licensing deal with Living Toyz for a line of action figures based on Wolfmill's upcoming CGI animated feature film ELFQUEST. The fantasy-action film follows the journey of Cutter, a young elven chief, and his tribe across a hostile world to find a safe refuge. Before the theatrical release of ELFQUEST, Los Angeles-based Living Toyz will produce several sets of action figures based on the original ELFQUEST comic book designs by Warp Graphics.
Bardel Animation Limited has secured the rights to bring the young adult adventure SILVERWING to the big screen. SILVERWING, a novel by Ken Oppel, follows the coming-of-age tale of Shade, who is in search for his father. The book has sold more than 250,000 copies internationally and still remains on the bestsellers' list two years after its initial publication. Ken Oppel will help develop the story with Bardel Animation.
Oscar nominee Angelina Jolie is in final discussions to play buxom cyber-hero Lara Croft in TOMB RAIDER, a live-action feature based on the mega-hit video game. The Paramount project is set to begin production this summer, with director Simon West (CON AIR, THE GENERAL'S DAUGHTER). Jolie is up for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for GIRL, INTERRUPTED, a film for which she has already won the Golden Globe. Known for playing wild and tough women, Jolie's star is on the rise and can easily play Croft, who is described as a female Indiana Jones.
Mark Steven Johnson is in talks to pen and direct DAREDEVIL, the live-action adaptation of the Marvel Comics superhero franchise. The project originally started at Fox where directors such as Chris Columbus and Carlo Carlei developed the production. Now based out of Columbia Pictures, comic fan Johnson will breathe life into the story of the blind lawyer who uses his other, heightened senses to fight for justice. Marvel moved DAREDEVIL from Fox, because the studio is already busy putting together the Marvel titles X-MEN, FANTASTIC FOUR and SILVER SURFER.
Tim Burton is going ape over the chance to remake 20th Century Fox's 1968 sci-fi classic PLANET OF THE APES. If the final negotiations finish as planned, Burton could be helming Fox's big picture for summer 2001. Rumors have attached names like Oliver Stone, Chris Columbus, James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger to the project. In development since 1993 (longer than it took to make the original and four sequels), Bill Broyles has written the newest and hopefully final version of the new APE flick.
A new television series based on TOY STORY's Buzz Lightyear character will be coming to ABC and UPN in October. Walt Disney Television Animation is producing 65 episodes of BUZZ LIGHTYEAR OF STAR COMMAND -- 52 for UPN's "Disney's One Too" and 13 for ABC's Saturday morning lineup. Pixar will produce the CGI opening, but the series itself will be traditional 2D animation. Taking on voice duties as Buzz will be SEINFELD's Patrick Warburton, who's also starring in the live-action THE TICK series.