Geographical Region: Asia
Disney/Pixar's A BUG'S LIFE has passed $150 million in the overseas box office and $310 million worldwide making it the 11th highest-grossing animated feature of all time. The top ten spots are all held by Disney films. The film has been released in 26 countries so far and has been in the top ten consistently in most countries including Germany ($15 million), Italy ($5.5 million), Spain ($10.2 million), Sweden ($3.5 million), and Taiwan ($3 million). In the United Kingdom, the film set a new record for the highest animated opening, and the eighth largest opening ever.
In a precedent-setting deal, Chinese national broadcaster CCTV signed anagreement with Warner Bros. Intl. TV to start airing a 15-minute block ofLooney Tunes starting this summer. The program, which will run 7 days aweek, consists of two animated shorts a day. This marks the first timeLooney Tunes will be nationally broadcast as a regularly scheduled programin China; and signals a significant development in bringing U.S. TVprogramming to China, where it is virtually nonexistent on CCTV, thecountry's main broadcaster.
Burbank, California-based Rich Animation's upcoming animated feature THE KING AND I, slated for release March 19, utilized a unique production process by transferring animation scenes via the Internet between artists located in California, Europe, China, India, Korea and Canada. By avoiding the massive overhead costs associated with typical feature animation studios, Rich was able to compete with the big boys by delivering a theatrical quality feature on a budget.
Disney's Chinese-themed MULAN finally opened in China today on 13 screens in Shanghai. Chinese officials had originally declined to import MULAN when it was released last year because of their dissatisfaction with Disneys release of KUNDUN, a live-action film about Chinese rule in Tibet, two years ago. The timing for MULANs debut was less than favorable, falling on the last day of school childrens winter vacation period. MULAN is scheduled to screen in other parts of China including Beijing, although dates havent been announced yet.
Walt Disney Home Video is re-releasing 101 DALMATIONS (1961) on video on March 9, for 101 days only. The fully restored, digitally remastered and THX Certified release also features a new 90-second MOUSEWORKS short, STREET CLEANER, featuring another Disney canine star, Pluto. In addition, the video is accompanied by an exclusive offer for a free Dalmation puppy beanbag toy. The video will be available at $26.99 (S.R.P.).
Eric Rollman has been upped to president of production for Fox Family Worldwide, a joint venture between Saban Entertainment and Fox News Corp. His new role puts him in charge of production for Fox Family Channel, Fox Kids Network and Fox Kids International, as well as continuing supervision of on-air promo material production for the various channels.
The animated feature "Princess Mononoke," Japan's highest-grossing feature of all-time, had an amazing television debut in Japan on January 22. Airing on Nippon Television Network (NTV), the Hayao Miyazaki film brought in a 35.1 rating, the eighth highest ranking in Japanese television history for movie broadcast ratings and the highest rating for a broadcast movie in 15 years.
Beginning in February, Kids WB! Saturday morning line-up will start airing the hit Japanese animated series, "Pokémon," a cartoon which gained infamy in late '97 when hundreds of young Japanese viewers simultaneously suffered seizures while watching an episode that featured a high-contrast flash sequence [AF 12/23/97]. While the series currently completes its first season in first-run syndication, Kids WB! will premiere twelve all new episodes of "Pokémon," which will join the series syndication package of 52 episodes for the completion of the '98-'99 season.
Premiered at MIPCOM, Korean company Samsung Entertainment Group will again offer their newest animated series for adults called Alexander. Peter Chung, creator of Aeon Flux, is designing the characters for the fantasy-adventure show, which is set in 4th Century B.C. Macedonia, and is based on the novel Alexanders War Chronicles by Hiroshi Aramata. The executive producer is Haruki Kadokawa, with Masao Maruyama producing, Rintaro directing and Yoshinori Kanmori supervisor directing. Animation is being produced by Mad House in Japan.
Toronto, Canada-based animation studio NELVANA Enterprises (Booth 1910) has reached a deal with cable and satellite channel TELETOON France giving the broadcaster 200 half-hours of animation programming per year from NELVANA.
J.J. Sedelmaier recently completed a simple 30-second spot, Filenes Turkey, promoting Filenes Basement annual charity Giant Turkey Giveaway. The spot used a stark black-ink-against-white-background style to feature a spokes-turkey who grows fatter and fatter each time the cash register rings until it fills up the entire screen. Director J.J. Sedelmaier commented about the ad, Filenes Turkey is a simple spot thats stylistically reminiscent of old black-and-white cartoons where personality carries the day over artistry.
Hong Kong-born animation director and illustrator Paul Chung completed a French bubblegum spot, "Rainforest," for Passion Pictures through Young and Rubicam (Paris, France). The ad takes place in a brightly colored South American jungle setting as Indian natives watch their jungle being destroyed by an army of loggers. To thwart the loggers, a native opens a pack of Malabar bubblegum and from the pack jumps the superhero Malabar Man who proceeds to block the bulldozers with gum. The 30-second spot which combines traditional 2D with computer animation, will air in France starting in 1999.
Coming off their successful animated feature, Antz, Pacific Data Images (PDI) and DreamWorks have announced that their next collaboration will be Tusker, directed by Tim Johnson (co-director of Antz) and Brad Lewis (producer of Antz). The film will be PDI/DreamWorks third project and will follow the release of Shrek, which is currently in production. Tusker follows a herd of elephants as they make a perilous trek across Southeast Asia confronting numerous dangers including a malevolent group of poachers.
MEDIALAB, a real-time performance animation production company, and Cine-Groupe, a production house and distributor of animation, have joined forces for the first time in a co-production deal that will see two properties, Pinocchio 3001 and Sphinx@com, developed into computer-generated animated feature films and television series. These projects will be produced over the next four years using MEDIALABs propietary performance animation techniques.
Savage Steve Holland, co-creator of "Eek! the Cat," has signed on with the William Morris Agency for representation in all fields. He will be repped by Rob Wolken, Spencer Baumgarten and Greg Lipstone. He is currently creating, writing and directing DIC's "Sabrina, the Animated Series." In addition, he's also written and directed live-action films including "Better Off Dead" (1985) and "One Crazy Summer" (1986).
Canadian-based CINAR Films has signed an agreement with Shanghai Animation Film Studio, a subsidiary of Shanghai TV, Chinas second largest broadcasting company, to co-produce a 52 ten-minute episode animated series called Rumble and Growl. The Chinese-developed educational series chronicles the adventures of two friends, Rumble and Growl, who are always hungry. In their quest to find food, the pair uncovers scientific wonders and never-before explained natural phenomena. This is the first-ever official Canada-China co-production for an animated series created in China.
Not only are the RUGRATS burning up the big screen but they're also settingrecords on the small screen. A Thanksgiving-themed episode, "The Turkey WhoCame to Dinner," which aired on November 10 garnered Nickelodeon's biggestratings ever among the age 2-11 demographic. The special outperformed allcompetition, even broadcast networks, in its time period earning a 9.4/28national rating share (3.7 million viewers) among kids 2-11.
Sunday, November 22, marked the end of the 7th Holland Animation FilmFestival 1998. Awards were presented for both the international competitionfor applied animation and student films. The jury for the internationalcompetition for applied animation consisted of Garri Bardin (Russia), PaulBush (United Kingdom), Dingeman Kuilman (The Netherlands), Adriaan Lokman(The Netherlands), and Linda Simensky (United States). They chose thefollowing films to receive the Golden Pegbar Awards:
Bandai's AnimeVillage.com is the first video releasing company in the US that enables consumers to purchase Japanese animation directly through the Internet. The site also features the latest animation news from Japan, real-time chats, games, message boards, and contests. AnimeVillage.com's initial release slate includes the "Gundam" series and "The Vision of Escaflowne" with plans to expand their library up to 200 titles by the end of 1999.
The Sitges Fantasy Film Festival wrapped up on October 16 in Barcelona, Spain. The international jury for the "Anima't" animation festival within a festival was comprised of Jerry Beck (U.S.A.), Mercedes Gaspar (Spain) and Giorgio Valentini (Italy). They selected "Un Jour" by Marie Paccou (France) as Best Film, and gave an Honorable Mention to "Glassy Ocean" by Shigeru Tamura (Japan). In the main festival, Bill Plympton's film, "More Sex & Violence" won the "Best Short Film" award.
Berlin, Germany-based animation studio, Hahn Film is launching production studios in Taiwan and Vietnam. Each studio will employ about 150 people, and will be devoted to digital ink and paint services, initially for Hahn projects, but may branch out to service other studios in the future. The first studio, called Saigon Graphics Enterprises, in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, is already up and running, working on the production of the animated series "Wild Life," which is being distributed by Hit Entertainment and is pre-sold to the Fox Family Channel (U.S.), the BBC and Nickelodeon (U.K.).
Paris, France-based Gaumont Multimedia and Hamburg, Germany-based IGEL Media have reached a multi-year, multi-million dollar first-look distribution agreement giving IGEL all television and home video rights on future Gaumont Multimedia animated series for Germany, Scandinavia, Japan and Korea. The deal, sealed at MIPCOM, reflects both companies' need to address the increased competition and decreased number of broadcast slots available in Germany and Asia.
Robert McNeel & Associates will be releasing the final version of Rhino3D, a powerful NURBS-based modeling package, this month. The software, whichhas undergone an extensive public beta program (for the last 2 years), willbe available for Windows 95, 98 or NT, and is designed as a companion topackages like 3D Studio MAX and Lightwave. Priced at $795 US, the packageboasts features such as 3D digitising support (for Microscribe 3D and Faro),surface and solid modeling, an intuitive UI, and support for all major 3Dfile formats.
OTTAWA WINNERS. The Ottawa International Animation Festival wrapped up on Sunday night with an awards show at the National Arts Center in Canadas capital city. The grand prize went to the new Estonian film, Night of the Carrots, by Priit Pärn who was on hand to accept the award as the festival also hosted a four-part retrospective of Estonian animation.