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Geographical Region: Australia

Headline News Hugh Jackman is Oscar Host

Hugh Jackman will host the 81st Academy Awards telecast. This will be Jackman's first time center stage at the Oscar show, although he has previously been a presenter.

"Hugh Jackman is a consummate entertainer and an internationally renowned movie star," said producer Laurence Mark and executive producer Bill Condon in a joint statement. "He also has style, elegance and a sense of occasion. Hugh is the ideal choice to host a celebration of the year's movies -- and to have fun doing it."

Headline News Nickelodeon To Launch New Multiplayer Global Game

Nickelodeon is helping kids get their game on in the name of the environment, beginning Dec. 14 with the launch of THE BIG GREEN HELP GLOBAL CHALLENGE -- the first multiplayer kids' online game with a goal of igniting real-world action for environmental change. Kids will be asked to virtually pledge volunteer hours in the "Global Challenge" that they can translate into actionable steps in their homes, communities and schools.

Headline News Holdovers Lead Top Seven Spots at Weekend Box Office

The top seven films at the box office remained virtually unchanged, save for some slight shuffling. Warner Bros./New Line comedy FOUR CHRISTMASES stayed at the top with a haul of $16.76M and $69.4M in two weeks.

TWILIGHT (Summit Ent., vfx by CIS Vancouver, ILM, Catalyst Media, Rez-Illusion, PIC Agency, Lola and Gentle Giant) moved up from third to second place in its third week out, earning $13.05M and a total gross of $138.4M.

Headline News Mediatoon's Magic Roundabout Sees International Deals

Mediatoon has inked several new TV and video rights deals, for its series THE MAGIC ROUNDABOUT, featuring amusing stories produced in HD and loveable characters, such as Dougal and Zebedee.

Italia 1 (Italy), TV2 (Norway), YLE (Finland), TRT (Turkey), EESTI (Estonia) and Al Jazeera (Middle East) have snapped up the preschool show.

Headline News American Greetings Expands Licensing Reach Of Care Bears

American Greetings Properties, the intellectual property and outbound licensing division of American Greetings Corporation, continues to expand the international footprint of CARE BEARS across the globe with a slate of new deals in key territories. Through a partnership with Spain-based retail giant Oysho, American Greetings Properties recently launched CARE BEARS classic apparel at all Oysho stores worldwide.

Headline News Three Delivery Fans Warm Up with Webisodes this Winter

New York-based independent producer Animation Collective will soon debut 11 exclusive webisodes released in conjunction with their original show THREE DELIVERY, which currently airs on Nicktoons Network. As part of a multiplatform strategy for the series, the 1.5 minute webisodes will roll out each week through the month of December on www.ThreeDelivery.com.

A new webisode will be posted each Friday beginning December 5 through January 2, 2009.

Headline News 4Kids Inks New Deals For Chaotic Series in France, U.K.

On the heels of MIPCOM 2008, 4Kids Ent. has finalized licensing agreements with broadcasters in France and the U.K. for the first season of CHAOTIC.

CHAOTIC (Season One) is scheduled to launch on Gulli TV in France, Rede TV in Brazil and Jetix in the U.K., beginning first quarter 2009.

The property's second season, CHAOTIC: M'ARRILLIAN INVASION, has also been renewed by Teletoon in Canada and Jetix in Latin America. Broadcast sales of the series in Germany, Italy and other markets are expected to close by end of the calendar year.

Headline News Digital Musings From the Editor:

Critical reaction may be split on QUANTUM OF SOLACE, but the vfx are impressive, and VFXWORLD got to speak with both Marc Forster and his long-time visual effects designer Kevin Tod Haug about the unique challenges of working on a James Bond film. Meanwhile, Tom McLean delves into Baz Luhrmann's dreamy AUSTRALIA, speaking with Rising Sun, Animal Logic and Framestore. And we offer the fourth excerpt from THE OFFICIAL LUXOLOGY MODO 301 GUIDE, "Masking Effects" (from Thomson Course Technology), which explains a new twist on Shader Tree applications.

Bill DesowitzEditor

Headline News I Castelli Animati Winners Announced

The 13th edition of Il Castelli Animati finished up November 30 in Rome, Italy, with winners including multiple winner Blu for the ambiguous animation MUTO.

International Competition

The Jury:President: Nelson Shin, KoreaSandra Ceccarelli, ItalyHeather Kenyon, USAMarco Pavone, ItalyGerben Schermer, The Netherlands

Grand PrizeCHAINSAW, Dennis Tupicoff, Australia, 2007Production: Jungle Pictures

Special Jury Prize

Headline News Four Christmases Gobbles Turkey, Cranberries & Box Office

Reese Witherspoon-Vince Vaughn holiday comedy FOUR CHRISTMASES (Warner Bros./New Line) won the five-day holiday weekend box office with $46.05M in its debut.

Coming in second was last week's big winner TWILIGHT (Summit Ent., vfx by CIS Vancouver, ILM, Catalyst Media, Rez-Illusion, PIC Agency, Lola and Gentle Giant) with $39.5M and a two-week cume of $119.7M.

Disney's animated feature BOLT stayed in third place, jumping up 37 percent in its second week in release with $35.995M and a two-week total of $66.85M.

Headline News The Large Family Charges into Second Season

U.K. children's television producer Coolabi Productions has begun production on the second season of THE LARGE FAMILY (26x11) for transmission in the U.K. and France.

Based on the best-selling books by Jill Murphy, the 2D cel animated series chronicles the domestic chaos of an all-too-human elephant family, and proved a massive hit with viewers when it launched in October 2007, the first season becoming one of the best rated shows on Cbeebies in the UK and TF1 in France. The series also started airing on Disney Channel France in October 2008.

Headline News Shaun the Sheep Wins International Emmy

The International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences announced the winners of the 36th International Emmy Awards Monday night at a gala event held in the New York Hilton, hosted by award-winning stage and screen actor Roger Bart, currently leading in Mel Brooks' new Broadway musical, YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN.

Headline News World of Warcraft Expansion Breaks PC Sales Record

Blizzard Ent.'s WORLD OF WARCRAFT’s second expansion, WRATH OF THE LICH KING, has sold more than 2.8 million copies in its first 24 hours of availability, making it the fastest-selling PC game of all time.

Headline News Blogs: AnimfxNZ Conference Wraps Up

Highlights from the Animated Travels blog:

Maori Welcome and Park Road Post

AnimfxNZ 2008 began with a song.

A contingent of Maori gathered to perform a ‘powhiri’, or New Zealand traditional welcome. The foreign visitors and speakers lined up so the kaumatua could determine if they were friends or foes. Thankfully, there were no enemies among them, and the conference was able to proceed.

Headline News Happy Feet 2 To Dance Through Australia

The New South Wales, Australia government has granted a tax break to filmmaker George Miller in order to make HAPPY FEET 2, according to THE AUSTRALIAN.

NSW Minister of State Development Ian Macdonald said the animated film would be produced at a new digital production facility named Dr. D in Sydney. The state government offered a payroll tax assistance package and facilitated the establishment of a the new studio.

Headline News OIAF Announces 2009 Dates

The Ottawa International Animation Festival has announced the dates for the 2009 festival -- October 14-18. This year's festival winners include Best Independent Short Animation CHAINSAW (Directed by Dennis Tupicoff, Australia), Best Animated Feature TERRA (Directed by Aristomenis Tsirbas), Best Student Animation I SLEPT WITH COOKIE MONSTER (Directed by Kara Nasdor-Jones, U.S.) and Best Commissioned Animation SONY BRAVIA "PLAY-DOH" (Directed by Frank Budgen & Darren Walsh, U.K.).

http://ottawa.awn.com/index.php

Headline News Shapeways 3D Printing Contest Winners Unveil High Quality and Alluring Models

3D printer Shapeways has announced the winners for the "Does your Character have Character Contest". After a weeklong voting period where Web users picked their favorite 3D models, the most popular of the bunch were awarded printing certificates that enable them to see their printing come to life.

You may have missed your chance to enter your own creation into this exciting contest, but you can still participate by taking a quick peek at those that dared to compete. Check out just how savvy Shapeways 3D printing is when you check out all the unique and eye-popping winners.

Headline News The Thirty-Second Film Contest For Australia

The Thirty-Second Film Contest For AustraliaDeadline: November 12, 2008

Twentieth Century Fox's upcoming romantic adventure AUSTRALIA and Metacafe launched "The Thirty-Second Film Contest" on October 24. The contest challenges aspiring film editors to use materials from the film as well as their own creative "spin" -- including visual effects, music, and voice-over -- to put together a :30 spot for the film.

Headline News World of Warcraft Surpasses 11 Million Subscribers Worldwide

The subscribership for Blizzard Ent.'s WORLD OF WARCRAFT, the award-winning massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), now exceeds 11 million players worldwide. This milestone was reached as the beta test for WRATH OF THE LICH KING, WORLD OF WARCRAFT's second expansion, nears completion. WRATH OF THE LICH KING will launch in several regions around the world starting on November 13.

Headline News Disney-ABC TV Offers First Look at Legend of the Seeker

Action-adventure fans can enjoy a first look of the highly-anticipated epic fantasy series LEGEND OF THE SEEKER before its November 1 premiere weekend. Now, Disney-ABC Domestic Television is offering an extended preview of the nationally-syndicated series as a free download, exclusively available on the iTunes Store (www.itunes.com).

Headline News Starz Declares: We Are Spartacus!

The world of gladiators comes to life as the Roman Empire's most brutal fighters clash in the ultimate arena. Starz's new series, SPARTACUS, an entirely new twist on the ancient legend, will utilize virtual environments giving it a unique graphic novel look and style, along with a fresh narrative approach. Debuting exclusively on Starz, SPARTACUS will be produced by Starz Media with exec producers Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert and Joshua Donen.

SPARTACUS will begin production in early 2009, debuting on Starz and its suite of channels later in the year.

Headline News ER Secures Distribution Deal For New Episodes Of Transformers Animated

Entertainment Rights has secured distribution rights to the latest 13 episodes for the new TRANSFORMERS ANIMATED series, bringing the total number of episodes of the series currently available to 42 (42x22). The announcement follows on the heels of Cartoon Network in the U.S. having confirmed the commission of an additional 13 episodes for delivery in spring 2009.

Headline News Nicktoons TV Debuts U.S. Marketing Sensation Domo

Nicktoons Network and branded entertainment company Big Tent Ent. announce the U.S. broadcast debut of the first official DOMO short form series. Nicktoons Network began rolling out the 26x2 new stop-motion shorts featuring the Japanese viral sensation DOMO and friends earlier this month. The shorts will air run of schedule daily, with a new short premiering each week. Earlier this year, the DOMO animated shorts launched successfully across Nickelodeon's international channels in Europe, Latin America, Australia and New Zealand.

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