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Geographical Region: Australia

Weekend Headline News

King of the Box Office World: $250M in 5 Days

THE LORD OF THE RINGS: RETURN OF THE KING continued its record-breaking assault on the box office, grabbing $72.6M domestically over the weekend ended Dec. 21, 2003, and $125.1M for its first five days. Overseas, the final RINGS movie took in $125M in 28 territories, breaking all-time opening records in the U.K., Austria, Germany, Scandinavia, Spain, Switzerland and New Zealand. That's more than $250M on more than 14,000 screens worldwide (7,205 domestically), shattering the previous five-day record of THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS ($202.8M) and eclipsing THE TWO TOWERS ($201.8M). Domestically, the five-day opener puts RETURN OF THE KING in third place behind THE MATRIX RELOADED ($144.4M) and SPIDER-MAN ($135.8M). Still, it ranks as the best December weekend opening ever, beating THE TWO TOWERS ($62M). Overall, it stands as the seventh best opening ever, and the third best of the year, behind MATRIX RELOADED ($91.8M) and X2 ($85.6M). It appears to be a triumph in every way for New Line, director Peter Jackson and his crew and Weta Digital, which did most of the vfx and improved upon its previous work.

Headline News

Activision Promotes Vrabeck In Organizational Restructure

Kathy Vrabeck has been promoted to president of Activision Publishing and will oversee Activision's product development activities worldwide, including research and development and product acquisitions, as well as the company's global brand management operation. The reorganization also see Larry Goldberg exiting as evp of Worldwide Studios.

Digital Headline News

EXPOSÉ 2 Deadline Pushed Up

Artwork to be considered for EXPOSÉ 2 needs to be submitted before Jan. 29, 2004, four weeks prior to the previous deadline, in order for the book to be shipped in time for SIGGRAPH 2004. EXPOSÉ 2 will go into full production in March 2004, with a release date of July 2004. EXPOSÉ 2 Pre-orders for EXPOSÉ 2 will start in June 2004.

Production Headline News

Lion, the Witch & The Wardrobe To Begin Filming Early 2004

By Rick DeMott | Thursday, December 18, 2003 at 12:00am

THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE, based on the popular book of the same name by C.S. Lewis, will begin production in New Zealand in early 2004, industry development minister Jim Anderton said in a statement. New Zealand-native Andrew Adamson, co-director of the Oscar-winning SHREK, will be directing the live-action film. The production will use stage space and personnel in Auckland.

Games Headline News

6th Annual Independent Games Festival Names Finalists

The Independent Games Festival has announced the finalists in the sixth annual Independent Games Festival (IGF) Competition, which will exhibit their games the Game Developers Conference March 24-26, 2004 in San Jose, California. Selected by a panel of game industry professionals, game development teams will compete for more than $40,000 in cash prizes, double the payout from previous years.

The 10 games selected for the "Open" category are (in alphabetical order):ACMI by Selectparks (Richmond, Victoria, Australia)

Digital Headline News

XYZ RGB Contributes to Return of the King's VFX Achievements

When the Visual Information Technology laboratory at the Canadian National Research Council started developing its high resolution 3D scanners in the early 1980s, it probably had no idea that 20 years later one of its spin-offs, XYZ RGB Inc., would be contracted to help bring the characters of THE LORD OF THE RINGS to life on the big screen.

Series Headline News

Cult Fave Farscape Gets Four-Hour Miniseries

By Rick DeMott | Thursday, December 11, 2003 at 12:00am

Jim Henson Co. will begin production Dec. 15 in Australia on a four-hour miniseries based on the cult favorite TV series FARSCAPE, reported SCI FI WIRE. Citing sources close to the production, the story will pick up and resolve issues left open at the end of the cancelled series. Stars Ben Browder and Claudia Black among others will be reprising their roles. The miniseries has no television distribution deal to date. Both Jim Henson Co. and the Sci Fi Channel had no comment on the rumor.

Headline News

Rings' Jackson Wants to Continue Tolken Habit with Hobbit

LORD OF THE RINGS helmer Peter Jackson has been quoted in various trade publications saying that he would love to make J.R.R. Tolkens prequel to the RINGS series, THE HOBBIT into a feature. Jackson said if he were presented the chance, he would work with some of the same actors he worked with on the RINGS trilogy. If Jackson gets his wish, it would come after his remake of KING KONG, which is next on the directors plate as well as his visual effects house, Weta in New Zealand.

Series Headline News

Digikore Studios Looks To Co-Partner on Toon TV Series

Pune, India-based animation house Digikore Studios Ltd looks to acquire an equity stake in a 2D animated TV series, reported IndianTelevision.com. This deal is part of a larger co-production agreement the company entered with New Zealand's Gtoyz Management Co. earlier this year. As part of that agreement, Digikore and Gtoyz will produce a 2D TV series as well as a 95-minute feature film. Digikore is looking for a credible Indian production firm with a project that attracts solid pre-sales. The studio hopes to aid the co-production partner in selling the series to international markets.

Animation Headline News

Former Film Roman and WB Vets Start Phuuz Entertainment

Three award-winning veterans of the animation industry have joined forces to form a new media company, phuuz entertainment in North, Hollywood, California. Co-founders of this new enterprise are Emmy Award-winning producer/director and former exec creative director at Film Roman, Eric Radomski, former production vp at Warner Bros. Animation, Ken Duer, and former vp/gm for LEVEL13.NET (Film Romans Internet entertainment site), Jay Francis.

Digital Headline News

Syd Mead to Serve on EXPOSÉ 2 Advisory Committee

Syd Mead, the renowned designer behind such films as BLADE RUNNER, TRON, 2010, and ALIENS, has joined the EXPOSÉ 2 Advisory Committee. EXPOSÉ 2 is the second in Ballistic Publishing's series of award-winning digital art books celebrating the talents of digital artists worldwide. Advisory Committee members will collaboratively assist in the selection of artwork to be presented in EXPOSÉ 2, as well as take on an advisory role ensuring the highest quality standards.

Boom Headline News

Basil Brush Headed for Germany

THE BASIL BRUSH SHOW has been sold to German public service broadcaster ZDF. This deal coincides with Basil's first ever Christmas music single, the double A-side Boom Boom and Christmas Slide that will be released on Dec. 15, 2003 in Germany. The songs will be released in the U.K. on Dec. 8. The 16-year-old singing sensation, India Beau, performs on Boom Boom with Basil. The series will also air on the top rated children's digital channel KIKA, starting fall 2004.

Headline News

Harvie Krumpet Takes Four Awards at Cinanima

Adam Benjamin Elliot (BROTHER, COUSIN, FATHER) has received four awards for his newest short, HARVIE KRUMPET, at the 2003 Cinanima Festival, which ran Nov. 1016. This year was the 27th edition festival, which took place in Espinho, Portugal. Besides the international competition, the event holds panorama sessions, retrospectives, sessions with last edition's winners and special screenings. One of the retrospectives this year was dedicated to the work of Joanna Quinn.

Star Headline News

Nelvana Sells Carerre’s Rock Star Series To Nick Int’l

Talk about your international cooperation. Corus Entertainments Nelvana (based in Canada) has negotiated a broad deal with Nickelodeon International (based in the U.K.) for MY DAD THE ROCK STAR, a co-production with producer The Carrere Group and broadcaster M6 (both based in France).

Licensing Headline News

DECODE’S Save-Ums! Racks Up Licensing Deals & Ratings

Worldwide licensing agent, The Sharpe Co., has negotiated a number of licensing partners for DECODE Entertainments 3D animated pre-school show, THE SAVE-UMS!

New licensing and merchandising partners include Copyright Promotions Group in the U.K., France, Spain, Portugal, the Benelux territories and Italy; Licensing Works in Australia and Newman International in New Zealand. Plus Licens is a licensing partner for Scandinavia and Eastern Europe with the company also picking up merchandising rights for Scandinavia.

Animation Headline News

Character Animation Technologies Launches Character Animation Toolkit

Character Animation Technologies Ltd. of Dunedin, New Zealand, announced the worldwide availability of the company's first product offering, Character Animation Toolkit (CAT) Version 1.0. Designed for animators by animators, CAT is a fully integrated next-generation character animation system plug-in for Discreet's 3ds max. CAT provides production-proven technology to animation professionals in film, video, broadcast and games development, who are seeking overall speed, efficiency and flexibility in creating fully customizable rigs and animation sequences.

Digital Headline News

Kobayashi Goes Down Under to Animal Logic

Visual effects vet Hael Kobayashi has joined Animal Logic, the Sydney-based visual effects house as digital artists manager to oversee recruiting, training and career development of the studios expanding ranks of digital artists.

Headline News

Activision Breaks Out True Crime: Streets of L.A.

Gamers can save the City of Angels and take out the bad guys Hong Kong action flick style with Activisions release of TRUE CRIME: STREETS OF L.A., which has just been shipped to retail outlets for PlayStation2, Xbox and Nintendo GameCube. The game is rated "M" ("Mature" - Blood and Gore, Mature Sexual Themes, Strong Language and Violence) by the ESRB.

Animation Headline News

Hornet Animates New Angels Campaign for BMW X5

Elevating its position as a leading 3D animation company, Hornet Inc. recently completed ANGELS, an advertising campaign for the new BMW X5 and Fallon Worldwide. The package includes TV, print, interactive, merchandising and point-of-sale elements for BMW.

Headline News

George of the Jungle 2 Boasts Cutting Edge Animated Credits

Cutting Edge VFX of Australia (www.cuttingedge.com) recently completed the animated opening and closing credits for Disney's just-released DVD premiere GEORGE OF THE JUNGLE 2 (Walt Disney Home Entertainment, $29.99).

Licensing Headline News

DIC Consumer Launches Int’l Push

DIC Consumer Products has significantly expanded its licensing/merchandising programs across Europe, Latin America, Australia, Asia, South Africa and the Middle East to gear up for the international launches of kids entertainment brands, including STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE, MADELINE and SUPER DUPER SUMOS.

Headline News

EA’s Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup Game For Halloween

Electronic Arts shipped HARRY POTTER: QUIDDITCH WORLD CUP videogame to stores on Oct. 28, 2003, just in time for Halloween. In the game, Harry Potter fans are able to fully experience the magical power, speed and competition of Quidditch, the favorite sport of witches and wizards, for the first time.

Marvel Headline News

Marvel’s Man-Thing To Hit Theaters In August

Artisan Entertainment has announced that upcoming release on August 27, 2004 of the feature film rendition of Marvel Comics MAN-THING. Produced by Marvel Studios and Fierce Entertainment in association with German equity fund Screenland Movieworld, the film just wrapped production after an eight-week shoot in Sydney, Australia. Effects pioneer Brett Leonard (THE LAWNMOWER MAN, T-REX BACK TO THE CRETACEOUS) directed the film. Hans Rodionoff (THE HOLLOW) adapted the comic for the screen.

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