Peter Jackson will start work on KING KONG for Universal Pictures immediately following the release of LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING, the third and final installment in the director's blockbuster trilogy based upon the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien. Jackson will direct and write the screenplay with his partner Fran Walsh and Rings co-writer Philippa Boyens. Their screenplay will be based on the original story by Merian C. Cooper and Edgar Wallace. Jackson plans to employ extensive use of visual effects by his Weta, Ltd. in New Zealand, where the film will be shot. "No film has captivated my imagination more than KING KONG. I'm making movies today because I saw this film when I was nine years old. It has been my sustained dream to reinterpret this classic story for a new age," Jackson stated. "The story of Kong offers everything that any storyteller could hope for: an archetypal narrative, thrilling action, resonating emotion and memorable characters. It has endured for precisely these reasons and I am honored to be a part of its continuing legacy." Jackson and Walsh will produce KING KONG under their WingNut films banner, and Universal Pictures will release the film worldwide in 2005. Jackson, Walsh and Boyens are all repped by ICM.
Geographical Region: Australia
The North Sydney, Australia-based Kapow Pictures is taking its first animated series YAKKITY YAK the brainchild of KPs founder Mark Gravas to MIP-TV. The co-production with Canadas Studio B for kids 8-12 is already airing on Canada's TELETOON and has been sold to sold to TF1 (France) and Channel 10 (Australia). KP partner and executive producer Sandra Walters is presenting the 52x11 series at MIP. "Its a character-driven series, and its quirky by nature, she said. "That gives us license to reference reality, but to really push the boundaries," she said. Kapow (www.kapowpictures.com) has built its six-year-old reputation doing commercials for Kellogg's, Optus and Bonds, as well as pilots EGO FROM MARS and AGENT GREEN, which aired on Nickelodeon. The outfit made a big impact with its animated short film SHOW AND TELL, which was nominated for an AFI in 2002, and was named best short film at the Telluride Indie Fest and Most Popular Animated Film at Ausfest 2002. It followed on the heels of Kapows first short film, WYATT EARP, which won Best Animated Short in the Vancouver animation festival in 2000. WYATT EARP has since screened at more than 20 festivals, while Australian television rights have been bought by SBS.
Bardel Entertainment will be unveiling its new animated action series SILVERWING at MIP-TV. Based on the first novel in a trilogy by Ken Oppel, it follows the coming-of-age tale of Shade, who is in search for his father. The book is selling well in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Germany, France, Denmark, Australia, Holland and will soon be available in Italy. Negotiations are underway for the trilogy to be re-released to coincide with the launch of the television series in fall 2003 on TELETOON in Canada.
The Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), the international association of the leading Internet-based cinema journalists, has released its choices of the Top 100 Animated Features of All Time with TOY STORY placing first according to a vote of the 138 reviewers.
The Disney Channel U.S. is the latest in a raft of major broadcasters to prebuy THE KOALA BROTHERS, the first project from a new production house, Spellbound Entertainment. London-based Spellbound was launched in 2002 by the ex-HIT executive, Peter Curtis and ex-Endemol executive, Nick Barrington. Produced by Famous Flying Films for Spellbound, the stop-frame model animation series follows the adventures of Frank and Buster, two koalas on a mission to help others in need in the Australian outback.
Scooby-Doo and his famous gang of mystery-solving sleuths are on the trail of a Australian vampire in SCOOBY-DOO AND THE LEGEND OF THE VAMPIRE released on DVD and home video on Tuesday, March 4, 2003 by Warner Home Video. The direct-to-video 80-minute feature was produced by Warner Bros. Animation. On vacation in Australia, Scooby-Doo and the Mystery Inc. gang attend a music festival held at Vampire Rock. But the music goes flat when the gang learns that a legendary Australian creature called the Yowie Yahoo is kidnapping the musical acts and turning them into vampires.
FUNKY COPS by AnteFilms, is the latest in a growing roster of French-made animated series to be broadcast on a U.S. network. 4Kids Entertainment acquired the 26x30 series to air in the FOX BOX Saturday morning kids block. FUNKY COPS features a pair of cops who turn into disco stars in '70s San Francisco. The show was created by brothers Christophe and Benoit Di Sabatino. It is produced in AnteFilms' digital studios based in Levallois and Angouleme.
Banking on the success and visibility of THE JUNGLE BOOK and its many reissues over the past 35 years, Walt Disney tests the market for a new storyline and new songs featuring many of the same characters from the classic. THE JUNGLE BOOK 2 debuts Friday, February 14 in the U.S. Directed by Steve Trenbirth, produced by Christopher Chase and Mary Thorne, the original screenplay by Karl Geurs, picks up where man-cub Mowgli is torn between two words.
Children's entertainment group Entertainment Rights has expanded its sales team and appointed Matthew Ashcroft as sales executive responsible for developing business in the key markets of Japan, Korea, Taiwan, China, India, Australia and New Zealand. Ashcroft's most recent position was sales executive for Fireworks International, the international distribution arm of Canadian based Fireworks Entertainment, where he was responsible for pay and free TV sales to Asia and Latin America.
Target Distribution has changed its name to Target Entertainment to better reflect the company's growth from a distribution to a rights management outfit. Target has also completed a move into parent company CSS Stellar's offices in Covent Garden, London, as well as opening a U.S. base in CSS Stellar's New York offices. Overseeing the new venture is Ellen Lovejoy, who joins Target as president, Americas and Australia/New Zealand.
EM.TV has completed another big sale for its children's animation series THE WORLD OF TOSH. Fox Kids UK has acquired 26 x 22-minute episodes of the series, scheduled to air in the UK in October 2003. THE WORLD OF TOSH follows Tosh, a nine-year-old Swedish boy whose one goal in life is to get his first kiss.
VTV:Varsity Television, the recently launched 24-hour network exclusively dedicated to teenagers, has announced its spring 2003 programming lineup. VTV aims to fill the gap in youth programming between Nickelodeon (kids 3 to 12) and MTV (adults 18 to 34) by delivering a wide variety of original programming that is compelling and relevant to today's teens.
On Friday, January 17, 2003 the 2002 Critics' Choice Awards were bestowed by the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA) to honor the finest in cinematic achievement. This year, the Critics' Choice Awards were notable because the BFCA added a category for Best Digital Acting Performance. While controversial, the award honored the standout digital characters that appeared in some of 2002's biggest blockbusters, with Gollum from LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS winning the award, beating Yoda from STAR WARS: EPISODE II and Dobby from HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS.
Heading into NATPE 2003, Canada's Studio B has announced new shows and deals, and is aiming to attract some international co-production deals during the upcoming trade show. Currently the studio is in development on SIMON STIMPLE (26 x 22-minutes) for TELETOON.
FUNimation Productions, Ltd. has awarded JAKKS Pacific, Inc. the master toy license for DRAGON BALL, DRAGON BALL Z and the forthcoming DRAGON BALL GT. JAKKS will develop, manufacture and distribute action figures, action figure accessories and vehicles based on these animated series. The company, which acquired the license after original rights holder, Irwin Toy, Ltd., announced bankruptcy in early December 2002, signed a 3-year license for the DRAGON BALL brands and expects to show new products as early as the New York International Toy Fair in February 2003.
After a stunning $26M Wednesday debut THE LORD OF THE RINGS sequel, THE TWO TOWERS, topped the box office this weekend, earning $62M for a five-day total of $102M. This puts the second film of the trilogy, once again featuring a slew of visual effects by New Zealand's Weta Digital, well in line to gross more than its predecessor 2001's THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, which earned $75.1M in its first five days, on its way to $890M worldwide. Martin Scorcese's long-delayed epic GANGS OF NEW YORK, with visual effects by ILM, had a so-so fourth place debut, earning $9.1M in just over 1,500 theaters.
The animated adventures of MR. BEAN is heading to Scandinavia. The 26 x 30-minute series has been sold to SVT, Sweden and YLE, Finland by Fremantle International Distribution, which distributes both the original live-action series and the animated series. SVT will start to broadcast the series on December 23, 2002 and it will run through early February. The series launch date on YLE is still to be announced. MR.
John S. Wadsworth, Jr., honorary chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia Limited, has joined Pixar's Board of Directors, bringing the number of directors to seven. Wadsworth, who is an advisory director for Morgan Stanley globally, has spent nearly two decades overseeing the firm's policy and business strategies throughout Asia and Australia, including serving on the Investment Banking Operating Committee, Chairman of the Firm Investment Account Committee, and Chairman of Morgan Stanley Ventures.
Australian visual effects company Photon VFX, best known for its work on SCOOBY DOO and FINAL FANTASY, was the effects company behind the main character in the Warner Bros. horror flick GHOST SHIP -- the ship itself. The effects laden film is the largest feature film project to be shot and had all visual effects produced entirely in Australia.
The winners of the Australian Effects and Animation Festival (AEAF) Awards were announced December 3, 2002 at the Sydney Convention Center in Sydney, Australia. Australian entries made up more than half the winners, with Aussie companies like Fuel International (Best Title) and Animal Logic (Best Game) picking up awards. STAR WARS: EPISODE II "ATTACK OF THE CLONES" won for Best Feature Film Visual Effects and STUART LITTLE 2 took the honors for Best Feature Film Animation.
Egmont Imagination has recently completed a host of new deals for its 2D Flash-animated stunt-action series THE AMAZING ADRENALINI BROTHERS. Both Nickelodeon U.S. and Europe (in a pan-European deal), Cartoon Network Japan, ABC Australia, as well as Astral Quebec in Canada, have all picked up the broadcast rights for the program. A winner of the "Prix Des Internautes" (Peoples Choice) award at the 26th Annecy International Animation Festival, this 10 x 2.5-minute series is aimed at all audiences six years old and up.
The Australian Effects & Animation Festival (AEAF) kicks off its four-day festival on December 1, 2002 with the Australian premiere of Disney's TREASURE PLANET. The festival, which runs from December 1-4, 2002 in Sydney, NSW, Australia, will also present numerous panels featuring some of the world's most innovative visual effects and animation houses.
The 7th edition of Cartoons On The Bay, International Festival of Television Animation, will be held in Positano, Italy on April 9-13, 2003. Cartoons on the Bay is an international event with awards, workshops, lectures and events centering on the ever-changing world of television animation. The Pulcinella Awards Competition is open to all products in animation for television and the Internet, including pilots of series. In 2003, the Competition will also be open to short-films not produced, coproduced or pre-acquired by a television company. Works completed after the 1st of January 2002 and created with any kind of animation technique may participate. The various Pulcinella Awards are presented to eight competing categories including best series for infants, children, young adults & adults, all audiences, best pilot, best TV movie, best short film, best European program, best program of the year and best character of the year. Entry into the Competition is free. The deadline for sending materials is January 20, 2003. For more information and registration forms email: email@example.com or visit the Website: --> http://www.cartoonsbay.com
Melbourne International Animation Festival
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Tuesday, February 25 - Sunday, March 02, 2003
Entry Deadline: Tuesday, December 31, 2002
Some festival favorites took home awards at this year's I Castelli Animati Festival, in Genzano di Roma, Italy. Concluding on October 27, 2002, the festival honored Christopher Hinton's FLUX with the International Grand Prize, while Robert Bradbrook's HOME ROAD MOVIES picked up the award for Best European Film. Special Jury Prizes were awarded to STROJENIE INSTRUMENTOW (TUNING INSTRUMENTS) by Jerzy Kucia and THE INVASION by Phil Mulloy.