Australian native Andrew McKenna joins digital visual effects studio Radium as senior compositor. He has worked on numerous high-profile national and international commercials, as well as television and film projects. McKenna was most recently at GMD in Sydney, Australia as VFX designer/compositor where he worked on such notable films as THE QUIET AMERICAN, THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING and INSPECTOR GADGET 2.
Geographical Region: Australia
THQ Inc. has entered into a two-property, multi-year publishing agreement with development studio Relic Entertainment Inc., creators of the critically acclaimed real-time strategy (RTS) titles HOMEWORLD and IMPOSSIBLE CREATURES. The first of the two projects included in the agreement is already in development at Relic and scheduled to release in the second half of 2004. More details and the name of this project will be released later this year. "We've identified the RTS category as a strategic imperative for THQ as we begin to compete more aggressively in the high-end PC market," said Jack Sorensen, evp of worldwide studios, THQ, explaining why his company pursued the relationship with Relic, regarded as a leader in the RTS genre. Alex Garden, ceo, Relic said his studio sought a publisher with global brand management expertise and tremendous influence at retail.
DECODE Entertainment has concluded a number of pre-sales for its illustrative digital 2D animated show FRANNYS FEET. The pre-school series features a little girl whose fantastic feet step into magical adventures when she tries on shoes in her grandfathers repair shop. Commissioned by Channel Five in the U.K. and the Family Channel in Canada, the 13x30 minute show will step onto the schedules at Discovery UK and ABC in Australia. DECODE is seeking licensing partners for all categories.
Spellbound Entertainment has granted an international toy license for its new pre-school property, THE KOALA BROTHERS, to leading toy company Hasbro Inc. The deal covers key merchandise categories including plush toys, figurines, play sets and Play-Doh. Items will be available in stores next year following the show's premiere on the BBC later this year.
The deadline for submissions to the AEAF Short Film Festival has been extended to April 22, 2003. The AEAF Short Film Festival will showcase a selection of films from Australia and around the world that show a high degree of innovation and mastery of digital film making techniques or computer-animation. To submit a film for consideration, please send a VHS tape (PAL) by end of business April 22 to The Festival Director, AEAF, PO Box 369, Strawberry Hills NSW 2012. The AEAF Short Film Festival will take place from 6:00pm on Monday, May 12 at the Australian Center for the Moving Image in Melbourne May 12-13, 2003. For more information and regulations, visit the Website at www.dmw.com.au or phone 61 2 9319 4277.
MR. BEAN, the eccentric character created by British writer/actor Rowan Atkinson, is set for his U.S. animated television debut on American Public Television (APT) in April 2003 and will launch on home video in fall 2003 via a full-scale retail release by A&E Home Video. "We have quite a few stations who have committed to airing this series," an APT spokesperson said. They expect high carriage from this series especially since "adult animation is quite a hot topic at the moment." APT has U.S. distribution rights from April 1, 2003 through March 30, 2004.
George Miller (BABE) will direct a CG animated feature, HAPPY FEET for Warner Bros. Pictures and Village Roadshow Pictures with Elijah Wood (LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy) supplying the voice of its star of the lead character, Mumble, the penguin, according to the trades. The project will be made in Australia through Miller's Kennedy/Miller Prods., with Doug Mitchell and Miller producing. Warner Bros. has not confirmed if the animation will be outsourced to another studio or if Kennedy/Miller is gearing up to do the CGI. WBPs senior vp, Courtenay Valenti, and creative executive, David Beaubaire, are overseeing the project along with Village Roadshow executive Dana Goldberg. Miller is writing the script along with John Collee, Warren Coleman and Judy Morris. The musical/comedy is set in Antarctica about a young penguin with an unusual gift who pursues his dreams. The project is expected to be delivered in late 2005.
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.
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.