Seamus Blackley, co-creator of Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox, resigned Monday, April 22, 2002, less than a week after the company slashed prices on the game console in Europe and Australia. REUTERS reported Blackley intends to launch a new game-industry startup and says his resignation was not related to Xbox's sluggish sales. But just six weeks after its debut, Microsoft has reduced prices for the Xbox game console in Europe and Australia. Effective April 26, 2002, the Xbox will sell in Europe for 299 euros (US$266) or 199 pounds (US$288), and in Australia for A$399 (US$215).
Geographical Region: Europe
The 6th Pulcinella Awards were presented in Positano, Italy, April 22, 2002 at Cartoons on the Bay, the international festival and conference on television animation. 38 programs were in competition for this year's awards. The international jury was made up of Bob Balser (president of Cartoon, Belgium), Eve Baron (head of the childrens department, France 3, France), Bill Kroyer (senior animation director at Rhythm & Hues, USA), Phillippe Jacot (director of children's programming UBE, Switzerland) and Gianfranco Noferi (director of RAI, Italy).
European animation studio Varga, which owns the Hungarian TV, video and DVD rights for the animated MR. BEAN, has concluded a deal with RTL Klub Hungary to air the 52 x 11-minute series, making it the first country to air the series outside the UK. MR. BEAN premiered in Hungary on April 6, 2002 and will air weekly. Varga has over 420 crew working on the animated MR. BEAN, making it one of the largest animation series currently in production in Europe. Vargas Alexei Alexeev is the series director for the Tiger Aspect, Richard Purdum and Varga co-production.
Disney/Pixar's MONSTERS, INC., has usurped SHREK to become the second highest grossing animated film of all-time (behind only Disney's THE LION KING). The film has earned $504 million to date, comprised of $253 million in domestic box office receipts and $251.2 million in international box office receipts, where it has set records in Japan ($59.1 million, the most successful U.S. animated film ever), England ($53 million), Mexico ($20.1 million) and Spain ($13.5 million). Commenting on the announcement, Dick Cook, chairman of The Walt Disney Studios, said, "MONSTERS, INC.
Don't Miss Bristol's Animated Encounters April 25- 28, 2002. The 3rd Animated Encounters Festival runs April 25-28, 2002 at the Watershed Media Center in Bristol, England. Showcasing dozens of British and international cartoons, this year's event also includes IMAX screenings and discussions with representatives from DreamWorks, Cinesite and Varga. Among the highlights will be an appearance by THE SIMPSONS creator Matt Groening, who will talk about his ten favorite cartoons.
NewKidCo International Inc. has entered into a worldwide multi-year agreement with Nickelodeon to publish video games based on the Nick Jr. show DORA THE EXPLORER. The agreement grants NewKidCo the rights to create interactive products for all leading video game systems. The series follows Dora, a young Latina who lives inside a computer and uses her knowledge of English and Spanish to communicate with her friends, overcome obstacles and reach her goals. The series currently airs 11 times a week, both on Nick Jr. and as part of CBS' weekend programming.
This week's updates to the Calendar of Events include:
Dan McLaughlin & June Foray Headline Animation Panel: Wednesday, April 24, 2002, Hollywood, California USA . . . Lunch With Martha Sigall and Jerry Beck -- Warner Bros. Animation History: Saturday, April 27, 2002, Glendale, California USA . . . FMX/02: Thursday, May 23 - Sunday, May 26, 2002, Stuttgart, Baden-Wuerttemberg Germany . . . Richard Williams Master Class 2002: Tuesday, May 28 - Sunday, June 02, 2002, Ebeltoft, Denmark.
This week at MIP-TV, Gullane Entertainment announced that it has begun production on 78 new five-minute episodes of THOMAS & FRIENDS, augmenting the property's current library of 130 episodes. Produced at Shepperton Studios in England, the new episodes will begin airing in September 2002 on Nick Jr. in the UK. In the U.S., these episodes will be released direct-to-video by Anchor Bay Entertainment. The first U.S. release will be available September 24, 2002 on VHS and DVD.
Rhythm & Hues has made its first investment in motion capture technology -- a dedicated facial capture system from Vicon. Rhythm & Hues plans to use a multiple camera Vicon configuration to develop a facial capture pipeline that will support the creation and animation of CG characters for forthcoming projects. "We have already installed and used our new Vicon system for full-body capture tests with very good results," said Rhythm & Hues visual effects supervisor Bill Westenhofer.
Mike and Liz Young of Mike Young Productions (MYP) and Bill Schultz, former nine-year veteran executive vice president of Film Roman, have formalized their current working relationship by announcing the formation of a new partnership. "Although the name on the door says Mike Young Productions at the moment, the studio has for the past four years been the mind-meld of three experienced producers -- all of whom are passionate about the business and the art of animated programming," said Mike Young.
At MIP-TV 2002, TV-Loonland has struck a first time deal with Italian state broadcaster RAI for several shows. RAIs free TV channels RAI 2 and RAI 3 will air CRAMP TWINS (26 x 30 minutes) in 2002 while LITTLE GHOSTS (39 x 7 minutes), PETTSON AND FINDUS (13 x 13 minutes) and CLIFFORD (40 x 30 minutes) are expected to air in 2003. Additionally, RAIs pay-TV channel RAISAT will broadcast CLIFFORD, LITTLE GHOSTS and CONNIE THE COW (52 x 7 minutes) in 2002.
Fox Kids Europe (FKE) is at MIP-TV this week and has already acquired 26 half-hour episodes of the new animated series ROBOROACH and 52 episodes of the animated series HAMTARO. ROBOROACH, starring a cockroach superhero named Rube who can morph into almost anything, and Reg, Rube's street-smart big brother, is a co-production between RTV Family Entertainment AG and Canadian producer-distributor Portfolio Entertainment.
Tenerife International Animation Festival, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain.
Wednesday, November 06 - Sunday, November 10, 2002.
Entry Deadline: Wednesday, July 31, 2002.
Adobe Systems has announced a new Plug-In Power Pack for Adobe After Effects 5.5 incorporating 16 new effects and Advanced Windows Media support. The After Effects 5.5 Plug-In Power Pack works with Adobe After Effects 5.5 software to produce motion graphics and visual effects for film, video, multimedia and the Web. The new Windows Media output module offers a comprehensive set of controls to create Windows Media streaming video content. Users can customize settings, embed metadata, create multi-stream movies and independently optimize audio and video.
Kids animation producer-distributor TV-Loonland will present a new slate of animation programming at MIP-TV 2002. Leading the Loonland catalogue is the launch of REBOOT - SEASON IV. Animated by Mainframe Entertainment, Inc. REBOOT was the first ever half-hour computer animated TV series produced. Originally seen on North American television in September 1994 on YTV (Canada) and on ABC Television (USA), the series remains one of YTV's top-rated programs and can be seen in the daily Toonami block on the Cartoon Network.
Production and distribution company France Animation is attending MIP-TV with a slate of new animated series for children of all ages. Heading the slate is new animated sitcom DR. DOG. Aimed at children aged 6 to 10 years old, this 52 x 13-minute series, co-produced with Silver Lining Productions, is based on the irreverent book by British author Babette Cole. Their documentary series INSECTOSCOPE makes its international debut at MIP-TV as well. Geared toward 6 to 12 year-olds, INSECTOSCOPE (52 x 6-minutes) is a co-production with France's MC4 and TF1 and RAI Italy.
Independent animation house Alphanim has partnered with Canadian production company Nelvana on THE DELTA STATE (26 x 30-minutes). The show, which focuses on four 20-something East Berliners with supernatural powers, was originally announced in 2001 as a co-production with Cinar, but fell through when Cinar Europe closed its doors in February 2002. With Nelvana now on board, the series is scheduled to deliver in fall 2003. Alphanim has also committed to CREEP SCHOOL (26 x 26-minutes) a co-production with Sweden's Happy Life and France 3. The series is also scheduled for 2003.
The first two episodes of the BRB Internacional and Telecinco (Spain) co-production GLADIATOR ACADEMY (26 x 30 minutes) will be available at MIP-TV 2002. The show is targeted to 6 to 10 year-olds and follows the adventures of a family of young gladiators living on a Mediterranean island during the Roman Empire. Another BRB animated series making its debut at MIP-TV is THE INVISIBLE MAN (26 x 30 minutes), which is currently in pre-production. This series combines 2D and 3D animation and is geared to 8 to 12 year-olds.
Affiliate animator Aaron Augenblick has had his short film DRUNKY accepted by Annecy 2002, which takes place June 3 - 7, 2002 in Annecy, France. DRUNKY is in competition for this year's Annecy awards. Films chosen for the competition will be accessible on the Festival Website at www.annecy.org from May 10 to June 7, 2002. Visitors to the site can cast their votes online during this period.
Los Angeles, California's ANIMAX Interactive is looking for a CHARACTER DESIGNER . . . Calgary, Alberta's Applied Multimedia Training Centers is looking for a 3D ANIMATION INSTRUCTOR and a CLASSICAL ANIMATION INSTRUCTOR . . . Laguna Beach, California's Art Institute of Southern California is looking for a CHAIR OF ANIMATION . . . Chilliwack, British Columbia's Beauwest Productions is looking for a 3D ANIMATOR . . . Lombard, Illinois' Big Idea Productions is looking for an ASSOCIATE PRODUCER, an OUTSOURCE PRODUCER and a TD/SOFTWARE DEVELOPER . . .
The 11th Stuttgart International Festival of Animated Film was celebrated March 22-27, 2002. The biannual festival presented a wide-ranging program. 425 films were shown over six days and in four competitions. Prizes amounting to 54,500 Euro were handed out. In the International Competition, the Prize of the State of Baden-Württemberg (7,500 Euro) went to STROJENIE INSTRUMENTÓW (TUNING INSTRUMENTS) by Jerzy Kucia, while the Prize of the City of Stuttgart, also 7,500 Euro, went to Phil Mulloy's THE INVASION.
The Walt Disney Studios has acquired all domestic theatrical, home entertainment and television rights to Hayao Miyazaki's animated blockbuster SPIRITED AWAY, Japan's all-time top grossing film with a total to date of 29.3 billion yen ($234 million). The film, which recently received the coveted Golden Bear Award at the Berlin Film Festival, is scheduled to be released theatrically in the U.S. fall 2002. Pixar's John Lasseter will serve as creative consultant for the newly dubbed version.
Egmont Imagination will bring their new stop-motion animated series LITTLE PEOPLE to MIP-TV 2002. Specifically developed for a preschool audience, the series follows five little people as they explore and discover the world around them. The versatile 65 x 5-minute or 13 x half-hour series will premiere on SRTL in Germany this fall.
France Animation will be attending MIP-TV 2002 with their brand new animated series COSY CORNER. Produced by French production company Storimages, in association with France 5 and Teletoon France, COSY CORNER is a 52 x 6-minute traditionally animated series that teaches preschoolers about forming relationships with friends and family. Although the show is in the early stages of development, Universal Visual has already picked up the home video rights for France. France Animation holds the worldwide distribution rights.
Gullane Entertainment has appointed Alistair Richards as senior vice president, consumer products UK and International. In this position, Richards will be responsible for the UK based licensing, publishing, live events and consumer products marketing departments. Most recently, Richards has served as general manager of Hasbro UK, Northern Europe and developing markets, where he oversaw a new business drive, winning local toy and game licenses from the BBC and other licensors, and creating and implementing a growth plan across all countries.