Making its first E3 appearance since the recent merger between Square and Enix, Square Enix U.S.A. is poised to take role-playing games (RPGs) to the next level with a variety of titles. The highly anticipated FINAL FANTASY XI, the company's first venture into online gaming, will make its North American debut for PlayStation2 and PC. The company brings several high caliber role-playing games to the North American market for PlayStation 2, including UNLIMITED Saga, FINAL FANTASY X-2, STAR OCEAN TILL THE END OF TIME and DRAKENGARD. Square Enix U.S.A.
Geographical Region: North America
COO Joan Vogelesang has been appointed president of Toon Boom Technologies Inc., replacing Jacques Bilodeau who has left the company. She now takes complete charge of the company's direction and will continue to spearhead sales, marketing and operations, according to Hubert Manseau, chairman of board. Regarding Bilodeu's departure, Manseau said, "The Board of Directors would like to thank Mr. Bilodeau for his past contributions at Toon Boom Technologies and wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors."
Tara Sorensen joins National Geographic Television & Films as VP of development on May 12, 2003 to oversee development and production of its kids' programming unit. She will be based in Beverly Hills, working closely with Friedman Meir, president of the Kids' Programming & Production Unit for NGT&F. The unit was established earlier in 2003 to develop and sell original programming to major U.S. cable and broadcast networks, as well as direct-to-video properties. The Kids' group is working with creators, production companies, studios, networks and corporate sponsors to develop projects with characters and storylines for the preschool to tween audiences.
Sorensen was vp of creative affairs for the Family Entertainment division of Sony Pictures Television, where she oversaw the development of shows like JACKIE CHAN ADVENTURES and MEN IN BLACK animated series for Kids WB!, DRAGON TALES for PBS and the STUART LITTLE series for HBO Family. Sorensen was a development manger for Nelvana Communications, where she helped develop ROLIE POLIE OLIE for the Disney Channel.
Winners for the 1st Annual International 3D Awards were announced at the evening ceremony May 9, 2003 at the Bella Center in Copenhagen, Denmark, running in conjunction with the 3D Festival 2003. The winners each picked up a Digital Hero trophy, hand sculpted by Dan Platt, at the ceremony The winners are:
Feature Film VFX
Mike Wald has been promoted from vp to svp of Worldwide Pay Television at Sony Pictures Television International (SPTI), reporting to Peter Iacono, evp of sales, SPTI. Wald will remain based at the studio's Culver City, California headquarters and continues to oversee all worldwide pay television activities for the studio, managing SPTI's relationships with major domestic and international pay television clients.
DIC Entertainment recently inked deals with leading networks for international distribution for shows including SUPER DUPER SUMOS, MADELINE, MARY-KATE AND ASHLEY: IN ACTION and SHERLOCK HOLMES IN THE 22ND CENTURY. "MIP-TV was a success for us, even considering the state of the world at the time," said Pat Ryan, evp of international sales.
Kids' WB! plans to introduce a new generation of kids in the United States to one of the most beloved anime icons, ASTRO BOY, in its Saturday morning schedule in the 2003-2004 season. Sony Pictures Television and Tezuka Productions are producing the new series based on the original 50-year-old toon from Manga master, Osamu Tezuka.
Director Michele Band has joined Vee Pee Films, the live-action production division of Virtual Persuasion. Band was a director and producer at MTV Networks and Nickelodeon Studios where she did live-show production, new show launch campaigns, on-air promotions and high-profile celebrity interviews.
Nominees for the 1st Annual International 3D Awards have been announced and Jason Schleifer, animation lead at Weta Digital (LORD OF THE RINGS), will host the Short Films category at the ceremony to be held in the evening, May 9, 2003 at the 3D Festival 2003 in Copenhagen, Denmark. Schleifer also chaired and oversaw the judging process for the Short Films category with an international panel of jury members from the 3D industry. The short film nominees are: - SHOW & TELL, Kapow Pictures, Australia- THE CHUBBCHUBBS, Sony Pictures Imageworks, USA
Rick Feldman has taken over as new president/ceo of the National Association of Television Program Executives (NATPE), responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations and strategic planning of the organizations worldwide activities. Feldman is based in the associations global headquarters in Los Angeles and reports to the NATPE Board of Directors Executive Committee. He replaces Bruce Johansen, who served in the position for 10 years.
The UK's Entertainment Rights has chalked up a number of recent licenses for its kids properties resulting from MIP-TV, in Europe and in North America, via its New York City office. The NYC office has placed several shows with U.S. and Canadian networks. Discovery's Hispanic channel has acquired CGI preschooler CUBEEZ for a 2003 launch and HAMILTON MATTRESS has been sold to HBO while TeleQuebec in Canada has taken PRESTON PIG, SHORT CUTS and MERLIN THE MAGICAL PUPPY. ER's new boy action series TRANSFORMERS ARMADA debuted well on Carton Network in the U.S.
Rolling~C~Productions of Toronto has completed SUMMER MORNING, the fifth spot in a series for Kraft Canada and its agency FCB Toronto. "The complexity of both composition and animation has evolved and got more elaborate in each spot since the initial concept three years ago," commented exec producer Michael Crabtree, "Creative/animation director Terry Godfrey continued this trend and really upd the amount of animation and brought in some very nice changes to the format and flow."
Canadian animation Studio B Productions has hit one into the U.S. network ballpark, scoring a slot on Kids' WB! for a toon about baseball-playing birds that will debut in September 2003. This original production by Vancouver-based Studio B, features the adventures of a team of birds who barnstorm the circuit of D'MYNA LEAGUES playing baseball, and learn a lesson or two along the way. "We're very excited to break into the U.S. with the first ever baseball cartoon series," says Blair Peters, creator and executive producer. "I think kids will really dig the unique combination of traditional 2D characters and 3D backgrounds that capture the exciting on-field action. And adults will get a kick out of the nostalgic tributes to the likes of Shoeless Joe Jackson, Harry Carey and Babe Ruth." D'MYNA LEAGUES already has a strong batting average in its home territory of Canada, with success on both CTV (it was the broadcaster's first venture into kids programming), and kids network YTV. The show, which is distributed by Sony Pictures Television International globally, also airs in territories from Venezuela to Singapore.
Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the writing/producing team behind MTV's animated comedy CLONE HIGH USA, have landed at two-year seven-figure deal with Twentieth Century Fox Television to develop live-action and animated fare, according to THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. Fox TV president Gary Newman said the pair have the "fresh and twisted view of the world" his network looks for and they will also work on existing projects. CLONE HIGH, which features a high school populated with teenage clones of historical figures like Abraham Lincoln, John F.
Broadcast design industry leaders Paul Newman, Jim Moran and Gary Bonilla have formed CO-OP, a new advertising and design company in New York City that operates as the strategic core of a network of partners with a full range of complimentary creative companies. CO-OP offers its clients brand strategy and brand development through advertising, vertical marketing, business to business communication, direct marketing, interactive, brand design and identity and broadcast design.
Kim Hatamiya has joined Sony Pictures Television International (SPTI) as svp, sales and marketing, based in Culver City, California. Hatamiya brings 20 years of experience and extensive expertise in marketing for international television ventures, Internet content and children's television. Hatamiya has launched and managed international channels, including Canal Fox, Fox Kids U.K. and Fox Kids Latin America. She also has in-depth experience with new product launches and business development.
Vancouver-based Studio B Productions hit a triple treat of industry honors from the Writers Guild of Canada (WGC), the Leo Awards and the Alliance for Children and Television's (ACT) Awards for Excellence.
Studio B received an award from the WGC for its original series YVON OF THE YUKON on April 14, 2003. The second season episode, "The Trouble with Mammoths," written by Dennis Heaton, won a Top Ten Award from the WGC, which honors the 10 best Canadian screenplays in the country.
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.
Toon Boom Studio will be the main tool to teach 2D animation to the children attending the 2003 Summer Camp sessions in Canada this summer. The Children's Technology Workshop is a year-round business dedicated to developing and delivering applied technology curriculum to kids. With more than eight years of experience designing and testing camp programs and curriculum, their activities are under constant review by their educators, engineers, technologists and enthusiasts. The summer camp sessions are spread over nine locations, including Burlington, Oakville, Etobicoke, Mississauga, Scarborough, Toronto, Markham, Richmond Hill and Newmarket. These five-day sessions are offered from June 16 through August 25, 2003. For more information check out www.icamp.ca, and, for ToomBoom, visit www.toonboom.com.
Manex Entertainment, Inc. reported revenues of approximately $1,750,000 with an operating profit of $400,000 in its preliminary unaudited results for the three-month period ended March 31, 2003. Manex Entertainment has been best known in the past for providing Oscar-winning visual effects for big-budget feature films such as THE MATRIX, WHAT DREAMS MAY COME and CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON. It has west coast facilities in Los Angeles and Hayward, California and is proposing to build east coast facilities in Trenton, New Jersey.
Brooklyn International Film Festival (BIFF) announced its animation line-up of 20 projects including three world premieres and three U.S. premieres, running April 28-May 4, 2003 at the Brooklyn Museum of Art in Brooklyn, New York. The show features a mix of everything from hand-drawn and computer-animated shorts, as well as several experimental projects that mix animation and live-action for maximum effect. U.S. premieres include LONELY BOY by Becalelis Brodskis (U.K), WOMAN by Signe Baumane (Latvia) and IN THE BACK OF THE BUS by Paul Hurwitz (Canada).
Creative solutions company mOcean is expanding its business outreach to the worldwide marketplace by naming Javier Prelooker director of new business development, international markets. Prelooker will focus on bringing the Venice, California-based studio's entertainment marketing services across all media to the Ibero-American marketplace. Kevin Aratari, managing director of mOcean, said, "The international Hispanic market has grown and matured enormously in recent years.
The United States won half of the 10 main Pulcinella Award statuettes, including those for the Best Program and the Best Character of the Year, at the 2003 edition of Cartoons On The Bay in Positano, Italy, on April 12, 2003. KIM POSSIBLE, produced by Walt Disney Television Animation, has won the Pulcinella for the Best Program as well as for the Best TV Series for Children. HOME MOVIES, by Soup2Nuts won for Best Character as well as the award for the Best TV Series for Adolescents & Adults.
Cartoon Network is adding 3D animated series, SITTING DUCKS and PECOLA, to air weekday mornings, starting April 21, 2003. "PECOLA and SITTING DUCKS are both whimsical and sweet series that feature popular CGI animation. We think they'll be perfect additions to our weekday morning line-up," said Jim Samples, gm/vp of Cartoon Network.