EM.Entertainment GmbH has acquired the European distribution rights to the new 26x30 comedy series ZEKE'S PAD. Created by Liz Scully and co-produced by Canada's Bardel Entertainment Inc., together with Leaping Lizard Productions Inc. and Avrill Stark Entertainment PTY. Ltd. (Australia), the CGI animated show targeted at 8- to 12-year-olds is financially backed by the Canadian Television Fund, Telefilm Canada, COGECO Program Development Fund and British Columbia Film. EM.Ent.
Geographical Region: South America
Decode Ent. has inked a number of new licensing deals for its hit preschool property FRANNY'S FEET, including a deal with Allumination Filmworks for U.S. home entertainment and a further home entertainment agreement with Mediaway in Poland. Decode has also signed up a number of international licensing sub-agents through its representative, The Sharpe Company, including CPLG (Copyright Promotions) in France and Italy, Scandinavia's Alicom Licensing, IMC (International Merchandising Consultants) in Argentina and Korea's Asiana Licensing.
Warner Bros. Pictures is bringing Michael Bond's children's classic, PADDINGTON BEAR, to the screen in a live-action family comedy format for the first time. David Heyman, producer of the HARRY POTTER film franchise, will produce through his Heyday Films. Writer Hamish McColl (MR. BEAN'S HOLIDAY) is attached to adapt.
"We're eager to collaborate once again with David, as well as with our London creative team, on this ageless classic," said Jeff Robinov, President, Production, Warner Bros. Pictures.
Icon Animation, Spain's leading production and distribution company specialising in youth programming, has scored a multi-territory deal with leading collectible stickers and trading card company Panini for its popular girl-skewed animated show LOLA & VIRGINIA. Panini will launch a series of products across Spain, Portugal, Italy and Brazil, including a sticker stack book, story albums, and puzzle and coloring books. The roll out will begin in Italy, where the series airs on the Disney Channel.
Entity FX created vfx for RUSH HOUR 3, including 3D backdrops, digital matte paintings and screen composites that helped back up the action in several different interior and outdoor locations.
One challenge involved digitally adding a moving elevator to enhance suspense in an interior chase scene. Elevator elements as well as the character of Soo Young (actress Jingchu Zhang) were tracked in to seamlessly integrate live-shot material with digital matte painting elements.
Veteran entertainment publicist Anne Stavola has been named vice president, East Coast Publicity for Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. She will report directly to Jasmine Madatian, senior vice president, publicity for WDSMP, and will be responsible for overseeing Disney's newly reorganized New York publicity office. In her new role, Stavola will work directly with Madatian in developing and implementing publicity strategies and campaigns for all motion pictures released under the Walt Disney Pictures and Touchstone Pictures banners.
Sid Ganis was re-elected president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences by the organization's board of governors. This will be his third consecutive term in the office.
In addition, Robert Rehme, an executives branch governor and past Academy president, was re-elected first VP; Actors Branch governor Tom Hanks and Music Branch governor Charles Bernstein were elected to VP posts; producers branch governor Hawk Koch was elected treasurer and short films and feature animation branch governor Jon Bloom was elected secretary.
Duiker Research Corp., a California-based innovator in imaging and color tools for motion pictures, has launched Color Symmetry, a suite of plug-ins that for the first time allows film "looks" to be easily emulated and previewed within a wide array of animation, graphics and effects packages. Color Symmetry lets companies handle color accurately and consistently across mediums, applications, platforms and even facilities. Color Symmetry additionally helps companies build robust color pipelines to support complex feature film projects right out of the box.
Autodesk Inc. has announced the recipients of this year's Autodesk Masters awards. Through this annual program, Autodesk recognizes exceptional Autodesk 3ds Max and Autodesk Maya software artists and technical specialists whose work and dedication have significantly contributed to the advancement of computer graphics. The 2007 Autodesk Masters were announced yesterday at Autodesk's SIGGRAPH User Group meeting.
The 3ds Max and Maya users honored as this year's Autodesk Masters were:
Autodesk 3ds Max
Chilean filmmaker Nicolas Lopez will write and direct an untitled comedy thriller about a young woman who is sent to the past to prevent World War III, under Salma Hayek and partner Jose Tamez's new MGM-based production shingle Ventanazul, reports VARIETY.
Ventanazul is scouting hot young talent from Mexico, Chile and the U.S. for this and its other first few projects.
The Walt Disney Co. has acquired Club Penguin, one of the fastest-growing online virtual worlds for kids. Since its launch in October 2005, award-winning Club Penguin has grown to more than 700,000 paid subscribers, achieving this subscriber and user growth with very limited marketing efforts, relying mostly on strong product and word-of-mouth awareness among kids. The site has more than 12 million activated users, primarily in the U.S. and Canada
JoeCartoon, who was recently acquired by Endemol USA, announced the re-launch of its new 'humor portal' JoeCartoon.com. The revamped website offers an enhanced user-friendly interface.
The Ottawa International Animation Festival (OIAF) announced its roster of films in competition, including the controversial feature PERSEPOLIS. Included among the final contenders are 26 films from the U.S. and 20 films from the U.K. Other countries competing include Australia, Argentina, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Israel, Japan, Russian Federation, Serbia, Spain, South Korea, Sweden and Taiwan.
Each year the Hollywood studios increase their presence at Comic-Con in San Diego. Below are some of the vfx and animation feature and shorts highlights.
Thursday, July 26
IDT Internet Mobile Group (IMG), a division of IDT Corp., has formed Zedge Studios to develop and license digital content for distribution through web and mobile platforms. IMG has also acquired a controlling interest in IDW Publishing (www.idwpublishing.com), an independent comics publisher known for the horror, action and sci-fi genres, boasting such high-profile titles as THE TRANSFORMERS, 30 DAYS OF NIGHT, CSI, STAR TREK, 24 and SCARFACE.
Seth Rogen, star of KNOCKED UP, is in final talks to write, and possibly star in, Columbia's GREEN HORNET feature, reports VARIETY. In addition, he would exec produce with his co-writer Evan Goldberg.
He would take on the role of millionaire publisher-turned-masked crusader Brit Reid. The heavy-set actor is a far different choice for the part than previous contenders George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg and Jake Gyllenhaal.
Sony Pictures Ent. has relaunched Grouper as Crackle, a streaming entertainment network. Crackle's comprehensive approach includes a unique programming and editorial strategy, wide-reaching global distribution platforms and collaboration with Sony Pictures Ent., the IMPROV Comedy franchise and other leading media companies.
Former Warner Bros. Animation president Sander Schwartz returns to familiar territory, but in a bigger capacity as president, international production of Sony Pictures Television International (SPTI), and becomes head of SPTIï¿½s global production group. Before WBA, Schwartz was Sony Pictures Entï¿½s family entertainment group first president from 1999 to 2001. Schwartz will relocate from Los Angeles to SPTIï¿½s European headquarters in London, England, and will report to SPTIï¿½s president, Michael Grindon.
DreamWorks Animation's SHREK THE THIRD's cumulative worldwide gross now surpasses the $600 million mark. The historic U.S. opening of SHREK THE THIRD -- the largest domestic debut ever for an animated film -- was duplicated in many key territories around the world, with #1 animated openings of all time in such countries as the U.K. (where it remains at the top of the box office charts for the second week of release), Russia, Korea, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Singapore and others.
MIFFY AND FRIENDS will debut on public television stations around the U.S. beginning July 7, 2007, led by the series' distributor, WLIW New York Public Television. The stop-motion animated series featuring the iconic bunny will air on WLIW21 in the New York metropolitan area Saturdays and Sundays at 8:00 am as part of a lineup that includes BOB THE BUILDER and THOMAS & FRIENDS. Based on the children's classic book series by Dutch author/illustrator Dick Bruna, MIFFY AND FRIENDS explores the everyday lessons and discoveries of a preschooler.
Monster Distributes has just picked up the distribution rights to the new animated series, LIFEBOAT LUKE (52x5). The search and rescue adventure for kids 4-7 features Lifeboat Luke and his friends in the mad, magical seaside town of Donaghadoo. The stories use narration, effects and music and are easily re-versioned for different languages.
Barcelona-based Icon Animation has signed a raft of international television, home video and publishing deals for its animated healthy-eating series, VITAMINIX, and a range of series from its third party distribution library.
In Greece, 06TV now has television and home video rights for several properties, including three Icon Animation-produced shows VITAMINIX (104x2), LOLA & VIRGINIA (52x12) and MIMI & MR.BOBO (33x26).
Universal's Noah-influenced comedy, EVAN ALMIGHTY (with vfx from ILM and Rhythm & Hues), lead the box office with $31.1M in its debut for the weekend June 24, 2007. Another newcomer, the chilling 1408 from MGM/Weinstein Co., followed in second place with $20.6M. Last weekâs leader, FANTASTIC FOUR: RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER (with vfx by Weta Digital, SOHO VFX, Hydraulx, Giant Killer Robots, Hammerhead, The Orphanage, Frantic Films, Lola Visual Effects, Digiscope and Image Engine), finished third for Fox with $20M and a cume of $97.4M.
Signaling a continuation of the character-driven approach introduced by last year's phenomenally successful CASINO ROYALE, Marc Forster (THE KITE RUNNER, FINDING NEVERLAND, MONSTER'S BALL) will direct BOND 22, it was announced by Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, producers of the James Bond films, Sony Pictures Ent. and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios.
Forster will commence work shortly with screenwriter Paul Haggis on a draft of the screenplay by Neil Purvis and Robert Wade.