Popular Plasticine cartoon characters Wallace and dog Gromit are returning to the screen for the first time since the Academy-Award winning 1995 short A Close Shave. The cheese-loving duo will make a cameo appearance in an episode of the new 13-part Aardman series Rex the Runt, a cartoon about the adventures of four dogs who share a suburban semi-detached home. Their brief appearance showcases them in their Close Shave role of window cleaners, except this time they face the dastardly Bad Bob.
Canadian-based CINAR Films has signed an agreement with Shanghai Animation Film Studio, a subsidiary of Shanghai TV, Chinas second largest broadcasting company, to co-produce a 52 ten-minute episode animated series called Rumble and Growl. The Chinese-developed educational series chronicles the adventures of two friends, Rumble and Growl, who are always hungry. In their quest to find food, the pair uncovers scientific wonders and never-before explained natural phenomena. This is the first-ever official Canada-China co-production for an animated series created in China.
On Sunday, December 6, Fox Family Channel premieres AN ALL DOGS CHRISTMASCAROL at 6 -7:30 p.m. (ET/PT). The canine retelling of Dickens' "AChristmas Carol" is based on the Don Bluth film, "All Dogs Go to Heaven.".
Not only are the RUGRATS burning up the big screen but they're also settingrecords on the small screen. A Thanksgiving-themed episode, "The Turkey WhoCame to Dinner," which aired on November 10 garnered Nickelodeon's biggestratings ever among the age 2-11 demographic. The special outperformed allcompetition, even broadcast networks, in its time period earning a 9.4/28national rating share (3.7 million viewers) among kids 2-11.
A digitally remastered version of the animated holiday classic, RUDOLPH THERED-NOSED REINDEER will air on U.S. network CBS Monday, November 30 from8-9 p.m. (ET/PT). The Rankin-Bass film about an awkward shiny-nosedreindeer will include an additional two minutes and 50 seconds of footagenot seen since 1964. The extra footage comes from the reinsertion of twosongs, "We Are Santa's Elves" and "We're a Couple of Misfits."
A half-hour special, THE MAKING OF THE RUGRATS MOVIE will air on November 26 at 6:00 p.m. (ET) on U.S. cable network TV Land with segments on the Rugrats voices, the unique animation style, and the star-studded soundtrack.
Canada's television and cinema production and distribution group, Coscient Group, announced that their subsidiary Cactus Animation has started production on two new animated series: "Pirate Family" and "Fantomette." The animated comedies are a co-production with French company Elma Animation and have a total budget of $22 million. The series, each composed of 26 half-hour episodes, have already been pre-sold by Motion International, Coscient Group's distribution subsidiary, to a number of markets.
The newest incarnation of the successful animated Batman franchise, "Batman Beyond," is set for a U.S. premiere of Saturday, January 16, 1999 at 9:30 AM on Kids WB! The show takes place in the 21st century when a mature Bruce Wayne decides it's time to train a younger Caped Crusader to keep Gotham safe. Another highly anticipated comic-turned-cartoon series, "Dilbert," is set for a U.S. premiere on UPN's prime time lineup Monday, January 25, 1999 at 8:00 PM (PT/ET).
This Saturday, November 21, at 8:00 PM (ET), THE CARTOON NETWORK will air the animated direct-to-video Batman feature released earlier this year, "Batman and Mr. Freeze: SubZero." The film, which was directed by Boyd Kirkland and written and produced by Kirkland and Randy Rogel, won an Annie Award this past Friday for Outstanding Animated Home Video Production.
Los Angeles-based Rough Draft Studios has been awarded five episodes of the animated "Baby Blues" series. Thirteen episodes of "Baby Blues" have been ordered and will air in fall '99 on the WB prime time schedule. The first eight episodes are being completed by Warner Bros. Television Animation. This recent development fuels rumors that Warner Bros. Television Animation is in the midst of cutbacks. Inside sources have said that Warners will cease production on "Histeria!" after only 52 episodes, cutting 13 previously announced half hours.
The highly anticipated animated primetime series "Dilbert" is set topremiere on UPN Monday January 25, 1999 at 8:00 PM PT/ET. "Dilbert" isbased off the popular syndicated comic strip created by Scott Adams whichdeals with the absurdities of the '90s workplace in the cubicle-confinedoffice environment that rules corporate America.
Toronto-based Nelvana has acquired the worldwide development, production,distribution and merchandise licensing rights to "Puff the Magic Dragon."Based on a classic folk song written by Peter Yarrow of the legendary folkgroup Peter, Paul & Mary and Lenny Lipton, Nelvana will produce an animated"Puff the Magic Dragon" feature length film, television series andtelevision special, as well as license all Puff merchandise. Productionwill begin on this property in late 1999 or 2000. The lyrical children's
The longest-running prime-time animated family in television history, The Simpsons, will be getting their own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in September 1999. Among the celebrities that will be inducted next year include Alex Trebek, Freddy Fender, Wesley Snipes, Jamie Lee Curtis, Dennis Franz, Samuel Jackson, James Woods, Bob Newhart, Jane Seymour and Reba McEntire. Animation World Magazine will be there to cover the ceremony.
Red Giant Television has reached a deal with Discovery International and Teletoon to produce a third season of "Splat!", the weekly half-hour TV series devoted to animation. This will bring the total number of episodes to 39 half hours. Red Giant is also in the process of creating a two hour, prime-time TV special celebrating animation. Splat! currently airs in 120 countries around the globe.
Fox Family Channels is creating two new digital cable/satellite networks, The Boyz Channel and The Girlz Channel, offering gender-specific entertainment and educational programming for 2-14 year-old boys and girls. The full-time, ad-supported services scheduled to launch sometime in 1999 will also be available as basic analog channels. Much of the programming will come from the library that Fox Kids already owns mixed in with some original productions. In the evenings, the channels' focus will target parents with programs dealing with raising and parenting children of that specific gender.
Gribouille, a CGI production company based in Europe and North America, has begun production on two new computer-animated television series. Xcalibur, designed by French artist Philippe Druillet and directed by Didier Pourcel, is being produced in association with Canal +, Ellipsanime, France 2 and Cactus Animation for a targeted late 1999 delivery. Micronauts, based on an existing line of action-figures and Marvel comics, is being produced with Abrams/Gentile Entertainment, Kaleidoscope Media Group and Annex Entertainment, and may be ready as early as fall 1999.
Paris, France-based Gaumont Multimedia and Hamburg, Germany-based IGEL Media have reached a multi-year, multi-million dollar first-look distribution agreement giving IGEL all television and home video rights on future Gaumont Multimedia animated series for Germany, Scandinavia, Japan and Korea. The deal, sealed at MIPCOM, reflects both companies' need to address the increased competition and decreased number of broadcast slots available in Germany and Asia.
Nickelodeon has signed a deal with Italian broadcaster Radio Televisione Italiana (RAI) to produce the first localized foreign-language version of Blues Clues. The show will premiere on the RAI UNO network in the second quarter of 1999. In Italy, RAI will localize the series by using the same blue-screen technology used on the original production to insert an Italian, live-action host into the existing computer animation. Nickelodeon plans to make similar sales to other countries, as this production concept was designed into the show from its inception.
By special arrangement with Nielsen Media Research, AWN publishes the Nielsen ratings for animated programs on a monthly basis in the Animation Flash. The ratings included herein are only for U.S. national network television. The following list of animated national network programs is ranked by Household Ratings. A Rating is the percentage of households that tuned into the program. This percentage can provide us with the number of households that tuned into the program on average during the month. The universe estimate for the 1997-98 television season is 98 million TV homes.
North-Hollywood-based FILM ROMAN has been hired as the production company for the WB's new prime-time cartoon, "The Downtowners," the first animated series to be developed by Castle Rock Entertainment's Television unit, whose live-action credits include "Seinfeld." Thirteen half-hour episodes of "The Downtowners" have been ordered, for debut on the WB network in fall 1999.
CARTOON NETWORK will debut two new "World Premiere Toons" shorts on November 6 at 8:00 p.m. "Mike, Lu & Og" by Chuck Swenson is about a girl named Mike who leaves her home in New York City and ends up on a remote island where the natives are friendly. "Kenny and the Chimp" by Tim Warburton is about an awkward 11-year-old and his best friend, a primate named Chimpy.
The German broadcaster RTL has purchased four Nickelodeon animated series for broadcast in its weekend morning kids programming block. Hey Arnold!, Rockos Modern Life, CatDog and Angry Beavers will be introduced to the networks program line-up over the course of the next year. The sale comes on the heels of Nickelodeons withdrawal from the tough German market [AF 6/2/98] as a network. Nickelodeon ceased broadcasting on German airwaves in May, a decision motivated by weak ad sales and increased competition for viewers.
In celebration of Disneys 75th anniversary, the Disney Channel will air a collection of rarely seen early films by Walt Disney. Films such as the 1920s live-action/animation shorts, The Alice Comedies will air October 16-29, nightly on the Vault Disney programming block, Monday-Saturday at 11 p.m., Sunday at 9 p.m. Although other studios had been putting animated characters into live-action environments, Disney, with The Alice Comedies, was the first to place a live-action character into a cartoon world.
U.K. company Fairwater Films has a new series of animated interstitials for the international market, titled World Wide Webley. The 52 one-minute shorts depict the adventures of the title character, a spider, in cyberspace, covering such topics as electronic mail and Internet etiquette.
Dublin, Ireland-based Monster Productions, an animation studio and distribution company formed in 1995 by former management and artists from the Don Bluth studios, has acquired the rights to produce a television series based on 7th Levels video game Arcade America. Monster is also currently distributing the 13-episode animated series The Storykeepers, while seeking co-production partners for several other animated projects including an animated feature film based on Jack and the Beanstalk, a series called Kwiatkowski based on detective nov