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Vicki Tracy

Tuesday, November 30, 1999

Final Weekend Box Office Results
The final results are in for the weekend and Toy Story 2 dominated the Friday - Saturday time period with the highest numbers for any film ever in November - $57 million. Its five day total was $80 million. No film came even remotely close to Toy Story 2. The second biggest film, The World is Not Enough, brought in only $23 million.

How did other animated films fare? In its third weekend, Pokemon dropped another 43% (after dropping 60% last weekend) to bring in $7.1 million to bring its total to $77 million. Princess Mononoke had a great weekend. It saw a rise 124% from last weekend, bringing in $318, 772. That brings its total to $1.6 million. The Iron Giant was pulled from theaters because of its release to video. Tarzan, however, remained in theaters, making $35,616 in its 29th weekend, to bring its total to $170.7 million.

3D Studio Max Ships Over 100,000 Copies
Discreet, a division of Autodesk, Inc. today announced that it has shipped more than 100,000 copies of 3D Studio MAX software, one of the most popular 3D modeling and animation solution for PC-based professionals. Unveiled by Autodesk's multimedia division in March 1996, 3D Studio MAX was the industry's first 3D modeling and animation software designed specifically for the Microsoft Windows NT operating system. Since then, the software has been used to create special effects for films and broadcast, and has established itself as the "No. 1 choice among leading-edge PC-based game developers worldwide," according to Discreet. Currently, 3D Studio MAX has been shipped to a total of 116,000 users.

"The shipment of the 100,000th copy of 3D Studio MAX is a validation of something we at BLUR have known all along: 3D Studio MAX is pound for pound the best 3D application you can buy," said Tim Miller, cofounder of BLUR Studio in Venice, Calif. "We've looked at everything out there over our five-year history, and we've never even been tempted to leave 3D Studio MAX. It's the only 3D software we use or need."

Monday, November 29, 1999

Toy Story 2 Five Day Take Estimated at $80.5 Million!
The Lion King may have finally met its match. Pixar's Toy Story 2 broke numerous animation records (ironically, the same ones broken by the Pokemon movie two weeks ago), including largest ever three day opening for an animated film, largest five day opening for an animated film, and the largest November opening for any film.

Final numbers are due out this weekend, but studio estimates have Toy Story 2 bringing in a huge $80.5 million in just five days! By Friday, the movie could already be a blockbuster. The five day total is bigger than the two-week total for Pokemon and sets Toy Story 2 ahead of the pace of The Lion King.

For full coverage of Toy Story 2, visit the Toy Story 2 Movie Site .

Superman 3D Goes Live
A few weeks ago, Animation Artist Magazine published a feature article by Kelly Fansler that examined the animation Webisodes being produced by Brilliant Animation. The Superman 3D series went live this morning.

Click here to read the Animation Artist Magazine feature article, then click here to view the Superman 3D Webisode!

Sunday, November 28, 1999

WOW - Toy Story 2 is Grossing Over 20 Million a Day in Record Breaking Weekend!!!
Warner Bros. entered the record books two weeks ago with Pokemon: The First Movie breaking many animation records, including best ever three day total and best ever five day total. The record, however, was short lived. Toy Story 2 is devouring the Box Office with numbers that could make it a blockbuster in less than 10 days! Here are the final numbers for Friday and Saturday:

Friday, November 26 - $22.8 million
Saturday, November 27 - $21.3 million

Toy Story 2 has brought in $67 million since being released on Wednesday! By the time Sunday's totals are tallied, Toy Story 2 may surpass the entire gross of Pokemon: The First Movie in its two and a half weeks of release!

Weekend estimates will be released tonight with final numbers being distributed on Monday evening. For full Box Office coverage of Toy Story 2, visit the News page on the Toy Story 2 Movie Site.

Saturday, November 27, 1999

ShowBIZ Data Reviewer Says Toy Story 2 Deserves an Oscar Nomination!
A film reviewer for one of the largest and respected entertainment business companies, ShowBIZ Data, stated in her review that Toy Story 2 should receive an Oscar nomination because of the strong writing.

"What makes this movie so remarkable? For starters, it's one of the most tightly woven scripts I've seen all year," said reviewer Lesley Jacobs. "Elements introduced early on dovetail flawlessly with the story at the end. Character arcs are fully fleshed out with each toy being given his or her moment in the sun. The big 'action/effects sequences' are as gripping as those of any live action film. And, bless the writers, the jokes are truly funny, indeed sometimes downright inspired. In fact, I'd go so far as to say this writing deserves a nomination. It has everything an award-winning script should have."

Gulliver's Travels, Second Ever Feature-Length Animated Film in America, Released to DVD
Walt Disney captured the hearts of millions when he released the first ever full-length animated feature in America, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Yet the second ever feature wasn't even a Disney project. It was an animated picture released by Paramount in 1939 (in technicolor) called Gulliver's Travels. The movie has been restored and released to DVD. The movie was created by Dave and Max Fleischer.
Click here for more information on the DVD.

Friday's Toy Story 2 Box Office Results
As soon as Friday's Toy Story 2 Box Office Results are available, they will be posted to the
Toy Story 2 Movie Site in the News section.

Friday, November 26, 1999

Toy Story 2 Has Huge Opening — On Track to Top Pokemon Record!
Toy Story 2 had a huge opening, making $9.5 million on Wednesday and $13.2 million on Thanksgiving Day, bringing its two day total to near $23 million! In comparison, Pokemon: The First Movie brought in $19.7 million in its first two days en route to a record five day opening that Toy Story 2 is now on course to shatter. Pokemon bottomed out at the box office, making only $800,000 on Thanksgiving Day.

Huge Dinosaur Trailer Before Toy Story 2
Disney has put up a five minute trailer for Dinosaur that shows just prior to Toy Story 2. The five minute sequence shows how the lemurs find the dinosaur egg. The animated adventure, coming out on Memorial Day Weekend, is rumored to be one of the most expensive movies ever made. The five minute preview doesn't show any of the dinosaurs talking, even though they talk in the final version. Also playing before Toy Story 2 is the animated short Luxo, Jr. by Pixar that gives insight into how Pixar got a jumping lamp for its logo. Luxo, Jr. was the first animated short ever created by Pixar.

Thursday, November 25, 1999

Toy Story 2 Opens to Rave Reviews and Huge Crowds
Toy Story 2 has opened to unanimous rave reviews by critics and many reported sell-outs at theaters across the U.S.. Opening figures for Toy Story 2 will be available on Friday afternoon.

Mark Caro, in his review of Toy Story 2 for the Chicago Tribune, said the following — "Toy Story 2 includes a few very funny references to Star Wars, but here's the best joke: This computer-animated sequel blows the latest Star Wars sequel out of the galaxy. It's far more exciting, boasts better characters, contains more laughs, provokes more thought and engages more emotions than The Phantom Menace , and the visual effects are just as dazzling in their own way."

Disney has attached to Toy Story 2 a five minute trailer for its Dinosaur movie, which comes out Memorial Day weekend in the year 2000.

Disney is also playing Toy Story 2 in the movie theaters on its two cruise ships - Disney Magic and Disney Wonder, complete with visits from life-sized Buzz Lightyear and Woody.

Happy Thanksgiving!
The staff at Animation Artist Magazine wishes you a very happy Thanksgiving. We have additional updates planned later today for the
Toy Story 2 Movie Site (be sure to send in your review) and the Screening Room.

Wednesday, November 24, 1999

CINAR Starts Work on New Animated Series
CINAR Corporation, Scottish Television, and Egmont Imagination Productions have announced that they will co-produce a new stop-motion animation series for pre-school children, "The Upstaris Downstairs Bears," based on the best-selling books by Carol Lawson. London-based Children's ITV commissioned the series.

Work on the puppet series will take place in three countries and is being shared by Denmark's Egmont Imagination Productions; by CINAR's wholly-owned London-based stop-motion animation production facility, FilmFair; by Montreal-based CINAR Studios and by Scottish Television.

"This is CINAR's first venture with STV and our second with Egmont," said David Ferguson, Vice President, CINAR Europe and Managing Director, FilmFair. "This project also marks the first partnership with all three companies together. We are delighted."

"The Upstairs Downstairs Bears" follows the adventures of two families -- the 'upstairs' bears and the 'downstairs' bears who live in harmony in a big rambling house. Set in Edwardian times, the initial 26 x 10-minute episodes were inspired by a 'downstairs' bear dressed as a maid and discovered by author Carol Lawson. Each episode will underline the importance of caring and sharing.

Animation Artist Review of Toy Story 2
Animation Artist Magazine gives Toy Story 2 five out of five stars (*****) for both children and adults. Look for the review later this morning on the
Animation Artist Toy Story 2 Movie Site .

Universal Cartoon Studios Names New Senior Vice President
Tom Ruzicka has been promoted to senior vice president, production, Universal Cartoon Studios, it was announced today by Bob Rubin, executive vice president, Universal Family & Home Entertainment Production. In his new role, Mr. Ruzicka is responsible for supervising all animation productions for television and direct-to-video. He will also play a key role in the development of special projects and new media opportunities.

In making the announcement, Mr. Rubin said, "In just one year, Tom has made significant contributions to the growth of Universal Cartoon Studios as a thriving animation production house. His terrific creative instincts and strong relationships with talent have enhanced our animated franchises, including The Land Before Time, Balto, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Woody Woodpecker and the Jay Ward characters. We look forward to Tom's continued leadership on these and future projects as we build Universal Cartoon Studios' presence in the industry."

Mr. Ruzicka joined Universal in 1998 as vice president, production, Universal Cartoon Studios, with responsibility for supervising production for the direct-to-video movies The Land Before Time VII and VIII, Balto II and Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet the Wolf Man, as well as The Woody Woodpecker Show television series. Under his direction, Universal Cartoon Studios produced its first animated theatrical short in 30 years, Bill Scott's "lost script," The Phox, the Box and the Lox , based on Jay Ward's Fractured Fairy Tales.

Prior to joining Universal, Mr. Ruzicka was involved in the development of Disney's television animation division and direct to video production unit. He oversaw the production of animation for the television series "Duck Tales," "The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh" and "Recess," as well as the direct- to-video movies "Aladdin's Return of Jaffar" and "The Lion King II." He also served as the head of production for the theatrical releases The Duck Tales Movie and The Goofy Movie.

Mr. Ruzicka began his career as a producer for Leo Burnett Advertising in Chicago, where he produced commercials for such memorable characters as Tony the Tiger, Charlie the Tuna, the Keebler Elves and the Jolly Green Giant.

Tuesday, November 23, 1999

Sequel to Dragon's Lair Released on DVD
The sequel to the hit game Dragon's Lair has been released on DVD. Guide Dirk the Daring as he races through time to save the beautiful Princess Daphne from the clutches of the Evil Wizard Mordroc in Dragon's Lair II: Time Warp. The long awaited sequel to the award-winning game Dragon's Lair is now available for DVD movie players.

Princess Daphne has been spirited away to a wrinkle in time by the Evil Wizard Mordroc who plans to force her into marriage. Only you, Dirk the Daring, can save her. Transported by a bumbling old time machine, you begin the rescue mission. But you must hurry, for once the Casket of Doom has opened, Mordroc will place the Death Ring upon Daphne's finger in marriage and she will be lost forever in the Time Warp!

Dragon's Lair II: Time Warp, the classic laser-disc based arcade game, features spectacular quality animation created by Don Bluth, a former Disney animator famous for his work on An American Tail, The Land Before Time and he also co-directed the more recent blockbuster Anastasia. In addition to the fully playable game, the Dragon's Lair II DVD-Video release contains exclusive never-before-released preproduction footage of the game animation while still under development including pencil tests of the animation and scratch audio tracks. A special "Watch" option allows players to view the entire game without requiring moves on the DVD remote control.

"Once again we've pushed the limits of DVD movie player capabilities," Elizabeth Foster, President of Digital Leisure said. "In addition to real-time decision making based on user input from the remote control, Dragon's Lair II: Time Warp features inventory item pickups during gameplay, making for added challenge."

Following the release of Dragon's Lair II: Time Warp DVD-Video, Digital Leisure plans to release Dragon's Lair II: Time Warp DVD-ROM later this month. Dragon's Lair and Space Ace are currently available for DVD-Video, DVD-ROM and CD-ROM formats.

More Disney Classics Released to DVD
Disney today released two more of its animated classics to DVD.
Lady and the Tramp and Peter Pan were both released.

Anastasia Released on DVD!
FOX has released its 1997 animated
Anastasia to DVD. Anastasia was the first major animated movie to take on the Disney animation empire in quality. While its performance at the Box Office was only average, the film captured many fans.

The Iron Giant Released on VHS and DVD
Warner Bros. today released The Iron Giant to both
VHS and DVD (only $14.95 at The Iron Giant won critical acclaim from critics, but failed to capture an audience at the Box Office, which many blame on the way the film was marketed. The marketing campaign was increased for the VHS and DVD release of the film.

Toy Story 2 Opens Tomorrow!
Disney's Toy Story 2 opens throughout the U.S. on Wednesday. This comes after posting astonishing results on just one screen over the weekend. Toy Story 2 made over $300,000 on that one screen to place 24th at the Box Office. This afternoon Animation Artist magazine opened up its Toy Story 2 Movie Site.
Click here to access it.

Monday, November 22, 1999

Disney Prepares Fantasia 2000 Soundtrack and Movie for Release
A Disney legacy is reborn with the release of FANTASIA/2000, a feature-length fantasy in sightFantasia 2000 and sound, and Walt Disney Records is releasing the all-new original motion picture soundtrack recording on November 30, 1999. Expanding the concept that inspired the 1940 Disney classic FANTASIA, the soundtrack for the new film features James Levine conducting the Chicago Symphony and Philharmonia Orchestras in classical favorites for seven new animated segments and interstitials, and one returning classic segment from the original FANTASIA -- Dukas' "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," which features Mickey Mouse. Music by Beethoven, Respighi, Gershwin, Shostakovich, Saint-Saens, Elgar and Stravinsky is also featured in FANTASIA/2000.

The film will have its world premiere on Friday, December 17, at New York's Carnegie Hall, with Levine conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra in a synchronized live performance with the film, followed by a world tour with similar live presentations in London, Paris and Tokyo, returning to the U.S. for a final performance at a millennium New Year's Eve gala at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium. On January 1, the film begins an exclusive four-month engagement in IMAX(R) theaters around the world.

The music that inspires FANTASIA/2000 includes new adaptations of Beethoven's "Symphony No. 5," Respighi's "Pines of Rome," Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue," Shostakovich's "Piano Concerto No. 2," Saint-Saens' "Carnival of the Animals," the "Pomp and Circumstance" marches of Edward Elgar and Stravinsky's "The Firebird Suite." Yefim Bronfman is soloist in the Shostakovich concerto (which accompanies a segment based on the story "The Steadfast Tin Soldier"), and soprano Kathleen Battle is heard, with the Chicago Symphony Chorus, in the new arrangement of Elgar's "Pomp and Circumstance Marches Nos. 1, 2, 3 & 4." Pianists Gail Niwa and Philip L. Sabransky perform in the finale to Saint-Saens' "Carnival of the Animals." In the Gershwin segment, pianist Ralph Grierson is soloist with the Philharmonia Orchestra. Levine also conducts the orchestra in a new recording of Dukas' "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" for the FANTASIA/2000 soundtrack. Leopold Stokowski conducted the returning classic "Sorcerer's Apprentice" sequence found in FANTASIA/2000 and the original film.

Walt Disney always intended that FANTASIA would be a work in progress, continuously updated and supplemented. But it was not until the film's executive producer and vice chairman of The Walt Disney Company, Roy Edward Disney, personally took up the challenge that FANTASIA/2000 came into being, a dream that was shared by the Disney Studios' new generation of animators. "The artists have always expressed an affinity for FANTASIA. After all, its union of music with moving images is the purest form of their art, and the film was designed as an expression of the boundless possibilities inherent in their craft," said Roy Disney.

FANTASIA, released in 1940, was created and supervised by Walt Disney and featured, both onscreen and on the soundtrack, Leopold Stokowski conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra, recorded in stereophonic sound, which was still an experimental medium at the time. In renewing his uncle's legacy, Roy Disney supervised every aspect of design and production of FANTASIA/2000, including the selection of the music. Music editing and new arrangements for the Beethoven, Respighi, Saint-Saens and Stravinsky segments are by Bruce Coughlin, and Peter Schickele created the unique arrangement for the Elgar segment.

Veteran Disney animator Hendel Butoy (co-director of "The Rescuers Down Under") is FANTASIA/2000's supervising director, as well as director of two individual segments. Other segments are directed by Eric Goldberg, Pixote Hunt, Francis Glebas and Paul & Gaeton Brizzi. The film is produced by Don Ernst, with live action introductions directed by Don Hahn.

A specially packaged, numbered, limited-quantity Collector's Edition of the FANTASIA/2000 soundtrack is available exclusively at The Disney Store and Disney Theme Parks beginning November 9, 1999, before the standard album's wide release on November 30. Both versions are available on CD only. The FANTASIA/2000 Collector's Edition retails for $16.99; standard version prices will vary at retail.

The Iron Giant Being Released Tomorrow
Tomorrow Warner Bros. will release its critically acclaimed animated film, The Iron Giant, to DVD and VHS. The DVD will contain many behind-the-scenes additions.

Final Box Office Numbers Due Tonight
Weekend Box Office estimates show Pokemon: The First Movie placing third with a drastic 60% drop from last weekend in business. Final numbers are expected tonight and will be posted tomorrow for both Pokemon: The First Movie and Princess Mononoke.

Sunday, November 21, 1999

Pokemon Being Slaughtered at Box Office in Second Weekend
After dominating the Box Office and breaking some animation records (including Best five-day opening), Pokemon: The First Movie is being slaughtered in its second weekend.

On Friday, Pokemon: The First Movie brought in $2.45 million. Compare that to last Friday when Pokemon brought in $9 million. Normally a movie perceived as 'just average' will only suffer a 35-40% drop-off at the Box Office in a week. The Friday to Friday comparison shows a greater than 70% drop-off for Pokemon! In addition, Pokemon: The First Movie has dropped to third at the Box Office, under the newly released films James Bond: The World is Not Enough (which made $12.1 million on Friday) and Sleepy Hollow (which made $10.0 million). Then comes Pokemon at $2.5 million.

Weekend estimates are expected later today with final Box Office numbers being released Monday evening.

Desert News Compares Pokemon: The First Movie and The Iron Giant
The Desert News has published an article by Jeff Vice looking at the hysteria surrounding Pokemon , then comparing it to what it calls a "much, much better movie" — The Iron Giant. Here's a quote from the article:

"...what's so disheartening about the success of Pokemon: The First Movie is that this film succeeded where other, much-better, movies failed. Remember The Iron Giant, the wonderful animated science-fiction movie that came out this summer? Pokemon made as much in its first three days as that much, much better film made in its entire theatrical run. Yet, take a look at the messages of these two movies:

  • Pokemon: The First Movie makes a halfhearted attempt to suggest that violence is bad. But then the characters go on to another adventure, in which there's more fighting. A tad hypocritical, to be sure.
  • In The Iron Giant, the characters not only learn what the consequences of violence are, but they also discover that there are other options and solutions.
  • Like Pokemon: The First Movie, The Iron Giant was also released by Warner Bros. But the studio didn't promote that film with the same gusto it did Pokemon . I guess there's not as much money to be made by films that preach against violence for a change."

To read the entire article, click here.

Saturday, November 20, 1999

It's Toy Story 2 Vs. The Iron Giant in Racing
Sunday's anticipated NASCAR race, aired live on ESPN, will hold some interest this year for animation fans. There are two Toy Story 2 car in the race and one car themed with The Iron Gaint ! There will also be a live Webcast of the event from and The race begins at 11:30 AM EST.

Nickelodeon Teams Up with Steve Oedekerk to Produce Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius
Nickelodeon has entered into a multi-year agreement with screenwriter/director Steve Oedekerk (Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls) and DNA Productions to produce Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius , Nickelodeon's first property to be simultaneously developed and produced as a feature film, television series and online franchise.

The announcement was made yesterday by Albie Hecht, President, Film and TV Entertainment, Nickelodeon.

Originally created by John Davis of DNA Productions, Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius will be Nickelodeon's first 3D, computer graphics imagery (CGI) animated character, and the first property to be developed as a multi-media franchise. The film, television series and online component will be produced by Nickelodeon Movies, Nickelodeon Productions, Oedekerk's O Entertainment, and Davis's DNA Productions, Inc. Paramount Pictures will distribute the feature film. Jimmy Neutron will debut as a series of one-minute cartoon shorts on the network prior to theatrical release. After theatrical release, the show will join Nickelodeon's line-up as a series.

"Nickelodeon prides itself in being on the cutting edge. Both Steve's and John's warped comic sensibilities are the perfect match for Jimmy Neutron and the Nick brand," said Albie Hecht, President Film and TV Entertainment, Nickelodeon. "I've always wanted to work with someone who makes me laugh so hard that my stomach hurt. Now, with Steve on board to make the movie and TV series, I've gotten my wish."

Jimmy Neutron is a 10-year-old boy genius. Although he is extremely intelligent, he still has the emotions of a child. He uses his "gift" to occasionally save the world, but he also has the same fears and desires as most kids his age. His companions in his adventures are his robot dog, Goddard, and his best friend, Carl Wheezer.

"Jimmy Neutron and I have a lot in common," said Oedekerk. "We're both smart and sensitive, and act like 10-year olds. Seriously, though, I'm extremely excited to be working with Nickelodeon and DNA, and really think this kid and this character have a very promising future.

Oedekerk's writing credits include some of the most successful comedies of the `90s. He collaborated with Jim Carrey on Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. When it came time to make the highly anticipated sequel, Oedekerk was asked not only to write the film, but direct it as well. Ace Ventura 2: When Nature Calls proved to be one of those rare sequels that out-grossed the original.

Steve went on to write The Nutty Professor starring Eddie Murphy, which became one of the most successful movies of 1996. Oedekerk then wrote and directed Nothing to Lose with Tim Robbins and Martin Lawrence, and last year he wrote and co-produced the Golden Globe-nominated Patch Adams, starring Robin Williams, one of the year's biggest hits. Steve is currently writing, directing and starring in his next comedy feature film, The Dubbed Action Movie, for 20th Century Fox, scheduled for Summer 2000.

John Davis and Keith Alcorn of DNA Productions, Inc. have specialized in the creation and production of 2D and 3D character animation. In addition to Jimmy Neutron , some of their notable projects include Nanna and Lil' Puss Puss (MTV), Roseanne's Saturday Night Special (Fox TV), The Weird Al Show (CBS), and Santa vs. The Snowman (ABC).

Nickelodeon Movies is the feature film development and production division of Nickelodeon, which produces movies for kids and their families in association with its sister Viacom company, Paramount Pictures.

Friday, November 19, 1999

Toy Story 2 Opens in One Theater!
Toy Story 2 opened today in one theater. It is now playing at the historic El Capitan theater, in Los Angeles, exclusively for the next five days until it opens nationwide next Wednesday.

Warner Bros. to Offer The Iron Giant Litho in Select Copies of Video
Warner Bros. has entered into a strategic agreement to provide a free The Iron Giant litho cell to people who purchase at Ralphs supermarket locations. The Iron Giant, on VHS, will hit Ralphs store shelves on Nov. 23, and customers will receive an exclusive The Iron Giant litho cel and action figure with purchase.

In other marketing efforts, ads for The Iron Giant will soon be seen in People Magazine and Family Life Magazine.

The Iron Giant is also being released to DVD on November 23 - next Tuesday.

Pokemon Enters Second Weekend After Mediocre Weekday Performances
After averaging $9 million to $10 million a day from last Wednesday through Sunday, Pokemon saw a sharp weekday dropoff that left its Monday - Thursday average at just above $900,000 a day. While the numbers were still enough to keep Pokemon #1 at the box office, they were drastically lower than results last Wednesday and Thursday, when the film opened. This could coincide with Warner Bros. offering of special trading cards only lasting through last Sunday.

Now Pokemon enters its second weekend and some analysists are predicting drastic drops from last weekend based on the movie's weekday performance. Some predict Pokemon will drop a hefty 50% or more. However, Pokemon isn't facing any kids competition this weekend, which could give it a more respectable drop of 30%-35%. Animation Artist Magazine will keep you posted on the results throughout the weekend.

Next Wednesday, Pokemon will face tough competition against Disney's Toy Story 2, opening to very strong reviews.

Thursday, November 18, 1999

Disney has a Winner with Toy Story 2
Last night, Animation Artist attended a viewing of Toy Story 2 and the verdict is that Disney has a real winner in its hands. While there are minor things that could have been done to improve the movie, it is overwhelmingly an enjoyable film for both kids and adults. Is it better than the original Toy Story? We think so. Look for the Animation Artist review this weekend.

Mary Kay Bergman's Death Ruled Suicide
The death of talented voice artist Mary Kay Bergman has been ruled a suicide. According to CNN, "Bergman's attorney, Robert Harrison, says she killed herself on Thursday night. A memorial is planned for later this week...Bergman is survived by her husband, Dino Andrate, and her mother, Patricia McGowan. Harrison says Bergman had shown no signs of depression, and that her death has come as a surprise to her family."

Bergman's talents are found on hundreds of animated TV shows and movies. Even in the upcoming Toy Story 2, she is listed under "Additional Voices" in the credits.

Bergman's talent agency, Sutton, Barth & Vennari took out a full page "In Loving Memory" ad in Monday's Daily Variety.

McDonalds, Pixar, and Disney Toy Story 2 Event This Morning at 11:00
This morning at 11:00 AM, McDonalds, Pixar, and Disney will host an event to announce Toy Story 2, McDonalds Happy Meal tie-ins and a partnership with Toy for Tots. The is being held at McDonalds on the corner of Highland and Sunset in Los Angeles. The Toy Story 2 Nascar race car will also be at the event, which will be attended by Toy Story 2's director, John Lasseter. At the event 10,000 toys will be given to Toys for Tots and McDonalds will unveil the 20 toys it will distribute in Happy Meals.

Wednesday, November 17, 1999

Animated Pixar Short Film to Play Before Toy Story 2
Pixar Animation Studios has announced that Luxo Jr., the studio's classic computer animated short film, will be attached to the Disney/Pixar holiday release Toy Story 2. For the first time, theater-going audiences will be able to view the Oscar-nominated short film during the entire national run of Toy Story 2.

When Luxo Jr. debuted at SIGGRAPH in 1986, it amazed many computer graphics and animation communities with its combination of character animation and a level of visual realism never before seen in computer animation. Luxo Jr. was directed by Pixar's Academy Award-winning director, John Lasseter, and received an Academy Award nomination in 1986 for Best Animated Short Film.

"Luxo Jr . was the first computer animated film where the story and characters were more important to audiences than the fact that it was made with a computer," said Lasseter, Pixar's Executive Vice President, Creative. "All the short films we create at Pixar provide invaluable experience to our future creative leaders and also allow us to move our technology forward."

Pixar has produced five short films: Luxo Jr. (1986 Academy Award nomination), Red's Dream (1987), Tin Toy (1988 Academy Award-winner, Best Animated Short Film), Knickknack (1989) and Geri's Game (1998 Academy Award-winner, Best Animated Short Film). Pixar's short subjects explore the creative and technical possibilities of computer animation, allowing Pixar to continuously stretch the boundaries of its storytelling.

Toy Story 2 Set for Six Digital Playback Dates
Continuing its efforts to stimulate digital exhibition, Buena Vista has set six digital playdates for its Nov. 24 release of Disney/Pixar's all-new computer-animated adventure, Toy Story 2 , it was announced by Bob Lambert, senior vice president of new technology and new media for The Walt Disney Co., Phil Barlow, executive vice president of The Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group, and Ed Catmull, executive vice president and chief technical officer, Pixar Animation Studios.

That film becomes the first major studio feature to be released day and date in both a digital and traditional film format. It is also the first film in motion picture history to be entirely created, mastered and exhibited digitally.

Toy Story 2 will have six digital playdates: The El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood; the Edwards Irvine Spectrum (Southern California); the AMC Burbank; AMC Van Ness in San Franciso; The Cinemark Legacy in Plano, Texas; and the AMC Pleasure Island in Orlando, Fla.

The El Capitan Theatre begins its exclusive engagement on Nov. 19, five days prior to the film's national opening.

The release of Toy Story 2 will utilize Texas Instruments' highly regarded DLP Cinema(TM) prototype projection technology. These digital projection systems are the first of a variety of new exhibition technologies being developed for future theater installations.

Commenting on the announcement, Barlow said: "Disney is stepping up its pursuit of digital exhibition, and Toy Story 2 is a great showcase for this state-of-the-art technology. Audiences seem to be excited by the improved clarity that digital exhibition offers and appreciate the fact that the picture quality is the same the 28th day as on the first day. We believe that the additional exposure of the public to digital cinema will increase the demand for this technological breakthrough."

John Lasseter, director of Toy Story 2, added: "Seeing the film projected digitally just blew me away, and I am so excited that moviegoers will have an opportunity to see the film this way. It was an entirely different experience from seeing the film in the conventional film format and added such incredible detail and definition to the images on screen. Digital projection is simply amazing and adds to the overall enjoyment of the presentation."

Tuesday, November 16, 1999

Mary Kay BergmanMary Kay Bergman - Dead at 38
Mary Kay Bergman, a prominent voice over artist has died at the age of 38. Bergman has voiced over 100 animated characters, including Bat Girl in Batman: Mr. Freeze Vs. Sub Zero, most of the female characters in the South Park series, Anita and Perdita from 101 Dalmations, the mother of Quasimodo in Hunchback of Notre Dame and dozens more. She has also been the voice of Disney's Snow White in various Disney attractions (most in Disney World) since 1989.

Bergman's voice was featured in over 400 commercials, including the voice of Mrs. Butterworth for Butterworth's Syrup spots. In addition, Bergman taught classes on voice-over and made public appearances.

Bergman died on Thursday night, November 11. Details surrounding her death have not been released.

"I'm just like a parrot," said Bergman in a January 1999 interview with Voice Chasers. "I tape a line, I listen to it, and I try to match what they're doing with emotion, pitch, and accents. Then I work on that until I feel that I really have it down and then I go on to the next line. It's a matter of breaking everything down."

At the time of her death, Bergman was involved with seven animated TV shows and five feature films for Disney. She leaves behind her husband. who she was working on a feature film with to be shown at film festivals.

Animation Artist Magazine extends its deepest condolences to the family, friends, and associates of Mary Kay Bergman. Her untimely death saddens us all and we recognize her outstanding contributions to the animation industry.

Monday, November 15, 1999

CINAR Starts Production on New Animated Series
CINAR Corporation announced today that it has joined forces with Flextech Rights Ltd. to co-produce a brand new children's animation series, TWINS, in association with ITV in the UK and YTV in Canada. The series is currently in production at CINAR Animation for broadcast in Autumn 2000.

TWINS follows the misadventures of twins Nelly and Lil, five year old sisters who couldn't be more different. Lil is blonde and neat, likes fluffy bunnies and being good. Nelly is dark haired, plays in the mud, likes snakes and causing chaos. Both, of course, are convinced theirs is the right way to do anything which leads to hysterical and often outrageous results. The series is based on the best-selling book (Harper Collins) by author and illustrator John Wallace, who is working on the creative team.

"TWINS is an 'odd couple' series for small children with a definite kids eye view of the adult world. You'll laugh because you'll identify with the children you know and as the kid you were!" said Cassandra Schafhausen, Vice-President, Animation, Production and Development at CINAR.

"YTV is a long-time partner of CINAR," said Peter Moss, Vice President of Programming and Production at YTV Canada, Inc. "Our relationship has produced quality television co-productions such as 'Lassie," "Are You Afraid of the Dark," and more recently the popular new series 'Mona the Vampire.'  TWINS is just the kind of program YTV is looking for and we're confident it will be a hit with our viewers."

It's Disney Versus Pokemon This Weekend!
The showdown of animated movies begins this weekend with Disney's Toy Story II taking on Pokemon: The First Movie. In its first five days, Pokemon took in $52 million dollars, the most any animated film has ever done in five days. It is also the biggest five day opening ever of a non-summer (May, June, July) movie. On Friday, the staying power of Pokemon will be put to the test when Disney releases Toy Story II, which is receiving rave reviews. Animation Artist Magazine will follow the day-by-day action very closely with daily reports on Saturday, Sunday, and next Monday.

Sunday, November 14, 1999

Pokemon Continues to Dominate Box Office Pokemon continued to easily dominate the Box Office this weekend. The Japanese anime, Americanized by Warner Bros., is expected to have a five day total (Wednesday through Sunday) of nearly $45 million when all receipts are counted. This will put the movie on track to easily surpass what it made in Japan and to break many U.S. animation records. On Friday, Pokemon made $9.07 million after gaining $9.6 million on Thursday and $10.1 million on Wednesday. Pokemon will face its first big competition this Friday when Toy Story II is released in theaters.

Disney Announces New Video Strategy
The Walt Disney Company is initiating a new worldwide strategy for releasing its classic library feature animation titles on DVD and VHS home video, it was announced by Joe Roth, chairman of The Walt Disney Studios.

The company will significantly increase the depth of its year-round video catalog by permanently making available 26 classic library feature animation titles over the next two years. The company also will create the Disney Platinum Collection, which will include another 10 classic library feature animation titles that Disney will hold in moratorium for a specific time period before reintroducing them into the market. To help accelerate the already-rapid growth of the DVD market, Disney will release all future titles on DVD and VHS simultaneously.

The Disney Platinum Collection will include Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King, Bambi, The Jungle Book, Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, Lady and the Tramp and 101 Dalmatians.

Beginning in 2001 with Snow White , Disney will release one title from the Platinum Collection on DVD and VHS each fall. Release of each title will be supported by a worldwide marketing effort that will include cross-promotion initiatives by Disney's various business units, including Theme Parks and Resorts, ABC Inc., Disney Channel, Radio Disney, as well as Disney promotional partners such as McDonald's.

"This new cycle will allow us to maximize each film's performance by reaching an entirely new generation every 10 years," Roth said. "We will treat each Platinum Collection release as a companywide — and worldwide — event each fall. In addition, by creating a predictable, once-a-year, high-profile release, we will maximize consumer and retail excitement for each title. And as we've seen in the past, major campaigns such as this have a `halo effect' that stimulates demand for all Disney products."

Disney also will make available on a permanent, year-round basis, its 26 remaining classic library feature animation titles. Currently unavailable titles will be released over the next two years and will be featured in year-round marketing programs that the company will develop to support the library. The company believes that adding these additional titles to its 2000-2001 release schedule will significantly increase the number of Disney video units sold worldwide during the period.

Going forward, Disney will release all future animated films on DVD and VHS simultaneously.

"We believe that DVD represents a huge opportunity for our company," Roth said. "Just as with the VHS format, which saw incredible growth of video unit sales as VCR penetration rose, DVD demand will surge as penetration levels hit critical mass. As people change over to DVD, they will augment their existing video libraries with discs in the new format."

Roth noted that there will be 4 million households with set-top DVD units and 10 million DVD-equipped personal computers by Christmas, with market penetration projected to continue its rapid growth. In addition, DVD capability will be featured on soon-to-be-released, next-generation video game players.

"Our core audience of kids and teens will be watching DVDs on their computer monitors and their video game consoles as much as their parents will view DVD content on television," he said.

Disney's potential in the burgeoning DVD market is already apparent, Roth said, noting that Disney has three of the top 10 best-selling DVDs of all time: Armageddon, A Bug's Life and Enemy of the State.

The company already announced that it would release nine of its classic animated titles on DVD in the United States for a limited time as part of the company's millennium celebration. Pinocchio was released on DVD last month. It was followed by 101 Dalmatians, Hercules and Mulan, which were released November 9.

Lady and the Tramp, Peter Pan and Simba's Pride (Lion King II) will be released on November 23. The Jungle Book and The Little Mermaid will be released on December 7. Each title is available for 60 days, and each is being supported by a major marketing campaign that includes television ads highlighting "Disney DVD...Pure Digital Magic."

"The Disney Platinum Collection, along with our initiatives to release all other library titles and new feature animation titles on DVD and VHS, take advantage of the burgeoning DVD market while also enabling Disney to capitalize on the existing VHS market," Roth said. "Disney will have major DVD and home video events each year over the next decade, which we believe will leverage the significant value of Disney's feature animation library."

Saturday, November 13, 1999

New 3D TV Series in Production
New Cinema Partners Inc. has announced that they have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with XD Productions of Paris, France for the production of a 26-episode animated 3D television series.

XD Productions specializes in 3D animation technology. The series, budgeted at $8 million will be a joint Canada/France production. Its preliminary title is "Space-Quest," a fable designed to be both entertaining and educational. In entering into this initiative with XD Productions, New Cinema continues to develop and enrich the new "edutainment" industry.

"This is a great story with fantastic characters," said Phil Kueber, VP of Filmed Entertainment. "XD Productions is going to be a tremendous partner for us. They have the cutting-edge technology to help us produce an incredible television series that both adults and children will love. Furthermore, the new XD technology allows a production cost-efficiency yet to be experienced in this industry."

Disney to Release Tarzan Game for N64 in the Year 2000
Tarzan and his jungle friends will come to life in a new adventure for the Nintendo 64 video game system when Activision, Inc., in collaboration with Disney Interactive, Inc., releases Disney's Tarzan this winter. Based on Walt Disney Pictures' critically acclaimed animated feature film, Disney's Tarzan for the Nintendo 64 is slated to launch this January in conjunction with the home video release.

"The blockbuster success of this summer's feature film shows that audiences are still enchanted with the Tarzan legend," said Mitch Lasky, executive vice president, Activision Studios. "The game combines compelling gameplay, exceptional level designs with lush graphics to create an engrossing experience that will allow players to relive the intense action of the film."

Set deep in the African jungle, players embark on an adventure packed with intrigue and danger where they must master the art of vine swinging and tree- surfing through 13 levels of savage 3D action to save a family of apes from the hands of evil hunters.

As Tarzan, players will grow from a boy to a man, developing skills and abilities that allow them to confront and overcome slimy snakes, nasty alligators, menacing rhinos and stampeding elephants to protect the family of apes from the jungle's most dangerous perils — Sabor the leopard and Clayton the hunter.

In addition to the lead character, Disney's Tarzan for the Nintendo 64 also allows players to control other characters from the movie, including Jane, Terk and Tantor. Exploring exotic jungle locations from the film, players will experience the wondrous sounds used to create an atmosphere of adventure as they explore the jungle accompanied by music inspired from the film.

Friday, November 12, 1999

Pokemon Movie Dominates Box Office Pokemon: The First Movie dominated the Box Office, bringing in more money than all the other films in the Top 10 combined! On Wednesday, Pokemon: The First Movie brought in an amazing $10.1 million. The opening puts Pokemon: The First Movie on its way to reaching the Top 10 Box Office Animated Films of All Time list. Pokemon is showing on 2,901 screens.

The opening is the largest Wednesday opening ever for an animated film, easily topping Toy Story's $4.8 one day record set in 1995. It is the fourth largest midweek opening ever for any film, topped only by Star Wars: Episode 1, Independence Day, and Men in Black. Early estimates for Thursday show the Pokemon movie topping Wednesday's Box Office take! Full results will be posted to the Animation Artist Pokemon Movie Site (News area) this afternoon.

Animation Artist Magazine has posted its review of Pokemon: The First Movie, which can be accessed by clicking here .

Burger King Struck with Public Relations Disaster Over Pokemon Movie
Burger King had become "king of the hill" when it landed a deal to distribute Pokemon toys from its fast food chains in what is the most desired fast-food toys ever. However, that privilege quickly turned to a nightmare when Burger King chains started running out of toys, due to the overwhelming demand, only a few days into the promotion. The result was thousands of crying kids and angry parents, some becoming so vocal that Burger King officials have almost called the police on several occasions. New toys aren't scheduled to arrive until Monday, leaving angry parents storming out of Burger King restaurants continuing throughout the weekend.

Disney Prepares November 23 Collector's Edition of A Bug's Life DVD
Disney's A Bug's Life makes its debut as a Collector's Edition DVD on November 23, 1999, from Walt Disney Home Video and Pixar Animation Studios.

Containing extensive bonus programming which includes original concept art and treatments, abandoned sequences, storyboard-to-film comparisons and an early short, A Bug's Life Collector's Edition DVD represents all of the aspects that went into the making of this groundbreaking film. A Bug's Life Collector's Edition DVD is priced to own at $49.99 (purchase it at a discount here).

In a first for a Disney animated DVD release, Disc One of A Bug's Life Collector's Edition DVD features the movie in both widescreen 16X9 anamorphic and a recomposed full-screen version (1.33:1 aspect ratio) as well as a Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround soundtrack. A Bug's Life also features audio commentary with John Lasseter (director), Andrew Stanton (co-director/co-writer) and Lee Unkrich (supervising film editor).

Additional highlights include an isolated music track in 2.0 stereo sound and an isolated sound effects track in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound.

Disc Two's highlights include Pixar's 1998 Academy Award-winning animated short "Geri's Game" and many fun-filled and informative supplemental materials: introductions and explanations by the filmmakers; an early presentation reel called "Fleabie"; original story treatments and storyboard pitches; a still-frame gallery of art tracing the development of the characters and locations from early concepts to final designs; abandoned sequences and a storyboard reel featuring a split screen comparing the final movie to the original storyboards.

Additional footage includes a behind-the-scenes peek at the creation of the movie; a look at the voice talent; early production tests; a discussion of the movie's sound design; and a still-frame view of the movie's trailers and posters (domestic and international).

Further bonus programming includes an extensive behind-the-scenes look at how the movie was recomposed from its original widescreen presentation to a full-frame presentation for its home video release, as well as two sets of hilarious outtakes and a look at their production.

A Bug's Life was the first movie to be created directly from the original digital source rather than through the standard film-to-videotape process. Since A Bug's Life was created entirely in a digital format, this process presented the movie with the most pristine images possible. It also permitted the directors to reframe the entire widescreen movie for the best presentation possible on television screens.

Thursday, November 11, 1999

Animation Artist Readers Vote for Animation Best - Some Results Differ From Annie Awards
Subscribers to the Animation Artist Newsletter were allowed to vote yesterday on seven Annie Award categories to see if Animation Artist reader results differed from the Annie Award results. They did. Here is a comparison of who Animation Artist readers selected and who the Annie Awards membership selected:


Outstanding Achievement in an Animated Theatrical Feature

Annie Awards Chose
The Iron Giant

Animation Artist Readers Chose:
The Iron Giant

Second Place by Two Votes:


Outstanding Individual Achievement for Character Animation

Annie Awards Chose
Steve Markowski for The Iron Giant

Animation Artist Readers Chose
Glen Keane for Tarzan (by a landslide vote)

Second Place
Steve Markowski for The Iron Giant


Outstanding Individual Achievement for Effects Animation

Annie Awards Chose
Allen Foster for The Iron Giant

Animation Artist Readers Chose (tie)
Jamie Lloyd for The Prince of Egypt
Peter De Mund for Tarzan


Outstanding Individual Achievement for Directing in an Animated Feature Production

Annie Awards Chose
Brad Bird for The Iron Giant

Animation Artist Readers Chose
Brad Bird for The Iron Giant (by a landslide vote)

Second Place
John Lasseter and Andrew Stanton for A Bug's Life


Outstanding Individual Achievement for Music in an Animated Feature Production

Annie Awards Chose
Michael Kamen for The Iron Giant

Animation Artist Readers Chose
Michael Kamen for The Iron Giant

Second Place by Two Votes
Phil Collins for Tarzan


Outstanding Achievement for Production Design in an Animated Feature Production

Annie Awards Chose
Alan Bodner for The Iron Giant

Animation Artist Readers Chose (tie)
Daniel St. Pierre for Tarzan
Mark Whiting for The Iron Giant


Outstanding Individual Achievement for Writing in an Animated Feature Production

Annie Awards Chose
Brad Bird and Tim McCanlies for The Iron Giant

Animation Artist Readers Chose
Brad Bird and Tim McCanlies for The Iron Giant

Second Place
John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Joe Ranft, Donald McEnery, and Bob Shaw for A Bug's Life


All subscribers to the free Animation Artist Newsletter (1,000 subscribers) were emailed a link to the ballots yesterday for voting. The results show that Animation Artist readers only agreed with four of the seven major category winners. The biggest discrepancy, by far, was for character animation where Glen Keane received a landslide vote, by Animation Artist readers, for his work on Tarzan.

Brad Ball Defends Marketing of The Iron Giant
As reported in Tuesday Animation Artist Newsletter (delivered via email), Warner Bros. Brad Ball is defending the studio's marketing of The Iron Giant.

A Daily Variety article on toon marketing being a risky business brought about a surprising quote from Brad Ball, who is the president of domestic theatrical marketing for Warner Bros. Pictures. From the Daily Variety article, he claims that "the factors leading to the disappointing showing [of The Iron Giant] run much deeper than a perceived lack of marketing."

Ball is quoted as saying, "One of the things that never gets reported, because we have a tendency not to share this, is the incredible amount of money and effort that was put behind this [The Iron Giant] and when most people zero in on the assumption that this studio didn't support it, the immediate conclusion from the outside is, 'they threw it away and didn't put any money behind it.' But this picture had a significant advertising budget."

Wednesday, November 10, 1999

Pokemon Movie Opens in the US!
Pokemon: The First Movie opened today on hundreds of screens across the U.S. Pokemon has a strong following with kids and is expected to have a hefty Box Office return. Animation Artist Magazine has opened its Pokemon Movie Site to coincide with the release of the movie. Click here to access this new area.

In anticipation of the demand for the new limited edition Pokemon trading cards being given away in conjunction with today's release of  Pokemon: The First Movie , Warner Bros. is attempting to increase the quantity of cards, it was announced today by Brad A. Ball, president of Domestic Theatrical Marketing for Warner Bros. Pictures.

"In the wake of `Poke-mania,' we are attempting to find a way to produce more cards in anticipation that the overwhelming demand exceeds our current supply," Ball said. "While we are surprised and thrilled by the enthusiasm of Pokemon fans, even our most optimistic expectations didn't lead us to believe that our supply would last only a few days."

In the Pokemon: The First Movie promotion moviegoers will receive, with the purchase of each movie ticket, a randomly selected game card from a collection of four new cards published by Wizards of the Coast. These special new game cards are only available by purchasing a ticket to the movie. The packet received at that time includes a second free card offer at the Warner Bros. Studio Stores with a purchase of $10 or more, while supplies last.

Score to The Rugrats Movie to be Released
Casual Tonalities, a division of the animation studio Klasky Csupo, announced the "The Rugrats Movie Score" CD release, composed by Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo fame and performed by The London Metropolitan Orchestra, from the record-breaking blockbuster film The Rugrats Movie.

The 2-CD package, slated for release on Nov. 16, 1999, is a collection of catchy theme songs and creative audio animation. The announcement was made today by Klasky Csupo CEO/President Terry Thoren.

The score is priced at $17.98 and distributed by Casual Tonalities, the record label of the animation studio responsible for the creation of the "Rugrats," Klasky Csupo. The CD consists of 35 tracks and includes a multimedia CD with links to the Internet, plus three bonus tracks and "Rugrats" sticker inserts.

The three additional musical tracks are children's dance mixes from Gabor Csupo, co-creator of the "Rugrats."

This distribution of the movie score comes hot off the successful release of "The Rugrats Movie Soundtrack," of which over 1.3 million copies have been sold.

Tuesday, November 9, 1999

The Iron Giant Monopolizes Annie Awards
The Iron Giant was the huge winner at the 1999 Annie Awards. It had been nominated for 15 different categories and won nine of them including "Outstanding Achievement in an Animated Theatrical Feature" (Best Picture). Here is a list of major categories and the winners:

Outstanding Achievement in an Animated Theatrical Feature - The Iron Giant

Outstanding Individual Achievement for Directing in an Animated Feature Production - Brad Bird for The Iron Giant

Outstanding Individual Achievement for Effects Animation - Allen Foster for The Iron Giant.

Outstanding Individual Achievement for Character Animation - Steve Markowski for The Iron Giant.

Outstanding Individual Achievement for Music in an Animated Feature Production - Michael Kamen for The Iron Giant.

Outstanding  Individual Achievement for Effects Animation - Allen Foster for The Iron Giant.

Outstanding Individual Achievement for Storyboarding in an Animated Feature Production - Mark Andrews for The Iron Giant

Technical Achievement in the Field of Animation - Eric Daniels for Tarzan Deep Canvas Technique.

Outstanding Individual Achievement for Writing in an Animated Feature Production - Brad Bird and Tim McCanlies for The Iron Giant.

Outstanding Individual Achievement for Production Design in an Animated Feature Production - Alan Bodner for The Iron Giant.

Outstanding Achievement in an Animated Home Video Production - "The Lion King II: Simba's Pride"

Outstanding Achievement in an Animated Short Subject - Blue Sky Studio for Bunny.

The awards were selected by members of the International Animated Film Society. Do you agree or disagree with the above selections? Members of the Animation Artist Newsletter list will be sent a ballot tonight to see how you would have selected the award winners in the categories listed above. Feel free to discuss your opinion on the decisions in the Voices of Animation forums.

Animation Artist Publishes Richard Bazley Gallery!
Animation Artist has published a gallery of animation artwork from Richard Bazley, who was interviewed by Animation Artist Magazine two months ago for his role as Lead Animator in Warner Bros. The Iron Giant. You can access the gallery directly by
clicking here . Read the interview with Richard Bazley by clicking here .

Disney Releases More Classic Animated Films to DVD
Disney today released three more of its classics to DVD. Click on the title below to order it at a reduced rate:

101 Dalmations DVD (released today)
Mulan DVD (released today)
Hercules DVD (released today)

Monday, November 8, 1999

Princess Mononoke Does Well in Second Weekend
Estimates for the weekend Box Office are in and Princess Mononoke brought in $385,000 while playing on only 38 screens. This brings the per screen average to $10,100. Last week the movie averaged $18,000 per screen on just eight screens. It's unknown at this time if Miramax considers this weekend's numbers strong enough for a national release.

Subway Hops on Mil-Looney-Um Bandwagon Subway Restaurants has teamed up with Warner Brothers to celebrate the "Mil-Looney-Um" from November 15 - January 2, 2000.

North American Subway Restaurants will be dressed in full party gear and ready to ring in the new year with the beloved Looney Tunes characters. Subway will be supporting "Mil-Looney-Um" with animated national television advertising during the promotional period featuring the Looney Tunes characters with party items, such as the Subway 6-foot submarine sandwich.

National television spots will run in conjunction with the Mil-Looney-Um worldwide campaign being spearheaded by Warner Brothers Consumer Products and its promotional partners. This is the first animated spot the Subway chain has produced.

"We are thrilled to celebrate the end of the century with Warner Brothers and the Looney Tunes gang with a Mil-Looney-Um party in our restaurants," commented Steve Thomas, Manager of Marketing Analysis and Planning at Subway.

IHOP to Promote Anastasia Video Spinoff
IHOP restaurants throughout the country will join in promoting the debut of "Bartok the Magnificent," an animated straight-to-video feature film from the Fox Animation Studios team that created the animated feature film Anastasia.

Beginning November 1, two unique beanie toy versions of Bartok, Anastasia's lovable sidekick, will be available for purchase at IHOP restaurants nationwide. The toys will include $2 rebates for "Bartok the Magnificent" videos. In return, "Bartok the Magnificent" videos will include an insert for a free IHOP Kids Meal when customers purchase an adult meal.

"Our partnership with Fox Animation Studios is a perfect opportunity for IHOP to assert its dedication to family-friendly dining," says Susan Hernandez vice president of marketing for IHOP Corp. "We are thrilled to be a part of a promotion geared towards children."

IHOP will play a major role in this massive national tie-in campaign for "Bartok the Magnificent." During the eight week in-restaurant promotion, "Bartok Puppet" and "Turban Bartok" beanies will be available for $2.99 at over 650 participating locations. In addition, IHOP will treat children to Bartok-themed activity books while they dine.

Featuring a cast including Hank Azaria, Kelsey Grammer, Jennifer Tilly, Tim Curry and Catherine O'Hara, "Bartok the Magnificent" is a family adventure which follows the lovable, wise-cracking sidekick in his fun-filled journey to prove himself a real hero as he saves a kingdom. "Bartok the Magnificent" will debut exclusively on home video and DVD on November 16.

Sunday, November 7, 1999

Studios Get Fancy With Direct to Video Animated Film Marketing
To market the premiere of new direct to video animated films, studios like FOX and Disney are giving the videos big screen release treatment.

Disney is celebrating its all-new holiday video premiere movie, "Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas" with a world premiere screening, followed by a winter wonderland party, on Monday, November 8. As celebrities, special guests and their families arrive for the screening, they will be greeted by Disney's classic characters, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and Pluto, all of whom star in the movie. Guests will be ushered through a red carpet VIP entranceway and into the screening, held at the historic El Capitan Theater, one of the most beautiful movie palaces in existence. The year's first winter wonderland celebration follows the premiere with festive holiday merriment to entertain guests as they enjoy various culinary delights.

Meanwhile, on Saturday, November 13, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment and LEGOLAND California are celebrating little heroes and the world premiere of "Bartok The Magnificent," the all-new, animated adventure starring the hero from Fox's first animated feature film, Anastasia, with a unique "Day of Heroes" event. Honoring the real-life courageous deeds of 15 young heroes from across North America, Fox and LEGOLAND have brought these special guests and their families to the new Carlsbad, California family theme park where they will be treated to a red carpet heroes welcome and presentation. They also will be VIP guests for the unveiling of a Bartok LEGO Block model created by LEGOLAND Master Model Builders and the film's world premiere.

First Shipment of Pokemon Cards, Celebrating New Pokemon Movie, to Arrive Tomorrow
On Monday, November 8, All Nippon Airways' Pokemon jet carrying the first shipment of special limited edition Pokemon cards will land at New York's JFK Airport to celebrate the North American release of Pokemon: The First Movie.

The jet will be greeted by well-known Pokemon character Pikachu. Its special cargo will be carried by an armored truck and escorted into Manhattan by a pair of Pikachu VW Beetles. The announcement was made today by Brad A. Ball, President, Domestic Marketing, Warner Bros. Pictures.

The limited edition Pokemon trading cards, created expressly for the movie, are only available by purchasing a ticket to the movie or by making a purchase of $10 or more at the Warner Bros. Studio Stores, while supplies last. The new Pokemon cards feature Dragonite, a flying Pokemon messenger; Electabuzz, a wild Pokemon with a short temper; Mewtwo, a violent, genetically engineered creation; and Pikachu, the most charming and beloved Pokemon.

All Nippon Airways' 747 jumbo jet aircraft, which is 232 feet in length and painted with Pokemon characters, some more than 20 feet tall, is used on ANA's U.S. routes from Tokyo to Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. The interior of the plane, as well as the flight attendants' uniforms, are likewise decorated with Pokemon. ANA has six other Pokemon aircraft in service on routes in Japan.

Saturday, November 6, 1999

Princess Mononoke Doesn't Make Top 15 in Friday Results
The top 15 films at the Box Office for Friday were released today and Princess Mononoke wasn't among them. This could signal a disappointing weekend for Princess Mononoke unless business picks up on Saturday and Sunday. Princess Mononoke placed 33rd last weekend, playing on only eight screens. This weekend it expanded to nearly 20 major cities across the U.S..

Picture of Pokemon Billboard
Yesterday, Animation Artist Magazine reported that a 25 x 40 billboard, used to advertise Pokemon: The First Movie at Times Square in New York City, was being auctioned off on eBay. Today we have a picture (below - thanks, Andrea). So what is the high bid after the first day of auctioning? $1,175.

Pokemon Billboard

Trey Parker Rags On The Phantom Menace
Many movie fans were disappointed with Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, with most attributing their disappointment to the character named Jar-Jar. Yet few have ragged on the movie face-to-face with George Lucas. That is until Trey Parker, of South Park fame, ran into Lucas at a party. According to Salon Magazine, Lucas told Parker that he hadn't seen his new movie yet. Parker responded to Lucas, "I didn't see yours either, after everyone said, you know... it sucked."

Friday, November 5, 1999

Pokemon Movie Billboard to be Auctioned
The ultimate Pokemon collector's item -- the 25 x 40 foot billboard for Pokemon The First Movie that advertises the film at Times Square in New York City — will be auctioned off on the popular Internet auction site eBay, with the proceeds benefiting Boys & Girls Clubs of America, it was announced Thursday by Brad A. Ball, president of Domestic Marketing for Warner Bros. Pictures.

The billboard, which is made of flexible nylon, will go to the highest bidder after five days of active bidding, beginning Friday, Nov. 5 and ending Tuesday, Nov. 9. The opening bid is $100, with no reserve posted.
The auction is accessible at the eBay site (, but had not been put up at the time this article was published on Animation Artist (8:00AM PST). The eBay user who wins the auction will receive the billboard, with the purchase price being donated to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

"This is an exciting opportunity to bridge the gap between our entertainment operations and eBay's e-commerce community," Ball said. "Boys & Girls Clubs are the ideal partner for this event, which will enable us to acknowledge and help the people who have made Pokemon such a universal phenomenon: kids."

Pokemon, the worldwide phenomenon which began as a Nintendo Game Boy game and virtually exploded across the globe in every form, from the best-selling trading card game to the No. 1 rated television kids' show on the Kids' WB!, hits the big screen nationwide on Nov. 10 with an exciting adventure about the greatest Pokemon battle yet.

The American adaptation of Pokemon The First Movie, written by Norman J. Grossfeld, Michael Haigney and John Touhey, comes out on November 10, 1999. Norman J. Grossfeld, president of 4Kids Productions, is the producer.

The animated film is directed by Kunihiko Yuyama and produced by Choji Yoshikawa, Tomoyuki Igarashi and Takemoto Mori. The original dialogue is written by Takeshi Shudo and based on characters created by Satoshi Tajiri. Pokemon The First Movie is distributed by Warner Bros. Family Entertainment

Pokemon Movie Premiere Tomorrow
The premiere of Pokemon: The First Movie is being held Saturday morning at the Mann's Chinese Theatre. Most of the voice stars and crew will be in attendance. Pokemon: The First Movie is expected to easily make it into the
Top 10 Animated Films of All Time list and is predicted to be the number one movie at the Box Office next weekend.

Thursday, November 4, 1999

Chat With Hayao Miyazaki Scheduled Tonight
A chat with the visionary behind Princess Mononoke, Hayao Miyazaki, is scheduled for tonight on the official Princess Mononoke Website. An email was sent out to the Princess Mononoke Mailing List confirming that there would be a chat at 9PM EST tonight. It stated to stay tuned to for full details. However, as of 10:00AM EST there were no further details about the chat posted. We recommend periodically checking the official Princess Mononoke Website throughout the afternoon for final details.

Iron Giant Appears on Capitol Hill - New Screenings to Be Announced!
On the grounds of the U.S. Capitol today, Warner Bros.' action hero, The Iron Giant, was joined by children's advocates, Members of Congress, students from WVSA Arts Connection, and Brad Bird, director of The Iron Giant, in support of quality family entertainment.

"The Iron Giant marks a giant step forward in the production by a major studio of a nifty film for kids and families," said Peggy Charren, founder of Action for Children's Television and longtime children's advocate. "Parents, teachers and everyone who cares about young audiences should make sure that children everywhere over seven get a chance to see this classic film."

Several Members of Congress joined Charren and the Iron Giant including Congressman Edward Markey — former chair of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications, (D-MA); Congressman Mark Foley Chairman of the House Entertainment Industry Caucus (R-FL); Congressman Howard Berman (D-CA); and others. Although he could not make the event, House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert took time out to meet with the Iron Giant and children later in the day for a photo op and video delivery.

"Warner Bros.' The Iron Giant demonstrates that Hollywood's capacity for great children's cinema is still immense," said U.S. Rep. Edward Markey, author of the Children's Television Act.

Several children's advocacy groups were in attendance to support Charren's efforts and to reinforce the positive messages the movie offers. Participants included The American Psychological Association, The Coalition for Quality Children's Media and KIDSNET.

"A movie like The Iron Giant comes around once in a lifetime," said Warren Lieberfarb, President, Warner Home Video. "We are proud to be a part of this important event and are committed to continue bringing quality children's movies to families everywhere."

"The Iron Giant is one of those really good family films that manages to teach important values as part of an exciting story that kids love," said U.S. Rep. Howard Berman. "We need a lot more films like it."
Following the event, each member of Congress received a special delivery of The Iron Giant on video and was urged to pass it along to a homeless shelter, a children's hospital, or other children's care facility in their district.

Warner Bros. released The Iron Giant in theaters across America this summer. The Iron Giant has been universally acclaimed not only for its superior animation but also for its positive role models and messages of individuality.

The film received an unprecedented 15 nominations for Annie Animation Awards and the coveted "All Star" rating from the Coalition for Quality Children's Media and already has been voted into the top ten children's video list by magazines such as Working Woman, Family Life and Child.

Dubbed "The Iron E.T. of the 90's" by the Wall Street Journal, The Iron Giant tells the heartwarming story of a young boy and a 50-foot robot as they discover the power of friendship and learn rewarding lessons in this hugely engaging, animated adventure film.

When a mysterious object hurls to earth near his small hometown, nine-year-old Hogarth Hughes investigates and finds himself befriended by a gigantic, gentle robot. With its timeless message, multi-generational appeal and rich, yet simple story line, this movie is a "classic right out of the box."

Warner Home Video will also announce plans to roll out a series of screenings in more than 40 markets nationwide. Each audience member will participate in an informal question and answer session following the screening in several of the markets hosted by one of the various advocacy groups nationwide that support quality family entertainment such as The Iron Giant.

The film features an all-star vocal cast including Jennifer Aniston ("Friends"), Harry Connick, Jr. ("Hope Floats"), and Vin Diesel ("Saving Private Ryan") as the Iron Giant. The video release will hit shelves on VHS and DVD on Nov. 23 ($22.95 for VHS and $24.98 for DVD).

Wednesday, November 3, 1999

Hasbro to Create Toy Line for Titan A.E.
FOX is planning a strong marketing campaign for its summer 2000 animated film, Titan A.E. . Already, FOX has signed a contract with Hasbro to create a line of toys to support the movie. The toys will include electronic games, vehicles, and action figures. FOX is now working on lining up other marketing deals with other companies to support the movie, which is one of five animated films scheduled to open in the summer of 2000.

New Animated Short to Play at Festivals
"The Indescribable Nth," a nine-minute animated short from Powell, Ohio-based Character Builders, who have worked on some of the most notable animated theatrical and television projects in recent years (Anastasia -- 20th Century Fox; Space Jam -- Warner Bros.; Bebe's Kids -- Paramount; and Steven Spielberg's "Invasion America" for the WB Network), has been accepted into a number of national and international film festivals.

The festivals include Shorts International Film Festival in New York; Foyle Film Festival in Derry, North Ireland; Ohio Independent Film Festival in Cleveland; WorldFest in Flagstaff, Ariz., where Character Builders anticipates it will win either the gold or silver award; and the St. Louis International Film Festival, where it is up for best short of the festival.

"The Indescribable Nth," a magical story about the mystery of the human heart, has also been entered into the 72nd Annual Academy Awards competition for animated shorts.

The short has also been entered into seven more film festivals and Character Builders expects "The Indescribable Nth" to be accepted by all of them.

The short was written and directed by Oscar Moore, produced by Leslie Hough, Jim Kammerud and Moore. Music is by Bennie Wallace.

Tuesday, November 2, 1999

Final Princess Mononoke Weekend Numbers
The final numbers were released yesterday for the opening weekend (limited release) of Princess Mononoke.  The movie played only on eight screens throughout the U.S., bringing in $144,446 to place 33rd at the Box Office. However, the per screen average for Princess Mononoke was a hefty $18,000 which was good enough for second place (out of the top 60) in per screen average. First place went to Being John Malkovich, which had a per screen average of $25,509.

Next week, Princess Mononoke will open in an additional 15 cities.

Pokemon Kills Communications in Burbank!
Phone lines at Warner Bros. headquarters in Burbank were flooded Monday morning following the 7:30 a.m. announcement on KTLA Morning News that tickets to the premiere Pokemon The First Movie would be given away.

The deluge of 70,000 calls per minute crashed the Warner Bros. voice mail system and also shut down communications at its Burbank-based neighbors Disney and NBC!

By 2 p.m., the studio continued to receive 40,000 calls per minute.

"This is absolutely without precedent," said Brad A. Ball, president, Domestic Marketing, Warner Bros. Pictures. "That one announcement on the local morning news could provoke such an enormous response is an incredibly exciting indicator of Pokemon's appeal."

Pokemon, the worldwide phenomenon which began as a Nintendo Game Boy game and virtually exploded across the globe in every form from the best-selling trading card game to the No. 1 rated television kids' show on the Kids' WB!, hits the big screen with an exciting adventure about the greatest Pokemon battle yet.

Pokemon The First Movie follows Ash and Pikachu and their pals to a remote island where they are lured into a massive Pokemon battle, which will take all their courage and skill. In the ultimate showdown on New Island, the rare and legendary Pokemon Mew must do battle with the bio-engineered Mewtwo, the world's most powerful Pokemon.

Kids' WB! Presents A 4Kids Entertainment Production: the American adaptation of "Pokemon The First Movie." The film is written by Norman J. Grossfeld, Michael Haigney and John Touhey with voice direction by Michael Haigney. Norman J. Grossfeld, president of 4Kids Productions, is the producer.

The animated film is directed by Kunihiko Yuyama and produced by Choji Yoshikawa, Tomoyuki Igarashi and Takemoto Mori. The original dialogue is written by Takeshi Shudo and based on characters created by Satoshi Tajiri. Pokemon The First Movie is distributed by Warner Bros. Family Entertainment.

Monday, November 1, 1999

Princess Mononoke Scores Big!
Princess Mononoke only opened in eight locations over the weekend, but it made big impressions. Averaging $17,500 per location to place #1 in per screen average at the Box Office. This is based on preliminary figures released today. Final figures will be available later today and published here tomorrow.  As far as overall results, Princess Mononoke brought in $140,000, which wasn't enough to get it even close to the Top 10. That doesn't matter though, because it only showed in eight locations (versus thousands). Next week Princess Mononoke will expand into over a dozen more locations. If it continues to perform as it did this weekend, then Miramax may give it a national release.

Tarzan and Goofy Prepare for Video Release
Disney's Tarzan , which made over $170 million at the Box Office, is premiering on video ($26.99 S.R.P.) and DVD ($39.99 S.R.P.) on Feb. 1, 2000.
Tarzan arrives with an all-new "Strangers Like Me" music video by superstar Phil Collins and a special digital transfer that showcases the film's breakthrough 3-D animation technology that is called Deep Canvas.

The "family-friendly" DVD arrives loaded with select extras, including a never-before-seen recording session by Phil Collins and guests, a Read-Along, a Trivia Game, various sneak peeks and many other features. Spanish and French versions of the video will also be available.

Tarzan will be supported by a massive marketing program across all media, including TV advertising during the Super Bowl pre-show, the Golden Globes and the American Music Awards as well as a raft of promotional and synergy tie-ins.

In addition to the standard DVD, a Tarzan Collector's Edition DVD, will premiere on March 21 ($49.99 S.R.P.), including all these materials along with audio commentary by the movie's creators and extensive bonus materials about the history and development of the film.

Disney's An Extremely Goofy Movie, which premieres exclusively on home video ($24.99 S.R.P.) and DVD ($29.99 S.R.P.) is being released on "Leap Day," Tuesday, Feb. 29.

Starring Goofy and his son Max the video finds them attending college together in an all-new adventure that features extreme sports action, high-energy music, and the star vocal power of comedian Pauly Shore.


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