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Editor:
Vicki Tracy

Sunday, April 30, 2000

Walking with Dinosaurs a Ratings Dream
It seems that the U.S. fascination with dinosaurs hasn't subsided. Discovery Channel's recent airing of the UKs "Walking with Dinosaurs" shattered cable ratings with an estimated 10.7 million viewers. This makes it the most watched non-sporting event on cable this year. The original "Walking with Dinosaurs" that aired in the UK is now available on DVD by clicking here. However, be warned that this is not the same version that aired on the Discovery Channel. The UK one was narrated by Kenneth Branagh. "Walking with Dinosaurs" also won the UK Viewer Awards for Excellence in Broadcasting as the "Best New Program." The documentary of dinosaurs is heavy in CGI, which only cost $5 million to create.

Space Jam DVD Coming July 25, 2000
Warner Bros. is releasing its Space Jam DVD on July 25, complete with a behind the scenes look at how the movie was made and commentary by Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck. 


Saturday, April 29, 2000

DreamWorks Animation Dreams Falling Short
The Los Angeles Times has published a feature article tracing the failure of DreamWorks animation based on its expectations. One part of the article states that The Road to El Dorado will wipe out any profits made by ANTZ and The Prince of Egypt. Here's how the article begins:

"The giddy high point in fledgling DreamWorks SKG's short history came a month ago when it scored a best picture Oscar for American Beauty.

Just five days after the applause died down, the studio slammed back to Earth when its animated feature film The Road to El Dorado opened. Anemic ticket sales assured their expensive animated movie would be a big money loser.

For most studios, a single animated dud would be a short, painful event soon forgotten. But at DreamWorks, this genre of entertainment is critical to its financial health. Many in Hollywood believe that the division will make or break the company. So far, after spending hundreds of millions of dollars in start-up, production and marketing costs, DreamWorks has little to show for its efforts.

Without the cavernous pockets of DreamWorks' billionaire backer Paul Allen, the studio's animation business might well be on the ropes.

Back in late 1994 when DreamWorks was little more than a handshake between partners Jeffrey Katzenberg, Steven Spielberg and David Geffen, animation was all the buzz. Katzenberg was fond of boasting he could repeat his spectacular success when he headed Walt Disney Studio and oversaw such hits as The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin.

At stake was the balance of power in Hollywood. If Katzenberg succeeded, DreamWorks would be the first serious challenger in animation to Walt Disney Co. since Disney himself released Hollywood's first animated feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937.

So confident was Katzenberg in his animation prowess that top secret forecasts given to potential investors in early 1995 projected an astonishing average pretax profit of $200 million per animated film, and a huge $355 million in pretax profit for the company in 2003 just from animated movies.
Katzenberg was unavailable for comment. He is traveling in Asia researching Tusker, a future animated movie about elephants.

'When Jeffrey was putting the business plan together for DreamWorks, I remember him saying, 'If we do 80% of Lion King business every time, we'd be fine,' That's what he envisioned. It was completely unrealistic,' says one industry analyst."

Click here for the full story.

Animation Artist Wins Ezine Award
The Animation Artist Newsletter has been named one of the Top 20 Ezines by Topica. Topica is an ezine distributor that distributes tens of thousands of ezines, including the Animation Artist Newsletter.

"Your list has been chosen as an example of one of the coolest, most informative, and most helpful lists hosted here at Topica," says Jenny Baker, of Topica's editorial department. "From among the thousands of lists in the Topica directory, our editors chose your list as being the cream of the Topica crop, and made it a Topica Pick. We further highlighted the list by placing it among the Topica 20."

If you are not yet subscribed to the Animation Artist Newsletter, click here.


Friday, April 28, 2000

Upcoming Showings of "X" Anime
Here is a list of upcoming playdates in the US for Manga's feature-length Anime, "X":

APRIL 28 California Theater - Berkeley, CA
MAY 5 Regal Galaxy 8 - Pleasanton, CA
MAY 12-18 Real Art Ways - Hartford, CT
MAY 12 Regal South Beach - Miami, FL
MAY 12 Gateway - Ft. Lauderdale, FL
MAY 19 Regal Downtown West 8 - Knoxville, TN
MAY 19 Regal Gainseville 14 - Gainseville, FL
MAY 19-25 Bloor Cinema - Toronto, ON
MAY 19-23 Michigan Theater - Ann Arbor, MI
MAY 19-23 Tinseltown 12 - Vancouver, BC
MAY 26 Crest Theater - Sacramento, CA
JUNE 2 Strand Theater - Kutztown, PA
JUNE 9 Mayfair Ottawa - Ottawa, QC
JUNE 17 Princess - Waterloo, ON
AUG 24-26 Red Vic Theater - San Francisco, CA

Aardman Completes Chicken Run
Aardman has completed Chicken Run , delivering to DreamWorks what is dubbed "the most expensive British animated film ever." Aardman is under contract with DreamWorks to deliver five feature-length animated movies, with Chicken Run being the first. Aardman is now starting production on their telling of "The Tortoise" story. Chicken Run took 18 months to produce and cost 30 million British pounds.
Click here for a news report on Chicken Run, courtesy of ITN Channel 4 in Bristol.


Thursday, April 27, 2000

Foundation Imaging Sets the Record Straight
Foundation Imaging General Manager, Steve Pugh, tells Animation Artist Magazine that while recent layoffs the company had to make were painful, the company is not in any danger of closing its doors.

"I have always taken pride in Foundation's willingness to consider our crew as family, and so it was painful indeed to carry out the layoffs required. However, layoffs of this nature are a sad but true part of this industry," said Pugh.

While Foundation Imaging did lose Heavy Gear (see yesterday's article), resulting in the round of layoffs, it is still working on Max Steel, Star Trek Voyager, and other projects. In addition, Foundation Imaging is still negotiating contracts for other TV series and 100% CGI animated feature films.

Top Animation Producers Join Stan Lee Media
Having brought their talents to such television toons as "Batman," "The X-Men" and "The Real Ghostbusters," as well as such comicbook classics as "Spider-Man," "Conan" and "Tarzan," three of animation's most coveted producer/artists have joined Stan Lee Media, Inc. Will Meugniot, Larry Houston and Thomas McLaughlin, who have overseen programming for such major studios as Fox, Warner Bros., Sony and Saban, will be leading efforts for SLM projects in development as well as the record-setting "7th Portal" web animation franchise, which overwhelmed Shockwave.com's servers when it launched on February 29. All three will operate from the company's in-house, 30,000 sq. ft. animation studio.

"Capturing the quinella of award-winning TV animation producers is a coup of unprecedented dimensions for the Internet as an entertainment medium," stated SLM co-founder Peter F. Paul. "With the appointments of Will, Larry and Tom to key company posts, this further demonstrates that Stan Lee Media is the leader in coverging traditional media leaders with the Internet."

Meugniot, as executive vice president of creative production for SLM, will serve in a capacity similar to editor-in-chief, supervising script development, the production of "webisodes" and other macro issues. A double Emmy nominee and winner of Genesis and International Monitor Awards, the 20-year veteran has produced such animated series as "The X-Men," "Exosquad," "Conan," "The Real Ghostbusters," "Secret Files of the SpyDogs," "Captain Planet" and "Spider-Man Unlimited." Among his design and storyboard credits are "G.I. Joe," "The Lone Ranger," "Flash Gordon," "Spider-Man" and "The Incredible Hulk." As a comic book artist, Meugniot is best known for his work as co-creator of the long-running "DNAgents" franchise. His other notable comic book assignments include "Howard The Duck," "Spider-Man," "Tigra," "Solomon Kane," "The Herculoids," "Conan," "Korak" and "Tarzan." Meugniot began working for SLM as a director of "The Backstreet Boys" web animation with Stan Lee in the jointly owned BackstreetProject.com.

"Stan, Larry and I launched `The X-Men' animated series together after I worked with Stan on several other projects," stated Meugniot. "The opportunity to work full-time with my childhood idol, as well as the chance to help develop a new medium, is an unbeatable combination."

Houston, as a creative producer/director, will run day-to-day operations on current projects, which include "The 7th Portal" along with four additional new franchises set to launch in the coming months. An award-winning leader in Saturday morning animation, Houston has served as director/producer/storyboard artist on dozens of animated series, including "The Fantastic Four," "Spider-Man," "The Incredible Hulk," "The X-Men," "Batman," Disney's "TailSpin," HBO's "Spawn," "Buzz Lightyear," "Robocop," "The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest," "Mr. T," "Salty's Lighthouse," "Fat Dog Mendoza" and "Captain Planet," for which he was nominated for an Emmy in 1991. He has also worked on traditional comicbooks, drawing such titles as "All-Star Squadron" and "Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew" for DC Comics, "DNAgents" for Eclipse and his own creation, "The Vanguards." Before his career in animation, which includes nine years at Marvel, Houston was a systems analyst and computer technician for several major computer companies, the last being McDonnell Douglas.

"Considering my distant past in computers and my more recent work in animation, going over to Stan Lee Media seemed like the perfect example of professional convergence!" offered Houston. "I've known Stan for twenty years and was also very excited to continue my animation work on the Internet, a medium that's growing as other traditional areas of animation are flattening out."

McLaughlin, as a creative producer/director/designer, will oversee new company projects still to be announced. His extensive background in animation, developed over 20 years, has leaned especially toward superheroes. As an animator, director and/or designer, he has brought his talents to such animated series as "The X-Men," "Spider-Man," "The Fantastic Four," "Batman," "Batman Beyond," "Superman," "Iron Man," "Jumanji," "Gargoyles," "Silver Surfer" and "Duckman," in addition to the live action/animated "Pee-Wee's Playhouse." He has worked with such studios as Warner Bros., Sony, Saban, Marvel Entertainment, Disney Television and New World Entertainment, and has also been responsible for dozens of award-winning commercials for clients including McDonalds, Pop Secret and MTV. He recently worked in a freelance capacity for SLM's "Backstreet Boys" project.

"While there are numerous obstacles to getting long-form animation on film and TV, short-form web programming offers limitless possibilities," stated McLaughlin. "I'm excited to be able to leverage my television experience in order to help define a new medium of entertainment on the Internet."


Wednesday, April 26, 2000

Foundation Imaging Struggles to Survive
Foundation Imaging, the visual effects company behind the original Babylon 5 special effects and the Starship Troopers animated series, is struggling to survive after loosing a series it thought was secure to Mainframe Entertainment.

Foundation Imaging was banking on Heavy Gear to continue staffing its team and was surprised to find out it wouldn't be doing the series earlier this month. This resulted in Foundation Imaging having to layoff its modeling team on April 14, 2000. There was no advanced notice to the modelers who were immediately out of work. The next round of layoffs is hitting the animation team.

Dozens of dedicated modelers and animators from Foundation Imaging are now looking for new work. In the meantime, Foundation Imaging is slimming down to a skeleton crew with the possibility of closing its doors. (note : read the April 27, 2000 update for Foundation Imaging's response).

Mortorola Creates Virtual Animated Character
According to the New York Times:

"To be the symbol of the new 24-hour talking Internet, Motorola nominates a virtual woman named Mya, a long-legged blonde, clad in a shimmering silver business suit and displaying spunky hair and a ubiquitous telephone headset.

Her animated figure is showcased in a new 60-second television spot created for Motorola Inc., the cellular telephone and semiconductor giant that is now trying to sell software and Internet services and jazz up its image.

Even though the service will not be available to consumers until summer, Motorola rushed the spot out for the Academy Awards, hoping the hippest of hip would associate Motorola with an Internet service that will allow people to call into a voice-activated "cyberassistant" who will read e-mail messages, stock quotes, sports scores and weather forecasts directly from the Internet."

Click here for the full story. (free registration may be required to view)

In the meantime, a company in the UK has created a 24 hour animated newscaster named Ananova. Stay tuned to Animation Artist for an upcoming feature on Ananova.


Tuesday, April 25, 2000

Box Office Results
Here are the Box Office results for last weekend's animated films:

The Road to El Dorado
$5.2 Million ($1,648 per screen average)
7th at the Box Office (down from #5 last weekend)
Total to Date: $42 Million

Fantasia 2000
$1.9 Million ($36,604 per screen average)
14th at the Box Office (up from #15 last weekend)
Total to Date: $45.7 Million

Toy Story 2
$365,361 ($708 per screen average)
21st at the Box Office (also #21 last weekend)
Total to Date: $243.9 Million

The Tigger Movie
$100,612 ($445 per screen average)
40th at the Box Office (down from #33 last weekend)
Total to Date: $44.4 Million

Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote Get Stamp
World-renowned animated icon Wile E. Coyote will finally catch up with the Road Runner, if only for a brief moment, when the first-ever commemorative postage stamp to be issued in cyberspace by the U.S. Postal Service debuts on April 26, 2000.

The event marks not only the first time a U.S. stamp has been dedicated online, but also the first time consumers can purchase stamps via the Internet on the first day of issue. Traditionally, first day of issuance ceremonies are held in a single city and the stamps made available exclusively in that location for one day.

The Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner stamp will be officially dedicated by Time Warner Chairman and CEO Gerald Levin, Warner Bros. Chairman and CEO Barry Meyer and James Tolbert, Postal Service executive director, Stamp Services, during a history-making live Webcast at 4 p.m. ET on April 26, 2000.

The Webcast will take place on America Online (keyword: BeepBeep), Warner Bros. Online (www.warnerbros.com) and on the Postal Service's Web site at www.stampsonline.com.

The Time Warner Media Center at the Children's Museum of Manhattan will serve as the host site for the online event, where local schoolchildren will participate in the ceremony by unveiling the stamp on the Internet.

"The Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner stamp is a colorful and exciting addition to our nation's commemorative stamp program," said Tolbert. "Their ongoing feud is based largely on speed and ingenuity, which is a fun-loving reminder of the Postal Service's continued success in improving the speed and efficiency of mail service to everyone, everywhere, every day."

"A long time ago, Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote taught us the two essential lessons of the broadband revolution: Speed is everything, and no matter how many obstacles you may face along the way, never stop trying," said Levin. "Today, we honor these two digital pioneers with a commemorative stamp."

The desert home of Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner will be the site of the stamp's "terra firma" first day of issue with a ceremony at 10 a.m. MST at the Pecos Station Post Office in Phoenix. The ceremony will be free and open to the public. 300 million self-adhesive Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner stamps have been printed. The stamp features the letter-delivering Road Runner perched atop a mailbox and the ever-scheming Wile E. Coyote, whose plot to make a meal out of this special mail carrier is foiled.
The Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner stamp is the fourth in a series of U.S. stamps honoring Warner Bros.' famed Looney Tunes characters. The Bugs Bunny stamp launched the series in 1997, followed by stamps honoring Sylvester and Tweety (1998) and Daffy Duck (1999).

"We're proud to have joined with the Postal Service -- first with Bugs Bunny, then with Sylvester & Tweety and Daffy Duck, and now with Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner -- to help young people across the country discover the joy of stamp collecting," said Dan Romanelli, president, Warner Bros. Worldwide Consumer Products.

Legendary animation director Chuck Jones created the ultimate cartoon rivals when they debuted in their first animated short, "Fast and Furry-ous." He based Wile E. Coyote's adept skill with various apparatuses and contraptions upon his own experiences as an unaccomplished handyman.

Jones then partnered Wile E. Coyote with the Road Runner, whose modus operandi is to deliver a well-timed "Beep! Beep!", unfurl his tongue and speed blithely by, eluding Wile E. Coyote and all of his failed Acme products. The unconventional chase has become a classic in cartoon history.


Monday, April 24, 2000

Claymation Fails to Attract Large Audience
Last night's claymation and animation ABC feature, "The Miracle Maker" failed to attract a large audience getting only a 6.3/12 average according to overnight ratings. In contrast, 60 Minutes, which aired on CBS opposite of "The Miracle Maker" brought in a 10.6/20 rating. The NBA playoffs on NBC also topped "The Miracle Maker" as did a rerun of "The Simpson's" on FOX. Even though the ratings for "The Miracle Maker" were poor, ABC still won the night thanks to "Who Wants to Be A Millionaire" which carried a 16.6/25 rating last night.

Heavy Metal 2000 Information
Robert Leighton, president of Starz Encore Entertainment, announced today that STARZ! Pictures will present the premiere of the sci-fi animated adventure feature film "Heavy Metal 2000". The follow-up to the 1981 cult classic Heavy Metal will premiere in Dolby Digital on STARZ!, Friday, July 14 at midnight ET/PT (with subsequent plays throughout the month).

"STARZ! Pictures is pleased to offer the many rabid fans of cult classic 'Heavy Metal' the never-before-seen premiere of Heavy Metal 2000'Heavy Metal 2000,' the eagerly awaited and already much talked about follow up -- chat rooms have been buzzing about it for months," said Leighton. "But Heavy Metal 2000 should not only enthrall its passionate dedicated fan base and science fiction enthusiasts, but also attract all viewers with an appetite for more unique and daring programming. The movie will further establish STARZ! Pictures as a destination for provocative, cutting edge films that can not be seen anywhere else."

"I always wanted to do an epic heroic adventure with a strong female lead," said Kevin Eastman, co-creator "Heavy Metal 2000." "One that is thriving in a backdrop that combines the desperation of 'Road Warrior,' the intensity of 'Aliens,' the visual feel of 'Blade Runner,' and the magnitude of Akira Kurosawa's 'Ran,' 'Heavy Metal 2000' captures all that and more. The film combines classic 2D-cel animation with advanced 3D-computer animation, and an extraordinary original soundtrack featuring some of the biggest names in hard rock. It's intense, full of action and very fast paced."

The $15 million film, based upon Eastman's story "The Melting Pot," tells the tale of sci-fi heroine Julie (Julie Strain -- "Beverly Hills Cop III"), a steel-eyed huntress and expert warrior, tracking a group of ruthless space pirates, led by the evil villain Lord Tyler (Michael Ironside -- "Starship Troopers"). Tyler's pirates ravaged Julie's planet, a colonial outpost on a remote mining planet, and forced her younger sister, Kerrie, into slavery. Julie assumes the name of the world she cherished, F.A.K.K.2 (Federation Assigned Ketogenic Killzone -- the federation designate for an extreme bio-hazard where life enters and only death remains), when that name alone failed to protect her tranquil home. She chases the power-mad Tyler across the galaxy to an uncharted planet called The Melting Pot. It is on this hellish world where Julie finally battles and defeats Tyler before he can attain immortality and ultimate power through the planets rejuvenating secret "waters."

The cast also includes the voices of eighties rock icon Billy Idol ("The Wedding Singer") as Odin, Pierre Kohl as St. Germain, Sonja Ball as Julie's sister Kerrie, Rick Jones ("Anastasia") as Odin's all-rock sidekick Zeek. Other cast members include Brady Moffatt, Arthur Holden ("The Bone Collector"), Alan Fawcett ("Satan's School for Girls"), Jane Woods ("The Salt Water People") and Elizabeth Robertson.


Easter Sunday, April 23, 2000

Weekend Estimates Place El Dorado Seventh
Holiday weekend estimates at the Box Office place The Road to El Dorado seventh for the weekend with a $5.1 million take. This is was the fourth straight weekend that The Road to El Dorado had the entire family film audience to itself. Next Friday, Flintstones: Viva Las Vegas opens.


Saturday, April 22, 2000Phil Roman,  Joyce Wade-May, and Patrick May

New Animated TV Series in Production
Animation executive-creator-producer Phil Roman and his new 14-month-old, Studio City, Calif.-based Phil Roman Entertainment company, in partnership with Quarter Star Productions (QSP) of Charlotte, N.C., will produce "Soap on the Range," a new prime-time animated half-hour comedy TV series about rival family ranches in Colorado and charismatic talking bulls that are expected to be rich in merchandising potential.

"Soap on the Range" is best described as a contemporary spoof on such prime-time soap operas as "Dallas" and "Dynasty" with a mix of "Bonanza."

"Soap on the Range" will be fully produced into a 26-episode family entertainment package. Domestic and international sales will be offered for delivery in time for the 2001 television season. Serving alongside Roman as executive producers will be the husband-and-wife team of Joyce Wade-May and Patrick W. May, principals of QSP, who created and developed "Soap on the Range" over the past eight years.

"Soap on the Range," to be privately financed with a multimillion- dollar budget, represents the most ambitious series project of Roman's new company, formed by him soon after his departure in 1999 as founder and chairman of Film Roman Inc., the public company he originally organized in 1984 and in which he remains the principal stockholder.

Roman, winner of six Emmy Awards, previously served as executive producer of "The Simpsons," "King of the Hill," "Garfield & Friends," "Bobby's World" and many other celebrated animation specials and series. He was also producer-director of the theatrical feature "Tom and Jerry -- The Movie."

Joyce Wade-May and Patrick May are creative entrepreneurs and business partners who have successfully marketed a number of diversified products before devoting their energies since 1992 in a single-minded manner to the fulfillment of their "Soap on the Range" dream.

Said Roman: "Our company is delighted to have been chosen by Joyce and Pat May and their QSP company to make their delightful animated series idea into a major product reality. We are now forming a top animation team of professionals to make `Soap on the Range' a popular and successful international entertainment franchise."

Phil Roman Entertainment is additionally working on "The Gaudins: A Christmas Special," "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" and the animation segments of "Cyber Quest," a live-action/animation theatrical feature.

"Soap on the Range" was negotiated for the Roman company by the firm's vice president, Rick Ramirez

Southern Baptists Suspend ABC Boycott for One Show
According to a story in the San Francisco Chronicle:

"ABC's Easter Sunday broadcast of ``The Miracle Maker'' tomorrow has found unexpected allies in some Southern Baptist pastors who are calling on followers to suspend a boycott of network owner Walt Disney Co. -- at least for one night so they can watch the film.

``The Miracle Maker,'' airing Sunday from 7 to 9 p.m., uses 3-D, or clay, animation and two-dimensional animated drawings, to tell the story of Jesus through the eyes of a young girl. Airing in the ``Wonderful World of Disney'' time slot, the film, which was released theatrically in some European countries, is designed to appeal to family audiences.

But the broadcast, which ABC has marketed heavily among Christian religious groups of all denominations, has posed a problem for some Southern Baptists and others who have been engaged in a several- year boycott of Disney, stemming from such factors as the company's provision of employee benefits to same-sex couples, annual gay and lesbian events at its theme parks, and movies from Disney's Miramax subsidiary with content that the groups found objectionable..."

Click here for the full story.


Good Friday, April 21, 2000

AnimeOnline Festival 2000 Call for Entries
An online company, Tokyo Pop announced this week its first annual AnimeOnline Festival 2000. Animation artists working in anime style are invited to submit their original anime Internet works in the Flash, Shockwave, or Quicktime formats, competing in five Asian pop culture catagories. Cash prizes will be awarded including a $10,000 Grand Prize for best overall work. Submitions will be judged by a distinguished panel of experts from the fields of entertainment, the Internet, technology, and culture, as well as by popular audience vote. Finalist entries will be posted on Tokyo Pop for viewing, voting, and judging.

Asian pop culture influences are highly evident in TV, fashion, music, sports, electronics, video games, and the Internet. Through AnimeOnline Festival 2000, Tokyo Pop is celebrating the Asian pop culture phenomenon by combining the finest in traditional anime style with the latest tools for entertainment delivery on the Internet.

ENTRIES ACCEPTED ONLINE ONLY
Entry Period: May 15 - JULY 31, 2000
Entry Deadline: JULY 31, 2000
Finalists in all five categories will be
posted July 1 - July 23 2000

For more information, click here.

Marc Davis Subject of Lecture
According to the LA Times:

"The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will present its sixth annual Marc Davis Lecture on Animation--named for the legendary Disney animator who was one of the studio's 'Nine Old Men'--April 28 at 8 p.m. in the academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater.

This year's lecture will be devoted to the work of its namesake, who died in January. Davis began working for Disney Studios in 1935 and created Disney characters including Bambi, Cinderella, Alice, Tinkerbell and Cruella De Vil. He also did extensive work on a number of attractions at the Disneyland parks."

Click here for more information including which of the remaining Nine Old Men will be in attendance on a panel.

Claymation on ABC
This Sunday at 7:00 PM, ABC will air a claymation feature about the life of Jesus titled "The Miracle Maker." Besides claymation, there is also 2D animation that takes place in the special. The special was put together by 250 artists, animators, and claymation specialists working for Christmas Films.


Thursday, April 20, 2000

New Series Coming to Disney One
More School goes to the dogs - and vice-versa - when "Teacher's Pet" joins the award-winning "Disney's One Saturday Morning" lineup on ABC this fall, it was Teacher's Petannounced this week by Jonathan Barzilay, senior vice president and general manager, ABC Children's Programming, and Barry Blumberg, executive vice president, Walt Disney Television Animation.

"Teacher's Pet" is the story of a boy and his dog, "Spot" - a talking canine that yearns for the education afforded his master. As voiced by Tony Award-winning actor Nathan Lane, Spot disguises himself as a boy in order to go to school and, as the title suggests, become the teacher's pet.

The animated series' initial order of 13 episodes includes both full-length, 22-minute episodes and pairs of 11-minute cartoons. While packed with Saturday morning humor, "Teacher's Pet" is designated as children's educational and informational programming.

"Teacher's Pet" is produced at Walt Disney Television Animation by the team of renowned cartoonist Gary Baseman and Emmy Award-winning primetime sitcom writers Bill & Cheri Steinkellner. Michael Price ("The PJs") is co-executive producer. Timothy Bjorklund ("Rocko's Modern Life," "Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat") is director.

Serving as executive producers, the husband-wife writing team of the Steinkellners received Emmy, Golden Globe and Writers Guild awards for their work as writers/executive producers on "Cheers." The writing tandem has also provided the words for, to name a few, "Bob," "The Jeffersons," "Facts of Life" and "Hope & Gloria."

"Teacher's Pet offers one of the funniest, most memorable animated characters in years - a dog who leads a double life as a fourth grader," said Jonathan Barzilay, senior vice president and general manager, ABC Children's Programming. "We are really excited to welcome this show, and
its talented production team, to Disney's One Saturday Morning."

Titan A.E.'s Gary Goldman Believes in Aliens
According to Space.com:

"Does Gary Goldman think there's other life out there?

'I'm a believer,' he said while talking about Titan A.E., the newest animated film from him and longtime collaborator Don Bluth. Goldman added that NASA's chunk of the national budget is one part of his taxes he 'doesn't mind sharing.'

'Watching the world population grow is scary,' he said. 'It's good to know that there are people researching the rest of the universe. It's extremely important, because we're not the only world out here. We'd be like specks in the middle of a dandelion.'

But as much as he treasures that speck, Goldman and Bluth don't waste any time with our planet in the film. An alien vessel annihilates Earth in the opening minutes -- a sequence Goldman said 'rocks.'"

Click here for the entire article.


Wednesday, April 19, 2000

Cartoonists Continue to Picket
More than 200 professional Hollywood cartoonists, all members of the Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists, Local 839 IATSE, carried angry cartoon picket signs as they protested for two hours yesterday (11:30 A.M. to 1:30 P.M.) against the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) in front of KCET studios at 4401 Sunset Blvd.

Their dispute is about the significant amount of animation and cartoon work being lost by union members from runaway work contracted to foreign countries by PBS, a broadcast entity the union claims should be loyal to American workers since it is funded and supported by United States tax dollars. The Union states the exported working funds are putting American screen cartoonists out of business.

The Union points out that PBS has partnered with Montreal-based CINAR Corp. to produce "Arthur," "Wimzie's House," "Are You Afraid of the Dark?" and "The Adventures of Paddington Bear." CINAR's co-founders recently resigned, and their chief financial officer was fired, after the company's board discovered that $122 million in funds were improperly invested.

Pokemon Movie Strong Overseas
Warner Bros. Pictures' Pokemon The First Movie triumphed in 11 markets over the weekend, ranking No. 1 in five of those markets--Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain, Israel and Finland. Pokemon The First Movie shattered all other family film opening weekend receipts in Germany, Israel and Finland. The film also enjoyed excellent weekend openings in Austria, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, Denmark and Portugal. Total weekend receipts were $14,573,355. The announcement was made today by Edward E. Frumkes, President of International Distribution for Warner Bros. Pictures. In the hold-over markets, the film moved up to No. 1 in its second weekend in Belgium with a fantastic 59% increase from first weekend. It dropped 28% in France, which Warner Bros. claims is a low percentage. However, many industry analysts consider a 28% a normal to slightly high drop for a film in its second weekend.

Box Office Results
Here are the Box Office results for last weekend's animated films:

The Road to El Dorado
$6.1 Million ($1,910 per screen average)
5th at the Box Office (down from #3 last weekend)
Total to Date: $33 Million

Fantasia 2000
$1.5 Million ($28,194 per screen average)
15th at the Box Office (down from #13 last weekend)
Total to Date: $42.4 Million

Toy Story 2
$331,858 ($742 per screen average)
21st at the Box Office (up from 23rd last weekend)
Total to Date: $243.3 Million

The Tigger Movie
$101,561 ($421 per screen average)
33 at the Box Office (down from #28 last weekend)
Total to Date: $44.2 Million

Tarzan Collector's Edition DVD Released
The Disney Tarzan Collector's Edition DVD was released yesterday. The collector's edition DVD features: Commentary by the producers and co-directors, trailers, history of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan, early presentation reels, a look at the music of Tarzan (including interviews), introductions by the filmmakers, story treatment, a look at the deep canvas process, abandoned sequences, storyboard to final film split-screen comparison, Glen Keane talking about the animation of Tarzan, character designes, concept art, production progression demonstration, posters, "Strangers Like Me" music video, and more. Total Price: $23.99.
Click here to order it.


Tuesday, April 18, 2000

DreamQuest Moves to Burbank
The Los Angeles Times is reporting the following:

"After completing its last project, Mission to Mars, the special-effects company Dream Quest Images has departed Simi Valley for Burbank.

The Walt Disney Co., which owns Dream Quest Images, wants most of its creative teams--visual-effects artists and producers--in Burbank to work under a new digital special-effects unit. Most of the Dream Quest workers left a month ago.

The number of employees at the operation, which moved to Simi Valley in 1989, has ebbed and flowed over the years as projects such as Armageddon and Mighty Joe Young made their way to the big screen. Both films received Academy Award nominations for visual effects for the work done in Simi Valley."

Click here to read the entire article.

Fantasia 2000 Fills Coffers of IMAX Theaters
The Kansas City Star is reporting the following:

"Fantasia 2000 has been good for the Kansas City Zoo's Sprint IMAX Theatre -- very good.

'It's worked out exactly as we thought it would,' zoo spokeswoman Kathy Jarboe said of the Disney animated film, which has been playing exclusively on the big, big IMAX screen since Jan. 1 and which will leave town April 30. 'During January and February we did gangbuster numbers, double what we'd normally do. Business in March and April has been about what we've had in other years; those are difficult months to get people to the zoo.'

Jarboe estimated total attendance for the four-month run at 100,000. Normal January-through-April attendance is between 50,000 and 60,000."

Click here to read the entire article.

The Matrix to Get Two Sequels
Two sequels are being written to The Matrix, winner of the "Best Achievement in Visual Effects" Academy Award this year. Both Keanu Reaves (Neo) and Carrie-Anne Moss (Trinity) have signed contracts to appear in both sequels. Larry and Andy Wachowski are returning as the writers.


Monday, April 17, 2000

Kansas City Maya Demonstration
The Kansas City Star is reporting that, "The Kansas City Computer Animators group will hold a demonstration of the Maya 3 animation software at noon Tuesday at Dick Clark's American Bandstand restaurant at 10975 Metcalf in Overland Park. The event is free and open to the public.

Area animators are among the first in the United States to see the new Maya 3 software, which made its debut last week at the National Association of Broadcasters convention."

Click here to read the entire article.

DreamWorks to Mentor Kids in Animation
Aspiring young animators could soon have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be mentored by professional animators from DreamWorks Animation, as part of the winning prizes for the first annual Amazing Kids! Animation Contest.

The contest is part of a unique partnership between Amazing Kids!(TM), a non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring excellence in children, and DreamWorks Animation. DreamWorks Animation is a division of DreamWorks SKG, which was formed in 1994 by its three principal partners - Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen - to produce live action motion pictures, animated feature films, network, syndicated and cable television programming, home video entertainment, records, books, toys, and consumer products.

Sponsored by DreamWorks Animation and hosted by Amazing Kids! on their popular website for kids, the Amazing Kids! Webspace (www.amazing-kids.org), the contest is open to kids and teens ages 6-17, and is scheduled to run through October 1, 2000.

As part of a special arrangement between the two Los Angeles based organizations, DreamWorks will provide original content for the Amazing Kids! website, including animation lessons for kids taught by DreamWorks animators. Winners will be chosen by a panel of DreamWorks animators. In conjunction with the Amazing Kids! "Amazing Mentors!" program, DreamWorks animators will also act as mentors to the winners of the contest.

Amazing Kids! founder and president, Alyse Rome, commented: "We are delighted to have the opportunity to work with this incredibly dedicated group of professionals from DreamWorks. Their generous offer to act both as sponsors of the contest and as mentors to the winners shows their unwavering commitment to not only providing the highest quality entertainment for kids, but to giving back to those very kids who comprise such a large portion of their audience. We can't thank them enough for their participation and support."

Monkey's Tale Wins Sun Animation Award
The Toronto Sun is reporting the following:

"Eight years in the making and combining the talents of artists from Britain, France and Germany, A Monkey's Tale won the first Toronto Sun Animation Award yesterday.

Jean-Francois Laguionie's feature-length film, the story of a mischievous young monkey whose adventures lead to a truce between two rival primate clans, was one of four to win awards last night as the third annual Sprockets International Film Festival for Children wrapped up in a ceremony at YTV.

The Animation Award, Sprockets' newest prize, is one of the two awards given out after an audience vote."

Click here to read the entire article.


Sunday, April 16, 2000

Estimates Put "El Dorado" at Fifth
The weekend movie estimates are in and "The Road to El Dorado" is estimated to have brought in $6.2 million to finish in fifth. Last weekend it brought in $9.1 million to finish third.

A Look at DreamWorks Head of Animation
The Kansas City Star has published an article about DreamWorks head of animation, Ann Daly. The article starts:

"For young Ann Daly, summers spent with relatives in Kansas City's Brookside neighborhood meant frequent trips to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and nights at Starlight Theatre.

'I had no idea how valuable those experiences would be,' Daly said in a recent telephone conversation from Los Angeles' DreamWorks Studio, where she is head of animation.

The Kansas City-born Daly now realizes how seemingly arbitrary choices over several years have led to her current job, where she shepherds the development of a half-dozen big-budget animated films while marketing her studio's current offering, the colorful "The Road to El Dorado," a tale of two Spanish con men in search of riches in the New World."

Click here to read the rest of the article.


Saturday, April 15, 2000

"Max Steel" a Hit for the WB
In its 5th broadcast on Kids' WB!, Sony Pictures Family Entertainment's (SPFE) newest CGI animated series "Max Steel," beat all other kid competition including broadcast and cable, ranking #1 in its 9:30 a.m. time period on Saturday, April 1 among Households, Boys 2-11, Boys 6-11, Teens and Male Teens, it was announced today by Sander Schwartz, President and Bob Higgins, Senior Vice President Creative Affairs.

Averaging the five weeks since its premiere, "Max Steel" has also ranked #1 in its time period against all Saturday morning kid competition among Boys 2-11 with an average of 6.8 rating / 22 share; Boys 6-11 with an average of 7.8 rating / 26 share; Teens with an average of 2.6 rating / 18 share; and Male Teens with an average of 4.0 rating / 26 share. Since its debut on Kids' WB!'s Saturday morning line-up,

"Max Steel" has been the 2nd highest rated series on any network among Boys 2-11, behind Pokemon in all its time periods. The program's continued ratings success comes on the heels of Kids' WB!'s second season renewal. The network has ordered 13 additional half hours to begin airing in fall 2000.

MetaCreations Sells Poser
MetaCreations announced yesterday that egi.sys AG has purchased Poser®, the award-winning 3D-character animation and design tool for digital artists and animators.

Under egi.sys AG, Curious Labs, Inc. will develop, publish, market and distribute future versions of the Poser product. CEO Larry Weinberg, the creator of Poser, together with Steve Cooper, president, and Seath Ahrens, vice president of research and development, are co-founders of Curious Labs. Steve Cooper was the Poser product manager at MetaCreations and Seath Ahrens co-lead engineer. Curious Labs expects to hire additional marketing, sales, service and support professionals from MetaCreations, together with developers and engineers who have been associated with Poser to ensure the smooth transition and continued development of Poser.

"We are very excited to be working with egi.sys to establish Curious Labs as the new home of Poser," said Larry Weinberg, CEO at Curious Labs. "It is already clear that egi.sys shares in our vision of bringing affordable and compelling creative tools to people everywhere. With egi.sys' research, technology and distribution capabilities in Europe, and with almost all of the development and marketing team of Poser intact in the United States, we will be well positioned to continue to innovate and grow this proven product line that has already proven itself successful under MetaCreations."

MetaCreations will continue to handle customer service for Poser until April 30, 2000, after which time egi.sys AG will provide full customer support.

Universal Studios Selects RenderBOXX for 3D Film
BOXX Technologies, a leading developer of solutions for advanced digital production, announced last week that Century III at Universal Studios Florida has selected RenderBOXX as the high-end rendering system for its upcoming 3D film production created exclusively for Madame Tussauds', New York. The show, which will be projected in a 360-degree domed theatre setting, is scheduled to open later this fall at Madame Tussauds' in New York City's Times Square.

The Madame Tussauds' project, which is being produced at the Century III teleproduction facility at Universal Studios Florida, combines live-action
photography, classic film footage and image generation and simulation to create a full-color 3D show that virtually transports audiences through many of New York's most memorable moments. Audiences will be able to see and hear the show in 360-degrees on a 40-foot domed screen and six-channel stereo surround system.

"Because of the unique nature of the 360-degree projection system, we are required to render 150 frames for each projected second of film," said Vince Pedulla, Century III at Universal Studios Florida. "This requires many more hours of rendering than would normally be needed, and adding the large size of the dome negative to the equation gives us a real rendering challenge.


Friday, April 14, 2000

Ready for The Lion King 3?
Wednesday's Daily Variety reports that Jeff Ahlholm and Colin Goldman have been hired to write "The Lion King 3." This is the first professional writing assignment by the pair. Daily Variety states, "the Mouse House plans to ship the animated direct-to-video pic sometime next year. Studio feature animation execs are Sharon Morrill and Brian Snedeker."

REALVIZ S.A. and Softimage Announce Strategic Distribution Partnership
REALVIZ, a leading developer of image processing software announced today a distribution agreement with Softimage Co., a subsidiary of Avid Technology, Inc. Softimage will distribute worldwide the REALVIZ Image Processing Factory bundle, which contains MatchMover, ImageModeler and Stitcher. The bundle, exclusively tailored to Softimage users, will offer new tools for 3D modeling, animation and special effects not previously available.

The Image Processing Factory for Softimage applications includes: MatchMover, a 3-D camera tracker for seamless integration of computer generated 3-D objects into video or film along a camera path; ImageModeler for creating photo-real 3D models, textures and lighting from still photographs; and Stitcher for creating fast, high resolution panoramas for environment maps and backgrounds. The Image Processing Factory also allows SOFTIMAGE|3D animators to easily bridge the gap between 2D and 3D production workflow.

All REALVIZ Image Processing Factory applications are currently available for the Windows NT platform. ImageModeler is available for an MSRP of US $5,000, MatchMover is available for US $6,000, Stitcher is available for US $2,000, and ReTimer is available for US $2,000.

Fantasia 2000 Hits Theaters on June 16, 2000
Disney is releasing Fantasia 2000 to widescreen theaters on June 16, 2000. The exclusive engagement of Fantasia 2000 on IMAX screens ends on May 1, 2000. Fantasia 2000 has made an astounding $40 million in IMAX theaters since January 1, 2000.


Thursday, April 13, 2000

Animation Artist Front Page Undergoing Transition
Animation Artist Magazine's Front Page is being redesigned (phase one appeared today) to make access to main (and regularly updated) sections much easier. During this transition, your feedback is vital to make sure that the design better meets your needs. Please take the time to send your comments and suggestions to Editor.

Maya 3 Information Released
Alias|Wavefront, an SGI company, announced additional details about its upcoming release of the Maya version 3 software. New features will include a universal rendering policy that enables Maya Complete and Maya Unlimited customers to "float" the Maya Batch Renderer across any number of machines on Windows NT, IRIX and Linux platforms.

Maya 3, the fifth major release of Maya in less than three years, incorporates numerous user interface and workflow improvements. This release continues Maya's focus on feature synergy, which allows for the cross use of tools throughout the entire production process. Major enhancements in Maya 3 include: Trax, the non-linear motion compositor for video, film and games users; fully integrated Subdivision Surfaces, Maya Artisan texture paint; rendering enhancements; plus, across the board improvements in user interface and workflow.

"Maya 3 contains across-the-board enhancements that will delight our current customers and further distance ourselves from competitive offerings," said Chris Ford, product manager for Alias|Wavefront. "The advent of universal rendering is a celebration of the breadth of these new enhancements, which now positions Maya 3 as the best in class tool for next generation game development and the most powerful solution for digital content creation."

Maya Complete 3 and Maya Unlimited 3 with universal rendering will ship this summer for Windows NT and Silicon Graphics(R) IRIX, with the Linux renderer to follow.

Maya Complete 3 has a SRP of $7,500 US, Maya Unlimited 3 has a SRP of $16,000 US and Maya Builder 3 has a SRP of $2,995 US (Maya Builder does not include Universal Rendering). Prices will vary outside of the U.S.

Mainframe Names New VPs
Mainframe Entertainment, a computer animation studio producing long-form CGI for television and feature films, announced the appointment of two new VPs this week. Dan DiDio has been appointed to the position of Senior VP of Creative Affairs and Asaph Fipke has been appointed to the position of VP Creative Development. Both are based at the company's Los Angeles business development offices.

Mainframe Brings Back ReBoot
Mainframe Entertainment announced this week that it will bring back its most popular computer animated TV story, ReBoot, in two two-hour made-for-TV movies next year. The two movies are being produced in partnership with youth-oriented Canadian cable broadcaster YTV Canada, Inc. for broadcast in the Spring and Fall of 2001.

ReBoot was the first ever half-hour computer animated TV series produced in the world. Originally seen on North American television in September of 1994 on YTV in Canada and on ABC Television in the U.S., the series ran three seasons (39 episodes) and was eventually seen in over 70 countries around the world. The show remains one of YTV's top-rated programs and garnered impressive U.S. audiences in a daily strip on the Cartoon Network over the past year.

"ReBoot fans around the world have never given up hope that we would continue the story," says Mainframe President and CEO, and ReBoot co-creator, Ian Pearson. "Even though season three wasn't seen in the US until the last year, the fans have never deserted the show. ReBoot has always attracted a wide audience of both kids and adults because of its multi-level stories and ensemble cast. With these new TV movies we get a to say a great big `thank-you' to our fans, and mark my words, they will not be disappointed. Fans may, in fact, be shocked, as we answer some of those questions that have been on their minds for years."

The first TV movie is entitled "Daemon Rising," which picks up the storyline where season three of the TV series left off. The second movie is yet to be titled.


Wednesday, April 12, 2000

Dinosaur Worldwide Release Update
Disney's Dinosaur will be opening as follows (note: except for the U.S. and UK, this list is tentative):

United States: May 19, 2000
Australia: June 15, 2000
United Kingdom: October 20, 2000
Netherlands: November 16, 2000
Denmark: November 17, 2000
France: November 29, 2000

Anime Club Drawing Fans at WSU
University wire is reporting the following:

"The members of Washington State University's Anime Club started to filter in at 7 p.m. One of them hung a poster on the wall that stated: 'Japanese Anime and Manga. These ain't looney tunes, fan boy!' Anime, or Japanese animation, and Manga, the comic books it is based on, has been gaining fans in the United States.

But anime is not understood that well, said Ray Jussaume, an associate professor in rural sociology and the adviser for the anime club.

When the former adviser for the club went to Japan, the club had to find a new adviser. In their search, a lot of the faculty they approached were surprised, Jussaume said.

'What? You want to show cartoons?' was their reaction, he said.

Anime clubs have appeared in universities such as Harvard, Cal and MIT. It is a serious popular art form, Jussaume said.

The club showed two selections Wednesday night as an introduction to anime. Black Jack, the story of a renegade doctor, and Nausicaa of the Valley of the Winds."

Click here to read the rest of the article.


Tuesday, April 11, 2000

A Thank You From Animation Artist Magazine
We have received dozens of congratulatory emails from readers regarding Digital Media Online acquiring our online magazine. Thank you to everyone who took the time to write as it reaffirms the great community of users who visit this site. We look forward to continuing our service to you. -- Joe & Vicki Tracy 

Box Office Results
Here are the Box Office results for last weekend's animated films:

The Road to El Dorado
$9.1 Million ($2,819 per screen average)
3rd at the Box Office (down from #2 last weekend)
Total to Date: $25.1 Million

Fantasia 2000
$1.3 Million ($23,990 per screen average)
13th at the Box Office (up from #14 last weekend)
Total to Date: $40.2 Million

Toy Story 2
$226,398 ($728 per screen average)
23rd at the Box Office (same as last weekend)
Total to Date: $242.9 Million

The Tigger Movie
$170,513 ($557 per screen average)
28th at the Box Office (down from #19 last weekend)
Total to Date: $43.8 Million

SAG and Saban in Dispute
According to The Hollywood Reporter, "The Screen Actors Guild has filed a formal 'claim and request for conciliation' in a contract dispute with Saban Entertainment over the dubbing of Digimon: The Movie. Saban's Bugboy Prods. hired SAG actors under the guild's dubbing agreement to dub the Japanese animated film into English. Under SAG's dubbing contract, no residuals are paid to American performers who simply dub foreign language films into English. SAG, however, claims that Saban has done much more than simply dub Digimon: The Movie into English."

The SAG claims that there were significant alterations and additions made to the dialogue, versus a straight dub. (thanks to E. Lurio for passing along this news tip).

Newsletter Tonight
There will be a new addition of the Animation Artist Newsletter tonight. To subscribe to the free email newsletter, click here.


Monday, April 10, 2000

Animation Artist Magazine Acquired
Animation Artist Magazine has been acquired by Digital Media Online (www.digitalmedianet.com). Click here to read the full press release. Animation Artist Newsletter subscribers were given advanced notice of the acquisition last night in a personal letter from Joe & Vicki Tracy. To read that letter, click here.

Famous Technologies Introduces New Facial Tracking Software for WindowsNT
FAMOUST Technologies, a leading developer of award-winning facial animation software, introduced today at NAB 2000 vTrackerT 1.5. facial tracking software for Microsoft® Windows NT®. vTracker captures motion data from video for use with FAMOUSfaces Animator and Maya, 3D Studio MAX, Softimage, or LightWave 3D, for use in creating animated characters for film, television, games, location-based entertainment, live-action performances, and the Internet.

vTracker measures the 2D movement of a performer's face using small, colored markers that are applied directly to the face; and motion data can captured and saved for use with FAMOUSfaces Animator and popular 3D animation programs. vTracker can track from a live video source, or the marked actor can be recorded to tape, digitized, and tracked offline. It simultaneously records audio and video thumbnails of an actor's performance to aid in lip-syncing and enhanced keyframing, making vTracker an extremely flexible tool for animation and video production studios.

"There are many powerful features in vTracker, including lip syncing and eye tracking," said Zac Jacobs, VP of Marketing at FAMOUS Technologies. "Eye tracking is a special ability to track pupil movement using image filters applied to the eye region of the performer. With this and the other features we offer our customers, FAMOUSfaces with vTracker can literally turn a camcorder into a complete facial motion capture system without the need for an expensive facial mocap system."

vTracker analyses a video stream from an AVI file or live video input by tracking blue and green markers placed on an actor's face. The marker movement is converted into channel data and sent over a network to drive channels within FAMOUSfaces Animator, or, alternately, recorded directly by vTracker.

A number of advanced features enhance the capabilities of vTracker, including a stabilization algorithm that allows the use of a hand-held video camera as a capture source. Also, taking advantage of FAMOUSfaces Animator's multiple tracker capability, vTracker can be used in conjunction with any number of additional trackers, like puppetry devices, for increased performance realism. vTracker can also be used for live performance animation and location based entertainment.

Pricing and Availability
FAMOUSfaces vTracker for Microsoft® Windows NT® is currently shipping and priced at $4,990 (US), or offered as a bundle with FAMOUSfaces Animator for $7,990 (US). For more information, please call FAMOUS Technologies at 415-835-9445, fax 415-954-7199 or visit the company web site at
www.famoustech.com.


Sunday, April 9, 2000

Los Angeles Times Syndicate: "Pinocchio is Beyond Criticism"
The Los Angeles Times Syndicate is running a review stating that the anniversary edition of Pinocchio is beyond criticism. The article begins:

"Without a doubt - or perhaps arguably is a better word - Walt Disney's tale of a fibbing wooden puppet who wanted to be a real, live little boy is his most stunning animated feature - Snow White, the original Fantasia or Dumbo notwithstanding.

It is also difficult to believe that this year celebrates the 60th anniversary of its theatrical release. Perhaps that is because Pinocchio (Walt Disney Home Video, 1940, animation, Technicolor, 88 minutes, closed captioned, rated G, $22.99; DVD for $29.99) is a true masterpiece that delivers pure pathos, a little terror and total delight no matter how many times you see it.

Pinocchio is a genuine classic nearly so perfect that it is beyond criticism. And then, there is always a new generation waiting to see it."

Click here to read the rest of the article.

The Road to El Dorado Jumps to Third on Saturday
The Road to El Dorado placed third on Saturday, bringing in $4 million. On Friday, The Road to El Dorado declined a drastic 48% from the previous Friday. Saturday's numbers were much better for the DreamWorks animated film that is all alone in the family offerings at theaters.


Saturday, April 8, 2000

The Road to El Dorado 5th on Friday
The Road to El Dorado came in 5th place at the Box Office on Friday, bringing in $1.9 million. With no other family films in theaters, the animated movie is expected to have a low drop-off rate from last weekend.

Lara Croft Gets Live Action Counter Part
Lara Croft, the animated star of Tomb Raider video games, now has a live action counter part. Oscar winning actress Angelina Jolie has been cast to play Lara Croft in the upcoming Tomb Raider movie. Filming begins this summer in the U.K.

Important Announcement Coming Tomorrow
On Sunday, subscribers to the Animation Artist Newsletter will receive a letter from the editor and publisher of Animation Artist Magazine regarding advanced notice of an important announcement being made by Animation Artist Magazine on Monday. To sign up for the newsletter,
click here.


Friday, April 7, 2000

Cinar Investigation Hits Roadblock
CP is reporting, "An RCMP investigation into Cinar Corp. has hit a roadblock because the federal government will not release the animation company's tax-credit application.

The RCMP said Thursday its tax-fraud probe has stalled because it cannot obtain documents from the Canadian Audio-Visual Certification Office (CAVCO), a division of the Department of Canadian Heritage, because the information is confidential, the National Post reported. CAVCO reviews and certifies tax-credit applications.

A spokeswoman for CAVCO, which jointly administers a federal tax-credit program with Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, confirmed CAVCO is unable to hand over the documents because the information is considered private and is protected under section 241 of the Income Tax Act."

Click here for the full story.


Thursday, April 6, 2000

Warner Bros. Classic Animation to open Festival
Warner Bros. Classic Animation's animated short "Little Go Beep" has been selected as the opening night animated short and a category finalist at the 33rd Annual WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival being held in Houston from April 7th-16th. Additionally, three Warner Bros. Classic Animation-produced commercials have been selected as finalists in the Television Commercials-Animated (Cel Animation) competition. The awards will be announced on Saturday, April 15.

"Little Go Beep," one of four finalists selected from a field of more than 60 entries, is competing in the Short Subject--Animated (Cel Animation) category. The theatrical short introduces Wile E. Coyote's proud father, Cage E. Coyote, a champion hunter (voiced by the legendary Stan Freberg), who decides that it's time to pass the torch to his offspring - even if he is still in diapers! Wile E. is then sent out into the world to catch the most prized animal of all, the Road Runner - thus beginning a lifelong obsession! "Little Go Beep" was directed by Spike Brandt, written by Earl Kress and produced by Spike Brandt and Kathleen Helppie-Shipley for Warner Bros. Classic Animation.

In the Television Commercials-Animated (Cel Animation) competition, Warner Bros. Classic Animation's efforts on "Tweety," directed by Jeff Siergey, for MCI 5 cent Sundays, MCI Worldcom Telecommunications, "Fish," directed by T.J. House, featuring Sylvester and Hector the Dog, for MCI Worldcom Telecommunications and "Twister," directed by Frank Molieri, featuring the Tasmanian Devil, for Chevrolet Monte Carlo, have been named finalists.

"We are extremely proud of our nominations and of being chosen to help celebrate the opening of this year's WorldFest celebration," said Kathleen Helppie-Shipley, Senior Vice President, Warner Bros. Classic Animation. "It is extremely rewarding for our efforts to be recognized by such an established film festival."

Celebrating it's 33rd year, WorldFest-Houston will present independent films, shorts and commercials, representing 14 countries, during the 10-day event in April. One of the longest-running independent film festivals in the world, WorldFest has the distinction of having had the same director for their entire 33-year run.

Warner Bros. Classic Animation is an award-winning boutique arm of the Warner Bros. Animation family. The classic animation unit specializes in commercial animation as well as adapting animation of the legendary Looney Tunes, DC Comics, Hanna-Barbera and Warner Bros. Television Animation characters for specialized use within entertainment venues. The classic unit produces animated theatrical shorts and theme park featurettes as well as the animation for numerous on-air promos, logos, public service announcements and special projects servicing the entire Time Warner company.


Wednesday, April 5, 2000

Here Comes Pokemon GS and Cubix
4Kids Entertainment Inc., and Kids'WB!, the No. 1 kid's network, announced that Pokemon GS will be added to its fall schedule and Cubix, 4Kids' newest show, to its midseason schedule.

Pokemon GS is the newest evolution of the Kids' WB! megahit and No. 1 show on television for kids. This new series will follow Ash and his friends as they take viewers on an adventurous new quest into unknown land, introducing at least 100 never-before-seen new Pokemon characters. The series will be catapulted by the summer movie premier and will tie in with the long-awaited launch of the Pokemon Gold and Silver Game Boy games from Nintendo of North America, Inc. Kids'WB! reported that on Saturday, March 18th, the network's "Pick Your Favorite Pokemon" morning special delivered record-high ratings among the key demographics of kids age 2-11, Kids age 6-11, Boys age 2-11 and Boys age 6-11, posting the highest Kids 2-11 rating any network has delivered in two years. The network also posted its strongest ratings among Girls age 2-11 and Girls age 6-11.

Cubix, 4Kids Entertainment's newest show and 4Kids Productions newest co-production project, takes place in Bubble Town, a "normal" city on the far edge of the Universe, where the motto is simple... "a robot for everyone!" Robots are a part of everyday, ordinary life, such as directing traffic, dispensing popcorn, fighting fires and even teaching school! One day a lonely boy named Bobby scavenged the robot junkyard and made the greatest discovery-his new best friend, Cubix, a discarded one-of-a-kind prototype powered by a unique energy source from another world that provides him with special powers. Bobby, Cubix and their friends solve mysteries, catch criminals and go on hair-raising adventures. Cubix is a futuristic story of action adventure and uncommon friendship.

In addition to the new Pokemon series airing on Saturday mornings, the lineup will include the return of the Pokemon phenomenon with a library of 102 episodes. The Kids'WB! Monday-Thursday schedule will include Pokemon twice a day at 7:00am/ET and 4:00pm.

"Strong partners, help make strong properties," stated Al Kahn CEO and Chairman of 4Kids Entertainment, Inc. "Kids'WB! has done a terrific job in programming and promoting Pokemon, it was natural for us to consider them our first choice for our newest series "Cubix."

The Company noted that "Cubix", one of the company's anticipated new properties, is a new series utilizing an advanced form of CGI, Computer Generated Imaging.

"We are very excited to once again be partnering with 4Kids Entertainment on this new venture," said Donna Friedman, Senior Vice President, Kids' WB! "Cubix is a big idea that has big possibilities. Its distinctive CGI look combined with the network's core ingredients of high adventure, humor and heart make it a perfect fit for Kids' WB!"


Tuesday, April 4, 2000

Box Office Results
Here are the Box Office results for last weekend's animated films:

The Road to El Dorado
$12.8 Million ($3,992 per screen average)
2nd at the Box Office (opening weekend)
Total to Date: $12.8 Million

Fantasia 2000
$1.25 Million ($23,292 per screen average)
14th at the Box Office (down from #12 last weekend)
Total to Date: $38.1 Million

The Tigger Movie
$388,145 Million ($554 per screen average)
19th at the Box Office (down from #15 last weekend)
Total to Date: $43.8 Million

Toy Story 2
$256,719 ($760 per screen average)
23th at the Box Office (up from #30 last weekend)
Total to Date: $242.6 Million

DreamWorks Teams with Max Howard
Seasoned animation producer and executive Max Howard has signed a first-look production deal with DreamWorks, it was jointly announced today, by DreamWorks principal Jeffrey Katzenberg and Max Howard.

Launching his new production company, Melwood Pictures, Howard will be developing both live-action and animated features. In taking on this new role, he will be stepping down from his producing chores on DreamWorks Pictures' upcoming animated release "Spirit, Stallion of the Cimarron."

In making the announcement, Katzenberg said, "Max is a very talented individual, and I expect great things from his new venture. I am looking forward to collaborating with him on future film projects he will be bringing to DreamWorks."

Howard stated, "Through this move, Jeffrey has helped me to fulfill a long held dream to run my own production company. To do so while staying within the DreamWorks family is truly the best of both worlds. With 'Spirit ... ' well into production -- and looking amazing, I must say -- the timing could not be better, and I am excited to start exploring new pathways in my career."

Max Howard came to DreamWorks from Warner Bros. where he was President of Feature Animation. During his tenure, the studio produced the award-winning animated feature "The Iron Giant," as well as "Quest for Camelot" and the hit "Space Jam," which teamed Michael Jordan with Warner Bros. cartoon favorites, including Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck. He had previously worked with Jeffrey Katzenberg at the Walt Disney Company, beginning in 1986, when Howard became the head of the London Animation Studio for the making of "Who Framed Roger Rabbit."

Relocating to the United States in 1988, he was appointed Director of Feature Animation at the new studio at Walt Disney World in Florida, and was then promoted to Vice President. Later moving up to Senior Vice President, Howard oversaw the strategic planning and operations for Walt Disney Feature Animation's three facilities in Los Angeles, Orlando and Paris.


Monday, April 3, 2000

DreamWorks Farms Out Chicken Run Site
DreamWorks is continuing to farm out Websites of its movies to e-commerce companies instead of having an in-house team produce their sites. Variety reports that Reel.com has been given the duties of building the Website for DreamWorks animated Chicken Run movie. Chicken Run opens in theaters on June 23, 2000.

Estimates Disappointing for El Dorado
Weekend Box Office estimates show The Road to El Dorado bringing in $12.5 million. This is the lowest opening of a DreamWorks animated film, bringing in less money on its opening weekend than ANTZ or The Prince of Egypt even though it opened on more screens. The Road to El Dorado has opened to highly mixed, but mostly negative, reviews. Most critics call the film highly visual and funny, but lacking in story and depth.


Sunday, April 2, 2000

Hollywood Union Cartoonists to Picket
Hundreds of professional Hollywood cartoonists, all members of the Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists, Local 839 IATSE, will be carrying angry cartoon picket signs as they protest against KCET at 4401 Sunset Blvd. as well as PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) on Thursday, April 13, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Their dispute is about the significant amount of animation and cartoon work being lost by union members from runaway work contracted to foreign countries by PBS, a broadcast entity the union claims should be loyal to American workers since it is funded and supported by U.S. tax dollars. These exported working funds, the Union stated, are putting American screen cartoonists out of business.

The Union pointed out that PBS has partnered with Montreal-based CINAR Corp. to produce "Arthur," "Wimzie's House," "Are You Afraid of the Dark?" and "The Adventures of Paddington Bear." CINAR's co-founders recently resigned, and their CFO was fired, after the company's board discovered that $122 million in funds was improperly invested.
 

Saturday, April 1, 2000

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