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Editor:
Vicki Tracy

Friday, December 31, 1999

Reviews of Fantasia 2000 Appearing
The reviews of Disney's Fantasia 2000 have started with most reviews being very positive. On New Years Day tomorrow, Animation Artist Magazine will open its Fantasia 2000 Movie Site with quotes from various press. For example, USA Today said, "Fantasia's unique formula continues to be a perfect marriage made in the imagination. Mickey & Co. lend the classical music a sense of fun. The compositions give the cartoons class. Turns out Uncle Walt was right. Fantasia is an idea worth repeating -- again and again and again."

Desert News Reviewer Selects Animated Films as His Top Three Choices
Desert News movie reviewer Jeff Vice has released his list of the top 10 films of 1999. At number one is Toy Story 2 followed by The Iron Giant at number two and Princess Mononoke at number three. The rest of his list comprises of live action films. Vice also names Pokemon: The First Movie and the animated King and I among the worst movies of 1999.


Thursday, December 30, 1999

More Computer Animation Training Facilities Opening to the Public
The New York Times has published an article about new computer animation schools popping up to help satisfy the demand for computer animaters. The article begins:

"Last January, Brian Johnson, a 31-year-old construction foreman in Detroit, loaded his television, his computer and his cat into his pickup truck and headed to California to fulfill a childhood fantasy of making his living as a computer animator.

Enticed by a local radio advertisement, Mr. Johnson enrolled at the Ex'pression Center for New Media, a brand-new school in Emeryville, Calif., across the bay from San Francisco.

The cat disappeared a few days after the move, but the rest of Mr. Johnson's experience has been happy.

'I'm very glad I did this,' he said. 'I feel much closer to achieving some of my childhood dreams than I ever have in my life.'

Mr. Johnson, who holds an associate of science degree from a military college in Georgia, will graduate in March with an associate of applied science degree in digital visual media. He has already lined up a job in California with Silent Planet, an animation company based in Orlando, Fla..."

Click here to read the entire feature story.

Disney's Custom Built IMAX Theater to Open January 1, 2000
Walt Disney Pictures will usher in the new century and its new film Fantasia 2000 with the Jan. 1, 2000, opening of a custom-built 622-seat, state-of-the-art IMAX Theatre — Disney's Fantasia 2000 IMAX Theatre Los Angeles — it was announced today by Richard Cook, chairman of The Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group.

The theater, which was built from the ground up exclusively for the film's four-month engagement, will be the only venue showing Fantasia 2000 in the city of Los Angeles.

The theater features a spectacular eight-story high screen, an incredible six-channel digital sound system plus a one-of-a-kind exhibit in the lobby that showcases the film's art, music and technology.

Disney's Fantasia 2000 IMAX Theatre Los Angeles is located at the 405 Freeway at Howard Hughes Parkway in Arden Realty's Howard Hughes Center and is the future site of the Edwards 21 Cinemas. For this special engagement, guests will take the 405 Freeway and exit at Howard Hughes Parkway from the north or south. Signs posted at the exit will direct guests to convenient on-site valet parking.

Commenting on the announcement, Cook said: "Los Angeles is one of the most important moviegoing markets in the country and we felt it was essential to have an IMAX showcase within the city limits. Working with our friends and partners at IMAX, we were able to create a spectacular theater exclusively for this premiere engagement of Disney's Fantasia 2000 The IMAX Experience.

"We think audiences are going to love seeing this wonderful film in our custom-built state-of-the-art IMAX theatre."

As part of the added amenities, while visiting Disney's Fantasia 2000 IMAX Theatre Los Angeles, guests will have the opportunity to purchase Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and Starbucks Coffee with or without buying a ticket to see Fantasia 2000.

As their only Westside location in the Los Angeles area, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts will be serving their trademark fresh glazed doughnuts along with other favorites.

Fantasia 2000 is the first full-length animated feature to ever be formatted for the giant screen. The film will play exclusively at IMAX theater locations from Jan. 1 to April 30, 2000. To order tickets, group rate tickets or for more information regarding Disney's Fantasia 2000 IMAX Theatre Los Angeles, call 800/DISNEY6.

Fantasia 2000 will also play in four other Southern California IMAX theaters: Edwards IMAX Theatres at the Ontario Palace, Valencia Town Center, the Irvine Spectrum and the Desert IMAX Theatre in Cathedral City. To order tickets or for more information at Edwards IMAX Theatres call (888) 332-IMAX and for the Desert IMAX Theatre call (760) 324-7333.


Wednesday, December 29, 1999

Fantasia 2000 Misses Major Cities
According to the Associated Press, if you live in big cities like Boston, Cleveland, New Orleans or Portland, OR then you are out of luck with Disney's release of Fantasia 2000 to select IMAX theaters across the U.S.. The movie is playing on only 54 screens in the U.S. with a total of 75 screens throughout the world. But with 51 states, and some states like California having numerous IMAX screens showing the film, many states will be left without a way to see the movie unless Disney follows through with plans to release the film to regular movie screens in late Spring. In order to get the film shown in north Los Angeles, Disney had to build its own temporary IMAX theater just off the 405.

U.S. Box Office predictions for Fantasia 2000 are $25 million to $35 million. Fantasia 2000 opens this Saturday.

No Sign of LightWave 6 from NewTek
It has been nearly two and a half years since NewTek's last major LightWave 3D  animation software upgrade — LightWave 5.5. During that time many of NewTek's competitors have released two major upgrades.  Throughout this year, NewTek has been promising that LightWave 6 would ship before the end of 1999. With three days left until the new year there is still no sign that LightWave 6 will ship before mid-January 2000. Prior to this year NewTek was strict about not announcing products (or shipping dates) until they were ready to ship. Under new marketing management, that policy was reversed and NewTek has since missed every shipping date it has preannounced.


Tuesday, December 28, 1999

Toy Story 2 Fourth in Final Weekend Report
The final Christmas weekend Box Office numbers are in and Toy Story 2 placed fourth with $10.3 million. This is quite a bit lower than Disney's $12.5 million estimate that showed Toy Story 2 placing third. Toy Story 2 now features a number of new blooper scenes that have been added to the credits. The $10.3 million is only a 15% drop from last weekend. To date, Toy Story 2 has made $177.5 at the Box Office. This is only its fifth weekend in release.

Pokemon: The First Movie continues its nose dive. It lost huge 80% of business from last weekend, nose-diving to #36 at the Box Office with only $112,214 to show for the whole weekend. Since it is still playing on over 1,000 screens, this brings the per screen average to a terrible $107. To date Pokemon: The First Movie has made $83.6 million.


Monday, December 27, 1999

A Dramatic and Very Animated Time
The Los Angeles Times has published an article on that mentions how animated films are making more of an impact on critics. Kenneth Turan states in the article that four animated movies are strong enough to be on many people's Top 10 Movies of the Year list. This includes The Iron Giant, Princess Mononoke, Tarzan, and Toy Story 2. He put The Iron Giant at the #1 slot of his list for the year.

Click here to read the full article

Only 10 Days Left in Animation Artist "History of Animation" Contest
There are only 10 days left in Animation Artist magazine's History of Animation contest where one person will win a signed and limited edition copy of The Illusion of Life. Because entry into the contest requires an essay, it is expected that only a handful of people will enter, which increases the chances of winning a prize for those who take the time to enter.
Click here for contest rules and information.

Fantasia 2000 Article
The Evansville Courier & Press has published a lengthy article about Fantasia 2000 and how it finally fulfills Walt Disney's dream of a sequel to the original Fantasia . The article opens:

"Walt Disney was a dreamer who turned a talking rodent in Steamboat Willie (1928) into a beloved cartoon character and turned a Florida backwater town named Orlando into the country's No. 1 destination.

But it's taken nearly 60 years for another Disney dream to come about — the updating of his 1940 concert film Fantasia. This time, watch for flying whales, a yo-yoing flamingo and Donald Duck to share the spotlight with Mickey Mouse..."

Click here to read the entire article.


Sunday, December 26, 1999

Report on Toonz Animation India
The Hindu has published an article about the recent Toonz Animation India event where an array of animated productions, and special effects films, were shown. Quoted from the article:

"In this context, India has all the potential to emerge as a major animation production centre," says Bill Dennis. "India may have to borrow technology from abroad, but it can certainly rely on its artistic talent. No computer can substitute the artist. What finally gives life to the cartoon is the quality of drawings by the human hand. Even Disney and Warner Brothers do not rely much on computers, when it comes to preparing the drawings."Indian artiste Ajit Rao put it better. "An animator is an actor who expresses himself through the brush".

Click here to read the full article.

Many States Not Showing Fantasia 2000
Fantasia 2000 will only be available on 54 IMAX screens when it launches on January 1, 2000. A number of the screens are in California and a handful of other states. This leaves many states without any way for residents to see the film without a 16-hour or longer drive. Even the Utah newspaper, The Desert Sun, recently addressed the issue:

"...Here's the deal, for those who want to see the movie in the large-screen format — you're going to have to go out of state, either to Boise or Las Vegas.

Utah does feature two large-screen theaters, including one at Zion Canyon and another in the MegaPlex 17 at Jordan Commons. Unfortunately, neither of them are IMAX-licensed theaters, and that company has exclusive rights for the film's large-screen run.

Consequently, there will be no Fantasia 2000 showings in Utah — for at least four months. Walt Disney Pictures is planning to release the film to theaters in the 35mm format next spring, and that release will be much wider (at least 2,000 prints), so if you can wait until April you're in luck..."


Saturday, December 25, 1999

Pinocchio Set for Broadway!
The New York Post has reported that Disney is planning on turning its animated film Pinocchio into a broadway musical production! Julie Taymor, who directed The Lion King stage show is being asked to helm the Pinocchio stage show.

New Toy Story 2 Outtake Information
Adding joy and merriment to the holiday season, Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Animation Studios will debut a group of all-new "outtakes" from their hit film, Toy Story 2, beginning on Christmas Day, it was announced Thursday by Richard Cook, chairman of The Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group, and John Lasseter, director of Toy Story 2 and executive vice president of creative for Pixar.

The "outtakes," which play along with the end credits for the film, involve the lead characters in assorted (and improbable) behind-the-scenes situations. Disney/Pixar introduced animated "outtakes" to moviegoers last year with the release of A Bug's Life.

Woody, Buzz Lightyear, the gang of toys from Andy's room and the new favorites -- Jessie the Cowgirl, Bullseye the horse and Stinky Pete the Prospector -- now take the concept to hilarity and beyond.

Commenting on the announcement, Cook said, "Last year's response to the `outtakes' from A Bug's Life was so overwhelming that John Lasseter and the team at Pixar have let their imaginations run wild with a whole new batch for the Toy Story 2 characters.

"They've come up with some really hilarious and memorable moments that moviegoers are absolutely going to love. It's the perfect gift for holiday audiences and 10 good reasons to go see this season's No. 1 hit movie again."

Lasseter added: "We wanted to do `outtakes' with Buzz and Woody and the other toys for the original Toy Story but never got the chance. This time around, we've had a ball coming up with ideas and situations for those characters as well as the new characters in the sequel. We all love these characters so much and feel as if they're old friends."

You can view the outtakes today and onward during the credits of Toy Story 2.

 
Friday, December 24, 1999

Final Fantasy 9 Animation Complete
GameSpot News is reporting that the computer generated animation for the Final Fantasy 9 game (Playstation console) is officially complete. A number of animators have reportedly been let go now that the animation is finished. Some may be reassigned to the Final Fantasy movie team. The Final Fantasy 9 game (refered to as Final Fantasy IX) is due in the U.S. late next year.


Thursday, December 23, 1999

Toy Story 2 to Release Bloopers!
Disney has sent new Toy Story 2 reels to theaters that contain animated bloopers during the credits. Disney popularized animated bloopers with last year's release of A Bug's Life. Beginning Christmas day, theater goers watching Toy Story 2 will be treated to a set of fake Toy Story 2 bloopers created by Pixar. A Disney insider told the Hollywood Reporter that the bloopers are being added as a way of thanking repeat viewers who helped make the movie a blockbuster.

New Anime Game Company Formed
GameSpot News is reporting "that six big Japanese companies - Mitsubishi, Tokuma Shoten, Nippon Television, FM Tokyo, Amuse Capital, and Tohoku Shinsha - have formed a new subsidiary called Cavia Inc." The new company will apparently focus on the creation of Anime games for various gaming consoles.

Newsweek Coverage of Peanuts Goodbye
"Peanuts" creator Charles Schulz, who announced his retirement last week, tells Newsweek, "All I care about now is tomorrow; I want to feel better tomorrow." Schulz, already suffering from Parkinson's disease, had several small strokes in November and underwent surgery, during which doctors diagnosed colon cancer. Hardly able to draw, he announced that there would be no daily "Peanuts" strips after Jan. 3 and none for Sundays after Feb. 13. The ideas do not come anymore, and since his strokes he often struggles to find the right expression, reports Senior Editor Sharon Begley. "Words are just gone," he tells Newsweek in the current issue.

In an interview with West Coast Editor Mark Miller, which appears as part of the cover package, "Good Grief: After 50 Years, the Creator of 'Peanuts' Says Farewell to Charlie Brown," in the January 1, 2000 issue of Newsweek (on newsstands now), Schulz says his decision to retire was not hard to make. "I used to think of cartoons all the time. Lying in bed at night, or driving in my car. Right now? Not a bit." Schulz also weighs in on the competition. When asked to compare his strip to the more satirical or cynical comics of today, like "South Park," he says: "Lee Mendelson [his longtime animation producer] and I keep saying, 'We don't care what those other people do, we can still do something that is decent,' and we have beaten every one of them."

Schulz, who says the strips were always his ideas and that he lettered every one, admits there is a melancholy streak running through his work. He tells Miller, "I'm glad you bring that word up because I have said that about myself a lot. It's just who I am ... I wouldn't doubt that it is a part of a lot of other cartoonists or comedians. I think it is part of all of us ..." He adds, "Have you noticed that I do a lot of spiritual things? [On the CBS Christmas Special] I said, 'We cannot do this show without the passage from St. Luke. I don't care what CBS thinks.' I liked Biblical things," he tells Miller.


Wednesday, December 22, 1999

Pixar Aims to be Second Biggest Animation Company in the World
Variety has published a detailed article on Pixar and its quest to be the "second happiest place on Earth." According to the article:

"In their self-described utopia, an army of animators have transformed their cubicles into tiki huts, circus tents, two-story lofts and cardboard castles, with bookshelves stuffed with toys, scattered tricycles, futons and a colorful iMac or G4 computer on every desk. And everyone -- 430 techies and traditional animators -- seems annoyingly happy.

If it seems surreal, it's supposed to be. Pixar doesn't hide the fact that it's tried to create the Second Happiest Place on Earth. Well-paid, employees have stock options and a creative voice in every picture Pixar produces. Turnover is extraordinarily low, and employees are encouraged to become renaissance persons by enrolling in such classes as sculpting, writing and painting.

It's a happiness few others are allowed to enjoy. Pixar execs are elusive about work until it hits the big screen, while visitors must wear badges that scream, 'A Stranger! From the Outside!'

Click here to read the full article.

San Jose Mercury News Says Fantasia 2000 is "Hottest Ticket in Town"
The San Jose Mercury News has published an article stating that the hottest movie ticket in Silicon Valley is not Toy Story 2 or The Green Mile, but rather Fantasia 2000.  The Tech Museum of Innovation has already sold nearly 25,000 tickets. It is one of only 35 IMAX theaters showing Fantasia nationwide beginning January 1, 2000.

Click here to read the full article.

Fantasia 2000 Spoiled by Live Sequences?
Many people viewing sneak previews of Fantasia 2000 have expressed concern and disappointment towards Disney for using Hollywood actors to introduce each animated sequence on screen. The decision strongly departs from Walt Disney's original Fantasia, which simply showed the animated sequences back to back without interruption. For Fantasia 2000, Disney filmed live sequences of actors introducing each segment.


Tuesday, December 21, 1999

Toy Story 2 Grabs "Best Comedy" Golden Globe Nomination!
The Golden Globe nominations were announced yesterday and Toy Story 2 came out with a prestigious nomination in the "Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy" category. In addition, Toy Story 2 was nominated for "Best Original Song" for the song "When She Loved Me". The only other animation nomination was Tarzan, which was also nominated in the "Best Original Song" category for "You'll Be in My Heart." The winners of the Golden Globe awards will be announced January 23, 2000 on NBC.

"Santa vs. the Snowman" Christmas Eve
In 1997, ABC aired a complete CGI  and original Christmas special titled "Santa vs. the Snowman." Created by DNA and directed by John Davis, "Santa vs. the Snowman" was the first network special to be 100% 3D animated. Nickelodean will be airing the special this Christmas Eve (Friday). Check your local listings for the appropriate time.

The Matrix May Get Anime Prequel!
Jam! Showbiz has published an article stating that "a prequel to the hit sci-fi film The Matrix may be shot using Japanese-style animation, producer Joel Silver says. Silver told the British movie magazine Empire that directors Andy and Larry Wachowski are big fans of the Japanese cartoon form known as anime and may resort to using those story-telling techniques for a prequel to The Matrix. Silver says his team is 'very big fans' of Ghost In The Shell and Akira.

CINEMA 4D to be Bundled with Final Cut Pro
MAXON Computer Inc. today announced that CINEMA 4D GO, its multi-award-winning 3D modeling, animation and rendering software, will be bundled with Apple's Final Cut Pro 1.2 at no additional cost to customers, allowing Final Cut Pro users to enhance their video presentations with flying logos, 3D titles and special effects.

CINEMA 4D is widely used in film, broadcast, architecture, engineering, multimedia and the sciences. The professional version of CINEMA 4D is highly regarded in the production community for its ease of use and lightning-fast raytracer. Its powerful and stable architecture, customizability and speedy workflow make it ideal for broadcast designers.

"Just as Final Cut Pro 1.2 brings the digital video creation and editing experience to a new level of performance and simplicity, CINEMA 4D GO takes the mystery and complexity out of 3D animation," said Paul Babb, president and CEO of MAXON Computer USA. "With CINEMA 4D GO and Final Cut Pro, producing professional video is as easy as publishing your own neighborhood newsletter."


Monday, December 20, 1999

Toy Story 2 Moves to #7 on Top 10 Animated Films of All Time List
Toy Story 2 has taken over the #7 position in the Top 10 Animated Films of All Time list with $156 million to date. By the end of next weekend (Christmas weekend), it is expected to move up another notch to #6. Toy Story 2 is now half-way to the top animated film of all time, The Lion King, which made $313 million in theaters in 1994.

MTV Turning Daria Into a Movie
MTV has announced that it is turning its animated series called Daria into a TV movie after considering making it into a theatrical feature. According to Daily Variety, the movie "will focus on what Daria and her pals at Lawndale High are doing over summer vacation" According to Abby Terkuhle, president, MTV Animation, it is "sort of a continuation of a lot of the plotlines that you see in the series, with added value such as celebrity voice cameos."

MetaCreations Releases Carrara
MetaCreations Corp. today released Carrara 1.0, a complete 3D modeling and animation solution for print, video and the Web. Evolving from nearly a decade of MetaCreations' 3D development experience with products such as Ray Dream and Infini-D, Carrara is set to enable the ultimate creative freedom for 3D artists and designers, as well as 2D creative professionals moving into the world of 3D. Carrara provides a comprehensive, high-end feature set coupled with a blazingly fast rendering engine, and a revolutionary workflow approach called SmartFlow. Carrara also supports and complements the company's e-commerce visualization strategy by providing effortless output to the MetaStream 3D file format, allowing the creation of high-quality, compact 3D objects for streaming over the Web.

The release of Carrara comes at a bad time for MetaCreations. Last week MetaCreations was the top news story on Santa Barbara's Channel 3 news when it laid off half its staff and announced a restructuring of the company that will focus more on the Web. The main headquarters for MetaCreations, in Carpinteria, CA, will apparently be closed. MetaCreations laid off the majority of workers there just two weeks before Christmas.


Sunday, December 19, 1999

Toy Story 2 Finishes Third on Friday and Saturday
Toy Story 2 is looking to finish the weekend in third place after a third place finish on both Friday and Saturday. The blockbuster animated film finished behind Stuart Little and, suprisingly, behind The Green Mile which it beat last weekend. To date Toy Story 2 has made $152.4 million.

List A Day Reviews Animation Artist Ezine
List A Day, a company that reviews email newsletters on a daily basis, has published a review of the Animation Artist Newsletter.
Click here to read the review from the List A Day front page. The next Animation Artist Newsletter comes out next week.

The Hindu Publishes Article on Sinbad
The Hindu newspaper has published an article on the motion capture animated film Sinbad: Veil of Mists. The article begins, "The story of Sinbad, the sailor, has been told many times with different variations from the original. But here is a probable first on celluloid: Sinbad making an escape from the ocean depths on a tentacled flying mushroom! This 'new' love-story capturing the adventures of Sinbad in '3D motion capture film' using around 2,500 visual effect shots, is not just about computer animation alone as motion capture requires performances from 'real actors'. Using reflective markers, the action is captured on `optical cameras' and used as input for computers.

The 80-minute movie, titled Sinbad-Beyond the Veil of Mists, was finished in 15 months while similar animated productions take around four years elsewhere in the world, says to Mr. G. V. Babu, Head of Research and Design, Pentafour-India. Bulk of the production was done at the Pentafour studio in Chennai..." Click here to read the full article.


Saturday, December 18, 1999

Fantasia 2000 Holds World Premiere
The world premiere of Fantasia 2000 was held last night at Carnegie Hall. The music for the film was done live by The Philharmonia Orchestra of London conducted by James Levine. Fantasia 2000 opens in select IMAX theaters across the U.S. on January 1, 2000.

LIPSinc Releases New Lip-Synching Program
DNA LIPSinc. today announced the availability of Echo, a software solution that automates animated character lip-synching for a wide range of animation packages, game engines and multimedia platforms.

Echo has already been licensed by Timeline Studios, founded by best-selling author Michael Crichton, to automate lip-synching for its next-generation computer entertainment titles. Echo is currently being used in the development of Timeline's first title, scheduled for release in the fourth quarter of 2000.

"Echo has reduced our complicated lip-synching process down to three steps: drag, drop and done," says Rick Towson, vice president of engineering for Timeline Studios. "The output quality is actually superior to our immediate needs, leaving us room to expand our functionality. The time savings we gain from using Echo are invaluable."

Bob Griswold, vice president of production for Timeline Studios, estimates that Echo, "will easily save us hundreds of hours in character speech synchronization time."

Echo automates the entire process of lip-synching and frees animators from the labor-intensive processes imposed on them by other products. What was once an extremely time-consuming routine is reduced to one simple step in the overall production schedule. The benefits of using Echo impact both high-end studios and low-budget productions. By introducing ease-of-use, increased accuracy and significant time savings, Echo enables all studios to add more realistic talking characters to their animations.

"Other products usually require the animator to manually scrub through the entire audio file to identify the individual words, phrases, pauses and overall sentence structure," says Mike Helpingstine, LIPSinc.'s Loud Mouth (vice president of marketing). "Echo sets a new standard by automatically generating timing and lip position from recorded voice input. Artists can concentrate on what's really important: exercising their skill and creativity to produce more expressive and functional entertainment titles."

Echo can be used to create accurate mouth positions regardless of the speaker's sex, age or type of character. It outputs flipbook, dope sheet and function curve animation data for animation platforms, interactive 3D game engines, and multimedia applications. A technical support package is included with each seat of Echo and the company offers additional consulting services to customize Echo's output to meet the customer's exact requirements. Evaluation and full versions of Echo are available immediately. Licenses for Echo start at $10,000.

Echo is LIPSinc.'s second major new product release this month. The company's first offering, Ventriloquist for MAX, automates lip-synching for users of 3D Studio MAX software. In contrast, Echo is an open system, with output that can be modified for use with a wide range of game, animation and multimedia production environments. Designed for the most demanding production schedules, Echo can batch process, without supervision, thousands of lines of audio, automatically generating completed face-positioning data.

For more information, call (919) 468-7005.


Friday, December 17, 1999

DNA Christmas Special Airs Tonight
DNA productions animated a new Christmas special called "Olive the Other Reindeer" that will air tonight at 8PM on the FOX network. Drew Barrymore stars in this all-new animated holiday special with the assistance of  Dan Castellaneta, Peter MacNicol, Joey Pantoliano, Jay Mohr, Ed Asner, Tim Meadows and R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe.  Based on the popular children's book by J. Otto Seibold and Vivian Walsh,  Oive is produced by The Curiosity Company, Flower Films and Fox Television Studios.

In other DNA news, DNA Productions, Inc. has entered into a multi-year agreement with Nickelodeon and  screenwriter and director Steve Oedekerk ( Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls) 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.

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 its first property to be developed as a multi-media franchise. The feature film will be distributed by Paramount Pictures. Nickelodeon will debut Jimmy Neutron as a series of one-minute cartoon shorts on the network prior to theatrical release, then, the show will join Nickelodeon's line-up as a series.

Sacramento Bee: "Pixar Takes Animated Films to a New Level"
The Sacramento Bee has published an article titled "Refining Movie Magic: Pixar Takes Animated Films to a New Level."

The article begins, "Far from Hollywood's glitter, in a town better known for oil refineries than for creative expression, one of today's hottest moviemaking companies is busy producing hit after hit.

Pixar Animation Studios, run by Apple Computer Inc. chief Steve Jobs, is three for three in producing box office successes. Its latest movie, Toy Story 2, has been the No. 1 cinematic draw for the past three weeks.

Much of Pixar's success lies in its ability to spin a good yarn, wrapping its stories around strong plots and rapid action.

But Pixar also is making a name for itself because of its novel use of technology to bring stories to life. Pixar is a leading force in computer animation -- the cutting-edge art form that allows moviemakers to place otherworldly characters in spectacular settings without ever hiring human actors or building a real set..." Click here to read the rest of the article.


Thursday, December 16, 1999

Toy Story 2 Enters Top 10 Animated Films of All Time List After Grossing Over $142 Million
Toy Story 2 surpassed the $142 million mark on Tuesday to move up to ninth on the Top 10 Animated Films of All Time list (determined from U.S. Box Office results). By Monday it could be all the way to sixth! The Toy Story 2 total to date is $142.2.

NewTek has 15 Days to Deliver LightWave 6
Throughout the year, NewTek has been promising users the delivery of its new LightWave 6.0 3D animation software program by "later this year" and in recent press releases, "Quarter 4 1999." NewTek has lacked a major upgrade to its popular 3D program for years, while many of its competitors have put out 1-2 upgrades since LightWave's last major upgrade. NewTek promised delivery of its Video Toaster NT last June, but wasn't able to deliver until later in the summer — almost three months late. Prior to this year, NewTek had a strict policy of not releasing shipping information until the product was ready to ship. Earlier this year, however, NewTek changed marketing directions, putting shipping announcements in its press releases before products were complete and adding a sexual tone to its LightWave 6.0 marketing campaign. Calling the campaign, "The Joy of Six," NewTek displays an almost-naked female body in many of its ads. Some magazines rejected earlier versions of the image because it "showed too much."

LightWave is one of the dominant animation software packages in Hollywood due to its price and performance. NewTek states that LightWave 6.0 will be out before the end of the year.


Wednesday, December 15, 1999

Cartoon Network Has Strongest Ratings Ever
The Cartoon Network will close 1999 with its strongest annual performance in rating and delivery in its seven-year history. Driven by its expansion of original programming, Cartoon Network will finish the year with a network-record-setting 1.1 total day household rating, making it the third highest-rated, ad-supported cable network. Cartoon Network will also report the largest total day household delivery in its history (626,000), a 26 percent gain over 1998-twice the rate of its gain in distribution for the year. In prime time, the network will also set yearly records in household rating and delivery (1.6/945,000).

FOX Premieres New Titan A.E. Trailer
FOX premiered a brand new theatrical trailer for Titan A.E. in front of its sneak previews of Anna and the King over the past two weekends. Titan A.E. is the story of the human race trying to survive after earth (A.E.) has been destroyed, due to a massive alien attack. Titan A.E. will open in Summer 2000.

Toon Boom Primed for Digital TV
Toon Boom Technologies says it's for animation companies ushering in the digital TV revolution through its USAnimation software systems.

One of the biggest problems facing animators with regard to DTV is outputting for a wide screen, because animators are used to working on a much smaller scale. However, thanks to resolution independence, format issue is just a matter of rendering.

"Toon Boom had a vision when it was created in 1994, by opting for vector-based, resolution-independent technology," comments Michel Leroux, VP Customer Support & MIS of Toon Boom Technologies. "Today, with the coming of DTV, the firm has a significant advantage compared to the competition... in fact, DTV gives USAnimation users a great opportunity to benefit from what resolution independence is all about."

Toon Boom's major product, USAnimation, is currently the only 2D animation software packages available that use vector-based, resolution-independent technology. "What this means is that a studio does not need to take the resolution into account until the very end, at the rendering stage of production," explains Jacques Bilodeau, President and CEO of Toon Boom Technologies. "It's easier to do complicated camera moves, change the field size within a scene, and output onto various formats simultaneously."

Additionally, if a studio finds that it needs to change the output format of its productions to one with higher resolution such as film or HDTV, animation will not have to be reprocessed. All the studio would have to do is re-render the animation at a higher resolution. "Resolution independence provides flexibility--and peace of mind--in pre- and post-production for any changes regarding the output required," Mr. Bilodeau says.

Toon Boom is based in Canada and can be reached at 514-278-8666.


Tuesday, December 14, 1999

Toy Story 2 Wins the Weekend!
Final weekend numbers are in and Toy Story 2 held on, by a hair, to its first place comeback, beating out Tom Hank's live action film, The Green Mile . Toy Story 2 made $18.2 million while The Green Mile made $18.0 million. Here's how animated films still playing in theaters faired:

Toy Story 2
Weekend Total: $18.2 Million
Grand Total: $140.3 Million
Weeks in Release: 3
Place: First

Pokemon: The First Movie
Weekend Total: $1.18 Million
Grand Total: $82.3
Weeks in Release: 4
Place: Ninth

Princess Mononoke
Weekend Total: $128,630
Grand Total: $2.14 Million
Weeks in Release: 6
Place: 30th

Roy Disney Book Signing Today!
If you live in New York, here's your chance to meet Roy Disney. From noon to 1PM, Roy Disney will be at the Disney Store on 5th Avenue at 55th Street (Third Floor Gallery). He will be signing copies of the book
Fantasia 2000: A Vision of Hope.


Monday, December 13, 1999

Toy Story 2 Comes From Behind for Estimated First Place Finish at Weekend Box Office!
On Friday, things weren't looking good for Toy Story 2 at the Box Office. The hit Pixar/Disney animated film had sunk to third place on Friday behind The Green Mile (another Tom Hanks film) and Deuce Bigalow Male Gigalo. On Saturday, however, Toy Story 2 dominated the Box Office, finishing in first place. Estimates released on Sunday placed Toy Story 2 in first place by only $130,000 ahead of The Green Mile. The estimates show Toy Story 2 bringing in $18.7 million and The Green Mile bringing in $18.57 million. Final numbers are due tonight and will be published by Animation Artist Tuesday morning.

New Forum Added to Voices in Animation
A new forum has been added to the
Voices in Animation forums. Called "Animation How To" the forum will focus on technical aspects of animation, including 2D and 3D tips and techniques. If you have a how-to question (or answer), the new Animation How To forum is the place to post. Click here to register for posting in the Voices in Animation forums.

Final Fantasy VIII Coming to PC
Square Electronic Arts has announced that it will release Final Fantasy VIII to the PC in January 2000. The popular role playing game, which features state-of-the art gaming animation sequences, has already sold over six million copies worldwide. It has been available in the U.S., on Sony Playstation, since September 1999.


Sunday, December 12, 1999

Toy Story 2 Falls to Third!
On Friday, Toy Story 2 fell to third place behind The Green Mile and Deuce Bigalow Male Gigalo. Even though it was in third, on Friday it made a solid $4.06 million to bring its total to $126 million. Meanwhile, Pokemon: The First Movie fell to tenth place, bringing in $180,000. Its total stands at $81.37 million. In the fall of 2000, Warner Bros. is releasing in the U.S. the sequel to Pokemon: The First Movie .

Disney TV Animation Chief Let Go
According to Daily Variety, "Mouse House TV animation chief Charles Hirschhorn has been given his walking papers, partially as a result of the continued consolidation of Disney's production units."

Pokemon Crime Wave
A large amount of crimes are being reported across the U.S. all related to Pokemon trading cards. A recent occurrence was in Santa Ana, California where a 13 year old boy hit another kid with his bike, then grabbed the kids binder of 150 Pokemon trading cards. Police arrested the 13 year old and have charged him with felony robbery.

More Fallout Over Oscars
When Oscar officials decided to can the "Best Song Score" category, the movies Tarzan and South Park were left in the cold, victims of what the Academy Awards committee calls "too few entries." So both were resubmitted, this time to the "Best Original Score" category where Oscar officials rejected them there too, saying that the soundtracks only qualify for "Best Song Score" category!

"I truly am extremely hurt,'' Mark Mancina told Reuters. Mancina wrote the basic score for Tarzan, with five original songs composed and sung by Phil Collins. "I was hoping to get a nomination. It would have been good for me. To know that people can't even consider it is frustrating."


Saturday, December 11, 1999

Fast Food Tie-Ins: Phantom Menace Bombs While Pokemon Soars
Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and Kentucky Fried Chicken thought they had landed the deal of a lifetime when they secured rights to distribute Star Wars: The Phantom Menace toys and contests. However, when the final tally was added up, the chains lost quite a bit of money. Interest in the toy line was minimal, possibly due to the terrible reviews from critics and fans that Star Wars: The Phantom Menace received. Most were turned off by the character Jar-Jar, as creator George Lucas resorted to fart jokes and Jar-Jar stepping in poop for some of his humor. Lucas, apparently not caring what fans think, has announced that Jar-Jar will return in the next film.

Burger King, on the other hand, saw a massive 30% increase in sales by being tied to Warner Bros. Pokemon movie. Inventory was quickly depleted, leading to angry parents and crying kids. Burger King was able to get restocked and many of the chains are now selling over 1,000 kids meals a day.

MSNBC: "Dismal Flop Iron Giant Resurrected"
MSNBC has published a feature article on the release of The Iron Giant to video and gives background on director Brad Bird.

The article opens, "What if you made a fabulous family movie and nobody came? Ask director Brad Bird, who did. This past summer, Bird's feature debut, The Iron Giant , opened to rhapsodic reviews and an anemic box office. Released by Warner Bros. in August as an afterthought in its summer schedule, the film grossed only $23 million over the next three months — roughly equivalent to 28 hours of the thunderous opening box office of Toy Story 2 over Thanksgiving."

Click here to read the entire article.

Protests Force Disney to Change Character in Toy Story 2 Video Game
Disney is bowing to protests by people in the Hispanic community who think that a Mexican villain in the Toy Story 2 video game is a "slap in the face to their cultural pride."

According to Reuters news service, "On Friday, The Walt Disney Co., co-producer of the popular Toy Story animated movies with Pixar Animation Studios, said it would remove the character after angry protesters demonstrated at the Santa Monica, Calif., headquarters of the game's publisher, Activision Inc...The character, which does not appear in the movie, was one of several enemies that players must shoot to proceed to higher levels of the game."

Protesters claimed that the Toy Story 2 game was teaching children to "shoot a Mexican."


Friday, December 10, 1999

CINAR Sells China Company Rights to Broadcast Arthur Series
CINAR announced yesterday that it has reached agreement with a Chinese broadcastinc company to allow it to broadcast its animated Arthur series. The deal was made with China Central Television, which is owned by China.

Are Oscars for Real?
The recent revelation that the Academy Awards committee cancelled the "Best Song Score" category because only the makers of Tarzan and South Park submitted entries brings up an interesting question. How is the best truly shown if the nominations are determined by the studios who submit a film for concideration? If it was truly a contest for the best then the Academy Award committee would go through all the song scores for all films in 1999 and nominate the entries. Post your opinion in the Anything Animation forum of Voices in Animation.

Toy Story 2 Reaches $120 Million
Toy Story 2 reached the $120 million mark on Wednesday. Today it enters its third weekend and should easily take the number one slot at the Box Office again. The Green Mile could be knocked out of its #1 position this weekend as The Green Mile, a live-action film starring Tom Hanks, is opening in 2,700 theaters.


Thursday, December 9, 1999

Final Fantasy VIII Game Reaches 1 Million
Square Electronic Arts, the exclusive publisher of all SQUARESOFT products in North America, today announced that Final Fantasy VIII for the PlayStation game console has sold more than one million units in North America since its release in September 1999. The record-breaking sales of Final Fantasy VIII, heavy in state of the art game animation, position it as one of the fastest selling video games in the history of the industry and further demonstrates the franchise's dominance as the world's most popular role-playing game.

"Final Fantasy VIII has grossed more than $50 million in revenue in only 13 weeks of sales in North America," said Jun Iwasaki, president of Square Electronic Arts. "With the holidays still ahead, we anticipate that Final Fantasy VIII will continue to break sales records. "

"Final Fantasy VIII is one of those rare titles that just gets bigger and bigger in terms of anticipation and demand," said Doreen McKenzie, director of merchandising, video games for Babbage's Etc. "There is usually a lot of hype and excitement in the air around the release of a new game such as Final Fantasy. The difference with this franchise, however, is that it maintains a frenzied sales pace over a long period of time. Final Fantasy VIII is the type of game that will get a huge boost in sales through the holidays and remain a strong seller thereafter. It is one of the few titles whose value to consumers maintains through the holiday season, and will most likely continue until its sequel is released."

The Iron Giant Fails to Make Top 10 in Video Rentals
According to the Video Software Dealers Association, The Iron Giant has failed to make the top 10 video rentals since its release to video on November 23, 1999.

Disney Trying to Sell $2000 Per Person Tickets to Fantasia 2000 New Years Eve Celebration
The stage is set for one of the most memorable New Year's Eve celebrations of the century as final preparations are being made for the Fantasia 2000 Gala at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium and Exhibition Hall, it was announced today (12/8) by Roy Edward Disney, vice chairman of The Walt Disney Company and head of Walt Disney Feature Animation, and Richard Cook, chairman of The Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group.

Highlighting the evening will be the unveiling of Disney's magnificent new animated feature Fantasia 2000, which will be accompanied live by the 120-piece Philharmonia Orchestra of London under the direction of conductor Derrick Inouye.

The evening also includes live entertainment by legendary band Chicago and the swing sensation, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. An elaborate Disney-produced countdown to the millennium will cap off the gala evening and usher in the new century.

"Fantasia/2000" includes seven exciting new visual interpretations of classical pieces as well as one returning favorite from the original 1940 release.

Using breakthrough animation technology along with the time-honored traditions of Disney craftsmanship, the film showcases the talents of a new generation of animators and filmmakers as they push the boundaries of their imaginations and visually interpret the classical compositions of such music masters as Beethoven, Shostakovich, Respighi, Saint-Saens, Elgar, Gershwin and Stravinsky.

The 2000-guest magical black-tie affair begins with an Epicurean feast specially created and prepared by the celebrated chef Joachim Splichal and Patina Catering. Following dinner, gala festivities will kick off with a special screening of Fantasia 2000 with live orchestral accompaniment in the Pasadena Civic Auditorium.

After the film, the evening's party shifts into high gear with dancing and music, featuring live performances by Chicago and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. The evening will conclude with a spectacular midnight countdown complete with pyrotechnics and confetti to ring in the New Year.

Commenting on the announcement, Roy Edward Disney said: "`Fantasia/2000' is the culmination of all the hard work and devotion that's gone into bringing Walt's fondest wish into reality. What better way to recognize the vision of one man who began building on a dream in the 20th century than by sharing the magic with everyone as we enter the new millennium. This is truly the celebration of a lifetime."

Cook added: "No other work of art has captured the imaginations of so many the world over. We're pulling out all the stops to make this a once-in-a-millennium event. Seeing and hearing Fantasia 2000 with live orchestral accompaniment is exciting enough and when you add in all these other entertainment elements, you have the makings of a truly spectacular evening. This is shaping up to be one of the most exciting and entertaining millennium parties anywhere and an event that movie and music lovers won't want to miss."

For additional information about the event or to make reservations, call 818/238-1095. Tickets for the event are $2000 each. A portion of the ticket sales will benefit the California Institute of the Arts.

Following its special New Year's Eve presentation, the celebration continues as Fantasia 2000 makes its debut on Jan. 1, 2000, in IMAX theaters all over the world. On that same date, Roy Edward Disney will act as the 2000 Tournament of Roses Grand Marshall presiding over the 111th Rose Parade and 86th Rose Bowl Game.


Wednesday, December 8, 1999

Fantasia 2000 Rejected in LA IMAX, so Disney Builds its Own IMAX Theater!
According to the LA Times, the only IMAX theater in central Los Angeles rejected the idea of showing Fantasia 2000 at its theater. Disney's solution is now to build its own temporary IMAX theater that will cost $4 million to build and will only be functional for four months before it is torn down. Disney claims that the steel and fiberglass theater it is building will be done by January 1, 2000 in time for the opening of Fantasia 2000. Click here to read the entire article.

Tarzan and South Park Disqualified for Academy Award in Category "Best Song Score"
According to E!, "Despite the critically lauded music backing two of the year's most
successful animated musical movies, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science's ever-changing rules are keeping those movies' music-makers on the sideline for the Best Score competition.

Oscar rules say if four or fewer films are submitted for a category (there are usually five nominees in all), the branch overseeing the category can recommend that no award be given. According to an Academy spokesperson, this year Tarzan and South Park were the only two submissions for original musical or comedy score, so the powers that be decided to scrap the award."


Tuesday, December 7, 1999

Final Box Office Numbers Released
The final Box Office numbers were released for last weekend and here's the results for animated films that made the Top 50:

Toy Story 2
Weekend Total: $27.7 Million
Grand Total: $116.7 Million
Weeks in Release: 2
Place: First Place

Pokemon: The First Movie
Weekend Total: $2.3 Million
Grand Total: $80.7
Weeks in Release: 3
Place: Sixth Place

Princess Mononoke
Weekend Total: $212,160
Grand Total: $1.9 Million
Weeks in Release: 5
Place: 25th Place

Dragon's Lair II Released to PC DVD-ROM
Now you can 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 PC DVD-ROM.

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-ROM 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 to be made.

"Dragon's Lair II is the most challenging of the Don Bluth video games," Elizabeth Foster, President of Digital Leisure said. "The scenes are much longer than the original Dragon's Lair and Space Ace, and the game features inventory item pickups during gameplay, making for added challenge."

Dragon's Lair, Space Ace and Dragon's Lair II: Time Warp are currently available for DVD-Video, DVD-ROM and CD-ROM formats.

Only 30 Days Left in
History of Animation Contest!
Only 30 days are left in the Animation Artist History of Animation Millennium Contest where the grand prize winner will receive a signed copy of the limited edition, first printing, book "The Illusion of Life". The limited edition book originally sold for $255 dollars before selling out, making it more valuable of a collector's item. Because the contest is skills based, entries are expected to be few, increasing the chances of those who enter an essay into the contest. For contest details,
click here.


Monday, December 6, 1999

Cinar and Alphanim S.A. to Produce New Animated TV Series
CINAR Corporation,  a leading producer of quality children's programming, and Alphanim S.A. — a division of Vivendi, a leading French communications company — have announced today that they are co-producing a new 26 half-hour animated series: The Baskervilles. The series will be broadcast in both French and English on TELETOON in Canada. It has also been sold to ITV, the UK's most popular television channel, and to France 2, one of the largest broadcasters in that country.

The Baskervilles series is set in an extremely strange place called Underworld; where you come for a day and may end up staying a lifetime! When the Baskerville family weekend excursion becomes unexpectedly extended, they try to continue their wholesome family life in blissful ignorance. But grumpy Underworld owner, Nicholas Lucifer the Third, has dastardly plans for their future! Ten-year-old April is the only one who seems to notice that something is wrong - very wrong -- and she is determined to do what it takes to stop Big Nick from messing with her family.

"We are delighted to be working with CINAR once again," said Christian Davin, President of Alphanim, "and we look forward to delivering this animation series together."

Weekend Box Office Estimates are In
Estimates for the weekend Box Office are in and Toy Story 2 once again ruled the weekend with $28.8 million. The second place film, James Bond: The World is Not Enough , brought in only $10.6 million. Toy Story 2's performance brings its 12-day total to $117 million. Final numbers are due this evening.


Sunday, December 5, 1999

Toy Story 2 Takes in $13.1 Million Saturday
Toy Story 2 continued to dominate the Box Office on Saturday, bringing in $13.1 million and hitting blockbuster status with a total of $108 million in just its first nine days of release. How does this compare to The Lion King, which rules as the number one money making animated film of all time? In 1994 it took The Lion King (a summer release) 10 days to break the $100 million mark. So far Toy Story 2 is ahead of those numbers. It will still be tough to top The Lion King, however,  because Disney strategically took The Lion King out of theaters after 13 weeks and didn't rerelease it into theaters for two months — Thanksgiving time in 1994 to bring in millions more. It's doubtful that the same strategy will be applied to Toy Story 2.

No film is coming close to Toy Story 2's numbers at the Box Office. On Saturday, the second place film, James Bond: The World is Not Enough made only $4.9 million.

Pokemon: The First Movie made $1.1 million on Saturday to reach a total of $80 million. It looks like the movie willl have a tough time topping the $100 million mark because of drastic drops from its opening weekend and bad word of mouth.


Saturday, December 4, 1999

Los Angeles Times: "Animation Whiz John Lasseter Just May Be the New Walt Disney"
The Los Angeles Times is comparing Toy Story 2's John Lasseter with Walt Disney, claiming that he may be the new Walt Disney. On Friday, the LA Times stated, "Who's the hottest director in the movie business today with a so-far flawless track record? Not Steven Spielberg. It's John Lasseter, the unpretentious 42-year-old animation whiz who directed the huge hit Toy Story 2 , just released by Walt Disney Co. With three blockbusters in three tries, Lasseter is in the unheard-of position of batting 1,000 in the movie business...Many see him as the emerging Walt Disney of the computer animation generation." Click here to read the full article then click here to post your opinion on the article.

Toy Story 2 to Become Blockbuster Today
Toy Story 2 will surpass the $100 million mark today - only 10 days after opening nationally. On Friday, Toy Story 2 made $6.5 million, twice as much as the second place movie, James Bond: The World is Not Enough. After Friday results, the total take of Toy Story 2 is $95.5 million.


Friday, December 3, 1999

All CGI "Casper" to Be Produced by Harvey and Mainframe
The Harvey Entertainment Company today announced an agreement with Canada's Mainframe Entertainment, Inc. to produce the first all-computer generated imagery (CGI) direct-to-video film based on Harvey's Casper, the Friendly Ghost franchise. Production, which has already commenced, will be funded by Harvey Entertainment, with release to the home video market scheduled for Christmas 2000. A previous live-action/CGI Casper direct-to-video feature, "Casper, A Spirited Beginning," sold over 3 million units worldwide. Alisha Serold, Executive Director of Production and Acquisitions at Harvey Entertainment will oversee production. Distribution rights are currently under discussion with a major studio.

Rick Mischel, President of Harvey Entertainment, said, "Our priority is to reinvigorate our traditional base of operations by developing entertainment projects that leverage our impressive, proven character portfolio. This production, which will be the first-ever, all-computer animated Casper, is being produced by Mainframe Entertainment, one of the most exceptional and commercially successful CGI companies in the business. Mainframe's expertise will bring a fresh and exciting new look to the Casper franchise to appeal to today's kids."

Included in the production will be all new original songs as well as a new version of the classic 'Casper, the Friendly Ghost' theme.

"We're very pleased to be working with the new team at Harvey Entertainment on the Casper project," said Ian Pearson, CEO and President of Mainframe. "The Casper property has such longevity, and there are so many stories yet to be told. We believe CGI is a perfect medium for Casper and look forward to the opportunity to blow everyone away with an amazing new look and feel for Casper in the new millennium." Pearson continued, "Mainframe has been planning to move into the direct-to-video market for some time, and we're delighted that our debut will be with Casper, a franchise that has proven itself to be an evergreen property."

Brad Bird to Appear at WB Store in Glendale this Sunday!
Brad Bird, writer and director of the critically acclaimed Warner Bros. animated feature film The Iron Giant, and some of the key artistic visionaries behind the film will appear at Warner Bros. Studio Store Gallery on Sunday, December 5, from 3 to 5 p.m. to debut two limited edition works of art inspired by the film.

The key artists from The Iron Giant joining Bird include Mark Andrews, Storyboard Artist; Alan Bodner, Art Director; Tony Fucile, Head of Animation; Paul Rogers, Illustrator; Dennis Venizelos, Head of Background Department; Dean Wellins, Supervising Animator and Storyboard Artist; and Mark Whiting, Production Designer.

"The Iron Giant Character Collection," a series of fine art giclee prints featuring four of the film's main characters, will be debuted at the reception and is available only at Warner Bros. Studio Store Gallery special events. The unframed portfolio set is printed using the giclee process, which produces exceptional quality digital prints from electronic files. Included with the set is a tourage sheet that is hand-numbered and signed by Bird, Bodner, Andrews, Rogers, Fucile, Venizelos and Wellins.

The second piece debuting at the collectors' reception is The Iron Giant one-sheet, a limited edition, framed giclee print, developed by Bird and Whiting. The work combines design concepts from the film with the look of Soviet propaganda posters to yield a collision between movie posters; a clash of a low-brow monster movie and a highbrow foreign film. Each piece is hand-numbered and signed by Bird and Whiting.

Both the portfolio and the framed one-sheet are available in an edition size of 250. The retail price of each is $250.

The Iron Giant , currently available from Warner Home Video, tells the story of Hogarth, a headstrong and imaginative boy who finds a 50-foot giant with an insatiable appetite for metal and a childlike curiosity about its new world. When rumors of the Iron Giant turn into paranoia, threatening the possible destruction of Rockwell, Maine, Hogarth turns to his friend, the Iron Giant, who ultimately finds its humanity by unselfishly saving the town's residents from their own fears and prejudices.


Thursday, December 2, 1999

Toy Story 2 Finishes First Week at $85 Million
Toy Story 2 wrapped up its first week at the US Box Office with a sweet $85 million. The astonishing $80 million five-day opening was the fourth highest in history, only topped by Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, The Lost World, and Independence Day. Some analysts are predicting that Toy Story 2 will finish its US run at $250 million.

In related news, stock for Pixar (traded under PIXR), which created Toy Story 2, has failed to rise since the movie was released. In fact it has dropped over $6 a share going from $49 to $42.6 a share.

Only 35 Days Left in Contest!
There's only 35 days left in the Animation Artist History of Animation contest where one person will win a signed limited edition copy of The Illusion of Life, that originally sold in 1981. The limited edition set (limited to $2,500 copies) quickly sold out. The contest does require an essay, which increases the chances of winning since it is a skills contest versus a chance contest. The essay is on "The History of Animation."
Click here for entry details!


Wednesday, December 1, 1999

Young Actor Gets Disney Voice Role
Walt Disney Home Video announced today that Haley Joel Osment, the talented co-star of Hollywood Pictures' highly successful psychological thriller, The Sixth Sense, has been cast as the voice of Disney's beloved animated puppy, Spot, one of the most widely known preschool characters from the best-selling line of books by Eric Hill.

No stranger to animation, Haley Joel Osment has provided numerous voices in both animated series and film, including a role as the voice of "Chip" in Walt Disney Home Video's "Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas," and the soon to be released Disney Video Premiere, "The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Part II."

While Disney currently offers seven Spot short videos, the video release of "Discover Spot," produced by King Rollo Films Ltd., marks the adorable puppy's first-ever full-length video. Containing 13 songs, "Discover Spot" highlights Spot's everyday adventures and features live-action interactive learning recaps after each story that foster such pre-school skills as imagination, creativity and following the rules. Featuring an exclusive Spot puzzle inside of every video, "Discover Spot" debuts on June 13, 2000 at a collectible price of $19.99 (SRP).

Toy Story 2 Makes $2.5 million on Monday
Continuing its strong performance at the Box Office, Toy Story 2 made another $2.5 million on Monday to bring its six day total to $83 million.

 

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