Monday, May 31, 1999
Star Wars: Episode 1 Passes $200 Million in 13 Days
Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace
broke another record by being the first movie in history to reach $200 million in within 13 days. The special effects filled movie (over 2,000 special effect shots) opens in Austrlia this coming weekend.
Sunday, May 30, 1999
Animation Channel Coming to Latin America
Kushner-Locke Co. has that they have entered an agreement with Toei Animation to license Toei's animated product. Toei has one of the largest animation libraries in the world. K-L plans to use
the newly acquired product to launch its own Spanish language animation channel in Latin America. The deal secures K-L 1400 half-hour episodes, in the first three years, of Toei animated product including
the popular series "Sailormoon" and "Dragon Ball Z." Toei is one of the leading animation companies in Japan and has enjoyed success in Latin America, since 1994, with its popular
children's animated product.
Saturday, May 29, 1999
Rosie O'Donnell Show Animation Wins Emmy
Mr. Transaction Information Systems (TIS), an e-business solutions company, won an Emmy Award for its animation for "The Rosie O'Donnell Show".
The award, for Best Main Title Design, was presented on May 15 in New York City to TIS Interactive Studios' Executive Producer Mark Schneider and their Creative Director, George Engelbrecht. Schneider and
Engelbrecht created all of the animated opens for "The Rosie O'Donnell Show" since the show's inception three years ago, including "The Rosie O'Donnell Show Orlando Islands of Adventure,"
the popular special that aired from Universal Studios' Islands of Adventure in early May.
.The Emmy-winning opening, seen by viewers on the nationally syndicated show during the 1998-99 season,
was created in traditional cell animation to capture the retro flavor for which TIS Interactive Studios is known. "We chose cell animation to convey the universal appeal of Rosie's
personality," said Schneider. "We can put her in any situation that is positive, fun and lively."
This is the second consecutive year in which the studio's "The
Rosie O'Donnell Show" animation has received Emmy recognition. In addition to winning the award this year, it was nominated for the award last year.
Friday, May 28, 1999
Eddie Murphy Upset at FOX?
Mr. Showbiz is reporting claims that Eddie Murphy is furious because FOX didn't put
"The PJs" into its Fall lineup. However, the Los Angeles Times reports that rumors of Eddie Murphy leaving the show all together because of FOX are reportedly untrue.
"Pokemon" Huge Winner for Warner Brothers
Warner Brothers "Pokemon" is not only maintaining its high ratings, but is also growing in viewership. According to Variety, the viewership of
"Pokemon" raised 5% this season and continues to increase.
Thursday, May 27, 1999
Saban Goes to Malaysia
According to today's Hollywood Reporter, "Saban International, the global distribution division of Fox Family Worldwide, has inked a three- year deal with
Malaysian terrestrial broadcaster NTV7 to launch a two-hour Fox Kids-branded block of animated and live-action programming. Under the terms of the deal, the network will initially broadcast a two-hour block
of Fox Kids-branded programming every Sunday morning, featuring four half-hour series from Saban's extensive library of more than 5,500 half-hours of children's animated and live-action programming."
Star Wars: Episode 1 for $2.89?
Pirated copies of Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace are already starting to hit other countries according to the South China Morning
Post newspaper. The illegal copies are being sold on the streets of at least three countries (including Hong Kong) for $2.89 US).
Wednesday, May 26, 1999
Stakes Are Raised in Katzenberg Versus Disney Lawsuit
Things got interesting in the penalty phase of the Katzenberg versus
Disney lawsuit yesterday after, according to The Hollywood Reporter, Katzenberg raised "the stakes... against the studio to $580 million and accused Disney of having 'intentionally destroyed' key
documents in the case." Arguments from both sides are being heard on exactly how much Katzenberg is owed. The lawsuit was originally for $250 million, but later raised to $500 million and now $580
million. After both sides present financial figures, the judge will give a final order to Disney on the amount it is to pay Katzenberg.
Roger Ebert to Explore Animation in Special Edition
From Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace... from When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth to
Jurassic Park ... from Futurama to Tarzan
... Roger Ebert explores the amazing animation boom in "That's Not All Folks!," a special edition of "Siskel & Ebert" airing in syndication the weekend of May 29-30, 1999. "Animation as an art form is even older than the movies," notes Ebert in the opening moments of the program. "And now, at the end of film's first century, it seems poised to finally come into its own as an art form for adults as well as children." In this special themed episode, Ebert examines the elements that have brought the medium from simple cartoons to the lush animation and computerized imaging so familiar to contemporary audiences
Tuesday, May 25, 1999
Arthur Wins Emmy for "Outstanding Childrens Animated Program"
CINAR Corporation and WGBH Boston are pleased to announce that Arthur, the popular PBS children's series, has garnered a Daytime
Emmy Award for Outstanding Children's Animated Program. This is the second consecutive year that Arthur has won an Emmy in this category. The Emmy was announced Sunday at the 26th Annual Daytime Emmy
Awards ceremony in New York City. Arthur is brought to public television by CINAR Corporation and WGBH Boston, and is based on the best-selling children's books by author Marc Brown. Arthur
is currently PBS' number one kid's show and both the top- rated children's series (kids aged 2-11) and the top pre-school program on all of television. This October, the series will begin its fourth season on American public television, with ten all new episodes that will focus on the library. In Canada,
Arthur airs daily in English on TVOntario and on CBC TV; and also airs in French on Societe Radio-Canada. Arthur is also a global hit and has been sold in over 120 countries.
Monday, May 24, 1999
The Prince of Egypt Coming September 14!
The Prince of Egypt
will be released to video and DVD on Tuesday, September 14, 1999. The suggested retail price for the video will be $26.99 and the suggested retail price for the DVD will be $34.99. The DVD will include many extras including outtakes and a director's commentary track. A beanbag camel will be included with most video copies.
Fantasia 2000 IMAX Details Released
reports that more IMAX theaters are preparing for the premiere of Disney's Fantasia 2000. Approximately 60-70 IMAX theaters are expected to sign up to show Fantasia 2000. But a number are refusing to
show Fantasia 2000
because of restrictions placed by Disney, including the asking of 50% of all ticket sales (versus the normal 15%) and a restriction that theaters must make Fantasia 2000 the exclusive film they show.
Fantasia 2000 is 90 minutes in length and opens on January 1, 2000.
Britain Censors Mulan
The British Board of Film Classification has revealed that it had to censor
in order to make it suitable for all children. The part censored was a head butt between two of the main characters that the board felt children might try to imitate and hurt themselves. It's the first time Disney has had an animation censored since
Sunday, May 23, 1999
Tarzan is "A Slam Dunk"
Orange County Register columnist Barry Koltnow calls Tarzan
"a slam dunk" in his Sunday column, saying "this is such a slam dunk that I can't stand it." His column was talking about summer films and which ones are "for sure" moneymakers, putting Tarzan
near the top of the list. Tarzan has received rave reviews from those lucky enough to see previews of the film which opens on June 18.
Star Wars: Episode One
Profits Lower Than Expected
Many analysts predicted that by the end of Saturday, Star Wars: Episode One
would have brought in over $120 million. The final figures, however, through Saturday showed the film only made $84.4 million, still a very impressive number. The movie couldn't produce as much business on Saturday as it had when it opened on Wednesday.
Saturday, May 22, 1999
Titan A.E. Trailer Appears Before Star Wars: Episode 1
If you've seen Star Wars: Episode 1, you are already aware that a very short movie trailer for Titan A.E. (formerly Planet Ice) appears just
before the movie starts. The trailer doesn't show any characters, but does show the explosion of Earth and the ship leaving Earth for a new home. As reported many months ago by Animation Artist
magazine, the A.E. stands for After Earth, which is when the animated adventure takes place.
Fox Makes Changes to Cartoon Lineup!
Fox is throwing a wrench into its all animation
Tuesday night lineup. The network has announced it is moving "King of the Hill" and "Futurama" to Sunday's (this Fall) and has put "The PJs" on temporary hold for the Fall.
Friday, May 21, 1999
A Bug's Life Rentals Remain Strong
Disney's A Bug's Life
video remained strong in rentals, placing fifth last week in its fourth week of release, according to the Video Software Dealers Association. It dropped from third the prior week and remains the only animated film in the top 10 rental chart.
Star Wars: Episode 1 Makes $28.5 Million on Opening Day
Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace
made $28.5 million in its opening day, the highest one-day total ever at the box office. Even so, it was below many analyst predictions that said the film would make between $30 - $45 million.
Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace has over 2,000 special effects shots, the majority by Industrial Light and Magic.
Thumb Wars Ratings Are In
Tuesday's airing of
Thumb Wars received a rating/share of 2.6/4 on Tuesday night making it the second most watched show on UPN Tuesday night, but placing it far below any of the shows on WB, FOX, NBC, CBS, and ABC.
Thumb Wars is the unique parody of Star Wars, using thumbs and lots of CGI and animation.
Thursday, May 20, 1999
Katzenberg Wins Lawsuit Against Disney!
Judge Paul Breckenridge has handed Jeffrey Katzenberg a major victory by ruling in his favor after weeks of intensive battles in the Katzenberg versus Disney
lawsuit. The judge ruled that Katzenberg was entitled to the 2% bonus in his contract even though he left Disney before his contract expired. According to Variety, the judge "also ruled
that Disney may have breached its contract with Katzenberg even earlier than 1994, when he left the company without exercising a two-year contract extension. At stake is 10% statutory interest per year that
would be tacked on to any award. Breckenridge further ruled that Katzenberg can go after revenues earned by Disney merchandise created in-house (rather than licensed), and can go after online
earnings." Furthermore, the Orange County Register
reports that the judge "also ruled that because of the breach, Disney owes Katzenberg interest on his bonus," which could be significant. The trial now enters its final phase to determine the amount that Katzenberg is owed, which could take up to six weeks.
In another interesting development, ABC (which is owned by Disney) has canned the pilot of a new and promising TV series created by DreamWorks (which Katzenberg is an owner). The show, called
"Two of a Kind" had received great previews and caused speculation that Disney may have dropped it in retaliation for the Katzenberg lawsuit.
Star Wars: Episode One
Earnings Soar in First Six Hours
Not very many movies can boast that it made an estimated $7.5 million between the hours of midnight and 6AM. Yet that appears to be the case with
Star Wars: Episode One - The Phantom Menace. When final numbers are tallied later this afternoon, it is expected that this effects filled adventure (over 2,000 special effect shots) will have made
between $35 and $50 million. Many theaters continue to show the movie 24 hours a day. Many fans of the movie reported seeing it anywhere from 2-5 times on Wednesday, its first official day in
Wednesday, May 19, 1999
New Program Turns Photos Into 3D Images
Computers, the Sweden-based developer of Final Effects, Cult Effects and the Best of Comdex finalist Cult3D interactive web modeling tool, has partnered with Brussels-based modeling firm Eyetronics to
deliver the ability to produce fully interactive 3D models at the touch of a button. Eyetronics' newest offering, The ShapeSnatcher System, turns any digital, analog or video camera into a
powerful 3D acquisition device, allowing developers to capture 3D images easily, eliminating the need to spend hours on intricate modeling in CAD and design programs. Those images can then be
integrated into Cycore's Cult3D Editor to produce fully functional web-based models that allow Web surfers to "interact" with the models in real-time.
The ShapeSnatcher 3D-Toolkit
turns your camera into a real 3D-acquistion device. Just insert the ShapeSnatcher Slide into any slide projector, project the slide onto any object, and capture the image. The ShapeSnatcher
Software creates the 3D model. The software works with a broad range of cameras, ranging from low- to high-end models. The 3D models created with the ShapeSnatcher are exported into Cycore's Cult3D
with a single mouse click. The Cult 3D Editor's drag and drop functionality adds interactivity to the 3D model without the need for extensive programming knowledge.
The pricing of
the product is very unusual. You can download it for free, but if you post a 3D image to the Web, you must pay $3600!
Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace Opens
Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace
opened in theaters today with over 2,000 special effects, most created by Industrial Light & Magic, which did the original trilogy. It is estimated that today alone, Star Wars: Episode 1 - The
Phantom Menace will make $50 million.
Tuesday, May 18, 1999
Thumb Wars Airs Tonight!
UPN will air a parody of Star Wars tonight (Tuesday) called Thumb Wars. This special, by Steve Oedekerk, uses
thumbs and CGI to tell the story of Star Wars in a humorous way. The Animation Artist team saw another production of Steve Oedekerk called Thumbtanic, which is a humorous (and excellent)
offtake of Titanic. In a special showing before 500 people in December, Thumbtanic received rave reviews as a classic parody.
According a feature in the June/July issue of
NewTekniques (which hits newsstands on June 15), Steve Oedekerk's team had only eight weeks to complete Thumb Wars. "Thumb-sized
sets, spaceships, and costumes had to be created at warp speed. LightWave artists had to be recruited to model and animate the outer space scenes. Computer networks had to be purchased and integrated into
the production pipeline. And 2D artists had to be rounded up and trained in thumb compositing techniques."
The half-hour special airs tonight (Tuesday, May 18) on UPN at 9:30 PM PST/EST. It is
an O Entertainment production.
Tarzan Exhibit Opens This Week
This summer the International Museum of Cartoon Art (IMCA) takes an adventurous look
at Tarzan, the jungle hero created by Edgar Rice Burroughs. "Tarzan: From Burroughs to Disney" is a comprehensive world premiere exhibition celebrating the 70th anniversary of the first comic strip
adaptation of Burroughs' Tarzan of the Apes drawn by Hal Foster. It is scheduled to debut May 22, 1999 and will be on display through Sept. 19, 1999.
Tarzan of the Apes, first published by
All-Story Magazine in 1912, has been adapted to every form of media, including movies, comic books, radio, television and comic strips. Assembled by Guest Curator Brian Walker for IMCA, "Tarzan: From
Burroughs to Disney" features art and artifacts illustrating the evolution of Tarzan -- from Burroughs' hand-written manuscripts to the computer-generated jungle environments of Walt Disney Pictures'
animated feature-length film Tarzan, scheduled for release this June.
IMCA's "Tarzan: From Burroughs to Disney" is an educational and entertaining "swing" into the
legendary adventures of Tarzan through the eyes of the many artists that have brought the "Lord of the Jungle" to life. Featured will be comic strip art by Hal Foster and Burne Hogarth, comic book
art by Joe Kubert and Tom Yeates, animation art from Disney's Tarzan and original paintings.
"The timing is perfect for this blockbuster art exhibition, especially since Disney's animated
film release this summer will introduce Tarzan to a whole new generation," said Abby Brennan Roeloffs, executive director of IMCA Cartoon Art, the first and only international museum devoted to the
collection, preservation, exhibition and study of all genres of cartoon art
Visitors can also tour the Cartoon Hall of Fame, soar with Superman, pass time with Peanuts and create cartoons in the
Create-A-Toon Center. IMCA -- open Tuesday through Sunday -- is located at 201 Plaza Real in Boca Raton's Mizner Park. For more information, call 561/391-2200.
Monday, May 17, 1999
Photos From "The PJs"
The Hilton-Jacobs Projects' new rooftop garden sprouts more than just crops when tension grows between Thurgood and Haiti Lady (first photo), who places a
curse on the Super and all he touches (second photo), but Thurgood reaps the fruits of his labor despite the voodoo hex and sends Haiti Lady into depression in the
"Haiti Sings the Blues" episode of "The PJs," airing tommorow — Tuesday, May 18, 9 PM (ET/PT) on FOX.
Disney's Doug to Deliver Internet Safety Message for Kids and Parents
Doug and his best pal Skeeter, like many kids today, are very computer savvy, using the Internet to play games, find information, get help with homework and meet new friends online.
However, even the seemingly safe environment of Bluffington isn't immune to cyber predators, as Doug and Skeeter find out in "Doug's Adventures
Online," a special episode of the animated series "Disney's Doug," airing Saturday, June 5, 1999, 8:30-10:30 a.m. (ET)/7:30-9:30 a.m. (PT) within
"Disney's One Saturday Morning" on ABC.
While surfing the 'Net to find music for the upcoming dance, Doug and his
buddy Skeeter encounter Webster, a "kid" they agree to meet to exchange some records. What the boys don't know is that Webster is really
"Friendly Frankie," a rather unscrupulous adult. Instead of meeting them, however, Webster/Frankie creates a distraction and steals their records.
Horrified, Doug and Skeeter go back online and find similar records for sale at Friendly Frankie's Used Records where the adventure intensifies.
Sunday, May 16, 1999
Bugs Bunny Game to Have its own Movie Trailer
Infogrames Entertainment Inc. will support "Bugs Bunny Lost In Time," the
outrageous and comical Looney Tunes adventure game starring the Warner Bros. famed character, with trailers May 15 through July 15 on 10,000 movie screens nationwide. Part of a $3 million promotional
campaign developed for Screenvision by Infogrames, the ads offer fans a first chance to view the highly anticipated video game for the Sony
PlayStation starring the "wascally wabbit" Bugs Bunny and a cast of classic Looney Tunes characters.
The ads will generate an estimated 90 million impressions for the title
during the competitive summer movie season. Infogrames' two-month promotional spot will run alongside the summer's most anticipated blockbuster movies, projected by some to be the biggest box office
grossing summer of all time.
The 30-second advertisement will focus on the wacky Looney Tunes game "Bugs Bunny Lost In Time," and preview upcoming titles in Infogrames'
hilarious Looney Tunes series.
"We felt that going back on the big screen at this time is the best way to get
the message out about this great product line that is fun for everyone," Rob Sebastian, director, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, said. "Warner
Bros. and Infogrames are committed to the success of `Bugs Bunny Lost In Time' and the entire Looney Tunes line."
The "Lost in Time" movie trailer is the latest promotion in Infogrames' multi-million dollar campaign to launch its Looney Tunes line of "Games for
the Next Mil-Looney-Um." The campaign officially kicked off in New York's Central Park where Bugs Bunny, star of Infogrames' Game Boy
Color title "Carrot Crazy," participated with kids in a hunt for carrots in the world's largest carrot patch.
Saturday, May 15, 1999
Fox Takes Over Animation for "Family Guy"
Twentieth Century Fox Television and Film Roman Thursday announced
that due to production differences, the companies have mutually agreed that Fox should take over animation responsibilities of "Family Guy"
effective June 1. Fox will bring the animation in-house, and Film Roman has committed to work closely with Fox during the transition period. To
date, Film Roman has produced 15 episodes of "Family Guy," and will continue to produce the animation for "The Simpsons," in production for its
upcoming eleventh season, and "King of the Hill," in production for its fourth season.
Release of The Iron Giant Soundtrack Coming on August 3
Rhino Records will be releasing the soundtrack to The Iron Giant on August 3, 1999.
Friday, May 14, 1999
Netter Digital Reports Third Quarter Results
Netter Digital Entertainment Inc. has announced that net income from
continuing operations for the third quarter of fiscal 1999 (ended March 31, 1999) was $5,000, or $0.00 per diluted share. This compares to net
income from continuing operations for the third quarter of fiscal 1998 of $77,000, or $0.02 per diluted share. Revenue for the fiscal 1999 third
quarter was $6.4 million compared to $6.7 million for the same period a year earlier.
Reflecting an increase in the share of revenue attributable to the Company's
computer animation and visual effects production services, which typically carry a higher margin than its live action entertainment production business,
gross margin rose to 11.6% of revenue for the fiscal 1999 third quarter from 10.1% for last year's third quarter. Higher revenue from the
Company's "Voltron" 3D animated television series was more than offset in the quarter by a decline in revenue from its "Babylon 5"/"Crusade" live
action productions. "Crusade" has been scheduled to begin airing nationally on TNT on June 9, 1999.
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Douglas Netter said: "Fourth
quarter revenue and earnings will be negatively affected by the culmination during the third quarter of the `Crusade' production at 13 episodes for this
season. In addition, `Voltron' completes production of its first season during the fourth quarter. We are in discussions regarding a reorder for `Voltron.'"
Thursday, May 13, 1999
THQ, Inc. Turning Disney's Toy Story 2
into a Nintendo Game for Game Boy Color
Toy Story 2: The Game is scheduled to be released around Thanksgiving -
at the same time the movie Toy Story 2 hits theatres. The first "Toy Story" game for Game Boy enjoyed high sales and THQ company expects this
second game for Game Boy Color to be just as successful, if not more.
"The original Disney/Pixar's 'Toy Story' for the Game Boy system
enjoyed tremendous success among Game Boy fans as well as fans of the blockbuster animated fearture film," says Joe Adney, vice president of
marketing for THQ, "Bringing this highly recognizable sequel to the all-new Game Boy Color system promises a more-engaging gaming experience."
The game is based on Toy Story 2
with eight levels to play. Enthusiasts play Buzz Lightyear who must save Woody from an evil toy collector.
Wednesday, May 12, 1999
NewTek Names Premiere LightWave 3D Training Facility
NewTek has announced that it has selected 3D Exchange to become its premier training facility for NewTek products. 3D Exchange will offer a
complete curriculum for LightWave 3D, Aura, Inspire and Video Toaster users and production facilities. In addition, 3D Exchange has been chosen to train and accredit other NewTek training facilities.
"We selected 3D Exchange as our Premier Training Facility because they have an internationally recognized LightWave animators heading up their
training program. Ace Miles has taught LightWave 3D classes at numerous colleges and art schools and brings his background in animation and game
design to his students" said Pinakin Katbamna, vice president of sales for NewTek. "Ace has awesome skills in animation and modeling, and
because he used to work at Atari, he is also well versed in game development."
"We are extremely pleased and honored to have been chosen as
NewTek's Premier Training Facility, said Karen Tosoni, CEO and owner of 3D Exchange. "We not only have training in NewTek software but now
over 1000 square of our facility is dedicated to "Production Simulation Workshops". This is our way of getting the students up to speed and ready for the real world."
Tuesday, May 11, 1999
Disney Versus Katzenberg Trial Update - Closing Arguments
Tuesday's Variety reports that "Jeffrey Katzenberg's attorney laid the
blame for his client's breach-of-contract lawsuit squarely at the feet of Disney CEO Michael Eisner on Monday during closing arguments." In
addition Variety says, "Fields highlighted memo after memo showing that the 2% bonus would survive even if Katzenberg exercised an 'out' clause
in his contract and left in 1994 rather than 1996." Katzenberg is suing Disney for $500 million for money he claims he is owed due to a 2%
bonus clause in his contract. Disney says the bonus was forfeited when Katzenberg left Disney two years before his contract expired.
China Boycotts All US Films
China has pulled all US films from its theaters and announced a boycott of all US films (including animations like Tarzan) because of the NATO
bombing of the Chinese embassy in Yugoslavia. The boycott was not organized by the Chinese government, but rather the theater chains in
China upset over the bombing. So what types of movies are now being shown in China? According to The Hollywood Reporter, the theaters are
"showing old films that depict Chinese fighting against the United States during the Korean War."
Monday, May 10, 1999
Starship Troopers To Air on The
Bohbot Kids Network
"Starship Troopers: Bug Wars" is scheduled to premier in September 1999 on the BKN (Bohbot Kids Network) and is expected to take kids
and their families through a vivid, realistic, exciting and entirely computer-generated worlds filled with bug-like alien invaders, exotic spacecraft and heroic earthlings. Foundation Imaging and Flat Earth
Productions, the animation studios responsible for producing the animated series, are making extensive use of the LightWave 3D animation and modeling program.
Set in the not-too-distant future, "Starship Troopers: Bug Wars" is based on the book Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein. The animated TV
series follows the ongoing adventures of four main Starship Troopers, who mobilize to fight the First Interstellar War against huge alien bugs with
extremely deadly ways. BKN has ordered 40 half-hour episodes of the series.
The entire series will be computer-generated. Human characters will be
animated using a combination of traditional keyframed motion and motion-capture technology, in which the animators put a suit on an actor and assign his movements to a computer-generated character. Under the
arrangement that Foundation Imaging and Flat Earth Productions have with Sony Pictures Entertainment's new entertainment group for kids, the
executive producers of the TV series, Foundation Imaging will produce 25 episodes and Flat Earth Productions will produce 15 episodes.
Sunday, May 9, 1999
Mulan Closes in China with Very Poor Results
SunSpot's Sun foreign staff reports that Mulan has finished its animated run
in China with very poor results, bringing in only $30,000 in China (outside of China it has made $300 million). So why did the story of a Chinese
heroine fair so poorly in China? SunSpot reports, that "the most intriguing reason for the movie's poor reception is that some people here just don't
think Disney's Mulan is very Chinese...many Chinese are wary of and a bit nationalistic toward foreigners' attempts to portray or define their country."
Even more out of place, according to some, was Mushu, who misportrayed the role of honor in China, particularly when the character
was first introduced. Mulan is available on video in the U.S. and has been available through piracy channels in China.
Saturday, May 8, 1999
Maya Takes Home Many NAB Awards
Maya, for SGI and Windows NT, was awarded the 1999 Platinum Award
for "Innovation in Technology for 2D, 3D Animation Software" by AV Video magazine at NAB '99 in Las Vegas. The award represents the vote
of the magazine's readership—the users of Maya. Maya also received this award in 1998. Bill Buxton, Chief Scientist, had the honor of accepting this year's award on behalf of Alias|Wavefront.
Another award, for "Best Animation Software" came from Film & Video magazine, the third award in this category that Alias|Wavefront has
received from this magazine. It is also based on ratings from the magazine's readership. Mark Sylvester, Alias|Wavefront's Ambassador, accepted the honor at NAB.
Post Magazine's 8th Annual Post Awards honored Maya NT 1.0, for Animation Software over $5K in the "Graphics and Special Effects" category.
Alias|Wavefront introduced Maya 2 with new character animation controls and Interactive Photorealistic Renderer (IPR) at NAB and previewed
Paint Effects, a particle-based 3D paint technology for Maya that paints animatable 3D shapes on 3D surfaces.
Friday, May 7, 1999
Disney Puts On Low-Key Defense Before Resting Case
Disney is putting on a low-key defense in the $500 million lawsuit filed
against it by Jeffrey Katzenberg over a 2% bonus he claims he is owed. In its first full day of defense Disney's lawyers, according to Daily Variety,
"aimed at narrowing the definition of eligible product for valuation. After brief testimony by four witnesses and readings from deposition transcripts,
in fact, Disney rested its defense in this first portion of the trial. Closing arguments on the so-called Phase IA are scheduled for Monday. During
the subdued proceedings Thursday, deposition testimony was read to strengthen Disney's argument that it had a reasonable belief that Katzenberg would forfeit his 2% bonus if he left in 1994 during an 'out'
period in his contract rather than staying until it ended in 1996." So what happens next? It looks like there will be up to a two week recess before
the judge renders his decision on what products Disney must pay Katzenberg 2% on. The trial will then move into the penalty phase to determine the amount that Katzenberg is owed.
ABC Gets Ratings Win With Disney's "MouseWorks"
The Hollywood Reporter states that ""Disney's Mickey MouseWorks" had a strong debut on ABC's Saturday morning lineup, boosting the
network to a ratings win in children 2-11 on May 1. "MouseWorks" -- the first original television series to feature Mickey Mouse and other classic
Disney animated characters such as Donald Duck, Goofy and Pluto -- delivered a 3.8 rating in the target audience, good enough for a 25 share in
the noon time period. It was ABC's best ratings performance in the time period since March 13 and 27% more than what the network averaged in the past four weeks."
Thursday, May 6, 1999
Katzenberg Team Rests in Katzenberg Versus Disney Trial
Katzenberg's lawyers gave their closing arguments yesterday, paving the way for Disney to present their defense in this $500 million dispute.
Katzenberg's lawyers held one of its biggest revelations until yesterday, revealing that Disney developed a "Project Snowball" to cheat Katzenberg
out of his 2% bonus. According to Variety, "With Katzenberg's lawyers resting their case Wednesday, Disney attorneys are expected to call a handful of witnesses Thursday. A former Disney employee testified
Wednesday that she 'briefed' Eisner on a memo that set out various termination scenarios for Katzenberg and the effect they would have on his
2% post-termination bonus." The quest to cheat Katzenberg out of his bonus (because of the success of the films he oversaw) apparently began in 1990, a full four years before Katzenberg left Disney.
Mickey's First 3D Experience
to be a Video Game
Disney Interactive, Inc. and Nintendo of America Inc. today announced that Disney's premier character Mickey Mouse will make his first 3D appearance in two games for the
Nintendo 64 platform. The Mickey products, a 'Mickey Racing' title (Game Boy Color), a 'Disney Racing' title (N64 and Game Boy Color) and a 'Mickey Adventure' title (home
console and Game Boy Color), will be created by award-winning developer Rare Ltd., and are scheduled for release during the holiday seasons of 1999, 2000 and 2001, respectively
FOX All Toon Tuesday Derails
Variety reports that "In its first test against aggressive firstrun competition, Fox's all-animation Tuesday lineup has fallen to fourth for the night in
adults 18-49 with lowest-yet numbers." Even "Futurama" went from first place for three straight weeks to last place among the major networks on
Tuesday. "King of the Hill" had its lowest viewership ever.
Wednesday, May 5, 1999
Michael Eisner Testifies in Katzenberg Versus Disney Trial
Tensions in the Katzenberg versus Disney trial picked up dramatically when Disney CEO Michael Eisner took the stand to defend Disney's
position that Jeffrey Katzenberg forfeited his 2% bonus when he left Disney before his contract was up. According to the Associated Press,
Eisner "testified Tuesday that he believed his former film boss Jeffrey Katzenberg had a dark side and acknowledged he may have told an
author, 'I hate the little midget.' Details of the infamous Hollywood feud between Eisner and Katzenberg surfaced during a trial over Katzenberg's
claim that Disney owes him at least $250 million in bonuses for work he did at the company before he quit in 1994."
According to Variety
, "Katzenberg attorney Bert Fields was trying to get Eisner to admit to having used the phrase in order to underscore the 'personal animus' theme of his case. It is that animus, Katzenberg's
lawyers maintain, that kept the former studio chief from receiving a controversial bonus worth hundreds of millions of dollars." At one point
Eisner stated to the lawyer, ""I think you're getting into an area that's ill-advised."
The Orange County Register reports, "Eisner also acknowledged that he
was so angry at Katzenberg [that] he was unwilling to reach a settlement in the former executive's claims to lucrative bonuses." It also reports that
"Eisner still had high praise for Katzenberg as a hard-working film executive, but Katzenberg's practice of going to the press 'just got real annoying.'"
In another interesting development,
The Hollywood Reporter stated that after early talks, Disney secretly paid Katzenberg $77 million in a partial settlement.
DreamWorks Gears Up For Spirit.
DreamWorks is starting pre-production on a new animated film called Spirit that is a story told from a horse's perspective, about being captured
and force into the civil war, according to a reliable source.
Tuesday, May 4, 1999
Pixar Starts Work on New Animated Film!
A May start date has been set for the production of Monsters, Inc. (tentative title), a new computer-animated feature to be produced by Pixar
Animation Studios under its arrangement with Walt Disney Studios, it was announced Tuesday by Thomas Schumacher, president of Walt Disney
Feature Animation, and Steve Jobs, chief executive officer of Pixar. The film is targeted for release in 2001.
Monsters, Inc. is a comedy set in the realm of things that go bump in the
night, where chaos breaks loose after a hapless monster accidentally lets a human child into the secret world. This latest original title from Pixar follows Toy Story, A Bug's Life
and the upcoming release of Toy Story 2.
Monsters, Inc. is being directed by Pete Docter, who received an Oscar(R) nomination for his role in creating the original story for Toy Story
, and David Silverman, the Emmy Award-winning supervising director of "The Simpsons." Darla K. Anderson, who produced last year's animated blockbuster, A Bug's Life
, is set to produce. John Lasseter, Pixar's two-time Oscar-winning director, and Andrew Stanton, co-director of A Bug's Life, will executive produce.
Hostile Witness Thinks Katzenberg Forfeited Bonus
Disney's chief operations officer, Sanford Litvack, was called as a hostile witness yesterday in the trial of Katzenberg versus Disney in which
Katzenberg is suing Disney for $500 million he said he is owed from a 2% bonus clause in his contract. According to Variety, Litvack "testified
Monday that he believed Jeffrey Katzenberg had forfeited a 2% post-termination bonus, but was not sure he could prove it in court because 'I had a dead witness on my hands [referring to former Disney
president Frank Wells who was killed in a plane crash]'... Litvack testified he quickly determined Katzenberg had forfeited the bonus when he left
during an early window in his contract." The trial will heat up again today when Disney CEO Michael Eisner takes the stand. Eisner is said to have
personally nixed a deal that would have settled the lawsuit for $100 million.
Monday, May 3, 1999
Katzenberg Doubles Damages He is Seeking From Disney!
The Katzenberg versus Disney trial is heating up. According to a portion of an article by the Hollywood Reporter, "
Jeffrey Katzenberg has raised the stakes dramatically in his ongoing legal battle with the Walt Disney Co.
Not only has he doubled the amount of damages he's seeking to $500 million from $250 million, but confidential documents unsealed recently by
the court reveal that he has also leveled serious new allegations against his former employer. One of the most provocative of Katzenberg's new
allegations is that Disney cheated him by making cozy movie licensing deals with ABC, which Disney bought in 1995 — the year after Katzenberg left
as head of the studio's filmed entertainment division because of a contract dispute with Disney chairman and CEO Michael Eisner."
The Prince of Egypt Web Site Takes Top Web Design Award
The Prince of Egypt Web site www.princeofegypt.com was named Best of Festival at the first annual International Web Page Awards, held in Sunnyvale, Calif., last Thursday evening. Media Revolution, a leading
developer of Internet solutions based in Santa Monica, created the site for DreamWorks Pictures' epic drama The Prince of Egypt. Competing
against 450 entries from around the world, Media Revolution was honored with the top prize as well as winning the Best of Film category and a Creative Excellence Award.
"The International Web Page Awards showcases the Web's strength as a vehicle for creativity and artistic flair. It differs from other Internet awards
programs in that it places the highest value on graphic design, rather than site popularity," said Ed Fish, the show's chairman. "The `Prince of Egypt'
site won the Best of Festival award because it contained many elements that were missing in other sites. It's unique use of Flash and Shockwave,
along with the elegant layout and ease of navigation, helped to complement the feel of the movie."
Sunday, May 2, 1999
"Beast Wars" Concludes This Week
"Beast Wars" ends its successful 3D animation TV series this week (in the US) with the airing of the final five episodes. On Monday, "Crossing the
Rubicon" airs. Tuesday is "Master Blaster." Wednesday is "Other Victories." The series concludes on Thursday and Friday with a two part
series titled "Nemesis." The series ran for three years and was created by MainFrame. The conclusion of this series will make way for a new series next year titled "Trasformers — Beast Machines."
The Iron Giant Publicity Picks Up!
Warner Brothers got a big boost for its upcoming animated film, The Iron Giant, when the Los Angeles Times wrote a big story last week on the animated movie titled, "A Sleeping Giant." In part, the article stated,
"While the animation community has been excited about the film for months, Warner Brothers has only lately discovered the film's potential appeal and is hurriedly mounting a multi-pronged marketing campaign,
which includes in-theater displays, local promotional activities and even sending director Brad Bird on a cross-country publicity tour. The studio has also begun manufacturing a line of Iron Giant
merchandise." For more information on The Iron Giant, visit the Animation Artist Iron Giant page by clicking here.
Saturday, May 1, 1999
The King and I Coming to Video and DVD on July 6
Warner Brothers is releasing its animated version of
The King and I to video and DVD on July 6, 1999. The release of the video and DVD will
be supported by a multi-million dollar advertising campaign targeting children, parents and families nationwide. The suggested retail price for the
VHS version will be $22.95 and the suggested retail price for the DVD version will be $24.95. Warner Brothers is known for doing a great job with its DVD titles and The King and I
will be no different. Extras on the DVD include:
The Creative Room/Animation and Music Evolution — Allows viewers
to explore the internal creative process of selected scenes. Behind the film, viewers can witness the animation and musical score develop from the
early, rough stages to full-blown animation and majestic orchestral sound.
Sing-a-long feature — Kids can easily master the songs with the guidance of highlighted lyrics.
The Sony Soundtrack Corner — Provides a karaoke function through which any would-be performer can take center stage.
Sizzle Reel -- Featurette with vocal stars of The King and I.
Spinware Web (DVD-ROM game) -- Kids will be able to enter an online contest to win movie collectibles.
In addition the DVD will be in widescreen mode and will contain animated
menus as well as random scene access.
Katzenberg Versus Disney Trial Update - Day Four
The Katzenberg versus Disney trial heated up on day four. According to Variety, "
Jeffrey Katzenberg on Thursday testified that Michael Eisner personally nixed Michael Ovitz's proposal for a settlement, and the two sides later battled over a document purporting to show a complex Disney
scheme for under-reporting income and over-reporting expenses to profit participants."
According to the Orange County Register, the proposal to settle the case
(so that it wouldn't get this far), which Eisner nixed, was for $100 million which is less than half of the reported $250 million that Katzenberg says he is owed. The Orange County Register
states, "His [Katzenberg] testimony reflected the tension that had grown between Eisner and Katzenberg, entertainment powerhouses who at one time were friends and colleagues.
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