June 19, 2000
Preparing New Animated Film
Threshold Digital Research Labs (TDRL), a subsidiary of Threshold
Entertainment, today announced start of production of its first
digitally animated feature film, FOODFIGHT! Threshold has raised
equity financing for the $50 million film with an infusion of investment
capital from Korean animation company Natural Image. Both companies
will share animation responsibilities, with TDRL heading up the
3D digital effort using its global network of animators working
from its Santa Monica headquarters.
reveals the real deal of what happens in the supermarket at night
when all the people leave. Product icons come alive in a "wild city"
and head towards the hottest club in town, the Copabanana. All's
well until Brand X moves into town. The film follows the epic adventures
of hundreds of branded characters from the familiar packages of
products including Dex Detective, Daredevil Dan, Mr. Clean, Twinkie
the Kid and others as they battle for control of the store.
is the most complex digitally animated film ever undertaken, with
thousands of different characters and hundreds of sets,” says Threshold
chairman and CEO, Larry Kasanoff. “We've searched the world for
the best talent and have found extraordinary 3-D animation talent
in Korea. We are proud to be working with Natural Image to make
Doolittle TV Animated Series Being Discussed
Nelvana Limited announced last week that it has acquired the development,
production, distribution and associated merchandise licensing rights
for animated television programming, based on the celebrated 13-book
series, Doctor Dolittle, written and illustrated by Hugh Lofting.
part of the Agreement, Nelvana has also acquired the production
publishing tie-in rights to animated television programming, which
the Company will develop and produce from its adaptation of such
book titles as The Story of Doctor Dolittle, The Voyages of Doctor
Dolittle, Doctor Dolittle's Circus, Doctor Dolittle's Zoo and Doctor
Dolittle's Caravan, among others.
will also develop and produce original stories based on the classic
character, who made his book debut in 1920. Written by world-renowned
and Newbery Medal Award-winning author and illustrator Hugh Lofting,
Doctor Dolittle follows the adventures of a fictional 19th Century
medical doctor as he works and talks with the animals in the English
town of Puddleby-on-the-Marsh.
The Story of Doctor Dolittle was first published 80 years ago, million
of books have been sold worldwide. The book series, available in
every major language, has spawned two major motion pictures, including
the memorable Doctor Dolittle, starring Rex Harrison and Dolittle,
starring Eddie Murphy. Michael Hirsh, Co-Chief Executive Officer
of Nelvana, says:
two generations, Doctor Dolittle's larger-than-life persona has
captured the imagination of millions of children. Today, a new generation
of youngsters around the world will be introduced to the wonderful
stories of this mythical character who talks with the animals. We
believe this property is a promising addition to our classic and
contemporary book-based portfolio, with great potential as an animated
children's TV series and a merchandising brand."
June 20, 2000
Here are the Box Office results for last weekend's animated films:
A.E. $9.4 Million ($3,430 per screen average)
5th at the Box Office (opening weekend)
Total to Date: $9.4 Million
$5.9 Million ($1,996 per screen average - 34% decrease)
7th at the Box Office (down from #4 last weekend)
Total to Date: $120.5 Million
2000 $2.9 Million ($2,217 per screen average)
11th at the Box Office (opening widescreen weekend)
Total to Date: $52.4 Million
Tigger Movie $90,551 ($401 per screen average - 27% increase)
36th at the Box Office (down from number 33 last weekend)
Total to Date: $45.1 Million
Road to El Dorado $79,013 ($646 per screen average - 46% decrease)
42nd at the Box Office (down from #29 last weekend)
Total to Date: $50.6 Million
Story 2 $60,433 ($623 per screen average - 17% decrease)
49th at the Box Office (down from #43 last weekend)
Total to Date: $245.6 Million
June 21, 2000
Put the “Go” in Stop Motion
According to the San Jose Mercury News:
did the Chicken Run animator cross the road? To get to the other
side. Then again, maybe it was to avoid the mind-numbing repetition,
the excruciating attention to detail or the delirium-inducing tedium
of taking nearly two years to get to the other side. That's how
long it took to create 85 minutes of stop-motion animation for the
film (and Aardman Animations managed that only by boosting its staff
to 385, more than double its normal size). Chicken Run, which opens
Wednesday, is the first feature-length effort from Aardman, British
creators of the Oscar-winning ‘Wallace & Gromit’ shorts.
remains so endearingly low-tech that its ‘digital’ elements consist
almost entirely of people's fingers. Using latex and silicone, the
animators create regiments of cluckless, pluckless Plasticine poultry,
then use their fingers to breathe life into the chickens.
here for the full story.
Run Characters Promote Reading
Rocky and Ginger, the claymation stars from Aardman Studios' new
film Chicken Run, are the latest movie tie ins to be featured in
an ad from the Newspaper Association of America that promotes reading
among young people.
quarter-page black-and-white ad features Rocky and Ginger reading
a newspaper, with the headline, "Encourage your children to read
a newspaper every day. Don't be CHICKEN!" The body copy reads, "When
you want to learn what is going on outside the fence, read a newspaper
as soon as the sun comes up! Read everyday ... newspapers are eggsciting!"
The ad closes with the familiar, "It all starts with newspapers"
here to view the ads in pdf format.
excited at the opportunity to promote reading among young people
in such a delightful and unique way," said NAA Senior Vice President
and Chief Marketing Officer John E. Kimball. "Featuring these characters
in ads promoting newspaper reading is a great way to make the connection
that reading not only is important, but can be fun and surprising
to open June 23, Chicken Run is the first full-length film from
Aardman Studios, home of the award-winning Wallace and Gromit, which
is known for its distinctive clay animation technique.
December 1999, NAA featured the animated mouse Stuart Little in
a similar ad that tied in with the opening of that hit film.
launched the "It all starts with newspapers" campaign in September
1997, followed by flights that began in April and October 1998,
and April 1999. In addition, an ad featuring Denver Broncos quarterback
John Elway was included in a special print and broadcast release
during and around the 1999 Super Bowl.
Femina/Jeary & Partners in New York City created the original ad
is a nonprofit organization representing the $57 billion newspaper
industry and more than 2,000 newspapers in the U.S. and Canada.
Animation Newsletter Tonight
A new edition of the Animation Artist Newsletter will be sent to
subscribers tonight. Besides containing a “sneak peek” at a new
section, tonight’s newsletter also tells readers how to win a signed
copy of the book “Chicken Run: Hatching the Movie.” If you are not
yet subscribed to the free newsletter, click
here to subscribe.
June 22, 2000
Looks to Future Feature Films
With Chicken Run now playing in select cities, Aardman Studios is
now setting its sight on its next two claymation films. Aardman
has already been working on its 2002 feature, The Tortoise and the
Hare and will follow that up with a feature-length version of “Wallace
other Chicken Run news, the soundtrack
for the movie has been released.
Destroyed Pooh Documents
A judge has ruled that Disney destroyed documents related to a lawsuit
that Stephen Slesinger, Inc. filed against the company over royalties.
The lawsuit has been in the court for years.
to a 1999 article by The American Reporter, “At the heart of the
underlying case is a 1983 license renewal agreement between Disney
and literary agent Stephen Slesinger, the creator of the Red Ryder
comics and movies. Slesinger acquired subsidiary rights to the Winnie
the Pooh books from Milne in 1929, and licensed them to Disney in
1961. The agreement requires Disney to pay royalties on all but
book sales of Winnie the Pooh characters to Slesinger and his heirs.
Stephen Slesinger, Inc., brought the case in Los Angeles Superior
Court in 1991.”
week an LA judge found that Disney willfully destroyed documents
related to the case in order to keep the documents from being presented
in the trial. Disney will be required to pay monetary sanctions
as a result of the findings.
to a March 20, 2000 Forbes article, “While Disney and Pooh Properties
declined to comment on any aspect of their royalty agreements, Thwaite
[Milne’s biographer] figures the licensing rights that were sold
to Disney in 1961 encompassed a renegotiation between the Milne
estate and Slesinger. Five years later Disney released the animated
short film Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree. The company has been
working its magic on the Pooh franchise ever since. So much so that,
according to the NPD Group, an agency that tracks licensed products,
Pooh is now Disney's most popular character, eclipsing even Mickey
Mouse in licensing income.”
Run Chat Today
The producers and directors of Chicken Run, Nick Park and Peter
Lord, will be conducting a live online chat today on Yahoo!. At
2:30PM EST (11:30AM PST) log onto http://chat.yahoo.com/ in order
to access the event.
June 23, 2000
Artist Opens Titan A.E. Movie Site
Animation Artist Magazine today opened its Titan A.E. movie site,
covering the animated sci-fi adventure from Fox Animation Studios.
To visit the Animation Artist Titan A.E. Movie Site, click
2000 Headed Back to IMAX Screens
According to Variety:
Fantasia 2000, which grossed a healthy $64 million worldwide during
an exclusive four-month IMAX run earlier this year, will return
to the giant screen in August.
Viane, president of Disney's Buena Vista distribution unit, said
the re-release would go until the end of the year in all, or nearly
all, of the 54 IMAX venues that have already played the updated
animated classic. Exact dates for each venue have not been set.
was always an open question where we would go back, but we had such
a successful run at the theaters that it was an easy decision,’
Artist Introduces Two Chicken Run Contests
To compliment the opening of Chicken Run in theaters today, Animation
Artist Magazine is offering two new contests. For full details on
these new contests, visit the Animation Artist Contests pages at
Project” Enters Next Phase
As announced in Wednesday’s Animation Artist Newsletter, “The Project”
by several Animation Artist readers has entered its next phased
with a animatic being completed earlier this week. You can now view
the 26-second animatic on our new “The Project” page at http://www.animationartist.com/theproject/
. Be warned that the animatic is 16mb large (QuickTime format).
Run has Strong Showing!
Chicken Run opened on only six screens Wednesday in Los Angeles
and New York. If the early openings are any indication, Chicken
Run is in for a big haul. For its six screen opening, Chicken Run
garnished a 17th place ranking at the Box Office with an impressive
$7,888 per screen average. It opens throughout the nation today
in 2,600 theaters (in contrast, Titan A.E. last weekend opened on
would be considered a great opening for Chicken Run? Over $14 million
would be considered a successful opening weekend. Click
here to visit the Animation Artist Chicken Run Website.
June 24, 2000
Technician Joins Pulse Entertainment
Pulse Entertainment announced today that Leo Hourvitz, a computer
graphics and animation pioneer, has been appointed Vice President
of Creative Content Technology. The announcement was made by Pulse
Entertainment's President Mark Yahiro, to whom Hourvitz will report.
extensive experience as an interactive entertainment engineer and
artist will be of immense value as Pulse expands and amplifies the
execution and implementation of streaming media on the Web," said
Pulse Entertainment's CEO Fred Angelopoulos. "His innovative approach
to driving our technology to its creative limits inspires 3D developers
and animators alike."
will be responsible for driving Pulse Entertainment's initiatives
to integrate its proprietary technology in the production of creative
content for the Web, evangelizing the opportunities for 3D developers
to enliven streaming rich media and 3D animation using Pulse's suite
of products. Mr. Hourvitz will also oversee the validation of new
technology, ensuring application functionality in real-life production
environments, bringing to bear his vast experience and creative
brilliance in computer graphics production.
Entertainment's pioneering technology enables 3D content to stream
on the Web like never before," explained Hourvitz. "I'm highly motivated
by the possibilities Pulse offers 3D developers and animators in
achieving their creative goals through the marriage of content and
has a distinguished background in computer graphics production,
research, and development. He joins Pulse Entertainment after six
years with Pixar Animation Studios, where he worked on Pixar's award-winning
films and interactive products. Hourvitz was Supervising Technical
Director on Geri's Game, Pixar's Oscar(TM)-winning 1997 short film,
Producer of the Toy Story Animated StoryBook CD-ROM, and a technical
director on Pixar's film projects including A Bug's Life and Toy
Run CD Fun Pack Ships
In conjunction with the release of Aardman Studios feature film
Chicken Run, Activision, Inc. will bring the fun of the movie home
with the Chicken
Run CD-ROM Fun Pack. The title began shipping yesterday and
is available in retail outlets across North America. The Chicken
Run Fun Pack has been rated "E" ("Everyone" -- content suitable
for persons ages six and older) by the ESRB and carries a suggested
retail price of $19.99.
Chicken Run Fun Pack allows children and families to become immersed
in the Chicken Run world. Providing high-resolution graphics and
animation, addictive gameplay and fun-filled activities, the title
brings home the film's hilarity and excitement to show that bravery
comes in all forms, even feathered.
Chicken Run CD-ROM Fun Pack offers a unique opportunity for fans
of the film to continue their Chicken Run experience on their PC's,"
states Michael Pole, executive vice president of worldwide studios,
Activision, Inc. "Players can enjoy clips from the movie, play awesome
mini-games and customize their computer screen with cool film images."
story of Chicken Run follows the antics of a loveable group of chickens
trying to escape from their mundane battery farm existence. The
chickens, led by the rough and ready newcomer Rocky (voiced by Mel
Gibson) hatch a cunning plan to escape from the clutches of the
menacing Mrs. Tweedy (voiced by Miranda Richardson) and her dreaded
Chicken Run Fun Pack includes such mini-games as "Spring Chicken,"
which allows players to guide the farmyard rats, Nick and Fletcher,
as they stage a daring escape attempt, and "Run Chicken Run," in
which players fly the coop as they guide the fleeing chickens to
freedom. Fans of the film will get caught up in the farm-fresh thrills
all over again as they watch a series of fantastic clips from the
the Fun Pack allows PC users to transform their computer desktops
with clever Chicken Run-themed screen savers, customized Windows(R)
icons and more. The pack also allows fans to use quirky accessories
like an animated desk clock, or to play their own CDs using "Rocky's
Radio." The Chicken Run Fun Pack was developed for Activision by
the UK-based Absolute Studios.
Film CEO Quits (will Fox Animation Die?)
William Mechanic, the CEO of Fox Film Studios unexpectedly quit
on Thursday. Some analysts say it is a result of the poor performance
of films like Anna and the King and Titan A.E.
to Powerful Media, “...the pressure on Mechanic increased with the
lackluster performance this year of Anna and the King and boiled
over with the release of Titan, A.E., which opened last weekend
to a disappointing $9.4 million. The film, which has been in the
works for several years and is estimated to have cost at least $100
million to make, is expected to gross about $25 million domestically,
and could kill Fox's feature animation endeavors for good.”
June 25, 2000
Run has Strong Friday Opening
Chicken Run made $5.67 million on Friday to place second place (just
behind Me, Myself, and Irene). The numbers guarantee that Chiken
Run will make at least $16 million when the weekend is over and
possibly close to $20 million. On Friday, Chicken Run averaged $2,277
per screen, playing on just 2,491 screens. The $5.67 million opening
is the best ever for any DreamWorks distributed animated film.
Titan A.E. only brought in $1 million, which is a greater than 60%
drop from last Friday. Titan A.E. is averaging only $366 per screen
(the lowest per screen average of the top 10 on Friday).
“Chicken Run Sets U.S. Flapping”
According to the BBC News:
box offices across the US are gearing up for an extra busy weekend
with the much-anticipated opening of Chicken Run - the first feature-length
movie from the makers of Wallace and Gromit.
Park and Peter Lord are the brains and talent behind the award-winning
British clay animation company Aardman.
the huge global success of their three Wallace and Gromit shorts,
Chicken Run has already won a string of rave reviews in the week
leading up to its US release...Some Hollywood producers say the
film should be given an American voiceover. However, Aardman has
here to read the whole story.
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