Just some of the stories you’ll find today on CB Biz:
For all the latest CB Biz stories, look in the brown INDUSTRY HEADLINES box in the right column.
Just some of the stories you’ll find today on CB Biz:
For all the latest CB Biz stories, look in the brown INDUSTRY HEADLINES box in the right column.
Emmy-nominated Animation Domination staple American Dad has been renewed for a seventh season, bringing the series through the 2012-2013 season, it was announced today by Kevin Reilly, President of Entertainment, Fox Broadcasting Company.
“This is fantastic news,” said Roger the Alien. “But you do realize I’m not real, right?”
American Dad follows the lives of ultra-conservative, staunch GOP supporter and CIA agent Stan Smith (Seth MacFarlane) and his eccentric family that includes Francine (Wendy Schaal), his ditzy-but-lovable wife; Hayley (Rachael MacFarlane), his 18-year-old left-wing hippie daughter; Steve (Scott Grimes), his geeky, 14-year-old son; Roger (Seth MacFarlane), the selfish and sarcastic cross-dressing space alien; and Klaus (Dee Bradley Baker), an attention-starved goldfish. The fan-favorite series airs Sundays (7:30-8:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX.
Expect lots of hijinks from the Smiths this spring! Roger attempts to make Steve a “cool kid” by letting him drive other kids around in a tractor, but the plan quickly backfires. Meanwhile, Francine gets a job at Stan’s office, but she cramps his style; and Roger starts dressing like a teenage girl and quickly seduces Steve’s best friend, Snot (guest voice Curtis Armstrong). Upcoming guest voices for this season include Emmy and Golden Globe Award winner Anjelica Huston, Elisabeth Shue, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Burt Reynolds and Grammy Award winner Cee-Lo Green.
The deadline for the Irish Film Board short animation scheme Frameworks has been announced as Friday, March 25th. Films may be made in Irish or English, with Irish applications being particularly encouraged.
The Frameworks funding scheme is a programme that looks to support the making of animated short films. The scheme is provided for the development and making of six animated short films per year with a budget of â‚¬50,000 awarded to each film. Films can be a maximum duration of six minutes.
Frameworks-funded Irish animation has enjoyed much recent success with Brown Bag Films’ Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty being nominated for a Best Short Animation Academy Award and The Rooster, The Crocodile and The Night Sky, written and directed by Padraig Fagan being nominated for an ASIFA Hollywood Annie Award. Furthermore, Adrien Merigeau’s Old Fangs screened to critical acclaim at the renowned Sundance, Annecy and the London film festivals last year.
A release from Frameworks organisers states that Projects selected this year for funding should combine ”creative exploration with an ability to appeal to a broad audience.”
For more information on making an application and to download an application form visit the Irish Film Board Website.
The Frameworks scheme is co-funded by BSÃ‰/IFB, the Arts Council and RTÃ‰.
LOS ANGELES, Calif. (February 22, 2011) — Â Calling all animators, directors and creators! With the intention to encourage new talent and to provide more visibility for new animation properties and talent, this summer’s most anticipated FREE convention event, AM2 (July 1-3, 2011; Anaheim Convention Center) proudly announces its call for entries for the 1st Annual AM2 Animation Festival and Competition. Winners will be selected by the public and will be announced at the end of this yearÂ¹s event. Winners will also receive cash prizes as well as the pride of receiving the winning titles of Best U.S. Animated Short, Best International Animated Short, Best U.S. Animated Feature, Best International Animated Feature and Best of Show. More info, rules and attendee registration can be found at www.am2con.org.
With shorts and features from the U.S. and abroad, fans will be able to see many new animation titles (some which will be U.S. premieres) and vote for who they think should win! Members of the industry including members of the official entertainment guilds of Hollywood will also be in attendance searching for new talent, concepts and titles to bring to the U.S. audience–you never know, you could have the next BIG THING and land a deal with a major studio developer!
AM2 representative Chase Wang states, “We are so excited to bring this film festival to the U.S. audience. It is important to cultivate new talent and provide a venue for them to bring their original concepts and ideas in order to grow the industry and keep it vibrant and fresh.”
Lionsgate is proud to announce the Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD, Digital Download and On Demand release ofÂ Thor: Tales of Asgard available on May 17th.
Thor: Tales of Asgard
He’s waged battles inÂ Ultimate Avengers, Ultimate Avengers 2, Next Avengers andÂ Hulk Vs., and now one of the most beloved characters in the Marvel Universe is ready to strike out on his own this May. See the young “God of Thunder” as Marvel Animation and Lionsgate Home Entertainment team up to releaseÂ Thor: Tales of Asgard! Hitting Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD, Digital Download and On Demand on May 17th, the newest Marvel Animated Feature is the perfect companion to the May 6th release of the live-action theatrical filmÂ Thor. The title builds on the strength of more than 40 years and 10 million copies ofÂ Thor comics, and the timelessness of The Mighty Thor to create a truly epic adventure that both lifelong fans and those new to the story will love. The Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD are packed with special features such as audio commentaries with the film creators, a “making-of” featurette plus a bonus TV episode of The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
Before he ever lifted his mighty hammer, there was the sword.Â Fantastic journeys beckon from the mysterious nine realms. Places of dark mists and fiery voids. Of wingedÂ creatures and giants in the ice. And the most alluring quest of all – the search for the legendary LostÂ Sword of Surtur. Hungry for adventure, Thor secretly embarks on the journey of a lifetime, joined by his loyal brother Loki, whose budding sorcery equips him with just enough magic to conjure up trouble, along with the Warriors Three – a band of boastful travelers reluctant to set sail on any adventure that might actually be dangerous. But what starts out as a harmless treasure hunt quickly turns deadly, and Thor must now prove himself worthy of the destiny he covets by saving Asgard itself.
Pricing: DVD – $19.98
Your thoughts? I’ll comment at a later date…after I’ve stopped vomiting.
Nancy Kanter has been named General Manager, Disney Junior Worldwide, adding to her current title of Senior Vice President, Original Programming, it was announced today by Carolina Lightcap, President, Disney Channels Worldwide.Â Ms. Kanter’s new dual role will focus on the recently launched multiplatform Disney Junior brand and upcoming 24-hour channel launch.Â The newly created position, Senior Vice President, Original Programming and General Manager, Disney Junior Worldwide, is designed to leverage a fast-growing portfolio of brands, provide more brand-focused leadership and meet an increased commitment to delivering high quality creative content to kids and families.Â In her General Manager role, she will report to Ms. Lightcap and in her Original Programming role, she will continue to report to Gary Marsh, President, Entertainment, and Chief Creative Officer, Disney Channels Worldwide.
In making the announcement, Ms. Lightcap said, “Nancy Kanter is a highly respected force in the creative community and her managerial and leadership skills have invigorated our content development for preschoolers.”Â She continued, “In collaboration with the entire team, she will continue to take Disney Junior to places that we could only imagine a few short years ago.”
With the new role of Senior Vice President, Original Programming and General Manager, Disney Junior Worldwide, Ms. Kanter will continue to lead the development and production of creative content for kids age 2-7 and will broaden her operational scope to include strategic direction for the multiplatform Disney Junior brand which debuted last week on TV, digital, and radio platforms.Â Preparations are currently underway to launch a 24-hour Disney Junior channel in the U.S. and around the world.
Ms. Kanter has held the position of Senior Vice President, Playhouse Disney Worldwide since 2008.Â She joined Disney Channel in 2001 as Vice President, Original Programming and was promoted to Senior Vice President, Original Programming, Playhouse Disney U.S., in 2004.Â Under her leadership, the critically acclaimed Playhouse Disney creative content burgeoned on a global basis, and delivered hit series including Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Handy Manny and Imagination Movers.Â In addition, she oversees Playhouse Disney’s short-form content development, further adding dimension to the brand and platform.Â She also oversaw the creation of a global development and production operation for Playhouse Disney, based in London.
GLENDALE, Calif., Feb. 24, 2011Â — DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc. (Nasdaq: DWA) today announced financial results for its fourth quarter and full year ended December 31, 2010. In the quarter, the Company reported total revenue of $275.7 million and net income of $85.2 million, or $0.99 per share on a fully diluted basis. This compares to revenue of $194.2 million and net income of $43.6 million, or $0.50 per share on a fully diluted basis, for the same period in 2009.
For the twelve months ended December 31, 2010, the Company reported total revenue of $784.8 million and net income of $170.6 million, or $1.96 per share on a fully diluted basis. This compares to total revenue of $725.2 million and net income of $151.0 million, or $1.73 per share for the twelve months ended December 31, 2009. On a year-over-year basis, revenue for 2010 increased 8% and diluted earnings per share increased 13%.
The Company’s 2010 full year results reflect operating losses, including an impairment of capitalized expenses, of approximately $35 million, or $0.28 per diluted share associated with its online virtual world business and its Shrek The Musical national touring company. Â The Company’s fourth quarter 2010 results included a tax benefit of approximately $45 million, or $0.52 per diluted share, which is primarily attributable to the release of substantially all of the valuation allowance associated with the Company’s deferred tax assets.
“In 2010, DreamWorks Animation became the first studio to release three feature-length CG animated films in a single year,” said Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks Animation. “How to Train Your Dragon, Shrek Forever After and Megamind together grossed approximately $1.6 billion worldwide — the Company’s biggest year ever at the box office.”
Megamind, which was released on November 5, 2010, contributed $26.6 million of revenue in the quarter, driven primarily by consumer products. The film has reached approximately $320 million in worldwide box office to date.
Shrek Forever After, which was released on May 21, 2010 and grossed over $750 million in worldwide box office, contributed $72.2 million of revenue in the quarter, driven primarily by home entertainment. The film reached an estimated 7.2 million home entertainment units sold worldwide through the end of the quarter, net of actual and estimated future returns.
How to Train Your Dragon, which was released on March 26, 2010 and grossed nearly $500 million in worldwide box office, contributed $80.3 million of revenue in the quarter, driven primarily by home entertainment. The film reached an estimated 7.5 million home entertainment units sold worldwide through the end of the quarter, net of actual and estimated future returns.
Monsters vs. Aliens contributed $6.0 million of revenue to the quarter, driven primarily by home entertainment. It reached an estimated 9.0 million home entertainment units sold worldwide through the end of the quarter, net of actual and estimated future returns.
Kung Fu Panda contributed $23.4 million of revenue to the quarter, primarily from international and domestic free television.
Library and other items contributed approximately $67.2 million of revenue to the quarter.
Costs of revenue for the quarter equaled $193.8 million. Selling, general and administrative expenses totaled $30.6 million, including approximately $7.5 million of stock compensation expense.
In the quarter, the Company released substantially all of the valuation allowance related to its deferred tax assets. The release was the main contributor to an expense of approximately $254.2 million related to its tax sharing agreement with a former stockholder and a benefit for income taxes of $287.4 million recorded in the fourth quarter. The Company expects that its 2011 full year effective tax rate will be in the low- to mid-30% range.
The Company also provided an update to its share repurchase program. For the full year 2010, the Company repurchased 3.1 million shares for approximately $111 million. The Company has $150 million remaining under its current authorization.
Finally, the Company does not expect any meaningful contribution to its first quarter 2011 financial results from Megamind‘s home entertainment release. The title is scheduled to be released domestically on February 25, 2011.
Hong Kong (February 20, 2011) — IMAGI International Holdings Limited, has announced on Friday February 18, 2011 the acquisition of Toon Express Group (“Toon Express”), the manager and owner of, among others, trademarks and character copyrights of popular Chinese animation Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf.
IMAGI will settle the initial consideration of HK$814 million by way of a cash payment of HK$330 million, and the remainder by the issuance of 1,382,857,143 consideration shares at HK$0.35 apiece. IMAGI has entered into a subscription agreement with ten investors for the subscription of 1,282,816,000 new shares at HK$0.28 each (the “Subscription”), raising gross proceeds of approximately HK$359 million to fund the cash payment of the initial consideration. In addition, IMAGI may pay an earn-out payment of up to HK$232.5 million in the form of promissory notes in accordance with the financial performance of Toon Express in 2011 and 2012. Therefore, the total consideration may increase to HK$1,046.5 million.
IMAGI’s chairman Francis Leung Pak To said, “We are very excited with the acquisition of Toon Express, a leading brand manager in China’s animation industry. Toon Express’ core business is development and management of animation brands and consumer products licensing, capitalising on a group of well-known brands and cartoon characters across multiple distribution channels in the PRC. The acquisition enables the Company to tap into the fast growing animation business in
Toon Express has developed a strong recognition of its cartoon characters, in particular Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf. The animation Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf, which was created in China in 2005, is now broadcast over more than 75 national, provincial and municipal satellite and cable television networks in China. In the second quarter of 2010, according to AC Nielsen, various series of Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf programmes occupied five out of the top ten ratings for animation programmes in the PRC based on primetime viewership by children aged 4 —14 in cities. Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf has also been distributed in other territories in the Asia Pacific region via television programmes, movies, publications and other means such as Disney Channels.
Toon Express has key commercial arrangements with two contractual partners, being Creative Power Entertaining LLC (“CPE”) and Disney Enterprises, Inc (“Disney”). CPE is engaged in the development, production and distribution of AV Programmes. It is also involved in publication, content development and licensing as well as stage shows and mobile carnival operations. Through contractual commercial arrangements with CPE and Toon Express’ consumer products
licensing business, which is managed by Disney on behalf of Toon Express, Toon Express has IMAGI International Holdings Limited 20 February 2011 (p. 2 of 4)
developed an integrated business model which allows it to tap into each segment of the value chain of the entertainment industry. CPE owns the contentÂ copyrights of television programmes, movies, publications, and stage shows. As strategic commercial partners, CPE and Toon Express jointly cooperate and coordinate brand activities.
Mr. Leung noted that the Acquisition will bring real value to IMAGI by transforming the Company into an owner of leading brands in family entertainment and broadening and enhancing the Group’s revenue sources.
“We also aim to promote IMAGI’s original animations and cartoon characters through Toon Express’ multiple distribution channels. All in all, the acquisition is value and earnings accretive for IMAGI. We are very bullish on the Company’s future development,” Leung concluded.
L.A.-based boutique company Toonzone Studios and Brazilian production company Studio Sumatra have inked a co-production agreement to produce the children’s television series Tiny Warriors. Â Â The deal was concluded at this year’s KidScreen Summit that finishes up today in New York.
Brazilian producer Eduardo Gurman will be at the helm of the project with Toonzone Studios CEO Konnie Kwak. The series will consist of 26 x 22-minute episodes and is slated for release in 2012. Â Â The series will be co-financed by the Animation Development Company.
BAMBI DIAMOND EDITION -Â Â The Walt Disney Studios proudly announces the addition of BAMBI to its coveted, cutting-edge Blu-rayâ„¢ Diamond Collection line-up of Disney’s greatest animated-classics. Released from the Disney vault for a limited time only, BAMBI Diamond Edition features the loveable and adorable wide-eyed fawn and his forest friends in Blu-ray high-definition on March 1, 2011.
The Diamond Edition debut of BAMBI, Walt’s fifth full-length animated classic, is an endearing tale about a young prince of the forest who learns valuable life-lessons about friendship, love, and the miracle of life. The movie is a must-own coming-of-age story that Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has especially packaged with families in mind – providing the ultimate, interactive hi-def home entertainment experience with a newly enhanced digital restoration, enhanced picture and sound, games, activities and more.
The new BAMBI Diamond Edition will be available as a 2-Disc Disney Combo Pack (Blu-ray + DVD) for the suggested retail price of $39.99 US/$46.99 Canada, a High Definition Movie Download for the suggested retail price of $19.99 US/$39.99 Canada, and/or a Standard Definition Movie Download for the suggested retail price of $14.99 US/$24.99 Canada. Those who wish to own the standard definition DVD version of BAMBI will need to wait seven additional weeks — until April 19, 2011.
Disney’s new “Second Screen” technology, which is being introduced for the very first time on the BAMBI Diamond Edition release, will further transform the at-home movie watching experience by empowering viewers with the ability to engage with film content on multiple media platforms and bring them to life in their own hands at the touch of a button. By simply downloading the new Disney Second Screen App onto an internet-connected computer or iPadâ„¢* and synching it to the movie, consumers will instantly be able to dive deeper into the film by engaging with fun interactive elements like animated flipbooks, galleries, photos, trivia and more. Disney’s Second Screen technology is not widely available in all territories.
As morning light breaks across the meadow, a young deer named Bambi is born and hailed as ‘Prince of the Forest.’ Soon Bambi emerges from the thicket on wobbly legs, much to the delight of his new friends, Thumper, the playful rabbit, and Flower, the bashful yet lovable skunk. But the fun of nibbling on fresh blossoms and frolicking through the woods is only the beginning. Exploring his new world, and guided by the wisdom of Friend Owl, Bambi learns valuable life lessons with every adventure — experiencing the power of friendship, family, and love along the away.
The Making of the Film:
BAMBI was Walt Disney’s fifth animated full-length feature film which released in 1942 during World War II and took approximately five years in the making due to the exquisite artwork and attention to detail of each and every scene, character and figure. The artwork itself was created by some of the legendary “nine old men,” including Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston, Marc Davis, Milt Kahl and Eric Larson and in order to achieve the film’s unprecedented level of realism, animators modeled anatomical studies using live animals (including a pair of fawns named Bambi and Faline) and imbued each with a uniquely endearing personality. Bambi’s delightful forest home received the same painstaking attention to detail, as background artists painted hundreds of landscapes based on extensive field research and nature photographs.
Walt Disney broke the longstanding animation tradition by casting child actors in the roles of Bambi’s young animals, including Bobby Stewart as Baby Bambi, Donnie Dunagan as Young Bambi, Hardie Albright as Adolescent Bambi and Peter Behn as Young Thumper. The cast also includes Sam Edwards as Adult Thumper, John Sutherland as Adult Bambi, Paula Winslowe as Bambi’s Mother and Sterling Holloway (the voice of Winnie the Pooh and The Jungle Book’s Kaa, the snake) as Adult Flower.
This is about as good as it’s going to get on a rainy Monday morning. Dog Skateboard is by Nate Milton of The Amigo Unit.
The winners of this years Academy Awards were announced tonight in Hollywood.
Toy Story 3 won for Best Animated Feature (Director Lee Unkrich, above).
Toy Story 3 also won Best Song, “We Belong Together” by Randy Newman.
Best Animated Short went to The Lost Thing by Andrew Ruhemann and Shaun Tan.
Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland won for both Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design.
A complete list of all nominees and winners is posted here.
(Pictured below, in size place, 24-hours before winning the Oscar, The Lost Thing’s director Shaun Tan, Brewmaster Jerry Beck and The Lost Thing’s key animator Leo Baker.)
Apparently the Fleischer estate has lost a court battle for the rights to Betty Boop, a character created by Grim Natwick at Max Fleischer’s studio in 1930. Fleischer Studios has been co-licensing (with King Features) the property (along with Pudgy, Grampy, Binmbo and Ko-Ko the Clown) for several decades now.
The Fleischer Studio tried to sue Avela Inc. over its licensing of public domain Betty Boop poster images (for handbags and T-shirts). The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals (based in San Francisco) ruled against the Fleischers, saying in their decision, “If we ruled that AVELA’s depictions of Betty Boop infringed Fleischer’s trademarks, the Betty Boop character would essentially never enter the public domain.”
According to court documents, the Fleischer Studio originally assigned its rights to Betty Boop to Paramount Pictures on July 11, 1941. Paramount assigned those rights to Harvey Films, Inc on June 27th, 1958. Harvey actively licensed the character in the early 1960s. On May 15th 1980, Harvey Cartoons transferred “Betty Boop and her Gang” to Alfred Harvey and his brothers. Judge Susan Graber said there was no break in the chain of title.
So where does that leave Ms. Boop? No longer represented by the heirs of Max Fleischer and King Features Syndicate? Does this make Harvey Comics – or by extention, its current owner Classic Media – the owner of the property? Or is the character now in public domain.
For the record: The master film elements to original Fleischer Betty Boop cartoons are still owned by Paramount Pictures (and are maintained at the UCLA Film and Television Archive). Many of those films have legally entered the public domain, many others have not (they are still protected under copyrights held by Paramount/Viacom). We hope that someday the studio deems it fit to restore and release these classics on DVD.
UPDATE: Interesting analysis in the comments by animation historian David Gerstein:
Rough analysis (could be wrong):
The Betty Boop character is a Fleischer trademark.
But–Betty Boop 1930s movie posters were not copyrighted (or not renewed?) as standalone items, so are public domain.
Fleischer tried to use its active trademark on the character to stop a third party’s use of the ancient PD art. Judge said this was a no-go.
What I take from the judge’s ruling is that the trademark only applies to new, modern uses of the character. It can’t be used to stop people from redistributing old PD Betty images/items. Fleischer tried to say trademark trumped copyright; the judge is saying that it doesn’t.
This is actually pretty major. In recent years, Warner has used the active trademarks on Looney Tunes characters to quash third parties’ reissues of PD 1930s/40s Looney Tunes content (of which there is a lot). If the Betty decision is not reversed on appeal, then Warner is stripped of its strongest weapon against the public domain.
It can use the trademark against those who would create new Bugs Bunny items, but not against those who would exploit old PD material that Warner failed to protect.
The issue of whether Paramount legitimately sold the active Betty trademark to Harvey appears to be entirely separate, though very interesting.
Few people I know take the Oscars seriously as a barometer for what is state-of-the-art or innovative in animation, and looking at the long list of winners from years’ past, the awards have rarely reflected the development of animation as an art. Still, for one day every year, we pretend like the opinions of the Academy voters actually mean something to our community. That’s especially difficult during the years when the Academy’s choices have shown an even greater disconnect from animation than typical.
1. The Two Mouseketeers (1951) by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera
Between 1943 and 1952, Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera won the Oscar for best animated short a remarkable seven times. Now you’re probably thinking, if the Academy deemed them worthy of recognition so many times, these guys must have been visionaries who were creating work that was truly different and interesting. And you’d be wrong. These guys made Tom and Jerry shorts, the most formulaic and workmanlike of any cartoon series produced during the Hollywood era of theatrical shorts.
Hanna and Barbera explored less and pushed fewer boundaries than any other directors during this period, and they were rewarded for playing it safe. In the year they won for Two Mousketeers–their innovation here was adding a second mouse–John Hubley created Rooty Toot Toot, which ranks among the most groundbreaking and beautiful pieces of animation ever produced within the Hollywood studio system. The Academy stopped tossing off Bill and Joe long enough to nominate Hubley’s masterwork, and then promptly awarded Hanna and Barbera their sixth Oscar.