Monthly Archives: October 2012

Disney Purchasing Lucasfilm Ltd. For $4.05 Billion

Lucasfilm

Lucasfilm

The Walt Disney Company has agreed to acquire Lucasfilm Ltd. in a stock and cash transaction valued at $4.05 billion, the firms announced Tuesday.

Lucasfilm is 100% owned by its chairman and founder, George Lucas.

Lucasfilm has been involved as a producer of the animated series The Clone Wars and Droids: The Adventures of R2-D2 and C3P0, as well as the animated movies Twice Upon A Time (1983) and Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008). The firm also supported Williams Street’s Robot Chicken: Star Wars specials.

Characters from Star Wars led to the creation of the 1985 Nelvana Limited series Ewoks.

Lucasfilm co-produced the 1992 DiC Entertainment special Defenders Of Dynatron City, not to mention the 1984 Pixar short The Adventures of Andre and Wally B.

Under the terms of the agreement and based on last Friday’s closing price of Disney stock, Disney will pay approximately half of the consideration in cash and issuing about 40 million shares at closing. The final consideration will be subject to customary post-closing balance sheet adjustments.

Under the deal, Disney will acquire ownership of Lucasfilm, including its Star Wars franchise and its operating businesses in animation, live-action film production, consumer products, visual effects and audio post-production. Disney will also acquire firm’s substantial portfolio of cutting-edge entertainment technologies. Lucasfilm, headquartered in San Francisco, operates under the names Lucasfilm Ltd., LucasArts, Industrial Light & Magic and Skywalker Sound, and the present intent is for Lucasfilm employees to remain in their current locations.

“Lucasfilm reflects the extraordinary passion, vision and storytelling of its founder, George Lucas,” said Walt Disney Company chairman and CEO Robert Iger. “This transaction combines a world-class portfolio of content, including Star Wars, one of the greatest family entertainment franchises of all time, with Disney’s unique and unparalleled creativity across multiple platforms, businesses, and markets to generate sustained growth and drive significant long-term value.”

“For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next,” said Lucas. “It’s now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers.

“I’ve always believed that Star Wars could live beyond me, and I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime. I’m confident that with Lucasfilm under the leadership of Kathleen Kennedy, and having a new home within the Disney organization, Star Wars will certainly live on and flourish for many generations to come. Disney’s reach and experience give Lucasfilm the opportunity to blaze new trails in film, television, interactive media, theme parks, live entertainment and consumer products.”

Kennedy, current co-chairman of Lucasfilm, will become president of Lucasfilm, reporting to Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn. Additionally, she will serve as the brand manager for Star Wars, working directly with Disney’s global lines of business to build, further integrate and maximize the value of this global franchise.

Kennedy will serve as executive producer on new Star Wars feature films, with Lucas serving as creative consultant. Star Wars Episode 7 is targeted for release in 2015, with more feature films expected to continue the Star Wars saga and grow the franchise well into the future.

The boards of directors of Disney and Lucasfilm have approved the transaction, which is subject to clearance under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act, certain non-United States merger control regulations, and other customary closing conditions. The agreement has been approved by the sole shareholder of Lucasfilm.

Ice Age 4 Sets Foreign Record For Animated Film

Ice Age: Continental Drift

Ice Age: Continental Drift

After opening at the top of Italy’s box office this past weekend, Fox’s Ice Age: Continental Drift — also known as Ice Age 4 – now holds the record for the highest-grossing animated movie ever to be released abroad.

A $7.8 million debut at 906 venues in Italy has raised foreign cumulative grosses for the sequel to $693.9 million. Barring the unforeseen, it’ll top the $700 million mark in foreign lands.

Over the weekend, Ice Age: Continental Drift made $8.7 million from 1,055 locations in four overseas countries.

The movie now has had the eighth-largest international release of any film — animated or otherwise — in history.

Hotel Transylvania Opens in Spain to $3.6 million

Hotel Transylvania

Hotel Transylvania

Sony Animation”s “Hotel Transylvania” opened for business in a host of countries this past weekend, helping it make $18.1 million in its fourth week of foreign release.

Debuting in Spain, Germany, the Ukraine, Austria, German-speaking Switzerland and the Middle East, Hotel Transylvania was seen at 5,550 venues in 50 overseas countries over the weekend. In Spain, it earned $3.6 million on 623 screens.

Featuring the voices of Adam Sandler and Kevin James, the movie has made $68.8 million abroad so far.

After 21 weeks overseas, DreamWorks Animation’s Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted has made $495.9 million. Distributed by Paramount, the movie made $8.5 million at 2,901 locations in 29 countries over the weekend. In its second weekend in Britain, Madagascar 3 fell to $4.5 million from 541 screens to take second place in that country.

Comedic horror film Frankenweenie, directed by Tim Burton, collected $3.5 million in its second weekend overseas. Seen in 27 countries, the Disney film has made a total of $17.7 million abroad.

[Via The Hollywood Reporter -- http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/...kyfall-blasts-383848]

Brasil Animado 3D Cartoon Movie Offered for Distribution

Brasil Animado

Brasil Animado

The stereoscopic “Brasil Animado 3D” is among the slate of feature films from the acquisitions team at ITN Distribution Inc. which will be offered at the 2012 American Film Market, taking place from October 31 to November 7 at the Loews Santa Monica Beach hotel.

This year’s films are a mix of high-concept independents in a variety of genres, including animation, horror, thriller, drama, romance, war, action, family and sci-fi.

In the 80-minute Brasil Animado 3D, Stress is a businessman who is always looking for a new investment opportunity. Relax is a filmmaker who has been trying to get Stress to invest in his projects.

One day, Relax sets up for a meeting under the great pink jequitibá, the oldest tree in Brazil. Stress likes the idea, especially because he sees how profitable it could be if he charged visitors to see the tree. The problem is that neither knows where it is. Therefore, they embark in a journey throughout Brazil searching for it.

ITN will be conducting sales for territories worldwide in Loews 705. ITN Distribution, Inc. is a leading independent film distribution company that specializes in high-quality, star driven independent films for the international and domestic TV, VOD, DVD and theatrical markets.

ITN releases 24 films per year with ITN’s direct connection to all major retailers and rentals in North America, such as Redbox, NetFlix, Wal-Mart, Blockbuster, Target and Video-On-Demand. ITN produces, distributes and acquires films worldwide.

“I am always thrilled to have a presence at AFM and expect business to be very brisk at our office,” said ITN president Stuart Alson. “With independent film soaring to new levels, the demand for our film library is significantly higher this year. As always, our team’s objective is to negotiate and close the best possible deals with key buyers from around the world.”

A full catalog of ITN titles and trailers can be viewed at itndistribution.com.

Creators of Chicken Run Release A Pig’s Tail

A Pig's Tail

A Pig’s Tail

The Humane Society of the United States has teamed up with Academy Award-winning film company Aardman Animations to produce a four-minute animated children’s film titled “A Pig’s Tale” exposing problems with factory farming from the perspective of a piglet named Ginger.

The film’s release coincides with Food Day, a national movement for healthy, sustainable food.

Aardman Animations, creators of Chicken Run, Wallace and Gromit and other beloved animated feature films, produced the short film A Pig’s Tale under a grant from the Steven C. Leuthold Family Foundation.

“The Humane Society of the United States is thrilled to celebrate Food Day with the release of this endearing and educational short film,” said Joe Maxwell, vice-president of outreach and engagement at The HSUS. “We hope A Pig’s Tail will launch a conversation about how food gets to the table and help end inhumane practices in the pork industry.”

Added Aardman Animations director Sarah Cox: “I was very proud to direct this film for The Humane Society of the United States because it is about an issue I passionately believe in. It is so important that children understand where their food really comes from, particularly the connection between meat products and the treatment of the animals that they are made from. I wanted the campaign to be positive and optimistic, so I created a strong and likable lead character — a little piglet called Ginger — and gave the story a happy ending because that is ultimately what we are trying to achieve.”

The film features voices from actress Catherine Taber and voice actor James Arnold Taylor of the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Original music was produced by singer and songwriter Steven Delopoulos.

The film, intended for children ages 7 to 10 and accessible to all audiences, follows Ginger and her mother as they experience life on a typical industrial factory farm. After Ginger is taken from her mother, she is determined to escape. The film follows her journey, and the evolution of a farmer who opens his eyes to a more humane and sustainable way of farming.

The film centers on industrial pig farming, where most breeding pigs are confined day and night during their four-month pregnancy in gestation crates, cages roughly the same size as the animals’ bodies, preventing them from even turning around. The pigs are then placed into another crate to give birth, re-impregnated, and put back into a gestation crate. This happens pregnancy after pregnancy for their entire lives, adding up to years of virtual immobilization.

Recently, such leading food companies as McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy’s, Cracker Barrel, Oscar Mayer, Costco, ConAgra and Kroger have agreed to eliminate gestation crates from their pork supply chains. This corporate shift away from crates comes on the heels of nine American state laws banning the crates.

A Pig’s Tail is available online.

Wolf Children, Fuga Win Awards at Sitges Animation Fest

Sitges

Sitges

Mamoru Hosoda’s Ôkami Kodomo No Ame to Yuki (Wolf Children) was named best animated feature film at the 45th Sitges – International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia, while Fuga, by Juan Antonio Espigares of Spain, was honored as best animated short.

This was the Japanese director’s third award in the Anima’t Section at Sitges. Hosoda’s previous wins were in 2006 for  Toki O Kakeru Shôjo (The Girl Who Leapt Through Time) and 2009 for Samâ Wôzu (Summer Wars).

Ôkami Kodomo No Ame to Yuki (Wolf Children) tells how when she was barely more than a teenager, Hana fell in love with a werewolf. It might seem strange, but for 13 years, they were extremely happy, and they had two children: Yuki and Ame, who were also born with the ability to transform into wolves. Following her husband’s sudden death, Hana decides to move to the country to be able to raise her children in a peaceful environment, where their extraordinary faculties won’t be discovered. However, as they grow up, Yuki and Ame must decide if they want to live as humans or as wolves.

Born in 1967, Hosada began to work for Toei Animation in 1991. Creator of the famous TV series Digimon, he collaborated with Takashi Murakami in 2003 on a piece for Louis Vuitton.

Without dialogue, Espigares’ 15-minute short Fuga plays with the polysemy of the word “fuga” (escape) to weave a complex and plastically innovative fantasy. It is an inflection point for “digital cinema” produced in Spain.

The festival’s Anima’t Section jury was made up of Eduard Terrades, Frédéric Ambroisine and Ricardo Reparaz.

DreamWorks Animation Chairman Roger Enrico Quits

Roger Enrico

Roger Enrico

Roger Enrico has resigned as chairman of the board of directors for DreamWorks Animation, effective immediately, the company announced Thursday.

DreamWorks Animation’s board of directors has named fellow board member Mellody Hobson as his successor.

Enrico had served as chairman of DreamWorks Animation since its inception as a public company in 2004. He formerly served as chairman and chief executive officer of PepsiCo, Inc., where he spent 31 years.

“Roger has been an invaluable leader to our board of directors, and his guidance helped put DreamWorks Animation on a path to success from day one,” commented studio CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg. “On behalf of the board of directors and our entire management team, I’d like to deeply thank Roger for his unfailing service over the past eight years and wish him the very best in the future.”

Gumball Up For Two British Academy Kids’ Awards

British Academy Kids

British Academy Kids

The TV series “The Amazing World of Gumball” has received two nominations for the British Academy Children’s Awards, organizers announced Monday.

Produced by Cartoon Network Europe in association with Dandelion Studios, Boulder Media and Studio Soi, the Cartoon Network UK show was nominated for Writer and Animation — the same two categories in which it won last year. In addition, the series is shortlisted for the Kids’ Vote in the Television category.

Ben Bocquelet, Mic Graves, Joanna Beresford form the producing team behind The Amazing World of Gumball. Bocquelet, James Lamont and Jon Foster are the nominated writers.

Vying with Gumball in the Animation category are The Amazing Adrenalini Brothers (Pesky Productions/POP), The Gruffalo’s Child (Magic Light Pictures in association with Studio Soi/BBC One) and The Mechanical Musical Marvel (Chris Randall and Julie Boden; Second Home Studios/THSH Birmingham).

In the Pre-School Animation category, the nominees are Peppa Pig (Philip Hall, Joris van Hulzen and Phil Davies; Astley Baker Davies/Five), Rastamouse (Greg Boardman, Eugenio Perez and Derek Mogford; The Rastamouse Company/CBeebies), Timmy Time (Jackie Cockle, Liz Whitaker and David Scanlon; Aardman Animations/CBeebies) and Tree Fu Tom (CBeebies/Fremantle Media/Blue Zoo/CBeebies).

Feature Film nominees include Arthur Christmas (Peter Lord, Sarah Smith and Peter Baynham; Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Animation/Aardman/Sony Pictures Releasing) and Disney’s partly animated The Muppets (Walt Disney Studios/Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures UK). Arthur Christmas also appears in the BAFTA Kids’ Vote shortlist.

Three of the four hopefuls in the International category are animated series: Kung Fu Panda: Legends Of Awesomeness (DreamWorks Animation/Nickelodeon UK), Phineas and Ferb (Walt Disney Television Animation/Disney XD UK) and SpongeBob SquarePants (MTV Networks International/United Plankton Pictures/Nickelodeon UK).

Animated programs up for the Short Form awards are Compost Corner (Westley Wood, Tim Dann and Tim Collings; CiTV/CiTV), Ooglies (BBC Scotland/CBBC) and Share A Story 2011 (Dave Hickman, Carl Hadley and David Heslop; CiTV Creative/CiTV).

Besides Arthur Christmas, feature films shortlisted for the Kids’ Vote include Ice Age 4: Continental Drift and the partly animated The Smurfs.

Joining The Amazing World of Gumball in the shortlist for the Kids’ Vote in the Television category are the animated series Almost Naked Animals and Phineas and Ferb.

The British Academy Children’s Awards ceremony will take place November 25 at the London Hilton on Park Lane. Children’s BAFTA winner and Blue Peter presenter Barney Harwood will return to host the awards, which celebrate the very best in children’s media, including television, film, video games and online.

The awards are presented by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, an independent charity that supports, develops and promotes the art forms of the moving image by identifying and rewarding excellence, inspiring practitioners and benefiting the public.

Animated “Turkeys” Coming to Movie Houses in 2014

Turkeys

Turkeys

Relativity Media and Reel FX, a movie studio based in Dallas and Santa Monica, announced Wednesday that they will jointly produce and finance the animated comedy Turkeys, slated for a 2014 release.

The film is directed by Jimmy Hayward (Horton Hears A Who!), and stars the voice talent of Owen Wilson (Cars) and Woody Harrelson (The Hunger Games). Turkeys will be distributed worldwide by Relativity.

Producing are Scott Mosier (Clerks), Craig Mazin (The Hangover Part II), John Strauss (The Santa Claus 2) and David l. Stern (Hotel Transylvania). The screenplay was written by Stern and Strauss with a rewrite by Mazin.

Turkeys is an irreverent buddy comedy where two turkeys from opposite sides of the tracks must put aside their differences and team up to travel back in time to change the course of history — and get turkey off the menu for good.

“This agreement is a culmination of years of friendship and a continued desire to collaborate between Relativity and Reel FX,” said Relativity Media CEO Ryan Kavanaugh, CEO. “We are delighted to broaden our film release slate to include Turkeys, which features an exciting roster of voice talent, a powerhouse creative team and an original witty storyline.”

“We’ve always been fans of Relativity, and have watched them evolve over the years into a major force in the film and entertainment business,” said Steve O’Brien, Chairman and CEO of Reel FX. “We are excited to start our relationship with Relativity by partnering with Ryan and his team to bring Turkeys to audiences around the world.”

Reel FX is a fully-integrated movie studio that develops and produces both animated films and live-action movies. In addition to Turkeys, Reel FX’s growing animation slate includes Day of the Dead (Guillermo del Toro producing) and Beasts of Burden (Aron Warner and Andrew Adamson producing). Reel FX’s own film slate follows almost 20 years of experience as an award-winning one-stop studio for animated content, including films, special attraction/live venue projects and interactive projects for companies like DreamWorks Animation, Fox, Warner Bros. and Universal Studios.

Up next, Relativity will release the outrageous Movie 43 (in theatres January 25), the film adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ best-selling Safe Haven (in theatres February 8), the comedy 21 and Over (in theatres March 1), the corporate espionage thriller Paranoia (in theatres October 4, 2013) and Luc Besson’s darkly comedic action film Malavita (in theatres October 18, 2013) with EuropaCorp. Relativity is currently in post-production on Scott Cooper’s gritty dramatic thriller, currently titled Out of the Furnace.

Tartakovsky Offers Animated Cartoon Short for Halloween

Hotel Transylvania

Hotel Transylvania

Hotel Transylvania” — the record-setting 3D computer-animated monster comedy from Sony Pictures Animation that ranked as the biggest September opening in movie history and the best opening ever for the studio — is releasing a new animated short as a special Halloween treat.

Beginning today (Friday, October 26), all digital showings of Hotel Transylvania in Regal Entertainment Group Cinemas around the United States will be preceded with a new traditionally animated short directed by the film’s director, 13-time Emmy nominee (and three-time Emmy winner) Genndy Tartakovsky (Dexter’s Laboratory, Samurai Jack, Star Wars: Clone Wars), who also animated every key frame of the new short.

Goodnight, Mr. Foot

Goodnight, Mr. Foot

Entitled Goodnight, Mr. Foot, the short stars none other than legendary monster Bigfoot, and follows his adventure as he, too, checks in to Dracula’s five-stake resort in search of a little R-and-R, only to find himself faced with an enthusiastic witch-maid, eager to make Mr. Foot’s stay a memorable one.

Tartakovsky commented, “After we finished Hotel Transylvania, I got an itch to animate! Taking inspiration from my favorite directors, Bob Clampett, Tex Avery and Chuck Jones, I animated a short cartoon in the traditional 2D style. It was difficult and exhilarating all at once, and I hope people will enjoy it as much as I enjoyed making it.”

To commemorate the debut of the animated short, an exclusive new collectible one-sheet — designed by Tartakovsky himself — will also be given away at all showings of Hotel Transylvania in Carmike Cinemas nationwide (while supplies last).

Hotel Transylvania fans surfing the Internet might just keep any eye out (not literally!) for a specially-created promo video popping up some time around October 31 (date to be determined). The new traditionally animated short film, exclusive poster and online video make a new (or return!) visit to Hotel Transylvania.

The feature film debut of Genndy Tartakovsky, Sony Pictures Animation’s Hotel Transylvania proved to be the biggest September opening for a film in U.S. history, and went on to open at #1 in many countries around the world, including Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Colombia, Ecuador, Malaysia Mexico, Peru, Philippines, Romania, Russia, Slovenia, South Africa and Sweden.