Tuesday, April 21, 2009

News - 04/21/09...

Mutants, Freaks and Tiny Toons Hit DVD

It’s a big week for animation fans at the DVD store, with Warner Bros. continuing a pair of popular release series with Freakazoid, Season 2 ($26.99) and Tiny Toon Adventures: Season 1, Volume 2 ($44.98) and Lionsgate debuting its recent hit Wolverine and the X-Men ($14.98).

It’s also a good time to catch up with some of this year’s big Oscar contenders with Best Picture nominee
Frost/Nixon (Universal, $29.98 DVD, $39.98 Blu-ray) due out, as well as The Wrestler (Fox Searchlight, $29.98 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray), which featured a nominated comeback performance from Mickey Rourke.

Meanwhile, fans still mourning the end of
Battlestar Galactica can get started on Caprica (Universal, $26.98), the movie debut of the prequel series due to start airing on SyFy next year.

Other animated releases due out this week include
Elmo & The Bookaneers: Pirates Who Love To Read (Genius Products, $14.93), Pokemon All Stars 19: Torchic (Warner Bros., $9.98), Pokemon All Stars 20: Onix (Warner Bros., $9.98), Puni Puni Pomey / Kekko Kamen (ADV, $26.98), Squidbillies, Vol. 2 (Turner, $29.98), Stuart Little Animated Series: A Little Family Fun (Sony, $12.99) and Stuart Little Animated Series: Going for the Gold
(Sony, $12.99).

DQE to Fly with The Little Prince

Indian animation powerhouse DQ Entertainment has embarked on the production of a new CG-animated series based on Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s beloved masterpiece, The Little Prince, alongside French producing studio Method Films and production partners France 3, WDR, Sony BMG and Rai. According to the Hyderabad-based studio, the series has a total production budget of 18 million euros—of which DQE will receive a direct cash revenue of 7.13 million euros.

DQE will also own additional global backend rights to The Little Prince, which will have substantial global sales over the following five to seven years along with the other European co-producers. Casper, Iron Man, Pinky and Perky, The Large Family and Little Nick (Le Petit Nicolas) are among the other globally embraced animated properties currently in production at the studio. At the recent MIPTV market in France, DQE also announced the production of The Jungle Book, a new animated series based on Rudyard Kipling’s classic tale, which has generated much interest and landed pre-sales and distribution contracts for more than 80 countries with a global budget of 9.2 million euros for its first season.

“This is truly a turning point for DQ Entertainment, with several global iconic brands into production including the 100% home-grown CGI series The Jungle Book and our co-production with Method Animation, The Little Prince,” notes Tapaas Chakravarti, DQE’s chairman and CEO. “Being part of this iconic global service co-production is history in the making for DQ Entertainment group and its stakeholders.”

“We are deeply committed to the partnership with DQE and confident that the synergies from our joint efforts will continue to produce such global brands that will entertain children across all boundaries and help us to keep up with healthy growth,” notes Aton Soumache, CEO of Method Animation Group and the series principal co-producers.

Princely Players: Standing from left: Rouhini Jaswal (line producer), Vishal Dudeja, SVP (operations); Eric Edery, SVP (finance); Sanjay Choudhary, SVP (finance & accounts); Sitting from left: Aton Soumache, CEO, Method Animation; Tapaas Chakravarti, Chairman& CEO, DQE

FUNimation Picks Up Five New VIZ toons

VIZ Media has licensed five of its top animated series to FUNimation Channel, the anime network by FUNimation Ent. and OlympuSAT. Set for debut in late spring and summer of 2009 are the shows Buso Renkin, Honey and Clover, Hunter X Hunter, Monster and Nana.

Nana, is based on a popular manga by Ai Yazawa about two very different girls who share the same name and become friends despite their widely varied backgrounds. Honey and Clover is a romantic comedy about a group of art school students who are trying to find their way in life, based on the manga by Chica Umino. Conspiracies, serial murders and secret governments are all part of the mix in Naoki Urasawa’s sophisticated suspense series Monster, while the action-fantasy Renkin centers on a high school student who thinks he’s saving a girl from a monster, but it turns out that he’s the one who is the true victim. Hunter X Hunter serializes the tale of a young country boy named Gon who decides to become a special breed of Hunters, who track dwon magical beasts and treasures.

“We are thrilled to partner with FUNimation to debut these exciting series on its premiere 24-hour digital anime network,” says Bill Germain VIZ Media’s director of programming, music and sales. “The multi-faceted plots and dynamic characters that made all these titles so successful as manga translates wonderfully with depth and color to their anime counterparts, adding a captivating new visual dimension to the storylines. We look forward to fans taking full advantage of all the flexibility and convenience of VOD to explore these new series on the FUNimation Channel.”

Disney Channel Shuffles Execs in Europe

The rebranding of Jetix and Disney Channel in Europe has led to the resignation of Steve Aranguren, VP for global original programming at Disney Channels Europe, MidEast and Africa, and Michael Cairns, the division’s managing director, reports Variety. Broadcasting veteran Boel Ferguson has been put in charge of running the TV business in the U.K. and Ireland as general manager for both Jetix and Disney Channels.

Meanwhile, Marc Buhaj has bee promoted to senior VP or original production, Disney Channels and Jetix Europe, MidEast and Africa. Buhaj was formerly senior VP or programming for Jetix Europe, after stints at Cartoon Network and Boomerang in the U.S.

Last month, Disney Channel’s London-based president John Hardie quit his Mouse post of eight years to lead U.K. news outfit ITN. Disney released the following statement in conjunction with the latest job shuffles: "We are working through the final stages of the planning and implementation of the Jetix and Disney Channels integration, which aims to create a new organization drawing on the talents and assets of each to achieve new heights of success in the U.K. and Europe."

Toy Story 3 Trailer Sneaks at NAB

Buzz Lightyear and Cowboy Woody made a surprise visit to NAB this week as Disney offered the first public screening of the teaser trailer for its upcoming Toy Story 3 at the Digital Cinema Summit in Las Vegas. The teaser shows Woody and the gang prepare a sign for the movie and then being upstaged by a super-high-tech version created by Buzz.

Disney plans to re-release stereoscopic 3-D versions of the
Toy Story
and Toy Story 2 as a double feature on October 2. The two-week only limited engagement will build more anticipation for the release of Toy Story 3, slated for a June 18, 2010 release.

Also part of the Disney presentation at NAB was the entire first song, “Belle” from the newly converted 3-D version of
Beauty and the Beast
, which is coming to a stereoscopic screening near you on Feb. 12.

Homer Jonas on Facebook

Golden Age animation artist Homer Jonas (1928-1979) now has a Facebook fan page courtesy of his son, artist Jeff Jonas. The Facebook page includes artwork from Jonas’s work at Disney (101 Dalmatians, Sleeping Beauty), as well as unpublished artwork, gag drawings, and vintage photos. Jeff says he’s planning to add more items in the future.

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

One THOR Down

After being anointed by the interweb rumor mill as the odds-on favorite to play 'Thor' on the big screen, Alexander Skarsgård now says it looks like he won't be summoning the thunder after all.

The 'True Blood' actor chatted with E! Online who asked if he was still up for the part.

"No, I don't think so," Skarsgård said. "I haven't gotten the call, so..."

Of course, the show ain't over until Brunhilde sings and until Marvel announces that someone actually has been cast, we can cross our fingers that Skarsgård's phone may yet ring.


It seems 'Dragonball: Evolution' fared even worse with U.S. audiences than it did with those in Japan. Mania's box office report tells us that the film has exited the top 10 in its second week of release. It collected about $1.6 million and dropped three spots to #11 in the face of three new opening films.

The two-week total for the anime-to-film flop currently stands at about $7.8 million, which is still a nose ahead of Marvel/Lionsgate's recent 'Punisher War Zone'.

"Sit Down, Shut Up" Lifts Off

The latest Fox animated entry debuted last night. To encouraging results.

Fox’s new animated series "Sit Down, Shut Up" was off to a decent start last night, pulling a 2.3 average overnight rating among 18-49s, according to Nielsen overnights.

That’s 77 percent of the lead-in audience from
"The Simpsons" which averaged a 3.0 rating. "Sit Down" also improved on what "King of the Hill" did last week in the same 8:30 timeslot, by 15 percent.

For years I've been asked: "How's animation doing?" My answer is always the same.

"Cartoons are market driven. They get good box office and television ratings, more cartoons get made. If the box office or ratings aren't there, neither are the 'toons.

(The rule doesn't apply as directly to live action. If the latest James Bond feature doesn't perform, the studios make something else ... like a Seth Rogen comedy. But they still make live-action.)

But it's good to see the comedy has made a credible start. If ratings hold up, it means that the crew will be picked up for more episodes later rather than sooner. This is a good thing, since television animation is still not robust, and every small victory means another job will get created.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Though the Hollywood Reporter's view seems to differ -

Few stay still for 'Sit Down, Shut Up'

Sit down shut up Viewers stood up, started talking and left the room -- the premiere of Mitch Hurwitz's animated comedy Sit Down, Shut Up was the weakest link in Fox's comedy lineup Sunday night.

Debuting at 8:30 p.m.,
Sit Down (5.2 million viewers, 2.3 preliminary adults 18-49 rating) fell 23% from its Simpsons (6.5 million, 3.0) lead-in, then audiences jumped up 65% for Family Guy (7.4 million, 3.8). American Dad (5.8 million, 3.0) filled out the block. The Sit Down opener also was down 15% from the time period's average performance (typically King of the Hill).

Fox placed second for the evening to ABC, which featured the first
Desperate Housewives (13.6 million, 4.7) and Brothers and Sisters (9.6 million, 3.3) in a few weeks, with a repeat lead-in. Housewives was a bit lower than usual but was the highest-rated show of the evening.

NBC was third with a two-hour
Miss USA special (5 million, 1.4), down 18% from last year, followed by Apprentice (8.4 million, 3.1), up a tick this week.

Fourth-place CBS'
The Amazing Race (10.4 million, 3.0) slipped a peg, while the two-hour snoozily titled Hallmark movie The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler (9.8 million, 1.5) placed last in its time period, and fell 32% from CBS' previous Hallmark film, Loving Leah.

Also: For those wondering how
(2.4 million, 0.6) performed in its new Saturday time period, the NBC drama once again managed to come in last place, pulling about half its Sunday average at 8 p.m.

Work In Progress

A 3D animated mini movie, by ILM (Industrial Light and Magic) -

EXCLUSIVE: Zack Snyder Updates ‘Heavy Metal’ Status, Hints At Story He’ll Direct

Sure, he may have just delivered the big screen adaptation comic fans have been itching to see for decades with “Watchmen,” but hopefully someone told director Zack Snyder that us comic and movie fans are an insatiable bunch. After all, the blood on the Comedian’s pin isn’t even dry yet, and we’re already asking him about his future funnybook forays: namely, his “Heavy Metal” team-up with co-directors David Fincher and Gore Verbinski that re-imagines the classic, adult-themed animated epic.

“‘Heavy Metal,’ is coasting,” Snyder told MTV News of the in-development project. “I don’t know what’s going to happen, I’m excited about it. I love ‘Heavy Metal,’ if that happens it’ll be great.”

When last we checked in on “Heavy Metal,” we asked co-director Fincher if he had any particular stories from the original films or comic magazine he’d like to tackle, to which he mentioned that Snyder had already set his sights on one story in particular. Since it’s not every day you get to sit down with the geek-approved director, we decided to ask Snyder point-blank what twisted tale that would be.

“[Fincher, Verbinski and I] talked about certain segments, it’s nothing that you would know from the magazine,” hinted Snyder. “It’s a special little one-off thing but it’s pretty cool, that’s all I can really say about it.”

Warren Ellis’ Animated ‘G.I. Joe: Resolute’ Debuts With A Bang… Lots Of Them!

Last week, we brought you the news that Adult Swim’s mature-themed, Warren Ellis-penned G.I. Joe cartoon series “G.I. Joe: Resolute” was set to hit airwaves and the InterWebs over the weekend. What we failed to mention was, for us hardcore Joe fans out there, this series looks to be the the animated epic we’ve all been waiting for ahead of this summer’s “G.I. Joe” feature film.

While we can’t bring you the two episodes currently running on Adult Swim’s website, we can at least show you the trailer for the series after the jump and recap what happened in Episodes 1 & 2. (Spoiler Warning!)

Offering something for both the old school fans as well as newcomers to the Real American Heroes, Episode 1 opens with the first death of a major character, Sebastian Bludd, a.k.a. Major Bludd. Soon thereafter, a series of attacks take place (including a massive explosion on that crown jewel of ’80s toys, the USS Flagg, and the death of Joe team member Bazooka), all leading up to Cobra Commander’s dramatic first appearance as a hologram at the United Nations. And just to show that he ain’t that hissing laughingstock we all remember from the cartoons, he goes ahead and levels Moscow.

While most of that might seem like standard Joe-fare, Episode 2 should quiet any haters — as that’s when fan favorite Snake-Eyes makes his debut and does what he does best, infiltrating a COBRA island base in whats sure to be a legendary toe-to-toe with Storm Shadow. I can’t really give the episode justice describing just how ridiculously bad-ass Snake-Eyes is so far — just do yourself a huge favor and check it out.

Episodes 3 & 4 debuted last night, all leading up to the series finale on April 25.

Upcoming in Japan


St. Seiya: The Lost Canvas
Isekai no Seikishi Monogatari - the fantasy Tenchi Muyo spin-off
the Munto movie
Taisho Era Baseball Girls

Gokusen - live action movie


If you noticed the extra character who did not appear in the origin TV series in the poster for the Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance, there's now information about the mysterious Makinami Mari Illustrious. Singer/voice actress Maaya Sakamoto (Escaflowne, Gundam SEED Destiny, Hellsing Ultimate, Gunbuster 2) has been cast in the role. (rumors about the character)

Plans for Yuko Miyamura to reprise the role of Shikinami Asuka Langley have also been confirmed.

Via Revoltech figures, there are suggestions of what the Evangelion Unit-05 may look like


Gainax co-founder and victim of the notorious Gurren Lagann flamewar Takami Akai indicated during his photography exhibition that he is involved in a new animated work, in addition to a Gurren Lagann game.


Sega Toys President Isao Kokubun has announced that a third season of the toy tops based Bakugan Battle Brawlers anime is the works.


The eighth and final volume of the Clannad After Story DVD release will feature a direct to DVD Another World: Kyou Arc episode of the anime adaptation of the popular relationship game.


Hong Kong director John Woo will voice a role in the Romance of the Three Kingdoms inspired anime series Soten Koro.


Zan Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei, a third season of the anime adaptation of literate school comedy Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei will debut on Japanese TV in July. The manga series has released premiered in North America from Del Rey.

Is the next Gundam anime going to be the rumored Universal Century (continuity of the first series) Gundam Unicorn? An announced may be in the next issue of NewType

See Justic ACE for more evidence


The anime adaptation of Hetalia - Axis Powers, a controversial historical/political comedy where countries are embodied by bishonen (cute guys) will receive a second season.


Lone Wolf and Cub will is coming back via eBookJapan's Katana. While writer Kazuo Koike returns, Hideki Mori will be handling the illustrations for Soshite Kozure Okami: Shikaku no Ko, which will resume the storyline from Shin Kozure Okami.

Anime News Network notes a Zakzak piece that mentions an anime adaptation of the samurai manga is still "in the tentative planning stages" but "within sight."

Young Animal Magazine will launch a new manga based on Go Nagai and Ken Ishikawa's original combining robot Getter Robo. Gisho Getter Robo Darkness will be created by Hideaki Nishikawa.

Speaking of Young Animal, Kentarou Miura's violent fantasy manga Berserk returns from its latest hiatus on April 24th.

Yuuki Obata's We Were There (Bokura ga Ita) will resume in the July issue of Betsucomi.

MangaCast notes Felipe Smith's (MBQ) Peepo Choo volume one goes on sale April 23.

The Anime Business

Anime News Network reports that former 10 employees have filed a law suit against ImaginAsian Entertainment (owner of ImaginAsian TV and formerly two movie theaters) for unpaid wages amounting to $250,000. Most employees were laid off between October and December of 2008, when the company shed over 75% of its workforce.

ImaginAsian TV is currently airing English dubbed episode of the Kurokami The Animation (the animated adaptation of Black God).


Robert's Anime Corner Blog notes that FUNimation has discontinued several 4-Kid's properties like Cabbage Patch Kids and Ninja Turtles, along with Spiral and Yu-Gi-Oh - effective April 14th.

Digital Distribution

YouTube is working to its video and movie content through deals with anime provides Bandai and Anime Network in addition to Sony, Lionsgate, the BBC, Starz, Discovery, National Geographic, Cinetic Rights Management, Current TV, Documentary Channel, First Look Studios and IndieFlix.

YouTube plans to sell advertising during commercial breaks in TV shows. It may eventually charge for the premium content. According to a Credit Suisse report, Google is expected to lose $470 million this year on YouTube.

ADV Nation notes that the Anime Network's site is now hosting episodes of Get Backers, Pet Shop of Horrors, Parasite Dolls, BASTof Syndrome and the Korean Live Action movie, Conduct Zero.


Digimon Adventure 02 has gone live from FUNimation's Toei streaming agreement

TMS Entertainment has launched a YouTube Channel, and the feature attracting is an English dub of Sherlock Hound (3,4,5,9,10,11). The Sherlock Holmes with canines features six episodes directed by Hayao Miyazaki.


GhibliWorld is giving away copies of a new Ghibli book from UK based film book publisher Karma Books

The Character Design blog as launched a beta forum

Pokemon mobile x-ray machine

Stores nails cross promoting to anime fans

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