News Bytes: ‘Addams Family’ Original Songs, Apple TV+ Launch Date, Disney+ Pulls ‘Muppets,’ & More

‘Steven Universe The Movie’ Soundtrack Debuts in Top 10
Following its Sept. 2 release, the soundtrack debuted in the Top 10 of five Billboard charts, the week ending Sept. 14: #2 Soundtracks, #2 Children’s Top Albums, #6 Top Independent Albums, #8 Current Pop Albums, #9 Digital Albums, #19 Top Current Albums and #20 Billboard Top Albums. The expansive soundtrack continues to be available for download and streaming on all major platforms. Fans can grab a physical copy to treasure on Nov. 15, in both standard and deluxe vinyl sets — pre-orders now available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and FYE.

Studio Movie Grill Expands Movies + Meals Program with DreamWorks/Pearl’s ‘Abominable’
Universal Pictures is offering multiple screenings at SMG theaters of Jill Culton’s upcoming yeti adventure. (Read all about it in Tom McLean’s feature story in the latest issue!) SMG Access launched nationwide last summer and is the only theater-loyalty program focused on positively impacting underserved children and local community members. Through their purchases, alongside rewards, loyal SMG guests are able to assist SMG outreach in offering movies and meals to local non-profits and under-resourced community members with the hope of harnessing the power of movies to inspire and change lives. Since the program’s inception, multiple studios have joined the movement, offering screenings and giving SMG the opportunity to give back more than 14,000 Movies + Meals in the program’s first year.

“We are delighted to support SMG’s efforts by offering screenings of Abominable to local non-profits providing services to underserved children in their communities and to join SMG guests in supporting purposeful outreach and a loyalty program designed to give back to local community members through Movies + Meals. Abominable celebrates friendships and the importance of family, and we can’t think of a better partner to help spread that message of kindness and empowerment than SMG.” — JIm Orr, Universal Pictures President of Domestic Theatrical Distribution

‘The Umbrella Academy’ S2 Adds Three to Cast
Ritu Arya (Humans) has been cast as “Lila,” a chameleon who can be as brilliant or as clinically insane as the situation requires. Unpredictable, mischievous and sarcastic, Lila’s gifted with a twisted sense of humor. Yusuf Gatewood (Good Omens) will play “Raymond,” a born leader with the smarts, gravitas and confidence to never have to prove it to anyone. He is warm, dedicated and has the innate ability to disarm you with a look. A devoted husband, he’s the kind of guy everyone wants to know. Marin Ireland (Y: The Last Man) will be playing “Sissy,” a fearless, no-nonsense Texas mom who married young for all the wrong reasons. Still in her prime, she’s eager to rediscover what life and love has to offer.

It was previously announced that Ellen Page, Tom Hopper, David Castañeda, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Robert Sheehan, Aidan Gallagher and Justin H. Min are set to reprise their roles. Production on season two is currently underway.

’The Muppets’ Disney+ Comedy Series Scrapped
Creators Adam Horowitz, Eddy Kitsis (Once Upon a Time) and Josh Gad (Frozen) have departed Muppets Live Another Day due to creative differences, causing the to-be-launched streamer to scrap the project. Sources say the trouble started when Disney swapped in Disney Parks Live Ent. SVP David Lightbody to head Muppet Studios, with some different ideas on where to take Jim Henson’s beloved characters.

MGM’s ‘The Addams Family’ Scares Up Musical Superstars for Original Songs
The first track to be released, “My Family,” is performed by Migos, Karol G, Rock Mafia and Snoop Dogg and drops Friday, September 13. The song was written by Antonina Armato, Quavious Keyate Marshall, Carolina Giraldo, Danny Parra, Tim James, Calvin Cordozar Broadus, Jr. and Vic Mizzy and was produced by Rock Mafia. The track is being released by MGM Records and distributed by 12 Tone Music. “Haunted Heart,” performed by Christina Aguilera, was written by Antonina Armato, Aguilera and Tim James and was also produced by Rock Mafia, to be released later this month by RCA Records ahead of the film’s debut. Both songs will be available for streaming and \or download at all major music retail digital platforms.

The Addams Family arrives in theaters Oct. 11 — read all about it in the November issue of Animation Magazine!

Apple TV+ Launches November 1
The new service will be available on the Apple TV App worldwide for $ 4.99 per month (free for a year with purchase of any iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iPod touch or Mac as of today), and shareable with up to six people with Family Sharing. At launch, subscribers can catch exclusive originals like See (a post-apocalyptic thriller set 600 years in the future when surviving humans are all blind, starring Jason Momoa and Alfre Woodard), Sesame Workshop’s Helpsters and new Peanuts/DHX animation Snoopy in Space.

Steven Universe soundtrack

Steven Universe soundtrack

The Muppets

The Muppets

Animation Magazine

DHX Appoints Key Execs to Drive Original Animation Output

DHX Media announces that Stephanie Betts has been promoted to the role of Executive Vice President, Content, and will be responsible for development and production of DHX Media’s slate of original animated content, reporting to Josh Scherba, President. In addition, Todd Brian has joined the Company in the newly created role of Director of Development, Animation, reporting to Betts.

“We’re producing an amazing slate of original content for the world’s top streaming platforms and broadcasters, and our development pipeline is rich with exciting new projects,” said Scherba. “Stephanie has been integral to the DHX Media story for many years, and as we increase our focus on high-quality original content, her vision and expertise in development and production make her an ideal leader for our talented content team.”

Betts added, “I’m excited to continue finding new approaches to developing our evergreen brands for a contemporary kids and family audience, while expanding our slate of original content by collaborating with the creative community to develop ideas into the next big global franchises.”

As Executive Vice President, Content, Stephanie Betts applies her many years of experience in kids’ and family content, fostering, managing and expanding DHX Media’s animated content slate. Betts’ expertise lies in building strong, creatively-driven teams, and in developing series that kids around the world love. Drawing on more than 16 years’ experience developing and producing award-winning series, Betts has spearheaded numerous DHX Media shows, including new Peanuts content, Strawberry Shortcake, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Inspector Gadget, Teletubbies, Polly Pocket and Chip and Potato. Prior to joining DHX Media, Betts worked as a Producer and Development Executive at Breakthrough Films and Television, and previously at Atomic Cartoons.

A graduate of Ryerson University’s Film Studies program and the Canadian Film Centre, Todd Brian has spent years building strong industry relationships while working in various senior creative positions on both animation and live-action productions. A few of his notable past roles have included time spent at Corus Entertainment as a Production Executive/Corus Kids (YTV, Teletoon, Treehouse), where he oversaw a robust slate of projects in development and production; Development Executive/Kids & Family at Toronto-based marblemedia; Senior Writer at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC); and multiple credits as a writer/story editor ranging from preschool to tween/family co-view programming. Brian is thrilled to join the DHX Media team and share his passion for kids and family content.

Animation Magazine

Universal Kids Nixes Original Content Division

NBCUniversal’s New York-based children’s network Universal Kids is pivoting away from creating original content in order to shore the channel up in the long term, Kidscreen reports.

Going forward, the broadcaster will only be adding acquired content to its linear programming lineup, as well as continuing its partnership with sister company DreamWorks Animation. Those original productions already commissioned will launch on schedule with full marketing support from the network, though it is unclear if they will have a chance at additional season orders.

All Universal Kids employees in content, original content or development positions are moving to a new post at the network, or are dismissed.

The program strategy shift follows the departure of two-year General Manager Deirdre Brennan in February as part of an executive restructure. Frances Berwick, President of Lifestyle Networks for NBCU, took over for Brennan and will now add all other Universal Kids responsibilities from eliminated jobs to her purview.

Universal Kids was launched in 2017, rebranded from preschool channel Sprout and expanding its target demographic to kids 2-11. Prior to the makeover, original series included preschool toons Ruff-Ruff, Tweet and Dave, Floogals and Dot. Currently, the channel offers home-grown live-action and unscripted series like Top Chef Junior, with animated kids’ originals Where’s Waldo (DreamWorks Animation Television) and Norman Picklestripes (Factory) premiering in July.

[Source: ;Kidscreen]

Where's Waldo

Where’s Waldo

Animation Magazine

Netflix Plans Oscar-Qualifying Release for Original Feature ‘Klaus’

During a press preview at its Hollywood headquarters recently, Netflix announced that it is planning an Oscar-qualifying theatrical release for its first original animated feature film, Klaus. Attendees got to check out early footage from the film, which is directed by Despicable Me creator Sergio Pablos and produced by his Madrid-based The Spa Studios.

Klaus is a family comedy that explores the origin story for Santa Claus, anchored by the friendship between a young postman and a genial toymaker. Spa is utilizing proprietary animation technology that integrates hand-drawn techniques into a CGI pipeline to recreate a traditional animation aesthetic.

Netflix Director of Character Animation James Baxter (Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, The Lion King) is also involved with the project.

Klaus is part of an ambitious and diverse lineup of event animation underway at Netflix, including original features, series and specials from internationally renowned creators.

The movie is set to launch on the streaming platform around the winter holidays.

[Source: Hollywood Reporter]

Animation Magazine

Netflix Original Anime Line-Up Expands Worlds of ‘Pacific Rim,’ Altered Carbon’

During its first-ever content showcase in Asia, held in Singapore Thursday, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos unveiled 17 new, original productions from Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, India and South Korea. The “See What’s Next: Asia” presentation included the reveal of five exciting anime originals. The diverse selection includes storyverse expansions of live-action sci-fi hits Pacific Rim and Altered Carbon, an adaptation of Kachou Hashimoto’s biological crisis manga Cagaster, a feudal futurist adventure from LeSean Thomas and Flying Lotus inspired by Yasuke the historic black samurai, and the Philippine folklore inspired Trese.

“Asia is home to the world’s great creative centers producing some of the most compelling films and series of today,” said Sarandos. “The beauty of Netflix is that we can take never-seen before stories from South Korea, Thailand, Japan, India, Taiwan or elsewhere, and easily connect them to people all over Asia and the world. More than half of Asian content hours viewed on Netflix this year are viewed outside the region, so we have confidence that our upcoming slate of Asian productions will find fans in their home countries and abroad.”

Joining the streaming platform’s anime library are:

Pacific Rim – Returning to the epic battle of Kaiju and Jaegers, this original anime series will expand upon the story of the first two live-action movies and follow two siblings — an idealistic teenage boy and his naïve younger sister — who are forced to pilot an abandoned Jaeger across a hostile landscape in a desperate attempt to find their missing parents. Co-showrunners: Craig Kyle (Thor: Ragnarok) and Greg Johnson (X-Men: Evolution). Production Company: Legendary Entertainment (Kong: Skull Island; Pokemon: Detective Pikachu). (www.netflix.com/pacificrimanime)

Altered Carbon – This anime feature, set in the same universe of the Netflix live-action sci-fi series (second season in production from Skydance Television), will explore new elements of the story mythology. Writer: Dai Sato (Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo) and Tsukasa Kondo. Animation Studio: Anima. (www.netflix.com/alteredcarbonanime)

Cagaster of an Insect Cage – Set in a post-apocalyptic world where a mysterious disease “Cagaster” turns people into giant murderous insects, this manga-based series follows the struggle of a young couple to stay alive. Directed By Koichi Chigira (Last Exile, Full Metal Panic!). Animation Studio: Gonzo (Hellsing, Afro Samurai). (www.netflix.com/cagasterofaninsectcage)

Yasuke – In a war-torn feudal Japan of mechs and magic, a retired ronin must take up his sword when he is charged with the task of transporting a mysterious child who dark forces want to eliminate. Created & directed by LeSean Thomas (The Boondocks, Cannon Busters), who is also serving as executive producer. Grammy nominee Flying Lotus will compose the music and be an executive producer on the show. Lakeith Stanfield (Atlanta, Sorry to Bother You) will be the voice of the protagonist “Yasuke” (based on the historical samurai of African origin who fought with Oda Nobunaga). Animation Studio: MAPPA (Yuri!!! on Ice, Kakegurui). (www.netflix.com/yasuke)

Trese – Set in a Manila where the mythical creatures of Philippine folklore live in hiding amongst humans, Alexandra Trese finds herself going head to head with a criminal underworld comprised of malevolent supernatural beings. This anime series is based on the Philippine graphic novel by the same name, created by Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo. Executive Producer: Jay Oliva (Wonder Woman, The Legend of Korra). Produced By: Shanty Harmayn and Tanya Yuson at BASE Entertainment, a studio based in Jakarta and Singapore. (www.netflix.com/trese)

Mushikago no Cagaster

Mushikago no Cagaster

Altered Carbon

Altered Carbon

Animation Magazine

Original ‘Bee and PuppyCat’ Goes Global on Cartoon Hangover

Get your favorite PJ pants on and hunker down for winter with the complete 2014 Bee and PuppyCat series, coming to Frederator Network’s Cartoon Hangover YouTube channel globally and free to view! The first four episodes of Natasha Allegri’s fan-favorite series are up now, with the rest of the 10 installments rolling out every Friday at 3 p.m. ET through November 9.

The launch will give international fans the chance to see the toon in its entirety. All of Bee and PuppyCat is also available on Ellation’s VRV platform, currently limited to viewers in the U.S.

Allegri’s vividly relatable heroine and her mysterious pet quickly won over online audiences from the first. More than 40 million minutes of the original Bee and PuppyCat two-part pilot have been watched on YouTube, and more than 18,000 fans contributed to a Kickstarter for the series in 2014, making it the most-backed animation project in Kickstarter history. Over the years, Bee and PuppyCat has continued to grow into a pop culture phenomenon, spurring a line of cookbooks, plush toys and more.

A new series, Bee and PuppyCat: Lazy in Space, will debut in 2019 exclusively on VRV within the Cartoon Hangover Select channel. Fans will encounter a world even more expansive (and possibly in danger) as the pair combat problems big, small, and totally weird, all while trying to make rent in time. Lazy in Space will feature longer, half-hour episodes, along with an extended season. Tokyo-based OLM, Inc. (Pokémon animated franchise), with support from its subsidiary in L.A., Sprite Animation, will be co-producing with Frederator Studios (Castlevania, Adventure Time, The Fairly OddParents), with Allegri as showrunner.

In addition to creating the break-out series, Allegri has worked on hits like Over the Garden Wall and Adventure Time, for which she created the hugely popular gender-flipped concept of “Fionna and Cake,” also writing and illustrating a comic series based on the spin-off. She is also director of The Summoning and a writer on Netflix’s Cannon Busters.

Frederator Networks is a WOW! Unlimited Media company.

Animation Magazine

Psyop Launches Original Hand-Drawn Game ‘ Camp W’

Creative studio Psyop has launched a new, original, hand-drawn adventure game, Camp W — a beautifully illustrated, story-rich world which players can enter on their PC or Mac computers through online publishing platform Steam.

A hybrid of a choose-your-own-adventure and Saturday morning cartoon, the events of Camp W are guided by player choice. You inhabit the role of a young Witch trespassing in the Human Realm, where you will make friends, cast spells, and uncover secrets during your first ever summer away from home.

“I think we managed to do something really unique with Camp W, by developing an animated series that is actually an interactive experience that you, the player, not only star in, but direct,” said narrative director Alexei Bochenek. “We absolutely stuffed this game with detail, from the art to the story to the musical score, and we worked painstakingly to create a fully realized universe that is both fresh and familiar.”

“What I’m most proud of are the characters that we created, who you get to meet and spend time with when you play,” said creative director Kelly Shay. “This is a game that is silly, spooky, and fun, but also full of heart. It’s about being a little bit weird, and discovering that, when you take a bunch of outsiders and put them together, it turns out that you’re all on the inside of your own community of weirdos, which people in the gaming and animation community already know is an absolutely spectacular group to be a part of. That’s who I think we are behind this game, and that’s who I hope finds and connects with Camp W.”

CAMP W Trailer from Psyop on Vimeo.

Camp W game features include:

  • Friending SimulatorCamp W is filled with interesting characters, but everyone can’t be your best friend — that would be exhausting. You’ll have to decide which campers interest you the most and then get to know them and their stories over the course of your playthrough.
  • Mysteries Await – There’s more to a summer at Camp W than kickball and friendship bracelets. Discover secrets about the history of the Witching Realm and battle evil forces who threaten to rain on your summer fun.
  • Get Your “Choose” On – You decide which camp activities to attend, which questions to ask, and how you want to respond at critical moments throughout the game. One playthrough won’t be enough to explore every path of this branching story.
  • A Hand-Drawn World – Visit more than 20 beautifully illustrated locations — during the day and at night — and hang out with 15 fun characters, all of whom feature a range of fun poses and expressions. Not to mention your Grimoire, which will fill up with drawings as you play through the game.
  • Collectibles Galore – Cast 12 different spells, earn 18 unique badges, and unlock 60+ illustrated memories. You’ll have to replay the game to see them all, but it’s worth it — and you’ll earn achievements along the way.
  • All-Ages…but Not Just for KidsCamp W was designed to be enjoyed by all ages, and we mean it. Youngsters and adults alike will find a lot to love about the story, dialogue, humor and drama throughout the game.
  • Original Score – A complete score featuring more than a dozen tracks composed just for this game by talented composer and musician Davey Thomas Tucker.

Learn more at www.campwgame.com and www.psyop.com.

Camp W

Camp W

Camp W

Camp W

Camp W

Camp W

Animation Magazine

VIZ Announces First Original Anime ‘Seis Manos’ for Netflix

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Netflix has unveiled the next stage in its anime content quest: Seis Manos — the first original series from VIZ Media. Set to launch in 2019, the show is being developed and produced with Powerhouse Animation (Castlevania).

VIZ will be introducing the property to potential partners at the Licensing Expo in Vegas (May 22-24, booth #R202).

“With over 30 years of experience bringing the best manga and anime to North America, Seis Manos will be VIZ Media’s first original animated property. We’re thrilled to bring Seis Manos to life with our partners at Netflix and Powerhouse Animation,” says Brad Woods, Chief Marketing Officer, VIZ Media. “This show combines the absolute best in action and storytelling.”

Seis Manos is an action-adventure series set in 1970s Mexico about three orphaned martial arts warriors who join forces with a DEA agent and a Mexican Federale to battle for justice after their beloved mentor is murdered on the streets of their tiny border town.

The show is co-created by Powerhouse CEO Brad Graeber and writer Alvaro Rodriguez (Machete, From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series). Dan Dominguez (Captain Underpants, SpongeBob SquarePants, Crash & Bernstein) will also serve as a series writer, and Willis Bulliner (Agents of Mayhem; storyboard artist, Castlevania) is directing.

“We’re excited to be working with such a fantastic group of animators and storytellers to produce our first original anime series set in Mexico,” said John Derderian, Director of Japan & Anime for Netflix. “Our Mexican subscribers, and viewers in Latin America more broadly, have a tremendous passion for anime. We look forward to sharing this completely unique series with them, and with the growing community of anime fans around the world.”

Seis Manos

Seis Manos

Animation Magazine

Pink Kong Debuts First Original Irish VR Animation ‘Aurora’ at ADIFF

AURORA

Dublin-based Pink Kong Studios is spreading the news about its experiential ode to nature AURORA– the first original animated virtual reality short to be produced in Ireland, which premiered at the Audi Dublin International Film Festival last month (www.diff.ie). The piece was shown as part of the “Immersive Stories Conference,” curated by Eoghan Cunneen of ILMxLAB, and received an enthusiastic audience reception.

“Emerging technologies have always been on our agenda since myself and Niamh founded the studio in 2014. AURORA has afforded us the opportunity to realise a goal of creating a storytelling piece in VR. It’s amazing that you can don a headset and be transported to another world. That’s the great thing about immersive storytelling!” said director Aoife Doyle.

Doyle, producer Niamh Herrity and writer Denis James Ryan were awarded a bursary of €30k by ADIFF, Screen Training Ireland & Audi Ireland to produce the short, which immerses the viewer in powerful visuals and sounds of nature which feed an emotive storyline.

“Watching people re-emerge from the world of AURORA with tears in their eyes was mesmerizing. The final piece really connects with people on an emotional level,” said Ryan.

Doyle added:  “We hope AURORA gives the audience a space to experience and reflect on the passing of time. Time can be profound and precious, and we really wanted the audience to take a moment and appreciate that. The story follows the lives of a young family and all who inhabit the films vividly coloured landscape. We really wanted to create an emotional and immersive experience. As we watch the seasons change Nature herself becomes a central character in the piece.”

The film’s virtual environment incorporates both 2D and 3D elements, and takes its playful approach to color from the aurora borealis it is named for. The Pink Kong team took care to ensure viewers can see brush strokes on characters and elements within the film, adding to a visually rich experience. AURORA was in production for just four months, with the direction team based in-house at Pink Kong Studios head office in Dublin. It premiered as a room scale experience utilising the HTC VIVE allowing certain elements of the film to be interactive.

AURORA is a great experience for VR enthusiasts and first-time users alike. We were conscious that it will be screened at ADIFF’s Virtual Reality Arcade. It was the first of its kind in Ireland, so we understood that a lot of the audience may be new to the medium. We wanted to give them something beautiful and engaging that would leave a lasting impression on them. A chance to feel, and to reflect on moments that may be passing too quickly in their own lives,” said Herrity.

Doyle continued: “If you’re patient and still, you can enjoy the beauty of a fawn and its mother grazing a few feet from you but move too quickly towards them and you have the ability to spook them…just as you would in real life. The desire to implement these additional experiences for the audience within such a tight schedule led us to bring Peter Craddock and the team at Manchester based Studio Liddell onboard the project. We worked closely together to stay true to the vision of AURORA and I’m really proud of what the whole team achieved in such a short turn around.”

AURORA will now tour the international film festival and VR/tech conference circuit, while Pink Kong is already developing its next VR project. Learn more about the award-winning studio at www.pinkkongstudios.ie.

AURORA

AURORA

AURORA

AURORA

AURORA

AURORA

Animation Magazine

Aardman Launches Original Comedy Toon Platform AardBoiled

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The Academy Award-winning UK studio Aardman has launched a new online outlet for original, offbeat animated comedy creators: AardBoiled. The new YouTube hub builds on the company’s track record of 17 successful YouTube channels for its own IPs, which average more than 25 million monthly views, and gives independent producers a new path to distribute their content internationally with the help of Aardman’s VOD experts.

Sarah Cox, BAFTA award-winner and Executive Creative Director at Aardman, said:

“It is rare and inspiring to see such high quality work direct from the creators without any interference from ‘development executives’. All the good stuff without the edges rounded off.”

Among the first projects available are Weirdy Rhymes — a series originally developed by the late director/animator Terry Brain (The Trap Door, Chicken Run, Shaun the Sheep), directed and produced by son Dave Brain and Michael Percival; Clod, a new series from Rich Webber (Purple & Brown, DC Nations), and original shows and shorts from Dan Bins & Ian Pinder, Dave McKenna, Joe Wood & Ollie Magee, Jane Davies, and Sam Morrison.

“We decided to offer Weirdy Rhymes for distribution on Aardman’s new YouTube channel, because we believe in the Aardman family,” commented Michael Percival. “Terry Brain worked with Aardman for many years and would be proud to have his work represented by them. We’re grateful for this opportunity to show Weirdy Rhymes and wish that as many people as possible will get the same joy from them that we have had putting them together.”

AardBoiled will also bring back some classics, such as Pib & Pog by Peter Peake and Big Jeff by Tom Parkinson. Fans of the studio will also be treated to another side of Aardman with a selection of more offbeat projects and collaborations, with a focus on presenting an array of animation techniques and visual styles.

With 10 producer already on board, the online network team will be actively reaching out to more creators — interested parties can learn how to join the AardBoiled family here.

Clod

Clod

Weirdy Rhymes

Weirdy Rhymes

AardBoiled

AardBoiled

Animation Magazine

Daily News Bytes: Anime’s Industry Illness, Original Force Prods Depart, Best of NW Animation Fest & More

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Japan’s Animation Industry Failing to Cultivate Next Generation of Talent
Nippon.com‘s culture section dissects the problems behind the country’s impending talent gap — namely, poor work conditions and low wages for young animators making the traditional training ladder unsupportable and insufferable.

Penney Finkleman Cox, Sandra Rabins Leave Original Force Animation
Experience animation production duo depart having helped guide the Chinese digital animation studio’s expansion into Hollywood. Original Force’s push into the global market, Duck Duck Goose is set to hit US theaters April 20, 2018.

Cagayan de Oro Animators to Release ‘Division of Existence’ Anime
Filipino animation collective Xygen CG Works prepare to unveil the 10-minute pilot for their sci-fi action-adventure passion project inspired by Japanese anime (maybe the “next generation of talent” is outside Nippon?).

Northwest Animation Festival’s Best of the Fest 2017
The Portland, Oregon-based festival has curated 13-film lineup of audience favorites for a one-night only show on Friday, September 15 at the historic Hollywood Theatre. The show will include some animated nudity and sexuality, so leave your Dora the Explorer fans with a sitter.

Nikozi Animation Fest Gearing Up in Ancient Georgian Village
The 7th international animation event in one of the country’s last surviving towns from antiquity runs Sept. 1-7. Contemporary and classic local works are on tap, as well as a strong educational focus and visits from producer Olivier Catherin (Kiki de Montparnasse) and enjoys of Annecy Festival, Filmfest Dresden and NFB Canada.

Birdlime by Evan DeRushie; Northwest Animation Festival 2017

Birdlime by Evan DeRushie; Northwest Animation Festival 2017

Bunny Drop from Production I.G

Bunny Drop from Production I.G

Animation Magazine

‘Invader Zim’ Re-Invades Nick in Original TV Movie

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Nickelodeon will be bringing back everyone’s favorite megalomaniacal alien with an all-new, 90-minute Invader Zim TV movie from original series creator Jhonen Vasquez, marking the third toon property from the net’s library to get revitalized for today’s audience. The 2D project, produced by Nickelodeon in Burbank, will continue the inept wanna-be space menace’s misadventures, with original voice stars from the early 2000s series.

The Invader Zim movie will follow perpetually desperate, delusional Zim as he concocts a new, potentially Earth-destroying plan to finally prove his worth and win him the respect he deserves from his Irken leaders, the Almighty Tallest.

The voice cast will welcome back Richard Horvitz as Zim; Rikke Simons as his malfunctioning (but adorable) robot servant GIR; Andy Berman as his human arch-enemy, Dib; and Melissa Fahn as Gaz, Dib’s menacing younger sister. Additional casting will be revealed in the coming months.

The original Invader Zim series launched in 2001 to critical acclaim, and quickly became a cult hit. The show received a Primetime Emmy Award and an Annie Award for individual achievement in animation (which went to storyboard artists Kyle Menke and Steve Ressel, respectively).

Nickelodeon has previously announced new TV movie projects for other hit toons, Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie — coming this year — and Rocko’s Modern Life. The network is also putting together a live-action movie based on Legends of the Hidden Temple.

Invader Zim

Invader Zim

Animation Magazine

Amazon Greenlights Original Toons ‘Pete the Cat’ & ‘Costume Quest’

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Amazon has ordered two new animated titles for its Amazon Original Kids Series slate: Pete the Cat, based on the award-winning book series, and Costume Quest, inspired by the hit videogames. Attached to the projects are top names in kids entertainment Jeff “Swampy” Marsh, Will McRobb and Frederator founder Fred Seibert. Both series are expected to debut on Prime Video next year.

“The creative talent behind Pete the Cat and Costume Quest have a sensibility and pedigree that will resonate well with our customers,” said Tara Sorensen, Head of Kids Programming at Amazon Studios. “We are thrilled to be working with such innovative and visionary thinkers in the business.”

Based on the award-winning book series by illustrator/creator and consulting producer James Dean, Pete the Cat is an animated kids series that has been ordered straight-to-series for 14 episodes. The show follows Pete the Cat, the coolest cat ever and his groovy guide to life—from rockin’ out with his guitar to riding a skateboard. Slated to voice Pete’s parents are musical luminaries Elvis Costello and Diana Krall.

The series is a co-production with Alcon Television Group and will be developed by Jeff “Swampy” Marsh (Phineas and Ferb) and Appian Way production company. Marsh will executive produce along with Alcon’s Andrew Kosove, Broderick Johnson, and Laura Lancaster, as well as Appian Way’s Jennifer Davisson. Alcon’s Ben Roberts will serve as producer, with Appian Way’s Nathaniel Posey as co-producer.

Harper Collins has published more than 34 Pete the Cat books, which have been translated into 13 languages and received 18 literacy awards, including the Theodore Geisel Seuss Award.

Costume Quest is based on the videogame series by Double Fine Productions (Psychonauts) and the world originally created by Tasha Sounart. Aimed at kids 6-11, the funny and mysterious animated series stars four kids facing off against the dark forces lurking in the shadows of their sleepy town of Auburn Pines. To overcome obstacles and achieve their goals, they must learn to unlock and master the magical powers of supernormal costumes—with each costume comes a new set of transformations and powers.

The series is executive produced by Will McRobb (The Adventures of Pete & Pete), who also serves as story editor, as well as Frederator Studios’ Fred Seibert (The Fairly OddParents), Kevin Kolde (Adventure Time) and Eric Homan (Adventure Time). Costume Quest is produced at Frederator Studios, a WOW! Unlimited Media company.

Amazon Original Kids Series are available for Prime members to stream (or download for offline viewing) using the Amazon Prime Video app for TVs, connected devices including Amazon Fire TV, and mobile devices, or online, at no additional cost. They are also available as part of the Amazon FreeTime Unlimited kids’ subscription service, exclusively on Amazon devices.

Pete the Cat

Pete the Cat

Animation Magazine

CN’s Curtis Lelash & Tramm Wigzell Upped to Original Series SVPs

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Longtime Cartoon Network development executives Curtis Lelash and Tramm Wigzell have been promoted to Senior Vice President, Original Series, as announced by Chief Content Officer Rob Sorcher. Lelash and Wigzell will co-lead the original series group with the aim of expanding the network’s original video and multiplatform programming portfolio. Both will continue to report to Sorcher; all are based at Cartoon Network Studios in Burbank, Calif.

“Curtis and Tramm are both well respected in the animation industry for their approach to talent and development, and their creative and executive acumen have resulted in some of our biggest hits and franchises,” said Sorcher. “This newly connected structure leverages diverse viewpoints, and reflects overall dynamics in the kids’ media landscape.”

Curtis Lelash joined Cartoon Network in 2005, and quickly rose to the rank of vice president, in which role he was responsible for the development and ongoing supervision of the network’s animated comedy series. These include the Emmy-winning Adventure Time and Regular Show, and the popular and iconic Steven Universe. Lelash and his team also supervise the studio’s shorts development program as a pipeline to discover new content and cultivate fresh talent, like Pat McHale and his Emmy winning miniseries Over the Garden Wall.

Tramm Wigzell previously held the post of Vice President, Multiplatform, and began his Cartoon Network tenure in 2002. He played a key role in the development of the global hit franchise Ben 10, as well as supervising all five Ben 10 series. Most recently, Wigzell developed and supervised the network’s newest multiplatform comedy Mighty Magiswords, and in conjunction with Warner Bros. Animation, serves as Executive in Charge of Production for Cartoon Network on hit shows including Teen Titans Go!

Curtis Lelash & Tramm Wigzell

Curtis Lelash & Tramm Wigzell

Animation Magazine

Amazon Debuts Original Holiday Specials Nov. 25

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Amazon Studios has marked down Friday, November 25 for its original kids’ holiday programming launch. Three brand-new specials will be debuting on Prime Video in the US and UK: animated specials If You Give a Mouse a Christmas Cookie and Ezra Jack Keats’ The Snowy Day, and live-action An American Girl Story – Maryellen 1955: Extraordinary Christmas.

Amazon’s original holiday fare also includes existing themed specials from Creative Galaxy and Tumble Leaf.

“We are so excited to bring our customers our first-ever holiday line-up of specials this season, with If You Give a Mouse a Christmas Cookie and The Snowy Day based on beloved children’s books that highlight strong bonds between friends and families. It’s what the holidays are all about,” said Tara Sorensen, Head of Kids Programming at Amazon Studios.

If You Give a Mouse a Christmas Cookie is an animated holiday special based on the classic book series written by Laura Numeroff and illustrated by Felicia Bond. In this special, it’s holiday time and in Mouse’s house that means Christmas cookies (including a special one for Santa, of course), caroling with friends…and one nearly-destroyed holiday pageant. It’s a wild ride as Mouse and his friends work together to solve a problem in a fun and creative way.

The Mouse special is written and produced by Ken Scarborough (Curious George, Martha Speaks, Arthur); stars Mason Mahay (voice of Oliver), Roger Craig Smith (Avengers Assemble, Wreck-It Ralph), Jessica DiCiccio (Over the Hedge), Jeff Bennett (Futurama), and Lara Jill Miller (The Loud House, Doc McStuffins). The special also features an original song “Christmas Cookie Song” by Lisa Loeb, available exclusively on Amazon Music Nov. 25. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie was part of Amazon’s 2015 fall pilot season rated 4.7 stars by customers with 82% 5-star reviews; season one will premiere on Amazon Prime Video next year.

Ezra Jack Keats’ The Snowy Day is based on one of the first picture books to feature an African-American protagonist, which has won many awards — including the Caldecott medal — and was included in the Library of Congress’ list of “Books that Shaped America.” The special follows Peter, a young boy in a red snowsuit, as his mother sends him on an adventure to Nana’s house to retrieve their traditional Christmas mac and cheese dinner. Enjoying the snowy day along the way, Peter encounters friends from the neighborhood, including storekeepers and bakers to the older boys he admires—and a group of acapella singers (voiced by Boyz II Men). After arriving at Nana’s and retrieving the mac and cheese—and his most coveted gift, a brand-new red sled—Nana helps Peter team up with the older boys for an epic snowball fight, resulting in the destruction of the special holiday dinner and his sled. When the neighborhood comes together to celebrate new traditions with Peter and his family, Peter realizes that the true meaning of the holiday is who you spend it with.

Snowy Day is narrated by Laurence Fishburne (Black-ish, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice) and featuring the voices of Regina King (American Crime, The Leftovers), Jamie-Lynn Sigler (The Sopranos), and Angela Bassett (American Horror Story, BoJack Horseman), plus the original song “Snowy Day” by Boyz II Men, available exclusively on Amazon Music Nov. 25. Executive produced by Laurence Fishburne and Helen Sugland (Akeelah and the Bee) as well as Ann Austen, Irene Sherman, and Deborah Pope (Ezra Jack Keats Foundation).

An American Girl Story—Maryellen 1955: Extraordinary Christmas is the second collaboration between American Girl and Amazon and is based on American Girl’s previously launched BeForever character Maryellen Larkin. Executive produced by Jane Startz (Ella Enchanted), An American Girl Story—Maryellen 1955: Extraordinary Christmas features an original song “Christmas and Everyday” by Best Coast, available exclusively on Amazon Music to download and stream Nov. 25.

The Snowy Day

The Snowy Day

Animation Magazine