Former WB Head Alan Horn to Lead Walt Disney Studios

Former Warner Bros. president Alan Horn will take over as chairman of the Walt Disney Studios on June 11.Horn was tapped by Disney chief Bob Iger to replace Rich Ross, who left the studio in April. Horn was president of Warner Bros. for 12 years before leaving the studio last year.In his new job, Horn will oversee all Disney operation including production, distribution and marketing for live action and animated films under the Disney, Pixar and Marvel banners.“I’m incredibly excited about joining the Walt Disney company, one of the most iconic and beloved entertainment companies in the world,” Horn said.” I love the motion picture business and look forward to making a contribution as part of Bob Iger’s team working closely with the dedicated and talented group at the studio.”During his tenure at WB, Horn oversaw the development and release of the Harry Potter series, as well as Christopher Nolan’s Batman series, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Happy Feet, Sherlock Holmes, The Departed and The Matrix sequels.The choice came amid strong speculation that Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige or even Disney Animation/Pixar chief John Lasseter might take the job.


‘Firefall’ Maker Red 5 Studios Expands to Ireland

Games maker Red 5 Studios is leaping the pond, establishing new European headquarters in Cork, Ireland.The office will create about 30 jobs and oversee the rollout in Europe of Red 5′s Firefall, a free-to-play team-based action shooter that is one of the most-anticipated new videogames of the year.“We see so many passionate European gamers in our forums and we want to support them with everything we can,” says Mark Kern, CEO/CCO of Red 5 Studios. “Red 5 Ireland will be like a start-up in many ways for us, and the local team we’re hiring will be essential in bringing the Red 5 culture to Europe and defining the European player experience.”The company also released a video of Kern talking about the company and its plans for the future and in Ireland:


‘Men in Black 3' Debut Tops ‘Avengers’ Over Holiday Weekend

It took a vintage comic book movie franchise to topple the Avengers from its box office throne.Men in Black 3 — arriving a decade after the previous film in the series and originally adapted from an indie comic book for its 1997 movie debut — topped the weekend with a strong $70 million domestic debut over the three-day Memorial Day weekend. The Sony threequel also took in an estimated $133 million overseas for a strong debut of just over $200 million.Disney-owned Marvel’s box office juggernaut, Avengers, slid from the top spot for the first time since its May 2 release, earning an estimated $47 million over the holiday weekend. That brings its domestic total to $523 million. Its overseas total of $781 million brings the movie’s worldwide total to $1.3 billion.Universal’s Battleship held on to third place with an estimated $14 million weekend. The toy adaptation has grossed $47 million domestic and $232 million overseas for a $280 million tally.The only major-studio animated film currently in release, The Pirates! Band of Misfits, made an estimated $1.5 million this weekend, its sixth. The Aardman-produced and Sony-distributed film has earned about $27 million domestic and $74 million overseas for a $102 million worldwide gross.Next weekend sees the limited release of the Oscar-nominated animated feature A Cat in Paris, with the following weekend bringing DreamWorks Animation’s Madagascar 3 and Ridley Scott’s sci-fi spectacle Prometheus.


New The Dark Knight Rises Poster


Desowitz Writes the Book on Bond

We’re happy to note that former Animag editor Bill Desowitz has penned a fantastic new book about the 50-year evolution of James Bond. The book, which is titled James Bond Unmasked features interviews with all six actors who have portrayed Ian Fleming’s famous character—Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig, which alone is a remarkable accomplishment.Oscar-winning animation producer and children’s author William Joyce calls Bill’s book “an elegant orgy of all things Bond. As essential, cool and satisfying as one of Bond’s martinis!”


ParaNorman : Behind The Scenes Laika Studios

Malaysia Ups Incentives, Launches New Industry Event

The Malaysian government announced a new set of initiatives and production support in to develop its creative industry at the Cannes Film Festival and Market his week. The National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (FINAS) has launched a new series of initiatives to help the country become a focal point of film and digital content across the region.Director General of FINAS – Mohd Naguib Razak, who leads the Malaysian delegation to Marche du Cannes this week, was recently been appointed by the Malaysian Ministry of Information, Communications and Culture to strategize and spearhead FINAS and promote, develop and facilitate film productions in Malaysia for domestic & international growth.Among several announcements made by Razak during Marche du Film 2012 was the introduction of the “Film in Malaysia” Incentive, which will help both local film producers as well as foreign producers using Malaysia as a location for their film production and post-production. Both local as well as foreign film productions, including feature films, animation, documentaries, television productions and commercials, will be eligible for a 30% cash rebate on audited in-country spend, as long as they qualify the minimum spend criteria of RM5 million (approx. USD 1.6 mil) in-country spend for foreign productions and RM2.5 million (approx. USD 830k) for Malaysian productions. The soon to be launched “Film in Malaysia” Office will be ready to receive and process advance applications, during pre-production, from October 1st, 2012 and the rebate disbursement will commence from February 1st, 2013.FINAS also announced the launch of the International Film Festival of Malaysia (IFFM), which is billed as the most ambitious and wide-ranging showcase of local and international films in Malaysia. The first edition of the festival will be held this year from Nov. 10-18 in Kuala Lumpur. Attending filmmakers will participate in master classes and question-and-answer sessions, and visiting industry professionals, including directors, producers, actors, programmers, critics, scholars, distributors, and agents, will share their insights in panel discussions that will consider both the art and the business of film. The festival’s artistic director is the highly respected critic and programmer, Dennis Lim.Malaysia’s first major market, the Kuala Lumpur Content & Communications International Market (KLCCIM) will also take place in Putra World Trade Center in Kuala Lumpur Nov. 15-18, 2012. Organized by the Malaysian Ministry of Information, Communications and Culture together with FINAS, KLCCIM will cover approximately 16,000 square meters of floor space, and aim to be Asia’s leading communications, creative and content market. KLCCIM expects to attract more than 300 seller companies from Asia and 400 buyers from around the world. KLCCIM will consist of a market, exhibition, conference, B2B platform, and numerous networking events, providing the world with an opportunity to meet quality buyers from Europe, America, Middle East and Asia, focusing especially on the Southeast Asia buyers, sellers and decision makers. This new annual event will showcase films, TV programs, animations, games, mobile content, music, licensing, visual arts, fashion, crafts, performing arts and also a film support & location market.


‘Arjun: The Warrior Prince’ Opens on Friday

Opening this Friday (May 25) in select theaters is the Hindi animated feature Arjun: The Warrior Prince, which is produced by Indian studio UTV and Disney India. Directed by Arnab Chaudhuri, the film centers on the mythological story of the rise of a courageous hero from the Mahabharata era who sacrifices a lot to reach his goals.Chaudhuri told IBNLive that he believes the film targets a wide target audience.
“This is not a children’s movie—it’s an action film. Filmmakers choose mythological stories because they give reference points. If you look at the early Disney movies they were fairytales for exactly the same reason. The magic started to happen when filmmakers start to bring their perspective into films.”
The director is pleased with the film’s classical conventional look.
“We used a lot of computer software to generate this look. This is a combination of several techniques. You can say that it is a computer-generated film, but it is finished by hand. It’s a completely different look. My studio is the same that had made Roadside Romeo, but the techniques are very different.”
The film showcases the talent of many Bollywood stars including Yuddvir Bakolia, Anjan Srivastav, Sachin Khedekar, Ila Arun and Vishnu Sharma.


GREE to Unleash ‘Moshi Monsters’ Game

UK-based global entertainment company Mind Candy has announced plans to partner with mobile social gaming leader GREE to take its popular family brand Moshi Monsters to mobile devices worldwide. Two new Moshi Monsters mobile games will launch on the GREE Platform in Q4 of 2012.The new partnership will introduce GREE’s 230 million worldwide users to the world of the virtual adoptable pets, while exposing the innovative mobile platform to Moshi Monsters’ 60 million+ online user community. The games will be delivered in multiple languages including English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin and more.As part of its move into mobile gaming, Mind Candy is building an in-house team to handle mobile partnerships and the internal development of phone and tablet titles, including several games and apps set for release throughout 2012. Mind Candy will be promoting Moshi Monsters at Licensing International Expo in Las Vegas next month. Visit www.mindcandy.com or www.moshimonsters.com to learn more.


Animated ‘Dark Knight’ Movie Gets Voice Cast

Warner Bros. Animation has announced the voice cast for its upcoming animated DVD movie based on the 1986 Frank Miller comicbook adventure The Dark Knight Returns. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Peter Weller (Robocop) has nabbed the plum part of Batman/Bruce Wayne and Ariel Winter (Modern Family) will voice Robin. The movie is a co-pro between Warner Premiere, DC Entertainment, Warner Bros. Animation and Warner Home Video.Warner and DC are splitting up the adaptation of the four-part graphic novel into two animated features titled Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1 and Part 2. The first movie, which will be released under the DC Comics Premiere Movie brand, will hit stores this fall, while the second chapter will be released in 2013.The film will be directed by Jay Olvia (Green Lantern: Emerald Knights), who also storyboarded Zack Snyder’s upcoming live-action Superman movie Man of Steel. The film’s screenplay is by DC veteran Bob Goodman. David Selby, Wade Williams and Michael McKean round up the cast list.Miller’s award-winning graphic novel is set in near future where Batman is retired and Gotham City has slid into a dystopian state ruled by a gang of hooligans called The Mutants. The 55-year old Bruce Wayne is forced to don the cape once more, this time partnering with a female Robin to stop the Joker and to keep the peace when the city falls into chaos after being hit by an electromagnetic pulse.
Dark Knight Returns is the granddaddy of beloved comics properties that we’ve ever attempted (to adapt),” said Bruce Timm, the legendary animation veteran who has overseen all of DC’s animated movies. “There is definitely the imperative to get it right.”
The movie will be the 15th in DC’s best-selling line of animated movies produced for the home entertainment market.


Digital Domain to Branch Out in Abu Dhabi

Digital Domain Media Group will collaborate with Abu Dhabi government-backed media and entertainment entity twofour54 to drive development of film, TV and media production to the Middle East. Digital Domain Media Group (DDMG) will establish an animation, vfx and mo-cap studio and a media school in Abu Dhabi. The collaboration is designed to support the Emirate’s goal to become the region’s center of excellence for media content creation, growing both the industry and national talent.DDMG will begin production of visual effects and animation in studios in twofour54 in the beginning of 2013, with plans to recruit and hire staff immediately from local and international talent pools. Over time the studio will employ upwards of 500 people. DDMG will develop a purpose-built 150,000 square foot (14,000 square meter) state-of-the-art entertainment production complex, which is expected to be operational by the end of 2015.The new Digital Domain studio will create animated feature films, produce visual and 3D effects, engage in the production of original Middle Eastern-branded entertainment for global audiences and contribute to international productions. The studio will become part of Digital Domain’s global feature film VFX and animation pipeline, connected to its studios in LosAngeles, Vancouver, San Francisco, London, Florida and Mumbai.The Digital Domain Institute/Abu Dhabi will be modeled after the Digital Domain Institute in West Palm Beach, Florida, and will train students in the essential skills of digital media production for entertainment, simulation and related applications. Classes at the Digital Domain Institute/Abu Dhabi are scheduled to begin early in 2014.Separately, earlier this week, twofour54 announced that the Emirate of Abu Dhabi now offers one of the world’s most competitive production incentives — a 30% rebate for film, television and commercial media projects.

“We are incredibly excited to join twofour54 in building a strong foundation for the filmmaking industry in Abu Dhabi,” said DDMG CEO and Chairman John Textor. “There is tremendous opportunity to produce original entertainment content for Middle Eastern audiences worldwide, and to bring Hollywood work and our own original productions here as well. Pairing the studio and school enables us to help the Emirate to build a sustainable creative industries base. Abu Dhabi was the natural location for us given its strategic location, modern infrastructure and supportive government. We’re looking forward to grooming up-and-coming Arab filmmakers at a time of such great awakening in this part of the world.”

Digital Domain website


The Hub’s ‘Kaijudo’ to Premiere at ATX Festival

The Hub’s new animated series Kaijudo: Rise of the Duel Masters will make its world premiere at the first annual ATV Television Festival in Austin on Saturday, June 2nd.Actor Scott Wolf (Party of Five, V), who stars in the series, will host the screening of the half-hour series with remarks addressing the show’s central theme of anti-bullying. The Hasbro toon will be part of the “Saturday Morning Cartoon” event, which will take place at the Intercontinental Hotel in Austin. The program will also include screenings of The Hub’s Transformers Prime and My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.Kaijudo: Rise of the Duel Masters will premiere for viewers nationwide that day in its regular timeslot of Saturday, 8-8:30 p.m. on The Hub TV Network. The action-fantasy series follows the adventures of a young hero, Ray, who possesses the rare ability to befriend and duel alongside fantastical creatures from a parallel dimension. In addition to Scott Wolf, the series features the voice talents of Freddy Rodriguez, John DiMaggio, Oded Fehr and Phil LaMarr.


Disney Channel to Premiere ‘Gravity Falls’ in June

Disney Channel plans to launch its hot new 2D animated series Gravity Falls officially on June 29, with a special sneak peek on June 15. The show, which centers on the adventures of a twin brother and sister who spend summer with their kooky great uncle in a mysterious Oregon town, is created and exec produced by Alex Hirsch (Fish Hooks), who also voices the uncle.Jason Ritter and Kristen Schaal voice the lead roles and are joined by the a top-notch guest cast that includes Linda Cardellini, Lance Bass, Jennifer Coolidge, Coolio, Will Forte, Larry King and Alfred Molina. Make sure you pick up the next issue of Animag for a behind-the-scenes story about the making of this new show.


Fry and Laurie to Voice New ‘Canterville Ghost’

 Actors Hugh Laurie (House) and Stephen Fry (Bones, The Hobbit), who used to work together as the comedy team of Fry & Laurie, will reunited on a CG-animated feature project titled The Canterville Ghost. Based on the classic story by Oscar Wilde, the movie will center on a 300-year-old ghost and his nemesis, a gardener, who is revealed to be Death himself. Set in rural 19th-century England, the plot also involves an American family from Boston who buy the Canterville home. Laurie and Fry also starred together in the popular Jeeves and Wooster comedies (1990-1993).The film will be directed by Kim Burdon (Stressed Eric) based on a script by Keiron Self and Giles New (Shaun the Sheep). The project will be produced by Gina Cartner and Robert Chandler—a co-pro between Spout Pictures Film and Jerry Hibbert’s D’Arblay Films. Hibbert, Bob Benton and Fry will also act as exec producers, according to The Hollywood Reporter.The film’s animation will be divided between D’Arblay films in the U.K and Arc Productions studio in Toronto. Backed by the BFI Film Fund, the movie is slated for a Christmas of 2014 release date.

 Hugh Laurie (left) and Stephen Fry (right)


Pixar’s ‘Brave’ to Premiere at New Dolby Theatre

Disney/Pixar’s Brave will have its world premiere on June 18, 2012, at the new Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. The red-carpet event is a special presentation for Film Independent’s 2012 Los Angeles Film Festival, four days ahead of its national release date in theaters. The newly refurbished Dolby Theatre is located at the Hollywood and Highland complex and was formerly known as the Kodak Theatre.

“With a spirited heroine and enchanting setting in the ancient Scottish Highlands, Brave represents some exciting firsts for Pixar,” said Ricky Strauss, Disney’s president of marketing. “We are proud that the world premiere of Brave will serve as the inaugural premiere at the new Dolby Theatre as part of the LA Film Festival, a fitting way to launch Merida’s extraordinary adventure.”

The 18th Los Angeles Film Festival will make this special presentation available to Festival attendees with Platinum All-Access or Gold Passes. An additional Gala screening of the film will be held the next day at Regal Cinemas at L.A. LIVE for pass and ticket holders. “We are thrilled to present the world premiere of Brave, a beautiful adventure story, to our LA Film Fest audience,” said Festival Director Stephanie Allain. “As Disney/Pixar’s first film with a female protagonist, it fits perfectly with our celebration of Women in Animation programming we’ll be holding during the Festival.”Here is the movie’s official synopsis: Set in the rugged and mysterious Highlands of Scotland, Disney/Pixar’s “Brave” follows the heroic journey of Merida (voice of Kelly Macdonald), a skilled archer and headstrong daughter of King Fergus (voice of Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (voice of Emma Thompson). Determined to change her fate, Merida defies an age-old custom sacred to the unruly and uproarious lords of the land: massive Lord MacGuffin (voice of Kevin McKidd), surly Lord Macintosh (voice of Craig Ferguson) and cantankerous Lord Dingwall (voice of Robbie Coltrane), unleashing chaos in the kingdom. When she turns to an eccentric Witch (voice of Julie Walters), she is granted an ill-fated wish and the ensuing peril forces Merida to harness all of her resources—including her mischievous triplet brothers—to undo a beastly curse and discover the meaning of true bravery. Directed by Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman, and produced by Katherine Sarafian, Brave is a grand adventure full of heart, memorable characters and signature Pixar humor. You can go behind the scenes of the movie in the next issue of Animation Magazine.


Chomet Working on New ‘Triplets of Belleville’ Prequel

Didier Brunner, the prolific French animation producer behind films such as Kirikou and the Savage Beast, The Secret of Kells and this year’s much-anticipated Ernest and Celestine told Animation Magazine that he and director Sylvain Chomet are working on a new prequel to the Oscar-nominated 2004 Triplets of Belleville.The prequel, which is called Swing, Popa, Swing focuses on the early days of the triplets and their relationship with their 100-year-old father, who wants the girls to focus on studying medicine instead of music. There are also science fiction elements in the movie, which includes aliens and CIA and KGB agents who are fighting to capture their spacecraft. Brunner said that his Paris-based studio Les Armateurs will be working on the movie and they are considering developing the project as a stereoscopic 3D CG-animated movie. The producer said the film will probably commence production in 2013.Brunner’s Cannes and Annecy 2012 project, Ernest and Celestine is directed by Benjamin Renner (the short A Mouse’s Tale) and Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar (A Town Called Panic). The 2D animated family film is based on a charming collection of books by the Gabrielle Vincent. It centers on the unlikely friendship between a musically gifted bear and a little mouse who dreams of being an artist. It will be released in France in December of 2012. You can read about the making of the movie in the upcoming June issue of Animation Magazine.


JimJam Acquires Two New Preschool Series

Global pre-school channel JimJam, has picked up two animated series, Monkey See, Monkey Do and MuMuHug. Available to JimJam’s 17 million subscribers across Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia from June 2012, Monkey See, Monkey Do (26×7′), combines live action with CGI animation, as real kids dance along with the monkey host and his animal friends. MuMuHug (52×5′), to be broadcast across the channel’s Middle Eastern and Asian feeds from July, is a delightful animation series featuring a curious and affectionate creature named MuMu. JimJam has acquired series one of Monkey See, Monkey Do and series five to eight of MuMuHug from HIT Entertainment.

Kathy Fairbairn, JimJam’s director of programming, says, “I am thrilled to have secured these enchanting new series for JimJam. MuMuHug is a wonderfully gentle, yet sometimes edgy, and imaginative animated show about kindness and friendship that will delight our viewers, while Monkey See, Monkey Do will have them jumping up and joining in with the irresistible music and dance moves.”

Each episode of Monkey See, Monkey Do features children on screen – and at home – wagging their tails and flapping their wings as they play along with the mischievous primate host and his animal friends and learn about the natural world around them.MuMuHug is an animated series about MuMu, an innocent, sweet and curious creature who lives alone on a deserted island in the middle of the ocean, and loves to hug! Whether it is an unsociable seagull, an eccentric penguin or even what appears to be a lifeless rubber ducky, everybody receives MuMu’s hugs and his most sincere friendship.

Since its launch in 2006, JimJam has expanded across six feeds and into more than 60 territories across Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa. It is available in 12 languages to over 17 million subscribers worldwide and its online presence includes 10 localized 


Toon Goggles Picks Up Four Animasia Toons

Online free kids portal Toon Goggles has signed a deal with Malaysia-based Animasia Studios several of its children’s properties to Toon Goggles’ growing audience. The news was jointly announced today by Stephen Hodge, Toon Goggles’ exec vp of new media and Edmund Chan, Animasia’s managing director. The acquisition includes animated series ABC Monsters, Bola Kampung, Chuck Chicken and Harry & Bunny Show, which are now available to Toon Googles viewers throughout the US and Canada.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Animasia and applaud the studio for joining the hundreds of content producers from around the globe who are currently supplying animated features, programs, series, clips and trailers to Toon Goggles’ rich library that children can enjoy and parents can feel good about,” said Hodge.

“We are pleased to be able to work with Toon Goggles to explore new opportunities to provide quality animated content to viewers in the US and Canada,” noted Chan.

Here is the breakdown of the four shows:

ABC Monsters. They are big, hairy and not very scary. The ABC Monsters are on the loose and only Alice, Brian and Cherry Berry can catch them. Get ready for a spellbinding series of magical adventures that engage preschool children’s imaginations, whilst making learning exciting and entertaining.

Bola Kampung. Mixing soccer and traditional village lifestyle, the story delves into the transformation of a group of characters from different backgrounds as they deal with the emotions and experiences of becoming a team.

Chuck Chicken. Chuck Chicken is the head of Golden Egg Security, the top security service on Rocky Perch, an island filled with chaos, mayhem and birds… lots and lots of birds. Armed with amazing powers from a very special talisman, Chuck transforms into Kung Fu Chicken in seemingly endless battles against the island’s archenemy, Dr. Gringo. If only the talisman came with instructions for controlling Chuck’s newly found powers!

Harry & Bunny Show. Introducing Harry the magician, Bunny the stage rabbit. and Madam Penny, a Gypsy fortune teller. Constantly at odds, Harry and Bunny are in a constant battle for control of a magic wand.

Visit Animasia-studios.com or Toongoggles.com for more info.