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Saturday - November 24, 2001
- Monsters, Inc. Nears Mega-Blockbuster Status
- New Animation Festival Hits Michigan Area Next Year
- Escanflowne Movie Being Released January 25, 2002
- News Link of the Day - Cinar Cuts 54 Staff

Monsters, Inc. Nears Mega-Blockbuster Status
(by Monsters, Inc. made $10 million on Friday to bring its box office total to $178 million as it nears the $200 million mega blockbuster mark. Friday's $10 million take is a huge gain over last Friday's $5.7 million that Monsters, Inc. made. Monsters, Inc. has now moved to within $90 million of Shrek's record this year. Shrek made $267.5 million nationally. It may reach that mark too with the Christmas holiday season around the corner and rumors that Pixar and Disney will add outtakes to help create more repeat visits.

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New Animation Festival Hits Michigan Area Next Year
(by Animation festivals and competitions have become quite popular across the country -- but rarely has there been a Midwest festival. That's about to change as Kalamazoo, Mich., will host the Midwest's first animation festival of its kind May 17-19, 2002 -- offering $15,000 in cash prizes and featuring a novel cartoon-creating competition -- the Cartoon Challenge.

The Kalamazoo Animation Festival International (KAFI), organized by the Kalamazoo Valley Community College's (KVCC) Advanced Technology Center for New Media, will feature the Cartoon Challenge, 24 levels of competition, seminars and workshops by outstanding professionals and public screenings of the festival's best animated submissions.

"Our goal is to provide a public forum for animation screenings, encourage and showcase animation artists, promote animation as an art form, and offer educational outreach to both media artists and the public," says KVCC President Marilyn Schlack. "We're especially pleased to create the Midwest's first animation festival -- filling a void in the region."

Judging will be a two-tiered process. A screening panel of professionals and students will review the entries and determine the Top 100 to advance to the festival -- by April 23. Then a team of second-level judges will review the Top 100 to determine the winners of the cash awards.

Those who decide to test their animation talents in the Cartoon Challenge will bring their five person creative teams -- as many as 10 such groups -- to Kalamazoo prior to the festival to produce their 30-second entry under deadline pressure. The teams won't know the topic until the weeklong competition begins. The competition begins May 12 and concludes with a public screening and awards presentation May 19.

Separate from the Cartoon Challenge will be four units of festival competitions: student films, non-commissioned films, commissioned films and a school competition -- each having various sub-categories. The non-commissioned films unit, for example, features sub categories such as independent short works, films for children, commercials, public service announcements and first films.

The seminars and workshops will feature topics on early production of animated films, animation classics, current techniques and technologies, the role of animation in the greater context of American culture, career prospects, and violence in animated games.

Other KAFI events include public screenings of the top juried entries and an old-fashioned excursion to a venerable downtown movie house for a showcase of pre-Talkies cartoons -- complete with an organist providing mood music, and some of the most unique cartoons produced up until the 1960s.

For more information on the festival, click here.

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EscanflowneEscanflowne Movie Being Released January 25, 2002
(by Bandai Entertainment will launch Escaflowne into theatrical release on Friday, January 25, 2002 within top U.S. and Canadian markets including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and Vancouver. The anime movie will then expand to a wider national release in February 2002.

A motion picture production based on one of the most popular anime titles, Escaflowne is celebrated animator Shoji Kawamori's vision of a world where good and evil hinge on a girl's ability to find meaning for her own life.

Escaflowne blends romance and fantasy to tell the story of Hitomi Kanzaki, an ordinary high school student whose life has lost all meaning. Feeling at her most desperate, she wishes that she could just disappear into thin air -- a wish that is immediately granted when a mysterious man suddenly materializes and catapults her away from Earth. Hitomi is instantly thrust into Gaia, a strange new world ruled by sword and sorcery, where a fierce battle rages between a rebel group and the ruling Black Dragon Clan for power over the legendary dragon armor called Escaflowne. For the first time in her teenage life, Hitomi realizes she can make a difference -- this time the fate of a world is in her hands.

Escaflowne has its roots in the acclaimed anime television series "The Vision of Escaflowne," which aired in the U.S. on the Fox Kids Network and YTV in Canada. Since the series' successful telecast, fans nationwide seem to have embraced the story of Hitomi, Van Fanel -- prince of the ravaged kingdom -- and the legendary god of protection, Escaflowne.

"Escaflowne epitomizes Japanese anime, providing a compelling film that breaks down the barrier of animation as an entertainment genre for children only," says Ken Iyadomi, Executive Vice President, Bandai Entertainment. "For fans of anime, as well as for all moviegoers, Escaflowne is a visual feast, and an exciting story brilliantly told with battle scenes and breathtaking displays of supernatural power that unfolds on the screen."

The Director of Escaflowne is Kazuki Akane, who also directed "The Vision of Escaflowne" television series; Cast includes Kelly Sheridan, Kirb Morrow, Paul Dobson, Andrew Francis, Brian Drummond and Venus Terzo.

The producers are Masuo Ueda, Minoru Takanashi, Masahiko Minami and Toyoyuki Yokohama. The movie was written by Ryota Yamaguchi and Kazuki Sekine.

Animators include Hajime Yatate and Shoji Kawamori. The movie score is being composed by Yoko Kanno and Hajime Mizoguchi.

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News Link of the Day - Cinar Cuts 54 Staff

According to The Globe and Mail:

"Cinar Corp. — the children's television producer, which has been plagued by a string of financial scandals — said on Friday it had cut 54 staff and appointed new auditors.

The troubled Montreal-based firm said the cuts would take place in its corporate offices and entertainment division, reducing its staff in the city from 164 to 110..."

Click here for the full story.

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