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Digital Media FX News Archives

Sunday - April 8, 2001
- Rebuilding Disney's Laugh-O-Gram Studios
- Behind the Scenes of Jurassic Park 3
- Spy Kids Sends Pokemon 3 Packing
- News Link of the Day - Pokémon's Market Crash Holds Lessons for Young Traders


Walt Disney in the 1920sRebuilding Disney's Laugh-O-Gram Studios
Kansas City is about to relaunch a piece of Disney history. On Tuesday, April 10, there will be an official groundbreaking ceremony for Walt Disney's original Laught-O-Gram Studio Building in downtown Kansas City. The location is 1127 East 31st Street, the site of the historic building. The event, which will kick off fundraising to restore the historic site where "the mouse" was born and the Disney dream began, is part of an ongoing revitalization effort in Kansas City's midtown.

The two-story brick building located at 31st and Forest Streets was the site of Walt Disney's first film studio, Laugh-O-Gram, which he incorporated in 1922. The studio, operated out of five rooms and occupied by as many as eleven employees (including Ub Iwerks), is where Walt Disney befriended a very special mouse. Working long hours and late nights, Disney would feed the little mouse who would come out to retrieve the remains of his employees' lunches. Disney eventually trained the mouse to eat from his hand, and it would play on his drawing board while he worked. Five years later, that mouse became the inspiration for the world's most famous furry creature, Mickey Mouse.

The work Disney did in the building at 31st and Forest Streets set the pattern for his future films. He produced approximately a dozen short films there, including six one-reel cartoons based loosely on classic fairy tales and children's stories, as well as a number of live action films. The young men who worked with Disney in Kansas City became the foundation of his California film studio and pioneers of the Hollywood animation industry.

With it's collapsing roof and boarded up windows, the building which housed the Laugh-O-Gram studio in midtown Kansas City hardly looks like the birthplace of the world's biggest entertainment empire. In fact, vacant for ten years, the building was slated for demolition until it was discovered by Columbia, Mo.-based Disney enthusiast Dan Viets, who partnered with a Kansas City not-for-profit group, Thank You Walt Disney, and purchased the building three years ago.

The Disney enthusiasts hope to preserve and restore the building, and establish a museum on the site. Plans for the museum include a permanent gallery of Disney artifacts, as well as a temporary exhibit room with a rotating display of artifacts loaned to the museum by Disney historians from around the world. The building will also house a re-creation of the original Laugh-O-Gram Studio, space for local art students to make their own animated films, a small theater that will show films made in the studio, as well as historical and biographical films on Walt Disney's life. The museum will also host rotating lectures and films.

"The restoration is a very community-oriented project to save a historic landmark," said Viets. "We are optimistic that within a few years the important role Disney's Kansas City experiences played in his future work will be commemorated in a historic site. The site will be an asset to the culture and heritage of Kansas City."

Recently, the group received a pledge of $450,000 from the Walt Disney Family Foundation to help restore the famed cartoonist's Kansas City studio.

The Laugh-O-Gram Studio groundbreaking is one of several events happening across Missouri to commemorate Walt Disney's 100th birthday on December 5, 2001. Marceline, Mo., located about 90 miles from Kansas City in north-central Missouri was the home of Walt Disney for five years beginning in 1906. On September 21-23, 2001, this small town of 2,500, located along the former Atchinson Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad, will host Walt Disney's 100th Birthday Celebration -- a series of activities to commemorate Disney's 100th birthday and his formative years spent there. Many of the planned activities will be held along Marceline's Main Street, the model for "Main Street, U.S.A.," the entryway to Disneyland.

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Behind the Scenes of Jurassic Park 3
Jurassic Park 3
(by digitalmediafx.com) One of the biggest FX films coming out this summer is one that people have heard little about — Jurassic Park 3. Universal Pictures is only now beginning to ramp up its marketing effort on this "top secret" second sequel to the mega-blockbuster Jurassic Park movie, which was originally released in 1993.

Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) and Stan Winston are the FX wizards behind all three Jurassic Park movies. While everyone has been tight-lipped about what will be seen in Jurassic Park 3, Stan Winston does say that there is a particular FX sequence that will absolutely blow audiences away. But you'll have to see the movie to find out what it is, although it will deal with a dinosaur known as a Spinosaur which is "bigger and better than the T-Rex."

Sam Neill, reprising his role as Dr. Alan Grant, states that Jurassic Park 3 has a new cast, new story, new director and is "substantially different from what we did the first time and certainly the second."

So what, exactly, is the story about? To date Universal Pictures has only released the following synopsis:

"Anxious to fund research for his new theory of velociraptor intelligence, renowned paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) is persuaded by a wealthy adventurer (William H. Macy) and his wife (Tea Leoni) to accompany them on an aerial tour of Isla Sorna. This infamous island, once InGen's site B, has become both a primordial breeding ground for John Hammond's magnificent creations and a magnet for thrill-seekers eager to encounter them.

When a tragic accident maroons the party of seven, Grant discovers the true reason his deceptive hosts have invited him along. In their perilous attempt to escape with their lives, the dwindling group encounters terrifying new creatures undisclosed by InGen, and Grant is forced to learn the dreadful implications of his raptor intelligence theory firsthand."

So why the lack of marketing of Jurassic Park 3 so far where past films had built anticipation years in advance? It could be part of the philosophy of Joe Johnston, Jurassic Park 3 director, to not over-hype or over-build audience expectations. Joe Johnston's past films, like October Sky, have been soft on building expectations while being widely recognized with critical acclaim as entertaining movies with strong stories. Take a strong story and put it in the Jurassic Park world and it can turn into a Jurassic gold mine.

Jurassic Park 3 will hit theaters on Friday, July 20. The movie takes place on the same island featured in Jurassic Park 2: The Lost World and follows a search and rescue type story complete with dinosaurs bigger than the T-Rex and some classic flying dinosaurs. ILM handled the major CGI work for dinosaur action sequences (like dinosaurs chasing humans). Meanwhile, Stan Winston once again brings huge robotic dinosaurs to life for many of the direct interaction scenes.

When asked if technical advances are made to the mechanical dinosaurs between movies, Stan Winston stated, "We do have technical advances. We go for a technical advance in every show we do."

Click here to see a 55-minute AOL "behind the scenes" Jurassic Park 3 interview with Stan Winston.

You can see the movie trailer for Jurassic Park 3 in front of The Mummy Returns, which opens in theaters nationwide on May 4, 2001.

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Spy Kids Sends Pokemon 3 Packing
(by digitalmediafx.com) Spy Kids continues to tear up the box office, finishing in first place for the second straight weekend. This weekend, the FX kids movie is estimated to have made $18 million while Pokemon 3 premiered poorly (compared to past Pokemon movies) with a $9.2 million take. In the battle between the two kid films, Spy Kids had no problem retaining a strong audience even though free exclusive game cards were being given away to kids seeing Pokemon 3.

Just Visiting, the medieval time travel movie where knights are transported to modern days failed to make the top 10 on its opening Friday.

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News Link of the Day - Pokémon's Market Crash Holds Lessons for Young Traders

According to the New York Times:

"Mike Loprete stood at the counter of a comic- book store, slowly shook his 11-year-old head and remembered when he was rich.

Back in 1999, when the Pokémon fad was the talk of every playground, Mike's collection of cards, neatly stored at his home in Roseland, N. J., was worth hundreds of dollars. But like investors in dot-com flameouts and other once- highflying technology stocks who thought the Nasdaq could rise forever, Mike sat on his assets and watched them dwindle away..."

Click here for the full story. (may require free registration to view)

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