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Thursday - April 5, 2001
- Tomb Raider Versus Atlantis: The Lost Empire
- Animation/FX Cheers and Sneers for March 2001
- A Popular Mix: Cartoon Characters and Gambling
- News Link of the Day - The Long and Short of Oscar Success

Tomb RaiderTomb Raider Versus Atlantis: The Lost Empire
(by digitalmediafx.com) Disney and Paramount Pictures are preparing for a huge battle at the box office on June 15 when Tomb Raider and Atlantis: The Lost Empire go head to head for the same audience. Tomb Raider stars Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft, the popular video game character, in a mysterious adventure to uncover powerful forces. Meanwhile, Atlantis: The Lost Empire is an animated adventure where the characters seek out the mysterious Atlantis to discover its powerful forces. Atlantis: The Lost Empire is rated PG. Tomb Raider is expected to receive a PG or PG-13 rating within the next three weeks.

In another unique twist, Atlantis: The Lost Empire will have two prequels (in the form of CD-ROM games) while Tomb Raider, which came from a video game, is being turned into a franchise via two movie sequels, which have already been confirmed.

Both Paramount Pictures and Disney are increasing marketing efforts in order to try and capture business from the other. Yesterday, Paramount Pictures released a brand new movie trailer for Tomb Raider. Meanwhile, Disney announced that it is giving away a prequel CD video game beginning this month. In addition, Disney is opening up a huge Destination: Atlantis exhibit next to the El Capitan theater in Hollywood.

So what will happen on June 15? The enthusiasm meter appears to be running in favor of Tomb Raider as the clock winds down to opening weekend. While there are no guarantees as to how the weekend will turn out, it is clear that both films are competing for the same audience and at this point Atlantis: The Lost Empire seems to have the most to lose. Disney, however, is committed to the June 15 release and plans to heavily promote Atlantis: The Lost Empire in an attempt to retain its share of movie-goers.

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Animation/FX Cheers and Sneers for March 2001
(by digitalmediafx.com) Here is the list of Digital Media FX's March 2001 Cheers and Sneers for the animation and visual effects industries:

SneersSneers: After the passing of William Hanna, Warner Bros. fails to properly recognize his memory and contributions to the TV cartoon industry. Many within the industry are still waiting for Warner Bros. to distribute a press release honoring Hanna's memory.

Cheers!Cheers: In the U.K. and Ireland, Warner Bros. arranges for more than 200 movie theaters to show the new Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone movie trailer on the big screen, in a continuous loop, for free.

Cheers!Cheers: The Robert Zemeckis Center for Digital Arts Opens at the USC School of Cinema. It is one of the most advanced digital arts facilities in the world.

SneersSneers: AOL Time Warner announces that it is merging the WB broadcast network and Turner basic cable networks, including the Cartoon Network, into one - the Turner Broadcasting System. Look for the Cartoon Network to lose a lot of its originality as it becomes more like Kids WB!

Cheers!Cheers: Dennis the Menace turns 50 years old!

SneersSneers: Gladiator (FX by The Mill) tops The Perfect Storm (FX by Industrial Light and Magic) for the "Best Visual Effects" Oscar, shocking visual effects industry insiders.

Cheers!Cheers: The Mill gains industry recognition from its Gladiator "Best Visual Effects" Academy Award and high profile work on the upcoming Tomb Raider and Harry Potter movies.

SneersSneers: Warner Bros. claims that one city - San Antonio - will determine whether a newly remastered Superman with added footage will get a wider release. Despite high ratings from audiences, Warner Bros. decides to kill any potential wider release.

Cheers!Cheers: The 100 year anniversary of the birth of Ub Iwerks is recognized as people find out more about this aspiring animator who was a vital part of Walt Disney's early years.

Cheers!Cheers: Pixar signs John Lasseter to a 10-year contract insuring that the visionary behind the success of Pixar's first three animated productions keeps Pixar recognized as one of the best animation studios in the world.

SneersSneers: Disney announces it is laying off 4,000 employees just a few months after CEO Michael Eisner accepts an $11.5 million bonus. The Orlando Sentinel reports that Disney is going to slice animator salaries.

Cheers!Cheers: "Best Animated Short" Academy Award winner Michael Dudok de Wit (for "Father & Daughter") gives the shortest speech at the Academy Awards, winning an HDTV set and gaining worldwide attention.

Cheers!Cheers: To the memory of William Hanna — a true visionary in the cartoon industry. You will be deeply missed and forever remembered.

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Betty Boop Thrillions Slot Machine LogoA Popular Mix: Cartoon Characters and Gambling
(by digitalmediafx.com) Bringing cartoon characters to the gambling world is starting to become a profitable venue. Right now one of the top selling slot machines for casinos is one featuring the cartoon character Betty Boop, who made her gambling debut as a lottery scratch it ticket in January 2000 in the state of Wisconsin. Those scratch it gambling cards sold out in only seven weeks.

"These sales results reaffirm the power of the Betty Boop brand in general, and specifically in the gaming category," says Steve Saferin, President and CEO of MDI, which licenses the cartoon character for gambling use. "With minimal advertising, the market has discovered these games and is enjoying them. We have every reason to expect similar strong results in every state."

In New Jersey, $2 Betty Boop ticket sales have run 27 percent ahead of the lottery's average game sales at that price point.

In Las Vegas and surrounding areas, over 26 casinos now feature Betty Boop slot machines that pay out progressive jackpots in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"Betty Boop is clearly a licensed property that is resonating with lottery players," says Saferin.

Betty Boop was created in the 1930's by animator Grim Natwick for Max Fleischer.

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News Link of the Day - The Long and Short of Oscar Success

According to TV Guide:

"Michael Dudok de Wit — the best animated short Oscar-winner who was awarded a $2,500 high-definition TV set for delivering the shortest acceptance speech — insists that he was not gunning for the high-priced prize..."

Click here for the full story.

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