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Imagi Confirms Temporary Production Halt on Astro Boy

posted on by Egan Loo
Firm plans to resume work on CG film remake of anime with new funding next week

IMAGI, the animation company that produced 2007's TMNT film, has confirmed that it has temporarily halted production on its computer-animated film adaptation of the Astro Boy manga. However, President Erin Corbett of IMAGI Studios U.S. told ANN that her company plans to resume production next week. IMAGI primarily does its development and pre-production work at IMAGI Studios in Los Angeles, while much of the computer animation production takes place as its headquarters in Hong Kong.

Kevin Koch, the president of The Animation Guild, first reported on the guild's blog on Sunday that IMAGI's Los Angeles animators were told not to come to work on Monday. Corbett confirmed the report and added that IMAGI's Hong Kong facilities were already planning to take this week off for the traditional Chinese New Year's holidays. Corbett emphasized that the rest of IMAGI U.S., besides the animation team, is still working as normal this week.

The Variety entertainment trade news source reported at the end of December that the audit firm Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu expressed concern on "whether [IMAGI] will have the necessary financial resources to complete" its slate of film projects. The Forbes financial news magazine reported on January 14 that IMAGI secured US$30 million in funding last fall, only to have US$20 million of it fall through. IMAGI has since been promised US$20 million in replacement financing, and Corbett says that, barring delays, the new line of funding will come in on February 3. Until then, the company was obligated to stop production on Astro Boy.

IMAGI still plans to present the Astro Boy film property to industry representatives at Toy Fair '09, which takes place in New York City on February 15-18. Summit Entertainment, the film's theatrical distributor, is also planning to preview exclusive footage on the film at New York Comic Con on February 8.

Corbett reports that the Astro Boy film is 50% complete. Once Astro Boy is finished for its slated October 23 opening, the next film in IMAGI's pipeline would be a film remake of the Gatchaman anime series (with a projected 2010 release), followed by Tusker. The Astro Boy film features director David Bowers (Flushed Away) and scriptwriter Timothy Harris (Trading Places, Kindergarten Cop). The cast includes Freddie Highmore in the title role, Nicolas Cage, Donald Sutherland, Nathan Lane, Bill Nighy, Eugene Levy, Kristen Bell, and Matt Lucas.

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