The seventh annual Cartoon Movie once again attracted around 450 participants to the German town of Potsdam for a presentation of European animated movies at various stages of development.
Cartoon Movie has grown over the years into a key event for investors and distributors as well as for producers. But it was also noticeable this year that the action outside the presentation rooms was every bit as important as it was inside. The signs are that Cartoon Movie has become a focal point for the fast-expanding animation feature sector in Europe and a perfect meeting venue for all those involved in it.
“We feel it was a very positive atmosphere – outside of the official sessions as well as inside. This is very promising for the future. It means that not only can we produce together – we can do the marketing together as well,” says Cartoon President Stefan Thies of NFP Animation in Berlin.
Cartoon directors Corinne Jenart and Marc Vandeweyer add: “Our strategy is to help people talk to each other. We are now also doing the same for producers from the new European countries – we are ensuring that people can join in.”
Cartoon Movie generated €460 million
Of the films presented over the past six years, 60 have now been made and 19 are in production – with a combined budget of €460 million. This year another 50 projects were presented with a total budget of €289 million.
The opening film was The Magic Roundabout, produced by Films Action in France and SPZ Entertainment and Bolex Brothers Production in the UK. Eight further completed movies were screened over the following two days – Duck Ugly from Digital Animation Media (Ireland) and Millimages (France), Laura’s Star from Rothkirch/Cartoon-Film (Germany) with Warner Bros Film (Germany), Little Big Mouse from Dansk Tegnefilm (Denmark), Renart, The Fox from Onira Production (Luxembourg), Strings from Bald Film (Denmark), Supertramps from Irosoin, Dibulitoon Studio, Barton Films and Euskal Telebista (all from Spain), Terkel in Trouble from A Film and Nordisk Film Production (Denmark) and The District! from SzimplaFilm Ltd/ Lichthof Productions (Hungary).
Several films were also presented that are currently in production or post-production – Fimfarum 2 from MAUR Film (Czech Republic), Gisaku from Filmax Animation (Spain), Lotte From Gadgetville from Eesti Joonisfilm (Estonia) and Rija Films (Latvia), The Ugly Duckling and Me from A Film (Denmark), Magma Films (Ireland) and Futurikon (France) and Spirit Of The Forest and Midsummer Dream, both from Dygra Films (Spain) and Appia Filmes (Portugal).
Some examples of films in production
The Ugly Duckling And Me is typical of the way Cartoon Movie works at its best – being presented this year for the third time. In 2003 it was pitched as a concept, last year it was in development and this year in production. Each time, fresh elements of a deal have been added. The CGI movie (budgeted at €6 million) and a TV series to follow (at €8 million) develop Hans Christian Andersen’s ugly duckling story into a sophisticated family comedy with the addition of Ratso the Rat as Ugly’s adoptive father.
Gisaku is being trailed as the first Spanish anime film and is set for release this year together with presentations at Expo 2005 in Japan – part of its budget was covered by the State body responsible for Spain’s presence there. It’s the latest in an impressive slate of animated features from Filmax – with El Cid about to open in the US with 600 prints after good results throughout Europe and Donkey Xote and Nocturna both now in production.
New projects at the concept stage
Perhaps the most interesting section of Cartoon Movie is in the shorter 10-minute presentations of projects that are still at the concept stage. Among these are the pitches that will be picked up and grow into movies over the next couple of years. But who is to say which ones will succeed? Here are just a few of those presented this year.
Bug Muldoon is a co-production between Magma Films in Ireland and Ulysses and Europool in Germany.It’s the tale of a private eye beetle faced with the ultimate test – and saving all the other insects in the garden. Also presented by Magma – this time together with Danish partner A Film – was Hugo. It is based on the existing international TV and video game troll character, now getting a 3D makeover as a secret agent. A Film was also presenting Journey To Saturn – a low-budget (€2.5 million) CGI movie using the same technology as the company’s current hit Terkel In Trouble.
Animation Festival favourite Phil Mulloy presented a feature concept called Cottonhead together with German co-producer Thomas Meyer-Herman from Studio Film Bilder. The budget is set at just €2 million for this modern adult fairy tale – rather more if the preferred casting of Tom Waits is confirmed.
Icelandic CGI studio Caoz was presenting an ambitious project based on stories of the Viking warrior God Thor – the budget has been set at a relatively high €16.7 million.
50% of CGI projects
German studio Hahn Film presented a charming CGI snowman called Malmi –for the first time this year, over 50 per cent of all projects presented were for CGI. Another German 3D project was Backyard Heroes from Kandor Graphics – a group of singularly unattractive animals – a skunk, raccoon, armadillo, porcupine, opossum and squirrel – who turn superhero to gain a little respect.
A number of British projects included the intriguing dream-world fantasy of Gone! from Ink Animations in Scotland. My Team Animation presented The Ministry – a view of Heaven as a huge bureaucracy running the Universe – and Stardust Pictures presented an adult comic style adaptation of the classic horror story Jekyll & Hyde.
Iqbal, Tale Of A Fearless Child from Italian studio Gertie received some serious interest. Adapted from a successful book, it deals with a tragic story of child slavery in the carpet industry of Pakistan. Already supported by UNICEF and with a Canadian partner putting up 20 per cent of the €8 million budget, the producers were looking for European co-production partners.
Probably the most technically demanding concept on show was I.T. The Intra Terrestrials from 109 Films Production in France. Designed as a stereoscopic 70mm photorealistic CGI project for Imax cinemas it explores the fascinating possibility of communication between humans and ants.
So there we are – just a small selection of the incredible variety of feature projects that makes up Cartoon Movie. But which ones will we be watching on our cinema screens in the next few years? If past editions are anything to go by, many of the most successful ones will be back next year to report on progress. So watch this space.
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