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ANIMATION

Genndy Tartakovsky to debut animated comedic heist series

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Five-time Emmy Award winner Genndy Tartakovsky, creator of “Samurai Jack” and “Primal,” is developing “Safari Heist,” a 10-episode comedic robbery that will have the feel of a musical, Tartakovsky said.

The robbers are three brothers, control freak James, neurotic Issac, and little George, who thinks he’s brilliant but is actually not. Estranged, they meet up at their father’s funeral, where they are informed that they will only inherit his fortune if they pull off a bank heist, stealing the contents of a bank’s vault numbered 881.

Trouble comes in the form of a Japanese yakuza tiger, a Russian mafia hippo and an Italian gorilla mobster. Every episode is one shot, but they will not be told in chronological order. The whole has an EDM score, said their creator.

Given Tartakovsky’s remarks came at a packed Adult Swim studio focus at this week’s Annecy Animation Festival in France, they came off as an effective pitch for backing from Adult Swim, which produced and aired the final season of “Samurai Jack” and “Primal.” They were made, moreover, in the presence of an Annecy audience, the most knowledgeable of animation publics, who reacted with applause and enthusiastic laughs.

The Annecy showcase also sneak-peeked the opening sequence of Takashi Shano’s “Rick and Morty The Anime” and “Women Wearing Shoulder Pads,” its first-ever Spanish-language series, a stop-motion show created by Gonzalo Cordova (writer on “Tuca & Bertie,” “Adam Ruins Everything”) and produced by Mexico City-based studio Cinema Fantasma (“Frankelda’s Book of Spooks”).

ANIMATION

‘Inside Out 2’ becomes highest-grossing movie in Pixar history

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Joy, meet Euphoria. ‘Inside Out 2’ has become the highest-grossing film in the long and distinguished history of Pixar, the studio behind the animated phenomenon. The hit family film has earned $1.25 billion globally and passed ‘Incredibles 2’, the animation studio’s previous record holder that earned $1.24 billion worldwide over its run.

‘Inside Out 2’ now ranks as the fourth highest-grossing animated movie of all-time, behind ‘Frozen’ ($1.29 billion), ‘The Super Mario Bros. Movie’ ($1.36 billion) and ‘Frozen II’ ($1.45 billion).

The ‘Frozen’ franchise was released by Walt Disney Animation Studios, which shares a parent company with Pixar. Expect ‘Inside Out 2’ to keep climbing up the charts, shattering records as it ascends.

In the U.S, ‘Inside Out 2’ has earned $543.5 million. Its international gross stands at $708 million. The sequel, which follows the emotional life of a teenage girl as she struggles with fitting in while dealing with a burgeoning case of social anxiety, was also embraced by critics. It marks a return-to-form for Disney and Pixar after the studios weathered a series of box office disappointments.

Directed by Kelsey Mann, the voice cast includes Amy Poehler, Maya Hawke, Kensington Tallman, Liza Lapira, Tony Hale, Lewis Black, Phyllis Smith, Ayo Edebiri, Lilimar, Grace Lu, Sumayyah Nuriddin-Green and Yvette Nicole Brown. Many of them play the emotions of the film’s teenage protagonist.

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ANIMATION

‘Iyanu: Child of Wonder’ animated series greenlit at HBO Max and Cartoon Network

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A 2D animated adaptation of ‘Iyanu: Child of Wonder’, a Dark Horse Comics/YouNeek Studios graphic novel series heavily influenced by the Yoruba people of Nigeria, has been announced by HBO Max and Cartoon Network.

By Justina Terhember

An animated TV series has been announced by HBO and Cartoon Network, to be based on the all-ages superhero graphic novel called ‘Iyanu: Child of Wonder’, which is set in a magical kingdom in Yorubaland. Created by Roye Okupe and Godwin Akpan, it tells the tale of the titular heroine, a teenage orphan who spends her days studying Yoruba history and ancient arts but yearns for everyday life. One day, responding to danger, she unknowingly triggers her divine powers, the likes of which have not been seen since the Age of Wonders. With newly discovered superpowers, she joins forces with two other teenagers as they embark on a remarkable journey to discover the truth about the evil lurking in her homeland.

Okupe will also write and direct multiple episodes. Lion Forge head of production Saxton Moore serves as supervising director, while Brandon Easton leads the writer’s room. Executive producers include Okupe, Doug Schwalbe, Carl Reed, Lion Forge’s David Steward II and Matt Heath, Impact X Capital’s Erica Dupuis and Forefront Media Group’s Ryan Haidarian.

“When I set out to create ‘Iyanu’ for a global audience, I wanted to develop a world that combined everything I love about the fantasy genre with the majesty and awe that is ancient West Africa,” said Roye Okupe.

Roye Okupe

“When I set out to create ‘Iyanu’ for a global audience, I wanted to develop a world that combined everything I love about the fantasy genre with the majesty and awe that is ancient West Africa,” said Roye Okupe. “On top of that, working with Godwin Akpan, who illustrated the books, as our art director and collaborating with a thoughtful studio like Lion Forge Animation that prioritizes authenticity and diversity, is beyond belief.”

The greenlight of ‘Iyanu: Child of Wonder’ is notable as it continues signaling the emergence of Africa as a player in global streaming. Much of this growth begins in the kids and family space — for example, Lupita Nyong’o became an equity partner in Nairobi, Kenya-based production company Kukua in 2021 and stars in its YouTube Originals animated series ‘Super Sema’.

“‘Iyanu: Child of Wonder’ has it all – vast world-building, authentic characters, a strong, African female hero at the center, and a first-class team of stellar creators and producers,” said ​​Amy Friedman, head of kids and family programming at Warner Bros. “While created for kids, the series will resonate with anyone looking for an adventure filled with surprise, magic, lore, and legend. We feel so lucky to be the home of ‘Iyanu’ and partnering with this team.”

“The authenticity of the ‘Iyanu’ story means everything to us and aligns perfectly with our mission to create and deliver inclusive content to global audiences,” said Stewart, founder of Lion Forge.

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ANIMATION

#KickstarterWatch: Gorgeous ‘Black Rain’ animated short fully-funded, eyes stretch goals

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An alien planet, an environmental disaster, and an unspeakable evil are part of this incredible project from Vortex Corp.

By Justina Terhember

VX Animation’s ‘Black Rain’ recently hit its goal on Kickstarter, and had an extra length added as stretch goals. If gorgeously-designed Afro-futuristic 2D animated 8-minute short films are your thing, then head on out HERE to make sure this brilliant project hits the mark. The world-building of this project is truly breathtaking.

‘Black Rain’ tells the story of Esan, a planet under siege by a corrupt conglomerate, and is told through the eyes of a young child named Boubini. Inspired by the tragic events surrounding the Ijaw tribe in the Niger Delta in Nigeria, it mirrors the reality in Nigeria of unprecedented environmental disasters caused by oil spills.

Spearheaded by VX Animation’s head honcho Somto Ajuluchukwu, the project also boasts of having a stellar team which includes Executive Producer Rad Sechrist (creator of Netflix’s Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts) and Supervisors Andy Cung (storyboard artist for Cartoon Network & Netflix) and Chris Amick (writer for Adult Swim, Dreamworks).

As promised by Ajuluchukwu early on during the project’s PR blitz, ‘Black Rain’ is slowly putting together an A-list roster of voice talent, including Nollywood stars.  

According to official material, “VX Animation is a Nigerian-based animation studio dedicated to creating authentic, and compelling animation. With award-winning animated films screened across the world and recognized in the global press, we continue to push the boundaries of our craft bringing the spotlight to Africa while creating value for an emerging industry.”

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