We announced that Imagi Studios, the company behind the recent TMNT film, and the makers of the upcoming Astro Boy and Gatchaman movies, had shut down, telling animators not to come in to work on Monday. While it was speculated whether or not this meant a stoppage or an end to the work being down on Astro Boy, io9 now reports that the shutdown is just temporary.
Imagi U.S. President, Erin Corbett, explains that the company had some issues with funding, and was looking to receive bridge financing to cover a gap between the end of January and the beginning of February. When it looked like that "bridge financing" wasn't going to materialize, the employees were put on "mandatory unpaid leave."
Corbett explained "We had this money secured in the late fall. We had bridge money to take us through February, when we knew that bridge money was not going to [materialize]... we could not have people come in and not be sure [we'd be able to pay them.)"
What does this mean for the final fate of Astro Boy? "We want to do everything to get Astro Boy out the door," says Corbett. The animation is apparently about 50 percent rendered and complete, and nearly all of the vocal performances have been recorded. With the money set to arrive in February, completing Astro Boy shouldn't be a problem. In the meantime, Imagi is still raising money to get Gatchaman into production for a November 2010 release. "We're trying to do a film every year to 18 months," Corbett says.
Directed by David Bowers, Astro Boy's vocal cast includes Nicolas Cage, Kristen Bell, Donald Sutherland, Nathan Lane, Bill Nighy, Eugene Levy, Matt Lucas and Freddie Highmore. Astro Boy was created by the "god of manga," Japan's Osamu Tezuka, in the early 1950s. The animated television series first aired in 1963 in Japan and found great acclaim and success around the world. In the U.S., it quickly became a top syndicated children's show.