The animated features Gatchaman and Astro Boy have been picked up for distribution in the United States by Warner Brothers and The Weinstein Company. According to Variety, they have teamed up with Hong Kong-based ImagiAnimation Studios to handle the worldwide release rights.
The trio previously teamed up for the release of the animated film TMNT. The two new films will be released sometime in 2009.
Both films are based on Japanese television shows. They will each have a budget of about $40 million.
UPDATE: The official press release from Imagi Studios:
Warner Bros. Pictures, The Weinstein Company and Imagi Animation Studios agreed upon principal terms for the worldwide distribution of the feature films Gatchaman and AstroBoy. The announcement was jointly made by Jeff Robinov, President, Production, Warner Bros. Pictures; Harvey Weinstein of The Weinstein Company; Imagi Co-CEOs Douglas Glen and Francis Kao; and brokered by The William Morris Agency.
The new pact builds on the success of TMNT, Imagi's first theatrical motion picture, also distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures and The Weinstein Company. TMNT opened in March 2007 at the top of the U.S. box office.
"Imagi is breaking new ground with big action pictures done entirely in CG animation," said Robinov. "It's an exciting new genre, with the potential of attracting big mass market audiences."
"TMNT had the kind of beautifully choreographed action sequences you'd expect from Hong Kong animators," said Weinstein. "The next two films will confirm Imagi's reputation as the world's leading action hero animation studio."
"We are delighted to be allied with the marketing and distribution power of Warner Bros. Pictures and The Weinstein Company," said Glen. Added Kao, "We're making Hollywood-style movies with Hong Kong-style excitement and stories that are fusions of Western and Asian themes."
Gatchaman, scheduled for release in early 2009, originated in Japan in the early 1970s as the television series Science Ninja Team Gatchaman. Aired in the U.S. as Battle of the Planets and G-Force, it soon became a widely popular syndicated TV series.
Featuring some of the most ambitious action sequences ever seen in animation, Gatchaman is set in a future world grappling with environmental and technological issues. The story focuses on five reluctant heroes whose remarkable genetic code makes them Earth's only hope of defeating extra-terrestrial invaders. Kevin Munroe (TMNT) is the director, with Lynne Southerland producing.
Slated for release later in 2009, AstroBoy 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. The iconic character's fame grew in the 1980s and 2003 with two new AstroBoy TV series attracting new generations of fans.
AstroBoy tells the story of a powerful robot boy created by a brilliant scientist in the image of the son he has lost. Our hero journeys to find acceptance in the human world, and ultimately discovers true friendship as he uses his incredible powers to help others and save Metro City from destruction. Colin Brady (Toy Story 2, Everyone's Hero) directs, and Maryann Garger is the producer.