Imagi Animation Studios announced that it has optioned rights from Tezuka Productions Company Limited ("Tezuka") of Japan to produce a new CG animated feature length motion picture intended for theatrical release in 2009, based on the renowned anime franchise Astro Boy originally created by Osamu Tezuka.
Originally known as Tetsuwan Atomu (translating into "Iron Fisted Atom") in Japan, the franchise is best known by its American title Astro Boy. Astro Boy first appeared as a manga comic series in 1952, drawn by Osamu Tezuka, who is affectionately known as the "god of manga". The original television series, first broadcast in Japan in 1963-1966, was the first to embody aesthetics that later became known as "anime". After enjoying success abroad, Astro Boy was remade in the 1980s as Shin Tetsuwan Atomu (Astro Boy in the US and other Western countries) and again in 2003.
The Astro Boy franchise has garnered enormous success around the world. In Asia, Astro Boy's popularity is considered equivalent to that of Disney's Mickey Mouse in North America. The franchise has enjoyed great success in merchandising and toys. Astro Boy's induction into the Robot Hall of Fame in 2004 is further testament to its significance in animation history.
The original Astro Boy story follows the adventures of boy-sized robot "Atom". With the help of his friends, he battles enemies attacking the world and faces personal challenges in adapting to the human world.
Imagi's technical and creative leadership in bringing comic-based action heroes to life in feature animation will once again be showcased in a major theatrical production. Similar to Imagi's other feature film productions, including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Gatchaman, the new Astro Boy CG animated feature will be based on a completely new story created in Imagi's US studio. CG production will take place in Imagi's state of the art Hong Kong animation studio.
Tezuka and Imagi are eagerly anticipating the creation a vivid new version of one of the world's most beloved action heroes. Imagi's CEO and Vice Chairman Francis Kao says, "I grew up with Astro Boy, as did so many of us at Imagi. We now have an opportunity to bring our Astro Boy dreams to life by combining the power of high end CG imagery and Imagi's creative collaboration with Tezuka."
Tezuka's General Manager Yoshihiro Shimizu further expressed Tezuka's enthusiasm in this new project, "Imagi is a world class producer of CG feature animation, and has a unique talent for bringing 2D comic characters to life in stunning 3D worlds. We are delighted to be working with them on Astro Boy."