IDT, 20th Century Fox Pact for Toons

IDT Ent., which has been snatching up animation and vfx studios left and right since its establishment in November of 2003, now has a major studio to distribute its animated features. Twentieth Century Fox has signed a two-year, multi-picture deal to distribute computer-generated theatrical releases produced by the subsidiary of IDT Corp.

“IDT Ent. has taken an important step towards its goal of producing and arranging distribution for its quality feature films,” says IDT CEO Jim Courter. “Just as IDT’s unique blend of excellence and efficiency caused a revolution in the telecommunications industry, IDT Entertainment’s combination of high-quality animation and streamlined production is bringing innovation to the creation of computer generated films.”

Jim Gianopulos, co-chairman of Fox Filmed Entertainment, adds, “We are impressed with IDT Ent.’s commitment to building a strong production team. Fox Home Entertainment had already established a relationship with IDT Ent.’s Anchor Bay Ent., and we are pleased to build on that via this new theatrical distribution deal with IDT Ent.”

One toon feature IDT Ent. has in the works is Yankee Irving, the film Christopher Reeve was directing at the time of his death. Set in a 1930s America populated with a mix of human and non-human characters, Yankee Irving is described as a father-and-son love story in which a little boy must overcome life’s difficulties. At last reporting, IDT was hoping to have the film distributed sometime in 2006.

Reeve was one of several celebrities tapped by IDT to help facilitate its emergence as a computer animation powerhouse. IDT’s DPS Film Roman is working with crooner Harry Connick Jr. on a one-hour, 3D-animated holiday special titled The Happy Elf, while its Canadian CG animation house, Mainframe, is working on the direct-to-video animated feature Boom Boom Goes the Circus with skateboarding legend Tony Hawk.

IDT Ent.’s subsidiaries include animation studios Film Roman, Mainframe Ent., and DKP Studios, as well as distributors Anchor Bay Ent., Manga Ent. and IDT Ent. Sales (IDTeS). The company also owns a minority stake ion Stan Lee’s POW! Ent., and is developing animated fare with the noted comic-book creator.