Imagi Lands Big Investor

As it prepares its feature-length version of the anime classic Astro Boy for theatrical release sometime next year, Hong Kong- and Los Angeles-based animation studio Imagi is receiving a big financial boost. Daily Variety reports that investor Mark Pawley, through his Oxley Spring Media, is buying $40 million worth of shares in the company. The funds will be used to help finance four upcoming Imagi animated features beyond Astro Boy and Gatchaman, another popular manga and anime property. The studio behnd the 2007 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot, TMNT, plans to put out a new movie every eight months.

Pawley, who previously headed Asia Pacific investment banking for Credit Suisse First Boston, will have an 18% share in Imagi. He will also reserve the right to nominate two directors to the company’s board.

Slated for worldwide theatrical release in 2009 from Summit Ent., Astro Boy is being directed by David Bowers (Flushed Away) will feature the voices of Freddie Highmore, Nicolas Cage, Donald Sutherland, Bill Nighy, Nathan Lane and Eugene Levy. The film is based on the manga and anime created by Japan’s legendary Osamu Tezuka in the early 1950s.

Gatchaman is based on the classic anime TV series Science Ninja Team Gatchaman, which debuted in the 1970s and is better known in the U.S. as Battle of the Planets or G-Force. Imagi’s CG update is being directed by Kevin Munroe (TMNT), and is expected to hit theaters in 2010.

One of the four other pics in the pipeline could be Fluorescent Black. Imagi has picked up rights the sci-fi screenplay from Matt Wilson. The script will reportedly be adapted as a graphic novel before being made into a film.