News Bytes: HBO Max Launch Date, Abigail Disney Goes Off, DEG’s Most-Watched Movies List & More

LISTEN: New Directors in Animation Podcast
U.K.-based helmer Avgousta Zoureidi (Moominvalley, Monster High, Angry Birds) speaks to colleagues about the ups and downs of animation directing for features and series. Guests include indie Latvian filmmaker Signe Baumane (Rocks in My Pockets), Will Becher & Richard Phelan (A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon) and Cannes Prix du Jury winner Kari Juusonen.

Walt Disney Family Museum Announces New Virtual Programs
The new “Happily Ever After Hours” Zoom webinar series will take you behind the scenes of Disney animation classics with Oscar-nominated producer Don Hahn (April 29, 5:30 p.m. PT) or give you culinary inspiration thanks to author Marcy Carriker Smother who will give a demo inspired by her book Eat Like Walt: The Wonderful World of Disney Food (May 6). Registration opens Thursday, April 23.

‘One Piece’ and ‘Digimon Adventure’ Suspended Amid Coronovirus
Japanese studio Toei Animation posted to Twitter: “Due to the state of emergency in Japan caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we have carefully considered the safety measures for the spread and have decided to suspend the simulcast and Japanese broadcasting of both One Piece and our new series, Digimon Adventure for the time being. Updates on the return of both series will be provided as soon as we know. Thank you for your patience and understanding during this time. Please stay safe and healthy.” The Digimon reboot just debuted two weeks earlier, while One Piece is a stalwart of the studio, totting up over 900 episodes.

Movie Night Made Easy: Watched at Home Top 20 List Debuts
The Digital Entertainment Group is now releasing a weekly list for consumers to know which movies are the ones everyone is watching. The rankings are compiled from the most up-to-date data from studios and retailers — think of it as the top box office list for home entertainment. The April 16 Watch at Home Top 20 are:

  • Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker (Disney)
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Paramount)
  • Dolittle (Universal)
  • Bad Boys for Life (Sony)
  • Jumanji: The Next Level (Sony)
  • The Call of the Wild (Disney, 2020)
  • Little Women (Sony, 2019)
  • Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (WB)
  • 1917 (Universal)
  • Bloodshot (Sony, 2020)
  • Onward (Disney)
  • Knives Out (Lionsgate)
  • The Gentlemen (STX/Universal, 2019)
  • Ford v Ferrari (Fox)
  • Frozen II (Disney)
  • Spies in Disguise (Fox)
  • A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Sony)
  • The Way Back (WB, 2020)
  • Like a Boss (Paramount)
  • Cats (Universal, 2019)

Abigail Disney Goes Off on Disney Furloughs
“What the actual f–k?????” the granddaughter of studio co-founder Roy O. Disney wondered during a 25-tweet thread about the company’s plan to furlough 100,000 workers — mostly in its theme park division, which has drawn criticism in the past for low wages. Abigail Disney noted that the estimated shareholder dividend of $1.5 billion could “pay for three months salary to front line workers. And it’s going to people who have already been collecting egregious bonuses for years.”

WarnerMedia Sets HBO Max Launch Date & Opening Slate
The new streamer will debut May 27, with launch titles including the new kids’ series Looney Tunes Cartoons from Warner Bros. Animation (one of our May issue cover stories) and Sesame Workshop’s The Not Too Late Show with Elmo. The service will also offer library titles (including South Park) and originals.

Original animation titles coming to the service include kids’ fare The Fungies, Tig N’ Seek, Adventure Time: Distant Lands (Cartoon Network Studios), Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai, Jellystone!, Little Ellen (WBA) and Mecha Builders (Sesame Workshop), plus adult toons The Prince (20th Century Fox TV), The Boondocks return (Sony Pictures Animation TV) and J.G. Quintel’s Close Enough (CN). Sign up at



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