Lovers of old-school anime and fans of the new Astro Boy series will be happy to learn that Imagi Animation Studios has optioned rights to produce a CG-animated feature film base on the Tezuka Productions Co. property. Imagi’s U.S. studio is developing an original story and its animation facility in Hong Kong will handle physical production for the movie, which the company hopes get into theaters sometime in 2009.
‘I grew up wth Astro Boy, as did many of us at Imagi,’ says Imagi CEO and vice chairman Francis Kao. ‘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.’
Osamu Tezuka first introduced Astro Boy to Japanese manga readers in 1951. A black-and-white toon series emerged in 1963, followed by a color update in 1980. The latest version, produced by Sony Pictures Entertainment Japan and Tezuka Prods., debuted on Kids’ WB! in the fall of 2004. Astro Boy tells a Pinocchio-esque tale of a robot boy, modeled after the deceased son of a research scientist, who becomes a renowned superhero complete with laser-firing fingers, keen hearing and jet-powered boots.
Imagi is currently finishing the new, CG-animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, which The Weinstein Co. and Warner Bros. Pictures will release in theaters on March 30, 2007. A trailer for that film can be found online at apple.com.