Burton toons up Web pact

Filmmaker taking Stainboy online

Tim Burton, who dazzled audiences with “Sleepy Hollow,” “Batman” and “Edward Scissorhands,” is taking his visuals to the Web, inking a deal with shockwave.com to create a series of animated short films for the Netcaster based on his character Stainboy.

Under terms of the deal with San Francisco-based shockwave.com, Burton will retain full artistic control over the characters and properties he licenses to the site.

The charcoal-drawn character of Stainboy first appeared in Burton’s book “The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy & Other Stories.” Burton will produce the first five-minute shorts for shockwave.com, which will bow in the spring for free through shockwave.com’s Macromedia Flash Player technology. The Flash player has been downloaded by more than 200 million people worldwide, while Shockwave has more than 10 million members.

As with most Netcasting deals inked with Hollywood talent, Burton’s stories and characters may eventually cross over to television and films should his shorts become successful online.

With current technology, video has proven too expensive to produce, slow to download and hard to watch online. Not so with animated shorts.

The William Morris Agency’s corporate advisory/new media department, which brokered Burton’s deal, is also trying to cross over talent to other popular animation Web sites, like Pulse Entertainment and Brilliant Digital Entertainment.

“It’s really exciting to make this move with shockwave.com,” Burton said in a statement. “Although I’ve worked with high-end CGI in several films, the interesting thing about Flash technology is how it brings computer animation down to such a personal level.”

Shockwave chairman and CEO Rob Burgess said, “We’re thrilled to be in business with Tim, one of the best storytellers of our day. The design sensibilities of Stainboy are perfect for today’s Internet.”

Deal resembles pacts shockwave.com has inked with “South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone and with comic book icon Stan Lee to create their own series of animated short films.

What’s attracting talent online is the ability to take their owned characters and turn them into entertainment online, without the worry of timeslots, release dates or Nielsen ratings.

Law firm Bloom, Hergott, Cook, Diemer & Klein also brokered Burton’s deal with Michael Yanover at shockwave.com and Loeb & Loeb. WMA also handled the deal for Parker and Stone.

“As we concentrate more and more on crossing clients over from traditional forms of entertainment to exploring new-media opportunities and the emerging technology associated with it, shockwave.com has become an important destination for us and the content-creators we represent,” said Lewis Henderson, William Morris VP, head of new media. “They are redefining the business of entertainment as we know it.”

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