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Miramax adds to DVD-premiere list

Voice casting has begun for 'Santa' pic

Miramax Home Entertainment is adding to its fast-growing market share in the distribution of DVD-premiere movies by acquiring North American rights to a computer-animated holiday film from Tundra Prods. and Colorland Animation Prods.

Voice casting has begun for “In Search of Santa,” a movie about feuding penguin princess sisters who encounter hostile pirates and hungry predators as they travel from the South Pole to the North Pole to find Santa and save their parents’ throne. The movie is slated to be released exclusively on DVD and VHS this Christmas.

Ten-year-old indie animation company Tundra produced the multi-DVD Premiere Award-nominated “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys” for distributor GoodTimes Entertainment, as well as the Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment release “Buster & Chauncey’s Silent Night.”

Animation production content and service provider Colorland, founded in 1991 and based in Hong Kong and Shenzhen, China, has been responsible for more than 500 hours of animation on projects such as “Wheel Squad,” “Tabaluga” and “Flipper.”

Miramax, which has long been a major player in the live-action genre through its Dimension horror film label franchises such as “Dracula,” “Hellraiser,” “Children of the Corn” and “Mimic,” in recent years has added live-action family film franchises such as the “Air Bud” and “MVP” series.

‘Bionicle’ a hit

Most recently, Miramax released the first of several CGI movies based on the Bionicle line of toys, “Bionicle: Mask of Light,” which generated $25 million in consumer spending, according to Daily Variety sister publication DVD Exclusive. Miramax also picked up distribution of the Mark Hamill-directed live-action spoof “Comic Book: The Movie,” premiering exclusively on DVD and VHS later this month.

“As evidenced by the fantastic success of ‘Bionicle: Mask of Light,’ animated programming has become a very important part of the exclusive-to-video market, and we are thrilled to distribute this seasonal gem in North America,” said Kevin Kasha, executive VP of Miramax Home Entertainment.

Along with Kasha, also responsible for the Miramax end of the negotiations were Jeff Tahler, VP acquisitions, and Sarah Sobel, senior director of business affairs.

Independent consultant Seth Willenson negotiated the deal on behalf of Tundra and Colorland.

Willenson, who will executive produce “In Search of Santa,” said, “Kevin Kasha has created the mechanism to maximize the opportunity of the expanding DVD market with original product and has the track record to prove it.”

“Creating ‘In Search of Santa’ has been a personal love affair,” said Tundra’s William R. Kowalchuk, director and co-producer.

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