Trio to handle 'Gatchaman,' 'Astro' distribution

HONG KONG — Warner Bros Pictures and the Weinstein Co. have pacted with Hong Kong-based ImagiAnimation Studios to handle worldwide distribution of animated features “Gatchaman” and “Astro Boy.”

The trio previously collaborated to release the $35 million animated feature version of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” which Imagi produced.

Pics, each budgeted at $40 million, are scheduled for delivery in 2009.

“Gatchaman,” developed from Japanese TV series “Science Ninja Team Gatchaman,” sees five reluctant heroes grappling with genetic issues to save the planet. Pic is directed by “TMNT’s” Kevin Munroe and produced by Lynne Southerland.

“Astro Boy” is adapted from an early ’60s Japanese series about a powerful robot boy who journeys to Earth and finds true friendship.

Deal was signed by Warner prexy of production Jeff Robinov, TWC co-chief Harvey Weinstein and Douglas Glen and Francis Kao of Imagi.

Details of the distribution pattern are still to be finalized. On “TMNT,” Warner was announced as having North American rights, with TWC handling international territories. In practice, however, Warner ended up handling territories including Japan, Italy, Spain and China.

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