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Beckman: Turns specialty gems into Oscar contenders

Animation Elite 2012: Eric Beckman

GKids has only been in the distribution game for four years and already three of its animated pics have earned Oscar noms: “The Secret of Kells,” “Chico & Rita” and “A Cat in Paris.” The company itself is an extension of the New York Intl. Children’s Film Festival, where founder and artistic director Beckman had witnessed the enthusiasm with which audiences embraced foreign toons that never saw domestic release.

“It grew out of a love for handmade animation but also an opportunity,” says Beckman, who also engineered the popular Studio Ghibli retrospective that toured the country this year.

“People think of big CG pictures where theatrical drives homevideo sales and theme parks, but the films that are being made overseas that we’re picking up have a very different business model,” he says.

Keeping costs down and using targeted marketing, Beckman has ensured that each of GKids’ releases has been profitable (some, like “Kells,” continue to thrive as catalog titles). The recent Academy attention doesn’t hurt — at home or abroad.

“When we get a nomination, it lifts the value of that title globally as well and raises awareness that there is great animation being made outside of the studio model,” he says.

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