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Producers aim to breath fresh life into one of Japan’s most famous anime franchises

ANNECY – Monaco-based Shibuya Productions, Japan’s Tezuka Productions and France’s Caribara Animation are launching a brand new animated TV series reboot of “Astro Boy,” one of Japan’s most famous anime properties.

The project was announced at a Japan cocktail party unspooling Wednesday morning at the Annecy Festival’s International Animation Film Market (MIFA).

Action-packed, and made up of 26 half-hour segs, skein will mix 2D and CG animation and target new generation of 8-12-year-old kids who do not know the show.

With Tezuca’s owning the “Astro Boy” IP, its producers have the right to create a completely new story, a first, Shibuya Productions founder Cedric Biscay told Variety.

The retread will be set in the present and boast a contemporary design, targeting new generations of kids. It will incorporate new characters and combine “positive things from the past version and new elements,” said Biscay.

A first teaser will be made available in September, he added.

A France-Monaco-Japan co-pro structure is logical enough. On Summit Entertainment’s 2009 “Astro Boy” animated movie, France was one of the five international territories where the movie, released by SND, grossed over $1 million.

With Yomiuri TV Enterprise, Tezuka Productions is also developing “Little Astro Boy,” a short format five-to-seven minute edutainment series aimed at three-to-five year old pre-school tykes.

One of the foundations of Japan’s distinctive anime style,

and the best-known creation of Tezuka founder Osamu Tezuka, “Astro Boy” was first seen from 1952 as a manga graphic novel. It is set in a futuristic world where robots live alongside humans. It turns on a young robot that fights crime and injustice, including other robots, which he often gives a good hammering.

Adapted as a TV skein in 1960, “Astro Boy” became Japan’s first smash-hit animated TV show, being aired on NBC in the U.S. It saw a remake in 1980 and again in 2003, in a retread whose rights are owned by Sony.

Summit Distribution released a 2009 animated feature film, with Charlize Theron, Kristen Bell, Nicholas Cage and Freddie Highmore as “Astro Boy,” which was produced by Imagi Animation Studios, Imagi Cristal and Tezuka Productions.

Though the 2009 movie version underwhelmed, grossing $39.9 million worldwide, the new TV series reboot partners point to the franchise’s TV track record, where it has aired in over 40 territories. “Astro Boy“ merchandizing has spawned some 15,000 items, generating $2.6 billion in revenues, they estimate.

An animation studio that has moved from services into fully-fledged production -taking a credit on Patrice Leconte’s “Suicides Club,” for example -France’s Caribara will both co-produce and provide animation on the series.

Newly-installed in Monaco, Biscay’s Shibuya Productions is a specialist in France-Japan co-production. It also represents the Annecy Festival in Japan.

ENDS

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