Disney, Imax set ‘Fantasia 2000’

Animated features reach new height

Walt Disney Pictures will hail the new millennium by launching a large-format version of “Fantasia 2000” in Imax theaters around the world, Disney Motion Pictures Group chairman Dick Cook said Tuesday in New York.

The premiere will mark the first time an animated feature will be formatted and exhibited in Imax theaters, Cook said at Gotham’s New Amsterdam theater.

“The exclusive 90-minute Imax engagements offer us the opportunity to enhance the moviegoing experience and present the film as the visual and audio sensation that it is meant to be,” he said.

The large-format “Fantasia 2000” will play exclusively for four months at Imax theaters around the world beginning Jan. 1, Cook said.

The updated version of “Fantasia” will have its world premiere Dec. 17 at Gotham’s Carnegie Hall with a live concert by the London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by James Levine.

Following two additional performances at Carnegie Hall, screenings and concerts will take place in London, Paris and Tokyo. Disney will host a New Year’s Eve gala for 2,000 guests at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium featuring a live orchestra performance and a screening of “Fantasia 2000.”

Disney outlined the “Fantasia 2000” game plan during a preview of its feature animation slate for press and buyers in New York for the Toy Fair.

Coming to Gotham to tubthump were Walt Disney Studios chairman Joe Roth, Disney vice chairman Roy E. Disney, Disney motion pictures group president David Vogel, Walt Disney Studios prexy Peter Schneider, Walt Disney feature animation president Thomas Schumacher and Buena Vista Intl. president Mark Zoradi.

Roth touted the collaboration of the studio’s live-action and feature animation division and predicted a gradual blurring between the two genres on the screen, thanks to technological advances.

During the two-hour presentation, studio execs, producers and animators presented clips from “Fantasia 2000,” the summer release “Tarzan,” the Thanksgiving entry “Toy Story 2” and the Memorial Day 2000 release “Dinosaur.”

Roy E. Disney introduced a new segment of “Fantasia 2000” set to the tune of “Carnival of the Animals.” He said the segment tries to answer the question, “What would happen if you gave a yo-yo to a bunch of flamingoes?”

“Fantasia 2000” combines six new animated segments with three favorites from the 1940 original. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra performs classical compositions by Beethoven, Shostakovich, Respighi, Saint-Saens, Elgar and Stravinsky.

Pop star Phil Collins came to the New Amsterdam on Tuesday to perform some of the songs from the “Tarzan” soundtrack. Collins wrote five songs and recorded four for the film.

Based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ classic tale of a man raised from infancy by apes, “Tarzan” will open domestically on June 18. It will roll out internationally in Asia and Latin America in July and August, followed by Europe and Japan in November and December.

To support the international release of the pic, Collins has recorded songs in French, German, Spanish, Italian and both the Latin American and Castillian Spanish dialects.

The Mouse House’s road show wasn’t just a PR event; it was aimed at underscoring the financial strength of the studio. Despite the recent box office success of “The Waterboy,” “A Bug’s Life” and “Enemy of the State,” Disney’s creative content division — which houses the film studio and merchandising businesses — suffered a 39% fall in operating profit to $430 million in the fiscal 1999 first quarter.

Net profit for the company as a whole was down 18% to $622 million in the quarter ended Dec. 31, 1998 as revenues grew 4% to $6.5 billion.