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Animation Phenomenon Goes to TV Tokyo Broadband Entertainment.

LOS ANGELES -- The rights to remake the story of the wildly popular Russian animated character Cheburashka have been acquired by TV Tokyo Broadband Entertainment, Inc. in partnership with Frontier Works, Inc.

Cheburashka is already an animation phenomenon in Japan. The original film, while touring in art houses, struck a chord with young Japanese women, whose enormous buying power has made franchises out of adorable characters like "Hello Kitty." The cuddly creature became the mascot of the Russian Olympic team and at the recent Turin Olympics became subject to such a buying frenzy that The New York Times and The Moscow Times both took note of the long lines and the futile efforts of shopkeepers to keep the plush toy in stock.

TV Tokyo Broadband (TXBB) is a part of the TV Tokyo Group, which broadcasts throughout Japan as Channel 12 and is known for its animated series which include "Pokemon", "Yugi-Oh", and "Hamu-Taro." The parent company went public in August 2005 and TXBB several months later. To partner with TXBB on the Cheburashka project, the underwriter brought in Frontier Works, a company which is part of Animate, Inc. an anime-related merchandising mega retail store chain. TXBB and Frontier Works plan to turn the popular character into the star of a new feature film.

"We had offers from major international broadcasters who want to produce a new TV series about Cheburashka, and we are still open to that," said TV Tokyo Broadband Chairman, Koji Komibayashi, "but our goal is also find partners who will help us recreate the original film and its unique message. It's a human drama with a very cute story and adorable characters which appeal to all ages. I believe this project has the heart, soul and power to touch everyone. This will be quality entertainment."

Between 1969 and 1981 the stop motion department of Moscow's award winning Soyuzmultfilm Studio made four short puppet films about Cheburashka, his friend Crocodile Gena, and a mischievous old lady named Shapocliak. Like the old Soviet films, the new motion picture will also be based on puppet animation, enhanced with sophisticated stop motion technology and computer graphic effects. The film will have a Japanese producer and director. Current plans call for simultaneous filming of English and Russian-language versions.

According to Mika Haneishi, one of the project's producers, there are also plans to immediately re-release the old Soviet-made films at theatres in Japan, and to offer a special DVD package in order to expand the core audience to include children.

Reached at the television market at Cannes, Joan Borsten, president of Films By Jove, the international Russian animation distributor, noted that the deal was significant, beyond the intrinsic popularity of Cheburashka, because it represented the first foreign purchase of remake rights from the rich and extensive award winning library of Russian animated features. Said Borsten, "I believe this will open the worldwide market for these properties and the treasures they hold." TXBB successfully runs a Mobile phone official site in Japan for branded property including Snoopy and Sesame Street. TXBB also produces the first Japanese language version of "Sesame Street."

(The following link will bring you to a j-peg file photograph of Cheburashka.)

Caption: The vintage Russian cartoon character Cheburashka is slated to star in a new animated feature film for TV Tokyo Broadband.
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Apr 4, 2006
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