Award-Winning Animation Studio LAIKA Expands Into Live Action

Oregon Studio Acquires Rights to Screenwriter John Brownlow’s Debut Action Thriller Novel Seventeen

aiphotoimaging laika studio animationLAIKA, known for the Academy Award®-nominated animated films Coraline, ParaNorman, The Boxtrolls, Kubo and the Two Strings and Missing Link, is expanding into live action. The studio has optioned Seventeen, the upcoming first novel by acclaimed screenwriter John Brownlow (The Minaturist, Sylvia). Currently in production on its sixth animated feature film, LAIKA secured the rights in an intense bidding war and plans to adapt it as a live action project. The announcement was made today by Travis Knight, President & CEO.

“For the past 15 years, LAIKA has been committed to making movies that matter,” says Knight. “Across mediums and genres, our studio has fused art, craft, and technology in service of bold, distinctive, and enduring stories. With Seventeen, LAIKA is taking that philosophy in an exciting new direction.”

“Seventeen is a stiff cocktail of wicked wit, exhilarating action, and raw emotion,” Knight continues. “John has such a wonderfully unique voice. He’s crafted a brilliant universe with its own powerful identity. Seventeen is a thriller with soul, a sinuous adrenaline-fueled actioner with a sincere heart beating underneath its rippling pectorals.”

Author and screenwriter John Brownlow is well known for his film and television credits. He is the screenwriter of the feature film Sylvia starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Daniel Craig and wrote and executive produced the three-part BBC limited series The Minaturist, which starred Anya Taylor-Joy (The Queen’s Gambit). He also wrote the four-episode limited series Fleming, which starred Dominic Cooper as James Bond author Ian Fleming.

“I am absolutely thrilled to be developing Seventeen for the screen with LAIKA,” says Brownlow. “As a long-time fan of LAIKA’s movies for their vision, heart, craft, intelligence and ambition, I couldn’t have hoped for the novel or the universe it inhabits to have found a better or more exciting home. I’m beyond honored to be part of their plans for the future.”

UK publisher Hodder & Stoughton has preemptively acquired worldwide publishing rights to Seventeen. Hanover Square will publish the book in the US in 2022. LAIKA was represented in the deal by CAA. John Brownlow is represented by George Davis at Nelson Davis LLP, Jessica Sykes at Independent Talent Group and CAA.

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Historical Documentary “Last Will & Testament” Released By Strike Back Studios

Strike Back Studios, a new joint venture between Realization Films, Public House Films, and Hideout Pictures, has release Centropolis Entertainment’s fascinating historical documentary “Last Will & Testament”.

With April being Shakespeare international Month, the film is now available to stream on Amazon Prime, Vudu, Tubi and other streaming platforms along with across TVOD platforms iTunes, Fandango Now, Google Play, YouTube, among others globally to rent or buy.

Twin sisters & filmmakers Laura Wilson & Lisa Wilson’s intricate historical journey charts the fascinating documentary “Last Will & Testament” from executive producer Roland Emmerich (who’s brilliant “Anonymous” also explores Shakespeare’s identity) and featuring stage and screen icons Derek Jacobi (“Gladiator,” “Gosford Park, “Dead Again”), Mark Rylance (“Bridge of Spies,” “The BFG,” “Dunkirk”), and Vanessa Redgrave (“Atonement,” “Howards End,” “Coriolanus”). It’s the greatest literary mystery of all time who actually wrote the works of Shakespeare? Featuring a powerful score by Graeme Revell (“The Saint,” “The Crow,” “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider”), the greatest mystery of an identity hidden by time and the constructs of society…The Bard himself.

Here’s the film’s official synopsis:
It’s the greatest literary mystery of all time; who wrote the works of Shakespeare? Although the official story has held sway for centuries, questions over the authorship of the plays and poems have persisted. Mark Twain, Sigmund Freud, Charlie Chaplin and Orson Welles are among the many famous figures who doubt that a grain-dealer from Stratford-upon-Avon was England’s “Star of Poets.” “Last Will & Testament” will transform the way you look at Shakespeare.

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San Diego Comic-Con Sets Sights For November 2021 Convention

By Armando

Currently dubbed “Comic-Con Special Edition,” the planned in-person convention is slated for Thanksgiving weekend of November 26-28 at the San Diego Convention Center. This will be the first time that Comic-Con event held in person since Comic-Con 2019.

“San Diego Comic Convention today announced dates for their November convention,” it says on the announcement. “Comic-Con Special Edition will be held as a three-day event over Thanksgiving weekend, Friday, Saturday,and Sunday, November 26-28, 2021 at the San Diego Convention Center. It is our hope that by Fall conditions will permit larger public gatherings.”

David Glanzer, spokesperson for the organization adds: “Hopefully this event will shore up our financial reserves and mark a slow return to larger in-person gatherings in 2022.”

More details will be announced, particularly information regarding the badge and the size of people who will be able to gather for the event.

Last year, just like nearly every convention in 2020, San Diego Comic-Con was cancelled due to the outbreak of the pandemic, the first time that the event was not held in SDCC’s 50-year history.

This will be the second year in a row wherein the massive gathering of fans at SDCC will be held virtually due to the current situation of the pandemic, the group announced on March 1. More details of the upcoming summer convention will be announced.

On March 1, San Diego Comic-Con announced “Comic-Con@Home”, a free online version of the event that is set to take place July 23-25.

Approximately 135,000 people normally descends to the Gaslamp District area in San Diego, CA for annual Comic-Con. The event is contributes an estimated $147 million to the San Diego economy each year.

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“Wolfwalkers” Garners GKIDS’ Historic 12th And Cartoon Saloon’s Consecutive 4th Oscar® Nomination For “Best Animated Feature”

Hand-Drawn, Critically-Acclaimed Film is Also Winner of Top Audience Award at AFI Fest; Recognized by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, New York Film Critics Circle, National Board of Review for “Best Animated Feature” Honors; and a Current BAFTA, Producers Guild, and Multi-Annie Award Nominee

WOLFWALKERS” GARNERS GKIDSGKIDS, the distributor of multiple Academy Award®-nominated animated films, is has announced its latest, WOLFWALKERS, was nominated for an Oscar for “Best Animated Feature” this morning by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. The film marks GKIDS’ historic twelfth Oscar nomination since its inception in 2010. It also marks the fourth consecutive nomination—a streak in this category—for award-winning Ireland-based animation studio, Cartoon Saloon, which has made only four features films to date.

The best-reviewed animated film of 2020, WOLFWALKERS is directed by two-time Academy Award -nominated director Tomm Moore and director Ross Stewart, and is the final installation in Cartoon Saloon’s hand-drawn Irish folkloric trilogy, which include “The Secret of Kells” (2010) and “Song of the Sea” (2015).

GKIDS has a long-standing relationship with Cartoon Saloon, having served as the U.S. distributor for all of the studios’ Academy Award nominated films including Moore’s “The Secret of Kells” and “Song of the Sea,” and Nora Twomey’s “The Breadwinner.” In addition to handling distribution, GKIDS CEO/Founder Eric Beckman and President Dave Jesteadt are executive producers on both “The Breadwinner” and WOLFWALKERS.


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46th Annual Saturn Awards Nominees Announced

creative media aiphotoimaging The Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films has unveiled the nominations for the 46th Annual Saturn Awards today.

Due to the unprecedented challenges that face the motion picture and television community during this global crisis, the organization made necessary changes to present this year’s awards show. The Academy extended the nomination period 16 months this year covering a wider selection of submissions between July 15, 2019 through November 15, 2020 and the group extended the eligibility rules to include streaming and VOD in addition to the theatrical release of motion pictures.

This year’s show honoring the best and most significant achievements in genre film, television and theater will be held later this year with details to be announced. The recipients of Lifetime Achievement Awards including The Dan Curtis Legacy Award, previously awarded to such luminaries as Vince Gilligan, Bryan Fuller and Sarah Schechter will be announced shortly. The Saturn Awards ceremony will again be produced by the organization and will be honoring the best and most significant achievements in genre film, television and theatre. The Academy was founded in 1972 by Doctor Donald A. Reed and is one year shy of celebrating its 50th Anniversary.

Lucasfilm/Disney’s Star Wars franchise dominated the Saturn nominations with Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker earning 12 noms in features, and The Mandalorian and The Clone Wars in TV/Streaming. Christopher Nolan’s Tenet boasted an impressive 9 nom, Doctor Sleep scared up 8, Knives Out, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, 7 apiece, and Birds of Prey and Disney’s live action Mulan, 6. Directors Gina Prince-Bythewood of Netflix’s The Old Guard and Niki Caro of Disney’s Mulan lead the diverse and talented pack of film nominees, which included such talent as Delroy Lindo (Da Five Bloods), John David Washington (Tenet), Yifei Liui and Donnie Yen (Mulan), Zazie Beetz (Joker),
Jurnee Smollet and Ella Jay Basco (Birds of Prey), Kyliegh Curran (Doctor Sleep) as well as talented screenwriters, editors, costumers and Special FX artists.

See the 46th Annual Saturn Awards Nominees >>
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Miss Universe Competition Set To Return In May

aiphotographic miss universe

Miss South Africa, Zozibini Tunzi, was crowned Miss Universe.
Photo: Armando (aiphotoimaging.com


The Miss Universe competition is currently set to return on May 16 with a live telecast. The 69th Miss Universe will be held at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood in Hollywood, Florida.

“We have spent months planning and preparing safety precautions to develop this edition of MISS UNIVERSE—one that will be memorable, special and totally innovative,” said Paula M. Shugart, president of the Miss Universe Organization. “I look forward to seeing this work come to fruition and crowning a new Miss Universe in May.”

Miss South Africa Zozibini Tunzi won the competition in 2019. Last year, the supposed 2020 competition was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, making Tunzi the longest Miss Universe title holder.

“I always knew that my reign as Miss Universe would be unlike any other,” said Tunzi. “While it was nothing like what I had imagined my year to be, this year has opened doors for me I could never have imagined. I am so grateful for the opportunity to connect virtually with people all over the world and elevate the causes I care most about.”

A host is yet to be announced. For the past five years, comedian Steve Harvey has hosted the event.

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Jeremy Renner to Star in Taylor Sheridan’s “Mayor Of Kingstown”on Paramount+, Executive Produced by Antoine Fuqua

Academy Award® nominee Jeremy Renner tapped as lead and Antoine Fuqua to executive produce Taylor Sheridan’s Mayor of Kingstown from MTV Entertainment Studios exclusively for Paramount+. With 101 Studios to serve as production partner, the drama from Yellowstone Co-Creator follows family of power brokers in small Michigan town. Mayor of Kingstown is one of several projects for Paramount+ under Sheridan’s new overall deal

Jeremy Renner  Antoine Fuqua aiphotoimaging armando aipMTV Entertainment Studios announced during today’s ViacomCBS Streaming Event presentation that Academy Award nominee Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker, Wind River) has been tapped as the lead in the highly anticipated drama Mayor of Kingstown exclusively for Paramount+. Prolific director, Antoine Fuqua (Academy Award -winning Training Day), has signed on as executive producer in the new series from Academy Award-nominated screenwriter Taylor Sheridan – co-creator of Yellowstone, cable’s most watched show of 2020 – who recently signed a multi-year pact with ViacomCBS and MTV Entertainment Group.

Mayor of Kingstown follows the McLusky family – power brokers in Kingstown, Michigan where the business of incarceration is the only thriving industry. Tackling themes of systemic racism, corruption and inequality, the series provides a stark look at their attempt to bring order and justice to a town that has neither. Mayor of Kingstown will be executive produced by Sheridan, co-creator Hugh Dillon, Jeremy Renner, Antoine Fuqua, David Glasser, Ron Burkle, Bob Yari and Michael Friedman. MTV Entertainment Studios, Sheridan’s Bosque Ranch Productions and 101 Studios will produce.

“I am excited to dig into the complex and rough-around-the-edges character of Mike McLusky (the Mayor of Kingstown),” said Jeremy Renner. “In a world otherwise forgotten in society, Mike serves as a flawed system of checks and balances. Taylor has brought to life a layered and poignant universe that is not only incredibly intriguing but also more relevant than ever.”

“When Taylor told me about Mayor of Kingstown, I immediately wanted to be a part of it,” said Antoine Fuqua. “The series offers a comprehensive look into the brutal prison system where sociopolitical issues run rampant. Prisons are a forgotten world to most of the population and yet represent a microcosm of society as a whole.”

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Quarantined Illustrated Series, The Little Broomstick Rider

ai photo studioCreated by Matteo Bernardini, the illustrated short series is set to have its world premiere at 2021 Slamdance Film Festival.

When a nine-year-old boy in 1620s Bavaria goes on trial for witchcraft, a flabbergasted court must decide the child’s fate.

Based on Ludwig Bechstein’s The Little Pitchfork Rider, THE LITTLE BROOMSTICK RIDER was born out of the objective creative impediment filmmaker Matteo Bernardini had to face during the lockdown generated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Being aware he could not rely on casts and crews as he was used to and being confined to his own house, Bernardini decided to let his illustrations do all the acting and his hands do the rest of the work: the final result is a unique product, more of an “illustrations-coming-to-life experience” than a traditional animated series.

Armed exclusively with paper, pens, scissors and glue, Bernardini has brought his personal interpretation of 17th century Germany to life. Half fairy-tale, half-perhaps-a-bit-too-historically-accurate (and spiced with a hint of macabre humour), Bernardini’s maverick series takes DIY to the next level.

THE LITTLE BROOMSTICK RIDER will have its world premiere in the Episodes section at the 2021 Slamdance Film Festival.
Episode 1: The trial for witchcraft begins and the identity of the defendant is revealed.
Episode 2 : The court gets very peculiar information and perspective about the Satanic Arts.
Episode 3: The existence of a Dark Lord is discovered.
Episode 4: Vision of a Witches’ Sabbath.
Episode 5: Further evidence about the Dark Arts is provided, including singing demons and a great lemon cake.
Episode 6: Little Linhard learns about the court’s verdict: he will burn at the stake. Or so they think.

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Live Nation Unites With Live Stream Platform Veeps To Connect Even More Artists And Fans Through Live Music Globally

aiphotoimaging  aiphotostudioLive Nation, the world’s leading live entertainment company, today announced it has acquired a majority stake in Veeps, a ticketed live stream platform custom-built for artists, by artists.

Created by Joel and Benji Madden of the band Good Charlotte, the company’s artist-centric mentality has set it apart from others in the space, especially in terms of execution and monetization. The platform is designed for ticketed live streams, and facilitates enhanced engagement between artists and fans with features like chat and exclusive merch purchases, while also supporting broad social marketing and intimate VIP offerings. Veeps is also commission-free, which means artists don’t pay hefty fees to use the platform and can more easily grow their careers through live streaming. Established in 2017, Veeps has continued to evolve its services based on the unique needs and requests of artists.

Veeps has helped artists make millions of dollars in revenue, drawing incredible talent from emerging artists to established acts alike, including Brandi Carlile, Liam Payne, Pete Yorn, Louis Tomlinson, Architects, Rufus Wainwright and many more. The platform hosted around 1,000 ticketed live stream shows in 2020 alone, delivering some of its highest monthly ticket sales and revenue in the back half of the year.

“We are impressed with what Benji and Joel have created with Veeps and their platform will create new ways to enjoy thousands of Live Nation concerts,” said Michael Rapino, President and CEO of Live Nation Entertainment. “Live streaming is a great complement to our core business, and essentially gives any show an unlimited capacity. Looking to the future live streams will continue to unlock access for fans – whether they are tuning into a sold out show in their hometown, or watching their favorite artist play in a city halfway around the world. The most critical element of live streaming is the artist on stage, and with Live Nation’s unmatched inventory feeding into Veeps, together we will help fans enjoy more live music than ever before.”
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What If Peter Parker Became Venom

aiphotoimaging  aiphotostudioChip Zdarsky and Pasqual Ferry bring you a tale of Peter Parker on the edge in SPIDER-MAN: SPIDER’S SHADOW

This April, writer Chip Zdarsky and artist Pasqual Ferry team up for a Spider-Man story like none other in SPIDER-MAN: SPIDER’S SHADOW. The critically acclaimed writer, currently wowing readers with his Eisner-nominated work on Daredevil, has crafted a thrilling saga that will explore Peter Parker’s dark side. Superstar artist Pasqual Ferry (The Mighty Thor) and colorist Matt Hollingsworth (Hawkeye) join him to bring to life one of the most ruthless Spider-Man stories Marvel Comics has ever told.

Peter Parker once put on an alien suit that nearly destroyed his life – but what if he’d never taken it off? Ignoring every warning, Spidey embraces the dark symbiote! Haunted by terrible nightmares and exhausted by an endless barrage of bad guys, Peter can’t seem to catch a break these days. So when the Hobgoblin attacks, he finds a hero at the end of his rope…and vulnerable to new dark impulses. Spider-Man is about to change his rules – but is it truly Peter who is in charge?

“I’m thrilled to be kicking off a new era of “WHAT IF” stories with this tale of a Spider-Man gone bad! How bad will he be? Will he have a goatee and no hyphen in his name? Pick up issue one to find out! But seriously, I feel that with SPIDER’S SHADOW we’re exploring some dark situations with Spidey and the Marvel Universe, while making it cool and fun to read. I think longtime fans will love it and new readers will be amazed at what Marvel lets us do,” Zdarsky teased. “Pasqual and Matt are producing amazing work on this book. When every page comes in, I share them with all of my friends even though Marvel says I’m not allowed to do that.”

“Since I started working at Marvel some long years ago, I always dreamed of drawing Spiderman, I came close a couple of times to get it, but the God of Thunder and Iron Man got in the way at the last moment— which were quite a joy too. So when I was offered the opportunity to draw this miniseries, you can imagine my happiness. In addition, I always wanted to experiment with the black suit from Secret Wars so the icing on the cake was doing that in the form of a “What If” series set at the beginning of that journey,” Ferry said. “Chip’s script is really shocking and surprising, a delight for someone fan of the character like me, and I’m sure it will catch the readers as much as it is drawing it with me. Hold on to the seats, because SPIDER’S SHADOW is going to surprise you in a way that you cannot imagine!”

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