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Top Animation News: DreamWorks Oriental, Magic School Bus and more!

Tags: News Animation Film Television Trends Games Top Animation News

Top Animation News is a weekly column that rounds up the biggest, best and breaking stories from the world of animation. This edition covers September 01 to 08, 2017.

  1. Warner Bros. eyes DreamWorks Oriental.

It seems Universal is hoping to sell its 45 percent share of DreamWork Oriental, the China-based joint venture animation company it inherited when parent corporation Comcast bought DreamWorks Animation in 2016. While majority shareholder China Media Capital will maintain 55 percent ownership, Warner Bros. is rumoured to be the top buyer of the sizeable minority stake. The studio only produced one film, "Kung Fu Panda 3", and laid off 40 animators in March.

Venture to the DreamWorks Oriental story on "Variety".

  1. Ubisoft to invest $780 million into Quebec by 2027.

The French video game giant is injecting over three quarters of a billion dollars into its Quebec interests, 20 years after coming to the province. The $780 million will create 675 jobs in Toon Boom's hometown of Montreal, 200 more in Quebec City and launch two new studios: one in Saguenay, another in a to-be-announced location. "The expertise of Ubisoft's Quebec studios is one of the motors of the company's growth," said Yves Guillemot, Ubisoft co-founder and CEO.

Plug into all the Ubisoft Quebec updates on "The Toronto Star"

  1. "The Magic School Bus" is back in session on Netflix.

A new generation of kids (and a fair amount of nostalgic adults) will soon be able to take chances, make mistakes and get messy with Ms. Frizzle (voiced by Lily Tomlin), Liz and their transforming transportation once again — setting Twitter ablaze in the process. Now joined by Fiona Felicity Frizzle (Kate McKinnon from "SNL"), the latest trailer for the reboot (titled "The Magic School Bus Rides Again") shows the students getting into plenty of scientific silliness. The series will be released on Netflix on September 22.

Watch the trailer above or hop on "The Magic School Bus Rides again" details on "Cosmopolitan".

  1. "Mary and the Witch's Flower" casts Kate Winslet.

The anime announced the "Titanic" star will be joined by Jim Broadbent, Ruby Barnhill, Louis Ashbourne Serkis and Ewen Bremner for its English-language version. Produced by Studio Ghibli alumni Hiromasa Yonebayashi and Yoshiaki Nishimura, it is the first feature film by their new venture, Studio Ponoc. Based on "The Little Broomstick" by Mary Stewart, the anime has already taken in $27 million at the Japanese box office.

Check out more "Mary and the Witch's Flower" casting info on "The Hollywood Reporter".

Source: Kevin Nowlan.

  1. "Batman: The Animated Series" turns 25 — see the original concept art.

Perhaps the most iconic comic book cartoon of the 90s, "Batman: The Animated Series" revolutionized superhero adaptations. With its moody aesthetic and atmosphere, and emotional depth and development, it brought dimensionality to the medium. In celebration of its 25th anniversary, animator Kevin Nowlan shared some of his early character concept art for the series including Batman, Robin, the Joker, Catwoman, the Penguin and more.

Swing over to "Gizmodo" for all the "Batman: The Animated Series" concept art.

  1. Vampire Weekend's Ezra Koenig is getting on the Netflix anime gravy train.

The hipster hitmaker tweeted this week, "NEO YOKIO IS THE GREATEST CITY IN THE WORLD. [Thanks] to Studio Deen, Production IG, Jaden Smith, Kazuhiro Furuhashi & many more". The details that can be teased are: it is an anime series called "Neo Yokio"; it stars a black protagonist, likely voiced by Jaden Smith; it may come out on September 22 on Netflix; and it was produced by Japanese animation studios Production I.G and Studio Deen.

Find out more about "Neo Yokio" on "Pitchfork".

Source: Pedro Alpera.

  1. 3D Wire 2017 to focus on GIFS and Colombian animation.

The animation, video game and new media market will be held in Segovia, Spain, from October 5 to 8. This year's headliners are British animator James Curran and Spanish artist Pedro Alpera, both of whom are known for their looping cartoons. (Editor's note: Alpera frequently works with Toon Boom animation software — see our blog interview with him.) Colombia was selected as the guest country for this year's event, with a focus on growing co-productions and creative exchanges between the two Spanish-speaking nations.

Visit "Cartoon Brew" for more updates on 3D Wire 2017.

  1. Coming soon: an "Animal Farm" video game?

George Orwell's classic novel (and social critique of totalitarianism) is in the early stages of being adapted into a hybrid video game: part adventure, part tycoon managing the farm. Reassuringly, the author's state is said be involved. The game's timely mission aims for the players to identify with both the oppressors and the oppressed, understand the motivations of power and their own place in an ever-more fractious world.

Harvest all the details on the "Animal Farm" video game on "Polygon".

  1. Eugene Chung is at the forefront of VR animation.

The founder and CEO of San Francisco's Penrose VR animation studio was recently profiled by "HuffPost", where he details his journey from Pixar to Oculus to the present. With two acclaimed VR productions under his belt, "Allumette" and "Arden's Wake", he is a pioneer in the field. He discusses its future and potential, and how it differs from traditional animation. "It turns out story boards are a bad way to illustrate a story in VR. They lead artists in the wrong direction," explains Chung.

Read the full interview with Penrose's Eugene Chung on "HuffPost".

  1. Anime travel is a growing trend in Japan.

Real-world locations featured in popular anime titles are finding themselves top destinations for travelling fans. Hida, in Japan's Gifu Prefecture, attracted more than a million visitors in 2016 for the first time in years thanks to an appearance in smash hit "Your Name". Following the footsteps of fictional characters is nothing new in the country — the term is seichi junrei, or "sacred pilgrimage". The anime travel trend started in the 90s, though Japan now hopes to attract more foreign tourists given the medium's growing international popularity.

Travel over to "The Japan Times" for more.

What Top Animation News were you most excited about this week? Was there something we forgot to mention? Let us know in the comments below!

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