Toronto’s large-format movie producer Imax and Vancouver-based CGI animator Mainframe have furthered a three-picture deal by establishing a new 50/50 joint venture called Max/Frame. The new company will make three Imax format CGI films over the next three years starting with Gulliver’s Travels, set for release in summer 2001, followed by The Pied Piper and Pandora’s Box, set for 2002 and 2003 deliveries. Max/Frame will also handle all licensing and merchandising for the films.
‘The plan is not just to do Imax movies,’ explains Dan DiDio, VP of creative affairs at Mainframe. ‘We plan to create a TV show and games using the original database [of CGI characters].’ DiDio says that because Mainframe’s specialty is CGI and because both companies have a high-tech reputation, licensed merchandise will center on interactive games and toys. ‘We’re looking to start exploiting the digital network,’ DiDio says. Spin-off products will be created from the CGI cast of each film.
At press time, the joint venture was still in initial stages, with the eventual size and budget of the new company yet to be determined. Helen Chapman, director of marketing and
licensing at Mainframe, says details such as whether Max/Frame will license properties
directly or work through international agents had to be worked out, but adds that Mainframe typically uses agents for licensing.
Max/Frame’s licensed products will be geared to the mass market. ‘That’s the whole point of the joint venture-the mass market,’ says DiDio. It is a part of a push into the mainstream as Imax makes the change from educational to story-driven films, DiDio says.
Imax’s senior VP of film, Andrew Gellis, says that Imax has been moving towards doing story-driven projects, in addition to the traditional Imax doc fare, for the past five years.
Other Imax 3-D kidflicks on the sked include Fantasia 2000, a co-pro with Disney to be released January 1, 2000. In-house films Noah’s Ark and Rumplestiltskin are set for post 2001 deliveries. The Beast, based on a novel by R.L. Stine about two teenagers who ride a haunted roller-coaster into another time, and Flight of Fancy, in which three kids accidentally board a time machine and travel the world, are also on the slate for sometime after 2000.
Imax isn’t the only company with ambitious plans for the giant screen. Burbank-based Iwerks Entertainment has announced a deal with Sony Pictures Classics to become the excluive distributor for three films previously unavailable to exhibitors in the 8/70 format. Across the Sea of Time, Wings of Courage and Cirque du Soleil Journey of Man will be featured at Iwerks’ Extreme Screen theaters and other large-format theaters around the world. Iwerks will also take over distribution of Thrill Ride: The Science of Fun.