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IDT taking comic book hero Hellboy into animation

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Comic book hero Hellboy is poised to move into the world of animation, IDT Entertainment said Wednesday.

The entertainment unit of the Newark-based telecommunications company IDT Corp. said it has licensed all animation rights to the Hellboy property from Revolution Studios. IDT Entertainment, in partnership with Revolution Studios, plans to develop animated content for television and home entertainment, the companies said.

Hellboy is based on a comic book series by Mike Mignola. Hellboy fans will recall that he was born in the flames of hell and brought to Earth as an infant to perpetrate evil. Then, Hellboy was rescued from sinister forces by a benevolent Dr. Broom, who raised him to be a hero.

In April 2004, Hellboy debuted as a live action film starring Ron Perlman and Selma Blair, grossing $23 million in its first weekend. Those actors will lead the voice cast for the animated versions.

Tad Stones, who produced and directed full-length video features and animated television series - including Disney's "Atlantis: Milo's Return," "Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins," and Disney's "Aladdin and the King of Thieves" - will be supervising director and supervising producer for IDT Entertainment on the project.

Lawrence Gordon and Lloyd Levin of Lawrence Gordon Productions and Mike Richardson of Dark Horse Comics, who produced the 2004 live action feature, will serve as executive producers.

IDT, a telecommunications company that derives most of its revenues from calling cards, entered the entertainment business in 2002 with the formation of an in-house animation production unit.

It has purchased a range of companies, including Anchor Bay, a Michigan-based home entertainment distribution company that controls more than 3,500 titles, such as the popular children's animated series "Thomas the Tank Engine."

Last year, IDT bought a minority interest in "Shrek" producer John Williams' Vanguard Animation, a Beverly Hills, Calif.-based company, and inked a deal to co-produce animated movies with Vanguard. IDT owns a controlling interest in the production company Film Roman Inc., animators of TV hits "The Simpsons" and "King of the Hill."

IDT has sunk $100 million into its entertainment division. It has several feature-length, computer-animated films in production, including one that was directed by Christopher Reeve before his death last year. The plot is based partly on a bedtime story IDT Chairman Howard Jonas used to tell his children.


(C) 2005 The Record, Bergen County, NJ. via ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved

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