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Astro Boy officially slated for 2001

By Brian Knatchbull
October 27, 1999

After two years of negotiations, Columbia Pictures has paid approximately $1-$2 million for the film rights to "Astro Boy," a popular Japanese comic book series that the studio hopes to adapt for a summer 2001 tent-pole release.

The studio has been in final negotiations since March for the property about a grieving scientist who builds a robot in the likeness of his son who was killed. Don Murphy and Jim Henson Pictures are producing the project, which is being scripted by Todd Alcott ("Antz"). No other talent is yet attached.

Columbia production executives Michael Costigan and Rachel O'Connor are overseeing for the studio. Production is slated to begin in the summer.

Though no figures were available, the big-budget project will combine CGI, animatronics and live action. No definitive plans for a toy tie-in have been announced, but Sony's consumer products and marketing division are eyeing the possibilities, sources said. Sony Pictures Entertainment Japan and Tezuka Prods. are also planning an animated TV series based on "Astro Boy."

"Astro Boy" was created by Osamu Tezuka in 1951, and the comic strip ran for 18 years. In 1963, "Astro Boy" became the first animated series to play on Japanese television. The film rights were acquired from Tezuka Prods.

The original story of Astro Boy was set in the future telling of a genius scientist who loses his young son in an accident. As a means of dealing with the tragedy, he builds a robotic duplicate of his child who has extraordinary powers, including the ability to change his feet into small rockets enabling him to fly.

Ultimately, Astro Boy is rejected by his father but is taken in by a kindly scientist who becomes his ersatz father figure. Created with a good heart and soul, Astro Boy uses his abilities to fight crime which often took the form of rogue robotic menaces.


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