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By Film Threat Staff | December 28, 2001

“Marco Polo-Return to Xanadu” will have its U.S. premiere screenings at Laemmle’s new theater complex, The Laemmle Fallbrook 7 Theaters, West Hills, California, from December 28, 2001 through January 3, 2002. This exclusive Los Angeles engagement will complete the AMPAS requirements for the film to be included in the new Academy Awards category, Best Animated Feature.
Assembled outside the studio system by The Tooniversal Company, “Marco Polo-Return to Xanadu” is an international experiment in creativity, and the result, according to Elayne Blythe of the Film Advisory Board, is “everything a great animated film should be — exciting, colorful, fun and full of heart.” Animated in an almost retro “Saturday Morning” style, this tale of good versus evil is interspersed with seven delightful songs in the traditional musical theater style. “We decided on this style,” Ron Merk told the audience at a recent San Francisco festival screening, “based on budget restraints. But it also made it possible for us not to worry so much about technique, and to focus on a story and a set of characters that are fun for children.”
The film’s ending credits song, “When Your Heart Has Wings,” could be an anthem for our uncertain times with its message of perseverance and hope. Discussions are underway for several well-known choral groups to perform and record the song. Chris Holter, co-lyricist, summed it up, “The song is a metaphor for the great adventure we had making this film as an independent studio. Everything really is possible when your heart has wings.”
“Marco Polo” has won six U.S. and international film festival awards. Screenings have demonstrated the film to be a real audience-pleaser for both adults and children–an experience for the entire family to enjoy. Currently, Tooniversal is seeking a domestic distributor to handle theatrical, television and video sales of the film through veteran producer’s representative, Harris Tulchin. Foreign sales are already underway by family film distributor, Koan Inc., of Park City, Utah.
The film’s producers Igor Meglic, Ron Merk and Chris Holter, have assembled an impressive voice talent cast, including Nicholas Gonzalez as Young Marco. Nicholas is one of the stars of the Showtime series, “Resurrection Boulevard.” In addition, Tony Pope, who plays three major roles (one villain and two good guys) is well known throughout the film industry as “the man of a thousand voices.”
Produced in association with Afanti International Animation in China, and Interline Studios in Slovakia, The Tooniversal Company also farmed out work to Canada, Bulgaria and Korea in order to bring the film to life. Different aspects of production were done in these countries, with Tooniversal’s Los Angeles production office handling the organization, pre-production and post-production work. “It was an arduous road to the finish line,” director Ron Merk told a recent festival audience, “with many twists and turns we never expected. But in the end, we produced a film that children around the world love to watch over and over again. After all, we made this film for children.”
Get more info by visiting the Tooniversal web site.
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