An On­go­ing Mis­sion

Moscow-based Ki­noAtis de­buts at AFM the English dub of en­try in its main fran­chise.

Animation Magazine - - Spotlight -

The Soviet Union is long gone, but its ac­com­plish­ments in the Space Age of the 1960s con­tinue to have a strong grip on the imag­i­na­tion, as made clear by the suc­cess of Ki­noAtis’ fran­chise Space Dogs.

Hav­ing found suc­cess as an an­i­mated fea­ture film, an an­i­mated se­ries and a suc­cess­ful and wide-rang­ing line of mer­chan­dise, Moscow-based Ki­noAtis has com­pleted pro­duc­tion with the All-Rus­sia State Tele­vi­sion and Ra­dio Broad­cast­ing Co. and Epic Fea­tures on a se­quel, ti­tled Space Dogs: Moon Ad­ven­tures.

Re­turn­ing for the se­quel are direc­tors Alexan­der Khramtsov, Inna Evlan­nikova and Ki­noAtis Di­rec­tor Gen­eral Vadim Sot­skov; as well as story writer John Chua; ex­ec­u­tive pro­duc­ers Pa­trick Ewald and Shaked Beren­son; and pro­duc­ers Sergey Zer­nov, Sot­skov and Yuliya Matyash.

The English-lan­guage ver­sion of the movie will premiere at the Amer­i­can Film Mar­ket, set for Nov. 5-12 in Santa Mon­ica, Calif.

The fran­chise be­gan in 2006, when pro­duc­ers Zer­nov and Sot­skov found an un­seen film in the ar­chives of the old KGB show­ing pre­flight train­ing of dogs for space travel tests. Among the dogs seen in the film were Belka and Strelka, who were among the first liv­ing crea­tures to go into or­bit and re­turn safely to Earth in a flight aboard the Soviet ar­ti­fi­cial satel­lite Kora­biSput­nik 2 on Aug. 19, 1960. The dogs, of course, be­came an in­stant me­dia sen­sa­tion all over the world.

(In­ter­est­ingly, there’s another cur­rent an­i­ma­tion con­nec­tion to th­ese events. The Sovi­ets’ first at­tempt to send a dog into space was in 1957, when a pup named Laika was shot into space and died dur­ing the mis­sion. That dog in­spired the name of the Port­land-based an­i­ma­tion stu­dio LAIKA, of The Boxtrolls fame.)

After re­turn­ing to Earth, Strelka had a lit­ter of pup­pies, one of which was pre­sented by Soviet Premier Nikita Kr­uschev as a gift to Caro­line Kennedy, daugh­ter of U.S. Pres­i­dent John F. Kennedy. All of which is cov­ered in the first Space Dogs film.

A Com­pelling Tale

Zer­nov and Sot­skov found the dogs-in­train­ing to be so in­ge­nious and their story so com­pelling that they im­me­di­ately set about mak­ing a fea­ture film about them.

That lead to the first Space Dogs 3D an­i­mated movie, which was re­leased in 2010 in Rus­sia un­der the ti­tle Belka & Strelka: Star Dogs, fol­lowed by an in­ter­na­tional re- lease with Amer­i­can company Epic Pic­tures re­vis­ing the script, dub­bing it into 45 lan­guages and pro­mot­ing its re­lease in 160 coun­tries. The film also was a hit in fes­ti­vals, win­ning mul­ti­ple awards.

The suc­cess of the film pro­pelled Ki­noAtis to the top of the an­i­ma­tion in­dus­try in Rus­sia, and the company re­sponded by con­tin­u­ing the fran­chise with a Space Dogs Fam­ily TV se­ries, which fol­lowed Belka and Strelka’s pup­pies as they sought to travel into space them­selves. The 104-episode se­ries pre­miered in April 2011 on Rus­sian TV, gen­er­at­ing high rat­ings and a solid mer­chan­dis­ing pro­gram.

In ad­di­tion to the se­quel, Ki­noAtis pro­duced in 2012 a high-bud­get stage mu­si­cal ver­sion of the story in Moscow.

An­i­ma­tion Ex­pan­sion

The suc­cess of Space Dogs is only the tip of the ice­berg for Ki­noAtis in an­i­ma­tion, which has de­vel­oped more than a dozen projects that have seen suc­cess all over the world. Among them: the se­ries The Ex­tra­or­di­nary Ad­ven­tures of Karik and Valya, based on the fa­mous book by Jan Larry, in which a boy and girl use a pro­fes­sor’s shrink­ing tech­nol­ogy to ex­plore tiny plants and an­i­mals; and the se­ries Mi­crop­o­lis, about mi­crobes liv­ing in tiny city of their own.

Ki­noAtis also has found suc­cess with an­i­mated short movies, such as The Crown Prince of Repub­lic and Till the Tail’s End.

The company’s plans in­clude the pro­duc- tion and wide-rang­ing pro­mo­tion of new an­i­ma­tion brands and com­mer­cial projects for both Rus­sian and in­ter­na­tional mar­kets.

Among the new projects is The I-Planet, a se­ries linked to the ad­ven­tures of a funny fam­ily of aliens tak­ing place on their own planet. The TV se­ries is cur­rently in pro­duc­tion with 52 episodes planned.

Soviet-era cos­mo­naut dogs Belka and Strelka find them­selves caught up in his­tor­i­cal events in Ki­noAtis’ se­quel

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