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