Imagi must be pleased with the response their $65 million, star-studded Astro Boyfeature film is getting in Japan--they're already talking about a sequel. Set for stateside release on October 23, the new film is an update of Osamu Tesuka's popular manga and animated series about a robot boy who battles the forces of evil. The Hollywood Reporter goes into some specifics of Imagi's business model, wherein they hire former Disney and Dreamworks animators to conceptualize the story, then send the film to China for animation. It's all part of a deal with Chinese investors that helped stabilize Imagi after the lukewarm response to their debut film, 2007's TMNT.
Now that Imagi is facing a more secure financial future, they're in a good position to become a major player in the animation scene. They'll follow up Astro Boy with another beloved anime adaptation, a 3-D version of Gatchaman (aka Battle of the Planets aka G-Force. No relation to the Bruckheimer gerbil movie.) Imagi's currently seeking a project with a Chinese setting (that worked out great for Kung Fu Panda) to follow up Gatchaman. They're committed to releasing one film a year in the Astro Boy price range, and THR seems certain that Astro Boy 2 will be one of these upcoming features.
Astro Boy faces some stiff competition when it opens. It's up against The Nightmare Before Christmas 3D and The Vampire's Assistant for the kid crowd that weekend (and that's not even taking Toy Story and Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, both of which are still playing well, into consideration). I hope word from the Japanese premiere holds true, and Astro Boy is a fun and faithful tribute to Tesuka's classic creation, and not just another nostalgia cash-in.