Disney, Pixar end Annie Awards boycott

Thu Aug 18, 2011 7:53pm EDT

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LOS ANGELES (TheWrap.com) - The 39th annual Annie Awards, a celebrated but controversial prize in the world of animation, announced its "call for entries" on Thursday -- and in a major change from last year, TheWrap has learned that Disney/Pixar will be among the companies submitting entries.

Last year, the animation giant withdrew its support from the International Animated Film Society, ASIFA-Hollywood, to protest Annie rules and judging procedures.

However, though Disney/Pixar has made no formal announcement, a source with knowledge of the ASIFA process says the studio will once again take part in the organization and its awards show.

The reason for the change of heart: significant voting-procedure and organizational changes have been made in the wake of February's Annies ceremony.

An Annies spokesperson told TheWrap that it was her understanding that the company would make submissions: "We are looking forward to having Disney and Pixar participate, and look forward to a full slate of talent this year."

At this year's awards show, DreamWorks Animation's "How to Train Your Dragon" won 10 awards, while Pixar's "Toy Story 3," which went on to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, was completely shut out.

The result was exactly the same as it had been two years earlier, when DreamWorks' "Kung Fu Panda" won the same 10 awards and Pixar's acclaimed "Wall-E" went home empty-handed.

In the aftermath of this year's show, for which Disney/Pixar did not make any submissions (though "Toy Story 3" did receive three nominations), ASIFA replaced longtime president Antran Manoogian with the well-liked veteran animation executive Frank Gladstone.

For his part, Gladstone said he looked forward to "making some significant changes to the status quo."

Those changes included revising the voting structure of the Annies, and "establishing a representative voice for every animation studio."

Membership in ASIFA is open to professional animators, people who work for animation companies and fans who pay an annual fee.

DreamWorks Animation buys memberships for all its employees, leading to charges that it controlled an unfairly large portion of the membership and exercised an undue influence on the awards.

ASIFA made changes to the process last year that tightened voting qualifications, but it refused to establish a multi-studio advisory board, leading to Disney/Pixar's withdrawal.

Next year's Annie ceremony will take place at UCLA's Royce Hall on February 4, 2012. Awards will be handed out in 28 categories, including the new categories of Outstanding Editorial in an Animated Feature and Outstanding Editorial in an Animated Television Production.

A "Members Favorite" award has also been established, and is the only award for which all ASIFA members can vote.

Animated films released in the calendar year 2011 are eligible. Entries must be submitted by Friday, October 14.

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