Variety is reporting that the Hong Kong-based Imagi Entertainment has received funding to resume work on its CGI Astro Boy feature, which was shut down briefly as the company searched for bridge financing until an expected infusion of funding from private equity companies arrives.  The film, which is based on the classic manga by Osamu Tezuka and isslated to open in more than 3000 theaters in North America on October 23rd, features an all-star vocal cast that includes Kristen Bell, Nicholas Cage, Freddie Highmore, Bill Nighy, Eugene Levy, and Donald Sutherland.


The Astro Boy situation indicates that during the current “credit crunch” projects that would have received financing easily in the past can be put in jeopardy as studios scramble to arrange financing as previous sources of cash evaporate and hard-pressed investors have to pull out of projects.  Although the strong box office numbers in Q4 2008 and so far in 2009 indicate that movies are countercyclical, like other industries, the studios, especially smaller companies and mid-majors, are struggling with financing, even it seems when things are supposedly all set.  The new Variety report contradicts a previous Variety article from December 29th that indicated that, although Imagi did not have the financing for any of its next three announced projects, Gatchaman, Tusker, and Cat Tale, the money for Astro Boy was in place.