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Gingo Animation, LLC (originally founded as Gingo Productions until 1992 or simply Gingo) is an American animation studio headquartered in North Hollywood, California. Founded by former Hanna-Barbera animators Geo G. and Michael Wildshill on February 13, 1988, the studio is operated as a subsidiary of Gingo Entertainment and is best known for producing animated television series, feature films, shorts and video games such as Gabriel Garza, Hatty, BJ and Wally, Niz Chicoloco, Chrysocolla, Jenny Zoom, Planetokio, Critter MockersZina and the Vivid CrewMetro ConeThe PandemoniumsArchot, Imagimals, and Cool Spot. After some experimental computer-animated short films during the late 1990s beginning with Tifi (1996), it entered the computer animation market with Metro Cone (2005).

Gingo was later bought by Universal Studios in 1998 following the merger of the studio's feature animation unit with Universal Feature Animation two years prior. The studio was renamed Universal/Gingo Animation and was owned by Universal Feature Animation. On February 21, 2005, Gingo was spun off from Universal, letting the latter to retain the rights to most of the studio's pre-2005 library. The studio is still associated with Universal, but also has other studios such as 20th Century Fox and Sony Pictures distribute some of its productions. Gabriel Garza, the main character of the studio's animated television series of the same name, is the studio's mascot.

History

Early years (1982–1998)

Gingo Animation logo (1988-1994)

Gingo Animation's logo prior to 1994

Gingo's predecessor Geo-Wildshill Productions was founded in 1982 as a division of Hanna-Barbera by animators Geo G. and Michael Wildshill, who wanted to realize their dream of producing an animated feature-length film. On February 13, 1988, after leaving Hanna-Barbera due to financial reasons, Geo and Wildshill opened their own studio named Gingo Productions, which would develop characters, stories, and productions, and some of the animators who worked for Geo and Wildshill at Hanna-Barbera came to the studio at the time. In 1989, Gingo announced a joint venture with motion picture studio Orion Pictures to form Orion Animation, an animation division which would produce animated projects for Orion. Orion Animation was closed in 1996. The same year, the studio produced its first short film, The Special Visitor.

Gingo had produced a Saturday morning animated series titled Gabriel Garza, which ran on CBS from 1991 to 1993 and on the syndicated Gingo Lineup block from 1996 to 2002, in conjunction with Universal Cartoon Studios. Its title character, based on the boy from Gingo's short film The Special Visitor, has been the studio's mascot since his introduction. CBS expressed a strong desire in 1992 for Gingo to create a new series, and the studio began conceiving Hatty during this period; that same year, Gingo changed its name to Gingo Animation, LLC. The following year, Gingo created a new division named Glass Ball Productions, which typically produces animated films and television shows targeted to adult audiences. Meanwhile, some of the Gingo staff got a call from Universal Studios to form an in-house feature animation department. Co-founder Michael Wildshill and his colleagues left to develop animated feature films there.

Gingo Feature Animation, which was set up at a separate building apart from the main Gingo studio in North Hollywood, was the studio's feature animation division which produced its first two films Romeo and Juliet (1994) and Ghost Vision (1995) for Universal Pictures. Spun off from the feature division of Hanna-Barbera Productions, Gingo Feature Animation was shut down in 1996 when it was being merged into Universal Feature Animation. However, after Gingo Feature Animation merged into Universal Feature Animation, Gingo continued to produce feature films fully in-house at its main North Hollywood headquarters.

In 1994, Gingo Interactive Software LLC, the studio's in-house video game development department, was founded, the first project of which was the video game adaptation of Gabriel Garza, and later developed the Niz Chicoloco and Chrysocolla games. On March 12, 1996, Gingo began collaborating with Universal on the syndicated Gingo Lineup block, which began on August 31, 1996. In May 1996, Universal and Gingo announced they were to co-finance and distribute Paint World, which had been in pre-production for a year. At this time Universal purchased a 40% share of Gingo. Three months later, the studio's second animated series Hatty aired on the syndicated Gingo Lineup block, and ran until 2002.

To expand the studio's online content presence, Gingo Animation launched their own official website named Gingo.com in 1996. The website gathers its core animation properties in a single online environment that is interactive and customizable for site visitors. It offers both originally produced content along with press releases, games, free wallpapers, desktop backgrounds, and screensavers. Some of the characters to be used in the project from the Gingo libraries include those of Gabriel Garza and Hatty. In 1997, Gingo formed Northwood Interactive, a video game publisher that releases Japanese video games outside Japan; the first project of which was Fantasy Tap for the PlayStation, but the company's most successful title is Planetokio in 1999.

Universal ownership (1998–2004)

Universal-Gingo logo

Logo for the Universal/Gingo merger

On March 21, 1998, Seagram, the company that was back then the parent of Universal Studios, agreed to purchase Gingo Animation in a deal worth $2.1 billion, strengthening the relationship between Universal and Gingo. Upon announcement of the news, CNN reported that "the deal gives Universal immediate access to the family-friendly audience in animation and multimedia entertainment." Former Gingo co-founder and Universal Feature Animation CEO Michael Wildshill would oversee both Gingo and UFA following the completion of the merger which reunites Gingo founder Geo G., while Universal animation president John Cohen would lead the feature animation divisions of Universal and Gingo for the entire Universal group. The deal does not include TeenV, an adult animated sitcom produced under Gingo's Glass Ball Productions label, which was retained by 20th Century Fox, who opted to retain said series within its adult animation lineup, which consisted of The Simpsons, Family Guy, and Futurama. Fox continues to finance, distribute, own and have final creative control of the rights of TeenV.

The acquisition was completed on June 3, 1998. Gingo was renamed Universal/Gingo Animation and continued to operate as a stand-alone business unit. With Gingo Feature Animation already merged into Universal Feature Animation in 1996, Gingo's syndicated Lineup block was under the Universal Television umbrella, while its video game subsidiaries Gingo Interactive and Northwood Interactive (under the Gingo Interactive Group) were reorganized into Universal Interactive Studios. Although Gingo was under the Universal Feature Animation studio, Gingo remained as a separate entity within Universal.

From October 21, 1999 to January 31, 2000, Gingo produced four three-minute animated short films to promote the North American release of Planetokio, entitled Bot Fight, Race, Clones and Iken's Lunch; they were originally available for viewing on the North American Planetokio website. On December 25, 1999, Paint World was released by Universal Pictures to a great critical and financial success. The film was solely produced by Gingo and was originally not intended to be a part of the Universal Animated Features canon. However, Universal later revealed that Paint World would be part of the canon, where it was released under the Universal Feature Animation label.

In 2001, Gingo partnered with Venice-based visual effects company Blur Studio to provide animation for computer-generated feature films, beginning with Metro Cone, Gingo's first computer-animated feature, in 2005. After Universal Pictures put the project into turnaround, Metro Cone was distributed by 20th Century Fox. For then, the studio had the traditional animators working for their main hand-drawn animation department, and the computer animators worked on CG productions. In 2002, The Gabriel Garza Movie, a feature-length film based on the Gabriel Garza series, was released, while Glass Ball released TeenV Movie the following year. In 2004, Gingo released Zina and the Vivid Crew, distributed by Columbia Pictures domestically and by Universal internationally (originally set to be solely distributed by the latter), and was a modest box office success, grossing over $293 million worldwide.

Split from Universal (2005–present)

In January 2005, Gingo announced its split from Universal due to new opportunities as well as more offerings if the company goes independent. By February 2005, Gingo was split from Universal, and effectively reversed the Universal/Gingo merger of 1998. Universal currently retains the rights for the pre-2005 Gingo library as well as retaining the right of first refusal to distribute sequels to pre-2005 films; as of 2018, most of the pre-2005 library is now owned by Universal Animation Studios. Geo G. headed the studio following the split, while Michael Wildshill had declined to oversee Gingo and remained on board as a consultant. In addition, Gingo Animation was transferred into a new entertainment company called Gingo Entertainment Media, LLC, headed by its president Clive Nakayashiki. Its divisions Glass Ball Productions and Gingo Interactive, with the latter being formerly under the Universal Interactive umbrella, were integrated under Gingo Entertainment.

In January 2006, Gingo and Blur Studio extended the deal for an additional five films. With Blur doing computer animation, they covered all two major styles, besides traditional animation. This partnership had Gingo participating in the production of computer-animated films in Venice, and also had Blur participating in some of the hand-drawn films made in North Hollywood. In April 2006, Gingo launched their official YouTube channel, which is a YouTube Partner channel featuring clips and trailers from the studio's productions and many others. Gingo's partnership with Blur Studio ended after the release of Workers, having Blur animated three out of five computer animated films. The announcement was made before the film's release, on August 26, 2013, citing "creative differences". Gingo then replaced Blur with Creative Step Studio, the studio's in-house computer animation department that would produce CGI-animated films on their own starting with Metro Cone Forever in 2015.

In October 2014, just a month before the release of Disney's Big Hero 6, Gingo entered a licensing agreement with Disney to use the Hiro Hamada character and trademark for its productions (such as films, television series, shorts, specials, video games, etc.), which sparked media speculation that Hiro will guest star in Gingo's animated comedy sketch series GGTV. Gingo's CEO and founder Geo G. stated that the reasoning was due to wanting to have Hiro in Gingo media because of the increasing popularity of "Liro", an internet crossover fan-fiction relationship between Hiro and Leno Garza, a character from Gingo's Gabriel Garza franchise, as they both share the similar appearance and characteristics. Gingo stated in July 2017 that they intend to keep the Hiro Hamada character license from Disney until the contract expires in 2027. In December 2015, the rights to the Metro Cone franchise as well as The 10 Feet and Workers which were owned by 20th Century Fox reverted back to Gingo due to Fox's contract of retaining rights to Fox/Gingo films expiring.

Name

Gingo is named after Gingo biloba (later Ginkgo biloba), a poem written by the German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. The poem was published in his work West-östlicher Diwan (West-Eastern Divan), first published in 1819. Goethe used "Gingo" instead of "Ginkgo" in the first version to avoid the hard sound of the letter "k".

The studio is also named after the identically named Ginkgo biloba, the only living species in the division Ginkgophyta, all others being extinct. It is found in fossils dating back 270 million years. Native to China, the tree is widely cultivated and was introduced early to human history. It has various uses in traditional medicine and as a source of food. The genus name Ginkgo is regarded as a misspelling of the Japanese gin kyo, "silver apricot". However, "gingo" is more commonly translated as "passed" from Swedish.

The name of the studio was originally going to be "StarActive Studios", but founders Geo and Wildshill wanted to come up with "something funny" and said to be intended to describe the non-linear editing systems and video compression the studio was specializing on. They later decided to go with Gingo Animation Studios, most commonly known today as Gingo Animation. However, Geo has claimed that the name was a result of being a pun on "bingo but with a G instead of a B".

Productions

For feature films by Gingo Feature Animation, see Gingo Feature Animation. For productions by Glass Ball Productions, see Glass Ball Productions.

Feature films

Released films

# Title Release date Co-production with Animation service(s) Budget Gross RT MC
1 Paint World December 25, 1999 Universal Pictures Gingo North Hollywood $48 million $452 million 94% 69
2 The Gabriel Garza Movie July 31, 2002 $60 million $89 million 38% 44
3 Zina and the Vivid Crew December 22, 2004 Columbia Pictures
Universal Pictures
O Entertainment
$70 million $293 million 80% 62
4 Metro Cone November 23, 2005 20th Century Fox Blur Studio $60 million $435 million 92% 78
5 BJ and Wally July 7, 2006 Universal Pictures
Universal Animation Studios
Universal Animation $74 million $486 million 53% 51
6 Metro Cone 2 May 16, 2008 20th Century Fox Blur Studio $92 million $514 million 86% 71
7 FusionMania September 26, 2008 Paramount Pictures
Nickelodeon Movies
Gingo North Hollywood $55 million $157 million 62% 60
8 The 10 Feet April 24, 2009 20th Century Fox Blur Studio $92 million $284 million 64% 55
9 The Pandemoniums Movie November 25, 2009 Universal Pictures
Universal Television Animation
Gingo North Hollywood $68 million $170 million 78% 65
10 Gabriel Garza July 8, 2011 Universal Pictures
Universal Animation Studios
Universal Animation $85 million $645 million 94% 72
11 Metro Cone 3: The Mystery to New York September 23, 2011 20th Century Fox Blur Studio $99 million $459 million 65% 53
12 Workers September 13, 2013 $110 million $205 million 59% 54
13 Gabriel Garza 2 July 2, 2014 Universal Pictures
Universal Animation Studios
Universal Animation $99 million $895 million 96% 84
14 Archot November 21, 2014 Columbia Pictures
Sony Pictures Animation
Sony Pictures Imageworks $90 million $232 million 82% 63
15 Metro Cone Forever September 4, 2015 20th Century Fox Creative Step Studio $98 million $303 million 55% 43
16 Imagimals September 9, 2016 Universal Pictures
Universal Animation Studios
Universal Animation $101 million $1.018 billion 78% 57
17 Gabriel Garza 3 March 3, 2017 $110 million $812 million 79% 70
18 Cool Spot September 14, 2018 Universal Pictures
Virgin Produced
Sony Pictures Imageworks $125 million $1.072 billion 98% 79

Upcoming films

# Title Release date Co-production with Animation service(s)
19 Addie March 1, 2019 Columbia Pictures
Sony Pictures Animation
Sony Pictures Imageworks
20 Agent Chrysocolla May 29, 2020 Paramount Pictures
Paramount Animation
21 Hilda September 25, 2020 20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox Animation
Creative Step Studio
22 The Boy and the Ape April 16, 2021 Columbia Pictures
Sony Pictures Animation
Sony Pictures Imageworks
23 Untitled films February 4, 2022 TBA
24 May 27, 2022
25 May 26, 2023

Films in development

Title
Gabriel Garza 4
Imagimals 2
Cool Spot 2
Untitled Zina sequel

Direct-to-video films

# Title Release date Distributor/co-production with Animation service(s)
1 Niz Chicoloco: The Untold Story December 7, 2004 DreamWorks Animation
DreamWorks Home Entertainment
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
DTV Productions
2 Gabriel and the Big Hero 6 January 16, 2018 Universal Animation Studios
Universal 1440 Entertainment
Man of Action Studios
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
Reel FX Creative Studios
3 Paint Universe February 12, 2019 Universal Animation Studios
Universal 1440 Entertainment
Wang Film Productions
Bardel Entertainment
Yowza! Animation
Toon City Animation

Television series

Series Creator/Developer Premiere Finale Production partner Original
network
1990s
Gabriel Garza Geo G. March 16, 1991 present Universal Television Animation
Hanna-Barbera (season 1)
Klasky Csupo (seasons 2–3)
Film Roman (seasons 4–present)
CBS (1991–94)
Syndication (1994–2002)
Universal Kids (2018–present)
Hatty Steve Samono August 31, 1996 September 7, 2002 Universal Television Animation Syndication
Niz Chicoloco Geo G. September 11, 1998 June 18, 1999 DreamWorks Animation Television UPN
GGTV Gingo Animation September 17, 1999 present Universal Television Animation Syndication (1999–2005)
Gingo (2005–present)
2000s
Paint World Geo G.
Audel LaRoque
September 23, 2000 March 17, 2001 Universal Television Animation Fox
Jenny Zoom Samuel Merritt September 22, 2001 April 3, 2004 Syndication
Planetokio Osamu Sato (characters)
Geo G.
November 24, 2002 May 18, 2003 UPN
Critter Mockers Michael Wildshill November 1, 2003 January 17, 2009 Universal Television Animation
Discovery Kids Original Productions
NBC (2003–2006)
Discovery Family (2003–2009)
The Pandemoniums Henri Dosclz January 31, 2004 June 25, 2011 Universal Television Animation Syndication (2004–2005)
Gingo (2005–2011)
Limo Dude Terry Ward September 25, 2004 December 18, 2004 Syndication
Chrysocolla & Sam Michael Wildshill (characters) May 28, 2005 June 21, 2008 N/A Gingo
Worldwide Animals September 20, 2008 Nelvana Gingo (United States)
YTV (Canada)
Adventures of Zina and the Vivid Crew Geo G.
Steve Oedekerk
August 27, 2005 July 18, 2009 O Entertainment Gingo
The BJ and Wally Show Geo G. (characters)
Universal Television Animation
October 4, 2007 March 29, 2012 Universal Television Animation Cartoon Network
Metro Cone Metro Cone
by Dan Hageman
Kevin Hageman
Geo G.
Samuel Merritt
January 17, 2009 June 12, 2010 Nelvana Gingo (United States)
Teletoon (Canada)
FusionMania Geo G. September 19, 2009 July 20, 2013 Nickelodeon Animation Studio Nickelodeon (2009–2012)
Nicktoons (2012–2013)
2010s
Primate House Samuel Merritt September 25, 2010 October 12, 2013 N/A Gingo
Gabriel & Friends Geo G. (characters) June 12, 2015 June 2, 2017 Universal Television Animation Netflix
The Hatty Weasel Show September 25, 2015 March 17, 2017
Imagimals: The Series Geo G. February 17, 2018 present Universal Kids
Bernard Revamped Bernard
by Jose Luis Ucha Enriquez
Claudio Biern Lliviria
July 28, 2018 Universal Television Animation
BRB Internacional
Screen21
RG Animation Studios
Niz Chicoloco (2018) Geo G. September 21, 2018 DreamWorks Animation Television Netflix
Upcoming
Untitled original animated series 2019 Universal Television Animation Universal Kids

Television specials

# Title Release date Network Co-production with Notes
1 A Gabriel Garza Christmas November 16, 1991 CBS Universal Television Animation
2 Gabriel Goes Hollywood September 11, 1993 Syndication
3 Gabriel Gets Spooked October 21, 1995
4 Hatty: The Untold Story September 12, 1998
5 The Gabriel Project April 6, 1999
6 Hatty's Weasel-tastic Christmas! November 17, 2001
7 The Jenny Zoom Christmas Hour December 21, 2002
8 Planetokio: The Madness Isn't Over May 18, 2003 UPN Series finale of Planetokio.
9 Hatty in the Night of the Living Weasel October 14, 2003 Syndication
10 Critter Mockers Save Christmas December 6, 2003 Discovery Kids
11 Jenny Zoom: A Conclusion of Confusion April 3, 2004 Syndication Series finale of Jenny Zoom.
12 Critter Mockers: Dude, Where's My Critter? June 15, 2004 Discovery Kids First season finale of Critter Mockers.
13 Critter Mockers: A Fuzzy Valentine's Day February 13, 2005 Second season finale of Critter Mockers.
14 The Pandemoniums: Battle Against Time May 27, 2006 Gingo Third season finale of The Pandemoniums.
15 Zina's Spooked Future October 21, 2006 O Entertainment
16 A Critter Mockers Summer Vacation July 15, 2007 Discovery Kids Universal Television Animation
17 BJ and Wally in Christmas Madness December 11, 2008 Cartoon Network
18 Adventures of Zina and the Vivid Crew: Home July 18, 2009 Gingo O Entertainment Series finale of Adventures of Zina and the Vivid Crew.
19 The Pandemoniums: Thank You June 21, 2011 Universal Television Animation Series finale of The Pandemoniums.
20 It's a Very Gabriel Christmas! November 20, 2013 NBC Universal Animation Studios

Short films

# Title Release date
1 The Special Visitor March 1, 1989
2 Spot August 10, 1990
3 A Tiny Bite June 25, 1992
4 Bob & Tom December 21, 1994
5 Tifi February 1, 1996
6 Lo and the Short Island July 18, 1997
7 Bot Fight October 21, 1999
8 Race November 3, 1999
9 Clones December 16, 1999
10 Iken's Lunch January 31, 2000
11 Dial "M" for Metro March 7, 2006
12 Metro Outs September 9, 2008
13 Game Boys December 6, 2011
14 Jackpot & Money January 24, 2012
15 Virtual Madness July 3, 2013
16 Back in Time December 9, 2014
17 Busho's Guide to Cool Things January 10, 2017
18 Leno Finds Love June 6, 2017

Video games

Main article: List of Gingo Animation video games

Miscellaneous work

Franchises

Title Release date
Gabriel Garza 1991–present
Hatty 1996–present
BJ and Wally
Niz Chicoloco 1997–present
Chrysocolla
Planetokio 1999–present
Paint World
Critter Mockers 2003–2009
The Pandemoniums 2004–2011
Zina and the Vivid Crew 2004–2009
Metro Cone 2005–present
Imagimals 2016–present

Accolades

Coming soon!

See also