Gingo Animation, LLC (also known as Gingo Studios or simply Gingo) is an American animation studio based in North Hollywood, California. Founded by Geo G. and Michael Wildshill in 1988, the studio has been owned by Universal Studios, a division of Comcast through its wholly owned subsidiary NBCUniversal, since 2004. Gingo creates animated feature films, short films, television programs, and video games. Although the studio initially made two traditionally animated films, all of their films now utilize computer animation. The studio has currently produced a total of eighteen feature films, beginning with Paint World (1999) and its most recent being Gabriel Garza 3 (2017). It is best known for the franchises Gabriel Garza, Hatty, Niz Chicoloco, Planetokio, Paint World, Computeropolis, Paradoria, and Imagimals.
As of August 2017, Gingo's feature films have grossed a combined total $90.5 billion worldwide, with an average gross of $597.2 million per film. Three of its films—DCL: Desktop Component League (2016), Computeropolis 2 (2007), and Gabriel Garza 2 (2014)—are among the 50 highest-grossing films of all time, and fourteen of its films are among the 50 highest-grossing animated films of all time, with DCL: Desktop Component League being the sixth all-time highest in the latter category. The studio has received two Academy Awards as well as 37 Emmy and numerous Annie Awards and multiple Golden Globe & BAFTA nominations. All of Gingo's feature films are distributed worldwide by Universal Pictures, with the exception of Woo La La (2009), which was distributed by Toho in Japan with Universal handling international rights. Gabriel Garza, a character from the studio's animated television series of the same name, is the studio's mascot.
1982–90: Early yearsEdit
Gingo Animation was founded in 1982 as Geo G. Productions, originally a division of Hanna-Barbera, by animators Geo G. and Michael Wildshill, who always 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 stand-alone animation studio Gingo Productions, which would develop characters, stories and productions, with some of the animators who worked for Geo and Wildshill at Hanna-Barbera came to the studio at the time.
After the success of Gingo's first production The Special Visitor in 1989, the studio was approached by Universal Studios, who would ultimately become its most important partner, to produce an animated feature film that would become Paint World, an offer which the founders immediately accepted. The deal was settled in May 1989, and Geo and Wildshill, along with fellow Gingo animator Audel LaRoque, began working on the script of Paint World, which was to be directed by Geo in his feature-length directorial debut. Gingo approved of the film's script, and pre-production for Paint World started, set for a Thanksgiving 1991 release date.
However, development for Paint World was stalled in February 1990 when Universal and Gingo became concerned over the upcoming release of the 1991 animated films, Disney's Beauty and the Beast and Universal's another animated film An American Tail: Fievel Goes West (which were both released on the same day). Gingo abandoned Paint World in March 1990 after the studio had already designed six months worth pre-production and Universal had left the project. The studio then decided to start work on other projects, such as the short film Spot.
1991–2000: Mainstream success, moving into feature animationEdit
Gingo had produced a Saturday morning animated television series titled Gabriel Garza, which ran on CBS from 1991 to 1993 and on NBC from 1994 to 2002. Its title character Gabriel Garza, which is based on the boy from Gingo's short film The Special Visitor, has been the studio's mascot since his introduction in 1991. The television network CBS expressed a strong desire in 1992 for Gingo to create a new series, and the studio began conceiving Hatty during this period. The same year, Gingo changed its company name from Gingo Productions to Gingo Animation, LLC. The following year, Gingo created a division named Glass Ball Productions, which typically produces animated films and television shows targeted to young adult audiences.
Gingo Interactive was a video game developer and publisher founded in 1994 as a subsidiary of Gingo. It was best known for developing the video game adaptation of Gabriel Garza, as well as Niz Chicoloco and its sequel Niz 2: The Journey of Nonsensical. In 2007, however, it was shut down in order to focus on third-party development of video game adaptations of its franchises by other developers.
With the success of Gabriel Garza, Gingo began concerning their interest in restarting development on the studio's first feature film Paint World in late 1994. The following year, Gingo revived the project and the staff brought The Lion King writer Irene Mecchi on to help rewrite their 1989 script with additional input from Thomas Lennon and David Silverman. As Geo was busy on other projects at the time, writer LaRoque was selected to direct the film in his directorial debut.
In 1994, Gingo created a computer animation department at the studio's main headquarters at North Hollywood that would produce computer-generated productions, starting with the short Tifi in 1996, which was Gingo's first attempt at computer animation. For then, Gingo had the traditional animators working for their main hand-drawn animation department, and the computer animators worked on CG films. In May 1996, Gingo Animation and Universal Studios announced that they were teaming up to co-finance and distribute Paint World, which had been in pre-production for a year. In August 1996, the studio's second animated series Hatty aired on NBC from 1996 to 2002.
To expand the studio's online content presence, Gingo Animation launched their own official Gingo.com website 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.
Meanwhile, starting in 1997, Gingo animator Amy McNeill had been working on a computer-animated short film named Lina, intended to expand the appeal of Gingo productions to older audiences and to showcase the talents of the new generation of Gingo animators. The film revolves around a young girl who is afraid of the dark until she encounters a star. The star subsequently leads the girl into "a glow that is lightly daytime." At the time, McNeill shared storyboard panels for Lina with the studio's founders Geo G. and Michael Wildshill. It was not until early 2000 when Kristina Reed, a then-producer at Gingo Animation, assigned McNeill to complete the Lina project.
On August 21, 1998, Gingo and Universal signed a $250 million deal to make ten more films that were estimated to be completed within the next fifteen years. Another project was also announced, titled The Tub People, intended to be based on the children's picture book of the same name by Pam Conrad; however, it was put on hold two years later because of script issues. At this time Universal purchased a 60% share of Gingo. In December 1999, the studio's first feature film Paint World was released to a great critical and financial success, by grossing over $452 million worldwide, making it the highest-grossing non-Disney animated film of the year, as well as the second highest-grossing animated film of 1999 behind Toy Story 2.
From October 21, 1999 until January 31, 2000, Gingo produced four three-minute CGI short films to promote the North American release of the video game Planetokio, entitled Bot Fight, Race, Clones and Iken's Lunch; they were originally available for viewing on the North American Planetokio website.
2001–07: Conversion to computer animation, Universal Studios subsidiaryEdit
Gingo released Lina in March 2001, and it received the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. With the successful release of Lina, Universal also considered buying Gingo in order to compete with Disney and Pixar in feature film computer animation. Seeing the box office success of DreamWorks Animation's Shrek and Disney/Pixar's Monsters, Inc., Gingo was reconfigured to become an computer animation studio.
In July 2002, Gingo's second feature film and final traditionally animated film The Gabriel Garza Movie was released. Based on the studio's animated series Gabriel Garza, the film did not perform as well as Paint World critically or financially which led to a growing perception that hand-drawn animation was becoming outdated and falling out of fashion in favor of the increasing popularity of computer animation.
Upon the unsuccessful release of The Gabriel Garza Movie, Gingo laid off most of the employees at the hand-drawn department, downsizing it to one unit and beginning plans to move into fully computer animated films. A handful of employees were offered positions doing computer animation. Subsequently, on September 17, 2002, Gingo Animation officially announced they were becoming a fully CGI studio, now with a staff of 460 people and began selling off all of its traditional animation equipment. However, the studio still has some hand-drawn animated productions underway, only for direct-to-video and television series.
In 2004, Gingo released its first fully computer-animated feature, Computeropolis, a CGI comedy-adventure film. The film was released to great critical and commercial success, grossing $687 million worldwide, becoming the third highest-grossing film of 2004. Computeropolis established Gingo as the fourth studio, after Pixar, DreamWorks Animation and Blue Sky Studios, to launch a successful CGI franchise.
After the successful July 2004 release of Computeropolis, Geo G. and Michael Wildshill sold their remaining interest in Gingo to Universal in September 2004. The studio would be then bought out by Universal to avoid a repeat. Character trademarks from franchises created by Gingo, such as Gabriel Garza, Hatty Weasel, and Iken of Planetokio, were retained by Gingo and sold to Universal. However, intellectual property produced through Gingo's Glass Ball label, such as Geo TV and Cland Ann, were 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. The Gingo name was also guaranteed to continue, and the studio would remain in its current location in North Hollywood.
In April 2005, Gingo announced that it would be working with Universal Studios to create Computeropolis: A Technical Ride, a 3-D ride at Universal Studios in Orlando, Hollywood, Sentosa, and Osaka. The ride officially opened on June 11, 2006 in Orlando, Hollywood on March 15, 2008, Sentosa on March 18, 2010, and Osaka on March 4, 2011.
The studio released M.I.S.S.I.O.N. in 2005, its second all-CGI film that had been in active development since 1997, to generally positive reviews. Although it was a modest box office success, it fell short of expectations upon its release, resulting in a $93 million write-down for Universal and Gingo; they abandoned plans for a sequel titled M.I.S.S.I.O.N. #2 as a result. The next summer's BJ and Wally received mixed reviews from critics but was a box office success, earning $486 million worldwide. Gingo's first sequel and sixth film, Computeropolis 2, opened in 2007, earning over $953 million worldwide, becoming the highest-grossing 2007 animated film and breaking a record as the most profitable Universal/Gingo film.
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.
2008–10: Rebound, Universal's acquisition of IlluminationEdit
In 2008, Universal announced a deal with another animation studio named Illumination Entertainment, positioning it as NBCUniversal's family entertainment arm within its feature animation group. This meant that Universal would be able to release as many as three animated films in a year, divided between the two studios; Gingo and Illumination remain separate companies; critics and fans felt that Gingo and Illumination were meant to help Universal to establish a feature animation group and a competitor to Disney's feature animation group which consists of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios (including its division DisneyToon Studios).
Wildshill later explained that after the merger, to maintain the studios' separate identities and cultures (notwithstanding the fact of common ownership and common senior management), he and Geo G. "drew a hard line" that each studio was solely responsible for its own projects and would not be allowed to borrow personnel from or lend tasks out to the other; the rule ensures that each studio maintains "local ownership" of projects and "can be proud of its own work". Thus, for example, when Gingo had issues with Gabriel Garza (2011) and Illumination with The Lorax (2012), "nobody bailed them out", and each studio was required "to solve the problem on its own", even when they knew there were personnel at the other studio who, theoretically, could have helped.
After Universal's acquisition of Illumination, Gingo released its seventh feature Swapped, a CGI animated comedy that follows a young girl and a teenage goth boy who swap bodies. The film opened to a much bigger than expected $43 million opening, and ended up with $376 million worldwide. Woo La La, the studio's eighth feature film, was released in 2009 and became a significant critical and commercial success, earning $532 million worldwide.
In 2010, the studio's ninth feature Computeropolis 3, the third installment in the Computeropolis franchise, was released. The film earned over $383 million worldwide, but unlike the first two Computeropolis films, Computeropolis 3 was not well-received critically and its box office performance was often seen as an under-performance due to competition with Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland.
2011–present: Continued resurgenceEdit
After Computeropolis 3, Gingo's tenth feature Gabriel Garza, a new CGI feature film based on the Gabriel franchise, followed in 2011 to critical acclaim and commercial success and was nominated for several accolades. The film earned $645 million worldwide, making it the seventh highest-grossing film of 2011.
Gingo's eleventh film was Plucky Chicken, released in 2012 and grossed $426 million worldwide, but received mixed reviews. In September 2012, Gingo named a former president of Walt Disney Feature Animation, Peter Schneider, president of Gingo Animation; however, in January 2013, Schneider resigned for personal reasons. In 2013, Gingo celebrated its 25th anniversary. The same year, the studio released their twelfth film Quest to critical acclaim and earned over $524 million worldwide, becoming a box office hit. Gingo's thirteenth film Gabriel Garza 2, a sequel to the studio's 2011 film Gabriel Garza, opened in theaters in 2014, earning over $895 million worldwide and becoming the highest-grossing animated film of 2014.
In August 2014, it was announced that Gingo would launch a new division named GingoMotion Studios, which would rely on other animation studios to provide the animation on their films, with the main studio in Burbank only having about 20 employees working there at the time.
In October 2014, just a month before the release of Disney's Big Hero 6, Universal entered a licensing agreement with Disney to use the Hiro Hamada character and trademark for Universal's Gingo 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 as well as appearing in one Gingo film. Gingo coincidentally planned an animated film based on the original Big Hero 6 comics by Marvel in the mid 2000s until it got cancelled years before Disney released their own version of Big Hero 6 in 2014.
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. Universal and Gingo stated in July 2017 that they intend to keep the Hiro Hamada character license from Disney until the contract expires in 2027.
Paradoria, a CGI fantasy-adventure film, was released in March 2015 as Gingo's fourteenth film. Directed by Steve Samono and Gary Hall, the film was a critical and commercial success, grossing over $717 million worldwide, becoming the eighth highest-grossing film of 2015. In December 2015, Gingo's fifteenth film, The Planetokio Movie, based on the video game series Planetokio, directed by Audel LaRoque, was released and was another commercial and critical success for the studio, grossing over $500 million worldwide.
In 2016, Gingo released their sixteenth feature film DCL: Desktop Component League, a spin-off of the Computeropolis franchise; it was the first Gingo film to earn over $1 billion in worldwide box office revenue and is currently the highest-grossing Gingo film (surpassing Computeropolis 2 in 2007). Gingo's latest releases are the Geo G.-directed animated film Imagimals, released on March 3, 2017 and the third installment in the Gabriel Garza reboot film series, Gabriel Garza 3, released on July 19, 2017.
On April 28, 2016, NBCUniversal announced its intent to acquire competing studio DreamWorks Animation for $3.8 billion, thus making DreamWorks Animation the third animation studio owned by Universal; the acquisition was later completed on August 22, 2016.
Gingo Animation 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 afterwards 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".
- Further information: List of Gingo Animation films
|#||Title||Release date||Budget||Box office||RT||MC|
|1||Paint World||December 25, 1999||$80 million||$452.1 million||94%||69|
|2||The Gabriel Garza Movie||July 31, 2002||$60 million||$89.8 million||38%||44|
|3||Computeropolis||July 2, 2004||$85 million||$687.1 million||89%||91|
|4||M.I.S.S.I.O.N.||July 15, 2005||$78 million||$93.2 million||84%||76|
|5||BJ and Wally||July 7, 2006||$140 million||$486.5 million||53%||51|
|6||Computeropolis 2||July 6, 2007||$180 million||$953.4 million||84%||80|
|7||Swapped||July 2, 2008||$74 million||$376.8 million||51%||49|
|8||Woo La La||March 13, 2009||$164 million||$532.4 million||98%||81|
|9||Computeropolis 3||March 5, 2010||$75 million||$383.6 million||43%||57|
|10||Gabriel Garza||July 5, 2011||$80 million||$645.3 million||94%||62|
|11||Plucky Chicken||July 27, 2012||$160 million||$426.7 million||59%||51|
|12||Quest||March 1, 2013||$110 million||$524.9 million||97%||89|
|13||Gabriel Garza 2||July 2, 2014||$86 million||$895.6 million||96%||84|
|14||Paradoria||March 6, 2015||$103 million||$717.3 million||93%||87|
|15||The Planetokio Movie||December 11, 2015||$80 million||$536.3 million||74%||69|
|16||DCL: Desktop Component League||April 5, 2016||$93 million||$1.018 billion||61%||55|
|17||Imagimals||March 3, 2017||$80 million||$837.2 million||78%||67|
|18||Gabriel Garza 3||July 19, 2017||$766.8 million||65%||47|
|19||Computeropolis: The Deep Web||July 31, 2018|
|20||Paradoria 2||December 6, 2019|
|21||Imagimals 2||May 29, 2020|
|22||Untitled film||May 21, 2021|
|23||Lix||December 22, 2021|
|24||Untitled films||March 4, 2022|
|25||March 3, 2023|
|26||December 22, 2023|
Films in developmentEdit
|The World Invasion|
|East of the Sun & West of the Moon|
|Polly and the Black Ink|
|Gabriel Garza 4|
Direct-to-video feature filmsEdit
|1||The Day in the Life of Gabriel||August 4, 1998|
|2||Gabriel Hits the Road!||January 18, 2000|
|3||Gabriel's World Tour||November 13, 2001|
|4||Niz Chicoloco: The Untold Story||December 7, 2004|
|5||Hatty's Big Reunion||June 7, 2005|
|6||Iken & Naomi: A Planetokio Story||January 30, 2007|
- Further information: List of Gingo Animation shorts
|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||Planetokio: Bot Fight||October 21, 1999|
|8||Planetokio Race||November 3, 1999|
|9||Planetokio – Clones||December 16, 1999|
|10||Planetokio – Iken's Lunch||January 31, 2000|
|12||Print 3D Errors||December 14, 2004|
|13||Computeropolis: A Technical Ride||June 11, 2006|
|14||Peri and Nicky Get a Flu||December 11, 2007|
|15||The Sounds of the Ocean||March 13, 2009|
|16||The Chat||September 7, 2010|
|17||Game Boys||December 6, 2011|
|18||Go Party!||July 27, 2012|
|19||Virtual Madness||July 3, 2013|
|20||Back in Time||December 9, 2014|
|21||Camp Jamo, Noodles, and Getting Annoyed||July 7, 2015|
|22||Monkey See, Monkey Sued||March 22, 2016|
|23||Hi-jinks||April 5, 2016|
|24||Zip||March 3, 2017|
|25||Busho's Guide to Cool Things||June 6, 2017|
|26||Double Date||July 19, 2017|
|27||Leno Finds Love||November 21, 2017|
|28||Neon||July 31, 2018|
|#||Title||Premiere date||End date||Original network|
|1||Gabriel Garza||March 16, 1991||June 8, 2002|| CBS (1991–1993)|
|2||Hatty||August 31, 1996||September 7, 2002||NBC|
|3||Niz Chicoloco||September 11, 1998||June 18, 1999||UPN (as part of UPN Kids)|
|4||GGTV||September 17, 1999||present||NBC|
|5||Paint World||September 23, 2000||March 17, 2001||Fox Kids|
|6||Planetokio||November 24, 2002||May 18, 2003|| UPN (US)|
|7||Critter Mockers||November 1, 2003||January 17, 2009||Discovery Kids|
|8||The BJ and Wally Show||October 4, 2007||March 29, 2012||Cartoon Network|
|9||Computeropolis: Adventures of Peri and Nicky||June 5, 2008||August 14, 2014|
|10||Woo La La||October 11, 2011||April 16, 2013|
|11||Gabriel & Friends||June 12, 2015||present||Netflix|
|12||The Hatty Weasel Show||September 25, 2015||present|
|13||Tales in Paradoria||March 11, 2016||present|
|14||Planetokio Adventures||August 12, 2016||present|
|15||Quest: Adventures of Ridder||October 7, 2016||present|
|16||Imagimals: The Series||February 17, 2018||Universal Kids|
|17||Niz Chicoloco||November 2018||Netflix|
All the television specials are aired on NBC, except as indicated.
|1||A Gabriel Garza Christmas||November 16, 1991||CBS|
|2||Gabriel Goes Hollywood||September 11, 1993||NBC|
|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||Hatty in the Night of the Living Weasel||October 14, 2003|
|8||Planetokio Rules!||September 12, 2009|
|9||Computeropolis Xmas||November 22, 2011|
|10||It's a Very Gabriel Christmas!||November 20, 2013|
|11||Planetokio Holiday||November 15, 2016|
Gingo Animation has occasionally collaborated with other studios to assist in the production of some animated features. These films are:
- Curious George, providing development (uncredited)
- The Tale of Despereaux, providing development (uncredited)
- Despicable Me, providing development (uncredited)
- Niz Chicoloco, providing story, development, and pre-production; originally labeled under the Gingo Animation banner
- Paint Universe, providing story, development, pre-production, and animation
|1994||Bob & Tom||Best Animated Short Film||Michael Wildshill||Won|
|1997||Lo and the Short Island||Steve Samono and Audel LaRoque||Nominated|
|1999||Paint World||Best Original Score||Mark Mothersbaugh|
|Best Original Song||"What I'll Do for the World"||Won|
|2001||Lina||Best Animated Short Film||Amy McNeill|
|2004||Computeropolis||Best Animated Feature||Audel LaRoque and David Silverman||Nominated|
|Best Original Score||John Debney and Heitor Pereira|
|2006||BJ and Wally||Best Animated Feature||Geo G.|
|2007||Computeropolis 2||Audel LaRoque|
|Best Adapted Screenplay||Michael Wildshill, Audel LaRoque and Mike Reiss|
|2009||Woo La La||Best Animated Feature||Michael Wildshill|
|2011||Gabriel Garza||Geo G. and Teresa Cheng|
|2013||Quest||Audel LaRoque and Karey Kirkpatrick|
|2014||Gabriel Garza 2||Teresa Cheng|
|2015||Paradoria||Steve Samono and Gary Hall|
|The Planetokio Movie||Audel LaRoque|
|Best Original Score||Hans Zimmer|
|2016||DCL: Desktop Component League||Best Animated Feature||Brandon Minez|
|2017||Imagimals||Geo G. and Michael Wildshill|
|1999||Paint World||Best Original Score||Mark Mothersbaugh||Nominated|
|Best Original Song||"What I'll Do for the World"|
More coming soon!
Critics' Choice AwardsEdit
- Gabriel Garza is Gingo's mascot.
- Gingo is often described by fans as the Universal counterpart of Pixar, but Gingo is more described by some fans as the Universal counterpart of Walt Disney Animation Studios while Illumination is described as the Universal counterpart of Pixar, due to the fact that both Illumination and Pixar have no films released in 2014.
- On the other hand, the "Universal•Gingo" merger is also similar to the "Disney•Pixar" merger.
- So far, every Gingo film is rated PG by the MPAA, except Gingo's first film Paint World, which was rated G.
- Unique for an animation studio, every one of Gingo's feature films so far features a younger (human) protagonist (mostly a young boy or a teenage boy), excluding Woo La La, Plucky Chicken, DCL: Desktop Component League and Imagimals.
- Gingo Interactive
- Illumination Entertainment
- DreamWorks Animation
- Universal Animation Studios
- Walt Disney Animation Studios
- GingoMotion Studios