hello kitty maker to create films with new characters

Yahoo News
Fri Mar 24, 6:37 AM ET

TOKYO (AFP) - Sanrio, which invented the global icon of cuteness Hello Kitty, said it will branch into film for the first time in more than 20 years with two animated productions starring new characters.

One film will star a white puppy named Cinnamoroll with his canine friends, existing Sanrio characters Mocha and Espresso. The other will be the story of mice who grow together experiencing both friendship and conflict.

The films, to be shown as a double feature, will hit theaters in Japan in the winter 2007, Sanrio said. It is also considering overseas markets for the productions.

Sanrio's last film was in 1983, an animation showcasing its headline character Hello Kitty.

Makoto Sato, director of entertainment and media content at Sanrio, said the company was trying to focus on three business areas -- character merchandise, live shows and mixed media.

"We aim for our business to synthesize these three areas. And I think our main job will be to create a world of characters that is more concrete and of better quality," he said at the Tokyo International Anime Fair.

Sanrio designer Ikuko Shimizu launched Hello Kitty in 1974 as a moon-faced cartoon cat on a coin purse.

The mouthless feline has since emerged into a global phenomenon with more than 50,000 different products on sale in 60 nations.

Sanrio said last month it was also creating a 26-part animated television series on Hello Kitty to be aired in more than 15 countries.