Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Go Go Gorillas!

I met John Celestri at Nelvana in Toronto, even though we were both New Yorkers by birth. At the time, John was animating on Rock and Rule. In the years since Nelvana, John has worked for a variety of studios including Don Bluth.
Currently, he’s the COO of Grace Global Media Corp. which is trying a new variation on an established business model. Lots of cartoon series spin off merchandise or themed locations. Lots of brands spin off cartoon series. Go Go Gorillas! was created to simultaneously be both a retail brand and an animation series.

The first facility opened last December 3 in Danville, Kentucky. It’s 30,000 square feet housing a restaurant and indoor theme park, which contains a rock climbing wall, an arcade, mini-bowling, bumper cars, blacklight miniature golf, party rooms and an educational space for classes to use for field trips based on Kentucky’s core curriculum . The characters are the Avenging Apes of Africa, a group built around the themes of ecological and social responsibility.

The company’s goal is to expand the number of facilities and once there is a steady cash flow, build an animation studio that will create a featurette a year to explore the characters’ stories, as well as create arcade and video games for the chain. John is committed to using drawn animation for these films and to doing it all under one roof in Danville, with no outsourcing.

The website is located here and the center is located at 2900 South Danville Bypass, Danville, KY.

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