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Headline News Weinstein Co. Signs Exclusive Rental Deal with Blockbuster

By Rick DeMott | Wednesday, November 15, 2006 at 12:00am

In a move that may alienate many consumers, The Weinstein Co. has inked a four-year, exclusive rental deal with Blockbuster. Beginning in January, The Weinstein Co. will not make any of its films available to other rental companies, including Netflix and Movie Gallery.

Headline News Walt Disney Co. Doubles 4th Quarter Earnings

The Walt Disney Co. reports it has doubled its earnings for the fourth quarter and fiscal year ended Sept. 30, 2006, compared to the same time a year ago. Diluted earnings per share (EPS) for the fourth quarter increased 89% to $0.36, compared to $0.19 the same time a last year. The company also reports growth at each operating segment -- Studio Entertainment, Parks and Resorts and Media Networks.

Headline News Starz Launches Overture Films

Starz Llc. has formed a new motion picture studio, Overture Films, which will produce, acquire and distribute eight to 12 full-length feature films a year.

Overture Films is headed by ceo Chris McGurk and coo Danny Rosett. McGurk and Rosett were key execs at Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studios Inc. prior to MGM's 2005 sale to a group of investors led by Sony Corp. Most recently, McGurk served as senior advisor, new ventures, to Starz Media.

Headline News Buena Vista Games Starts New Studio Nintendo Platforms

Buena Vista Games, Inc. (BVG), the interactive entertainment affiliate of The Walt Disney Co. is forming a new videogame development studio called Fall Line Studio dedicated to creating innovative games for Nintendo platforms. Based in Salt Lake City, Fall Line Studios focus is to develop games based on Disneys characters, television shows and entertainment franchises, as well as creating new intellectual property for the Nintendo DS and Wii game systems.

Headline News Outsourced Work Makes Up 90% Of Taiwan's Animation Industry

Outsourced animation work in Taiwan makes up 90% of the countrys animation industry revenues in 2005, the Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD) announced Wednesday, which was report on at au.biz.yahoo.com.

CEPD figures show that Taiwans total production revenue topped NT$4.8 billion (US$146.14 million). By 2008, the government organization projects the Taiwanese market to reach NT$9.4 billion. CEPD states that growth is being seen in animated TV commercials and other CG productions.

Headline News Marvel Issues Q3 Report, Looks Forward to Iron Man

Marvel Ent. initiated financial guidance for 2007 and revised its financial guidance for 2006. The financial guidance was provided in conjunction with the reporting of operating results for the third quarter and nine-month periods ended Sept. 30, 2006.

For Q3 2006, Marvel reported net income of $13.2 million, or $0.16 per diluted share, net of a $0.7 million charge for FAS 123R share-based payments. This compares to net income of $23.4 million, or $0.23 per diluted share, in the year-ago third quarter period, which did not include any stock option expense.

Headline News Madagascar Drives DreamWorks Animation Profit

For the third quarter of 2006, DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. reported total revenue of $55.6 million and net income of $10.5 million, or $0.10 per share on a fully diluted basis. This compares to revenue of $87.1 million and net loss of $0.7 million, or $(0.01) per share on a fully diluted basis, for the same period in 2005. The studio ended the third quarter of 2006 with $536.0 million of cash and cash equivalents.

Headline News Hatch Studios Ltd. Launches in Toronto

Hatch Studios Ltd. has launched in Toronto as a full service animation and motion graphics/design studio and is already up running with its first two commercial campaigns for Bicks Pickles and the Ford F-150 Series.

Hatch specializes in quality commercial production, broadcast design, feature film, television series and animation for the Web. Experienced, award-winning talent includes animation director Richard Rosenman, exec producer Randi Yaffa and motion graphics designer/director Larissa Ulisko.

Headline News EA Starts Up Development Studio in Chicago

Electronic Arts put on line today (Oct. 25, 2006) a new studio in downtown Chicago to focus on next generation videogames. Housed at 215 West Ohio Street is the development team is best known for the hit EA SPORT Fight Night franchise. The group is working on three state-of-the-art games for the PlayStation3 and Xbox 360, including the hip-hop lifestyle game, DEF JAM: ICON, as well as a licensed title and a new intellectual property in the fighting videogame genre.

Headline News Chinese Primetime Foreign Toon Ban Spurs Local Production

Since a September ruling by the Chinese government that prohibited foreign-produced cartoons from airing every evening from 5:00 to 8:00 pm, local production has began to grow and more students are joining animation schools to take advantage of the wave of new jobs in the industry, reports ChannelNewsAsia.com.

As a result, Beijing Glorious Animation has started adapting one of China's favorite cartoon series, SANMAO, into an animated series. The comic chronicles the adventures of a young boy growing up in Shanghai during the 1930s.

Headline News Atari Sells Shiny Ent. to Foundation 9 Ent.

Atari, Inc. has completed the sale of Shiny Ent. to Foundation 9 Ent. The sale completes the operational streamlining and portfolio refocus by Atari announced in early 2006.

David Pierce, president/ceo of Atari said, "We now have a centralized organization that can utilize external studio execution while maintaining internal focus on creative development and production."

Atari will retain its current project planning formerly developed by Shiny, including EARTHWORM JIM. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Headline News Missouri Library Pulls Graphic Novel “Porn” from Shelves

In Marshall, Missouri, the Marshall Public Library has removed two graphic novels FUN HOME by Alison Bechdel and BLANKETS by Craig Thompson from circulation, reports the DEMOCRAT-NEWS. The graphic novels will remain off the shelves until the library board drafts a new policy regarding graphic novels after looking into what other libraries throughout the state have done in this arena, said board president Anita Wright.

Headline News Paul Allen Triggers DreamWorks Animation Secondary Offering

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has exercised a right to force DreamWorks Animation to sell about 14 million shares to the public in a secondary offering following the Nov. 3 release of FLUSHED AWAY, reports BLOOMBERG NEWS.

The complicated move would not only dissolve Allens partnership with Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen, but also allow the Microsoft co-founder to benefit from the stock sale in the long run if the shares sell at a low price now.

Headline News Novocom Celebrates 25th Anniversary

Novocom, a creative services agency specializing in the design and production of motion graphics for the global broadcasting industry, has completed a corporate restructuring, and will celebrate its 25th anniversary in conjunction with MIPCOM 2006.

Headline News Google To Acquire YouTube for $1.65B in Stock

Google Inc. announced that it has agreed to acquire YouTube, the consumer media company for people to watch and share original videos, for $1.65 billion in a stock-for-stock transaction. Following the acquisition, YouTube will operate independently to preserve its successful brand.

Headline News Yoram Gross-EM.TV Takes Off as Flying Bark Prods.

Yoram Gross-EM.TV, a leading producer of children's animated programming and family entertainment, revealed their new corporate identity Flying Bark Prods.

Following the acquisition of the remaining 50% of Yoram Gross-EM.TV by EM.Ent. GmbH at the beginning of the year, the company is now being re-branded and re-structured with the new Flying Bark identity. The primary divisions of Flying Bark Prods. include Greenpatch Prods., Forest Interactive and Trackdown.

Headline News Sony & Minimax Announce Acquisition Of Anime Channel, A+

Sony Pictures Television Intl (SPTI) and Minimax, one of the leading childrens TV channels in Central Europe, announced SPTIs acquisition of A+, a dedicated channel for anime programming that airs on Minimax in Hungary, Romania, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The channel will be part of SPTIs international networks group, which includes more than 45 channels around the world.

Headline News Google Eyeing YouTube

According to THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, Google is in negotiations to buy YouTube. Both companies have yet to comment on the reports. The article states that Google is floating $1.6 billion as a possible pricetag for the viral video site. YouTube founder/ceo Chad Hurley previously said he was not adverse to either an IPO or a sale of his quickly growing media phenomenon. However, media experts have also sighted YouTubes legal woes with companies over copyright violations as a stumbling block for any acquisition.

Headline News Electronic Arts Acquires Digital Illusions

Electronic Arts has acquired Digital Illusions CE (DICE), the development team and creators of the BATTLEFIELD game franchise. Stockholm, Sweden-based DICE becomes a fully integrated EA studio dedicated to growing the Battlefield franchise and developing new products for the PC, next generation consoles and other new platforms.

Headline News China Fines Pirates

The Hong Kong film industry has issued a second warning letter to 20 Bit-Torrent file-sharing software users demanding HK$23,400 ($3,000) for downloading illegal copies of locally produced films, VARIETY reports.

The users were uncovered after the courts ruled ISPs had to turn over names, Hong Kong identity card numbers and postal and billing addresses of the accused copyright infringers.

Headline News Saban Returns to Kids Roots

Haim Saban has launched a new venture to develop family programs, according to REUTERS.

Saban's L.A.-based private equity firm Saban Capital Group Inc. will form a virtual studio, employing freelance producers, writers and artists. The new company will fund global programming that can be exploited across different delivery systems, including video games, mobile devices and broadcast TV.

"I am thrilled to return to my roots and focus on developing media properties for children and families," Saban said in a statement.

Headline News Disney Feature Animation Starts Online Demo Reel & Portfolio Submission Portal

Disney Animation (DA) breaks new ground connecting talent to animation opportunities with its first-ever online artistic submission portal. Artists may submit their demo reels and/or portfolios www.DisneyMouseLink.com, the company says is a secure web-based upload system that is convenient and progressive.

DisneyMouseLink.com was developed in-house and allows interested applicants to submit their résumés, demo reels, and/or portfolios. This portal is an industry first that will allow greater connectivity to the artistic community.

Headline News Vivendi Games Acquires Secret Lair Studios and Studio Ch'in

Vivendi Games announced today (Sept. 28, 2006) it has purchased two development studios, Secret Lair Studios, located in Issaquah, Washington, and Studio Ch'in in Shanghai, China. The Studio Ch'in purchase is subject to the approval the People's Republic of China under Chinese Law, and Vivendi Games is in the process of obtaining such required approval. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

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