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Headline News Activision Publishing Acquires U.K. Game Developer FreeStyleGames

Activision Publishing has acquired FreeStyleGames, a U.K.-based video game developer specializing in music-based games.

This acquisition represents the latest step in Activision Publishing's strategy to expand its global leadership position in the music-based genre. The company established the genre with the GUITAR HERO franchise, which has sold more than 22 million units worldwide. FreeStyleGames is currently developing localized downloadable content for the GUITAR HERO franchise, as well as a yet to be announced new, intellectual property in the music genre.

Headline News BabyFirst Launches In-House Production Unit

BabyFirst has formed BFTV Productions, an in-house unit established to produce original television programming expressly for the preschool market.

Now reaching 100 million home worldwide, BabyFirst is a commercial-free 24/7 channel designed for babies and toddlers and their parents. Arik Kerman, SVP of Programming for BabyFirst and the executive responsible the channel's programming, will serve as General Manager of BFTV Productions. Programming produced by BFTV Productions will be offered to preschool broadcasters worldwide.

Headline News Activision Blizzard Two-for-One Stock Split Now Effective

Activision Blizzard, Inc. announced today that its two-for-one stock split is effective and its common stock will begin trading today on a split-adjusted basis. As a result of the stock split, there are approximately 1.3 billion shares of Activision Blizzard's common stock issued and outstanding.

Activision Blizzard maintains operations in the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Sweden, Spain, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Romania, Australia, Chile, India, Japan China, South Korea and the region of Taiwan.

Headline News Rowling Wins Harry Potter Lexicon Suit

HARRY POTTER author J.K. Rowling has won a copyright infringement lawsuit against a fan and Web site operator who wanted to publish a HARRY POTTER encyclopedia, per the ASSOCIATED PRESS (via THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER).

U.S. District Judge Robert P. Patterson ruled in Rowling's favor on Monday, saying the author had proven Steven Vander Ark's HARRY POTTER LEXICON would cause her "irreparable harm" as a writer. Patterson permanently blocked publication of the reference guide and awarded Rowling and Warner Bros. Ent. $6,750 in statutory damages.

Headline News Paramount, DreamWorks Waiting For Reliance

One of the most buzzworthy deals of the year has yet to close -- Indian media company Reliance Ent. still intends to invest $500 million in DreamWorks, but obstacles over small banking details are holding it up, per VARIETY. The deal was supposed to close several weeks ago, but now is weeks away from closing.

The basic deal is intact, insiders say, but the intricate banking details are causing a roadblock, causing problems for both Paramount and DreamWorks' staff as well as the other majors.

Headline News Take-Two Does Better Than Expected For Q3

Take-Two Interactive Software reported a stellar third fiscal quarter Thursday, more than double their net revenue from the same period last year.

Net revenue for the third fiscal quarter (ended July 31) was $433.8 million, compared to $206.4 million for the same quarter of fiscal 2007. Third quarter sales were led by the blockbuster GRAND THEFT AUTO IV, as well as TOP SPIN 3 and SID MEIER’S CIVILIZATION REVOLUTION.

Headline News Escape Studios Is Opening In New York

It's official, Escape Studios is now open for business in the heart of the Big Apple. Founder Dominic Davenport said, "This has been a long-standing ambition of ours -- we are delighted to be able to offer our CG expertise across America."

Robin Shenfield, CEO of post production house The Mill added, "Escape trainees are in a class of their own and well equipped to enter the working environment. We're looking forward to meeting more of them with the opening of Escape in the U.S."

Headline News Imagi Announces $10 Million Equity Placement

Imagi International Holdings announced agreement on terms for the placement of approximately $10 million in new shares to a wholly-owned subsidiary of Shui On Holdings Limited.

Under the terms of the transaction, approximately 90,600,000 new shares will be acquired, priced at HKD $0.86 per share. The subscription shares will represent an approximate 7.56 percent ownership stake in Imagi International Holdings Limited as enlarged by the placing shares.

The investment is expected to be completed later this month, once regulatory procedures have been completed.

Headline News Trial Date For Watchmen Set

A federal judge in Los Angeles has set January 6 as the start date for the trial for 20th Century Fox's lawsuit over Warner Bros.' right to their upcoming WATCHMEN film, per VARIETY.

WB has not changed the March 6 release date for the film, based on the graphic novel written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Dave Gibbons.

Judge Gary Allen Feess set the date Tuesday morning in a meeting between attorneys, setting up discovery and deposition proceedings for the rest of the year.

Headline News Rushes Studio Moves In With Itch Film

Rushes, in partnership with Itch Film, will soon reopen their fully equipped, newly refurbished and re-branded studio. This new venture will combine a state of the art studio space with Rushes' long-standing knowledge of pack shots and motion control studio shoots.

Itch Film is a boutique production company, founded by Charlie Paul, an experienced food shoot specialist.

The studio has undergone a complete transformation, with a larger stage area and a stylish, contemporary client area, WiFi Internet access and a roof terrace.

Headline News Delayed Cinar Suit Gets Day In Court

After 13 years of procedural delays, the lawsuit that author Claude Robinson filed against Cinar accusing them of plagiarizing his work has begun in the palace of justice of Montreal, according to LA PRESSE CANADIENNE.

Robinson claims that Cinar, its founders Ronald Weinberg and Micheline Charest, France Animation, the BBC and Ravensburger, a German game producer, illegally used the characters that he created.

Headline News Theater Owners, RealD Team On Digital Projector Conversion

The National Associaation of Theater Owners' Cinema Buying Group has made a deal with RealD to install 3-D capability onto the group's digital projectors, which haven't been bought yet, per VARIETY.

CGB has tapped AccessIT to provide digital projectors for its theaters -- more than 8,000 screens -- but the deal is not yet final. A strong interest in 3-D films, coupled with the expansive 3-D film slate coming in 2009 has made the conversion finally go forward.

Headline News Aardman Creates New Division -- Aardman Rights

Aardman Animations, the Bristol-based Academy Award-winning animation studio has restructured its Marketing, Licensing and International TV Distribution departments, merging them all into a newly formed division called Aardman Rights. The new division is set up to market and sell Aardman content across all media and it will seek to expand its IP portfolio by representing third-party properties.

Headline News Staff Cuts At Cookie Jar Finalized

KIDSCREEN Magazine reports that 80 full-time employees of the newly merged DIC Ent./Cookie Jar Group have been let go. Plans to restructure the company came earlier in August, following the July acquisition.

Most positions were eliminated effectively immediately, according to Cookie Jar CEO Michael Hirsh. Some departures will occur as far away as six months from now to finish up current projects. The company now employs between 230 and 240 people, including staff at CPLG the European licensing agency that was part of the DIC acquisition.

Headline News EA, Take-Two Talk Privately, FTC Clears Potential Deal

According to the ASSOCIATED PRESS, Electronic Arts and Take-Two Interactive are speaking privately, just a week after EA let the deadline for its $2 billion tender offer expire.

EA has offered $25.74 per share for Take-Two, publisher of the successful GRAND THEFT AUTO franchise, but Take-Two said the offer was too low. On Monday, the two companies signed confidentiality agreements, and the Federal Trade Commission last week cleared EA's old offer.

Headline News Virgin Comics Closes Doors

Just two years since the founding of Virgins Comics, the joint venture between Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group and Indian comics publisher Gotham Ent., the company has closed its doors and laid off its New York-based eight-member staff, per PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.

Attempts to confirm the closing with Virgin Comics CEO and co-founder and President of Gotham Ent. Sharad Deverajan were not successful, but sources tell PW the unit has been closed and an official statement is likely coming soon.

Headline News Copyright Law And The Mouse That Started It All

THE LOS ANGELES TIMES has an in-depth article on a 1908 copyright law that may technically give Mickey Mouse (the STEAMBOAT WILLIE-era Mickey, that is) up to the public domain.

Disney's team of lawyers are calling the idea "frivolous," but Roy E. Disney acknowledges during the 1920s, "Nobody knew what they were doing," in regards to often-convoluted copyright law.

Headline News EA Sports Testing Center To Open In Louisiana

Electronic Arts, Louisiana State University and the Louisiana Department of Economic Development have formed a partnership that will lead to the creation of a new global quality assurance (QA) center in Baton Rouge. The facility will be the first of its kind in the United States and will serve primarily as a test center for EA Sports' software titles.

Headline News Mainframe London Invests In New Property

Mainframe's London headquarters is investing more than 1.2 million pounds as part of a continuing expansion project that has necessitated a move to a larger studio.

Hot on the heels of opening Mainframe North in Manchester, the London studio will be moving in mid-September to the top floor of a beautiful old Clerkenwell warehouse, situated next to the Guardian's offices, in order to secure extra space for current and future expansion. Mainframe has bought the property outright for just under 1 million pounds.

Headline News Watching The Watchmen Lawsuit

Fox has won a round in the ongoing battle over the rights to graphic novel WATCHMEN, which is being turned into a feature film by Warner Bros., according to VARIETY. A judge has denied a motion filed by Warner Bros. to dismiss the lawsuit filed by Fox in February over their right to make the film.

Fox could end up as a profit participant in the film, costing WB millions in box office cash. Fox's legal team says it is looking to prevent the film from being released altogether.

Headline News EA Withdraws Bid On Take-Two

Electronic Arts has withdrawn its $2 billion tender offer for Take-Two Interactive, publisher of GRAND THEFT AUTO, to enter into private negotiations, per VARIETY. This move comes six months after the public battle started.

EA received little interest in its bid of $25.74 per share, which due to the success of the latest GTA title, has been lower than Take-Two's trading price some days this summer. EA let the offer expire at 12 a.m. Monday.

Headline News Activision Blizzard Announces Preliminary Results of Self-Tender Offer

Activision Blizzard announced the preliminary results of its tender offer to purchase up to 146,500,000 shares of its outstanding common stock at a price of $27.50 per share, net to the tendering stockholders in cash, less any applicable withholding taxes and without interest. The tender offer expired at 5 p.m., New York time, on Wednesday, August 13, 2008.

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