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Headline News Growing Animation Industry in North Korea

Over the past decade, North Korea has quietly developed an impressive animation industry, exporting programs to Asia, Europe and North America, according to a report on RFA.org.

The success of the North Korean animation industry, as well as the overall film business in general, is partly credited to leader Kim Jong Il's love of films. The government supports the production of around 60 features per year and encourages international sales through its biannual Pyongyang Film Festival.

Headline News Kolkata Growing as Toon Center in India

The animation industry in Kolkata, India is growing at an annual rate of 40%, which is 5% higher than the rest of India, according to THE BUSINESS STANDARD.

"In Kolkata, cost of production is less due to availability of cheaper skilled manpower. Automatically, Kolkata becomes the preferred destination for all kinds of contract-based animation activities," said Barunansu Sarkar, regional head (East) of Arena Multimedia.

The Indian animation market was estimated at $285 million in 2005 and is expected to expand to $950 million by 2009.

Headline News Disney Feature Animation to Layoff 20% of Staff

Walt Disney Co. will cut about 20% of its staff in the feature animation division. Animation Guild business representative Steve Hulett told REUTERS that between 70 to 140 people would lose their jobs either at the end of February or beginning of March. Employees will be informed of who will be cut on Dec. 11 or 12, 2006, Hulett said.

Headline News Eric Hanson and Greg Downing Launch XRez.com

Visual effects luminaries Eric Hanson and Greg Downing have launched XRez.com (www.XRez.com), a new website site of gigapixel panoramas shot around the world and a service that offers greater dimensionality to visual effects companies, national parks and filmmakers.

Headline News Village Prods. Hangs Shingle in China

Village Prods. has formed a new company to handle its business in China called Village Prods. (China) Ltd. (VPCL and opened offices in Beijing and Shanghai earlier this month.

Village Prods. head Mark Rowland said, This is an important step for us. It re-enforces and supports our intention to build on the business we have already begun to build in China. We are working on three fronts -- co-production, distribution into China and re-versioning of Chinese series for the international market.

Headline News Paramount Enters South Korea Via CJ Ent.

By Rick DeMott | Wednesday, November 29, 2006 at 12:00am

Paramount Pictures Intl. has partnered with CJ Ent. to distribute its films in South Korea, reports VARIETY. The exclusive deal takes affect Feb. 1, 2007.

This agreement comes on the heals of the demise of Paramount and Universal's South Korean branch of United Intl. Pictures, which distributed the two studios films in the country. Universal will begin distributing its films in South Korea through Universal Pictures Int'l starting Jan. 1.

Headline News Mattel Claims Ownership of MGA Bratz Doll

Mattel Inc., home to the Barbie doll, is now claiming that it owns MGA Ent. Inc.'s rival Bratz doll, part of a new legal fight over a toy that has stripped the toy giant of a chunk of anticipated Barbie sales, according to the WALL STREET JOURNAL.

In court papers filed in U.S. District Court, Central California, on Nov. 20, 2006, (obtained by the WALL STREET JOURNAL), Mattel claims ownership to the Bratz empire because its former employee, named Carter Bryant, conceived the doll while he worked as a Barbie designer.

Headline News Engine Room Has New Home

Hybrid visual effects & specialty shooting company Engine Room has relocated to Hollywood Center Studios. The 3,800-square-foot, custom designed space features workstations for the company's 20 digital effects artists as well as headquarters for its live-action film unit. The move marks the next step in the company's development, including infrastructure growth, additional talent and key international alliances.

Engine Room has revved up on a number of projects, including visual effects for television episodics, commercials, independent films and studio features.

Headline News Gotham Group Grabs Gamer Firm Union Ent.

Animation/family entertainment management and production company The Gotham Group is teaming with videogame talent management and production company Union Ent. to produce videogames, animated series and feature films.

"The clear overlap between Union's impressive work in the videogame world and Gotham's expertise in the animation, film and television worlds, has led our companies to collaborate to mutual advantage on various projects in the past," said Gotham Group ceo/founder Ellen Goldsmith-Vein. "This alliance will further that success."

Headline News Flushed Away Spurs DreamWorks Write-Down

By Rick DeMott | Thursday, November 16, 2006 at 12:00am

DreamWorks Animation has issued a statement warning investors of a potentially substantial earnings write-down on DreamWorks/Aardman Animations-produced FLUSHED AWAY, which has only made $40.5 million since its opening Nov. 3, 2006. The company said that the film's estimated were $143 million. Specifics of the write-downs were not released.

Headline News Report: Chinese Animation Industry Exceeds Film Industry

By Rick DeMott | Thursday, November 16, 2006 at 12:00am

Research and Markets has released a comprehensive report detailing the status of the Chinese animation industry. The report states that the gross earnings of China's animation industry have already exceeded that of the film industry. Due to China's tremendous market and its weak domestic production, more than 80% of profits generated from the animation industry were earned by Japanese and American productions, making China the world's largest import country for animation products.

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.

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