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Headline News

Laika Lays Off 65, Pulls Jack and Ben

Portland-based animation studio Laika has laid off 65 people and shelved its second CG film JACK AND BEN'S ANIMATED ADVENTURE, according to THE OREGONIAN.

Laika is owned by Nike founder Phil Knight, and is releasing their first film, 3-D stop-motion feature CORALINE on February 6.

JACK AND BEN was slated to come out after CORALINE, but the film's writer, former Pixar animator Jorgen Klubien left the studio over "creative differences" last year. Laika hired MULAN director Barry Cook to direct JACK AND BEN, and was moving forward with the project.

Dreamworks Headline News

DreamWorks Adds to Slate, Announces TV Projects

DreamWorks Animation is set for three big 3-D releases in 2010, and in the meantime is working on TV series with Nickelodeon and expanding their SHREK, MADAGASCAR and KUNG FU PANDA franchises well into the future.

The studio's CEO, Jeffrey Katzenberg, made the announcements at an investor's conference on Thursday.

Work Headline News

Double Negative to Open VFX Studio in Singapore

U.K. vfx company Double Negative will open an office in Singapore by March of 2009, according to Singapore newspaper THE STRAITS TIMES.

Animators and designers in the Singapore studio will work on projects like HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRICE, and start with a staff of about a dozen. Double Negative's recent credits include THE DARK KNIGHT, QUANTUM OF SOLACE and HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY.

Production Headline News

NVIDIA Spices up Bollywood VFX Creation

Renowned for a rich culture dating back thousands of years, India is building a new cultural legacy-the movie business. Popularly known as Bollywood, the Indian film industry annually releases 1,000 films, approximately 10 times what Hollywood produces each year.

Headline News

th1ng Launches th2ng

th1ng, the mixed media and animation house, has expanded with the opening of th2ng, a new dedicated live action production company concentrating on advertising.

th2ng (pronounced "th2ng two") will be headed by long-standing SoHo producer Hannah Cooper, and anchored by the talents of experienced live action directors including Dan Lumb and only-just signed Simon Cracknell and Stuart Fryer complimenting the roster of eight directors.

Game Headline News

Konami Takes Control of Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Cards

Konami Digital Ent. is taking over all operational and business aspects of the YU-GI-OH! TRADING CARD GAME, effective immediately.

KDE will take over distribution and customer support for the YU-GI-OH! TRADING CARD GAME from Upper Deck Ent., KDE's former exclusive distributor of the trading card game.

Disney Headline News

Disney Takes Majority Share of Jetix Europe

A subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company has entered into agreements to acquire outstanding shares of Jetix Europe for EUR 11 per share, which will bring Disney's ownership of the pan-European kids entertainment company to approximately 96 percent.

Licensing Headline News

Copyright Promotions Licensing Group Expands to Canada

Copyright Promotions Licensing Group (CPLG), one of Europe's oldest independent licensing agencies, is expanding to North America. Kelly Elwood, will head up the Toronto office and report to Katarina Dietrich, CPLG CEO.

CPLG Canada is the Canadian affiliate of the CPLG group of companies, recently acquired by Cookie Jar Ent.

Company Headline News

ER Ups North America Chief to Group CEO

From C21Media: Troubled kids firm Entertainment Rights has promoted North America chief Deborah Dugan to CEO of the group, while long-serving commercial director Jane Smith has resigned.

Dugan's appointment comes after former Warner Music chief Nick Philips left the firm on Friday after just nine months in the role.

Sound Headline News

Toei Goes Digital, Adds Postproduction & Sound Stage

Tokyo-based animation and live-action producer and distributor Toei will spend $55 million on renovating and digitalizing their studio, per VARIETY.

The studio, in Tokyo's Nerima Ward, is four-story, 51,161 square feet facility for films, TV and animation production by their group companies. A highlight of the revamp is a new digital postproduction center to process images and sound, including advanced CG and 3-D work.

Online Headline News

EA Acquires Korean Online Game Developer J2M

Electronic Arts has purchased J2MSoft, a Korean developer of PC online games. J2M develops free-to-play online games that are monetized through micro-transactions and advertising. Online games created and wholly owned by J2M include RAYCITY, TAAN, and DEBUT, and other properties to be announced.

Team Headline News

SpeakeasyFX Expands To Larger Quarters

Animation studio SpeakeasyFX, dedicated to creating CG character animation and vfx for the broadcast, feature film, and commercial industries, has expanded to larger quarters. The SpeakeasyFX team has moved into 2,000 square feet at 222 North Avenue West, second floor, Westfield, New Jersey.

Visual Headline News

Method, Riot Bunking Together at Ascent

Beginning January 1, 2009, two of Ascent Media Group's boutique visual effects studios, Riot and Method, will unite operations under the Method name, to offer clients unmatched services for the delivery of high-end visual effects for commercials, music videos and feature films.

Company Headline News

ER Chief Exits After Nine Months

Per C21MEDIA: Nick Philips is leaving troubled U.K. kids company Entertainment Rights after just nine months as its chief executive.

The news was announced to the London stock exchange this morning and followed the news, revealed by C21 last week, that the firm is axing around 22 jobs in an effort to reduce debt and dispose of non-core assets.

Effects Headline News

Martian Labs Lands In BC

Martian Labs is opening a branch of its award-winning vfx division in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. In order to expand and adapt to the increasing demands of their clients, Martian Labs is launching this new office to help support the emerging Hollywood-in-the-north industry.

Studio Headline News

Takashi Murakami Opening Studio In L.A.

Japanese artist Takashi Murakami will be opening an animation studio in Los Angeles next summer, according to the LOS ANGELES TIMES.

Called Japan's Andy Warhol, and based in Tokyo, Murakami is known for his oversized anime style and already has a studio in New York. The new studio will operate under Kaikai Kiki, his production and artist-management company. Murakami works in painting and sculpture, film and mass-produced goods all under one company.

Headline News

Cinar Scandal Could Lead to Criminal Charges

Prosecutors in Quebec are evaluating the possibility of carrying out criminal charges against the founder of Cinar, Ronald Weinberg, and the former senior exec VP Hasanain Panju, according to Radio Canada. This comes after the conclusion of the investigation by the Safety of the Quebec, the national police of Quebec, that lasted five years, who were looking into how $100 million disappeared from the accounts of Cinar.

Mobile Headline News

Smiley Guy Studios To Restruture iThentic

iThentic shareholders, Barna-Alper Productions and iThentic LLC, have announced a strategic partnership and restructuring of the online and mobile video company, which transfers the management of its operations to Web and animation company, Smiley Guy Studios.

Animation Headline News

Sparx Animation Studio In Paris to Close

French animation and vfx house Sparx will be closing their Paris-based Sparx Animation Studios, per VARIETY. All future projects will be created at its sister animation site in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.

"We've been hit by the shockwaves of the U.S. financial crisis," said Sparx head of production, Thomas Schober. "Since our industry relies heavily on private financing, the crisis has made it extremely difficult for us to get work on long features."

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