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Headline News Strike Looms: Actors & Gamers Break Off Talks

The Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists have broken off talks with the videogame industry, which makes a strike likely, reports the trades. No agreement was reached on May 13, 2005 the last day the current contract extension which was one more extension than the actors said they would concede to. Even though a caucus of SAG and AFTRA must meet to decide if there will be a strike, insiders say it is curtain.

Headline News Shrek 2 DVD Sales Slump DreamWorks Ani 1st Quarter

DreamWorks Animations first quarter of 2005 was not as stellar as many had hoped. Despite being on track to become one of the biggest selling home video releases of all time, SHREK 2 did not meet the company's retail sales expectations. This sales shortfall resulted in a higher level of returns than expected. As a result, DWA recorded no revenue from SHREK 2 in the quarter other than from licensing and merchandising.

Headline News IDT’s Anchor Bay Closes $50M Credit Agreement with J.P. Morgan Chase Bank

IDT Ent. announced that its subsidiary Anchor Bay Ent. has closed a credit agreement with a bank group led by J.P. Morgan Chase Bank. The credit agreement provides for a $50 million, five-year, secured revolving credit facility which may be increased to up to $75 million.

Headline News DC Comics Unveils a New Company Logo

DC Comics unveiled a new DC Comics company logo that will appear on comicbooks, graphic novels and, for the first time ever, on films and television series based on DC properties. The new DC logo will make its first appearance on a DC Comics cover May 25, 2005, when the company publishes DC SPECIAL: THE RETURN OF DONNA TROY #1 and will then appear on the entire DC line the following week.

Headline News Roy Disney & Stanley Gold Sue Walt Disney Co. Over CEO Search

Roy E. Disney and Stanley P. Gold today (May 9, 2005) filed suit in Delaware Chancery Court against The Walt Disney Co. and certain members of the board of directors alleging that they made false statements to the company's shareholders about its ceo search in order to get the shareholders to re-elect incumbent board members and block Disney and Gold from running an alternate slate of directors.

Headline News Pixar Poised for Future

Regardless of whether or not Pixar renegotiates a distribution deal with Disney, the northern California-based animation powerhouse is poised for the future. Thanks to the stellar performance turned in by THE INCREDIBLES DVD, Pixar reported first quarter revenues this week of $161.2 million and earnings of $81.9 million, up from $53 million and $26.7 million last year.

Headline News Lions Gate Ent. Drops Out of HIT Bid Race

Lions Gate Entertainment has decided not to make an offer for HIT Entertainment Plc., the producer of children's shows BOB THE BUILDER and BARNEY leaving just HIT's original suitor, equity firm Apax Partners, on behalf of the Sunshine Acquisition Ltd.

The independent directors of HIT announced they are not in discussions with any other potential suitors and it is therefore expected that the scheme will become effective on May 24, 2005, following the court hearing to sanction the scheme on May 23.

Headline News Activision Acquires Game Developer Toys For Bob

Further enhancing its internal development capabilities, Activision Inc. announced that it has acquired game developer Toys For Bob. As a result of the acquisition, Activision now has approximately 1,000 employees in its studio operations.

Headline News Nippon Toy Titans Converge as Bandai Buys Namco

Japanese toy giant Bandais got game, acquiring Nippon videogame giant Namco for $1.7 billion in cash and stock, in a huge development for the gaming industry.

Bandai owns the POWER RANGERS and DIGIMON, while Namco owns the classic PAC-MAN and new hit games such as TEKKEN. The financial and trade wires are buzzing about how this combination will create Japans second-biggest maker of toys and videogames.

Headline News GigaPix Opens New Facility in Chatsworth

Chatsworth, California-based computer-animation house GigaPix Studios has opened a new 32,000-square-foot facility, according to HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. The company intends to expand to 120-160 artists. Ceo Chris Blauvelt and president John Savage plan to move from shorts to independent computer-animated features.

"GigaPix is entering the market at an opportune time for the independent," Blauvelt said. "Financing for moderate-budget, well-crafted CGI features with great storytelling is readily available."

Headline News French Author in Nemo Suit Convicted of Fraud

French children's book author Franck Le Calvez, who suited Disney claiming FINDING NEMO infringed on his creation orange-and-white clown fish named Pierrot, was convicted of fraud on April 20, 2005, and now must pay nearly $80,000 in damages and legal fees, according to Canada.com.

Headline News Sony & Toshiba May End Next-Gen DVD War

Japan's Sony Corp. and Toshiba Corp. are in negotiations to end the three-year next-generation DVD format war by teaming together to create one universal format, according to various publications. The move is seen as a compromise to ensure a bigger market as well as a way for both firms to share costs.

Headline News TrendWatch Report Finds Sharp Rise in Server Buys at U.S. Studios

TrendWatch Inc., a leading market information company for the pro-video, visual effects, content creation and graphics markets, suggests in its 150-page report (Servers Holding the Workflow Together) that server growth will be strong this year.

Headline News Buena Vista Games Acquires Avalanche Software, Launches New Studio

Buena Vista Games Inc. (BVG) announced two major business deals to strengthen the company's internal game development capabilities and further its goals of becoming a top tier publisher of handheld and console games. The deals include the acquisition of acclaimed Salt Lake City-based videogame developer, Avalanche Software Lc. and the establishment of a start-up development studio in Vancouver, Canada, led by former Electronic Arts Canada senior development and business staff.

Headline News Autodesk to Acquire Software Developer Colorfront

Autodesk Inc. announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire substantially all of the assets of Colorfront Ltd., the leading developer of color correction technology for film studios and digital film laboratories, for $15 million. This acquisition will bring comprehensive new expertise in film laboratory processes, digital post-production, color science, image processing and hardware platform optimization to Autodesk. The transaction is expected to close in the next 45 days, and to be neutral to Autodesks earnings in fiscal year 2006.

Headline News HIT Ent. Continues to Back Apax Takeover Bid

While leading kids programming producer/distributor HIT Entertainment appears to be in a bidding war for a takeover, its independent directors reiterated support for a $917 million bid from equity firm Apax partners and asked other suitors to file actual proposals by May 13, 2005.

Headline News Nickelodeon Returning to Germany

MIP-TV attendees, especially German broadcasters, were speculating on MTV Networks Europe (MTVNE) recent announcement that it will launch a Nickelodeon kids' channel and website in Germany Sept. 12, 2005, as part of the company's commitment to providing high quality, complementary programming on its four channels in the market. A new cross-brand advertising sales house, Viacom Brand Solutions, has been created to market the portfolio of channels.

Headline News Adobe Makes $3.4B Macromedia Buy

Adobe Systems Inc. announced it will purchase Macromedia Inc. for around $3.4 billion in stock. Under the terms of the agreement, which has been approved by both boards of directors, Macromedia stockholders will receive, at a fixed exchange ratio, 0.69 shares of Adobe common stock for every share of Macromedia common stock in a tax-free exchange. Based on Adobes and Macromedias closing prices on April 15, 2005, this represents a price of $41.86 per share of Macromedia common stock.

Headline News Raven Moon Launches Animation Division

Orlando-based Raven Moon Entertainment Inc. announced today (April 18, 2005) that it is launching a new animation division targeted toward servicing and generating revenues from the entertainment, advertising and creative content producers market.

Sales for the Raven Moon Animation division will be handled by industry veterans Janice Hamlin (276-632-1772) located on the east coast and Chris Devine Dailey (310-374-1081) located in Los Angeles.

Headline News Actor’s Strike of Games Looming

Final negotiations are coming to a final stage in the discussions between the Screen Actors Guild, AFTRA and a group of major videogame publishers, reports VARIETY. The current contract is in its second extension and the actors unions have said there will not extend it again after the Friday deadline. The current contract was hammered out with Electronic Arts and nearly 70 other companies followed its guidelines. Unlike the film and TV industry that have the Assn.

Headline News Richard Cormier Forms Digital Media Consulting Service

Richard Cormier, former vp of the post-production studio Nice Shoes and managing director of the creative boutiques Guava and Freestyle Collective, has formed a consulting service named Richard Cormier Consultants. Cormier will provide strategic and long-term planning guidance to companies involved in digital media production, post-production and distribution. He has wide expertise in such areas as workflow, digital asset management and electronic distribution, as well as in studio management, restructuring and growth.

Headline News VES Protests Oscar Presentation

The Visual Effects Society (VES) joined the American Cinema Editor (ACE) in filing letters of protest last week to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, objecting to this years new time saving Academy Awards telecast for select craftspeople, according to the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER.

A number of Oscars were handed out to winners seated in the audience or assembled onstage with other nominees, including SPIDER-MAN 2 vfx winners John Dykstra, Scott Stokdyk, Anthony LaMolinara and John Frazier.

Headline News MGM Names New Senior Management Team

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. confirmed that a consortium comprised of Sony Corp. of America, Providence Equity Partners, Texas Pacific Group, Comcast Corp. and DLJ Merchant Banking Partners completed its acquisition of the company. With the finalization of the deal, MGM also revealed several key senior management appointments.

Headline News Classic Media Gets Major Monetary Backing

Classic Media Inc. announced that Spectrum Equity Investors, along with existing investors led by Pegasus Capital Advisors, have agreed to recapitalize Classic to fund future growth and acquisitions. Under the terms of the recapitalization, Spectrum has invested $75 million of equity and arranged a new $100 million senior debt facility for Classic, provided by banks led by J.P. Morgan. Spectrum Equity will become majority owner and join the Classic Media board along with the existing investors and management, which includes Random House Ventures.

Headline News Osborne & Madhusudhanan To Open Toon House in India

Weta Digitals Barrie Osborne is partnering with LORD OF THE RINGS visual effects artist N. Madhusudhanan to co-found sister animation and sound effects/post-production studios in India, according to VARIETY. Osborne and Madhusudhanan are talking with several conglomerates including Tata, Birla, computer software firm Infosys and outsourcing company Wipro to team on the venture. Tata and Birla have film divisions and Tata has long wanted to get into the animation biz. The duo is looking at sites in Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore for the studios.

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