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Media Headline News

Relativity, Universal Extend Financing Deal

Relativity Media and Universal Pictures recently extended and expanded their co-finance partnership through 2015, which will cover the majority of Universal's slate up until that time. Building on their already-established equity partnership, which has funded recent films such as MAMMA MIA!, THE MUMMY: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR, and HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY, the expanded partnership is expected to fund 10-15 films per year and will provide billions of dollars of financing during the term.

Framestore Headline News

Northern Lights, Cameras, Action!

Most U.K. companies looking to open a new office away from the din, pollution and brutal cost of living entailed by London might turn to a nice piece of greenbelt real estate, or perhaps one of the nearby provincial towns. Framestore, on the other hand, went to Iceland.

Animation Headline News

Ontario Industry Survey Reveals Picture Of VFX And Animation Economy

Computer Animation Studios of Ontario Association (CASO) President Neil Williamson announced the results of the first animation and vfx industry survey Thursday night at a reception held during the Ottawa International Animation Festival.

Dreamworks Headline News

DreamWorks, Reliance Deal Complete

DreamWorks and Indian media company Reliance have completed their deal to create a $1.2 billion stand-alone studio, reports the WALL STREET JOURNAL.

According to insiders, DreamWorks co-founder Steven Spielberg and DreamWorks CEO Stacey Snider can now leave Paramount Pictures to start their own film company. In the signed agreement, Reliance ADA Group, based in Mumbai, will invest $500 million equity and another $700 million in debt through J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. The venture is expected to produce a slate of around six films per year.

Million Headline News

NVIDIA To Cut 6 Percent Of Workforce

THE NEW YORK TIMES reports that graphic chip maker NVIDIA will lay off about 6.5 percent of their employees, or close to 360 people.

Spokesman Hector Marinez told the TIMES the layoffs will hit all of NVIDIA's global offices and departments and should be complete by October. NVIDIA has plans to take a $7 million to $10 million charge in its third quarter to cover the restructuring.

Headline News

El Capitan Theatre For Sale

The owner of the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood has put the historic building up for sale for $31 million, per THE ASSOCIATED PRESS (via VARIETY).

Disney restored the theater, originally built in 1926 for stage productions, in 1991, and will remain the long-term tenant. Disney showcases one children's film release at a time, with pre-show entertainment.

Owner CUNA Mutual Group, a financial services company, is based in Wisconsin and got the building in 1994 when the previous owner walked away after the Northridge Earthquake.

Headline News

Electronic Arts, Take-Two Won't Merge

Six months later, Electronic Arts has ended its drive to buy Take-Two Interactive, per VARIETY. EA had been in private talks with Take-Two, but declined to make a new offer. It previously had made a $2 billion offer, which was repeatedly turned down by Take-Two execs and later their shareholders.

When asked Sunday why a deal wasn't reached, Take-Two exec chairman Strauss Zelnick said, "They made their tender offer numerous times while we have continued to beat our guidance and put out hit games, so you can draw your own conclusions."

Comics Headline News

Framelight To Illuminate Graphic Novels, Comics

New filmmaking studio Framelight Productions is looking to add to the volume of comic book and graphic novel film adaptations, per THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER.

Launched by producer Jeffrey Erb and entrepreneur Robert Robinson Jr., they have options on properties including Marvel Comics' DR. DETH WITH KIP AND MUFFY from G.I. JOE author Larry Hama. Framelight has plans to make six to eight films in the next five years, all within the $20 to $80 million range.

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.

Productions 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

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

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.

Dreamworks 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.

Million 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.

Studio 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.

Digital 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.

Licensing 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.

Comics 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.

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