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Entertainment Headline News

Disney/ABC Television Group Announces Organizational Restructure

Responding to the changing realities of the entertainment landscape, and addressing an opportunity to streamline the creative process, ABC Entertainment and ABC Studios will be operated as a coordinated business unit entitled ABC Entertainment Group.

International Headline News

Imagi Gets Listing on Int'l OTCQX

Imagi International Holdings Limited has obtained an American Depositary Receipt (ADR) program and began listing on the International OTCQX for greater access to the U.S. capital markets.

Imagi International Holdings Limited ADR began trading Thursday on International PrimeQX, under the ticker IINHY. Investors can find real-time quotes, disclosure and financial information about at www.otcqx.com.

Games Headline News

Capcom Signs Development Deal With Monumental Games

Videogame developer and publisher Capcom has signed a development agreement with U.K.-based Monumental Games. Under the terms of the agreement Monumental Games will develop an as yet unannounced multi-platform title scheduled for release and published by Capcom later this year.

Monumental Games was founded in 2005 by Rik Alexander and Rocco Loscalzo and has two U.K. offices in Nottingham and Manchester as well as an operation in Pune, India and currently employs more than 100 people.

Autodesk Headline News

Autodesk to Cut 10 Percent of Work Force

Autodesk has announced they will cut 750 jobs, or about 10 percent of their staff, according to wire reports.

A release on iStockAnalyst said Autodesk will "consolidate certain facilities as part of a plan to reduce operating expenses."

The initiatives are in addition to the ongoing actions previously announced that include a hiring freeze, business travel restrictions, and other reductions in its operating expenses.

Headline News

GenArts Buys SpeedSix Software, Adds Monsters and Raptors to Repertoire

GenArts Inc. has signed a definitive agreement to acquire SpeedSix Software Limited. As of today, all SpeedSix employees will join the GenArts team and remain in the U.K. In addition, SpeedSix's renowned Monsters and Raptors visual effects will be sold and supported in their current form alongside GenArts Sapphire, creating a family of state-of-the-art image processing and synthesis effects software.

Animation Headline News

Animation Co-op Closes Down

After five years, The Animation Co-op has been forced to close its doors. Co-founders Kevin Geiger and Moon Seun wrote this open letter:

When we founded The Animation Co-op in the summer of 2003, it was to fill a need that we saw for an interactive community of independent animation artists, brought together by their love of this remarkable art form and a desire to share their experiences, creations and dreams with one another.

Animation Headline News

Toei Animation Exchanges Venture for Subsidiary

Japan's largest animation studio, Toei Animation, will turn its Hong Kong joint venture into a wholly-owned subsidiary, per VARIETY.

Toei will buy the shares of Toei Animation Enterprises from its local partner, Animation Intl., a content production company based in Hong Kong.

Last week, Tokyo-based animation house GHD also announced plans to expand into China, with a specialty channel that will broadcast cartoons into China via the Internet and TV. Dedicated to anime, the channel is called Gonzo and will be on a demand service provided by Chunghwa Telecom Co.

Headline News

Watchmen Release Confirmed for March -- Studios Settle

Fox and Warner Bros. have reached a deal at long last to let superhero flick WATCHMEN go forward as planned on March, according to news reports. The two sides have been battling for almost a year on the rights to the film, directed by Zack Snyder and based on the acclaimed graphic novel by Alan Moore.

Music Headline News

Swedish VFX Firm Opens in Gothenburg

haymaker fx, located in the heart of Gothenburg, Sweden and founded by Alex Hansson and Daniel Tegeland, has officially open its doors to the international commercial, broadcast, music video and film industries.

With its small but creative and efficient team of talented artists who work in a broad range of applications, haymaker fx is looking to take the next step up the ladder. Working together for the past 10 years, Hansson and Tegeland have been involved in creating some of the more memorable music videos, game intros, brand logos and launch films produced in Sweden.

Headline News

Watchmen Settlement Announcement Coming Friday

A "Notice Of Settlement Status And Request For Further Hearing" form was filed January 14 in the WATCHMEN case, according to news reports.

A hearing was requested for January 15 at 3:30 p.m. to report the final resolution between Fox and Warner Bros. or alternatively discuss how to proceed on the already-announced January 20 court date with U.S. District Judge Gary A. Feess.

A PDF of the court document is available at IESB.net: http://iesb.net/images/stories/Settlement_Status_Report.pdf.

Headline News

WB, Fox Working on Watchmen Settlement, Producers Weigh In

Warner Bros. and Fox are actively working toward a settlement over the WATCHMEN distribution rights case, according to news reports.

The attorneys for both studios agreed Friday to delay a federal court hearing until Monday so that settlement discussions can continue over the weekend. U.S. District Court Judge Gary Feess had been scheduled to rule on WB's request for an expedited hearing on the main issue: whether to block WATCHMEN from theatrical release on March 6, as Fox is requesting.

Company Headline News

Industry Mainstay Version2 To Close Shop In 2009

Version2, the renowned New York-based editorial and visual effects/motion design house plans on closing its doors by February 1, 2009, after completing all open projects and meeting its financial obligations. Although the Version2 companies saw an overall growth in billings in 2008, DeSario has felt for some time that the boutique style-editing company model he created in 1988 is no longer viable for him personally or professionally in today's economy.

Entertainment Headline News

ER Tussles with U.S. Distributor

From VARIETY: Struggling U.K. tyke specialist Entertainment Rights, whose properties include POSTMAN PAT and THE LONE RANGER, is taking legal action against its primary U.S. DVD distributor, Genius Products, over alleged unpaid fees.

In a trading statement to the London Stock Exchange published Wednesday, the company said it was "pursuing all available legal remedies" to obtain the unspecified amount of coin owed.

Headline News

AG, Cookie Jar Deal Called Off, AG Seeks New Buyers

Via Kidscreen: On the heels of announcing an extension of its home entertainment license with Lionsgate, American Greetings Properties has confirmed the sale of its CARE BEARS, STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE and SUSHI PACK properties to Toronto's Cookie Jar Entertainment will not go through.

Time Headline News

Time Warner Cable, Viacom Reach Agreement

Time Warner Cable and Viacom jointly announced January 1 that they have reached an agreement in principle to renew carriage for Viacom's MTV Networks. The companies expect to finalize the details of the agreement over the next several days.

Glenn Britt, President and CEO of Time Warner Cable said in a statement, "We are pleased that our customers will continue to be able to watch the programming they enjoy on MTV Networks. We are sorry they had to endure a day of public disagreement as we worked through this negotiation."

Headline News

ER Confirms Takeover Talks, Shareholder Rescue Plan

From C21Media: Entertainment Rights (ER) has confirmed it is in early takeover talks, while shareholders at the debt-laden Postman Pat firm try to raise GBP 30M (US$43.6M) in an attempt to rescue the business.

ER put a statement out to the London Stock Exchange over the Christmas period confirming it was "in early stage discussions, which may or may not lead to an offer being made for the company."

Million Headline News

Imagi Still Plagued by Financial Concerns

Hong Kong- and Los Angeles-based animation studio Imagi International is still experiencing financial problems, reports VARIETY ASIA (via Cartoon Brew).

Auditors gave the company a "going concern" qualification to the half-year results of the firm, which is currently in production on CG feature ASTRO BOY and who animated TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES for Warner Bros. and Weinstein Co. last year.

Headline News

EA to Reduce Workforce by 10 Percent

Electronic Arts has announced further details on a restructuring plan which will include consolidating facilities and reducing the work force.

EA expects the restructuring plan will result in annual cost savings of approximately $120 million and restructuring charges of approximately $55-$65 million over the next several quarters.

Team Headline News

Take-Two Signs New Deals With Top Rockstar Creative Talent

Take-Two Interactive Software has established a new incentive compensation program for the Rockstar Games label that is primarily based on a profit sharing arrangement, and at the same time has entered into new long-term employment agreements with members of the creative team of its wholly-owned Rockstar Games publishing label. The new employment agreements have an initial term ending on January 31, 2012.

Film Headline News

Image Metrics Receives $6.5M in Funding

Image Metrics, a leading provider of facial animation solutions for the entertainment industry, has completed a $6.5 million Series B round of funding led by Saffron Hill Ventures, the company's original investor. The funds will be used to enable the development of new technologies and service offerings that will result in more cost-effective, high-quality facial animation for Image Metrics' customers. It will also be used to execute industry-focused plans for Image Metrics' recently announced video game and film divisions.

Headline News

4Kids to Lay Off 15 Percent of Staff

4Kids Ent. will cut its workforce by 15 percent across all subsidiaries and divisions in an attempt to better align its organization and overall cost structure in the current challenging economic environment.

As a result of the staff cuts, 4Kids will be incurring severance costs of approximately $375,000 in the fourth quarter of 2008. The company has also completed a comprehensive review of its operations and will be taking steps intended to reduce operating expenses by an additional $4 to $5 million in 2009.

Headline News

Watchmen Trial Delayed, WB Not Backing Off Release Date

The trial to determine whether rights to WATCHMEN are controlled by Twentieth Century Fox or Warner Bros. has been delayed by a Los Angeles federal judge to January 20, reports VARIETY.

The two-week delay was set by Judge Gary Allen Feess on Monday, who noted that he is required to handle a criminal matter on January 6, the original trial date. Feess refused a pre-trial summary judgment that was requested by both sides because the contracts between Fox and WATCHMEN producer Larry Gordon are so open to interpretation that a trial is required.

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