Disney has announced plans to close The Secret Lab, the visual effects unit of its Feature Animation group. The Secret Lab was formed two years ago, emerging from Oscar-winning effects house Dream Quest Images, which was founded in 1979 and became a division of Disney in 1996. In a VARIETY report, Walt Disney Feature Animation president Thomas Schumacher stated that The Secret Lab is no longer actively seeking outside contracts. However, he also said, If the studio comes to me and says heres a movie that we have a special demand for, then fantastic.
The Walt Disney Company has completed its previously announced acquisition of Fox Family Worldwide, Inc. from Haim Saban and Fox Broadcasting Company. The acquisition closed on October 21, 2001 with a final purchase price of $5.2 billion, including approximately $2.9 billion in cash and the assumption of $2.3 billion in Fox Family. Michael D.
Canadian family entertainment company CINAR Corporation has recently repaid an existing bank loan which was due on October 15, 2001. The corporation had US$26 million outstanding as of November 30, 2000 and this amount has now been repaid in the current fiscal year.
Fox Entertainment Group has teamed with eBay to support Auction for America, the online charity initiative designed to raise funds for the victims, families and communities affected by the terrorist attacks of September 11. The auctions began October 22, 2001 and will continue through the holiday season. All proceeds will be donated to the Twin Towers Fund.
Avid Technology, Inc. has reported its financial results for the third quarter ended September 30, 2001. Revenues for the quarter were $102.3 million. Net loss for the quarter was $14.2 million or $.55 per share including amortization of acquisition-related intangible assets, and restructuring and other costs, net. Excluding these items, Avid would have reported a net loss of $801,000 or $.03 per share for the third quarter of 2001. For the nine months ended September 30, 2001, revenues were $329.8 million.
Activision, Inc. has been recognized by Fortune Magazine as one of the top 100 fastest-growing publicly held companies in the U.S. Activision, ranked 86th in Fortune Magazine's 2001 "100 Fastest-Growing American Companies," is the only interactive entertainment company to appear on the list. The company's three-year annualized performance ratings were 45% earnings per share, 36% revenue growth and 56% total stock market return.
Executive producer John Yuiska and creative director Daniel Garcia have joined forces with Vienna-based digital content studio .voortekk to form Super-Fi. The company will produce animation and design-based cross-platform content for commercials, broadcast design, music videos, film and branded online entertainment. Super-Fi will maintain offices in New York and Vienna.
THQ Inc. and Sega Corporation have entered into an exclusive, multi-title co-publishing agreement under which THQ will co-publish 16 Game Boy Advance titles featuring Sega brands in North America through 2003. The launch will begin with six titles released through March 2002. The agreement provides Sega with greater exposure on the Game Boy Advance platform as it transitions exclusively to software publishing and provides THQ with content to help solidify its position as a leading independent Game Boy Advance publisher.
Activision, Inc. has acquired Treyarch Invention, LLC., a leading console software developer with a focus on action and action-sports video games. The acquisition further enables Activision to implement its multi-platform development strategy by bolstering its internal product development capabilities for the next-generation console systems, strengthening Activision's position in the action and action-sports genres.
Vivendi Universal Publishing (VU Publishing) and Interplay Entertainment Corp. have entered into a North American distribution agreement which grants VU Publishing the exclusive rights to distribute Interplay's PC and video game console products through 2003 with the exception of NEVERWINTER NIGHTS. The first titles expected to be released under the distribution agreement will be BALDUR'S GATE: DARK ALLIANCE and GIANTS: CITIZEN KABUTO for the PlayStation2 computer entertainment system. These titles are scheduled for release in fall 2001.
As reported on October 4, 2001 by THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, Square Company Ltd., warning of losses of up to 13.9 billion yen (USD $115M) for the year's first half from weaker-than-expected revenues from its feature film FINAL FANTASY: THE SPIRITS WITHIN, had ceased funding of their Honolulu-based studio Square Pictures. Allowed to continue operations, Square Pictures has indicated that they will continue to develop CGI projects with funding from other studios, and plans to possibly develop a FINAL FANTASY sequel or prequel.
Infogrames, Inc., a global publisher of interactive entertainment software, has announced operating results for its fiscal year ended June 30, 2001. Full-year net revenue, which includes publishing and distribution revenue, was $310.5 million or virtually even with full-year net revenues of $313.2 million for the prior year. Publishing revenue for the period rose to $232.1 million from $188.4 million in the comparable year-earlier period. Distribution revenue was $78.4 million in fiscal 2001 as compared with distribution revenue of $124.8 million in the same 2000 period.
The Walt Disney Company has formed a new business unit, the Buena Vista Game Entertainment Studio, a new organization created to leverage and combine new and emerging technologies, such as broadband and wireless, with video consoles, PCs, other technological innovations, and online games to deliver integrated interactive entertainment for a new consumer experience. Jan E. Smith has been installed as its president. Smith, a 14-year Disney veteran, will also continue to serve in her current role as president of Disney Interactive.
Turner Broadcasting System (TBS) Latin America, Inc. has reached an agreement with DIRECTV Latin America, LLC (DIRECTV) for satellite distribution in Latin America of Boomerang, the 24-hour network that offers classic animated entertainment. Launched into the Latin American region in July of 2001, Boomerang continues to expand its reach in the market by adding DIRECTV's satellite distribution. Reaching more than 1.4 million direct-to-home customers, DIRECTV Latin America becomes one of the largest distributors for Boomerang in the region.
In an election supervised by assemblyman Paul Koretz, chair of the California Assembly Committee on Labor and Employment, the writers from six of Nickelodeons animated series voted 19 to 2 in favor of Writers Guild of America, west (WGAw) representation. Sequoia Voting Systems, an independent company that provides election services to unions and state and local governments, received and counted the ballots.
Assemblyman Paul Koretz, Chair of the California Assembly Labor Committee, has agreed to oversee an impartial election for union representation on behalf of writers on six Nickelodeon animated series. The election will take place Wednesday, October 3, 2001 at Nickelodeon Studios, 231 W. Olive Ave., Burbank. The polling place will close at 12:00 noon. Immediately following the vote Sequoia Voting Systems will tabulate the results and Assemblyman Koretz will announce the results.
Animation studio Wild Brain, Inc. has continued the expansion of its global operations with the launch of its new creative services studio Wild Brain UK, LLC based in London. Wild Brain UK is headed by animation and commercial creative director Mike Smith and managing producer Nikki Kefford, with director Tom Gravestock also on board. Powered by talent from London's animation community, Wild Brain UK will be committed to developing emerging talent with a wide-range of distinctive and eclectic styles. Mike Smith, who has spent the last 10 years in the U.S., working at Warner Bros.
Adobe Systems Incorporated reported financial results for its third quarter ended August 31, 2001. In the third quarter of fiscal 2001, Adobe achieved revenue of $292.1 million, compared to $328.9 million reported for the third quarter of fiscal 2000 and $344.1 million reported in the second quarter of fiscal 2001. Pro forma diluted earnings per share for the third quarter of fiscal 2001, excluding non-operating gains and losses, were $0.28.
Cambridge Animation Systems, developer of Animo 2D software, has been purchased from Japanese investment bank Nomura by a digital media consortium that includes an original founder of the company. The new owners are moving the company to a new and larger facility in Cambridge, England. Over the past 18 months the new management team placed in the company by Nomura has completely reorganized Cambridge Animation Systems, expanded Cambridge's line of products and set up a growing reseller network worldwide.
Microsoft Corp. has delayed the launch of its Xbox video game system by one week and is now planning to have Xbox in North American stores on November 15, 2001. The system will retail for approximately US$299. Microsoft is refusing to say how many units it will ship on that date and will only confirm it will ship 1 million to 1.5 million Xbox consoles to North American retailers this holiday season. Microsoft executives have not explained the delay, saying only that it is not related to the attacks in Washington and New York, or the nations economy.
Midlands, England-based animation production house, PS Creative has moved to new, larger premises -- a building called The Doghouse in Bewdley, Worcestershire, England. With this expansion they soon hope to be recruiting more staff for both freelance and permanent in-house positions. PS Creative is currently furthering their 3D character animation and on-screen typography work developing a Europe-wide marketing campaign for a major pharmaceutical company.
Boxershorts Cartoons, a division of The Chris Moujaes Company, Inc., has created The Boxershorts Academy to provide an opportunity for education in animation studio arts to students who reside between the West and East Coasts. The Boxershorts Academy's classes are available to the general public in both live and electronic formats. Live courses are held in Austin, Texas at various locations and the online independent study courses are held at BoxerAcademy.com.
Universal Digital Communications Inc. (UDC), a privately held digital marketing company, has acquired new media content creator and distributor Spunky Productions. The terms of the deal were not disclosed. Spunky Productions brings UDC tremendous new media capabilities including their remarkable 2D and 3D animation. This adds a truly unique dimension to the marketing solutions we create and produce for our clients, said Jim Burkhart, President of UDC.
Pulse, the San Francisco-based 3D media solutions company, laid off an undisclosed number of staff members on Monday, September 17, 2001. While an exact number was not revealed, AWN was told that it was less than 50% of the companys total workforce. The lay-offs were predominately from the administrative sector with some engineering staff also being let go. A spokesperson for the company sees the staff cuts as a positive move for Pulse allowing them a greater ability to reach profitability. The company plans to move toward e-learning, while continuing its current licenses.
Interactive entertainment company Infogrames, Inc. has entered into an exclusive distribution agreement with UK-based game publisher, Codemasters. Under the terms of the one-year deal, Infogrames will be the sole distributor of Codemasters' interactive entertainment titles throughout North America. Codemasters expects to publish 17 SKUs between September 2001 and August 2002. The first title Infogrames distributed under the agreement is OPERATION FLASHPOINT, a realistic military action game for the PC.