Ubisoft, one of the world's largest videogame publishers, announced that on July 12, 2007 it sold the 13,367,923 shares it owned in Gameloft (representing 18.89% of the company's capital) to Calyon, Credit Agricole Group's Corporate and Investment Bank. The sale price was 6.08 euros, based on Gameloft's closing share price on July 12, 2007.
Speedshape has launched a new vfx design studio located in the heart of Venice, specifically geared to deliver a broad range of powerful visual solutions for both advertising and entertainment.
Santa Monica-based Cake Editorial has launched Pi, a new visual effects, graphic design and 2D/3D animation division led by creative director Josh Kirschenbaum.
In addition, Pi has added visual effects artist Brian Dickett, who comes to Pi following a freelance career that included an extensive stint at Outpost Digital, Los Angeles, where he worked on recent projects for GM and the Tennis Channel.
Production I.G. is set to acquire comic publisher Mag Garden in full by December, VARIETY reports. The Japanese toon firm already owns 15% of the company and will acquire the remaining shares in a 2-to-1 stock exchange. After the acquisition, Mag Garden will be removed from the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Production I.G. hopes to use Mag Garden's manga properties as a source for animated productions.
UNIT, one of the U.K.âs leading post-production and creative services companies, has launched UNIT Effects, a new in-house visual effects division, which provides a full range of 2D and 3D effects across all genres from commercials and HD TV productions to 2K or 4K resolution films.
The division will be overseen by UNIT co-founder Roland Woolner, formerly joint-md of vfx company Split Image, who becomes head of UNIT Effects. Split Image was recently acquired by UNIT, making it the U.K.âs leading Final Cut finishing house.
HIT Ent. has made a number of key changes to its U.K./European consumer products business following the recent appointment of Peter Byrne as evp of worldwide consumer products.
Katie Rollings fills the newly created position of vp of international marketing responsible for all strategic brand planning, marketing, retail development and creative services covering the entire international region.
Jon Owen is now vp of EMEA (Europe, the Middle East & Africa) consumer products responsible for all U.K. and EMEA licensing operations.
On Monday, July 2, 2007, Indian production company UTV Motion Pictures Plc began trading on London's junior market AIM, reports REUTERS. Shares jumped 6% over by the close of its first day, finishing at $3.075. The total value of the shares is $320.2 million.
UTV plans to invest the money earned on AIM into 30 productions over the next two years. The firm has 25 films in the pipeline and has put its funds behind such Hollywood films as THE NAMESAKE and M Night Shyamalan's upcoming THE HAPPENING.
At its annual general meeting in Munich on June 26, 2007, the management board of EM.TV AG -- in future EM.Sport Media AG -- laid out its plans for strong revenue growth during the upcoming years.
Following the strategic decision, announced on March 22, 2007, to concentrate future business on the sports sector and to dispose of its interests in the entertainment sector (children's and youth programs), the company is striving to at least double its revenues from the sports sector from around 220 million euros (2006) to significantly more than 400 million euros by 2010.
Frederator Studios is now branching out into 2D genre features with the launch of Frederator Films, according to VARIETY. Frederator head Fred Seibert will produce the films with animation vet Kevin Kolde and talent management head/producer Eric Gardner. The films will be budgeted under $20 million.
PorchLight Ent. is forming a domestic home entertainment division launching under the label of "PorchLight Home Entertainment," with Gary Jones, svp of PorchLight Home Ent. overseeing acquisitions and sales. The new division will distribute kids and family programming acquired from leading producers worldwide in addition to releasing the company's new productions, as well as programs from its substantial library.
The Walt Disney Co. confirmed reports yesterday that DisneyToon Studios (DTS) president Sharon Morrill had stepped down from her post with an announcement that DisneyToon Studios (DTS) is being restructured and will now operate as a separate unit under the supervision of Walt Disney Animation Studios. The studio will pursue original DVD productions and has curtailed making sequels to its features.
Sony Pictures Home Ent. will be taking over control of Sony Wonder from its sister company, Sony BMG Music Ent., reports VARIETY. Sony Wonder vp of development Steve Okin will have the title of vp of family entertainment. His duties will be to develop and acquire non-feature family programming.
Moving from SONY BMG, Olga Economou will become exec director of Sony Wonder sales.
The Walt Disney Co. announced today it has formed an integrated Global Television Distribution unit, following the announcement that Laurie Younger, president, Disney-ABC Worldwide Television, will retire at the end of her contract in January 2008.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has invited115 artists and executives to join its ranks. Those who accept the invitation will be the only additions in 2007 to the Academy's roster of voting members.
In addition to Yair Landau, president of Sony Pictures Digital and vice chairman of Sony Pictures Ent., other invitees include:
Animators* Sharon Calahan* George Griffin* John Kahrs* Torill Kove* Marcy Page* Troy Saliba
Visual Effects* John Andrew Berton Jr.* Al DiSarro
Antonio Banderas' production company Green Moon Producciones is exploring the possibility of partnering with Spanish animation studio Kandor Graphics, according to VARIETY. The partnership would not be for a single film, but a longer-term production relationship, according to Antonio Meliveo, producer at Green Moon, who also added that they hoped to close a deal by the fall. Green Moon Producciones is based out of Malaga, while Kandor is located in Granada.
Nickelodeon, the number-one entertainment brand for kids owned by Viacom, Sony Music Label Group and Sony BMG Commercial Music Group announced a global partnership today for co-developing and co-financing a range of television and music projects over a four-year period. The deal calls for developing and producing projects such as original movies and television series to be aired on Nickelodeon, and multiple record releases, with potential to unlock additional business opportunities in consumer products.
The Walt Disney Studios has entered into an agreement with Yash Raj Films (YRF) Studios, a premier studio in India, to create a series of original and exclusive computer-animated feature films. The collaboration marks the first time for both companies to enter in a co-production to produce films in India.
Walt Disney Studios and YRF will work exclusively to co-produce a series of animation films in the Indian language. Both companies will be equal partners in the venture and will contribute creative, technical and financial support to the project.
Thomson Course Technology and Animation World Network are proud to announce the formation of AWN Press, which will produce a series of books published by Thomson Course Technology covering major facets of the animation industry and offering a one-of-a-kind look into the careers of industry icons.
The Walt Disney Studios has entered into an exclusive multi-year first look deal with Spider-Man creator/producer Stan Lee and his production company POW! Ent. The terms cover Lee and his production company developing and producing all forms of entertainment.
A sale of France-based TV production and distribution firm Marathon is in the works, insiders told VARIETY. Valued at 300 million euros, Marathon has several suitors, including Endemol France head Stephane Courbit, who is backed by Italian industrial group de Agostini.
An insider at Bridgepoint, which purchased Marathon and combined it with Tele Images two years ago, said that the deal will probably be sealed by July.
The annual revenue of Marathon Group is approximately 120 million euros ($162 million).
Bangalore, India-based Paprikaas Animation Studios announced that it would be doubling its staff, adding 150 new jobs, according to THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. The computer animation studio provides services for feature films, television, commercials and videogames.
Earlier in the year, Thomson, via its Technicolor Content Services, invested in the firm. That deal made Thomson the majority owner of Paprikaas.
Luc Besson's film production company, EuropaCorp, is going public, according to THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. The company has filed for a listing in the Euronext Paris market.
EuropaCorp's productions include TRANSPORTER 2, UNLEASHED and ARTHUR AND THE INVISIBLES. The company has eight films in development, including TAKEN, with Liam Neeson, and a third TRANSPORTER film with Jason Statham.
Besson controls EuropaCorp through the holding company Front Line and will mostly likely hold a majority stake in the firm following the IPO.
Former Mainframe Ent. ceo Rick Mischel announced today (May 29, 2007) that he has launched Reach Games a new games company specializing in supplying art, design, modeling, animation and localization services to the videogame industry. Based in Vancouver, Reach plans to service other developers and publishers from around the world. Reach also plans to co-develop casual games and handheld games with other developers.
Industry vet Paul Golden has launched FFAKE, a new production and animation production company in Portland, reports HIGHEND3D. The FFAKE talent roster includes such well-known animation directors as Carl Willat, Nicholas Weigel and the Maverix Art Collective, which includes Ed Bell, Robert Valley, Tom Rubalcava and Charlie Canfield. FFAKE's up-and-coming talents include David Lobser, Peter Richardson and Ben Meinhardt.
A Munich regional court has rejected Pumuckl creator Ellis Kaut's request for a temporary injunction, stopping Pumuckl's original illustrator Barbara von Johnson from giving the character a girlfriend, reports THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. The goblin Pumuckl is a kids' icon in Germany on the level of Big Bird. The row between Kaut and Johnson started when Johnson okayed a TV broadcaster to sponsor a contest to pick the look of Pumuckl's girlfriend. Kaut claims that the character is asexual, despite various occasions over the years being referred to as a boy.