Disney veteran animators Tom Bancroft and Rob Corley have formed a new animation development company, Funnypages Prods. Llc, which joins their already existing subsidiary comic book publishing company, Funnypages Press in Orlando, Florida. Funnypages Prods. will offer a full range of animation production as well as illustration, character design and artistic development. The animation house has also developed many original properties for film and television.
Marvel Enterprises Inc. has released its financial results for its fourth quarter and year ended December 31, 2003, in addition to a three-for-two stock split in the form of a stock dividend of one additional share of the company's common stock for every two shares held. The additional shares will be distributed on March 26, 2004 to stockholders of record on March 12, 2004.
A whopping 43% of Walt Disney Co. shareholders voted against retaining Michael Eisner as chairman and ceo today (March 3, 2004) in Philadelphia, delivering a stunning blow that lead to the Disney board of directors stripping Eisner of his chairman title within hours after the vote, the strongest rebuke in U.S. corporate history. The Disney board then elected former U. S. Senator George Mitchell to the newly created position of chairman of the board.
A day before the Walt Disney Co.'s annual shareholder meeting in Philadelphia, ex-directors Roy Disney and Stanley Gold proclaimed at a news conference they will work as long as it takes to oust Disney chairman and ceo Michael Eisner. They believe that a dissenting vote of 15-20% will be sufficient. Gold said whatever the outcome they are not going away. They hope to rally as many as 1,000 shareholders during their 15-minute presentation at Wednesday's (March 3, 2004)10:00 am meeting (EST), which will be Webcast live at www.disney.com/investors.
After three successful years rhinofx, the New York visual effects studio, has launched a new division offering 3D previsualization. Having ventured into visual effects projects for film, television and video games, rhinofx is doubling its workspace in their New York midtown office building. A larger workforce and more artist stations are in place and previs services are being ramped up to form the new division called rhinofx previz.
The founders, the stockholders and now the Canadian authorities have approved the sale of CINAR Corp. to the investor group comprised of Michael Hirsh, Toper Taylor and TD Capital Canadian Private Equity Partners through 4113683 Canada Inc. ("Newco").
The Quebec Superior Court granted approval by Justice Joel A. Silcoff, on Feb. 25, 2004, following a hearing in Montreal, on February 19 and 20.
Six more state pension funds lined up Thursday to oppose the reelection of chairman Michael Eisner to the Walt Disney Co. board. Funds in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Virginia plus the California State Teachers Retirement System joined the California Public Employees Retirement System in withholding support for the embattled Eisner, according to Bloomberg.
The California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS), the 29th largest single shareholder in Disney, has announced its decision to withhold voting for Michael Eisner for the position of chairman/ceo of The Walt Disney Company at Disneys annual shareholder meeting on March 3, 2004. CalPERS cited the firms dismal performance for the past five years and its lack of confidence in the long-term strategic vision of the company for its decision.
On Feb. 17, 2004, Walt Disney was in French courts defending itself against charges by author Franck Le Calvez that FINDING NEMO is an infringement on his creation PIERROT THE CLOWN FISH reported REUTERS. Le Calvez seeks to bar the release on any books and merchandising featuring the image of Nemo, which resembles Pierrot. Disney's lawyers claimed that Nemo's likeness cannot be considered a brand in and of itself. Judge Louis-Marie Raingeard de la Bletiere said he would rule on the case's merits on March 12, 2004.
Peak Entertainment Holdings Inc. in the U.K. has finalized consulting agreement with POW! Entertainment, Llc., a company incorporated in the U.S. to capitalize on the highly acclaimed action hero creations from Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee.
Lee will offer his extensive live-action experience to the traditionally animated company and Peak will offer Stan Lee a platform via its flexible vertical properties for any future creation and development.
On Feb. 24, 2004, the epic legal battle between the Walt Disney Co. and Winnie the Pooh copyright holders, the Slesinger family, heated up with Disney accusations that the family stole and altered documents, reported REUTERS. Disney lawyers again asked Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Charles McCoy, who took over the case in October, to throw out the case, which could lose Disney hundreds of millions of dollars.
Ascent Media is launching a new set of services that allow advertising agencies to work with the world's best post-production talent-without leaving their hometown. UP Sessions enables Ascent Media clients to participate in telecine sessions, and other picture critical finishing work, from remote sites in realtime while interacting with the artists performing the work. UP Sessions encompasses three different products that facilitate virtual collaboration: UP Satellite, UP Fiber and UP Web.
MGM vice chairman/coo Chris McGurk admitted on Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2004 that he has discussed a distribution partnership with Pixar Animation Studios during a conference call with financial reporters to discuss MGM's record net income of $60.3 million for the fourth quarter- spurred by DVD and video sales of LEGALLY BLONDE 2 and JEEPERS CREEPERS II.
After Walt Disney Co. directors rejected Comcast's unsolicited $54 billion bid as too low and rallied behind beleaguered chairman Michael Eisner, Comcast defended its merger proposal on Tuesday, leaving doubt about its willingness to sweeten the offer. On Tuesday, Walt Disney Co. lost 9 cents to $26.83. But the board said it would "consider any legitimate proposal" that would create shareholder value. Comcast was up 87 cents at $30.77 after several sessions of declines.
CINAR shareholders voted at a special meeting in Montreal on Feb. 17, 2004 to accept the acquisition offer from the investor group comprised of former Nelvana execs Michael Hirsh and Toper Taylor, and TD Capital Canadian Private Equity Partners.
Kermit and his Muppets pals have decided to move into the uproarious mouse house, having been acquired by The Walt Disney Co. in a deal announced Feb. 17, 2004, on the heels of Disney rejecting Comcasts hostile bid to buy the entertainment conglomerate. Disney has been trying for some time to acquire from Jim Henson Co.
Techimage, provider of high-end software solutions for both 2D and 3D artists in the U.K. and northern Europe, has appointed Peter Griffiths as business manager and has relocated to new and larger offices in Burford, Oxfordshire.
Seamus Morley, director of Techimage, commented: "The addition of Peter with his knowledge and understanding of the CG market, plus the move to larger offices will enable us to better serve our customers and the growing market for high end CG."
Alias has announced it is involved in exclusive discussions with a leading private equity investment firm for the acquisition of Alias from SGI. The company reassures customers that no changes to the management team, organization, services, support or product availability will occur as a result of the negotiations or the sale of the business.
DreamWorks' entertainment attorney Skip Brittenham is working with investment banks J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs to initiate an IPO proposal of the entertainment company's animation division, reported VARIETY. The trade publication quotes a source as saying "the likelihood of an IPO at about 60%. But studio execs are 100% committed to trying to make the plan work." It's estimated that the offering would be timed around the premiere of DreamWorks' next animated feature SHARK TALE, which bows in theaters Oct. 1, 2004. Details of whether it would proceed or follow the release are not known.
With cable TV giant Comcast Corp. stunning the entertainment world with its proposed offer on Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2004, to buy the Walt Disney Co. for an estimated stock value of $66 billion, the industry was abuzz with speculation that Disney chairman/ceo Michael Eisner's days are now numbered. Especially in light of the fact that Institutional Shareholder Services, a leading provider of proxy voting and corporate governance services, also recommended on Wednesday that Disney shareholders withhold their vote for Eisner's reelection to the board of directors.
The Walt Disney Co. and Microsoft Corp. have signed a multiyear agreement to cooperate on several long-term digital media initiatives to improve the quality, security and reach of digital content within the home and on Microsoft Windows XP-based PCs, as well as on a growing number of home and portable entertainment devices. As part of the agreement, Disney will license Microsoft Windows Media Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology. Disney and Microsoft have identified three areas of joint focus that utilize effective rights management:
Everything was back to normal Friday on Wall Street after Pixar stock dipped slightly on Thursday following ceo Steve Jobs' mid-week assault on Disney during a conference call with analysts to rejoice Pixar's fourth quarter earnings. On Friday, shares of Pixar Animation Studios stock rose 1.1% to finish at $63.27 after slipping 1.5% on Thursday to finish at $62.58. On Wednesday, Pixar reported net income of $83.9M, or $1.44 a share, for the period-ended Dec. 31, thanks to the record-breaking FINDING NEMO, compared to $17M, or 31 cents a share for the comparable period in 2002.
A mouse displaced out of the Disney house is roaring. Roy E. Disney and Stanley P. Gold have been busy in the past week stirring up supporters and media attention in their efforts to oust Michael Eisner, chairman of The Walt Disney Co.
There's a report in Tuesday's NEW YORK POST that DreamWorks is "ramping up efforts to spin off its animation unit" as part of a potential sale to Hollywood studios. DreamWorks is reportedly in considerable debt (last year its ranking with rival studios dropped) and loans are coming up payable in a little more than a year. According to analysts, an animation spin-off would allow it to raise the necessary cash to float the losses, "while maintaining an lucrative production agreement," since animation is the only profitable center.
After many years of Cuppa Coffee Studio's series division doing largely work for hire, the Toronto-based studio is diversifying by creating and selling its own shows under its own distribution arm, Decaf Distribution.