BBC, Disney UK and Cartoon Network veteran John A. Marley is launching Archie Productions, an independent production company that will develop and produce creative intellectual property for both broadcast and digital media. As creative director, Marley will originate and produce his own shows while actively seeking innovative partnerships with other creative talent. Archie Productions currently has an active development slate of properties across kids, entertainment and factual entertainment.
The entire industry is holding their breath awaiting the results of meetings in NYC and L.A. where the WGA top brass will pitch the new contract to the members, hopefully ending the three-month-old strike, reports the trades. Members will meet in L.A. at 7:00 pm at the Shrine Auditorium, while WGA East will hold their meeting at the Crowne Plaza at 2:00 pm.
Warner Bros. Motion Picture Imaging and Prime Focus have entered into a strategic alliance that will allow both companies to expand their abilities to offer their state-of-the-art digital post-production capabilities to filmmakers on a global scale. It also allows both companies to manage their workflows more efficiently between Warner Bros. MPI in Burbank and Prime Focus' facilities throughout multiple locations in India and London as well as in New York, Vancouver, Winnipeg and Los Angeles.
Mattel has signed with Creative Artists Agency (CAA), the world's leading entertainment and sports agency, to develop entertainment-based marketing programs that build upon the company's toy brands, including Barbie, Hot Wheels, Fisher-Price, Masters of the Universe, Max Steel, UNO, and Polly Pocket. CAA Marketing will identify and create opportunities across a variety of platforms, from movies, digital media, and music, to videogames, television, and beyond, and will help further build brand relevance for Mattel's extensive library of rich intellectual properties.
After recently acquiring mental images to bolster its arsenal with the addition of mental ray rendering software, NVIDIA has signed a definitive agreement to acquire gaming physics technology leader AGEIA Technologies Inc. Now PhysX on GeForce will bring enhanced physics dynamics to gamers, as AGEIA's software is widely adopted on the next-gen consoles.
The Walt Disney Co. exceeded expectations for the second quarter ended Dec. 29, 2007, with a 9.1% revenue gain and double-digit increases in consumer products, media networks and parks and resorts.
However, studio entertainment operating income decreased 15% to $514 million while revenues were flat at $2.6 billion. This was due to a decrease in domestic home entertainment partially offset by increases in worldwide theatrical and music distribution. The strong international theatrical performance of RATATOUILLE was a plus.
News hit today that Microsoft is making a play to buy Yahoo Inc. for $44.6 billion in cash and stocks. The unsolicited bid, in the words of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, would make the firm a "comfortable" #2 next to leader Google. The deal works out to $31 per share, which is 62% greater than Yahoo's current stock price.
Passion Pictures has announced the launch of Strange Beast, a company that will represent an international roster of emerging new talent, including Encyclopedia Pictura, Amautalab, Lorenzo Fonda, The Blackheart Gang, Takeo, and James Price. The company is committed to developing creative opportunities for these artists across all media platforms, including commercials, Web-based media, music videos, short films and art exhibitions.
With the AMPTP reaching a deal with the director's guild, new light may be shining on the writers strike. In a joint announcement from the AMPTP and the DGA, the producers stated, "We hope that this agreement with DGA will signal the beginning of the end of this extremely difficult period for our industry. Today, we invite the Writers Guild of America to engage with us in a series of informal discussions similar to the productive process that led us to a deal with the DGA to determine whether there is a reasonable basis for returning to formal bargaining.
Leading full-service interactive entertainment industry service provider cdv Software Ent. AG announced the acquisition of a 75% majority share of cdv Madrics Media S.A.S, a newly-founded firm, with options to acquire additional shares. Effective Dec. 31, 2007, French-based cdv Madrics Media S.A.S. has successfully acquired all business operations of the highly successful Madrics Media France. As part of the cdv Group, this newly acquired firm will be responsible for the marketing and distribution of games-related software and hardware, as well as accessories for France and the Benelux.
Knoxville-based, family-friendly site Abunga.com has banned Philip Pullman's fantasy novel THE GOLDEN COMPASS in response to customer demand.
"THE GOLDEN COMPASS was our most frequently blocked book in December," says Abunga.com CEO Adam Slack. "We feel compelled to honor the wishes of our community."
The Directors Guild of America (DGA) announced today that it has concluded a tentative agreement on the terms of a new three-year collective bargaining agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).
Highlights of the new agreement include:
* Increases both wages and residual bases for each year of the contract.* Establishes DGA jurisdiction over programs produced for distribution on the Internet.
Ultizen Games Ltd., a leading game development and outsourcing company, announced they recently completed an acquisition of Mo-Star, a mobile game development company based in Beijing that owns an extensive and growing catalog of over 200 mobile games.
Virtuos, one of the world's largest game development outsourcing providers, announced that it has opened a new development center in Chengdu. Located in Western China, Chengdu is the fourth largest city in the country, with a strong reputation as an academic center for Art and Engineering.
THQ Inc. today announced plans to acquire Big Huge Games, a leading development studio focused on the role-playing-game genre, a multi-billion-dollar market segment.
Big Huge Games was founded in 2000 by four veteran game developers, Brian Reynolds, Jason Coleman, Dave Inscore and Tim Train, who together have brought strategy gamers such titles as RISE OF NATIONS, ALPHA CENTAURI, and CIVILIZATION II. Key studio members also include Ken Rolston, a 25-year RPG design veteran whose most recent designs include ELDER SCROLLS IV: OBLIVION and ELDER SCROLLS III: MORROWIND.
Blue Sky Studios has announced that it is relocating its studio from White Plains, New York to Greenwich, Connecticut. The studio plans to have its 300 employees moved by the end of 2008. Additionally, thanks to the film-industry tax credits passed recently by the General Assembly, Blue Sky is eligible to receive up to 30% of their expenses exempted.
TV-Loonland has announced the implementation of the restructuring agreement signed with the banking syndicate in August 2007, leaving the company with a new, reduced debt of EUR 5 million.
In accordance with the restructuring agreement, which was approved by the shareholders on Nov. 2, 2007, the original loan worth EUR 20 million has been reduced by 15 million, both by means of cash repayment and a debt-to-equity swap.
Following in the footsteps of United Artists, The Weinstein Co. has signed an interim deal with the Writers Guild of America, report the trades. The agreement also covers Dimension Films, the company's genre arm. Though details of the deal were not released, insiders say it closely mirrors the one with UA. If this is true, then animation writers working on Weinstein projects would now be covered under the guild's rules.
U.K. rights company Entara Ltd. has adopted the Parthenon Ent. Group name, as of January 2008. All Entara's properties, including MAGIC ROUNDABOUT, DOMO, the PUPPY IN MY POCKET toy brands, HABBO, JAKERS! and THOSE SCURVY RASCALS, will be managed within a Parthenon Ent. Group structure, which includes both a factual and children's IP portfolio.
Deluxe completed its previously announced acquisition of Rainmaker Income Fund's post-production and vfx business in Vancouver and its vfx operation in London. The divisions have been renamed Deluxe Vancouver Ltd., which is a division of Deluxe Ent. Services Group Inc.
The acquisition does not include Rainmaker's animation business in Vancouver.
Corus Entertainment Inc. announced its first quarter financial results today, led by continued revenue growth from its broadcasting businesses.
The companies of the HD DVD Promotion Group issued a statement in response to the decision by Warner Home Video to exclusively back the Blu-ray format:
"While Warner's decision is a setback for HD DVD, the consumer has benefited from HD DVD's commitment to quality and affordability -- a bar that is critical for the mainstream success of any format. We believe widespread adoption of a next-generation format will ultimately be determined by the consumer."
A planned Sunday press conference at CES was cancelled, with the HD DVD Promotion Group stating:
Sony Computer Ent. America (SCEA) announced PlayStation hardware retail sales for SCEA's three systems -- PlayStation 3, PSP and PlayStation 2 -- reached more than 3.9 million units in North America during the holiday sales window (Friday, Nov. 23 to Dec. 31, 2007). PS3 retail sales reached 1.2 million units and PSP sales reached 1.4 million units during the period.
Venerable French film company Gaumont has bought top animation producer Alphanim, with details of the deal expected to be announced next week, reports C21 MEDIA.
Alphanim founder and CEO Christian Davin said that the partnership would allow his company "to establish synergies with Gaumont, for instance, in the theatrical business, in producing more animated feature films" and to expand into producing multi-platform content, as well as enhancing its licensing and distribution activities.
China will institute new rules at the end of the month that limit the broadcast of video or audio content on the Internet to state-run sites, BLOOMBERG NEWS and THE NEW YORK TMES report. Beginning Jan. 31, only government-run entities will be licensed to disseminate material, which may not promote sex, violence, gambling, or religious cults, or reveal state secrets.