Toronto-based Alliance Atlantis Communications Inc. announced Dec. 10, 2003 that it is essentially stopping TV and movie production with the departure of entertainment group ceo Peter Sussman and Seaton McLean, the group's president, production. The company will hone its activities down to primarily specialty channel broadcasting and TV/film distribution.
Metal rocker-turned-film director Rob Zombie and author-cartoonist Steve Niles have formed a new production company, Creep Entertainment Intl, reported VARIETY. The firm already has lined-up three comicbook inspired projects -- THE NAIL with Dark Horse Comics, BIGFOOT with IDW Comics and LORDS OF SALEM. Zombie and Niles have co-written the scripts for all three films.
IDT Entertainment plans to wrap up the holidays by acquiring yet another entertainment company, buying home video distributor, Anchor Bay Entertainment Group, from Handleman Co. for about $60 million. With this purchase, expected to clear in late December 2003, IDT adds an important a vital distribution component to its rapidly, escalading entertainment empire.
e frontier and Curious Labs have merged in an effort to "create greater synergy of products and business models." "e frontier has the reputation as one of the top selling 3D tools in Asia," said Curious Labs' ceo Marc Keohane. "Curious Labs has the well established Poser product. Combined, we will now offer a worldwide solution for the creative 3D artist community."
The new company will retain the separate names of each entity making e frontier the parent company of Curious Labs in the U.S.
The same week that ousted Roy Disney mounted his coup, Walt Disney's Buena Vista Film Distribution Group announced a new industry record for global box office in 2003 with its combined domestic and international gross exceeding $3 billion - thanks in no small measure to the record-breaking back-to-back $300 million duo of FINDING NEMO and PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN.
Three award-winning veterans of the animation industry have joined forces to form a new media company, phuuz entertainment in North, Hollywood, California. Co-founders of this new enterprise are Emmy Award-winning producer/director and former exec creative director at Film Roman, Eric Radomski, former production vp at Warner Bros. Animation, Ken Duer, and former vp/gm for LEVEL13.NET (Film Romans Internet entertainment site), Jay Francis.
If the honey jar dont fit you must In another twist to the legal battle between WINNIE THE POOH U.S. rights holders the Slesinger family versus Walt Disney Co., the Slesingers have hired O.J. Simpsons criminal trial lawyer Johnnie Cochrin their ninth lawyer, reported the Associated Press. In mid October, the law firm Jones Day stepped down from the case after less than five months on the 12-year long case, because the family could no longer afford its services.
Following is the text of Roy Disney's Letter sent to Michael Eisner, asking him to resign:
Mr. Michael D. Eisner, ChairmanThe Walt Disney Company500 South Buena Vista StreetBurbank, CA 91521
It is with deep sadness and regret that I send you this letter of resignation from the Walt Disney Company, both as Chairman of the Feature Animation Division and as Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors.
Roy E. Disney, vice chairman of Walt Disney Co. stepped down from the board of directors and called on chairman/chief exec Michael Eisner to resign in a scathing letter.
On Sunday, Nov. 30, 2003, he sent a three-page letter to Eisner criticizing the chairman's leadership over the past seven years. Disney has called for Eisner's resignation in the past, but the idea was rejected by the board.
The U.S. Congress, under Republican leadership, and the White House agreed late Nov. 24, 2003 in Washington DC to a new limit on the number of television stations one company can own, a compromise reached to help make way for approval of a massive spending bill that will keep the government running for a year.
Madrids Zinkia Ent. is busy signing up top creative talent to start production on its 3D CGI animated preschool property, POCOYÓ. The 52x7 series is being co-produced with Carlton International, for U.K. commercial broadcaster ITV.
Already on board is one of Spains leading 3D animation specialists, Magoga Piñas, who has joined the Pocoyó team. Magoga, has more than a decade of experience in the 3D animation field, working on feature films such as LA GRAN AVENTURA DE MORTADELO Y FILEMON (2003) as well as commercials and graphics.
Nasscom, Indias premier information technology body, is betting big on the Indian animation industry, predicting the sector is all set to register an exponential growth in the coming years, according to the BUSINESS STANDARD in a report from its bureau in Bangalore, India.
Veteran industry executives Margaret Loesch and Bruce Stein have teamed to create The Hatchery, LLC, a new entertainment and marketing firm. Loesch, an Emmy Award-winning producer, was most recently president/ceo of Crown Media U.S./Hallmark Channel. Stein was formerly president/coo of Mattel Inc. Also a partner in the new production house is Emmy and Peabody Award-winning producer/writer Dan Angel.
IDT Corp., a multinational carrier, telephone and technology company that has been showering investment capital based on animation companies has created IDT Entertainment Inc., a new business subsidiary, which will incorporate Digital Production Solutions (DPS), IDTs existing animation company, DPS/Film Roman and its joint venture and equity interest with Vanguard Animation. Upon completion of its purchase of Mainframe Ent. in Vancouver, the CGI production house will also become part of IDT Entertainment.
The Writers Guild of America West (WGAw) and IATSE (The Animation Guild Local 839) have reached a tentative agreement regarding representation on DreamWorks upcoming animated series FATHER OF THE PRIDE, according to DAILY VARIETY.
A new wrinkle has developed in the decades old battle over Winnie the Pooh licensing rights. THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER reported that Clare Milne, the granddaughter of POOH creator A.A. Milne, has been grant a chance to regain the copyrights from the current rights holders, the Slesinger family. Judge Florence-Marie Coopers new ruling allows Milne to appeal Cooper's earlier, tentative decision, which ruled the request invalid.
On Thursday, October 30, 2003, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge John H. Squires approved Classic Medias purchase of Big Idea Productions for $19.3 million. In August, Classic Media made public its plans to purchase the VEGGIE TALES producer for $7.5 million as the troubled firm filed for bankruptcy. As part of U.S. bankruptcy law, assets of Big Idea had to be put up for auction to allow the companys creditors the best chance of recouping funds.
Cinesite (Europe) Ltd. will be in Los Angeles to recruit artists on Nov. 6-7, 2003 for some of its upcoming vfx projects. Recruiters will be based at Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel, and interested applicants are invited to meet with them to discuss professional opportunities in London. Please email email@example.com with resumes. Cinesite will also be holding open recruitment on Nov. 6 at 6:00 pm.
An investor group comprised of Michael Hirsh, Toper Taylor and TD Capital Canadian Private Equity Partners signed a definitive agreement Oct. 30, 2003 to acquire all of the outstanding multiple and limited voting shares of CINAR Corp. for $143.9 million in cash by way of a plan of arrangement.
Sternworld Creative Management, a new management firm described by its founder as the "William Morris" of creative services," has opened in Venice, California to represents a broad array of clients, including entertainment marketing, advertising, promotion and design firms. Sternworld also represents international marketing specialists, music composers and producers, and a visual effects and specialty production company.
Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. has agreed to acquire Artisan Entertainment Inc. for $160 million cash, plus the assumption of $40 million in debt, thus creating a company with more than 8,000 entertainment titles.
A Lions Gate spokesman said the acquisition includes the assumption of about $40 million in debt, putting the total value of the deal at slightly above $200 million, plus performance-based compensation.
Toronto-based Comet Ent. has opened Vitamin Cartoons Inc., an animation services division to provide high quality pre- and post-production services. Vitamin draws upon the skills and experience of some of Canada's most talented artists, Flash animators and directors to offers character, background and prop design, special effects design, stock breakdown planning, storyboards, slugging; X-sheets, color styling, s-reel and pre-layout.
London-based Target Ent. Ltd. has moved into the kids and animation market with a new division, which launched its new catalog at this years MIPCOM Junior 2003. In addition to international sales across its portfolio of high quality drama and formats, Targets licensing and merchandising division is flourishing (started October 2002) and the company has firmly established itself in the competitive U.S. market with the opening of its New York office in January 2003.
With declining profits this year in entertainment and electronics, Sony Corp. has ordered Sony Pictures Entertainment to layoff as many as 300 employees throughout its key business groups at the Culver City, California-based studio, including Sony Pictures, both domestic and international TV units and Sony Pictures Digital, the LOS ANGELES TIMES reported. The layoffs, which have already begun, could save as much as $75 million a year. Last week, Sony Pictures 73-year-old chairman John Calley announced his retirement.