Alias|Wavefront has announced a strategic alliance with mental images, makers of the world-renowned, mental ray renderer. The two companies will work together to develop a mental ray rendering option for Maya. "Image quality is a top priority to CG industry professionals," explained Peter Mehlstaeubler, vice president of product development at Alias|Wavefront. "With this priority in mind, Alias|Wavefront has pursued an aggressive rendering development path, one which will soon be expanded to encompass a mental ray solution.
Ubi Soft Entertainment, an international developer and publisher of interactive games, surpassed its predicted sales growth of 25% for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2001. Ubi Soft reported net consolidated sales of US$236 million (259.8 million euros) up 39.4% over the previous year. This growth came in spite of a 5% decline in the video games world market for the same year. Net income for Ubi Soft during the fiscal year decreased to $4.2 million (4.6 million euros). This was attributed to slow sales in the next generation market.
d-2, a Dallas-based interactive, multimedia and Web development firm, has formally announced its grand opening and spin-off from its former parent, D Animation, one of the most successful interactive, multimedia and Web development firms in Texas, having served over 300 clients, including American Airlines, Canon, Anderson Consulting and Nortel. d-2 began operations on February 15, 2001 and is currently on track to exceed $2 million in yearly billings. d-2 will focus its business services on the real estate, telecommunications, technology and manufacturing industries. Darjon R.
San Franciscos animation studio Wild Brain, Inc. is expanding its global operation with the launch of a subsidiary in Munich, Germany. Wild Trixx Media GmbH will identify co-production partners for television and feature film projects, coordinate sales and merchandising for the companys future and existing programming, such as Wild Brains new 26-episode series POOCHINI, throughout Europe, and attract European-based commercials.
Licensing proves to be a viable and growing industry, according to the most recent study sponsored by the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers Association (LIMA), in conjunction with the Yale School of Management and the Harvard Business School. According to the report, property and trademark owners received royalties of $5.84 billion from manufacturers who paid for the right to use trademarks, characters, logos and artwork to sell products in the United States in 2000, representing a $248 million increase (4.4%) in the last year.
CINAR Corporation announced that it has reached an agreement with Telefilm Canada to make full restitution for all investments and other financial subsidies made by Telefilm Canada in CINARs productions that have been decertified, or for productions for which final certification will not be granted by the Canadian Audio-visual Certification Office (CAVCO). Under the terms of the agreement, CINAR will repay Telefilm Canada approximately $2,594,000 in full reimbursement of investments and subsidies including interest.
DIC Entertainment Holdings, Inc. has entered into an agreement to purchase the assets of Golden Books Family Entertainment, Inc., in a deal valued at $170 million. The deal entails a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing by Golden Books and its domestic subsidiaries, with DIC petitioning to purchase the companys assets. Golden Books operations will continue as usual during the court and sale process, which is expected to take approximately 60 days. Golden Books assets are quite extensive.
The Harvey Entertainment Company announced on June 26, 2001 that they have completed their sale of Harveys classic cartoon characters, contracts and related assets, to Classic Media, LLC, in exchange for approximately US$17,000,000 and the assumption of certain liabilities. Actual funding of the transaction took place on Friday, June 22, 2001. Harvey has also officially changed its name to Sunland Entertainment Co. Inc. with the new OTC Bulletin Board stock symbol of SUNE. The name and stock symbol change will take effect Wednesday, June 27, 2001.
Midway Games Inc. has announced that as a result of decreasing demand in the coin-operated arcade videogame market, it is getting out of that business. The company is now focusing its game development efforts exclusively on games for next-generation home videogame platforms, including the PlayStation 2, Xbox, Nintendo GameCube and Game Boy Advance. The move is expected to mean a layoff of fewer than 60 people, and a primarily non-cash pretax charge of less than $8 million in the quarter ending June 30, 2001.
According to a June 21, 2001 report in the Los Angeles Times, Ben Stein, host of the Comedy Central TV game show "Win Ben Stein's Money" has sued Shockwave.com for breach of contract. In the suit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Stein claims he is owed $212,250 for his work in helping to develop an online quiz show. In exchange for the use of his name, voice and likeness, Stein reportedly was to receive 75,000 shares of Shockwave stock valued at 50 cents a share, with an option to sell back the stock at nearly $3 per share. The show has yet to launch on the Web.
In an effort to maximize shareholder value, The Harvey Entertainment Company announced on June 18, 2001 that it has retained the investment banking firm of Houlihan Lokey Howard & Zukin to explore strategic alternatives and opportunities, following the completion of its pending transaction with Classic Media LLC. Founded in 1970, Houlihan Lokey Howard & Zukin provides a wide range of services including mergers and acquisitions, private placements and other financial advisory services. The firm is ranked among the top 10 financial advisors in U.S. mergers and acquisitions under $500 million.
In an announcement made June 20, 2001, by Michael D. Eisner, chairman and CEO, and Robert A. Iger, president and COO, of The Walt Disney Company, Peter Schneider will step down as chairman of The Walt Disney Studios to start a new Broadway theater production and investment company funded in part by Disney.
DIC Entertainment has signed an exclusive North American home video distribution deal for its extensive library of animation with Lions Gate Home Entertainment. This move marks the first deal for DIC's Worldwide Home Entertainment division since CEO Andy Heyward, along with Bain Capital, purchased DIC back from Disney in November 2000. The first releases on VHS and DVD slated for August are SABRINA, THE ANIMATED SERIES and MUMMIES ALIVE! Other titles set for release include MADELINE, SONIC THE HEDGEHOG, CARMEN SANDIEGO, INSPECTOR GADGET and ACTION MAN.
London-based production company Stink has launched Skunk, a new animation house producing music videos, commercials and short films. The first project for the new company will be three spots for whisky brand Famous Grouse via ad agency Abbott Mead Vickers. Prague-based director Michal Zabka will helm the spots.
Hypnotic and Nibblebox have announced they have completed their merger and closed a second round of financing. The new round of financing was led by Hypnotic's initial investor Vivendi Universal and the media group Dresdner Kleinwort Capital, as well as Nibblebox's initial investors, Knowledge Universe, Windsor Media and Entertainment Media Ventures.
As widely reported today by sources such as the LA TIMES, WIRED MAGAZINE and REUTERS, four people, including Stan Lee Media co-founder Peter Paul, have been indicted by federal prosecutors as part of an alleged $25 million stock manipulation scheme. The defendants face maximum sentences of 15 years in prison if convicted. Paul, former Stan Lee Media executive vice president Stephen Gordon, stock analyst Jeffrey Pittsburg and stock promoter Charles Kusche, have been accused of securities fraud in an attempt to manipulate the price of Stan Lee Media stock.
Mainframe Entertainment has announced its expansion into the consumer products area with a new strategic alliance with licensing and merchandising veteran Joy Tashjian. Previously with American Champion Marketing Group, Tashjian launched successful consumer product campaigns for many ABC Saturday morning television series. With American Champion shifting its focus away from the traditional entertainment business, Tashjian has formed her own agency, Joy Tashjian Marketing Group, with many of the staff from American Champion.
AtomShockwave has announced that it has laid-off 2/3s of its staff, leaving approximately 150 people without jobs. In addition, the online entertainment company will be shutting down its Los Angeles and New York offices. Moreover, the Netcaster will move away from original content and focus more on advertising and sponsorship from branded companies like Ford as well as syndicating its currently produced content and developing a pay format. However, Romp.com recently attempted a pay format and within a month changed
Embattled German media group EM.TV has hired Wall Street investment firm Allen & Co. to sell the Henson Co. The top candidates to buy the creator of Kermit are Walt Disney and the management of Henson itself. This action comes only a year after EM.TV purchased Henson from heirs of founder Jim Henson for US$680 million. Rumors have surfaced that the Henson heirs haven't nearly earned that amount due to the plummet of EM.TV's stock price.
Eidos plc, one of the world's leading publishers and developers of entertainment software, announced the results for the fourth quarter and year ended March 31, 2001. Net revenue was 22.6 million pounds (US$32.1 million) for the quarter and 143.5 million pounds ($203.8 million) for the full year, a decrease of 26% on the previous year.
Following the companys new development strategy, cHmAn, a Web entertainment company based in Lille, France, has changed its name to TeamcHmAn. While continuing to develop original content for the Web, TeamcHmAn will expand its activities to the production of video games. cHmAn has established itself as a top provider of interactive content with BANJA.com, a game where the level of teamwork players get from each other directly influences their opportunities to gain access to new features. BANJA episode #6 beta version is now online in French and English.
The 3DO Company has announced the signing of a development agreement with renowned Santa Monica based entertainment company, Pandemic Studios, the developer of Battlezone II and Dark Reign 2. The first as-yet-unnamed project is scheduled for release in early 2002. According to Pandemics president Josh Resnick, the deal will allow his company to expand their development base across multiple gaming platforms and reach 3DOs mass consumer market. Trip Hawkins, 3DOs chairman and CEO, commented, "We are thrilled to be working with Pandemic on new and exciting projects.
A six-page, 36-panel storyboard from the 1928 Walt Disney cartoon PLANE CRAZY, which marked the first ever appearance of Mickey Mouse, is back on the auction block after failing to sell at auction this past May 19, 2001. The storyboard had been part of an extensive collection of cartoon and comic book art being auctioned to raise funds for the International Museum of Cartoon Art in Boca Raton, Florida. Sale of the storyboard, valued at somewhere between $3.2 million - $3.7 million, was put on hold after the identity of the individual behind an online bid of $800,000 could not be verified.
Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. has announced record net sales and cash flow for its 2001 second quarter ended April 30, 2001. Net sales for the quarter increased 33% to $93.3 million compared with $70.0 million for the same period a year ago.
Havas Interactive, a subsidiary of Vivendi Universal Publishing, has changed its name to Vivendi Universal Interactive Publishing (VU Interactive Publishing). The company is comprised of two operating divisions, Vivendi Universal Interactive Publishing North America (VU Interactive Publishing NA) and Vivendi Universal Interactive Publishing International, each of which is charged with directing the sales, distribution and operating activities in its respective region.