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Company Headline News

ER Ups North America Chief to Group CEO

From C21Media: Troubled kids firm Entertainment Rights has promoted North America chief Deborah Dugan to CEO of the group, while long-serving commercial director Jane Smith has resigned.

Dugan's appointment comes after former Warner Music chief Nick Philips left the firm on Friday after just nine months in the role.

Sound Headline News

Toei Goes Digital, Adds Postproduction & Sound Stage

Tokyo-based animation and live-action producer and distributor Toei will spend $55 million on renovating and digitalizing their studio, per VARIETY.

The studio, in Tokyo's Nerima Ward, is four-story, 51,161 square feet facility for films, TV and animation production by their group companies. A highlight of the revamp is a new digital postproduction center to process images and sound, including advanced CG and 3-D work.

Team Headline News

SpeakeasyFX Expands To Larger Quarters

Animation studio SpeakeasyFX, dedicated to creating CG character animation and vfx for the broadcast, feature film, and commercial industries, has expanded to larger quarters. The SpeakeasyFX team has moved into 2,000 square feet at 222 North Avenue West, second floor, Westfield, New Jersey.

Visual Headline News

Method, Riot Bunking Together at Ascent

Beginning January 1, 2009, two of Ascent Media Group's boutique visual effects studios, Riot and Method, will unite operations under the Method name, to offer clients unmatched services for the delivery of high-end visual effects for commercials, music videos and feature films.

Online Headline News

EA Acquires Korean Online Game Developer J2M

Electronic Arts has purchased J2MSoft, a Korean developer of PC online games. J2M develops free-to-play online games that are monetized through micro-transactions and advertising. Online games created and wholly owned by J2M include RAYCITY, TAAN, and DEBUT, and other properties to be announced.

Company Headline News

ER Chief Exits After Nine Months

Per C21MEDIA: Nick Philips is leaving troubled U.K. kids company Entertainment Rights after just nine months as its chief executive.

The news was announced to the London stock exchange this morning and followed the news, revealed by C21 last week, that the firm is axing around 22 jobs in an effort to reduce debt and dispose of non-core assets.

Effects Headline News

Martian Labs Lands In BC

Martian Labs is opening a branch of its award-winning vfx division in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. In order to expand and adapt to the increasing demands of their clients, Martian Labs is launching this new office to help support the emerging Hollywood-in-the-north industry.

Studio Headline News

Takashi Murakami Opening Studio In L.A.

Japanese artist Takashi Murakami will be opening an animation studio in Los Angeles next summer, according to the LOS ANGELES TIMES.

Called Japan's Andy Warhol, and based in Tokyo, Murakami is known for his oversized anime style and already has a studio in New York. The new studio will operate under Kaikai Kiki, his production and artist-management company. Murakami works in painting and sculpture, film and mass-produced goods all under one company.

Headline News

Cinar Scandal Could Lead to Criminal Charges

Prosecutors in Quebec are evaluating the possibility of carrying out criminal charges against the founder of Cinar, Ronald Weinberg, and the former senior exec VP Hasanain Panju, according to Radio Canada. This comes after the conclusion of the investigation by the Safety of the Quebec, the national police of Quebec, that lasted five years, who were looking into how $100 million disappeared from the accounts of Cinar.

Mobile Headline News

Smiley Guy Studios To Restruture iThentic

iThentic shareholders, Barna-Alper Productions and iThentic LLC, have announced a strategic partnership and restructuring of the online and mobile video company, which transfers the management of its operations to Web and animation company, Smiley Guy Studios.

Animation Headline News

Sparx Animation Studio In Paris to Close

French animation and vfx house Sparx will be closing their Paris-based Sparx Animation Studios, per VARIETY. All future projects will be created at its sister animation site in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.

"We've been hit by the shockwaves of the U.S. financial crisis," said Sparx head of production, Thomas Schober. "Since our industry relies heavily on private financing, the crisis has made it extremely difficult for us to get work on long features."

Autodesk Headline News

Autodesk's Softimage Takeover Complete

Autodesk has completed the acquisition of substantially all of the assets of Softimage -- a developer of 3D technology for the film, television and games markets -- for approximately $35 million. On October 23, 2008, Autodesk announced it had signed a definitive agreement to acquire Softimage from Avid Technology.


A Few Words from Joseph Olin

By Dan Sarto | Sunday, November 16, 2008 at 4:46pm

Joseph Olin is the President of the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences. Just like that Other Academy, on which it's modeled, the AIAS exists to recognize and reward outstanding accomplishments in video games. The Academy is 12 years old, has 15,000 members, and acknowledges the best of the gaming best every year through the Interactive Achievement Awards.


Animfx Day 1: Maori Welcome and Park Road Post

By Dan Sarto | Friday, November 14, 2008 at 5:26pm

AnimfxNZ 2008 began with a song. A contingent of Maori gathered to perform a 'powhiri', or New Zealand traditional welcome. The foreign visitors and speakers lined up so the kaumatua could determine if they were friends or foes. Thankfully, there were no enemies among them, and the conference was able to proceed.

Million Headline News

4Kids Reports Q3 2008 Results, Settles Fox Litigation

4Kids Ent.'s revenue in the third quarter 2008 was up about 46 percent, largely due to sales of the CHAOTIC trading cards. The global children's entertainment and merchandising licensing organization also announced a litigation settlement with Fox.

The new settlement agreement means that 4Kids' block of Saturday morning television on the network will end on December 31, 2008, rather than at the end of the 2008-2009 broadcast season in September 2009.

Production Headline News

All About The Fuss

Former Goodby, Silverstein and Partners' Creative Director Randy Sotwell has merged with One Man Crime Wave's Jeff Linnell and Exec Producer Julia Scahill to launch a creative production company in San Francisco's Potrero Hill.

Autofuss will officially open on November 20.

Disney Headline News

Disney Reports Revenue Increase, Net Income Loss

The Walt Disney Company's revenue for fourth quarter 2008 was up 6 percent to $8.9 billion, but posted a 13 percent loss in net income to $760 million from a bad debt charge for a receivable from Lehman Bros.

Earnings per share for the prior year included gains on the sales of Disney's interests in E! Entertainment and US WEEKLY, favorable adjustments related to prior-year income tax matters, income from the discontinued operations of the ABC Radio business, and an equity-based compensation plan modification charge.

Film Headline News

Iron Man Propels Marvel To Q3 Gain

For Q3 2008, Marvel reported net sales of $182.5 million and net income of $50.6 million, or $0.64 per diluted share, compared to net sales of $123.6 million and net income of $36.3 million, or $0.45 per diluted share, in Q3 2007. The year-over-year improvement reflects an earlier-than-expected recognition of approximately $60 million in film revenues associated with the box office performance of Marvel's IRON MAN feature film.

However, with the lack of a new film scheduled for 2009, Marvel Chairman Morton Handel expects next year to be more modest.

Media Headline News

Chorion Signs Development Deal With Chinese Media Group

Family entertainment producer and distributor Chorion and Shanghai Media Group (SMG), the largest media group in China, have struck a landmark accord to jointly develop new animation programs for children.

Headline News

Entertainment Rights Hits $169M Loss

Media rights group Entertainment Rights, which owns TRANSFORMERS, HE-MAN, CASPER THE FRIENDLY GHOST, WHERE'S WALDO and VEGGIETALES, posted a loss of $169 million over the last eight months, per KIDSCREEN.

Under new CFO Edward Knighton, the company will embark on a debt reduction program. Deals with DVD distributor Genius Products and extensions with U.S. broadcasters could create a cash flow of more than $20 million, but the final touches on those agreements may not come this year.

Million Headline News

DreamWorks Co-Founder Geffen Exits Animation Board

DreamWorks Animation, in announcing their third quarter financial results Tuesday, also revealed that David Geffen is exiting the studio's board, per VARIETY. He remains a 22 percent voting power as a major shareholder, but it was unclear how much he will retain after leaving.

Geffen has announced he is retiring from show business, and declined to join the new DreamWorks Studios after the departure from Paramount. Company rules dictate that Geffen's take, combined with CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg's 47 percent, retain majority control.

Company Headline News

Company 3, Method Studios Enter Into Partnership

Company 3 and Method Studios have announced a unique, collaborative partnership to provide clients around the world with a full spectrum of state-of-the-art post production services. Company 3 Co-Founder/Colorist Stefan Sonnenfeld and Method Co-Founder/VFX Supervisor Alex Frisch saw a need for combined, solutions-based services ranging from color correction for commercials/music videos, digital camera capture, feature VFX to feature film digital intermediate (DI), which led them to form this innovative partnership.

Film Headline News

Legendary in Epic Negotiations

Film financier Legendary Pictures is in discussions to acquire Epic Games, the developer of GEARS OF WAR, among others, per VARIETY.

Execs at both companies declined late last week to comment to VARIETY.

If the deal goes through, it would make Legendary the first film financing company to invest directly in videogames. Studios like Warner Bros. (where Legendary is based) have recently started putting their own money into games.