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Headline News Atari and Spark Unlimited Strike Partnership

Atari Inc. it has entered into an exclusive, long-term agreement with Spark Unlimited, developer of CALL OF DUTY: FINEST HOUR, for worldwide publishing rights across all media to all future titles developed by the award-winning creative team at Spark Unlimited. The first joint project is in development at Spark for the next generation of consoles, and will be unveiled in greater detail in the spring, with an anticipated launch during the holiday 2006 season.

Headline News E10+ Rating Added to ESRB System

A new videogame rating category, E10+ (Everyone 10 and older), was introduced by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), to help consumers more easily differentiate between games that have content appropriate for the whole family and games that are suitable for ages 10 and older.

Headline News Switch VFX Celebrates One-Year Anniversary

Toronto-based Switch VFX, a visual effects studio specializing in photorealistic effects and CG character creation for feature films and television, marked its first anniversary in February. Switch VFX recently completed visual effects work on the Fox/Sci Fi Channel series pilot ANONYMOUS REX and on the GalaFilm Prods. TV movie TRIPPING THE WIRE, as well as title design for the CBC miniseries WHISKEY ECHO.

Headline News Peter Jackson Sues New Line Over Lord of the Rings

Like a typical Hollywood marriage, it seems that Peter Jacksons made in heaven collaboration with New Line has come upon irreconcilable differences. On Feb. 28, 2005, Jacksons Wingnut Films filled suit in Los Angeles claiming New Line and its subsidiary Katja Motion Pictures failed to properly calculate revenue from LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, reports the AP.

Headline News Game Accessory to Launch RedOctane Software Business

RedOctane has established a new division of the company dedicated to publishing software with its first title for PlayStation2 to be announced in spring 2005.

"Launching into a new business segment with the publishing of videogames is a natural evolution for us," said Kai Huang, president of RedOctane. "We are committed to delivering the same high quality and fun found in our peripherals with the upcoming RedOctane software line."

The game will join a prestigious line of award-winning RedOctane videogame accessories.

Headline News USA Index Corp. Gets U.S. Rep

The Honig Co. Inc., a leading boutique public relations agency, announced it is representing USA Index Corp., the U.S. subsidiary of Index Corp., a $20 billion diversified technology and media company based in Japan.

The Honig Co. will initially be undertaking a campaign aimed at raising awareness of Sega Animanium, a software product for the animation industry, and working to increase sales within North America.

Headline News Noodlesoup Forms Film/TV Production Division

New York City-based Noodlesoup Productions, Inc. is expanding to form a new original content creation division - Noodlesoup Entertainment that will solely focus on the development and production of high quality original animated feature films and television programming.

Noodlesoup Prods. is best known for its breakout Cartoon Network hit series, THE VENTURE BROTHERS, as well as for the work of its commercial divisions campaigns for MSN and Earthlink. Noodlesoup Ent. is already beginning development on several new programs with major U.S. distributors.

Headline News Spanish-lingo Simpsons Cast Goes On Strike

By Rick DeMott | Thursday, February 24, 2005 at 12:00am

On Feb. 23, 2005, negotiations broke down in the ongoing dispute between the Spanish-language voices of THE SIMPSONS union and a Mexico City-based dubbing studio, spurring the cast to go on an official strike, reports HOLLYWOOD REPORTER.

The cast alleges that its employer, formerly known as Grabaciones y Doblajes, breached its contract with their union, the National Actors' Assn. Union, by hiring union-member actors. The company claims that the contract was made void when its administration and company name changed to Grabaciones y Doblajes Internacionales (GDI).

Headline News Sheer Force of Will Pictures Opens

By Rick DeMott | Thursday, February 24, 2005 at 12:00am

Sheer Force of Will Pictures Llc, a new feature film production company, has opened in Glendale, California. The new company is owned by co-founders Kevin Kutchaver, a visual effects veteran who concurrently remains head of visual effects design and production company HimAnI Prods. and feature film producer Linda Drake. Sheer Force of Will Pictures plans to produce two-three original feature films a year. The duo also announced the start of production on the companys first feature film, RESCUE ROCKET X-5, which begins in late February 2005 in Los Angeles.

Headline News Furious FX Blazes Through First Year

Burbank-based Furious FX enters its sophomore year with a wide assortment of their first years work erupting into theaters and onto DVD shelves. Currently in production are MR. AND MRS. SMITH and FEVER PITCH.

The newly ignited facility has completed nearly 500 shots in the last 12 months. Their work is featured in more than 15 high profile films, including THE CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK, SPIDER-MAN 2, SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW, FLIGHT OF THE PHOENIX, the upcoming UNDERCLASSMAN, as well as Sundance indie CHRYSTAL starring Billy Bob Thornton.

Headline News NVIDIA Opens New Design Center in India

NVIDIA Corp. has opened a new design center in Bangalore, India, continuing NVIDIA's expansion in the Asia-Pacific region.

"India is an exciting market and well-positioned for phenomenal growth," said Jen Hsun-Huang, president and ceo, NVIDIA Corp. "We know from experience that India is home to some of the world's brightest engineers, as many of our top employees today are originally from there. India is strategic to NVIDIA and we are delighted to become a member of the Bangalore community."

Headline News Animation X Launches in Berlin

RUN LOLA RUN producer X Filme and David Groenewold's media investment group Promedium Gesellschaft fuer Medienfinanzierung have launched an animation firm, reports VARIETY. The Berlin-based firm will be run by Stephen Schesch, former head of the animation company Ellipse Deutschland.

Animation X has already begun its first feature, an adaptation of Tomi Ungerer's children's book THE THREE ROBBERS. The film has a budget of E3.5 million ($4.5 million) and is funded by Groenewold's GFP 2 fund.

Headline News Miyazaki & Friends to Buy Studio Ghibli

SPIRITED AWAY director Hayao Miyazaki and a group of investors are set to buy Studio Ghibli from Tokuma Shoten Publishing Co., reports VARIETY.

Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki, director Isao Takahata, Miyazaki and other top employees have already formed an independent company in Tokyo with a market capitalization of ¥10 million ($96,000) and are seeking between $96 million-$144 million to buy out the rights to all past Ghibli productions.

Headline News Pixar Profits Up While Down on Disney Sequels

Pixar Animation Studios Inc. will not take a role in The Walt Disney Co.'s production of sequels to Pixar films, said Steve Jobs, ceo of Pixar, during a telephone conference call with analysts regarding Emeryville, California, animation studios financial results for fourth quarter and fiscal year ended January 1, 2005.

Headline News Vicon Acquires Peak Performance Technologies

By Rick DeMott | Thursday, February 10, 2005 at 12:00am

Vicon Motion Systems has acquired Peak Performance Technologies, Inc., enabling the combined company to expand its market reach, broaden its product range and strengthen the company's technology expertise in the motion capture field.

OMG Group chief exec Julian Morris commented: "We believe that this is an excellent acquisition for the group, bringing expansion into the sports market and video-based motion capture. Peak and Vicon, together, provide a compelling proposition across a wide market and product range."

Headline News Philippine Studio Marks Passage to New Home

pasi, Philippine animation studio inc., will be moving its production studio facilities on March 1, 2005, to a new home after 15 years at its current Makati, Manila location. The new facilities located in the upscale Legaspi Village, business district of Metro Makati, encompasses six floors with 3,709 square meters of production and office floor space. The building offers an upgraded technical infrastructure and floor to ceiling windows to give artists ample natural light.

Headline News New VFX Company Liquid Images Opens

Creative director Paul Song, exec director Casey Gelvin and exec producer Valerie Schadt have launched Liquid Images, a new visual effects company in Santa Monica that will be located within the offices of Cut + Run/Los Angeles. Liquid Images provides effects and motion graphic design for commercials, main titles and broadcast design. The company is independent of Cut + Run, but will serve as the companys visual effects and finishing arm on a project-by-project basis.

Headline News TrendWatch Cites Gaming Action at Vfx/Animation Studios

According to TrendWatch Inc.s VISUAL EFFECTS/DYNAMIC MEDIA REPORT from last summer, 23% of American vfx/animation studios are allocating more resources for game development tools. Also, faster and more powerful desktop technology has enabled game developers to create compelling life-like, realistic film-like graphics. Plus, the combination of these two forces market growth and faster, more powerful technology -- is driving demand for more sophisticated magic from companies building games.

Headline News Disney’s Cook Comments on New Toon Arm/ Song of the South

By Rick DeMott | Wednesday, February 2, 2005 at 12:00am

At a Wall Street analysts meeting in Orlando, Florida, Disney studio chairman Dick Cook commented on a new animation division and the possible release of SONG OF THE SOUTH. REUTERS reports that Cook announced the studio was setting up a new animation division in Glendale to produce sequels to various Disney/Pixar collaborations. The TOY STORY 3 feature would be the first film produced with a targeted release in 2008.

Headline News Electronic Arts Cuts Jobs at Playa Vista Facility

Electronic Arts has laid off 60 development employees at its Playa Vista, California facility. EA opened the West Los Angeles campus little over a year and a half ago with the forecast of expanding to 1,000 employees in the near future.

The move was made by the facilitys exec director Neil Young, who came to the post last September after working on the LORD OF THE RINGS games and overseeing EAs Northern California-based Maxis studio.

Headline News No New Trail in Pooh Case

On Jan. 26, 2005, a Los Angeles judge denied a new trial to Stephen Slesinger Inc. -- owners of the U.S. marketing rights for WINNIE THE POOH in their lawsuit against The Walt Disney Co., reports REUTERS. Superior Court Judge Charles McCoy threw out the initial suit last March, ruling that Stephen Slesinger Inc. had stolen evidence and tainted the case.

Headline News Pipelinefx Closes Series A Financing Round With PacifiCap Group

By Rick DeMott | Wednesday, January 26, 2005 at 12:00am

Pipelinefx, a leading provider of enterprise renderfarm management software for 3D animation and interactive entertainment, has closed its Series A investment round led by Hawaii venture capital firm PacifiCap Group Llc. Several members of the UH Angel investment network also participated in the transaction.

Headline News ShoPro & VIZ to Merge

ShoPro Ent. Inc. and VIZ Llc., two prominent North American-based companies specializing in Japanese content, are merging this spring to create a new entertainment company. The still unnamed venture, to be based in San Francisco, will leverage the unique collaboration, vision and ownership of three global powerhouses in Japanese manga and animation, Shueisha Inc., Shogakukan Inc. and Shogakukan Production Co. Ltd. (ShoPro Japan).

Headline News Court Rules in Favor of Stan Lee Over Marvel

By Rick DeMott | Wednesday, January 19, 2005 at 12:00am

The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled that Stan Lee is entitled to 10% of the profits Marvel has received since Nov. 1998 from studios for the right to produce and distribute motion pictures and television productions based on Marvel's characters, and from movie-based toys manufactured and sold by Marvel itself.

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