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Headline News GVFX Opens Santa Monica Office

Santa delivered early this year to Toronto-based visual effects studio GVFX, which has expanded its global operations to the Los Angeles area and brought on a new executive producer and head of business development. GVFX, which recently completed visual effects on the popular holiday film THE SANTA CLAUSE 2, has opened a new location in Santa Monica to augment its expanding efforts in Toronto and Vancouver.

Headline News 4Kids And Toys R Us Team For Tech Toys

4Kids Entertainment subsidiary, 4Kids Technology, Inc., has entered into a three-year agreement with Toys "R" Us to develop toys and games jointly for sale exclusively at Toys "R" Us retail locations throughout the world. Under the terms of the agreement, 4Kids Technology, Inc., will invent, create and engineer "Tech Toys" that use existing and novel technology. Toys "R" Us will be responsible for the final development, manufacture and sale of the products. "Tech Toys" include electronic features that enhance play patterns, making them particularly appealing to kids.

Headline News Treasure Planet Unearths No Gold For Disney Investors

Based on the lackluster performance of its latest animated feature TREASURE PLANET, The Walt Disney Co. has lowered its fourth quarter earnings. Disney reported quarterly earnings of 11 cents per share and total income of $222 million. The company is now reporting earnings of 9 cents per share for the fourth quarter ended September 30 for a quarterly net income of $175 million. The adjustment changes its per-share earnings for the full year from 63 cents to 60 cents. TREASURE PLANET cost $140 million to make and has earned approximately $17 million in six days of release.

Headline News The Mill Leaves Feature Effects To Focus On Commercials

The Mill, one of Londons premier visual effects facilities, has announced that its feature effects division Mill Film will no longer work on feature film visual effects but will instead concentrate on advertising, The Mill's core business. Mill Film won an Academy Award in 2000 for its feature film effects work on GLADIATOR, the only U.K. company ever to be so honored.

Headline News Lilo & Stitch Creators Launch Own Production Company

Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois, co-writers/directors of the animated hit LILO & STITCH, have entered into a deal with The Walt Disney Co. to write, direct and produce animated and live-action fare. DAILY VARIETY reports that Sanders and DeBlois will earn multiple seven figures for both live-action and animated films. Future projects for the duo include an untitled CG animated project directed by Sanders, and THE GUMSHOE CHRONICLES, a live-action family film that will be written and directed by DeBlois.

Headline News S4 Studios Develops 3D And Flash Content

Burbank, California's S4 Studios is a 3D and Flash animation content studio founded by animation veterans Dale Hendrickson, Geoffrey Kater and Larry Le Francis. Dale Hendrickson spent eight years as a character designer on THE SIMPSONS, Geoffrey Kater is an award-winning industrial design futurist (THE SILVER SURFER) and Larry Le Francis has over 15 years of long form production, development and marketing experience on THE SIMPSONS, RUGRATS, DUCKMAN and SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS, among others.

Headline News Film Roman Continues To Diversify As Revenue Improves

Stating a continued commitment to diversify its animation production, independent animation company Film Roman, Inc. reported improved third quarter revenue results. According to the studio, revenue increased by 54% or $2 million, to $5.7 million for the quarter ended September 30, 2002, from $3.7 million for the quarter ended September 30, 2001. The revenue increase is attributed to the company delivering more fee-for-services episodes.

Headline News Austrians Claim First Appearance Of Mickey Mouse!

According to reports from Austrian news sources, a fresco of an animal that bears a striking resemblance to Mickey Mouse has been uncovered on the wall of a 700 year-old church in the Austrian city of Malta. The painting is in the Community Church in Malta, Carinthia and was discovered by art historian Eduard Mahlknecht. While Malta's government officials claim that this 14th century mouse could overturn Disney's copyright on the familiar rodent, Mahlknecht believes the similarity to Mickey is purely coincidental, and the figure most likely represents a weasel or a beaver.

Headline News Spider-Man Gives Marvel Super Third Quarter Results

Comic book publisher Marvel Enterprises, Inc. reported a 96% increase in third quarter net sales benefiting from a growing list of entertainment, publishing, toy and consumer products including summer blockbuster SPIDER-MAN. Results for the quarter ending September 30, 2002, reflected approximately $4 million in revenue and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) related to SPIDER-MAN which had been anticipated to be received in Q4 2002.

Headline News Stan Lee Files $10M Lawsuit Against Marvel Entertainment

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS has reported that SPIDER-MAN creator Stan Lee has filed a $10 million lawsuit against Marvel Entertainment, seeking 10% of the profits from the blockbuster franchise SPIDER-MAN. Lee, who has created a myriad of super hero characters for Marvel, including SPIDER-MAN, claims Marvel Entertainment signed a deal to give him 10% of any profits from his characters used in films and television shows. Although SPIDER-MAN has grossed over $800 million worldwide, Lee says he hasn't seen any money from his character's newfound global success.

Headline News Vicarious Visions And The Animation Academy Announce Partnership

Video game developer Vicarious Visions, Inc. has partnered with The Animation Academy of Burbank, California to develop new intellectual property and character brands, starting with a multi-platform video game set for release in 2003. Vicarious Visions is an independent game development studio whose recent titles include STAR WARS JEDI KNIGHT II: JEDI OUTCAST for Xbox and Gamecube, and the award winning CRASH BANDICOOT and TONY HAWKS PRO SKATER series for Game Boy Advance.

Headline News B1 Media Launches DVD Pre-Mastering Division

Los Angeles-based design and production studio B1 Media continues to grow with the launch of a DVD pre-mastering arm to provide compression, authoring and quality control services. Heading up the pre-mastering department are pre-mastering director Steve Gustafson and business development director Steve Alvanos. Both Gustafson and Alvanos were most recently with Cinesite, where they launched that companys pre-mastering arm. At Cinesite, Gustafson served as executive creative director of DVD and Alvanos was director of business development.

Headline News Mainframe Establishes A Global Sales And Marketing Unit

Mainframe Entertainment has established a global sales division and has named Joy Tashjian as vice president, worldwide sales and marketing. Tashjian will oversee the new division as the company expands its presence in the U.S. and strengthens its position in the global marketplace. She will also oversee the international distribution and will supervise the domestic sales for Mainframe's properties including TONY HAWK'S FEASTERS, DOT'S BOTS, BETTY BOOP, WUBBIES and SCARY GODMOTHER among others.

Headline News Disney Accused Of "Sneak Attack" In Pooh Royalties Fight

Yet another twist in the bitter battle for Winnie the Pooh royalties surfaced this week when Disney reportedly made an announcement that the granddaughter of Pooh creator A.A. Milne and the granddaughter of Pooh illustrator E. H. Shepard have decided to reclaim all rights to the characters. According to an AP report, Disney cited a clause in the 1998 Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act that will allow the heirs to reclaim the international rights granted to Disney, as well as rights granted to Stephen Slesinger Inc. and grant all those rights exclusively to Disney starting in 2004.

Headline News Creek & River Talent Management Company Opens New York Office

Creek & River America (C&R), a talent management company representing freelance creative artists and production and design firms, has opened its first North American office in New York. Creek & River America represents U.S.-based talent on behalf of its parent company, Tokyo-based Creek & River Co., Ltd., which currently represents more than 20,000 creative artists including directors, producers, cinematographers, animators, designers, illustrators, copywriters and photographers.

Headline News Pixar Reports Record Third Quarter Financial Results

Pixar Animation Studios announced the largest quarterly profit in the company's history with the financial results for its fiscal third quarter of 2002 and for the nine months ended September 28, 2002. For the quarter, Pixar earned $46.9 million or $0.87 per diluted share, compared to earnings of $6.2 million, or $0.12 per diluted share, achieved in the year-ago quarter. Revenues for the quarter were $102.5 million, as compared to $11.3 million in the year-ago quarter. These results were largely driven by better than expected sales of the MONSTERS, INC.

Headline News Corus Entertainment Takes $128M Write-Down On Nelvana

In announcing its fourth quarter and August 31, 2002 year-end results, Corus Entertainment Inc. revealed it has taken a CAD$200 million (approx. US$128 million) write-down of its investment in Nelvana. Nelvana is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Corus Entertainment. The company took the write-down because of the slowdown in the production and distribution industry over the past year. The write-down includes $40 million (US$25.6 million) from Nelvana's library and $160 million (US$102 million) for goodwill and other intangibles.

Headline News Disney Bias In Pooh Royalty Case Results In Firm Being Fired

The long-running litigation over WINNIE THE POOH royalties took a startling turn as accountants hired by the court to audit Disney's records were officially fired on October 25, 2002. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Ernest M. Hiroshige had determined that the accountants were biased in favor of Disney and their auditing methods unreliable. He has ordered that a new independent accounting firm be hired.

Headline News Cartoon Network Expands In Europe

Cartoon Network has added Hungarian and Romanian to its language services making it available in no less than eleven languages in Europe. Starting out as a pan-European channel in 1993, Cartoon Network now has seven dedicated regional channels in Europe, the Middle East and Africa where it can be enjoyed in English, Danish, Dutch, French, Hungarian, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, Spanish and Swedish.

Headline News IMAX Launches In South America With Four New Theaters

IMAX Corporation has announced that it will be bringing large format theaters to South America. Four IMAX theatres will open, to be located in Chile and Ecuador. "IMAX's entry into South America with these four new theatres is an exciting moment for our company and is really only the beginning for us in a market that we believe can support many more IMAX theatres in many countries," said Richard L. Gelfond and Bradley J. Wechsler, co-CEOs and co-chairmen, IMAX Corporation.

Headline News UPN To Drop Kids Block

ELECTRONIC MEDIA ONLINE is reporting that U.S. broadcast network UPN will be dropping Disney's two-hour animated block beginning in 2003, opting instead to give the time slots back to stations. The kids' block airs weekdays on various UPN affiliates and features such series as DIGIMON and DISNEY'S RECESS. Disney has been programming the block since 1999. The two-hour slot will likely be handed back to affiliates for syndicated or local programming, effectively removing at least one network from the broadcast 'toon wars.

Headline News Slave Opens Sister Company In Bucharest

London-based computer animation studio Slave Studios Ltd. has opened Bravo Studios, a sister company based in Bucharest. Bravo Studios is headed by Cinesite veteran Bill Scanlon, and opened in summer 2002 with 30 animators. The studio expects to increase its staff to over 50 animators by 2003. Slave and Bravo are currently at work on numerous projects for television and film. Among other projects, the studio recently completed SPHERIKS, a 26 x half-hour TV series in partnership with Passion Pictures for FIFA, featuring the official mascots for the WORLD CUP 2002.

Headline News Saban May Buy Muppets

REUTERS reports that television mogul Haim Saban is in talks to buy the Jim Henson Co. from Germany's EM.TV. According to REUTERS sources, the sale price is hovering around $100 million, a deep discount from the $680 million (cash and stock) that EM.TV paid for the Muppet factory in February 2000. Since EM.TV put the Henson Co. on the block on 2001, both Viacom and Disney have been rumored suitors for the company but no deals were ever solidified, although Disney has been hovering around the property for years.

Headline News RTV Downsizes As Restructuring Is Successfully Completed

RTV Family Entertainment AG has announced that the company has been successfully restructured, thanks in part to downsizing of staff and a capital increase in cash. In May 2002, RTVs steadily declining economic situation put the company into dire straits until a bridge credit line was issued to them in mid-June 2002. The funds were backed by a letter of credit from RTV's majority shareholder Ravensburger AG. Ravensburger has also taken over the 4.9 million Euros debt that remained, which will now allow RTV to refocus on its core business.

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