The William Morris Agency (WMA) has signed TOKYOPOP, the leading publisher of manga graphic novels in North America and largest supplier of manga entertainment in the world. WMA will represent TOKYOPOP's original intellectual properties for film, television, digital, merchandising and game development.
The Walt Disney Co. reports an improved profits of $1.2 billion, a 4.7% gain, on revenues of $9 billion, for the third quarter and nine months ended June 30, 2007, a 6.7% rise on the same period last year. The company credited strong TV program sales and higher theme park attendance for the gain.
Operating income in its Media Networks group jumped 23% to $1.358 billion.
Japan's Media Development Research Institute announced that the Japanese anime market grew to 241.5 billion yen (about $2.026 billion) in 2006, reports ANIME NEWS NETWORK. This is the highest level since the institute started surveying in 1990, and represents the third year of continuous growth.
ZeniMax Media Inc., parent company of Bethesda Softworks, has created ZeniMax Online Studios. The division, to be headed by online gaming expert Matt Firor, will focus on the Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMO) market segment. ZeniMax Online Studios is located in Hunt Valley, Maryland.
The Walt Disney Co. has acquired Club Penguin, one of the fastest-growing online virtual worlds for kids. Since its launch in October 2005, award-winning Club Penguin has grown to more than 700,000 paid subscribers, achieving this subscriber and user growth with very limited marketing efforts, relying mostly on strong product and word-of-mouth awareness among kids. The site has more than 12 million activated users, primarily in the U.S. and Canada
Whiskytree Inc., a new boutique started by a group of former ILM digital artists, has launched in San Rafael, California, under the leadership of ceo/creative director Jonathan Harb. The award-winning digital matte artist and vfx supervisor founded the boutique to provide concept art, character design, production design, digital environment creation, matte painting and visual effects consultation services for work in the film, games, television, animation and emerging media industries.
DreamWorks Animation today (July 31, 2007) posted a sharply higher second-quarter profit, propelled by SHREK THE THIRD, which has reached global box office grosses of $720 million since mid-May.
The Glendale, California-based studio reported total revenue was $222.5 million and net income was $61.8 million, or 60 cents per share, compared with $74.9 million and net $13.7 million, or 13 cents per share, for the same period in 2006.
With more than two years of R&D under its belt, xRez Studio has launched a visual effects division based on the studio's work employing gigapixel panoramic photography.
Founded by Eric Hanson and Greg Downing, both veterans in advanced photography and movie vfx, xRez has perfected the highest resolution photography currently available. Using digital techniques derived from feature film visual effects, images can be created at resolutions of up to 150,000 pixels wide, arguably surpassing any large format film standards used in photography and well beyond IMAX.
Imagi Studios U.S.A. and the Animation Guild, Local 839 IATSE signed a contract on July 20, 2007, covering animation writers, storyboard artists and designers. Imagi Studios U.S.A. also signed onto the Animation Guild's 401(k) Plan, and employees will be covered under the Motion Picture Industry Pension and Health Plan.
Growing production costs in India have forced Japan's billion-dollar animation industry to look elsewhere for outsourcing cartoons, including Thailand, reports THE ECONOMIC TIMES.
Shuzo Shiota, ceo of Polygo Pictures, one of Japan's largest computer-animation studios, was in Bangkok last week to brief Thai entrepreneurs on the outsourcing opportunities awaiting them in Japan's 3D cartoon industry, which reported revenues of 1.4 billion yen (around $2 billion) in 2005, according to THE NATION.
Mobile service provider Amp'd Mobile will shut down at the end of July following its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing last month, reports THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER.
On Monday, July 23, 2007, Amp'd sent a text message to its customers saying it would disconnect their services the next day. Later, on its website, the company said it would be "potentially suspending U.S. operations on July 31."
Amp'd grew quickly with a youthful customer base, however in its bankruptcy filling it stated that nearly 46% of its 175,000 subscribers were not paying their bills.
IDT Internet Mobile Group (IMG), a division of IDT Corp., has formed Zedge Studios to develop and license digital content for distribution through web and mobile platforms. IMG has also acquired a controlling interest in IDW Publishing (www.idwpublishing.com), an independent comics publisher known for the horror, action and sci-fi genres, boasting such high-profile titles as THE TRANSFORMERS, 30 DAYS OF NIGHT, CSI, STAR TREK, 24 and SCARFACE.
VFX house CafeFX is branching out into character animation, which will be headed up by Academy Award-nominated animation supervisor James Straus. The move is a reaction to an increased demand for the company's character animation work following its participation on PAN'S LABYRINTH.
Oscar-nominated producer of short film GIVE UP YER AUL SINS, Brown Bag Films, has opened a new animation studio at Smithfield Market in Dublin, Ireland.
The studio was founded in 1994 by Cathal Gaffney and Darragh O'Connell. Now with the new Smithfield office, the company will employ 53 people.
The new office is Ireland's first hi-def animation and post house.
The company is working on production of its first animated TV series, I'M AN ANIMAL, which has already sold to 140 countries.
TERMINATOR franchise rights owner, Halcyon Co. have filed a lawsuit against MGM in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleging that MGM is getting in the way of the right to set up distribution deals for T4, reports VARIETY.
Halcyon principals Victor Kubicek and Derek Anderson purchased the rights to the franchise rights in May, which included sequel rights as well as a screenplay for the fourth installment from T3 writers John Brancato and Michael Ferris.
Ubisoft, one of the world's largest videogame publishers, announced that on July 12, 2007 it sold the 13,367,923 shares it owned in Gameloft (representing 18.89% of the company's capital) to Calyon, Credit Agricole Group's Corporate and Investment Bank. The sale price was 6.08 euros, based on Gameloft's closing share price on July 12, 2007.
Speedshape has launched a new vfx design studio located in the heart of Venice, specifically geared to deliver a broad range of powerful visual solutions for both advertising and entertainment.
Santa Monica-based Cake Editorial has launched Pi, a new visual effects, graphic design and 2D/3D animation division led by creative director Josh Kirschenbaum.
In addition, Pi has added visual effects artist Brian Dickett, who comes to Pi following a freelance career that included an extensive stint at Outpost Digital, Los Angeles, where he worked on recent projects for GM and the Tennis Channel.
Production I.G. is set to acquire comic publisher Mag Garden in full by December, VARIETY reports. The Japanese toon firm already owns 15% of the company and will acquire the remaining shares in a 2-to-1 stock exchange. After the acquisition, Mag Garden will be removed from the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Production I.G. hopes to use Mag Garden's manga properties as a source for animated productions.
UNIT, one of the U.K.âs leading post-production and creative services companies, has launched UNIT Effects, a new in-house visual effects division, which provides a full range of 2D and 3D effects across all genres from commercials and HD TV productions to 2K or 4K resolution films.
The division will be overseen by UNIT co-founder Roland Woolner, formerly joint-md of vfx company Split Image, who becomes head of UNIT Effects. Split Image was recently acquired by UNIT, making it the U.K.âs leading Final Cut finishing house.
HIT Ent. has made a number of key changes to its U.K./European consumer products business following the recent appointment of Peter Byrne as evp of worldwide consumer products.
Katie Rollings fills the newly created position of vp of international marketing responsible for all strategic brand planning, marketing, retail development and creative services covering the entire international region.
Jon Owen is now vp of EMEA (Europe, the Middle East & Africa) consumer products responsible for all U.K. and EMEA licensing operations.
On Monday, July 2, 2007, Indian production company UTV Motion Pictures Plc began trading on London's junior market AIM, reports REUTERS. Shares jumped 6% over by the close of its first day, finishing at $3.075. The total value of the shares is $320.2 million.
UTV plans to invest the money earned on AIM into 30 productions over the next two years. The firm has 25 films in the pipeline and has put its funds behind such Hollywood films as THE NAMESAKE and M Night Shyamalan's upcoming THE HAPPENING.
At its annual general meeting in Munich on June 26, 2007, the management board of EM.TV AG -- in future EM.Sport Media AG -- laid out its plans for strong revenue growth during the upcoming years.
Following the strategic decision, announced on March 22, 2007, to concentrate future business on the sports sector and to dispose of its interests in the entertainment sector (children's and youth programs), the company is striving to at least double its revenues from the sports sector from around 220 million euros (2006) to significantly more than 400 million euros by 2010.
Frederator Studios is now branching out into 2D genre features with the launch of Frederator Films, according to VARIETY. Frederator head Fred Seibert will produce the films with animation vet Kevin Kolde and talent management head/producer Eric Gardner. The films will be budgeted under $20 million.
PorchLight Ent. is forming a domestic home entertainment division launching under the label of "PorchLight Home Entertainment," with Gary Jones, svp of PorchLight Home Ent. overseeing acquisitions and sales. The new division will distribute kids and family programming acquired from leading producers worldwide in addition to releasing the company's new productions, as well as programs from its substantial library.