MPC (The Moving Picture Co.), the award-winning visual effects facility, will be touring North America to expand its London-based team through 2008, having secured lead vfx vendor status for THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: PRINCE CASPIAN. MPC is also experiencing growth on such projects as Tim Burton's SWEENEY TODD, the Vince Vaughn-starrer FRED CLAUS, HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX and Roland Emmerich's 10,000 BC.
The Agency for Cultural Affairs in Tokyo will offer financial backing to discover and promote overseas young talent in animation, computer graphics and videogame programs in fiscal 2007, according to a report in JAPAN TODAY.COM
The agency seeks 440 million yen in budgetary allocations, awaiting approval. Funding would begin April 1 2007, to commission new work for around three million yen by artists who win contests or are recommended by experts, the officials said. Other efforts include improving websites on media arts.
China's animation industry produced more than 81,000 minutes of animation this year, nearly doubling last year's 42,700 minutes, Zhao Shi, deputy director of SARFT, according to XINHUA.
By August, China produced more than 50,000 minutes, which more than 1993 through 2003 combined. As for exporting animation, China sold 65,100 minutes to 17 countries.
DIC Ent. inked a distribution deal with Alliance Ent. Corp. (AEC), a Source Interlink company through its NCircle Ent. division, for the home entertainment and non-exclusive digital rights in the U.S. and Canada for select animated and live-action titles in DIC's library. DIC properties will access for the new first time distribution at brick and mortar retail outlets, as well as options for delivery on digital platforms in the U.s. and Canada.
Electronic Arts Inc. has acquired the development team at Utah-based developer Headgate Studios Inc. EA has partnered with Headgate since 2000 to develop top franchises, such as TIGER WOODS PGA TOUR and MADDEN NFL. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The development team will remain in Bountiful, Utah, and will continue to work in partnership with the EA development teams in California and Florida. The EA Salt Lake Studio team will focus on development for the Nintendo Wii.
Sam Raimi has hired former Tribune Ent. and Universal exec William Hamm to head the newly formed Ghost House Television, writes VARIETY.
First up for the new television division of Ghost House Pictures is a miniseries based on Dean Koontz's THE TAKING. Raimi and Ghost House partner Rob Tapert are exec producing with the co-exec producer being Larry Block, who brought the project to Ghost House.
The novel centers on a small-town husband and wife as an apocalyptic rain precedes otherworldly invasion.
London-based Entertainment Rights Plc. (ER) has conditionally agreed to acquire Classic Media Holdings, Inc. for $210.0 million. Classic Media is the U.S.-based owner of an extensive portfolio of intellectual properties focused on children's and family characters and brands.
Look Effects has expanded into graphic design with the recent unveiling of its new division, The Captain. The Captain offers TV, advertising and feature film client creative services that include the conception and production of main title sequences, show opens, logo design, film graphics and branding.
The Captain also achieved major client wins from HBO, Fox Sports and Dockers. Heading up the division are designer/director Mason Nicoll, exec producer Ellen Stafford and business development director Eric Todd Smith.
Cuppa Coffee Studios has purchased a new production facility at 53 Ontario Street in Toronto, formerly owned and occupied by The Partners Film Co. Housing 40 stop-motion studios, 50 compositing stations, seven online editing suites, including one HD suite, and an unparalleled character, sets and prop fabrication department, this move firmly cements Cuppa Coffee as the largest stop-motion facility in the world.
Entity FX, creator of visual effects for motion pictures such as MIAMI VICE and THE AVIATOR and television series such as SMALLVILLE, has opened a new studio, providing full-service visual effects supervision and production in Vancouver, British Columbia. The new Canadian facility coincides with the expansion of Entity FX's U.S. operations in Los Angeles and will enhance the company's position in providing theatrical and episodic visual effects work in a market that topped more than $1 billion last year.
In response to several Montreal newspapers reporting that Autodesk will cut 30 jobs at its Montreal office in order to put greater emphasis on its 3D software products, the company released the following statement:
"Autodesk Inc. made proactive changes to its Media & Ent. systems business in order to optimize that business' performance and long-term growth. Autodesk Media & Ent. vps Marc Petit and Stig Gruman led the effort...
The National Entertainment Buying Group and two independent retailers have filed a lawsuit in Massachusetts Superior Court to stop The Weinstein Co. and Genius Products from labeling its sell-thru DVDs as not appropriate for rental, reports VideoBusiness.com. This moves comes on the heels of TWC's recent deal giving Blockbuster exclusive rights to rent Weinstein DVD releases.
Mumbai-based UTV Software Communications Ltd. has announced the acquisition of 70% of U.K. gaming company Ignition Ent. for $13 million and a 51% stake in leading Indian mobile gaming firm Indiagames for $15 million, reports various news outlets. In addition, UTV said it was investing $30 million into three animated features.
Over the past decade, North Korea has quietly developed an impressive animation industry, exporting programs to Asia, Europe and North America, according to a report on RFA.org.
The success of the North Korean animation industry, as well as the overall film business in general, is partly credited to leader Kim Jong Il's love of films. The government supports the production of around 60 features per year and encourages international sales through its biannual Pyongyang Film Festival.
The animation industry in Kolkata, India is growing at an annual rate of 40%, which is 5% higher than the rest of India, according to THE BUSINESS STANDARD.
"In Kolkata, cost of production is less due to availability of cheaper skilled manpower. Automatically, Kolkata becomes the preferred destination for all kinds of contract-based animation activities," said Barunansu Sarkar, regional head (East) of Arena Multimedia.
The Indian animation market was estimated at $285 million in 2005 and is expected to expand to $950 million by 2009.
Walt Disney Co. will cut about 20% of its staff in the feature animation division. Animation Guild business representative Steve Hulett told REUTERS that between 70 to 140 people would lose their jobs either at the end of February or beginning of March. Employees will be informed of who will be cut on Dec. 11 or 12, 2006, Hulett said.
Visual effects luminaries Eric Hanson and Greg Downing have launched XRez.com (www.XRez.com), a new website site of gigapixel panoramas shot around the world and a service that offers greater dimensionality to visual effects companies, national parks and filmmakers.
Village Prods. has formed a new company to handle its business in China called Village Prods. (China) Ltd. (VPCL and opened offices in Beijing and Shanghai earlier this month.
Village Prods. head Mark Rowland said, This is an important step for us. It re-enforces and supports our intention to build on the business we have already begun to build in China. We are working on three fronts -- co-production, distribution into China and re-versioning of Chinese series for the international market.
Paramount Pictures Intl. has partnered with CJ Ent. to distribute its films in South Korea, reports VARIETY. The exclusive deal takes affect Feb. 1, 2007.
This agreement comes on the heals of the demise of Paramount and Universal's South Korean branch of United Intl. Pictures, which distributed the two studios films in the country. Universal will begin distributing its films in South Korea through Universal Pictures Int'l starting Jan. 1.
Mattel Inc., home to the Barbie doll, is now claiming that it owns MGA Ent. Inc.'s rival Bratz doll, part of a new legal fight over a toy that has stripped the toy giant of a chunk of anticipated Barbie sales, according to the WALL STREET JOURNAL.
In court papers filed in U.S. District Court, Central California, on Nov. 20, 2006, (obtained by the WALL STREET JOURNAL), Mattel claims ownership to the Bratz empire because its former employee, named Carter Bryant, conceived the doll while he worked as a Barbie designer.
Hybrid visual effects & specialty shooting company Engine Room has relocated to Hollywood Center Studios. The 3,800-square-foot, custom designed space features workstations for the company's 20 digital effects artists as well as headquarters for its live-action film unit. The move marks the next step in the company's development, including infrastructure growth, additional talent and key international alliances.
Engine Room has revved up on a number of projects, including visual effects for television episodics, commercials, independent films and studio features.
Animation/family entertainment management and production company The Gotham Group is teaming with videogame talent management and production company Union Ent. to produce videogames, animated series and feature films.
"The clear overlap between Union's impressive work in the videogame world and Gotham's expertise in the animation, film and television worlds, has led our companies to collaborate to mutual advantage on various projects in the past," said Gotham Group ceo/founder Ellen Goldsmith-Vein. "This alliance will further that success."
DreamWorks Animation has issued a statement warning investors of a potentially substantial earnings write-down on DreamWorks/Aardman Animations-produced FLUSHED AWAY, which has only made $40.5 million since its opening Nov. 3, 2006. The company said that the film's estimated were $143 million. Specifics of the write-downs were not released.
Research and Markets has released a comprehensive report detailing the status of the Chinese animation industry. The report states that the gross earnings of China's animation industry have already exceeded that of the film industry. Due to China's tremendous market and its weak domestic production, more than 80% of profits generated from the animation industry were earned by Japanese and American productions, making China the world's largest import country for animation products.