Microsoft Corp. has delayed the launch of its Xbox video game system by one week and is now planning to have Xbox in North American stores on November 15, 2001. The system will retail for approximately US$299. Microsoft is refusing to say how many units it will ship on that date and will only confirm it will ship 1 million to 1.5 million Xbox consoles to North American retailers this holiday season. Microsoft executives have not explained the delay, saying only that it is not related to the attacks in Washington and New York, or the nations economy.
Boxershorts Cartoons, a division of The Chris Moujaes Company, Inc., has created The Boxershorts Academy to provide an opportunity for education in animation studio arts to students who reside between the West and East Coasts. The Boxershorts Academy's classes are available to the general public in both live and electronic formats. Live courses are held in Austin, Texas at various locations and the online independent study courses are held at BoxerAcademy.com.
Midlands, England-based animation production house, PS Creative has moved to new, larger premises -- a building called The Doghouse in Bewdley, Worcestershire, England. With this expansion they soon hope to be recruiting more staff for both freelance and permanent in-house positions. PS Creative is currently furthering their 3D character animation and on-screen typography work developing a Europe-wide marketing campaign for a major pharmaceutical company.
Universal Digital Communications Inc. (UDC), a privately held digital marketing company, has acquired new media content creator and distributor Spunky Productions. The terms of the deal were not disclosed. Spunky Productions brings UDC tremendous new media capabilities including their remarkable 2D and 3D animation. This adds a truly unique dimension to the marketing solutions we create and produce for our clients, said Jim Burkhart, President of UDC.
Pulse, the San Francisco-based 3D media solutions company, laid off an undisclosed number of staff members on Monday, September 17, 2001. While an exact number was not revealed, AWN was told that it was less than 50% of the companys total workforce. The lay-offs were predominately from the administrative sector with some engineering staff also being let go. A spokesperson for the company sees the staff cuts as a positive move for Pulse allowing them a greater ability to reach profitability. The company plans to move toward e-learning, while continuing its current licenses.
Interactive entertainment company Infogrames, Inc. has entered into an exclusive distribution agreement with UK-based game publisher, Codemasters. Under the terms of the one-year deal, Infogrames will be the sole distributor of Codemasters' interactive entertainment titles throughout North America. Codemasters expects to publish 17 SKUs between September 2001 and August 2002. The first title Infogrames distributed under the agreement is OPERATION FLASHPOINT, a realistic military action game for the PC.
Midway Games Inc. announced its results of operations for the fiscal fourth quarter and fiscal year ended June 30, 2001.The company also reported preliminary details of its product release schedule for the period September 2001 through December 2002. Fiscal 2001 fourth quarter revenues were $20,215,000 compared with revenues of $24,724,000 in the prior year period.
In a global partnership that includes Disney consumer products, theme parks and resorts, and an array of promotional initiatives, the Walt Disney Company and Kellogg Company announced a new global, multi-year corporate alliance. Kellogg, the world's leading producer of cereal, will have exclusive rights to develop and market co-branded Disney/Kellogg breakfast foods based on Disney characters. In addition, Kellogg will become the "official sponsor of breakfast" at Walt Disney World, Disneyland Resort and Disneyland Paris.
The Walt Disney Company and News Corporation have entered an agreement to establish a joint venture company to launch a new broadband entertainment service called Movies.com, which will provide movies and other entertainment content on demand to consumers in the U.S. Movies.com, expected to launch in early 2002, will be available to consumers with enhanced cable systems with on-demand capabilities, as well as all forms of broadband Internet access.
Evans & Sutherland Computer Corporation (E&S) has reached an agreement to sell its REALimage business unit, which makes high-performance semiconductor chips for advanced graphics and video applications. The sale is for a maximum value of $12 million, consisting of cash plus future royalties up to $6 million for REALimage technology, other assets and support during a seven-month transition period leading to closing the transaction on April 1, 2002.
Walt Disney Internet Group and Hutchison Telecommunications (Hong Kong) Limited (Hutchison Telecom) have entered into a cooperative relationship to distribute Disney-branded wireless content under the Disney Mobile brand over Hutchison Telecom's Orange Dualband and CDMA networks in Hong Kong. Available this fall, the Disney Mobile service on Hutchison Telecom will include downloadable content based on Disney's lineup of popular characters, including screensavers, wallpapers, logos, e-cards and ring tones. Orange users will also be able to download the territory's only Disney color content.
Autodesk announced that it has signed an agreement to acquire the software product line from Media 100, a leading provider of digital media products. With this acquisition, Autodesks Discreet Division enhances its content creation product portfolio with Media 100s streaming media software solutions -- allowing Discreet customers to create, distribute, re-purpose and publish media content for consumption via the Internet, corporate Intranets and IP-enabled devices such as cell phones and PDAs.
European media company TV-Loonland Groups net income for the first half of 2001 increased by an additional 80 percent over last year, to EUR 8.2 (approx. USD 7.5) million due to a strong international marketing strategy. The group has already realized more than 60 percent of the EUR 13.3 (approx. USD 12.1) million total net income budgeted for the year 2001. Revenues increased by 39.7 percent to EUR 34.2 (approx. USD 31.1) million, also showing much stronger growth than in the first quarter. TV-Loonland AG continues to operate debt-free.
Continuing to expand and broaden the scope of his companies services, Harleys House founder Harley Rinzler, has acquired the Los Angeles computer animation, design and visual effects production studio Click 3x. Rinzler has retained the key members of Click 3x, Los Angeles creative and production staff, including visual effects supervisor Craig Price who will serve as creative director. Rinzler will operate the visual effects and animation service as an independent entity under the name Playground.
Iwerks Entertainment Inc. and SimEx Inc. announced that both companies have signed an agreement and plan of merger. The agreement provides that SimEx will acquire Iwerks in exchange for cash consideration of approximately US $0.63 per share of Iwerks common stock. The transaction is subject to shareholder approval and other customary closing conditions. If the two companies combine, it is expected that Iwerks will retain its brand name and identity and will continue operations in Burbank, California under the existing Iwerks management team.
Industry professionals Maurice Kimball and Briar Lee Mitchell have co-founded Pasadena, California-based Digital Ink Illustration (Dii), a digital background paintings company. Services will include conceptual design and layout for animation or live-action, digital color comps/color keys and fully rendered digital files for animation and live-action backgrounds, overlays, underlays, flattened or layered files. Cedric Tomacruz has been named art director for the new firm.
A Munich court has dismissed one of the first lawsuits seeking damages from German mega-firm EM.TV. The case, filed by private shareholders, demanded compensation for losses after EM.TV dramatically revised its projected figures in December, revealing debts of DM2.6 billion (US$1.21 billion). Upon the news EM.TV's shares dropped over 90%. The suit claimed that EM.TV withheld relevant financial information from shareholders and did not provide a fair warning about the state of the firm.
Microsoft has announced that it will delay the launch of its next-generation console Xbox in Japan until 2002. Xbox will still release 800,000 units in North America on November 8. The Japan launch will now coincide with the launch in Europe. Japan represents one third of the US$20 billion videogame market. Insiders say the delay is due to difficulties in developing games for the Japanese market, which favors simulation and role-playing games, as well as problems ensuring that all tech components work together correctly. Xbox will sell for US$299 in North America.
The Writers Guild of America, west (WGAw), representing theatrical and television writers, has filed its third unfair labor practice charge in two months against Nickelodeon Animation Studios, Inc. (a Viacom subsidiary) for allegedly retaliating against employees of animated series who are seeking union representation and coverage by the guild's contract (MBA). The latest charge asserts that Nickelodeon illegally reduced the benefits of writers on the television show JIMMY NEUTRON, BOY GENIUS in retaliation for their activities in seeking WGAw representation.
Nintendo has announced that it plans to delay the launch of its next-generation console GameCube, which gives Microsoft's Xbox a two-week leg-up on the highly coveted holiday buying season. GameCube will be released on November 18, where as Xbox is scheduled to launch on November 8, 2000. Nintendo says the move is to meet consumer demand and avoid glitches like Sony had with PlayStation 2 last year. "The change really was to make sure we avoided somebody else's misstep," said Peter Main, vice president of sales and marketing for Nintendo of America.
Studio B Productions has launched a new television commercial production department. The Vancouver-based animation firm specializes in traditional 2D and 3D animation techniques. Michael van den Bos will serve as the head of the new commercial department. Prior to working with Studio B, van den Bos was producer at International Rocketship and worked with clients such as Levis, Nintendo and Nickelodeon. In addition to in-house directors, Marv Newland and Dieter Mueller of International Rocketship will be working as freelancers for the Studio B commercial department.
Due to its increasing debt, the International Museum of Cartoon Art will be leaving Mizner Park in Boca Raton, Florida. Its US$3.8 million building will be put up for sale to pay off the museum's $2 million debt and preserve its collection of more than 200,000 pieces of comic strips, editorial cartoons and other works. The museum is looking into several locations for a new home, including New York and Connecticut, where it was originally founded in 1972 by BEETLE BAILEY creator Mort Walker.
Random House Inc. and Classic Media Inc. have purchased, through a bankruptcy court auction, the assets of children's book publisher Golden Books Family Entertainment Inc. for US$84.4 million and the assumption of most of its debt. Industry sources estimate Golden Books' debt is close to $50 million. The Golden Books portfolio features over 500,000 titles including characters like Pat the Bunny and Poky Little Puppy, a vast comic book collection and 3,000 movies, television specials and cartoons.
Oakland, California-based technology company Digital Element, with the help of NewTek and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory under the auspices of the Department of Energy's Nuclear Cities Initiative, has been working to open up "Closed Cities" in Russia. These cities do not appear on maps and up to now have been strictly military R&D and production sites. Digital Element trainers and engineers have helped form new Russian software development teams in Snezhinsk and other closed cities to help the towns integrate into the Western market.
Film Roman Inc. has reported that revenue increased by 19% to $9.4 million for the quarter ended June 30, 2001, over $7.9 million for the same period last year. Net loss attributable to common stock for the second quarter of 2001 was $1,293,641, or $0.15 per share, compared with a net loss attributable to common stock of $800,260, or $0.09 per share, for the second quarter of 2000.