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Headline News

Raimi Scares Up TV Division

By Rick DeMott | Wednesday, December 20, 2006 at 12:00am

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.

Headline News

ER To Acquire Classic Media Holdings

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.

Design Headline News

Look Effects Launches The Captain Design Division

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.

Stop-motion Headline News

Cuppa Coffee Purchases New Studio Facility

By Rick DeMott | Thursday, December 14, 2006 at 12:00am

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.

Effects Headline News

Entity FX Opens Vancouver Studio

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.

Autodesk Headline News

Autodesk to Cut 30 Jobs in Montreal to Streamline Systems Business

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...

Headline News

Weinstein-Blockbuster Rental Deal Challenged in Court

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.

Million Headline News

UTV Acquires Game Stake, Enters Feature Animation

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.

Animation Headline News

Growing Animation Industry in North Korea

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.

Animation Headline News

Kolkata Growing as Toon Center in India

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.

Disney Headline News

Disney Feature Animation to Layoff 20% of Staff

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.

Effects Headline News

Eric Hanson and Greg Downing Launch XRez.com

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.

Headline News

Village Prods. Hangs Shingle in China

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.

Dreamworks Headline News

Paramount Enters South Korea Via CJ Ent.

By Rick DeMott | Wednesday, November 29, 2006 at 12:00am

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 Headline News

Mattel Claims Ownership of MGA Bratz Doll

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.

Effects Headline News

Engine Room Has New Home

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.

Union Headline News

Gotham Group Grabs Gamer Firm Union Ent.

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."

Million Headline News

Flushed Away Spurs DreamWorks Write-Down

By Rick DeMott | Thursday, November 16, 2006 at 12:00am

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.

Animation Headline News

Report: Chinese Animation Industry Exceeds Film Industry

By Rick DeMott | Thursday, November 16, 2006 at 12:00am

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.

Headline News

Weinstein Co. Signs Exclusive Rental Deal with Blockbuster

By Rick DeMott | Wednesday, November 15, 2006 at 12:00am

In a move that may alienate many consumers, The Weinstein Co. has inked a four-year, exclusive rental deal with Blockbuster. Beginning in January, The Weinstein Co. will not make any of its films available to other rental companies, including Netflix and Movie Gallery.

Million Headline News

Walt Disney Co. Doubles 4th Quarter Earnings

The Walt Disney Co. reports it has doubled its earnings for the fourth quarter and fiscal year ended Sept. 30, 2006, compared to the same time a year ago. Diluted earnings per share (EPS) for the fourth quarter increased 89% to $0.36, compared to $0.19 the same time a last year. The company also reports growth at each operating segment -- Studio Entertainment, Parks and Resorts and Media Networks.

Films Headline News

Starz Launches Overture Films

Starz Llc. has formed a new motion picture studio, Overture Films, which will produce, acquire and distribute eight to 12 full-length feature films a year.

Overture Films is headed by ceo Chris McGurk and coo Danny Rosett. McGurk and Rosett were key execs at Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studios Inc. prior to MGM's 2005 sale to a group of investors led by Sony Corp. Most recently, McGurk served as senior advisor, new ventures, to Starz Media.

Studio Headline News

Buena Vista Games Starts New Studio Nintendo Platforms

Buena Vista Games, Inc. (BVG), the interactive entertainment affiliate of The Walt Disney Co. is forming a new videogame development studio called Fall Line Studio dedicated to creating innovative games for Nintendo platforms. Based in Salt Lake City, Fall Line Studios focus is to develop games based on Disneys characters, television shows and entertainment franchises, as well as creating new intellectual property for the Nintendo DS and Wii game systems.

Animation Headline News

Outsourced Work Makes Up 90% Of Taiwan's Animation Industry

Outsourced animation work in Taiwan makes up 90% of the countrys animation industry revenues in 2005, the Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD) announced Wednesday, which was report on at au.biz.yahoo.com.

CEPD figures show that Taiwans total production revenue topped NT$4.8 billion (US$146.14 million). By 2008, the government organization projects the Taiwanese market to reach NT$9.4 billion. CEPD states that growth is being seen in animated TV commercials and other CG productions.

Marvel Headline News

Marvel Issues Q3 Report, Looks Forward to Iron Man

Marvel Ent. initiated financial guidance for 2007 and revised its financial guidance for 2006. The financial guidance was provided in conjunction with the reporting of operating results for the third quarter and nine-month periods ended Sept. 30, 2006.

For Q3 2006, Marvel reported net income of $13.2 million, or $0.16 per diluted share, net of a $0.7 million charge for FAS 123R share-based payments. This compares to net income of $23.4 million, or $0.23 per diluted share, in the year-ago third quarter period, which did not include any stock option expense.

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