Midway Games Inc. has announced that as a result of decreasing demand in the coin-operated arcade videogame market, it is getting out of that business. The company is now focusing its game development efforts exclusively on games for next-generation home videogame platforms, including the PlayStation 2, Xbox, Nintendo GameCube and Game Boy Advance. The move is expected to mean a layoff of fewer than 60 people, and a primarily non-cash pretax charge of less than $8 million in the quarter ending June 30, 2001.
According to a June 21, 2001 report in the Los Angeles Times, Ben Stein, host of the Comedy Central TV game show "Win Ben Stein's Money" has sued Shockwave.com for breach of contract. In the suit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Stein claims he is owed $212,250 for his work in helping to develop an online quiz show. In exchange for the use of his name, voice and likeness, Stein reportedly was to receive 75,000 shares of Shockwave stock valued at 50 cents a share, with an option to sell back the stock at nearly $3 per share. The show has yet to launch on the Web.
In an effort to maximize shareholder value, The Harvey Entertainment Company announced on June 18, 2001 that it has retained the investment banking firm of Houlihan Lokey Howard & Zukin to explore strategic alternatives and opportunities, following the completion of its pending transaction with Classic Media LLC. Founded in 1970, Houlihan Lokey Howard & Zukin provides a wide range of services including mergers and acquisitions, private placements and other financial advisory services. The firm is ranked among the top 10 financial advisors in U.S. mergers and acquisitions under $500 million.
In an announcement made June 20, 2001, by Michael D. Eisner, chairman and CEO, and Robert A. Iger, president and COO, of The Walt Disney Company, Peter Schneider will step down as chairman of The Walt Disney Studios to start a new Broadway theater production and investment company funded in part by Disney.
DIC Entertainment has signed an exclusive North American home video distribution deal for its extensive library of animation with Lions Gate Home Entertainment. This move marks the first deal for DIC's Worldwide Home Entertainment division since CEO Andy Heyward, along with Bain Capital, purchased DIC back from Disney in November 2000. The first releases on VHS and DVD slated for August are SABRINA, THE ANIMATED SERIES and MUMMIES ALIVE! Other titles set for release include MADELINE, SONIC THE HEDGEHOG, CARMEN SANDIEGO, INSPECTOR GADGET and ACTION MAN.
London-based production company Stink has launched Skunk, a new animation house producing music videos, commercials and short films. The first project for the new company will be three spots for whisky brand Famous Grouse via ad agency Abbott Mead Vickers. Prague-based director Michal Zabka will helm the spots.
Hypnotic and Nibblebox have announced they have completed their merger and closed a second round of financing. The new round of financing was led by Hypnotic's initial investor Vivendi Universal and the media group Dresdner Kleinwort Capital, as well as Nibblebox's initial investors, Knowledge Universe, Windsor Media and Entertainment Media Ventures.
As widely reported today by sources such as the LA TIMES, WIRED MAGAZINE and REUTERS, four people, including Stan Lee Media co-founder Peter Paul, have been indicted by federal prosecutors as part of an alleged $25 million stock manipulation scheme. The defendants face maximum sentences of 15 years in prison if convicted. Paul, former Stan Lee Media executive vice president Stephen Gordon, stock analyst Jeffrey Pittsburg and stock promoter Charles Kusche, have been accused of securities fraud in an attempt to manipulate the price of Stan Lee Media stock.
Mainframe Entertainment has announced its expansion into the consumer products area with a new strategic alliance with licensing and merchandising veteran Joy Tashjian. Previously with American Champion Marketing Group, Tashjian launched successful consumer product campaigns for many ABC Saturday morning television series. With American Champion shifting its focus away from the traditional entertainment business, Tashjian has formed her own agency, Joy Tashjian Marketing Group, with many of the staff from American Champion.
AtomShockwave has announced that it has laid-off 2/3s of its staff, leaving approximately 150 people without jobs. In addition, the online entertainment company will be shutting down its Los Angeles and New York offices. Moreover, the Netcaster will move away from original content and focus more on advertising and sponsorship from branded companies like Ford as well as syndicating its currently produced content and developing a pay format. However, Romp.com recently attempted a pay format and within a month changed
Embattled German media group EM.TV has hired Wall Street investment firm Allen & Co. to sell the Henson Co. The top candidates to buy the creator of Kermit are Walt Disney and the management of Henson itself. This action comes only a year after EM.TV purchased Henson from heirs of founder Jim Henson for US$680 million. Rumors have surfaced that the Henson heirs haven't nearly earned that amount due to the plummet of EM.TV's stock price.
Eidos plc, one of the world's leading publishers and developers of entertainment software, announced the results for the fourth quarter and year ended March 31, 2001. Net revenue was 22.6 million pounds (US$32.1 million) for the quarter and 143.5 million pounds ($203.8 million) for the full year, a decrease of 26% on the previous year.
Following the companys new development strategy, cHmAn, a Web entertainment company based in Lille, France, has changed its name to TeamcHmAn. While continuing to develop original content for the Web, TeamcHmAn will expand its activities to the production of video games. cHmAn has established itself as a top provider of interactive content with BANJA.com, a game where the level of teamwork players get from each other directly influences their opportunities to gain access to new features. BANJA episode #6 beta version is now online in French and English.
The 3DO Company has announced the signing of a development agreement with renowned Santa Monica based entertainment company, Pandemic Studios, the developer of Battlezone II and Dark Reign 2. The first as-yet-unnamed project is scheduled for release in early 2002. According to Pandemics president Josh Resnick, the deal will allow his company to expand their development base across multiple gaming platforms and reach 3DOs mass consumer market. Trip Hawkins, 3DOs chairman and CEO, commented, "We are thrilled to be working with Pandemic on new and exciting projects.
Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. has announced record net sales and cash flow for its 2001 second quarter ended April 30, 2001. Net sales for the quarter increased 33% to $93.3 million compared with $70.0 million for the same period a year ago.
A six-page, 36-panel storyboard from the 1928 Walt Disney cartoon PLANE CRAZY, which marked the first ever appearance of Mickey Mouse, is back on the auction block after failing to sell at auction this past May 19, 2001. The storyboard had been part of an extensive collection of cartoon and comic book art being auctioned to raise funds for the International Museum of Cartoon Art in Boca Raton, Florida. Sale of the storyboard, valued at somewhere between $3.2 million - $3.7 million, was put on hold after the identity of the individual behind an online bid of $800,000 could not be verified.
Havas Interactive, a subsidiary of Vivendi Universal Publishing, has changed its name to Vivendi Universal Interactive Publishing (VU Interactive Publishing). The company is comprised of two operating divisions, Vivendi Universal Interactive Publishing North America (VU Interactive Publishing NA) and Vivendi Universal Interactive Publishing International, each of which is charged with directing the sales, distribution and operating activities in its respective region.
Brilliant Digital Entertainment, Inc., a leading developer of 3D rich media content creation, distribution and ad serving technologies for the Internet, announced a cash sale for substantially all of the assets of The Auction Channel subsidiary to MetroChannels, a division of Rainbow Media Holding Inc., a leading cable programming company.
On Friday, May 18, 2001, Film Roman announced they have formally terminated the purchase transaction with Pentamedia Graphics, Ltd. in light of Pentamedia's inability to cure a material breach in the deal. Film Roman has officially notified Pentamedia that they are in material breach of the Stock Purchase Agreement signed January 31, 2001 and the Memorandum of Understanding between the two companies signed on April 24, 2001.
MacSoft, the Macintosh label of leading video game publisher Infogrames, has signed a licensing deal with international game company Take-Two Interactive Software, acquiring rights to several high-profile titles. Under the terms of the agreement, Infogrames has acquired the Macintosh publishing rights to TROPICO and FLY! II, scheduled to ship this summer, as well as MAX PAYNE, STRONGHOLD and MYTH III. Additional titles will be announced at a later date. According to PC Data, MacSoft captured over 37 percent of the Macintosh entertainment software business in 2000.
London's Finishing School, a digital compositing, effects and 3D animation school, has recently been awarded Discreet training center status. The school will be running its now accredited 4-day 3ds Max Crammer course on May 14 - 17, June 12 - 15, July 10 - 13 and August 7 - 10 2001. Evening courses will also be available on 10 evenings over the course of 10 weeks, June 18 - August 20, 2001. The Finishing School, an Avid-accredited training center, is currently running SoftImage|XSI 201: Essentials Training, the official SoftImage course.
The 3DO Company has announced losses for the fiscal fourth quarter and year ended March 31, 2001. Revenues for the company's fiscal fourth quarter were $19.0 million, compared to $47.3 million in the prior year's fourth fiscal quarter. The consolidated net loss for the quarter was $12.5 million, or a loss of $0.26 per share, compared to a profit of $11.5 million, or $0.26 per diluted share in the same quarter last year. Revenues for the fiscal year were $82.8 million, compared to $122.2 million in fiscal 2000.
Infogrames, Inc., has announced results for its fiscal 2001 third quarter and nine months ending March 31, 2001. Third quarter revenues increased to $70.8 million, compared to $63.6 million for the same period in 2000. Publishing revenues increased to $47.0 million from $32.6 million in the prior year period, while distribution revenues decreased to $23.8 million from $31.0 million in the prior year period. The third quarter net loss decreased to $21.4 million, or $0.31 per share, compared to a net loss of $168.7 million, or $8.17 per share for the same period in 2000.
Leading independent animation house Film Roman announced increases in revenue and operating income for the their most recent quarter. Company revenue increased by 51% or $6.5 million, to $19.2 million for the quarter ended March 31, 2001 from $12.7 million for the quarter ended March 31, 2000. The company attributed the increase to the delivery of more fee-for-services episodes and a movie-of-the-week special.
Threat, a new digital studio providing editing, visual effects, animation and compositing services, has launched in Santa Monica. The company has established itself in a new $5.5 million facility to provide end-to-end post services for commercials, entertainment television, feature films, music videos and new-media.