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.
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.
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.
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.
Brilliant Digital Entertainment Inc., a leading developer of 3D technologies for the Internet, reported their financial statement for the second quarter ended June 30, 2001. The firm posted that their net revenues rose 162% to US$652,000 over $249,000 from last year. Revenues for the six months ended June 30, 2001 were $1,042,000 compared to $436,000 for the same six-month period in 2000. Brilliant Digital reported a net loss of $1,219,000, or $0.08 per share, for the second quarter ended June 30, 2001, compared to a net loss of $4,452,000, or $0.30 per share for the second quarter of 2000.
A court issued an injunction in favor of 20th Century Fox against Marvel, Tribune and Fireworks, preventing them from violating Fox's rights in its X-MEN movie. Moreover, the court also held that Fox can go to trial to recover monetary damages from Marvel and Tribune's use of MUTANT X as the title of their new television series, as well as a permanent injunction on the title of the series.
Pixar Animation Studios announced their financial results for the second quarter ended June 30, 2001. For the quarter, Pixar posted earnings of US$8.8 million, or $0.17 per diluted share. These results compare to earnings of $8 million, or $0.16 per diluted share, in the year-ago quarter. Revenues for the quarter were $16.7 million, compared to $18.3 million in the year-ago quarter. Pixar also announced that it is raising projections for 2001 from the previous range of $0.40 to $0.55, to a new range of $0.50 to $0.58.
Cinar Corporation has released a letter to shareholders providing its financial information for the six-month period ended May 31, 2001. President and chief executive officer Barrie Usher stressed in the opening of the letter that the report is unaudited because "current senior management cannot presently provide the required assurances with respect to financial periods prior to its appointment." The troubled firm had some positive developments in the past six months, including the okay by Telefilm Canada, a Canadian government funding organization, to develop official co-productions.
Ubi Soft Entertainment generated consolidated sales of US$53.2 million (60.39 million euros), up 162.5% for the first quarter of 2000/2001 ended June 30. Without taking into account the acquisition of 3D Planet (Italy), Sinister Games (U.S.), Red Storm (U.S.), and Blue Byte (Germany), and the assets of TLC's Entertainment division, consolidated sales for the quarter were $32.44 million dollars (36.81 million euros), up 60%. Highlights of the quarter were the release of MYST III: EXILE, launched in the U.S. and Australia in May.
TechnologyHelp, Inc. has completed a second round of funding and officially changed its name to Cinemetrix. The new round of financing came from Vanguard Atlantic, a New York-based venture capital firm. Terms of that transaction were not disclosed. George Gagliardi, president and chief executive officer, said, "We are now positioned to expand the sales and marketing of our technology and know-how to clients who understand the power of professionally produced TV-quality presentations.
Paul Villadolid, a former senior vice president at Walt Disney Television, and Larry Hess, a former software engineer at special effects house Digital Domain, have formed Rebel Arts, a technology and software developer with a proprietary server platform designed to handle massive multiplayer online games. The technology is designed to handle in excess of 100,000 simultaneous users. Strategic partners AMD and Linux NetworX are providing Rebel Arts with critical support, including the AMD-760 MP dual processor chipset and Linux NetworX's Evolocity cluster server system.
Crave Entertainment Group, Inc., parent company to videogame publisher Crave Entertainment, Inc. and SVG Distribution, Inc., has announced that it has secured a US$35 million in funding from Heller Financial. This financing is the first step in a multifaceted capital-restructuring plan for the company. "The industry has been extremely supportive throughout our restructuring, and this new credit line ensures financial support for the ongoing growth of our core business," said Nima Taghavi, chief executive officer, Crave Entertainment Group.