News Corp. announced today that it had signed a definitive agreement to acquire IGN Ent. Inc, a leading community-based Internet media and services company for videogames and other forms of digital entertainment, for approximately $650 million in cash. IGN and its network of sites would then be folded into News Corp.s Fox Interactive Media unit.
Marvel Enterprises Inc. announced the completion of a $525 million non-recourse debt facility, which will finance Marvel's production of up to 10 films based on characters from its stable of comicbook characters, including Captain America, Nick Fury and The Avengers. Paramount will distribute the film slate, with the first theatrical release expected for summer 2008. This arrangement gives Marvel complete creative control, the ability to build a film library and greater profit potential than it has received from films licensed to other studios.
We at AWN were relieved to hear at last from Beau Perschall, vp of publishing for Turbo Squid, who reports the New Orleans-based 3D software company has weathered hurricane Katrina. He shared that the company is slowly reconnecting its many tentacles while the site has remained alive through the ordeal.
He was able to evacuate his family to stay with friends in North Carolina and is hearing that his house and others are intact for the most part.
Zoic Studios recently added a 5,000 square-foot stage to its facilities. The stage, located adjacent to the NOHO Arts District in North Hollywood, California, features a motion control rig with camera, a full grip and lighting package, greenscreen stage, green room and hair and make up room. It also has a parking lot and an outdoor area for pyrotechnical shoots.
To date, Zoic has utilized the stage for commercial projects for HP and Samsung, as well as shoots for the television episodic CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION.
Li Ka-shing, one of the worlds richest men, will invest more than RMB 2 billion to create a company for online games animation, reports CHINA KNOWLEDGE. Experts believe that the main investors of the development project will be Li Ka-shings Cheung Kong Holdings, and Hutchison Whampoa (60% stake) as well as some local enterprises in Guangzhou (40% stake). The facility will be located near the Guangzhou International Toy and Gift Centre.
Mainframe Ent. Inc. has launched a full service Creative Services division that will specialize in all areas of graphic design, motion graphics, titling, opening sequences and branding. The first project of the newly-expanded division will be an alliance with McLean Mashingaidze-Greaves to design the new website for the popular TV Series PINK PLANET, which airs on CityTV, Vancouver. Pinkplanet.tv will feature e-commerce, video blogs and wi-fi based social networking. In addition, the division is working with IDT Ent.
Earlier this month, Saul Zaentz and New Line reached a settlement on a $20 million lawsuit in regards to royalties on the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy, reports VARIETY. Zaentzs company, who purchased the rights to the books in 1976, has made nearly $168 million from the film series without having actually served as a producer on the film. The additional money earned via the suit was not released by either party. The case was set to go to trial on July 19, but the two parties went into negotiations instead.
Yohan Inc. of Tokyo has purchased Stone Bridge Press, an English-language publisher based in Berkeley, California, specializing in books about Japan and Asia. Founded in 1989 by publisher and editor-in-chief Peter Goodman, the company has more than 85 titles in print and has received numerous awards for publishing excellence.
Atari Inc., a leader in interactive entertainment, has sold its Humongous Entertainment studio to Infogrames Ent. SA, the company's majority stockholder, for approximately $10.3 million.
About $2 million of the purchase price represents pre-payment of future costs Atari will incur related to platform royalty advances, manufacturing costs and milestone payments. Atari will have exclusive distribution rights for Humongous products in the U.S., Canada and Mexico through at least March 31, 2006.
Pixar shares dropped after the WALL STREET JOURNAL reported the company is being investigated by regulators over its home entertainment release of THE INCREDIBLES. The informal Securities and Exchange Commission probe is looking to the facts behind Pixar cutting its second-quarter profit forecast in June, stating slower than expected sales of the DVDs.
Lions Gate Entertainment, in Toronto, and Crest Animation Studio's U.S.-based subsidiary, RichCrest Animation (RCA), have struck a co-production and co-financing deal to produce three animated feature films.
The first film under the new agreement will be the previously announced SYLVESTER AND THE MAGIC PEBBLE. A second, currently untitled feature project is in development, and the third project is yet to be identified. Lions Gate will distribute the three films worldwide, except in India where Crest is headquartered.
Septagon Studios will directly move toward the publishing market of comicbooks, graphic novels and soon expand into other formats. The objective of Septagon Studios is to add to the diversity of the comicbook market with a wide variety of titles in a wide range of different genres. Septagon Studios will not limit itself by targeting a specific audience.
According to Ziff Davis Media's annual "Digital Gaming in America" survey of more than 1,500 randomly selected U.S. households, cell phone gaming continued its meteoric rise in 2005. The number of households engaged in cell phone gaming nearly doubled again, jumping from 16.3 million last year to 27.9 million this year.
Five years in the making leading U.K. commercial broadcaster ITV is now set to launch of a kids network, reports VARIETY.
The digital channel will be available on all platforms including Freeview, the free-to-air digital service backed by the BBC and BSkyB. Debuting within the next six months, the channel will offer a combination of existing programming, new commissions and acquisitions.
Cairo-based AK Comics has established a Los Angeles area office to promote in the U.S. market its line of Middle East-themed superhero comic books, animated series based on the comic titles and extensive licensing program surrounding the companys array of brands.
Jordan L. Udko will head the office in Santa Monica, California, as vp business development for AK Comics. Udko was a distribution account exec Paramount Pictures.
FISHEGGS, a motion graphics and design company, has launched in Venice, California. Heading the company is founder/exec director Chris Roe, an award-winning filmmaker and designer who has worked in all visual mediums including film, television, interactive and web.
FISHEGGS comes from Roes last name, which by definition means fish eggs. The company uses its experience and creativity to effectively interpret, visualize and communicate clients ideas to their fullest.
Lions Gate Ent. Toronto announced that it has closed its asset purchase agreement to acquire substantially all of the Modern Ent. Ltd. library, effective today, Aug. 17, 2005. The acquisition had been previously announced.
The acquisition includes the rights held by Modern to leading titles from Vestron, Dino DeLaurentiis and other libraries within the Modern Ent. family, including CONAN THE BARBARIAN, HALLOWEEN II and III, RAGTIME, DEAD ZONE, AND GOD CREATED WOMAN, AMITYVILLE II, EIGHT MILLION WAYS TO DIE, HERCULES IN NEW YORK and EARTH GIRLS ARE EASY.
Fox and Marvel have withdrawn a case filed in June against Sony and Revolution film ZOOM, reports VARIETY. The suit claimed the Tim Allen comedy is too similar to the X-MEN franchise and that its release two weeks prior to X3 was an attempt to ride the promotion of the third X-MEN film.
Studio Center Worldwide Audio, a production group with 16 studios in four cities, as acquired Hollywood-based Tele-Talent International, Inc. as part of its nationwide expansion.
"We love the Los Angeles market and Tele-Talent International, Inc. has been very successful there for 23 years, said William "Woody" Prettyman, ceo of Studio Center Worldwide Audio. We are extremely excited about the long-term prospects of this acquisition."
The Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) has released an updated report on the status of the Japanese animation industry. Surprisingly, the anime market sales in Japan declined from a high of 213.5 billion yen in 2002, to 191.2 billion yen in 2003 (a 10.4% drop). There are about 430 anime production studios in Japan, with 264 of them concentrated in greater Tokyo and 70 of those are in the Suginami district.
In announcing its second quarter results, DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. announced revenue totaled $35.4 million resulting in a net loss of $3.7 million or $.04 per share on a fully diluted basis. This compares to revenue of $300.3 million and a net income of $146.1 million, or $1.89 per diluted share for the same period in 2004. The company ended the period with $430 million of cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments.
The producers of the 1979 flick PARTS: THE CLONUS HORROR filed suit Aug. 8, 2005, in federal court in New York claiming DreamWorks and Warner Bros. THE ISLAND lifted sections of their film, reports VARIETY. Outside of the usual request for unspecified damages and part of the proceeds, the lawsuit demands the court to order the studios to withdraw the film from theaters and bar further release.
Investors must be glad they got in the game with THQ Inc. which today (Aug. 9, 2005) declared a three-for-two stock split of the company's outstanding shares of common stock to be dolled out as a 50% stock dividend.
On or about September 1, stockholders will receive one additional share of common stock for every two shares owned on the record date of August 19 with cash to be paid in lieu of any fractional shares.
After the split, THQ will have approximately 62 million shares of common stock outstanding.
Midway Games Inc. announced that it has acquired Ratbag Holdings Pty Ltd., a game development studio based in Adelaide, South Australia. Midway acquired the privately-held developer in a primarily stock transaction for 418,570 Midway shares. The studio is currently working on several unannounced Midway products for both current- and next-generation systems. The studio will be renamed Midway Studios - Australia.
Bakers Man, an industry leader in Internet based technology, marketing communications and digital information management for the entertainment industry, has formed a new production company, TrueLight Entertainment, to provide a wide range of animation production, innovative marketing and e-learning services based on proprietary processes and tools. Industry veteran Kevin ODonnell is president of new media company.