Viacom Inc. announced April 24, 2006, it has reached a definitive agreement to acquire Xfire Inc., the fastest-growing online gaming communication and community platform in the world, for $102 million in cash.
Director James Cameron, who has sworn allegiance to digital 3-D in all future production plans, including his upcoming back-to-back features, AVATAR and BATTLE ANGEL, offered an optimistic roadmap during his keynote at Sunday's (April 23, 2006) NAB Digital Cinema Summit in Las Vegas. He noted the success of both POLAR
EXPRESS in IMAX 3-D and CHICKEN LITTLE in digital 3-D as proof that there is an audience willing to pay a premium for a more immersive theatrical experience, but cautioned that "content will drive this [revolution]."
Lightstorm producer Jon Landau told VFXWORLD at Sunday's (April 23, 2006) NAB Digital Cinema Summit in Las Vegas that director James Cameron will emphasize performance capture technology as part of his upcoming digital 3-D feature production plans.
SAG's national board has unanimously ratified its new contract for basic cable animation, reports the trades. The contract, which went into effect with Friday's approval, is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2006, and will run through June 30, 2008.
The new deal nets a 20% increase in residuals after 16 years under an original pact with such companies as Walt Disney Pictures & Television, Warner Bros. Animation and Cartoon Network Studios.
4Kids Ent. has formed 4sight licensing solutions inc., a new subsidiary, to specialize in the marketing and licensing of brands geared primarily to adults, teens and "tweens."
Trading house Sojitsu Holding is set to take 17% of distribution company Klockworx, reports VARIETY. Sojitsu hopes to develop and market content for the international market, including live-action films and animation. Sojitsu will buy current Klockworx shares and will not participate in Klockworx management.
"We plan to set up a project team between our two companies to discuss areas of cooperation," Klockworx vp Itaru Fujimoto said.
Bill Postmus, chairman of the board of supervisors of suburban San Bernadino County, California, has ordered the county's libraries to remove the scholarly text, MANGA: SIXTY YEARS OF JAPANESE COMICS, from circulation, reports ICv2.com. On the county's website, he called the book obscene and added, "that book is absolutely inappropriate for a public library and as soon as I was made aware of it yesterday, I ordered it to be removed immediately."
Sony Pictures Home Ent. (SPHE) has reorganized to meet the challenges and opportunities of the digital era.
During the keynote address delivered at the 2nd annual Advertising in Games conference in New York, Massive Inc. ceo Mitch Davis predicted that ad spending on in-game advertising will reach between a $1.6 and $1.8 billion in the U.S. by 2010, accounting for roughly 3% of total media spending, reports MEDIAWEEK. In comparison to previous estimates, Davis' claim is far larger than forecasts issued by both JupiterResearch and The Yankee Group last year.
SEGA Holdings U.S.A. Inc. has acquired acclaimed developer Secret Level Inc. to establish new internal development arm in North America. Founded in 1999 and headed by Jeremy Gordon, San Francisco-based Secret Level is a leading videogame developer well-known in the industry for developing cutting-edge next-generation technology.
The Secret Level, Inc. development studio will continue to operate out of its current office in San Francisco.
The Interactive Entertainment Merchants Assoc. (IEMA) and the Video Software Dealers Assoc. (VSDA) have voted to merge into a single trade association to represent the retailers and distributors of video and videogame products. The merger will bring together mass merchants, video specialty stores, videogame specialty retailers, online merchants, electronics retailers, entertainment combo stores, and others that retail and wholesale DVDs, console videogames and computer videogames.
Pharos Capital Group LLC of Nashville and Dallas, has invested $8 million in Reel FX Inc. Based in Dallas, privately held Reel FX provides computer-generated 3D animation and visual effects in the broadcast, feature film, computer and videogame and advertising industries. The company also specializes in the development, production and brand management of family-friendly programming and has a number of active projects including feature films, television and direct-to-DVD series.
A federal judge in Los Angeles has ruled that the WB's SMALLVILLE may be infringing on the copyrights held on the Superboy character by the widow and daughter of Jerome Siegel, creator of the comicbook series, reports VARIETY. The March 23 summary judgment by Judge Ronald S.W. Lew also found that Joanne Siegel and Laura Siegel Larson had successfully recaptured the Superboy rights as of Nov. 17, 2004.
On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court, without comment, refused to hear an appeal in the case over the sales of VEGGIETALES DVDs and other products.
In the case, Lyrick Studios sued Big Idea Prods., claiming that Big Idea had breached their agreement giving Lyrick exclusive license to distribute the children's cartoons. In 2003, a Dallas jury agreed with Lyrick, stating that the companies had an agreement and a two-year working relationship that was in effect a contract, even though a contract wasn't formally signed.
With its year anniversary upon us, PSPs proprietary Universal Media Disc may soon be a home entertainment avenue of the past, according to THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. Universal Studios Home Ent., Paramount Pictures Home Ent. and Image Ent. have stopped releasing titles on the UMD format while retailers are shrinking the amount of shelf space they've been devoting to UMD movies. Rumors are abuzz that Wal-Mart will soon discontinue the sale of UMDs completely. Moreover, Buena Vista Home Ent. and 20th Century Fox Home Ent. have significantly pulled back on their UMD release schedules.
SAG and industry producers have tentatively come to terms on a new basic cable animation contract, which increases residual payments by 20%, reports the trades.
Word came down on Monday the same day that negotiating resumed on a separate live-action basic cable series contract. SAG has already mentioned a strike if they dont get an acceptable raise in residuals.
Both contracts were last negotiated 16 years ago when cable TV was a relatively new.
At the tail end of 2005, a computer hacker calling himself "the Persian Fox" began attacking hundreds of U.S. websites, including scores run by animation companies.
You keep abusing, Islams almighty Prophet with disgusting and disgraceful cartoons using excuses of freedom of speech reads the onscreen message (including the misplaced comma) that replaced the sites regular content. The majority of sites hacked, however, have no connection to the recent uproar over Danish cartoons belittling Islam and the Prophet Muhammad.
Cake Entertainment and Hoek, Line & Thinker (HLT) have joined forces under a newly formed company, Cake Distribution Ltd. that will distribute HLT's current projects and joint future projects.
Dell has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Alienware to further satisfy the growing number of consumers and businesses, including those used for gaming and multimedia digital content management. Terms of the planned purchase will not be disclosed.
IBM announced it is joining forces with Hoplon Infotainment, Online Game Services Inc. and RenderRocket under separate agreements to help them innovate in the gaming and animation industries. IBM is working with small and medium gaming companies around the world to empower innovative business models.
Japanese animation firm GDH is setting up a $43 million content fund with the Japan office of Goldman Sachs, reports VARIETY. GDH will issue share warrants to Jupiter Investment, a local Goldman Sachs affiliate. Goldman Sachs will sequentially consider investing in a content fund to be run by GDH Capital, a GDH group company, and GDH.
The fund will give production financing for animated content in TV, direct-to-video, features and online games, targeted at international audiences.
With rumors swirling since the Pixar purchase, Walt Disney Co., on March 20, 2006, shuttered its Circle 7 unit, which was dedicated to producing sequels to Pixar films.
A company spokesperson said, Due to changes in our animation business, a substantial number of artists and staff from Circle 7 will be moving into Walt Disney Feature Animation. For those artists without a Feature Animation assignment, we will be assisting them in finding new employment.
Soros Strategic Partners LP and Dune Ent. II Llc., an affiliate of Dune Capital Management LP, have signed a definitive agreement with Viacom Inc. to purchase the film library of Paramount Pictures' DreamWorks Llc. in a transaction that values the film library at $900 million. The library sale, subject to customary closing conditions, is expected to close in April. The transaction completes the second stage of the DreamWorks acquisition.
AOL and Warner Bros. announced the launch of In2TV, the first broadband television network, on AOL.com. The network offers the largest collection of free on-demand TV shows on the Web, including full episodes of favorite Warner Bros. programs from the past 40 years, such as WELCOME BACK, KOTTER, CHICO & THE MAN, GROWING PAINS, KUNG FU, LOIS & CLARK, as well as animated series, along with interactive features and viral videos that enable audiences to experience and interact with television programming in a new way.
In a first ever move for an Eastern European game company, Nival Interactive Inc. announced it has established its global headquarters in the U.S. and recruited an executive management team comprised of American videogame industry professionals, including Kevin Bachus, co-creator of Microsofts Xbox, as ceo. The changes are part of the companys plan to expand in the computer, video and mobile game markets by offering its partners superior products with global commercial appeal at a significantly lower production cost.