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Headline News

Japan Looks Beyond India to Thailand for Animation

Growing production costs in India have forced Japan's billion-dollar animation industry to look elsewhere for outsourcing cartoons, including Thailand, reports THE ECONOMIC TIMES.

Shuzo Shiota, ceo of Polygo Pictures, one of Japan's largest computer-animation studios, was in Bangkok last week to brief Thai entrepreneurs on the outsourcing opportunities awaiting them in Japan's 3D cartoon industry, which reported revenues of 1.4 billion yen (around $2 billion) in 2005, according to THE NATION.

Mobile Headline News

Amp'd Mobile Closing Down

Mobile service provider Amp'd Mobile will shut down at the end of July following its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing last month, reports THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER.

On Monday, July 23, 2007, Amp'd sent a text message to its customers saying it would disconnect their services the next day. Later, on its website, the company said it would be "potentially suspending U.S. operations on July 31."

Amp'd grew quickly with a youthful customer base, however in its bankruptcy filling it stated that nearly 46% of its 175,000 subscribers were not paying their bills.

Mobile Headline News

IDT Internet Mobile Group Forms Zedge Studios & Takes Interest In IDW Publishing

IDT Internet Mobile Group (IMG), a division of IDT Corp., has formed Zedge Studios to develop and license digital content for distribution through web and mobile platforms. IMG has also acquired a controlling interest in IDW Publishing (, an independent comics publisher known for the horror, action and sci-fi genres, boasting such high-profile titles as THE TRANSFORMERS, 30 DAYS OF NIGHT, CSI, STAR TREK, 24 and SCARFACE.

Animation Headline News

CafeFX Builds Character Animation Branch

VFX house CafeFX is branching out into character animation, which will be headed up by Academy Award-nominated animation supervisor James Straus. The move is a reaction to an increased demand for the company's character animation work following its participation on PAN'S LABYRINTH.

Studio Headline News

Brown Bag Films Expands To Smithfield Market in Dublin

Oscar-nominated producer of short film GIVE UP YER AUL SINS, Brown Bag Films, has opened a new animation studio at Smithfield Market in Dublin, Ireland.

The studio was founded in 1994 by Cathal Gaffney and Darragh O'Connell. Now with the new Smithfield office, the company will employ 53 people.

The new office is Ireland's first hi-def animation and post house.

The company is working on production of its first animated TV series, I'M AN ANIMAL, which has already sold to 140 countries.

Headline News

Terminator Owners Sue MGM Over T4

TERMINATOR franchise rights owner, Halcyon Co. have filed a lawsuit against MGM in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleging that MGM is getting in the way of the right to set up distribution deals for T4, reports VARIETY.

Halcyon principals Victor Kubicek and Derek Anderson purchased the rights to the franchise rights in May, which included sequel rights as well as a screenplay for the fourth installment from T3 writers John Brancato and Michael Ferris.

Headline News

Ubisoft Sells Stake In Gameloft

Ubisoft, one of the world's largest videogame publishers, announced that on July 12, 2007 it sold the 13,367,923 shares it owned in Gameloft (representing 18.89% of the company's capital) to Calyon, Credit Agricole Group's Corporate and Investment Bank. The sale price was 6.08 euros, based on Gameloft's closing share price on July 12, 2007.

Creative Headline News

Cake Editorial Launches Pi for VFX

Santa Monica-based Cake Editorial has launched Pi, a new visual effects, graphic design and 2D/3D animation division led by creative director Josh Kirschenbaum.

In addition, Pi has added visual effects artist Brian Dickett, who comes to Pi following a freelance career that included an extensive stint at Outpost Digital, Los Angeles, where he worked on recent projects for GM and the Tennis Channel.

Production Headline News

Production I.G. Acquires All of Comic Pub Mag Garden

Production I.G. is set to acquire comic publisher Mag Garden in full by December, VARIETY reports. The Japanese toon firm already owns 15% of the company and will acquire the remaining shares in a 2-to-1 stock exchange. After the acquisition, Mag Garden will be removed from the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Production I.G. hopes to use Mag Garden's manga properties as a source for animated productions.

Effects Headline News

UNIT Launches VFX Division

UNIT, one of the U.K.âs leading post-production and creative services companies, has launched UNIT Effects, a new in-house visual effects division, which provides a full range of 2D and 3D effects across all genres from commercials and HD TV productions to 2K or 4K resolution films.

The division will be overseen by UNIT co-founder Roland Woolner, formerly joint-md of vfx company Split Image, who becomes head of UNIT Effects. Split Image was recently acquired by UNIT, making it the U.K.âs leading Final Cut finishing house.

Headline News

HIT Restructures EMEA Consumer Products Group

HIT Ent. has made a number of key changes to its U.K./European consumer products business following the recent appointment of Peter Byrne as evp of worldwide consumer products.

Katie Rollings fills the newly created position of vp of international marketing responsible for all strategic brand planning, marketing, retail development and creative services covering the entire international region.

Jon Owen is now vp of EMEA (Europe, the Middle East & Africa) consumer products responsible for all U.K. and EMEA licensing operations.

Films Headline News

India's UTV Begins Trading on London AIM Market

On Monday, July 2, 2007, Indian production company UTV Motion Pictures Plc began trading on London's junior market AIM, reports REUTERS. Shares jumped 6% over by the close of its first day, finishing at $3.075. The total value of the shares is $320.2 million.

UTV plans to invest the money earned on AIM into 30 productions over the next two years. The firm has 25 films in the pipeline and has put its funds behind such Hollywood films as THE NAMESAKE and M Night Shyamalan's upcoming THE HAPPENING.

Headline News

EM.TV AG Moves to Separate Sports & Entertainment Businesses

At its annual general meeting in Munich on June 26, 2007, the management board of EM.TV AG -- in future EM.Sport Media AG -- laid out its plans for strong revenue growth during the upcoming years.

Following the strategic decision, announced on March 22, 2007, to concentrate future business on the sports sector and to dispose of its interests in the entertainment sector (children's and youth programs), the company is striving to at least double its revenues from the sports sector from around 220 million euros (2006) to significantly more than 400 million euros by 2010.

Frederator Headline News

Frederator Moving Into 2D Features

Frederator Studios is now branching out into 2D genre features with the launch of Frederator Films, according to VARIETY. Frederator head Fred Seibert will produce the films with animation vet Kevin Kolde and talent management head/producer Eric Gardner. The films will be budgeted under $20 million.

Home Headline News

PorchLight Ent. Starts Up Home Ent. Division

PorchLight Ent. is forming a domestic home entertainment division launching under the label of "PorchLight Home Entertainment," with Gary Jones, svp of PorchLight Home Ent. overseeing acquisitions and sales. The new division will distribute kids and family programming acquired from leading producers worldwide in addition to releasing the company's new productions, as well as programs from its substantial library.

Studios Headline News

DisneyToon Studios to be Restructured

The Walt Disney Co. confirmed reports yesterday that DisneyToon Studios (DTS) president Sharon Morrill had stepped down from her post with an announcement that DisneyToon Studios (DTS) is being restructured and will now operate as a separate unit under the supervision of Walt Disney Animation Studios. The studio will pursue original DVD productions and has curtailed making sequels to its features.

Home Headline News

Sony Home Ent. Takes Over Sony Wonder

Sony Pictures Home Ent. will be taking over control of Sony Wonder from its sister company, Sony BMG Music Ent., reports VARIETY. Sony Wonder vp of development Steve Okin will have the title of vp of family entertainment. His duties will be to develop and acquire non-feature family programming.

Moving from SONY BMG, Olga Economou will become exec director of Sony Wonder sales.

Disney Headline News

Walt Disney Co. Forms Integrated Global TV Distribution Division

The Walt Disney Co. announced today it has formed an integrated Global Television Distribution unit, following the announcement that Laurie Younger, president, Disney-ABC Worldwide Television, will retire at the end of her contract in January 2008.

Headline News

AMPAS Invites 115 to Become Members

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has invited115 artists and executives to join its ranks. Those who accept the invitation will be the only additions in 2007 to the Academy's roster of voting members.

In addition to Yair Landau, president of Sony Pictures Digital and vice chairman of Sony Pictures Ent., other invitees include:

Animators* Sharon Calahan* George Griffin* John Kahrs* Torill Kove* Marcy Page* Troy Saliba

Visual Effects* John Andrew Berton Jr.* Al DiSarro

Headline News

Antonio Banderas Seeks Animated Alliance in Spain

Antonio Banderas' production company Green Moon Producciones is exploring the possibility of partnering with Spanish animation studio Kandor Graphics, according to VARIETY. The partnership would not be for a single film, but a longer-term production relationship, according to Antonio Meliveo, producer at Green Moon, who also added that they hoped to close a deal by the fall. Green Moon Producciones is based out of Malaga, while Kandor is located in Granada.

Music Headline News

Sony Music and Nickelodeon Partner for TV, Music Ventures

Nickelodeon, the number-one entertainment brand for kids owned by Viacom, Sony Music Label Group and Sony BMG Commercial Music Group announced a global partnership today for co-developing and co-financing a range of television and music projects over a four-year period. The deal calls for developing and producing projects such as original movies and television series to be aired on Nickelodeon, and multiple record releases, with potential to unlock additional business opportunities in consumer products.

Films Headline News

Disney Makes Animation Pact with Yash Raj Films Studios

The Walt Disney Studios has entered into an agreement with Yash Raj Films (YRF) Studios, a premier studio in India, to create a series of original and exclusive computer-animated feature films. The collaboration marks the first time for both companies to enter in a co-production to produce films in India.

Walt Disney Studios and YRF will work exclusively to co-produce a series of animation films in the Indian language. Both companies will be equal partners in the venture and will contribute creative, technical and financial support to the project.

Animation Headline News

AWN & Thomson Course Technology Officially Announce Book Imprint

Thomson Course Technology and Animation World Network are proud to announce the formation of AWN Press, which will produce a series of books published by Thomson Course Technology covering major facets of the animation industry and offering a one-of-a-kind look into the careers of industry icons.

Disney Headline News

Walt Disney Studios Signs Exclusive Deal With Stan Lee

The Walt Disney Studios has entered into an exclusive multi-year first look deal with Spider-Man creator/producer Stan Lee and his production company POW! Ent. The terms cover Lee and his production company developing and producing all forms of entertainment.