This past weekend was a bittersweet one for Aardman Animation. WALLACE & GROMIT: THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT finished #1 at the U.S. box office and a fire destroyed Aardman warehouse, which contained its entire history, reports CNN. The blaze broke out at approximately 5:30 am, with flames reaching 100 feet. The roof and three interior walls of the building in Bristol collapsed after the fire ravished the Victorian building. The cause of the blaze was being investigated.
mtvU, MTV's 24-hour college network, today (Oct. 10, 2005) unveiled MTV Networks' first channel distributed entirely over broadband, "mtvU Uber" (www.mtvu.com). "mtvU Uber" is available everywhere, through both non-stop streaming and a unique on-demand capability, enabling viewers to customize their experience.
The channel offers mtvU's on-air programming available to everyone, and will also showcase a powerful lineup of original programming driven by new music, short-form series, as well as student-produced short films, music videos, animation, webisodes and more.
The Ittina Group, a leading name in property development, announced the launch of an animation studio and academy Ittina Studios and Takshaa, respectively in Bangalore. Both will be housed in a six-story building in Whitefield. Ittina plans to invest about $5 million in the new venture over the next year.
Electronic Arts announced it will pay $15.6 million and re-classify some salaried employees as hourly workers to settle a class-action lawsuit brought by workers over overtime pay.
Entry-level computer graphic artists in the U.S. will start earning overtime pay and will receive a one-time ownership grant of restricted company stock. However, they will no longer receive stock options or bonuses. The settlement, which is waiting approval by the San Mateo County Superior Court, is expected to take five months.
PlasterCITY, an all-new nonlinear high-definition post house in Hollywood, recently showcased seven new HD edit suites, a 4GB HD Fibre SAN network, an HD Digital Intermediate workflow and a complete HD theater/screening room. At an open house on Oct. 6, 2005, PlasterCITY introduced its advanced non-linear 10-bit 4:4:4 RGB studio networking, enabling clients to edit, color-correct and perform all other picture post-production processes at the highest quality rate, including uncompressed codecs, for theatrical and broadcast projects.
Autodesk Inc. announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Alias for $182 million in cash. This acquisition will grow Autodesk's expertise and offerings for the design of consumer products and automotive, as well as in the media and entertainment markets. The merger brings the chief 3D software applications 3ds Max and Maya under one roof. Autodesk anticipates that the transaction will close within the next four to six months.
Spurred by positive industry acceptance of their digital cinema funding plan, Access Integrated Technologies Inc. (AccessIT) and Christie Digital Systems USA Inc. (Christie) strengthened the commitment to their Digital Cinema Framework, removing provisions that had originally allowed either party to terminate their agreement by Sept. 30. The companies viewed the move as an expression of their long-term pledge to the innovative template they designed for funding a nationwide rollout of theater-based digital systems.
A new wrinkle in the hi-def DVD format war has occurred. Paramount Home Ent. has announced that it will support Sonys Blu-ray format as well as its previously announced support for Toshibas HD-DVD.
Rumors are afloat that Warner Bros. with be announcing dual support later this week as well. Previously, Universal was the first studio originally backing HD-DVD to announce that it was going to support both formats. Some say its a move to save face for backing the potential loser in the format wars.
Trivandrum-based Toonz Animation India and California-based First Serve Ent. have announced the formation of a joint venture First Serve Toonz (FST), which will produce and distribute animation programming for the international marketplace as well as operate a consumer products licensing business, reports the trades. FST will announce its first major project in the next few weeks.
FUNimation Ent. a wholly-owned subsidiary of Navarre Corp., launched the FUNimation Channel today (Sept. 29, 2005), a 24-hour, digital network that will feature distinguished anime programming from FUNimation's anime brands. Working with OlympuSAT, one of the leading distributors for independent programming in the U.S., the channel will be available to video service providers throughout the nation. The plan is for the FUNimation Channel to be part of the basic and extended digital packages, so it will be a regular channel in the lineup.
Activision Inc. (NASDAQ:ATVI) announced today (Sept. 28, 2005) a four-for-three stock split of its outstanding shares of common stock to be distributed as a 33-1/3% common stock dividend.
DreamWorks has called off its talks with NBC Universal to buy the independent powerhouse, reports the trades. On Sept. 26, 2005, after two months of exclusive talks between the studios, DreamWorks founder and chief negotiator David Geffen walked away from the table when GE and Universal tried to renegotiate the price after previously settling on a price of around $1 billion.
PBS KIDS Sprout launched a new 24/7 preschool network on digital cable and satellite with more than 16 million committed subscribers dedicated to offering little ones safe, fun, quality content as well as a new website to give viewers online access and activities.
The PBS KIDS Sprout lineup of shows includes: SESAME STREET, BOB THE BUILDER, BARNEY & FRIENDS, THOMAS & FRIENDS, ANGELINA BALLERINA, SAGWA: THE CHINESE SIAMESE CAT, CAILLOU, THE BERENSTAIN BEARS, JAY JAY THE JET PLANE, TELETUBBIES, DRAGON TALES, PINGU, NODDY and more.
TV-Loonland has launched Loonland Pictures to market in-house and third-party productions. Loonland Pictures will be marketing the new TV-Loonland feature film, HEIDI, as its first production.
Loonland Pictures was able to sign on 20th Century Fox und NFP marketing* as marketing and distribution partners for the films Dec. 22, 2005 release.
jack is the new kid on the block of visual effects companies and is quickly making a statement. Having officially launched in Venice, California, feature film and commercial production companies now have a new creative partner for high-end visual effects, finishing and previs.
Nicktoons, Nickelodeons 24-hour animation network, has renamed and rebranded itself to become Nicktoons Network on Sept. 23, 2005. The network, which became ad-supported I August, will continue to showcase a variety of animation all day and night. Targeting kids 6-14, Nicktoons Network features programming that is 75% exclusive to the channel. In addition to a new name and logo, Nicktoons Network sports a fresh look with new packaging both on-air and on the networks new website, www.NicktoonsNetwork.com.
On Sept. 20, 2005, Sony Corp. announced it would cut about 7% of its global work force, sell more than $1 billion in assets and post a loss this year, reports REUTERS. The company hopes to gain 210 billion yen ($1.9 billion) in restructuring charges in next the two business years through March 2007 as it closes plants and slashes 10,000 jobs. With the move, Sony hopes to catch up with Matsushita Electric Industrial and Sharp Corp. in the flat TV market as well as Apple Computer in the portable music industry.
Triple Take Media and CowParade Holdings Corp., a world-renowned organization whose cow motif art and collectible figurines have spawned a multimillion dollar franchise, have established a joint venture designed to expand the beloved COWPARADE brand into all areas of media and merchandising.
Taking 69% of the ballots cast, animation writer Patric Verrone was elected president of the Writers Guild of America West, reports VARIETY. Verrone, a co-producer of THE SIMPSONS and a screenwriter for several other animated series, ran on the platform of following through on the efforts by the guild to organize animation, cable and the reality TV arena. Previously, he served two terms as the WGA West's secretary-treasurer.
European private equity firm Bridgepoint Capital has signed a merger deal with Marathon, which will create a major new production and distribution group in France, reports C21 and was confirmed by Bridgepoint Capital (which also owns production giant All3Media).
Bridgepoint's French division, Financière Héra (Finhera), has been pursuing Marathon. Finhera is lead by Eric Licoy, previously a top executive at Vivendi Universal when Jean-Marie Messier was ceo.
Addressing the needs of commercial producers and others involved in high-end visual effects production, Hollywood Center Studios has unveiled a new 4,500-square-foot shooting stage with a three-wall, hard cove cyc. Dubbed Stage 12, the new space can accommodate the popular motorized Fisher Light rigs, making it ideal for car shoots, as well as bluescreen or greenscreen work.
French-born Sylvain Chomet and his producer wife Sallys studio in Edinburgh, Scotland is creating an influx of animators to the city, reports SCOTLAND ON SUNDAY. Django Films is set to hire up to 250 artists to work on the two feature projects.
The first film is THE ILLUSIONIST, a £10m animated being funded by Pathé Pictures. A second project is in the works with Universal for a computer-animated feature titled, THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX.
The Board of Directors of ASIFA-Hollywood has announced that the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive will be opening to the public on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:00 pm to 9:00 pm beginning Sept. 20, 2005. The Board of Directors of ASIFA-Hollywood has announced that the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive will be opening to the public on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:00 pm to 9:00 pm beginning Sept. 20, 2005.
Industry veterans David Gioiella and Mark Littman have launched Mr. Wonderful, a new design and vfx company. The entity is an offshoot of their Northern Lights Post boutique and will cater to high-end broadcast design, feature film and television projects.
The Walt Disney Studios' distribution arm, Buena Vista Pictures Distribution (BVPD), and Access Integrated Technologies' (AccessIT) Christie/AIX unit have entered into a groundbreaking non-exclusive agreement to supply feature films from Walt Disney Pictures and Touchstone Pictures to DCI-compliant digital projection systems to be deployed by Christie/AIX. Christie/AIX will install between 2,500 and 4,000 systems throughout the United States and Canada over the next two years.