Vivendi Universal Games (VU Games) has acquired independent game developer Swordfish Studios. Under terms of the agreement, VU Games will retain Swordfish Studios' team of 45 development professionals, leaving the studio basically intact in its current office in Birmingham, England. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
MTV Networks has acquired NeoPets Inc. the owner and operator of Neopets.com, the world's largest and fastest growing youth community on the Internet. Neopets is a global online entertainment network whose members create and care for "virtual pets" that inhabit a mythical land called "Neopia." To date, more than 25 million members worldwide have created Neopets accounts in 10 different languages, generating more than five billion pageviews per month. Both Nielsen//NetRatings and comScore Media Metrix consistently rank Neopets.com as one of the top-10 "stickiest" sites on the Web.
After putting the pieces in place, Sumner M. Redstone, chairman/ceo of Viacom Inc. announced today (June 14, 2005) that the companys board of directors has unanimously approved the creation of two separate publicly traded companies from the companys leading entertainment brands through a spin-off to Viacom stockholders.
Lions Gate Entertainment Toronto has restructured its international operations to reflect continued growth of its feature film and television businesses with Nicolas Meyer, president of Lions Gate International, solely overseeing the international division of Lions Gate Ent. with two newly created executive positions that will report directly to him.
Director Arvind Palep and exec producer Serge Patzak have launched 1st Avenue Machine, a new CG boutique in New York City that will integrate what it perceives as a fresh live action and animation hybrid to its design work.
Apple ceo Steve Jobs announcement last week that Macintosh computers will embrace Intel microprocessors next year in an effort to improve speed and efficiency, especially on notebooks, has received mixed reviews.
Some analysts fear a rocky transition ahead and a diluting of the brand. However, others are more optimistic. This move away from IBMs PowerPC would allow the Mac to eventually run Windows at full speed, opening it up to more software choices.
Stopping the potential for a strike, SAG and AFTRA have comes too terms with the videogame publishers, backing down from their demand for residuals from the $7 billion videogame industry, reports VARIETY. Yet, the actors will be a hefty 36% increase in the base rate of $556.20 per session for voiceover work.
The Walt Disney Internet Group (WDIG) has acquired of Minds Eye Prods., one of the leading interactive TV game developers in Europe. The agreement demonstrates WDIG's commitment to the iTV games market and to developing new growth businesses for The Walt Disney Co.
Disney entered the interactive TV games market in the U.K. in August 2004, with the launch of Disney Channel Play on Sky. This service provides games featuring some of Disney's most popular TV programs, movies and characters, including those from THE LION KING and KIM POSSIBLE.
IDT Ent. announced it has signed a two-year, multi-picture distribution deal with Twentieth Century Fox. Under terms of the agreement, Twentieth Century Fox will distribute CG animated theatrical releases produced by IDT Ent.
Walt Disney Co. ceo-elect Bob Iger on Tuesday (June 7, 2005) said he had "really good" talks with Pixar Animation Studios Inc., reports RUETERS. He told investors at a Deutsche Bank conference that it was too early to tell if a new agreement would be reached.
"I'm not sure I really want to give you odds. We've had really good discussions," Iger said.
The Delaware Chancery Court has ruled that the lawsuit brought by Roy E. Disney and Stanley P. Gold against the Walt Disney Co. and eight directors can go forward with an expedited trial date of August 2005.
The lawsuit, which was filed on May 9, 2005, alleges that the Walt Disney Co. board made false statements to the company's shareholders about its ceo search in order to induce shareholders to vote for the incumbent board at the 2005 annual meeting and to induce Disney and Gold not to run an alternate slate of directors at the meeting.
Former Microsoft production manager and a producer of top-selling SIM CITY videogame, Matthew Thornton, established on June 1, 2005, the digital animation and production company One Red Room and is already producing two series for Disney.
An official with the Chinese broadcasting regulatory agency told broadcasters and animation producers to expect more domestically produced cartoons to be broadcast and there was support to encourage the play of more animated cartoons during golden broadcasting slots, it was reported by PEOPLE'S DAILY ONLINE.
A proposed class-action lawsuit was filed in federal court in Los Angeles today, (June 2, 2005) seeking unspecified damages from DreamWorks Animation for allegedly misleading stockholders about sales prospects for SHREK 2 DVDs. This is the companys first suit since going public in October 2004.
Vizrt Ltd. has acquired Curious Software, effective June 1, 2005. In consideration for the purchase of the shares or assets, Vizrt will pay $5,000,000 in cash to the Curious shareholders. Up to an additional $4,000,000 is to be paid in Ordinary Shares of Vizrt as an earn-out in four quarterly installments upon reaching certain milestones.
Cookie Jar Education has acquired the Kingsley and Fiesta lines of ESL (English as a second language) and SSL (Spanish as a second language) books and education materials from San Diego, California-based Kingsley Publishing, the publisher responsible for the development of the properties.
Pixar Animation Studios Inc. shares rallied to their highest-ever level on Monday, May 23, 2005, lifted by positive broker's comments about anticipated higher box office sales and expectations of a rise in the number of feature films produced.
Shares of Pixar jumped $2.29, or 4.5%, to $52.97 in afternoon trading on the Nasdaq stock market. At the current price, the stock is up about 23% so far this year. In April, Pixar approved a 2-for-1 stock split.
Celebrating its 10th year as a global producer/distributor of award-winning childrens and family programming, PorchLight Ent. has signed animation veteran Mark Young to the newly created post of svp, animation production, to run its just opened new 4000-square-foot animation studio and post facilities in Sherman Oaks, California. Corporate offices will remain in west Los Angeles.
Bob and Harvey Weinsteins new Weinstein Co. will get equity investment and debt financing from Goldman, Sachs & Co. Specific terms of the transactions were not disclosed. The two firms will work closely together over the coming months to officially launch The Weinstein Co. in October 2005.
The Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists have broken off talks with the videogame industry, which makes a strike likely, reports the trades. No agreement was reached on May 13, 2005 the last day the current contract extension which was one more extension than the actors said they would concede to. Even though a caucus of SAG and AFTRA must meet to decide if there will be a strike, insiders say it is curtain.
DreamWorks Animations first quarter of 2005 was not as stellar as many had hoped. Despite being on track to become one of the biggest selling home video releases of all time, SHREK 2 did not meet the company's retail sales expectations. This sales shortfall resulted in a higher level of returns than expected. As a result, DWA recorded no revenue from SHREK 2 in the quarter other than from licensing and merchandising.
DC Comics unveiled a new DC Comics company logo that will appear on comicbooks, graphic novels and, for the first time ever, on films and television series based on DC properties. The new DC logo will make its first appearance on a DC Comics cover May 25, 2005, when the company publishes DC SPECIAL: THE RETURN OF DONNA TROY #1 and will then appear on the entire DC line the following week.
IDT Ent. announced that its subsidiary Anchor Bay Ent. has closed a credit agreement with a bank group led by J.P. Morgan Chase Bank. The credit agreement provides for a $50 million, five-year, secured revolving credit facility which may be increased to up to $75 million.
Roy E. Disney and Stanley P. Gold today (May 9, 2005) filed suit in Delaware Chancery Court against The Walt Disney Co. and certain members of the board of directors alleging that they made false statements to the company's shareholders about its ceo search in order to get the shareholders to re-elect incumbent board members and block Disney and Gold from running an alternate slate of directors.
Regardless of whether or not Pixar renegotiates a distribution deal with Disney, the northern California-based animation powerhouse is poised for the future. Thanks to the stellar performance turned in by THE INCREDIBLES DVD, Pixar reported first quarter revenues this week of $161.2 million and earnings of $81.9 million, up from $53 million and $26.7 million last year.