In order to increase its network and cable programming portfolio, The Jim Henson Co. has hired Eric Poticha as vp of Television and Halle Stanford as head of children's television. Poticha will develop new comedy and drama series, miniseries and features for television as well as develop future Muppet projects to be produced by Henson for The Walt Disney Co. Stanford will lead development and production of all preschool and children's programming for both television and direct-to-video projects in animated and live-action formats.
The high-def DVD war just got more interesting, as The Walt Disney Co. announced its non-exclusive support of the Blue-ray Disc format embraced by Sony and manufactured by Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. This comes on the heels of last weeks announcement that Toshiba Corp. is getting support from Paramount Pictures, Universal Studios, Warner Bros. and New Line for its rival next-generation DVD format, HD DVD.
McDonalds has its Hamburglar character, Burger King seems to think it has a rash of its own thieves or spongenappers and is offering a reward of Burger Bucks good for a one-year's supply of original Whopper sandwiches for information leading to the safe return of missing SpongeBob SquarePants inflatables. The gigantic blow-up figures began popping up on tops of Burger King restaurants on Nov. 11, 2004 and have been recently disappearing from their lofty perches.
In a letter sent to the Disney board on Dec. 3, 2004, dissident shareholder leaders Roy Disney and Stanley Gold announced they will not present an alternate slate of directors at Disney's annual meeting next year. This year the pair led a 45% vote of no confidence in Michael Eisner that led to his resignation as chairman. Eisner has since announced he will retire at the end of his contract in 2006. Disney and Gold have threatened to issue an alternate slate of directors, fearing Eisner would be replaced by deputy Robert Iger, who they do not support.
Japanese console giant Nintendo plans to create an internal animation studio focused on animated feature production, according to a report in Japanese business publication NIKKEI JOURNAL.
This follows on the heels of a proposal by former company president Hiroshi Yamauchi, who suggested that the firm should create an animated film based on works from the famous Ogura Hyakunin Isshu collection of classic Japanese poetry. Yamauchi, still an adviser to the company and a significant shareholder, proposed the new venture at Nintendo's management event in Kyodo in October.
AP reports that Japanese electronics maker Toshiba Corp. is getting support from Paramount Pictures, Universal Studios, Warner Bros. and its sister studio New Line for its next-generation DVD format, HD DVD, to be launched at the end of 2005 in players, recorders and other products.
Midway Games Inc. announced Nov. 29, 2004, it has acquired privately-held Paradox Development, the studio now developing Midway's upcoming videogame, MORTAL KOMBAT: SHAOLIN MONKS, via an all-stock transaction for 333,334 Midway common shares. This acquisition further strengthens the Midway's internal development capabilities.
Wild Brain Inc., a leading producer of animated entertainment, announced Nov. 29, 2004, its closing of $30 million in funding led by Valence Capital Management as well as the companys existing investors, including Syntek Capital AG. In conjunction with the financing, Wild Brain adds two new members to the company's board of directors, including Roy Thiele-Sardiña, managing director, Valence Capital LLC and James A. Caccavo, managing partner, Valence Capital Management.
In its new COST ALLOCATION REPORT, TrendWatch Inc. details how U.S. studios allocate costs when adding new capabilities to their operations.
"Today's studios are facing difficult decisions on how they invest in talent, technology and physical facilities," said Jim Whittington, TrendWatch founding partner. "Given the importance that studios and their clients place on their capabilities and their people, understanding how costs are allocated for return on investment (ROI) is crucial for studios and the suppliers that sell to them."
In the wake of ESC Ent.s shutdown, former senior staffers Dan Rosen, Matt McDonald and John Jack have launched Evil Eye Pictures in the San Francisco Bay Area.
A design and compositing-focused company, Evil Eye specializes in art direction, compositing, shot design, on-set supervision, matte painting, set extensions, motion graphics and title design. With years of experience in creating and supervising 3D imagery as well, Evil Eye provides a critical eye, working with clients to achieve their unique vision.
Deepak Chopra, world-renowned author and spiritualist and Shekhar Kapur, director of the Oscar nominated ELIZABETH, have joined with Gotham Ent. Group, the leading publisher of comic magazines in South Asia to announce the launch of Gotham Studios Asia, a new company focused on creating original comic books and character properties for a global audience. Gotham Studios Asia is a partnership between Chopra and Kapurs media company, Intent and Gotham Ent. Group.
Indian animation firm Maya Ent. is seeking a joint venture partner to launch a studio and training facility for animators in Bangkok, Thailand, reports VARIETY. Graffiti has been hired as consultants to begin discussions with parties like GMM Grammy, Thailand's biggest entertainment firm, and telcos True Corp. and Shin Corp. Thailand was chosen due to its political stability, pool of talent and lower costs. Maya will own a 49% stake in the co-venture and plans to invest up to $2 million to start the animation school and $2.5 million to form the studio.
At a screening of the Chinese blockbuster film HERO last week, the NSW attorney general Bob Debus announced that a NSW fund used to attract traditional film projects will now also be available to digital production. Animal Logic welcomed the incentive and applauded the government for recognizing the importance of digital production to the future of international filmmaking.
Animal Logics director of communications & public affairs, Greg
Award-winning vfx company E=mc2 Digital, which was recently acquired by Double Edge Ent., a privately held film production company based in Los Angeles and Taiwan, has launched a sister animation/vfx studio, Double Edge Digital, in a major expansion of its facility, staff and capabilities in Glendale, California. In addition, Double Edge Digital execs and creative staff are overseeing the formation of a digital production infrastructure in Taipei, which will mirror the California facility, for the efficient throughput of select aspects of the company's visual effects projects.
Disney Publishing Worldwide (DPW) has acquired of the assets of CrossGen Entertainment Inc., an innovative publisher of comicbooks and graphic novels. CrossGens stable of epic fantasy and science fiction properties include ABADAZAD, RUSE, WAY OF THE RAT, MERIDIAN, MYSTIC, ROUTE 666 and SOJOURN. Disney represents approximately 50% of all childrens comic magazines sold around the world, reaching readers of all ages, with 220 million comics each year.
A patent infringement case has been filed for the patent, "Method and Apparatus for Spherical Planning," which could affect every 3D videogame ever made, reports GameDAILY BIZ. Texas-based law firm McKool Smith has sued 12 major game publishers, including Electronic Arts, Take-Two Interactive, Ubisoft, Activision, Atari, THQ, Vivendi Universal Games, Sega, Square Enix, Tecmo, LucasArts and Namco Hometek. The law firm is threatening legal action against several small companies as well.
On Nov. 5, 2004, a New York Federal Court upheld its August 2001 summary judgment granted in favor of Films by Jove, ruling it was improper for the Russian government to try to influence the outcome of the litigation by retroactively changing its laws. The Hon. David G. Trager found in favor of Films by Jove filed suit in 1998 to prevent illegal duplication of Soyuzmultfilm Studio's animated film library by Joseph Berov, a Russian émigré video distributor from Brighton Beach, NY. Films by Jove vs. Joseph Berov, Case No. 988-CV-7674 (DGT).
On Nov. 11, 2004, in an investor conference call, Pixar ceo Steve Jobs laid out the companys potential plans for the future. One of the major revelations was that Pixar will not be releasing a film in 2006. The companys first non-Disney film, rumored to be RATATOUILLE, will not hits theaters until 2007.
Atlanta-based Mindjaz, one of the worlds fastest growing media companies, announced it is developing an animation division that will produce full length animated features and short films, as well as develop animated characters and features for advertisers and others. This announcement comes on the heels of the studio announcing that it will release its first feature in 2005.
Billionaire Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen sold 4.9 million of his DreamWorks Animation shares for $28 apiece, earning him $137.3 million, reports BLOOMBERG NEWS. Allen sold the shares under the over-allotment clause of the studio's IPO. After the sale, Allen holds 7.73 million DreamWorks class A shares.
DreamWorks spokesman Andrew Spahn declined to comment Thursday.
The American Stock Exchange (Amex) will launch trading in options on Nov. 5, 2004 on DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. Class A. The stock trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol DWA.
DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. Class A options will open with strike prices of 30-35-40-45 and position limits of 3,150,000 shares. The options will trade on the March expiration cycle with initial expirations in November, December March and June. The specialist will be Stuyvesant Trading Group.
Three months after suing The Walt Disney Co. in a dispute over royalties, Marvel Enterprises Inc. wants to take the copyrights to Marvel superheroes away from the Mouse House, reports REUTERS. In a suit filed on Oct. 29, 2004 in Los Angeles federal court, Marvel requests a judge to declare that Disney never legally assumed copyrights to Marvel characters when it bought the original licensee, Fox Family Worldwide, in 2001.
Post Logic Studios will relocate its visual effects boutique creocollective from Santa Monica to the Hollywood facility, which was recently renovated with a digital intermediate theater.
With this move, creocollective feature film and commercial clients will be able to take advantage of on-site DI, restoration, audio post-production and HD mastering services to complement creocollectives slate of high-end visual effects, 3D and compositing capabilities.
Sony Pictures, Warner Bros. and the Walt Disney Co. are in early talks to form a joint venture to install digital cinema systems, reports HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. No details are set, but the trio of studios has issued offer letters to financial institutions, including JPMorgan Securities, for prospective bids for managing and financing. The studios should hear back from the investors by Nov. 5, 2004. As part of the new firm, the three studios would use the savings on prints and shipping to help fund the venture. The financial institution would secure the theaters.