Starz Encore Group Llc. (Starz) plans to roll out a new corporate name, a new channel lineup and a new logo with updated on-air graphics and marketing materials in first quarter 2005. The purpose of the changes, the first comprehensive revision of the Starz family of channels since the company was founded in 1991, is, "to emphasize more clearly the array of popular programming genres available to Starz subscribers," said Starz president/coo Robert B. Clasen.
In an unprecedented move for both companies, producer and distributor Harmony Gold and Slamdance Film Festival offshoot Slamdance Media Group have signed an exclusive three-year output deal and created a new alliance whereby Harmony Gold will become the exclusive international distribution arm of Slamdance Media Group. Under the agreement, Harmony Gold will hold all rights, including theatrical, broadcast (free and pay) and DVD distribution rights, and will have access to a minimum of 12 new films a year. Slamdance will maintain North American distribution rights.
TriMedia Ent. Group Inc., a developer, producer and distributor of youth-oriented content for music and film entertainment products, announced that Gerry Anderson Prods. Plc creators of THE THUNDERBIRDS, has invested $1 million in TriMedia in exchange for 1.54 million shares of restricted stock. TriMedia intends to use the proceeds to fund its production schedule.
Comcast Corp., HIT Entertainment Plc., PBS and Sesame Workshop today (Oct. 20, 2004) announced plans to launch a 24-hour digital cable television channel for preschool children and a companion video-on-demand (VOD) service. The channel will bring together some of the best-known classic and contemporary childrens shows and is expected to launch in fall 2005.
The New York vfx scene has just got more competitive with the formation of Massive Industries, a division of creative design collective PSYOP that is co-founded by former Method Studios vfx artist Chris Staves and exec producer Justin Lane. Massive brings to New York expertise for ultra-progressive vfx along with high-end design.
Award-winning French animation and digital effects company, Sparx, is opening an office in Los Angeles, it was announced today (Oct. 19, 2004) by Sparx new ceo, Jean-Philippe Agati. The L.A. office will be managed by Laddie Ervin, new vp of business development for North America.
Award-winning animator Cleber Redondo has launched Wimze Studios, a full-service animation house specializing in 3D character animation for the TV programming, home video, commercial, Web and game markets. Redondo will head the new turnkey flagship studio in Fairview, New Jersey, which has brought together a highly qualified team of animators able to take an animation project from concept through completion.
Corel Corp. acquired Jasc Software Inc., the award-winning developer of the Paint Shop family of digital-photography and image-editing software. A critical milestone in Corel's ongoing growth strategy, this acquisition follows four consecutive quarters of profitability and a successfully completed turnaround since Corel was taken private in August 2003.
Japan's oldest film studio, Shochiku Co., is launching an animation division, reports VARIETY. The new arm plans to make five animated films and TV projects per year. Shochiku gm of filmed entertainment Ichiro Seki will head up the division. The unit will do commissioned works in both CG and 2D.
Shochiku will unveil its first animated productions in the next few months and hopes to release its first film in 2005. The company has had success previously distributing such animated fare as GENSOMADEN SAIYUKI -- THE MOVIE and the ULTRAMAN series.
Warner Bros. Pictures, the China Film Group and the Hengdian Group have partnered on a joint venture, Warner China Film HG Corp., to create films and television programs for the Chinese market, reports HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. The venture is the first with the People's Republic of China and a U.S. company to create filmed entertainment.
IDT Ent. announced the launch of New Arc Ent., a film production company producing live-action feature films and animated movies in the supernatural/thriller/action genre. New Arc is committed to producing multiple live-action features, several animated films and one animated series within its first 15 months of operation. John W. Hyde, coo of IDT Ent., will manage the new company.
If Disneys decade long battle over the merchandising rights to WINNIE THE POOH wasnt enough, Walt Disney Co. is now in a legal wrangling with a U.K. children's hospital over the copyright to J. M. Barrie's classic novel, PETER PAN, reports THE LONDON TELEGRAPH.
On Oct. 12, 2004, DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. set its planned initial public offering at 29 million shares that could raise up to $725 million. DreamWorks Animation, a unit of the DreamWorks movie studio formed by Jeffrey Katzenberg, Steven Spielberg and David Geffen, said in a regulatory filing that it set an estimated offering price of $23 to $25 per share for the sale of 29 million Class A shares. Under the IPO, DreamWorks will offer 25 million shares and selling shareholders will sell an additional 4 million shares, according to an amended offering document filed with the U.S.
The Writers Guild of America, west has formed a New Media Writers Caucus to address the professional needs of writers working in this area of entertainment.
"There are now three major categories of screen-based entertainment: TV, movies, and games," said WGAw secretary-treasurer Patric Verrone. "We feel that new media writers and writer/designers deserve the same support and recognition that the guild offers other professional screenwriters."
New York-based visual effects studio Quiet Man launched Grasshopper, its artist-run, design-savvy sister unit. Grasshopper is located adjacent to the Quiet Man studios, and specializes in original design and visual effects. Combining design skills with technical know how, the artists of Grasshopper seamlessly bring together animation and compositing to create design-driven visual effects.
At MIPCOM, the three largest producers and distributors of anime in America -- ADV Films Inc., Funimation Prods. and Geneon Ent. (USA) Inc. -- announced plans to form a joint venture for the development and marketing of anime. They will focus on developing high quality entertainment series primarily targeted to children and young adults, where the team can best maximize their respective resources, talent and expertise.
Australian production, post-production and TV broadcasting company, Omnilab Group is in the final negotiations on the acquisition of boutique local drama and feature post-production facility, Island Films. Over the last 10 years, Island has provided facilities for some of Australia's most successful feature films including RABBIT PROOF FENCE and LOOKING FOR ALI BRANDI, as well as the TEN TV drama series WHITE COLLAR BLUE and miniseries JESSICA.
Version2 and Liquid Light have merged their respective editorial and visual effects & design departments for a more streamlined creative process. Version2, as the new company is known, will provide services to clients in the film, commercial and broadcast arenas. The company kicks off with a high-profile spot for Samsung, as well as campaigns for Top Flite, TD Waterhouse, Wild Aid PSA, Verizon, Puma and a redesign for Time Warner.
TripleTake Media has teamed with leading New York publisher iBooks to identify and develop entertainment and media opportunities based on select titles from iBooks, as well as its affiliated or wholly owned brands, including Milk & Cookies Press and Komikwerks.
Initial iBooks titles to be exclusively represented by TripleTake include:
* WINNERS NEVER QUIT! by Mia Hamm
mOcean and CMP/West, two of the Craig Murray Prods. group of companies, will join together in a new Westside Los Angeles facility to be completed in September and operate under the mOcean banner.
The newly combined company will serve the entertainment industry as a full-service creative advertising agency as well as continue to provide its film and television clients with a complete range of design and editorial capabilities in the production of theatrical trailers and television image campaigns.
Miramax/Dimension Films and San Francisco-based animation studio Wild Brain Inc. have agreed to a multi-year, multi-film agreement to co-finance and co-produce CG-animated films. Each will each finance 50% of the production on agreed projects. Miramax/Dimension will distribute the films worldwide in all media.
The first joint production is expected to be OPUS, which Craig Mazin (SCARY MOVIE 3) will adapt from the Pulitzer Prize-winning comic strip, BLOOM COUNTY, created by Berkeley Breathed.
Disney president Robert Iger said on Wednesday that a renewed deal between the house that Walt built and Pixar Animation Studios was "unlikely, reports REUTERS. He added that partnerships like the one Disney had with Pixar to distribute its films often "outgrow one another."
"If it's not Pixar, it will be someone else," Iger told an audience at the Royal Television Society's international conference in London.
Ed Newmann and Monca Kendall, founder/owners of Chicago-based Calabash Animation, one of the leading privately-owned animation studios in the country, have sold the company to Wayne Brejcha and Sean Henry. Brejcha, who joined Calabash in 1990, takes over as chairman and Animation director, and Henry, who joined in 1998, will be president.