After only six years in existence, Fox has closed the doors to its Phoenix, Arizona-based animation division, subsequently ending Don Bluth and Gary Goldmans relationship with Fox. The move comes after the recent resignation of Fox Filmed Entertainments chairman and CEO, Bill Mechanic, who had taken a big interest in animation and helped start the Fox facility in Phoenix. With the recent box office disappointment of TITAN A.E., the news is not much of a shock. In February, Fox laid off nearly 70% of its toon factory's staff.
AWNs stock ticker features the most prominent publicly traded companies in the world of animation. AWN, Inc. Network makes available certain financial information from third party information providers. AWN does not give advice in any such fields, and has not reviewed, and in no way endorses the validity of such data. This information is provided solely as a means to keep our readers informed of the market performance and trends of certain companies. AWN strongly suggests that you seek advice from a competent professional regarding any investment or financial issues.
In a 22-page decision filed Friday, June 23, 2000, L.A. Superior Court Judge Ernest Hiroshige ruled that the Walt Disney Co. willfully destroyed documents regarding the long-running litigation over royalties on WINNIE THE POOH. The judge ruled that plaintiff Stephen Slesinger Inc., owner of the rights to late author A.A. Milne's WINNIE THE POOH characters, is entitled to monetary sanctions and that the jury in the upcoming trial be instructed that Disney willfully suppressed evidence to prevent it being presented.
At the end of June, before a securities commission, Cinar Corp. will have to defend why they feel their stock should not be delisted from stock exchanges in Canada and the U.S. The Montreal-based childrens producer has dates to appear with the Ontario Securites Commission on June 30 and with the Nasdaq exchange sometime next month to reveal the reason behind why the firm has been unable to file its financial statements since the period ended November 30, 1999.
U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, who ordered the split of Microsoft into two firms, has asked the Supreme Court to hear the software giants appeal case directly. By using the obscure Antitrust Expediting Act, Judge Jackson has put the Microsoft matter on a fast track to the top court, therefore avoiding multiple appeals if Microsoft would lose again in a lower appeals court. Jackson has also postponed business restrictions against the software company until the appeal is heard.
Seagram Co.-owned Universal Studios, producer of the LAND BEFORE TIME series, will now be housed under the Canal Plus roof. The move is a result of French media mogul Vivendis recently board-approved acquisition of Seagram. The stock for stock deal values Seagram at US$34 billion. Vivendi shareholders will own 60% of the new firm, Seagram shareholders will hold 29% and the minority shareholders in Vivendi-owned Canal Plus will hold the remaining 11%. The new motion picture division of Vivendi will be entitled Canal Plus and will be lead by Canal Plus chairman and CEO Pierre Lescure.
On June 19, 2000, Activision, Inc. announced that on June 9, 2000, it reorganized into a holding company structure. The purpose of the reorganization was to provide the company with a more flexible organizational and capital structure and to enhance its financing options. As a result, the new Activision Inc. owns 100% of the previously publicly held Activision, Inc., which has been renamed Activision Publishing, Inc. The company structure will not change as a result of the reorganization. The company's existing stock certificates represent shares of the new holding company.
Microsoft Corp. announced it acquired Chicago-based Bungie Software Products Corp., a leading developer of action oriented computer and video games. As a result, Microsoft gains exclusive publishing and distribution rights to select Bungie-developed titles, including the highly anticipated HALO. Bungie's development staff will become an independent studio within the Microsoft Game Division. Microsoft expects the Bungie team to play a key role in the development of content for Microsofts X-Box console.
SteeleVFX, Inc. has relocated its visual effects studio to Santa Monica. The new facility includes: a Java-enabled Henry Infinity suite (with Masher and Chaser planned); a Mac Graphics Suite featuring After Effects, Photoshop, Illustrator, and Lightwave 3D; a Sony 2000 D1; a Sony A-500 DBC; Beta SP; 60 Sec. DDR; dubbing facilities; a Tascam DAT; and D2, PAL DBC and FTP file transfer services. SteeleVFX was founded in 1996 by Jo Steele and visual effects artist Jerry Steele and specializes in non-linear on-line editing and visual effects compositing.
On Wednesday, June 21, 2000, Italian animation studio Mondo TV, owner of the country's largest library of domestic and imported TV cartoons, will go public on the Milan stock exchange. Currently, the Rome-based company is owned by Orlando and Matteo Corradi. For the first-quarter, the TV toon maker saw revenue of 6.5 billion Italian lira (US$3.25 million) and net earnings of 1.3 billion ($650,000).
Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) announced it has acquired the on-line game company Verant Interactive, Inc. and named digital gaming executive Kelly Flock as president and CEO of Sony On-line Entertainment (SOE). Verant will be blended into SOE, which will base its operations in San Diego, California. The new arm of Sony has been responsible for operating the popular on-line games EVERQUEST, TANARUS and SOVEREIGN. Verant President John Smedley will become SOEs executive vice president and chief operating officer.
George Lucas' special effects powerhouse Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) has announced plans to expand into the animation game, creating 3D computer-generated films and television shows. These new projects will be co-productions with various major studios. Three years ago, ILM had planned to make the CGI animated FRANKENSTEIN with Universal but that project fell through due to creative differences. Patty Blau has been named senior VP of production for the animation division. Previously, Blau served as president of feature production. "Now we're really putting our weight behind it.
Nintendo of America Inc. has filed an infringement complaint against SongBoy.Com, a minority-owned company that has developed a digital multimedia player plug-in module that transforms the Nintendo Gameboy player into a CD-like music player. SongBoy.Com offered Nintendo a deal to become a licensee but was denied. SongBoy.Com claims that Nintendo's lawsuit is not valid and is a harassment measure. "Our legal team has taken great measures to ensure that we have in no way violated the Nintendo patent and trademark.
Spain's Terra Networks have announced that their shareholders have approved the company's US$12.5 billion purchase of U.S. Internet portal Lycos. The shareholders also okayed $17.7 billion in capital increases to pump up liquidity in the new arm. "The acquisition of Lycos is the big leap that will allow us to position ourselves as a truly global company," Terra president Juan Villalonga said at the company's shareholders meeting. The Spanish-language Internet server and provider announced last month its intention to purchase Lycos as an inroad to the U.S. market.
Cinar's insurance company, Liberty Mutual, has hired private investigators to look into the allegations of fraud against the children's television producer. Liberty may have to pay out millions if the board of Cinar is found liable. The insurance company's law firm Gasco Lelarge hired two former Montreal police detectives, Alain Pirrol and Andre Boudreau, to head up the investigation. Pirrol and Boudreau run the Montreal-based investigation agency Quali-T Investigation.
AWNs stock ticker features the most prominent publicly traded companies in the world of animation. The ticker features the firms name followed by the stock symbol, with the Monday close and 52-week high and low listed below. AWN, Inc Network makes available certain financial information from third party information providers. AWN does not give advice in any such fields, and has not reviewed, and in no way endorses the validity of such data. This information is provided solely as a means to keep our readers informed of the market performance and trends of certain companies.
Speaking at an investors conference in London, Viacom president and COO, Mel Karmazin, emphasized to attendees that if UPN doesnt begin to make a profit it would either be shut down or sold off. Karmazin said Viacom expects UPN to meet the performance criteria set for all its operating divisions. The total losses for the five-year old network have risen to nearly $800 million. "UPN will become profitable, or it wont exist," Karmazin said.
Thirteen of the largest computer and video game producers have filed suit against six game pirates who have been selling bootleg titles over the Net. The suit claims that James Cabot of Brook Park, Ohio; C. Graves of Raleigh, North Carolina; Tim Knoblich of Daytona Beach, Florida; Travis Lallman of Burley, Idaho; Derek Rufo of Vancouver, British Columbia; and Carol Scott of Columbia, South Carolina allegedly copied games, advertised them on six separate Web sites and sold them via mail.
Pulse Entertainment has received US$35 million in private equity funding led by Softbank Venture Capital, and others like Time Warners Web destination Entertaindom and Autodesk Inc. As part of the deal, exclusive content will be provided by Pulse for Entertaindom. "We cant release the names yet, but we have at least two shows in production," said Pulse CEO Fred Angelopoulos. However, the shows will come from Entertaindoms access to the Warner Bros. portfolio of characters. Currently, Pulse produces a 3D Webtoon based on the Looney Toons character Marvin the Martian.
Former Disney chairman Joe Roths Revolution Studios, a film and television production company, has released the details regarding the roles that its investors will serve. Sony Pictures Entertainment, Starz! Encore Group and Fox Entertainment Groups were among the investors that have sunk US$3 billion into the five-month old production house. Additionally, Revolution has gained a controlling stake in the on-line entertainment channel MediaTrip.com.
BKN International, a childrens animated series production, distribution and marketing company, announced their acquisition of France-based Arles Animation. Arles has worked on series such as WACKY WORLD OF TEX AVERY, SABRINA and SONIC UNDERGROUND. Arles credits itself as being the only studio in France with experience in managing and executing a two-episode per week schedule. The French firm has created work for DIC, TF1, Canal +, RTL and La Cinquieme.
The newest lawsuit hitting the embattled Cinar Corp. comes from a former exec, over his inability to exercise his stock options. At Cinar, Louis Fournier served as the companys vice president of distribution and left the company to serve as president of youth and animation programming at Montreal-based TVA International. Fournier is suing his former employer for reimbursement over stock options not paid to him when he exited the company in February 2000.
On Wednesday, June 7, 2000, U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson ordered that the worlds largest software company, Microsoft, be split into two separate companies. The ruling came as no surprise as the current conclusion to this phase of the antitrust case brought against the mega-firm. Quickly after the decision was handed down Microsoft pledged it would appeal the ruling all the way to the Supreme Court.
The FCC and Department of Justice have given the go ahead for AT&T to merge with MediaOne making the combined company the largest cable firm in the nation. One stipulation on the US$58 billion deals approval is that the company seal off its holdings in Road Runner, a high-speed Internet access service. The FCC also said that either AT&T has to sell its stake in Time Warner Entertainment, divest programming assets like Liberty Media or unload various cable systems within the next year. AT&T has six months to decided which of the three courses of action it will take.