Imax Corp. has agreed to make a strategic investment in Vancouver-based Mainframe Entertainment, producers of the 3D computer-animated REBOOT and BEAST WARS. The company will invest CAN$16 million (U.S.$10.6 million) into Mainframe to acquire an equity and convertible senior debt, giving Imax an approximate 30% stake in the company. As part of the deal, Imax and Mainframe will co-produce 3D animated films for release in IMAX theaters and other markets. Their first collaboration, GULLIVER'S TRAVELS, is expected to be released to IMAX theaters by summer 2001.
In a move to consolidate, DreamWorks Television Animation has closed down, and the direct-to-video unit has merged with the feature division. A DreamWorks spokeswoman stated, "We are currently reorganizing our animation divisions so we are all operating under one umbrella. While we have decided not to continue pursuing television animation opportunities at this time, we are continuing to develop and produce animation for both feature films and direct-to-video." The TV division, spearheaded by Jeffrey Katzenberg and Steven Spielberg, opened shop in 1996 headed by Gary Krisel and David Simon.
Six-time Emmy-winner Phil Roman, who in February departed Film Roman, the animation company he founded in 1984 [AF 02/16/99], has announced the formation of his new company, privately owned Phil Roman Entertainment in Studio City, California. Roman is president and chief executive officer of the full service animation firm. The new company will create, develop and produce traditional and computer animation for TV, features, commercials and promotions. The Roman company is expected to announce a number of projects soon.
Visual effects and animation studio Rhythm & Hues has purchased the VIFX portion of Marina del Rey based-effects house Blue Sky/VIFX from 20 Century Fox for approximately $5 million. Under the Rhythm & Hues banner, the combined companies will be the largest privately owned visual f/x house in Los Angeles. The core management team at VIFX will remain intact although layoffs are expected for some of VIFX's 100+ employees because of an overlap of job functions once the merger is completed.
The Writers Guild of America (WGA) has reached an agreement with Castle Rock Television for a collective bargaining contract covering the writers of DOWNTOWNERS, an animated series premiering on the primetime WB line-up this fall. The dispute had initially begun when writers on the show were unhappy with the benefits of the union that was representing them, the IATSE Cartoonists Local 839. A key point in the agreement was recognition of the WGA as the exclusive bargaining representative of primetime animation writers employed by Castle Rock Television and Downtowners Productions.
London-based Pearson Television has purchased EVA Entertainment for £2 million ($3.3 million). EVA, a five year-old pan-European venture, produces and distributes children's animation with a library of around 200 half-hours including SPOT THE DOG and BILLY THE CAT. The company was also one of four co-producers on BBC2's animated series, REX THE RUNT. Pearson's recently appointed director of animation John Bullivant will oversee EVA. However, the studio will continue to be run by EVA's managing director Mikael Shields, who'll function as chief operating officer.
Pixar Animation Studios took a bit of a dip in the fourth quarter while still awaiting the cash flow from their latest blockbuster feature A BUG'S LIFE. The company reported fourth-quarter profits of $1.1M for the period ending January 2, down from $4.4M for the same period in 1997. Quarterly revenues dropped from $7.1M to 3.1M, with revenue generated from sales of services and tools to other producers in Hollywood, as well as proceeds trickling in from their first film TOY STORY (1995).
After the success of "The Rugrats Movie" and plenty of hit television shows, Klasky Csupo is relocating to a bigger building at 6353-57 Sunset Boulevard, across from the Hollywood Cinerama Dome. The 6-floor, 95,000 square ft., state-of-the-art glass and steel structure was originally designed as an auto showroom for Mercedes-Benz, but will now hold up to 500 Klasky Csupo employees. Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan says, "This is great news for the heart of Hollywood.
Legendary Marvel comic book creator, Stan Lee, has formed a new company, Stan Lee Media, to harness the power and global outreach of the Internet to create a new world of superheros. The first venture of the newly formed company is StanLee.net (http://www.stanlee.net), which is being constructed to attract and accommodate the largest global assemblage of young comic book enthusiasts, who will be engaged in community creation on the Internet with Stan Lee and his new universe of superheros.
Funny Farm Studios is a new 2D animation studio starting up in Atlanta, Georgia. The facility is headed by Donna Ervin, former manager and producer for DESIGNefx cel animation, and two animation directors, Jim Peebles and Jeff Fastner. "We have enormous talent, experience and speed to offer," states Ervin. The studio will target the national and regional commercial, interstitial programming and web development markets.
New York-based Tape House Digital has changed their name to Black Logicannounced Alfie Schloss, Vice President, Marketing. Black Logic is afull-service visual effects company offering graphic design, high-endcompositing, 2D and 3D computer animation and live-action production.Founded in 1992, the company's mission is to become one of the East Coast'spre-eminent visual effects and computer animation companies. Schlossstated, "This is not merely a name change. As Black Logic we have
The Attik, a worldwide design agency, has opened offices in Sydney, Australia to create a stronger global presence. In the past two years, the company has also launched U.S. offices in New York and San Francisco. The new office in Sydney will be headed up by Simon Needham who will relocate to Australia with a number of other colleagues from the London, U.K. home office. This is a natural progression for us. We are a global design company.
As a follow-up to our 11/17/98 Animation Flash story, Canadian-based CINAR Films Inc. has changed their name to CINAR Corporation (Corporation CINAR in French) after a Special Meeting of Shareholders approved the change. The new name better reflects the diversification of the companys business activities which have expanded beyond the film industry.
MEDIALAB, a real-time performance animation production company, and Cine-Groupe, a production house and distributor of animation, have joined forces for the first time in a co-production deal that will see two properties, Pinocchio 3001 and Sphinx@com, developed into computer-generated animated feature films and television series. These projects will be produced over the next four years using MEDIALABs propietary performance animation techniques.
The Varga Group of Companies, which includes the Hungarian animation studio Varga Studio and UK-based VARGA tvc Ltd., will conduct business under a newly formed holding company, Varga Holdings. Varga Holdings reflects Vargas worldwide expansion in the production of high quality animation and replaces Eurotoon, the previous holding company for the two animation studios. Co-founder of Varga Studio, Andras Erkel, was named Chief Executive Officer of Varga Holdings while co-founder Csaba Varga has been named Group Creative Director.
Balmur Entertainment, a music management and publishing company owned by singer-performer Anne Murray, has acquired Evening Sky Productions and The Animation House in an effort to produce original animated series, live-action family entertainment and music-driven television specials for global distribution. Evening Sky (headed by David and Mary Corbett) and Animation House (headed by Bob Fortier) will merge to become a wholly-owned division of Balmur Entertainment and will operate as Evening Sky Productions.
Fox Entertainment Group president Peter Roth resigned last week after adisappointing season for Fox Network's television shows. Comedy Centralchief executive officer Doug Herzog was announced as the replacement wherehe'll head Fox's development, scheduling, marketing and promotion. Herzogis responsible for bringing "South Park" to Comedy Central and it is hisintention to push the envelope content-wise at Fox as well. Certainly, agood deal of Fox's future rides on animated shows with three major
Canadian company, Cinar Films Inc., recently announced that they would like to change their corporate name to CINAR Corporation (in French, Corporation Cinar). A Management Proxy Circular was sent to shareholders announcing a Special Shareholder Meeting to be held at the company headquarters in Montreal on December 10, 1998 to vote on the intended name change. The new name was proposed to better reflect the company's diversification into other areas of children's entertainment and education besides the film industry.
The Harvey Entertainment Company (Nasdaq: HRVY) reported a net loss of $2,006,000, or $0.48 per share, for the third quarter of 1998 as compared to a net gain of $2,551,000, or $0.62 a share, for the same third quarter period in 1997. For the nine month period ending September 30,1998, Harvey has totaled a net loss of $4,788,000, or $1.19 per share, as compared to a net income of $2,551,000, or $0.64 per share, in the comparable year-ago period. Net operating revenues were also considerably less coming in at a negative $1,121,000 compared to revenues of $7,126,000 in the year-ago period.
Kids programming syndicator Bohbot Kids Network (BKN), the fourth US broadcast kids network scheduled to launch August 29, 1999, has acquired Los Angeles-based Epoch Ink Animation (founded by Joe Pearson) to establish BKN Studios. Epoch was founded in 1995 and has since completed original and for-hire animated projects for television, home video, interactive and theatrical distribution.
Silicon Graphics, Inc. has reported negative first quarter results for the 1999 fiscal year. The company announced a net loss of $44 million, or $0.24 per share, compared with a net loss of $56 million in the same quarter a year ago. "Reporting a loss is never satisfying, but I am very encouraged with the progress demonstrated in this quarter's results," said Richard Belluzzo, CEO and chairman of SGI.
Pixar, the company behind "Toy Story," posted a third quarter net profit of $2.5 million, or $0.02 per share, down from a third quarter profit of $5.3 million last year. The positive profits however did surprise financial analysts who had forecasted a third quarter loss of $0.02 for the third quarter. The upcoming release of "A Bug's Life" is expected to help further rejuvenate Pixar's revenues.
The animation union, the Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists (M.P.S.C.) and Affiliated Optical Electronic and Graphic Arts, Local 839 IATSE has completed its voting process and announced the new Executive Board of the organization. Re-elected to office were incumbents Bronwen Barry, Dave Brain, Pat Connolly-Sito, Earl Kress, Craig Littell-Herrick, Enrique May, Ann Sullivan and Stephan Zupkas. Also elected were newcomers Bob Foster, Warren Greenwood and Karen Nugent, replacing Board members Sheila Brown, Tom Ray and Dave Zaboski who did not run for reelection.
CINAR Films Inc. (Nasdaq: CINRF; Toronto and Montreal Exchanges; CIF.A, CIF.B) reported record financial results for the third quarter and past nine months ending August 31, 1998.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), an organization devoted to fighting anti-Semitism, has taken issue with the depiction of a character in Nickelodeons Rugrats newspaper comic strip. The comic in question, which ran in newspapers nationwide during the week of Rosh Hashanah--the Jewish New Year--featured a character named Granpa Boris in a synagogue reciting the Mourners Kaddish, a holy Jewish prayer.