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Category: Business

Japan Headline News

Japan Gives Cash-Strapped Toon Houses Cash

In an effort to help its local industry produce another global sensation, the Japanese government is offering financial support to cash-strapped animation houses, reports THE JAPAN TIMES.

Anime imports into the U.S. has grown from 23 in the 1980s to 42 in the 1990s and has already reached 40 during the four years through 2003, according to a survey by the government-affiliated Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO). The organization also found that the anime market in the U.S. is worth $4.36 billion, which is 3.2 times the value of Japanese exports of steel products.

Junior Headline News

EM.TV Acquires Rest of Junior Library

EM.TV has finalized its E13.5 million acquisition of Kirch Media's remaining 50% of their jointly held Junior TV program library, and settled outstanding legal and licensing issues plus all mutual claims with the bankrupt Kirch.

EM.TV's management is also seeking $158 million in financial damages "out of and, if necessary, in court" from EM.TV founder Thomas Haffa and his brother, ex-cfo Florian Haffa, plus former executive and supervisory board members. EM.TV accuses them of improprieties centering around the 2000 acquisition of a stake in Formula One racing.

Animation Headline News

WGA/IATSE Reach Animation Writers Deal

The Writers Guild of America West reached an agreement with IATSE Local 839 Animation Guild requiring producers to tell animation writers whether a prospective job falls under the WGA agreement or the producers contract.

some animation writers found out too late that they were working on a Local 839 show they had assumed was covered by WGA terms and lost their position to negotiate for higher wages and health care benefits before taking the job.

Disney Headline News

Disneyland Gives Job Boost to Hong Kong

Hong Kong Disneyland is expected to create 18,000 jobs, including 5,000 before opening of the theme park, it was reported in THE STANDARD in China. The park is expected to open by late 2005 and give a tourism and employment boom to the former British colony.

Headline News

DAZ Buys 3D Bryce Package

DAZ Prods. has acquired Bryce, Corel's award-winning 3D landscaping and animation package.

Widely used by designers seeking to integrate 3D technology into their creative workflow, Bryce complements existing DAZ software packages and further strengthens DAZ's presence in the digital graphics market.

Design Headline News

V12 + Panopoly Pictures design = Full Circle

V12 and Panopoly Pictures are merging their respective design and production departments to form Full Circle, a the new company that will provide live-action production, branding motion graphic design and animation to clients in the feature film, commercial and broadcast arenas. Leading the joint venture are V12 founder David Hwang and Panopoly Pictures co-founder Kathryn Peaslee.

Dark Headline News

Image & Dark Horse Team on Distribution Deal

DVD producer/distributor Image Ent. and comicbook-based media company Dark Horse Ent. have partnered to produce and distribute live-action and animation genre movies, music and other entertainment programming. John Landis has signed on to write and direct a horror film for the jointly owned Dark Horse Home Ent., whose film will initially be direct-to-DVD films. In addition, Bruce Campbell and novelist and graphic novel writer Neil Gaiman have agreed to be involved in several upcoming productions.

Games Headline News

350 Out of Play at VU Games

In its turnaround plan to improve operating effectiveness, Vivendi Universal Games (VU Games) eliminated 350 staff positions in its North American based operations. The company's Blizzard Entertainment studio was not part of the reduction.

"Restructuring the organization and reducing our cost base are necessary to improve our operating effectiveness and profitability," said VU Games ceo Bruce Hack. "This constitutes another important step in our turnaround plan aimed to better position the company for growth."

Headline News

IDT Pumps Up Sales/Distribution Arm

A few months ago Rick Mischel, ceo of Mainframe Ent., alluded to AWN that a sales/distribution entity would be in place soon for IDT Ent. and now that has become a reality. IDT Ent. has formed IDT Ent. Sales (IDTeS) a new company responsible for the worldwide distribution of content from its companies, as well as third-party producers. IDT Ent. companies include Anchor Bay Ent., Manga Ent., DPS, DPS/Film Roman, Mainframe Ent. and DKP Effects.

Headline News

Alias Acquisition Completed

Accel-KKR, the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan and Alias management announced the completion of the acquisition of Alias from SGI for $57.5 million. Accel-KKR is a technology-focused private equity firm and Teachers' is one of Canada's largest pension plans with net assets of more than $75 billion CDN.

Universal Headline News

Universal Studios Forms Universal Studios Partnerships

Universal Studios announced the creation of Universal Studios Partnerships (USP), an agency-inspired entity designed to oversee multi-divisional corporate alliances as well as theatrical and home entertainment promotions. USP expands upon and renames Universal Partnership Development, a group currently overseeing long-term corporate alliances. Stephanie Sperber, svp, Universal Partnership Development, has been promoted to evp, USP, reporting to Universal Pictures vice chairman Marc Shmuger.

Animation Headline News

Hanna-Barbera Buildings Saved!

The L.A. birthplace of the FLINTSTONES has been saved, reports THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. The City Council approved a plan that will preserve all three of the historic Hanna-Barbera animation studio buildings.

"This was really the birthplace of TV animation," said Ken Bernstein, the Los Angeles Conservancy's director of preservation issues. He hailed the City Council's May 25, 2004 approval of a plan that saves the buildings, which were denied historic landmark status in 1997.

Marvel Headline News

Marvel & Sony Make-Up

The litigation that disrupted the relationship between Marvel Enterprises and Sony Pictures is now over. Both companies announced they have "amicably resolved their pending court disputes." In 2003, Marvel sued SPIDER-MAN partner for $50 million, claiming the film studio was trying to label SPIDER-MAN a Sony property and leaving Marvel alienated from merchandising its own character. As part of the agreement, details were not released.

Animation Headline News

U.K. Producers Group Fears UK Toon Collapse

U.K. producers group Pact fears the U.K. animation industry teeters on the edge of collapse unless the government invests £50 million ($90 million) over eight years into a rights fund. An initial $10 million is needed to set up the fund, which would eventually sustain itself.

Universal Headline News

NBC Universal Restructures Organization

NBC Universal, recently formed through the combination of NBC and Vivendi Universal Ent. puts Bob Wright at the top of the organizational structure as chairman/ceo, while retaining his position of vice chairman/exec officer of General Electric, NBC Universal's parent company.

Entertainment Headline News

Arturion Completes Reorg & Acquisition of POW!

Arturion Ent. Inc. has announced that it has completed the reorganization with POW! announced in the fourth quarter of 2003. With the close of this transaction the new directors nominated by POW! will become all of the directors of Arturion, and the officers of POW! will become the officers of Arturion, responsible for day-to-day operations.

Canada Headline News

New Canadian Subsidy Directory Revised

The newly revised Canadian Subsidy Directory 2004 edition is now available, containing information to more than 2,000 direct and indirect subsidies, grants, and loans offered by various levels of government; foundation; association and other similar organizations in Canada.

Could prove good reading for companies interested in partnering with Canadian animation and vfx houses to help fund projects by taking advantage of the financial boost the entertainment and other industries get in Canada.

Dreamworks Headline News

DreamWorks Animation IPO Gaining Momentum

According to BUSINESS WEEK, DreamWorks has retained investment bankers Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan to access the timing and procedure of a potential IPO for its animation unit to help pay off its enormous debt. With SHREK 2 coming out May 19, SHARK TALE slated for Oct. 1, 2004, and the FATHER OF THE PRIDE series debuting this fall, the timing of the IPO couldn't be better.

Disney Headline News

Disney Earnings Up

Thanks to a rise in income from the theme parks, ESPN and such DVDs as FINDING NEMO and BROTHER BEAR, The Walt Disney Co. reported a 73% operating income growth for the second fiscal quarter ended March 31, 2004. Every division saw growth, except the film studio, thanks to disappointing box office returns from HIDALGO and other releases.

Animation Headline News

IDT Acquiring Anime Giant Manga Ent.

IDT Ent. is going Japanaese, signing an agreement to acquire Manga Entertainment, a film company specializing in the production, distribution and worldwide marketing of anime for home video releases, theatrical and television broadcast. IDT Ent. is a subsidiary of IDT Corp. ( a multinational carrier, telephone and technology company based in Newark, New Jersey which has been on an amazing buying spree of animation companies and establishing creative asset partnerships.

Headline News

Asterisk Graphic Boutique Opens In New York City

Asterisk has opened shop in New York City. The boutique, headed by producing/directing team Richard O'Connor and Brian O'Connell will focus on graphic driven character animation across media for commercial, series and feature films.

"Each project is different," said O'Connor, "the issues are unique, so the solutions are unique. We might use photo collage for one thing, rotoscope for another, or a NEW YORKER illustrator for a third."

Animation Headline News

Discreet Acquires Unreal Pictures

Discreet has purchased Unreal Pictures, developers of the advanced, award-winning character animation tool, character studio. This transaction brings in patents and core character studio technology allowing Discreet to further advance the state-of-the-art in intuitive character animation.

Design Headline News

Radium Spins Off New Design Division

Leading digital effects studio Radium has launched a new design division. In addition to offering full CGI, editorial and visual effects services, Radium now has a complete design division with eight designers. The talent includes Tuesday McGowan, Sebastian Harms, Christopher Wargin, Melinda Tidwell, Lisa Overton, Lisa Berghout, Stacy Nimmo and Christopher Kirk. All of these artists are well versed in a variety of mediums such as broadcast, film, television and print design.

Animation Headline News

IDT Ent. Gets A Little Stan Lee Power

Spreading its areas of interest and wealth around, IDT Entertainment announced May 6, 2004 it has acquired a minority equity interest in POW! Entertainment LLC, headed by comic book legend Stan Lee. In addition, IDT Ent. has acquired exclusive distribution rights for all POW Ent. animated DVD properties plus the companies will co-produce and co-develop a minimum of six animation projects for direct-to-DVD distribution and broadcast.