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Henson Headline News

Muppets Moving to Mouse House

Kermit and his Muppets pals have decided to move into the uproarious mouse house, having been acquired by The Walt Disney Co. in a deal announced Feb. 17, 2004, on the heels of Disney rejecting Comcasts hostile bid to buy the entertainment conglomerate. Disney has been trying for some time to acquire from Jim Henson Co.

Headline News

Techimage Expands to Keep Up With Growing CG Business in U.K.

Techimage, provider of high-end software solutions for both 2D and 3D artists in the U.K. and northern Europe, has appointed Peter Griffiths as business manager and has relocated to new and larger offices in Burford, Oxfordshire.

Seamus Morley, director of Techimage, commented: "The addition of Peter with his knowledge and understanding of the CG market, plus the move to larger offices will enable us to better serve our customers and the growing market for high end CG."

Services Headline News

Alias Moves to Acquire Itself from SGI

By Rick DeMott | Wednesday, February 11, 2004 at 12:00am

Alias has announced it is involved in exclusive discussions with a leading private equity investment firm for the acquisition of Alias from SGI. The company reassures customers that no changes to the management team, organization, services, support or product availability will occur as a result of the negotiations or the sale of the business.

Dreamworks Headline News

DreamWorks Animation Getting IPO

By Rick DeMott | Wednesday, February 11, 2004 at 12:00am

DreamWorks' entertainment attorney Skip Brittenham is working with investment banks J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs to initiate an IPO proposal of the entertainment company's animation division, reported VARIETY. The trade publication quotes a source as saying "the likelihood of an IPO at about 60%. But studio execs are 100% committed to trying to make the plan work." It's estimated that the offering would be timed around the premiere of DreamWorks' next animated feature SHARK TALE, which bows in theaters Oct. 1, 2004. Details of whether it would proceed or follow the release are not known.

Disney Headline News

Comcast Makes Surprise Bid to Buy Disney

With cable TV giant Comcast Corp. stunning the entertainment world with its proposed offer on Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2004, to buy the Walt Disney Co. for an estimated stock value of $66 billion, the industry was abuzz with speculation that Disney chairman/ceo Michael Eisner's days are now numbered. Especially in light of the fact that Institutional Shareholder Services, a leading provider of proxy voting and corporate governance services, also recommended on Wednesday that Disney shareholders withhold their vote for Eisner's reelection to the board of directors.

Disney Headline News

Disney to Partner With Microsoft on Digital Media Initiatives

The Walt Disney Co. and Microsoft Corp. have signed a multiyear agreement to cooperate on several long-term digital media initiatives to improve the quality, security and reach of digital content within the home and on Microsoft Windows XP-based PCs, as well as on a growing number of home and portable entertainment devices. As part of the agreement, Disney will license Microsoft Windows Media Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology. Disney and Microsoft have identified three areas of joint focus that utilize effective rights management:

Disney Headline News

Wall Street Jitters End over Jobs' Disney-Bashing; Marvel Courts Pixar

Everything was back to normal Friday on Wall Street after Pixar stock dipped slightly on Thursday following ceo Steve Jobs' mid-week assault on Disney during a conference call with analysts to rejoice Pixar's fourth quarter earnings. On Friday, shares of Pixar Animation Studios stock rose 1.1% to finish at $63.27 after slipping 1.5% on Thursday to finish at $62.58. On Wednesday, Pixar reported net income of $83.9M, or $1.44 a share, for the period-ended Dec. 31, thanks to the record-breaking FINDING NEMO, compared to $17M, or 31 cents a share for the comparable period in 2002.

Dreamworks Headline News

Is DreamWorks Primed for a Pixar-like Move?

There's a report in Tuesday's NEW YORK POST that DreamWorks is "ramping up efforts to spin off its animation unit" as part of a potential sale to Hollywood studios. DreamWorks is reportedly in considerable debt (last year its ranking with rival studios dropped) and loans are coming up payable in a little more than a year. According to analysts, an animation spin-off would allow it to raise the necessary cash to float the losses, "while maintaining an lucrative production agreement," since animation is the only profitable center.

Disney Headline News

Pixar to Go its Own Way

It's official: Pixar has concluded discussions to extend its long-term partnership with The Walt Disney Co., and will go its own way as a potential indie powerhouse with its own strong brand identity. The Emeryville, California-based CG animation studio still has two features to deliver to Disney: THE INCREDIBLES in 2004 and CARS in 2005, but is now free to continue negotiations for a distribution deal with another studio. Last August, Pixar chairman and ceo Steve Jobs initiated talks with Fox and Warner Bros.

Headline News

Alias to License Diva

First Alias furthered its continuing strategic partnership with Weta Digital, now the 3D graphics technology powerhouse has formed a stronger alliance with Los Angeles-based motion capture production company House of Moves. Alias will develop and integrate House of Moves' Diva software into future versions of Maya.

Comics Headline News

IDT Finds Archie Comics Fun To Acquire

IDT Entertainment is fast approaching buying up all the ingredients it needs to be a completely diversified, worldwide entertainment conglomerate with its latest acquisition of a 5% equity interest in Archie Comics Entertainment, LLC. This agreement gives IDT the rights to co-develop and co-produce select animated properties based upon Archie Comics Ent. characters.

Digital Headline News

Avid Acquires NXN and Expands Leadership in Digital Asset Management

Avid Technology has acquired Munich-based NXN Software, the leading provider of asset and production management systems specifically targeted for the entertainment and computer graphics industries, in a cash transaction valued at approximately EUR35 million.

Animation Headline News

Ooga Booga Studio Opens For Animated Business

New animation studio Ooga Booga Studio Inc. has opened in Vancouver to focus on the production of high quality 2D and 3D animation for commercials, promos and television specials. Founder is Colleen Pollock, formerly senior producer at another Canadian house, Natterjack Animation Co.

Disney Headline News

Roger Rabbit Lawsuit Against Disney Back On

A state appeals court in California reinstated WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT? novelist Gary K. Wolf's lawsuit against Walt Disney Co., claiming that Disney owes Wolf millions of dollars in merchandising royalties, reported the ASSOCIATED PRESS. This lawsuit is very similar to the one brought against Disney by the Slesinger family, owners of the WINNIE THE POOH copyright.

Digital Headline News

Alias and Weta Digital Extend Strategic Alliance

Alias is continuing to foster a strategic business relationship with Weta Digital beyond THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy, as it looks forward to working together on KING KONG.

Using 165 seats of primarily Maya Unlimited, Maya proved invaluable as the core 3D animation software utilized in the production of THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy.

Disney Headline News

Disney Loses Federal Appeal in 'Pooh' Copyright Case

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has denied an appeal by Clare Milne and Disney to recapture the rights under copyright to Winnie the Pooh from the Slesinger family, originally granted in an agreement with author A. A. Milne in the '30s.

In November of 2002, Disney said Clare Milne had initiated complex copyright-law maneuvers in an effort to reclaim the rights to Pooh. In May, a Federal District court ruled in favor of the Slesingers, leading to Milne's appeal, which Disney joined.

Animation Headline News

New Raven Animation to Target Former Disney Orlando Animators

Raven Moon Entertainment Inc. has formed a new animation company called Raven Animation Inc., with plans to target former Disney/MGM animators that recently lost their jobs on Jan. 12 because of the closing of Disney's animation operations at Disney/MGM studios in Orlando, Florida.

Effects Headline News

Stargate Digital Launches Visual Effects Facility at London's Pinewood Studios

Stargate Digital, the visual effects studio based in Pasadena, Californa, has opened a new facility, Stargate Digital UK, at London's historic Pinewood Studios.

The new high-speed, deep storage digital facility is modeled after Stargate's growing and groundbreaking Los Angeles and Vancouver studios. All three studios will be linked via a state-of-the art high-speed, high-resolution digital network and will be able to quickly and efficiently work on projects and pool talent.

Home Headline News

PBS and Paramount to Partner for Home Video Distribution

Paramount Home Ent. will be PBS Home Video's new video distribution partner for the U.S. and Canada. Beginning April 5, 2004, Paramount will bring PBS DVD and VHS releases to retailers across the country. The PBS Home Video library features award-winning titles such as THE CIVIL WAR, BASEBALL, JAZZ and many other acclaimed films from Ken Burns, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE's portrait of SEABISCUIT and the popular children's franchises, CAILLOU, SAGWA THE CHINESE SIAMESE CAT and TELETUBBIES, among others.

Kids Headline News

Fox Kids Jettisoning Name To Become Jetix

ABC Cable Networks, Fox Kids Europe and Fox Kids Latin America have teamed up to launch Jetix, a joint kids programming worldwide alliance that will feature original, acquired and library action/adventure series for kids to reach a combined 137 million television households in 77 countries and in 18 languages.

Featuring such popular action programs such as POWER RANGERS, Jetix programming blocks will debut in the U.S. in February 2004, with morning programming on ABC Family and primetime shows on Toon Disney.

Disney Headline News

Disney Officially Closes Florida Animation Studio

Walt Disney Feature Animation has officially closed its animation unit in Orlando, Florida that was responsible for BROTHER BEAR ($83.6M), LILO & STITCH ($146M) and MULAN ($121M) as a cost-cutting measure. In November, Disney cancelled production of A FEW GOOD GHOSTS, leaving little doubt about the fate of its 258 employees based in Florida.

Animation Headline News

Disney Animators Form Legacy Animation In Florida

A group of former Walt Disney Feature Animation Florida animators have banded together to open Legacy Animation Studios, a new animation production studio in Winter Garden, Florida, close to Orlando in late January 2004. The studio will offer a full-range of traditional hand-drawn (or 2D) animation services for film, television and commercials. Legacy will also be dedicated to developing original properties for television and film as well as produce its own feature film project.