Digital Domain, the Oscar-winning vfx studio and production company based in Venice, California, has been acquired for a reported $35 million by South Florida-based Wyndcrest Holdings Llc., a group led by director Michael Bay, former NFL quarterback Dan Marino and investor John Textor.
Liberty Media Corp. is buying IDT Ent. from parent company IDT Corp. it was announced today, May 16, 2006. Liberty will give up its holdings in IDT Corp. to add this diversified production/distribution group of companies to its holdings, which includes Starz Ent. Group that will have the capability to create a wide array of CG-animated and live-action programming for domestic and international distribution in all major channels, including broadcast syndication, premium television, theatrical and home video/DVD.
Activision will be opening a dedicated studio facility on the DreamWorks Animation campus in Glendale, California, following on the heels of their strategic alliance. The move, which establishes an unprecedented level of collaboration between a Hollywood studio and a videogame company, will facilitate simultaneous co-development between DreamWorks' 3D-animated features and Activision games based on those films.
Silicon Graphics Inc. has filed for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11 on May 8, 2006, after a round of restructuring measures failed, and signed an agreement with its lenders to reduce the companys debt by about $250 million, according to SGI officials.
In court papers, SGI said it had been challenged by delays in introducing new technology, a focus on more specialized markets and more intense competition from larger rivals.
Disney has completed its acquisition of Pixar animation Studios as Pixar shareholders approved the takeover of the company today (May 5, 2006) in an all-stock deal valued at more than $7.4 billion as 2.3 Disney shares will be issued for each Pixar share. The vote was taken at a special meeting of shareholders in San Francisco presided over by Pixar cfo Simon Bax.
The Securities and Exchange Commission's L.A. office recommended on May 4, 2006, that a probe into DreamWorks Animation cease with no enforcement action, according to various business reports.
With the recommendation, the SEC will most likely rule not to sanction DWA for failing to warn investors, before first-quarter earnings were announced last year, that returns on the SHREK 2 DVD were running much higher than anticipated, causing the company to miss guidance.
However, there are still several shareholder lawsuits still pending over the matter.
For the first quarter of 2006, DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. reported total revenue of $60.1 million and net income of approximately $12.3 million, or $0.12 per share on a fully diluted basis, driven primarily by the home entertainment sales of MADAGASCAR. However, this compares to revenue of $167 million and net income of $45.7 million, or $0.44 per share on a fully diluted basis for the same period in 2005. The company ended the period with $505.5 million of cash and cash equivalents.
Vivendi Universal Games announced on May 1, 2006, its new name, Vivendi Games "VG). The name change follows the parent company's announcement on April 20 that Vivendi Universal has become Vivendi. Under its new name, Vivendi Games will compete in all areas of the videogames industry, developing and publishing the highest quality franchises for all gamers.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled that prosecutors may use computer animation to illustrate their murder case, but the animation has to be relevant and must authentically depict the crime scene, reports THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER.
On April 25, 2006, the court said that the animation was handled properly in the case of Michael Serge, 60, a retired Scranton police detective who shot and killed his estranged wife. Serge claimed that she had attacked him with a knife and was too intoxicated to have intended to kill her. He is now serving a life sentence.
Various news reports say that Microsoft Corp. plans to pay $200-400 million for Massive Inc., a privately held company that places ads in videogames.
The deal to buy the two-year-old startup demonstrates the increasing importance of advertising in nontraditional media, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
Microsoft and Massive spokeswomen have declined comment.
DAZ Productions Inc., a leading developer of professional quality 3D models and software, today (April 25, 2006) announced it has acquired Eovia Corp., a based in Mountain View, California-based developer and publisher of leading 3D animation, modeling and rendering solutions. DAZ Productions has taken over Eovia's entire development, marketing and sales divisions and all the technology rights to Carrara, Eovias 3D modeling, animation and rendering software. DAZ Prods. has also acquired all technology rights to Hexagon, Eovias 3D modeling software, from Eovia Europe S.A.
Viacom Inc. announced April 24, 2006, it has reached a definitive agreement to acquire Xfire Inc., the fastest-growing online gaming communication and community platform in the world, for $102 million in cash.
SAG's national board has unanimously ratified its new contract for basic cable animation, reports the trades. The contract, which went into effect with Friday's approval, is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2006, and will run through June 30, 2008.
The new deal nets a 20% increase in residuals after 16 years under an original pact with such companies as Walt Disney Pictures & Television, Warner Bros. Animation and Cartoon Network Studios.
Director James Cameron, who has sworn allegiance to digital 3-D in all future production plans, including his upcoming back-to-back features, AVATAR and BATTLE ANGEL, offered an optimistic roadmap during his keynote at Sunday's (April 23, 2006) NAB Digital Cinema Summit in Las Vegas. He noted the success of both POLAR
EXPRESS in IMAX 3-D and CHICKEN LITTLE in digital 3-D as proof that there is an audience willing to pay a premium for a more immersive theatrical experience, but cautioned that "content will drive this [revolution]."
Lightstorm producer Jon Landau told VFXWORLD at Sunday's (April 23, 2006) NAB Digital Cinema Summit in Las Vegas that director James Cameron will emphasize performance capture technology as part of his upcoming digital 3-D feature production plans.
4Kids Ent. has formed 4sight licensing solutions inc., a new subsidiary, to specialize in the marketing and licensing of brands geared primarily to adults, teens and "tweens."
Trading house Sojitsu Holding is set to take 17% of distribution company Klockworx, reports VARIETY. Sojitsu hopes to develop and market content for the international market, including live-action films and animation. Sojitsu will buy current Klockworx shares and will not participate in Klockworx management.
"We plan to set up a project team between our two companies to discuss areas of cooperation," Klockworx vp Itaru Fujimoto said.
Bill Postmus, chairman of the board of supervisors of suburban San Bernadino County, California, has ordered the county's libraries to remove the scholarly text, MANGA: SIXTY YEARS OF JAPANESE COMICS, from circulation, reports ICv2.com. On the county's website, he called the book obscene and added, "that book is absolutely inappropriate for a public library and as soon as I was made aware of it yesterday, I ordered it to be removed immediately."
Sony Pictures Home Ent. (SPHE) has reorganized to meet the challenges and opportunities of the digital era.
During the keynote address delivered at the 2nd annual Advertising in Games conference in New York, Massive Inc. ceo Mitch Davis predicted that ad spending on in-game advertising will reach between a $1.6 and $1.8 billion in the U.S. by 2010, accounting for roughly 3% of total media spending, reports MEDIAWEEK. In comparison to previous estimates, Davis' claim is far larger than forecasts issued by both JupiterResearch and The Yankee Group last year.
SEGA Holdings U.S.A. Inc. has acquired acclaimed developer Secret Level Inc. to establish new internal development arm in North America. Founded in 1999 and headed by Jeremy Gordon, San Francisco-based Secret Level is a leading videogame developer well-known in the industry for developing cutting-edge next-generation technology.
The Secret Level, Inc. development studio will continue to operate out of its current office in San Francisco.
The Interactive Entertainment Merchants Assoc. (IEMA) and the Video Software Dealers Assoc. (VSDA) have voted to merge into a single trade association to represent the retailers and distributors of video and videogame products. The merger will bring together mass merchants, video specialty stores, videogame specialty retailers, online merchants, electronics retailers, entertainment combo stores, and others that retail and wholesale DVDs, console videogames and computer videogames.
Pharos Capital Group LLC of Nashville and Dallas, has invested $8 million in Reel FX Inc. Based in Dallas, privately held Reel FX provides computer-generated 3D animation and visual effects in the broadcast, feature film, computer and videogame and advertising industries. The company also specializes in the development, production and brand management of family-friendly programming and has a number of active projects including feature films, television and direct-to-DVD series.
A federal judge in Los Angeles has ruled that the WB's SMALLVILLE may be infringing on the copyrights held on the Superboy character by the widow and daughter of Jerome Siegel, creator of the comicbook series, reports VARIETY. The March 23 summary judgment by Judge Ronald S.W. Lew also found that Joanne Siegel and Laura Siegel Larson had successfully recaptured the Superboy rights as of Nov. 17, 2004.
On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court, without comment, refused to hear an appeal in the case over the sales of VEGGIETALES DVDs and other products.
In the case, Lyrick Studios sued Big Idea Prods., claiming that Big Idea had breached their agreement giving Lyrick exclusive license to distribute the children's cartoons. In 2003, a Dallas jury agreed with Lyrick, stating that the companies had an agreement and a two-year working relationship that was in effect a contract, even though a contract wasn't formally signed.