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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. (www.idt.net) 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.
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."
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.
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.
According to TRENDWATCH, 22% of all U.S. studios/facilities do 3D modeling/animation/rendering (including character set-up, enveloping/skinning, lighting, etc.).
Significantly, this number jumps up to 68% for vfx/animation studios/facilities specializing in 3D work. Also, 35% of post-production studios/facilities do this type of 3D work as well. This number is up from 31% of post houses doing this work in TRENDWATCH's summer 2003 survey.
Excerpted from the TRENDWATCH VISUAL EFFECTS/DYNAMIC MEDIA REPORT Issue #4, Winter 2003-2004.
INdTV Holdings, LLC a newly formed media company led by former U.S. vp Al Gore and successful entrepreneur Joel Hyatt, acquired Newsworld International (NWI) from Vivendi Universal Entertainment for an undisclosed sum. The acquisition was announced during the annual NCTA convention in New Orleans. NWI will be developed by its new owners into an independent network offering innovative alternative programming created by and for a target audience of 18-34 year-olds.
Former Disney director Stanley Gold said he and fellow dissident investor Roy Disney chairman will nominate an alternate slate of directors next year if the current board does not "face up to the issues," he told REUTERS NEWS.
Hearst Corp., King Features Syndicate and Fleischer Studios have filed a federal suit against 43 defendants for copyright infringement on the BETTY BOOP AND HER GANG characters. Hollywood attorney Gary Hecker, who specializes in copyright protection, is heading the case for Betty's owners. The defendants in the case include makers of electronics, underwear, t-shirts, jeans, baby clothes, jewelry and more.
MGA Ent., which owns those hugely successful Bratz fashion doll line, is more aggressively translating its intellectual properties into entertainment with the launch of its new production unit, MGA Ent. Films. MGA has recruited animation vets Jay Fukuto as vp of the entertainment division and Ellen Levy-Sarnoff as senior director of creative for Bratz Ent.
Comcast Corp. announced April 28, 2004 that it has withdrawn its proposal to merge with The Walt Disney Co., right after the Disney board of directors concluded its annual retreat where it reiterated its confidence in ceo Michael Eisner, which, in turn, angered Roy E. Disney and Stanley P. Gold, who have been trying to oust the chief executive.
Brian L. Roberts, president/ceo of Comcast said, "It has become clear that there is no interest on the part of Disney's management and board in putting Comcast and Disney together. As a result, we have withdrawn our offer."
Klasky Csupo Animation Studio has launched a mature entertainment arm, Global Tantrum (www.globaltantrum.com). Klasky Csupo ceo Terry Thoren will oversee all business operations. Global Tantrum will target the 18-35 age group and produces TV series, feature films and content for the Internet.
Klasky Csupo principal Gabor Csupo said, "It is refreshing to have a vehicle that expresses such a different creative vision. We hope viewers are entertained by the material, whether in film, television or internet form as we move forward with the Global Tantrum brand."
Tokyo-based Kadokawa Holdings will invest $100 million in DreamWorks, reports VARIETY. This deal will make the Japanese media corporation 2.83% shareholder in the privately held studio, which was created by Jeffrey Katzenberg, Steven Spielberg and David Geffen in 1994. As part of the investment, Kadokawa will have exclusive distribution rights to DreamWorks films, videos, DVDs and other products in Japan. The deal is similar to ones DreamWorks has with Universal and Korean distribution company Cheil.
Calabasas, California-based THQ Inc. has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire leading PC development studio, Relic Entertainment. THQ expects the acquisition to be completed by May 1, 2004. Other terms of the all-cash transaction were not disclosed.
Previously, THQ had partnered with Vancouver-based Relic Ent. through a two-property, multi-year publishing agreement including the upcoming realtime strategy (RTS) title, WARHAMMER 40,000: DAWN OF WAR, scheduled to release in fall 2004.
Board members of the Walt Disney Co. assembled at Disneyland on Monday for an informal two-day retreat to discuss, among other things, whether to renew ceo Michael Eisners contract, which expires in 2006, the LOS ANGELES TIMES reported. CalPERS and other pension funds recently demanded a meeting with the board, which is scheduled for May 21, 2004.
The restructuring of EM.TV Merchandising AG is complete into EM.TV Vermögensverwaltungs AG, with the resulting company to be known henceforth as EM.TV AG, headquartered near Munich, Germany.
Word has leaked out that Sony Corp. is in talks to buy Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. for a cash deal valued at approximately $5 billion, according to AP and other news organizations. Sony and two private firms, Providence Equity Partners and Texas Pacific Group, have been examining MGM's books in anticipation of an offer that might take place in several weeks.
A deal would likely fold MGM into Sony Pictures Ent. and expand Sony's film library with an additional 4,200-plus titles, including lucrative United Artists franchises such as James Bond and the Pink Panther.
The ongoing war between The Walt Disney Co. and ex-Disney board members Roy E. Disney and Stanley P. Gold has flared up again with the two sides debating the actual percentage of No Confidence votes received by Disney ceo and former chairman Michael Eisner and board member and newly elected chairman George Mitchell.