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Million Headline News

Eisner Gets 13% Raise; Board Makes CEO/Chairman Split Permanent

Walt Disney Co's board announced it has made permanent the policy to separate the roles of ceo and chairman, responding to criticism and requests from shareholders. The corporate governance guidelines now read, "the chairman of the board shall be an independent director unless the board concludes that the best interests of shareholders would otherwise be better served," and to require a written explanation in proxy materials if the two jobs were held by a single person.

Animation Headline News

Thailand Sees Big Investment in Animation

Thailand's fledgling animation industry is flying high in the hope that foreign animation companies will invest between one and two billion baht in the industry after taking part in the second Thailand Animation and Multimedia 2005 fair.

The investment may come in the form of outsourcing and joint production and ventures with local companies, according to Manoo Ordeedolchest, the president of the Software Industry Promotion Agency (Sipa). Sipa will act as a matchmaker and the investment would be spent over the next few years.

Comics Headline News

Dreamwave Comics Ends

Canadian comics publisher Dreamwaye Prods. has stopped operations and is shutting its doors. Dreamwaves line of licensed comics included TRANSFORMERS, DUEL MASTERS, TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES and MEGAMAN. President Pat Lee cited market conditions as the reason for the closing, including "...the shrinking comicbook market combined with a weak U.S. dollar and unsustainable monetary commitments." The company was founded in 1996 by brothers Pat and Roger Lee.

Media Headline News

West Midlands Animation Development Scheme

Light House, in partnership with Screen West Midlands, and animation companies Screenburn and The CharacterShop in the U.K., are launching a new initiative to provide work placement opportunities for talented new animators with these regional animation companies.

Online Headline News

Global Gaming League & ClanBase Form Strategic Partnership

The Global Gaming League (GGL), the leader in competitive videogaming entertainment, announced a strategic partnership with, Europe's leading competition organizer for online gamers. The partnership will see the two companies working together to take competitive online videogaming to the next level by combining their respective communities and talents. Together, they form the world's largest online gaming community with more than a million players from 190 countries around the world.

Headline News

Chinese Animator Wins Copyright Battle With Nike

By Rick DeMott | Thursday, December 30, 2004 at 12:00am

Chinese Internet cartoonist Zhu Zhiqiang has won a court battle against the U.S. footwear and apparel maker Nike Inc. over the company's use of his "Little Match Man" illustration, reports the ASSOCIATED PRESS. Zhu had sought $240,000 in compensation, but a Beijing court only granted him $36,000 in compensation and forced Nike to issue a public apology to Zhu, the CHINA DAILY newspaper said.

"I got what I wanted - confirmation on my copyright over my stickman," Zhu said.

Headline News

5,000-Year-Old Animation Found in Iran

By Rick DeMott | Thursday, December 30, 2004 at 12:00am

A 5,000-year-old animated piece on an earthen goblet was found in Burnt City in Sistan-Baluchistan province, southeastern Iran, reports IRANIAN.WS. On this ancient piece, the artist portrayed a goat jumping toward a tree to eat leaves.

The earthenware found in Burnt City, one of the most developed of ancient civilizations, show the images of goat and fish more than any other subject.

India Headline News

Animated Look at Sumatra Earthquake/Tsunami

The devastating tsunami caused by an earthquake Dec. 26, 2004, off Sumatra, 1,620 kilometers northwest of Jakarta, traveled at an average speed of 700 kph across the Indian Ocean as fast as a jetliner according to the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan, it was reported by THE DAILY YOMIURI.

Films Headline News

Shorts International to Distribute American Short Film Catalog

U.K.-based Shorts International, the short film distribution arm of Britshorts Ltd., has become the exclusive distributor for the entire short film library of American Vantage/Hypnotic. American Vantage/Hypnotic, a subsidiary of American Vantage Media Corp., has one of the largest high-quality short film and animation libraries in the world. The combined entity gives Shorts Intl the largest short film distribution capability across the globe.

Disney Headline News

Disney Doesn’t Support Disney on Board at Disney

Last week, Disney shareholder Frank Wierenga put forth a proposal to the board of directors of the Walt Disney Co. to open a seat on the board to a member of the Disney family. Roy Disney responded with gratitude, but declined the proposal on behalf of the Disneys. Below is Roy Disneys response to the proposal.

Film Headline News

Red Star Studio Raises Banner for Film Revolution

Red Star Studio has opened its doors in Sheffield. The new company will produce high-end digital effects and animation aimed at independent film and television. Situated in the burgeoning film community of Sheffield in the north of England and with a base in London, Red Star has been founded by the award-winning duo Benjamin Smith and Jan Rogowski. Their previous credits include Chris Morris' BAFTA award-winning 35mm short film MY WRONGS 8245-8249 AND 117, for which they created all the visual effects.

Services Headline News

Thomson Acquires MPC in Major VFX Expansion

Thomson has acquired The Moving Picture Co. (MPC) from British broadcaster, ITV, for £52.7 million (76 million). MPC, which is located in the Soho district of London and employs around 400 people, is an industry-leading provider of vfx and post-production services to both the feature film and commercial advertising industries.

Henson Headline News

Jim Henson Co. Re-Structures Television Department

In order to increase its network and cable programming portfolio, The Jim Henson Co. has hired Eric Poticha as vp of Television and Halle Stanford as head of children's television. Poticha will develop new comedy and drama series, miniseries and features for television as well as develop future Muppet projects to be produced by Henson for The Walt Disney Co. Stanford will lead development and production of all preschool and children's programming for both television and direct-to-video projects in animated and live-action formats.

Disney Headline News

Disney Supports Blu-ray Disc Format

The high-def DVD war just got more interesting, as The Walt Disney Co. announced its non-exclusive support of the Blue-ray Disc format embraced by Sony and manufactured by Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. This comes on the heels of last weeks announcement that Toshiba Corp. is getting support from Paramount Pictures, Universal Studios, Warner Bros. and New Line for its rival next-generation DVD format, HD DVD.

Headline News

Missing SpongeBob SquarePants Inflatables Net Burger King Reward

McDonalds has its Hamburglar character, Burger King seems to think it has a rash of its own thieves or spongenappers and is offering a reward of Burger Bucks good for a one-year's supply of original Whopper sandwiches for information leading to the safe return of missing SpongeBob SquarePants inflatables. The gigantic blow-up figures began popping up on tops of Burger King restaurants on Nov. 11, 2004 and have been recently disappearing from their lofty perches.

Disney Headline News

Disney & Gold Won’t Issue Alternate Slate of Directors

In a letter sent to the Disney board on Dec. 3, 2004, dissident shareholder leaders Roy Disney and Stanley Gold announced they will not present an alternate slate of directors at Disney's annual meeting next year. This year the pair led a 45% vote of no confidence in Michael Eisner that led to his resignation as chairman. Eisner has since announced he will retire at the end of his contract in 2006. Disney and Gold have threatened to issue an alternate slate of directors, fearing Eisner would be replaced by deputy Robert Iger, who they do not support.

Animated Headline News

Nintendo Starting In-house Animation Studio for Features

Japanese console giant Nintendo plans to create an internal animation studio focused on animated feature production, according to a report in Japanese business publication NIKKEI JOURNAL.

This follows on the heels of a proposal by former company president Hiroshi Yamauchi, who suggested that the firm should create an animated film based on works from the famous Ogura Hyakunin Isshu collection of classic Japanese poetry. Yamauchi, still an adviser to the company and a significant shareholder, proposed the new venture at Nintendo's management event in Kyodo in October.

Blu-ray Headline News

Four Studios Back Toshiba’s HD DVD Format

AP reports that Japanese electronics maker Toshiba Corp. is getting support from Paramount Pictures, Universal Studios, Warner Bros. and its sister studio New Line for its next-generation DVD format, HD DVD, to be launched at the end of 2005 in players, recorders and other products.

Games Headline News

Midway Acquires Paradox Development

Midway Games Inc. announced Nov. 29, 2004, it has acquired privately-held Paradox Development, the studio now developing Midway's upcoming videogame, MORTAL KOMBAT: SHAOLIN MONKS, via an all-stock transaction for 333,334 Midway common shares. This acquisition further strengthens the Midway's internal development capabilities.

Wild Headline News

Wild Brain Gets $30 Million in Financing to Fuel Feature Drive

Wild Brain Inc., a leading producer of animated entertainment, announced Nov. 29, 2004, its closing of $30 million in funding led by Valence Capital Management as well as the companys existing investors, including Syntek Capital AG. In conjunction with the financing, Wild Brain adds two new members to the company's board of directors, including Roy Thiele-Sardiña, managing director, Valence Capital LLC and James A. Caccavo, managing partner, Valence Capital Management.

Studios Headline News

New TrendWatch Report Analyzes Studio Costs

In its new COST ALLOCATION REPORT, TrendWatch Inc. details how U.S. studios allocate costs when adding new capabilities to their operations.

"Today's studios are facing difficult decisions on how they invest in talent, technology and physical facilities," said Jim Whittington, TrendWatch founding partner. "Given the importance that studios and their clients place on their capabilities and their people, understanding how costs are allocated for return on investment (ROI) is crucial for studios and the suppliers that sell to them."

Design Headline News

Former ESC Ent. Staffers Form Evil Eye Pictures

In the wake of ESC Ent.s shutdown, former senior staffers Dan Rosen, Matt McDonald and John Jack have launched Evil Eye Pictures in the San Francisco Bay Area.

A design and compositing-focused company, Evil Eye specializes in art direction, compositing, shot design, on-set supervision, matte painting, set extensions, motion graphics and title design. With years of experience in creating and supervising 3D imagery as well, Evil Eye provides a critical eye, working with clients to achieve their unique vision.

Comics Headline News

Spiritualist Chopra & Director Kapur Form Comicbook Company

Deepak Chopra, world-renowned author and spiritualist and Shekhar Kapur, director of the Oscar nominated ELIZABETH, have joined with Gotham Ent. Group, the leading publisher of comic magazines in South Asia to announce the launch of Gotham Studios Asia, a new company focused on creating original comic books and character properties for a global audience. Gotham Studios Asia is a partnership between Chopra and Kapurs media company, Intent and Gotham Ent. Group.

Studio Headline News

India’s Maya Looks To Build Toon Studio & School in Thailand

Indian animation firm Maya Ent. is seeking a joint venture partner to launch a studio and training facility for animators in Bangkok, Thailand, reports VARIETY. Graffiti has been hired as consultants to begin discussions with parties like GMM Grammy, Thailand's biggest entertainment firm, and telcos True Corp. and Shin Corp. Thailand was chosen due to its political stability, pool of talent and lower costs. Maya will own a 49% stake in the co-venture and plans to invest up to $2 million to start the animation school and $2.5 million to form the studio.