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.
After many years of Cuppa Coffee Studio's series division doing largely work for hire, the Toronto-based studio is diversifying by creating and selling its own shows under its own distribution arm, Decaf Distribution.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Vancouver Canada-based Global Mechanic has expanded its operations to the United States in order to serve its increased business in commercial, television production, and independent film work.
Infinium Labs, Inc., formerly Global Business Resources Inc., has completed the acquisition of Infinium Labs Operating Corp., and in the mix now owns Phantom Game Service. The Phantom Game Service is a next-generation gaming system that supports games on-demand, game rentals, game demos, seamless upgrades and patch management.
Franck Le Calvez, a French children's author and aquarium buff, has sued Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Animation Studios, claiming FINDING NEMO bears an uncanny resemblance to his illustrated book, PIERROT LE POISSON CLOWN, according to THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER.
Comcast is expected to acquire Paul Allen's computer-info channel TechTV for about $300 million, to merge it with Comcast's fledgling G4 channel, reports VARIETY, in an effort to boost its programming assets and subscriber reach.
The merger of G4 and TechTV, would combine the best original programming of each into a videogame-focused, computer and technology-based network, reaching around 45 million subs, targeted to the highly desirable male 18-34 demo.
Global Entertainment Media Group, LLC (GEM Group), has acquired the film library of BMG, the worldwide music division of Bertelsmann AG. This includes all residual rights to the BMG film library that has been in existence since 1995, including free television, DVD, home video and other ancillary rights to the films.
Telefilm Canada has made a number of changes to its management structure to reflect its commitment to an asymmetrical approach to the film and television industries, based on the particular characteristics and levels of maturity of the English- and French-language markets; to its efforts to increase the synergy between core programs and international activities to ensure Canadas competitiveness in the global market; and to offer improved client service through closer ties with the industry.
Lost Dreams Studios producer/director Jeremy Evans found his dream when he decided to move his small, hometown production company from Iowa to New York City.
CINAR Corp. has rescheduled a special meeting of shareholders to approve the arrangements for the acquisition of the company by Michael Hirsh, Toper Taylor and TD Capital Canadian Private Equity Partners. The meeting, previously scheduled for Jan. 15, 2004, will now be held on Feb. 5, 2004. It was rescheduled in order to provide time to resolve certain withholding tax issues for CINAR shareholders.
Marvel Enterprises Inc. has acquired the business and certain assets of New York City-based Cover Concepts, a small company specializing in the distribution of free, sponsored materials to public schools across the U.S. Cover Concepts sells advertising space on those materials, which include book covers, bookmarks, locker posters, teaching guides, health & beauty samples, calendars, stickers, notepads, folders, coloring sheets, incentive programs and growth charts. Major advertising customers have included Gatorade, McDonalds and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.