Newark, New Jersey-based IDT Media announced May 15, 2003 that its animation production unit, Digital Production Solutions (DPS), will acquire a 51% interest in Film Roman, Inc., a leading independent animation company, through the purchase of newly issued shares of Film Roman common stock. Film Roman produces the animation on the primetime hits THE SIMPSONS and KING OF THE HILL. IDT Media is a subsidiary of IDT Corp., a multinational carrier, telecommunications and technology company.
Film Roman, founded in 1984 by acclaimed animator Phil Roman, is known for its daytime and primetime series and initiatives on the Internet (LEVEL13.NET). The company went public October 1, 1996 for $10 a share but the price quickly plummeted to under a dollar in value. The NASDAQ Stock Exchange officially delisted Film Roman Inc. shares from its Small Cap Market in 2001 when shares had dropped to 56 cents. After being delisted, Film Roman's common stock began trading on the OTC Bulletin Board under the new symbol ROMN.OB. Chennai, India-based Pentamedia Graphics, Ltd. tried unsuccessfully to purchase the studio in 2000; the deal was finally terminated in 2001.
Founder Phil Roman resigned from the animation studio he founded on February 12, 1999. Subsequently he founded a new studio, Phil Roman Entertainment. Roman rejoined the Film Roman board of directors in mid-2001 and remains a substantial shareholder in Film Roman. His new company moved into offices at Phil Roman Studios in North Hollywood, California. Roman rejoined the Film Roman board of directors in mid-2001 and remains a substantial shareholder.
Sources at the companies could not yet confirm the purchase price for IDT Media or the possible impact on the Film Roman board of directors and stockholders.
Film Roman has produced and continues to make some of the world's best known animated series such as X-MEN, THE MASK, BOBBY'S WORLD, THE TWISTED TALES OF FELIX THE CAT, MIGHTY MAX and GARFIELD & FRIENDS, plus THE THEATRICAL TOM AND JERRY: THE MOVIE. Recently, the company announced it will be teaming up with Showtime Networks Inc. to bring to life the characters of Brett Merhar's popular comic strip FREE FOR ALL for Hi-Definition broadcast release in summer 2003.
"With 18 Emmys and program credits that include TV's best loved, most successful primetime animated series, Film Roman is the broadcast industry's leading animation company," said Jim Courter, IDT's ceo and a director of IDT Media. "With this acquisition, IDT Media's Digital Production Solutions unit takes its place among the world's animation production leaders."
"Digital Production Solutions brings Film Roman the ability to combine our creative strengths with the incredible technological abilities of DPS. Together we will be able to innovate and build a powerhouse in animation, both 2D and CGI," said John Hyde, president/ceo of Film Roman.
"This acquisition has great synergy and works well for both companies," said Morris Berger, IDT Media's evp of business development. "By adding Film Roman's 2D animation expertise to our 3D animation capability, we create a powerhouse animation company and at the same greatly enhance the profit potential of the companies' productions using DPS proprietary production management protocol tools." IDT Media has a proprietary 3D Global Animation Studio 3D software.
DPS is aggressively pursuing the acquisition and licensing of program ideas and properties suitable for animation. The company has also been pursuing toy companies to turn properties like dolls and action figures into an animated production featuring the toy. In March 2003, DPS acquired rights to never-before-seen projects created by Gene Roddenberry. GENE RODDENBERRY'S STARPOINT ACADEMY and GENE RODDENBERRY'S CHAR are the first original properties acquired by DPS. DPS is working on a co-production with Jim Jinkins and David Campbell of Cartoon Pizza, the creators of DOUG, STANLEY and PB&J OTTER. In addition, the DPS studio has produced episodes of MONSTER BY MISTAKE under an agreement with CCI Entertainment, Ltd. to be broadcast in the U.S., Canada, Australia and Germany. DPS recently made a series of 3D animations for the educational market, for Pearson Education's "Sing, Spell, Read & Write," program. DPS was formed by IDT Media in late 2002.
IDT Media is the subsidiary of IDT Corp. (www.idt.net) responsible for its initiatives in media, new video technologies and print media. IDT is cash rich, with $1.7 billion in annual income, no reported debt and $1 billion in cash.