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Imagi Studios U.S.A. Joins Animation Union

Imagi Studios U.S.A. and the Animation Guild, Local 839 IATSE signed a contract on July 20, 2007, covering animation writers, storyboard artists and designers. Imagi Studios U.S.A. also signed onto the Animation Guild's 401(k) Plan, and employees will be covered under the Motion Picture Industry Pension and Health Plan.

Formed in 2000, Imagi Studios is based in Hong Kong. The company creates CG animated theatrical films. Its first feature, TMNT (TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES), was distributed by Warner Bros. and the Weinstein Co. in March. Upcoming projects include GATCHAMAN and ASTRO BOY. Imagi Studios U.S.A., based in Sherman Oaks, California, was founded in 2004.

"The negotiations with the company were as pain-free as any we've had in the last few years," said Steve Hulett, business representative for the Guild. "I congratulate Imagi for recognizing its employees' desire for a collective bargaining agreement that provides them with wage minimums and benefits."

The Animation Guild, Local 839 IATSE (www. represents animation artists, writers and technicians at the major animation facilities in southern California and elsewhere. It has contracts with some 30 employers, including Disney, DreamWorks, Starz Media, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, Fox, Universal, Warner Bros. and Sony.

"I applaud all the animation professionals at Imagi who stepped up to claim their right to union representation," said Guild president Kevin Koch. "As for the ease of the negotiations, this contract shows how serious Imagi is about competing in the feature film arena, and we look forward to a long and successful relationship with the company."