Miramax and Wild Brain Combine for CGI Opus Feature

Miramax/Dimension Films and San Francisco-based animation studio Wild Brain Inc. have agreed to a multi-year, multi-film agreement to co-finance and co-produce CG-animated films. Each will each finance 50% of the production on agreed projects. Miramax/Dimension will distribute the films worldwide in all media.

The first joint production is expected to be OPUS, which Craig Mazin (SCARY MOVIE 3) will adapt from the Pulitzer Prize-winning comic strip, BLOOM COUNTY, created by Berkeley Breathed.

The agreement also gives Miramax/Dimension the opportunity to distribute Wild Brain's self-financed, direct-to-DVD/video productions over the next three years. Similarly, Wild Brain has the opportunity to access Miramax/Dimension's worldwide distribution pipeline for films in which it produces and pays releasing costs.

For the past 10 years, Wild Brain has created characters and produced award-winning animation in all media, including the Disney Channel's new pre-school television series HIGGLYTOWN HEROES; television commercials for Coca- Cola, Nike and Novartis Lamisil; and such shorts as HUBERT'S BRAIN.

"There is tremendous demand for animated family films," said Miramax co-founder Bob Weinstein. "We're impressed by Wild Brain's creativity, story-telling prowess and sheer imagination and look forward to working together."

"We are enormously fortunate to have such a skilled marketer and accomplished distributor as a business partner to expand the scope of our animation offerings," said Jim Miller, Wild Brains newly appointed chairman. "Our premiere animation facility has attracted some of the most respected artists and producers in the business. Now we have a production partner that shares our commitment to superior content driven by compelling story lines."

"A Miramax/Dimension and Wild Brain partnership creates a new powerhouse in CG animation, added Sam Humphreys, ceo of European private-equity firm Syntek Capital AG, a Wild Brain investor that took an active role in securing, structuring and financing Wild Brain's participation in the relationship. Miramax/Dimension's creative expertise in choosing content and marshalling talent are second only to its exceptional ability in marketing and distributing films."

Andrew Rona and Brad Weston, co-presidents of Dimension, will oversee the relationship for the studio.

Charles Layton, evp, office of the co-chairmen, Andrew Gumpert, evp business and legal affairs, and Eric Sherman, vp business and legal affairs negotiated on behalf of the studio that is owned by Disney.

Meanwhile, Wild Brain took the opportunity to formally announce the hiring of Miller (former Warner Bros. president of worldwide theatrical business operations).

"I was immediately struck by Wild Brain's exceptional passion and creative talent as well as its focused and disciplined production model -- that combination is distinctive in this industry," said Miller. "We're throwing the doors open to the entire animation and film community to join us. The quality of the stories and visuals created here is astounding -- and the ability to successfully see simultaneous projects through successful production is impressive."

Wild Brain Inc. (www.wildbrain.com) is an award-winning animation studio that develops and produces content for the global film, TV and commercials markets. Founded in 1994 by senior business and creative leaders Jeff Fino, John Hays and Phil Robinson, Wild Brain's client list includes Universal, Twentieth Century Fox, Disney, DreamWorks, Warner Bros, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network and Oxygen. Wild Brain is also a top U.S. producer in the animated commercials sector, with a client list that includes Nike, Coca-Cola, Ford, Nabisco, Sony, McDonald's, Target, Nestle, The Wall Street Journal, Chevrolet, Mattel and Levi Strauss.

Syntek Capital AG (www.syntekcapital.com) is a private-equity investment firm with a particular focus on the media and technology sectors.

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