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Ontario Gov't Provides Starz with C$23M for Gnomeo & Juliet

Press Release from Starz Media, LLC

TORONTO, May 26 - Starz Animation Toronto today announced that it has received $22.975 million in funding under the Government of Ontario's Next Generation of Jobs Fund. Premier Dalton McGuinty attended the press conference where he indicated the funds have been allocated to Canada's leading feature length animation film studio to stimulate economic growth and to contribute to a competitive workplace for the next generation of Ontarioworkers.

With major projects like Miramax Films' GNOMEO & JULIET and the recent completion of Universal/Focus Features' 9, Starz Animation Toronto, under the direction of Head of Studio David Steinberg, now employs 220 people, up substantially from when the studio opened in 2007, and continues to grow at a rapid pace.

"Today truly is a remarkable day," said Robert B. Clasen, Chairman and CEO, Starz, LLC. "Starz Animation Toronto is on course to become a world centre of excellence that produces exceptional quality animation work. We are thrilled with the endorsement and funding we have received from the Government of Ontario and their recognition that our state-of-the-art studio in Toronto is an important economic generator for this province. We are especially honored to have Sir Elton John and David Furnish with us here today."

"GNOMEO & JULIET is a special project for us, so we're happy that it's being animated under the auspices of David Steinberg and his team at Starz Animation Toronto," Sir Elton John said. "Toronto is a dynamic city with a great pool of talented animators, and the best of them are at work on GNOMEO & JULIET right now."

An irreverent comedy set in the back-drop of suburban English gardens and inspired by Shakespeare's renowned love story, Miramax Films' and Elton John and David Furnish's Rocket Pictures' GNOMEO & JULIET introduces us to two young garden gnomes from feuding families of lawn ornaments, who are blissfully unaware their story is destined for a tragic ending... unless they can change their fate. The film, directed by Kelly Asbury (SHREK 2), features classic and new music from the legendary singer/songwriting team of Elton John and Bernie Taupin. James McAvoy (ATONEMENT) and Emily Blunt (THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA) will voice Gnomeo and Juliet.

"With breathtaking animated features like 9 and GNOMEO & JULIET, Starz Animation Toronto is undeniably establishing itself as a leader in high quality, independent digital animation," added David Steinberg. "I'm excited that the Government of Ontario, Rocket Pictures and others recognize the value of our studio too."

The Next Generation of Jobs Fund is a five-year initiative launched by the Government of Ontario to provide funding to help innovative companies grow and create sustainable jobs for Ontario's highly skilled workers.

Starz Animation Toronto, a unit of Starz Media, LLC, is the only independent studio to produce five consecutive theatrical features, including the 2007 release, EVERYONE'S HERO (20th Century Fox/Starz Animation) and Universal Pictures/Big Ideas' 2008 theatrical release, THE PIRATES WHO DON'T DO ANYTHING: A VEGGIETALES MOVIE, as well as a run of best-selling VEGGIETALES DVD releases for Big Idea.