MEDIALAB, a real-time performance animation production company, and Cine-Groupe, a production house and distributor of animation, have joined forces for the first time in a co-production deal that will see two properties, Pinocchio 3001 and Sphinx@com, developed into computer-generated animated feature films and television series. These projects will be produced over the next four years using MEDIALABs propietary performance animation techniques.
As a follow-up to our 11/17/98 Animation Flash story, Canadian-based CINAR Films Inc. has changed their name to CINAR Corporation (Corporation CINAR in French) after a Special Meeting of Shareholders approved the change. The new name better reflects the diversification of the companys business activities which have expanded beyond the film industry.
The Varga Group of Companies, which includes the Hungarian animation studio Varga Studio and UK-based VARGA tvc Ltd., will conduct business under a newly formed holding company, Varga Holdings. Varga Holdings reflects Vargas worldwide expansion in the production of high quality animation and replaces Eurotoon, the previous holding company for the two animation studios. Co-founder of Varga Studio, Andras Erkel, was named Chief Executive Officer of Varga Holdings while co-founder Csaba Varga has been named Group Creative Director.
Balmur Entertainment, a music management and publishing company owned by singer-performer Anne Murray, has acquired Evening Sky Productions and The Animation House in an effort to produce original animated series, live-action family entertainment and music-driven television specials for global distribution. Evening Sky (headed by David and Mary Corbett) and Animation House (headed by Bob Fortier) will merge to become a wholly-owned division of Balmur Entertainment and will operate as Evening Sky Productions.
Fox Entertainment Group president Peter Roth resigned last week after adisappointing season for Fox Network's television shows. Comedy Centralchief executive officer Doug Herzog was announced as the replacement wherehe'll head Fox's development, scheduling, marketing and promotion. Herzogis responsible for bringing "South Park" to Comedy Central and it is hisintention to push the envelope content-wise at Fox as well. Certainly, agood deal of Fox's future rides on animated shows with three major
The Harvey Entertainment Company (Nasdaq: HRVY) reported a net loss of $2,006,000, or $0.48 per share, for the third quarter of 1998 as compared to a net gain of $2,551,000, or $0.62 a share, for the same third quarter period in 1997. For the nine month period ending September 30,1998, Harvey has totaled a net loss of $4,788,000, or $1.19 per share, as compared to a net income of $2,551,000, or $0.64 per share, in the comparable year-ago period. Net operating revenues were also considerably less coming in at a negative $1,121,000 compared to revenues of $7,126,000 in the year-ago period.
Canadian company, Cinar Films Inc., recently announced that they would like to change their corporate name to CINAR Corporation (in French, Corporation Cinar). A Management Proxy Circular was sent to shareholders announcing a Special Shareholder Meeting to be held at the company headquarters in Montreal on December 10, 1998 to vote on the intended name change. The new name was proposed to better reflect the company's diversification into other areas of children's entertainment and education besides the film industry.
Kids programming syndicator Bohbot Kids Network (BKN), the fourth US broadcast kids network scheduled to launch August 29, 1999, has acquired Los Angeles-based Epoch Ink Animation (founded by Joe Pearson) to establish BKN Studios. Epoch was founded in 1995 and has since completed original and for-hire animated projects for television, home video, interactive and theatrical distribution.
Silicon Graphics, Inc. has reported negative first quarter results for the 1999 fiscal year. The company announced a net loss of $44 million, or $0.24 per share, compared with a net loss of $56 million in the same quarter a year ago. "Reporting a loss is never satisfying, but I am very encouraged with the progress demonstrated in this quarter's results," said Richard Belluzzo, CEO and chairman of SGI.
Pixar, the company behind "Toy Story," posted a third quarter net profit of $2.5 million, or $0.02 per share, down from a third quarter profit of $5.3 million last year. The positive profits however did surprise financial analysts who had forecasted a third quarter loss of $0.02 for the third quarter. The upcoming release of "A Bug's Life" is expected to help further rejuvenate Pixar's revenues.
The animation union, the Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists (M.P.S.C.) and Affiliated Optical Electronic and Graphic Arts, Local 839 IATSE has completed its voting process and announced the new Executive Board of the organization. Re-elected to office were incumbents Bronwen Barry, Dave Brain, Pat Connolly-Sito, Earl Kress, Craig Littell-Herrick, Enrique May, Ann Sullivan and Stephan Zupkas. Also elected were newcomers Bob Foster, Warren Greenwood and Karen Nugent, replacing Board members Sheila Brown, Tom Ray and Dave Zaboski who did not run for reelection.
CINAR Films Inc. (Nasdaq: CINRF; Toronto and Montreal Exchanges; CIF.A, CIF.B) reported record financial results for the third quarter and past nine months ending August 31, 1998.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), an organization devoted to fighting anti-Semitism, has taken issue with the depiction of a character in Nickelodeons Rugrats newspaper comic strip. The comic in question, which ran in newspapers nationwide during the week of Rosh Hashanah--the Jewish New Year--featured a character named Granpa Boris in a synagogue reciting the Mourners Kaddish, a holy Jewish prayer.
Berlin, Germany-based animation studio, Hahn Film is launching production studios in Taiwan and Vietnam. Each studio will employ about 150 people, and will be devoted to digital ink and paint services, initially for Hahn projects, but may branch out to service other studios in the future. The first studio, called Saigon Graphics Enterprises, in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, is already up and running, working on the production of the animated series "Wild Life," which is being distributed by Hit Entertainment and is pre-sold to the Fox Family Channel (U.S.), the BBC and Nickelodeon (U.K.).
A new three-year agreement between the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), representing voice-over performers working in television animation, and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), representing 108 television animation producers, has been approved by the Guilds National Board of Directors. The deal is a final version of one that was announced in August [AF 8/11/98], when it represented only 60 animation producers, and was still pending approval by SAG member performers.
At its membership meeting on September 29, the Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists and Affiliated Optical Electronic and Graphic Arts, Local 839 IATSE re-elected the following officers, who were nominated without opposition: President: Tom Sito, Vice-President: George Sukara, Business Representative: Steve Hulett, Recording Secretary: Jeff Massie, Sergeant-At-Arms: Jan Browning.
Glendale, California-based animation and development studio, Creative Capers Entertainment has partnered with Dallas, Texas-based content delivery system company, Rapture Technologies, to form a new company. The 50/50 joint venture, called Digital Doorway, will be based in Glendale and focus on production and marketing of interactive gaming, entertainment and educational titles for the PC, console, hand-held and online markets.
Czech production and distribution company Kratky Film Praha a.s., which owns the Bratri v triku and Jiri Trnka animation studios, has been substantially restructured. The company has been struggling financially since 1994, and has been facing possible bankruptcy since 1997, a measure prevented by a recent investment from insurance company Ceska Pojistovna, now the majority shareholder in Kratky Film. The restructuring has also caused a management shake-out.
Toronto, Canada-based animation company Nelvana Limited has completed the acquisition of 100% of the shares of Kids Can Press Ltd., a Canadian publisher of children's books. One of Kids Cans properties is Franklin, the story of a turtle which Nelvana has already turned into an animated series. The $6.1 million (CAN) acquisition now gives Nelvana access to Kids Cans library of over 250 children's book titles. One of these, titled Elliot Moose, is currently being developed for an animated television series.
In June, Avid Technologies bought Softimage [AF 6/17/98], combining two powers of digital production and 3D graphics. Not to be outdone, in a similar yet reversed situation, San Rafael, California-based Autodesk, Inc. (Nasdaq: ADSK) has announced plans to acquire Montreal, Canada-based Discreet Logic (Nasdaq: DSLGF). Autodesk is the parent company of Kinetix, makers of 3D graphics and animation software such as 3D StudioMAX and Character Studio. The merger had some foreshadowing, as Kinetix and Discreet Logic announced a product integration partnership in March [AF 4/7/98].
The Vital! International Animation Festival (formerly known as Cardiff) is closing its doors due to financial losses incurred at its latest edition in June 1998. This years festival director Jane Williams has left the organization, and the board of directors is now responsible for managing a debt which sources said amounts to approximately (U.K.) £25,000.
The Writers Guild of America has forged an agreement with Twentieth Century Fox to cover writers working on prime-time animated shows The Simpsons, King of the Hill, Futurama and Family Guy. This is of great significance for animation writers and WGAs Animation Writers Caucus, because it gives animation writers on these shows the same benefits as their live-action counterparts, such as mandatory payment for re-writes and access to the WGA health insurance plan.