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New Video Game Release Strategy Mirrors Hollywood

New Video Game Release Strategy Mirrors Hollywood MEDIA & TECHNOLOGY By Slav Kandyba Calabasas-based video game publisher THQ Inc. is apparently taking a cue from Hollywood. The company, which reported disappointing results for the second quarter, including a net loss of $3.9 million on revenues of $88.2 million, compared with a $3.6 million loss on $98.1 million in revenues in the like period a year ago, is pushing back releasing several titles until 2005. It is common in Hollywood to change film release dates for various reasons, mainly to avoid competition. Video game publishers, on the contrary, have traditionally released new titles just in time for the Christmas buying rush. But now that may be changing, as publishers are believed to be leaning toward a year-round release schedule. For Van Nuys-based animation house Brain Zoo Studios, which does work for THQ, that would be a welcome change. “This means we will get busier,” said Mohammad Davoudian, Brain Zoo co-founder. In other news from THQ, the company has snagged an exclusive agreement to develop games based on four upcoming animated feature films released by Pixar Animation Studios, the maker of “Finding Nemo.” Under THQ’s existing agreement with Pixar and Disney, which began in April 2002, THQ has the rights to publish video games for “Finding Nemo” and for the upcoming films “The Incredibles” and “Cars.” The new agreement will begin in 2006 with Pixar’s first wholly-owned features produced outside its existing relationship with Disney. “This agreement is one of the most significant partnerships in the history of the industry, a testament to Pixar’s creative power and our tremendous success in the interactive space over the years,” said Brian Farrell, president and CEO of THQ in the company’s announcement. Panavision Sells Subsidiary Woodland Hills-based camera house Panavision has sold its 80 percent ownership in EFILM, LLC in Hollywood to Deluxe Laboratories Inc. The terms of the deal were not disclosed. Deluxe, also located in Hollywood, has held 20 percent ownership in EFILM since 2002. Panavision acquired EFILM, a digital film lab, wholly in 2001. “Now that EFILM has ‘come of age’ and the digital intermediate has evolved into an essential creative tool for filmmakers, were are happy to pass the management role to Deluxe, for whom EFILM is a natural extension of its traditional film laboratory services,” said Bob Beitcher, Panavision’s president and CEO. Beitcher added Panavision was “in the process of exploring acquisitions and investments.” Exclusive Distributor Media Distributors, the Studio City-based supplier of videotape, film stock and recording media, has entered into an agreement to become the exclusive U.S. distributor of Fujifilm’s 16mm and 35mm film. “We had two distributors and now we’ve narrowed it down to one,” said Mark Murphy, vice president and general manager of Fuji Photo Film USA Inc.’s Motion Picture Products Division in Hollywood. “This arrangement was to avoid competition.” The agreement was effective July 1 and runs through Dec. 31, at which time it is renewable, Murphy said. Media Distributors specialize in providing film stock to producers of television commercials and independent feature films. “This new relationship with Fujifilm is an important partnership for Media Distributors as we broaden our customer base and position our company as the leading distributor of media products in the United States,” said Steve Klein, CEO and founder of Media Distributors. CD Maker Acquires Firm Burbank-based Marshall Media Inc., a developer of the world’s first automated instant manufacturing system of CDs and DVDs, has acquired the assets and facilities of Kuntz Manufacturing Company, Inc. in exchange for an undisclosed amount of MMI stock. Kuntz, founded in 1969, is a specialty engineering and manufacturing firm with 35 employees and facilities in Santa Ana. The company has designed and built precision automated manufacturing equipment for companies such as Hoffmann LaRoche, Bayer Pharmaceuticals, Hewlett Packard and others. “We believe with the completion of the acquisition, MMI will obtain the fully functional R & D;, engineering and manufacturing capability needed to meet our goal of becoming a major supplier,” said Charlie Marshall, MMI founder, chairman and CEO. Making Deloitte List Nearly half of the 50 companies named to the Deloitte & Touche’s 2004 Los Angeles Technology Fast 50 are based in the greater San Fernando Valley area. Deloitte’s annual list ranks the 50 fastest-growing technology companies over five years, from 1999 to 2003. Rankings are based on the percentage of growth in fiscal year revenues from 1999 to 2003. Rankings will be announced Sept. 21. The following 22 companies are on the list: Amgen, Camarillo; BioSource International, Camarillo; Brilliant Digital Entertainment, Woodland Hills; CPI Solutions, Camarillo; Digital Insight Corp., Calabasas; Diodes, Camarillo; HeyAnita, Burbank; ISWest, Agoura Hills; Ixia, Calabasas; Line 6, Agoura Hills; Micro Solutions Enterprises, Chatsworth; Nomadix, Westlake Village; SageMetrics Corp., North Hollywood; Semtech Corp., Camarillo; Simulations Plus, Lancaster; SmartSound Software, Northridge; TechnoCom Corp., Encino; Tekelec, Calabasas; Topaz Systems, Simi Valley; United Online, Westlake Village; ValueClick, Westlake Village; Youbet.com, Inc., Woodland Hills. Staff Reporter Slav Kandyba can be reached at (818) 316-3126.

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