Saturday, January 31, 2009

KFP kicks Wall-E in the groin

Congrats to DreamWorks and the Kung Fu Panda crew. They steamrolled the competition at the Annies with 15 wins. Pixar's Wall-E? Nothing.

Good to see that I'm not the only one that thinks KFP is the better movie. Although I expect Wall-E to win Best Animated Feature at the Oscars. I have my fingers crossed that KFP takes it as well.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Imagi - Let's be realistic

Since my last post, more has been said about Imagi. Lets try to put a simple timeline of events together. These are made on assumptions from the recent articles and quotes from the president of US based Imagi.

1) Imagi makes TMNT.
2) Imagi goes into production on Astro Boy and development on several others.
3) An auditor discovers that Imagi is running out of money and won't be able to finish Astro Boy or continue development of other projects.
4) Imagi scrambles to get bridge financing to get them to their second round of financing on Feb 3rd.
5) Bridge financing falls apart.
6) Employees at the LA office are told not to come into work.
7) President of US Imagi says that they are hopeful on Feb 3rd that they'll have money (said to the LA Union Rep).

Item #7 is scary. The fact that she said that it is hopeful that money will come in on Feb 3rd can mean a few things. A) The round of financing to be disbursed on Feb 3rd has not been secured because Imagi has not reached a pre-defined set of requirements. B) Those with the money have gotten cold feet and found a way to back out or delay funds (see A above). C) The round of financing has simply not been secured yet (a very scary thought). D) It was a misquote from the US Imagi President and everything is hunky-dory.

If it is either A, B, or C, I would not expect employees invited back to work on Feb 3rd. Or anytime soon for that matter. The financial situation in our world right now is dire. I'd be looking for another job if I were one of the employees.

My gut feeling is that Imagi will get the needed funds. It just won't happen for a while. In the meantime, they don't have the financials to continue operations.

Disclaimer: All of my information is second or third hand and I do not claim to have an insider knowledge, and I have made assumptions on various rumors circulating through the industry. In other words, it is an educated guess.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Financial Troubles Abound

It has been reported that Imagi has had many financial issues the past several months. First they ran out of money trying to finish Astro Boy. I'm not sure if they went over the production budget, or too much was spent on the prepro of other films. Whatever the case, they ended up looking for a cash infusion to take care of matters. It sounded like they were pretty desperate, and for many months they were preparing for the possible closure of the studio.

Just a week ago, an article appeared in Forbes announcing that they found the needed funding to keep going. However, if you believe the most recent rumors, that fell apart. Several websites are claiming that Imagi is being shut down. Whether that is permanent or not, has yet to be seen. Again, this could be rumor. We are waiting to hear more.

Imagi's budget problems can be blamed on themselves. However, the inability to get additional funding to keep them afloat is only partially their problem. The financial situation the world banks are in right now is putting the kabosh on most funding. Investors are scared and banks are being ultra stingy with whatever money they have. The situation these banks have gotten us in, just drives me completely insane. Their greed has brought this country and many others to its knees. The US government has a hand in this nightmare too. I'm so irate that they are handing out money left and right without putting more restrictions on how it is used. Someone needs to oversee this crap. Okay. Deep breath. Back to the subject...

I'm close to a few business deals right now that are trying to get funding. Everyone has signed on the dotted line. Matter of a fact, that has happened long ago. The banks are just delaying and moving very slowly with the actual transfer of funds. They have bigger problems and frankly are scared to do anything. So deals are going through, just very slowly. Another side effect of all of this is that if you want money, you need to pay outlandish commissions, fees, and interest. Because if you don't, you simply won't get anything. Companies are stuck in a terrible situation. Either they don't get their money or they get it and immediately put themselves in a hole to be able to pay back these unreasonable terms.

Just recently, DreamWorks (not the animation side) put out a release saying that they received $1.2 billion in funding. If I'm not mistaken, I made a mention of it in another post. The deal was part debt and part equity financing. Come to find out, and rumor has it, the debt portion fell through! So even if you are a big company with big names behind it. You are hurting when trying to get an infusion.

What a screwed up time we are in. Those of you out there trying to get money to finance a company or project, good luck. I'm hopeful that things will improve, but frankly, this could be going on for a very long time. And I don't think we've hit rock-bottom yet.

Wall-E and Coraline

Originally, this post and the next one were combined into one. Because I ended up writing more than I anticipated, I decided to break them into two posts. Unfortunately, that means this one will be short.

Wall-E did not get a nomination for Best Film. Thank goodness someone has a head on their shoulders. I'm pretty sure it will win Best Animated Film, however I'm hoping it won't. Kung Fu Panda should be the winner in my opinion.

Coraline will be releasing soon. My guess is that this film won't do very well in the box office. I'm not prepared to make a more detailed prediction. This is just a gut feeling. I just don't think it has the "it" factor. What will this mean for Laika? Troubles. More layoffs and they'll have trouble getting another film going. Too bad.