Friday, March 4, 2011

Canadians Purchase Majority Stake In Starz Animation

Toronto-based Starz, LLC, President and CEO Chris Albrecht reports the company has now completed a transaction resulting in a Canadian investor group purchasing a majority stake in Starz Animation Toronto.

Starz, LLC has retained an equity stake in the company and will continue to support the studio.

"Starz is turning its primary focus more toward globally appealing live action TV programming, " said Albrecht, "and we are confident that the best way for the animation studio to continue its growth is to go forward under Canadian majority ownership."

Media/marketing executive J. Thomas Murray and executive producer Steven B. Hecht lead the Canadian buying group, planning to support the current productions/business development at the studio, while utilizing Starz Animation Toronto as the foundation of a multimedia business.

"Canadian control provides Starz Animation with two significant benefits," said Albrecht. "First, on the service side, it will be more cost competitive by taking full advantage of the significant grants, labor tax credits and subsidy opportunities available in Canada. Second, it will allow the studio to expand into development and production, on an ownership basis, of intellectual property, independently and, or together with international co-production partners."

In 2009, the Province of Ontario's Ministry of Economic Development and Trade announced a grant of nearly $23 million, to support a total investment of $153 million over five years, to help Starz Animation Toronto create and retain over 250 jobs through expanding and enhancing the studio. The province will continue to support the studio's investment under the new ownership structure.

In 2010, the studio built a stereoscopic 3-D unit to produce animation for Touchstone Pictures/Rocket Pictures "Gnomeo & Juliet".

Its work can also be seen in Focus Features animated feature "9", Kanbar Entertainment's upcoming "Hoodwinked Too!: Hood Vs. Evil" and the Weinstein Co. TV holiday special, "Yes, Virginia," for Macy's, the Ebeling Group and JWT.

Starz Animation Toronto is currently creating VFX work for Starz Entertainment's 'event' series, "Camelot" and continues to provide animation/VFX work on "Robosapien: Rebooted", a live-action family feature from Avi Arad Productions and "Dolphin Tale", a Fall 2011 release from Alcon Films and Warner Brothers.

Click the images to enlarge...