“WARLOCK,” THE GAME: Kelly Flock, until recently LucasArts Games’ acting general manager, has landed in town ashead of Trimark Pictures’ new interactive group.
At a briefing yesterday, Trimark chairman Mark Amin explained that his small company –$ 54 million in sales — is perfectly positioned to take advantage of the growing $ 4.8 million videogame software market, especially with titles like “Warlock” and “Leprechaun” in its catalog.
“When we spoke to game companies,” said Amin, “we found their biggest complaint was they couldn’t get material from the studios (to create titles)”.
“The kind of movies we make and the talent we work with,” he added, “means we can be more flexible.”
The new subsidiary, Trimark Interactive, will have its own profit and loss accounting and be both a developer and publisher. It also includes a 20% ownership by 20/20 Video, a video chain and major Southern California videogame distributor, which was co-founded by Amin. How big can this be? According to Amin, “It could easily be 25% of total sales,” based on a doubling of revenues over the next five years.
Flock, who engineered a turnaround at Lucas with current best-selling titles “X-Wing,” and “Super Star Wars,” plans on having four to six titles out by Christmas. A small team of about a dozen will manage outside game developers for Trimark’s own titles and ones that are acquired.
The first titles will be for Nintendo and Sega’s 16-byte players and personal computers. Flock is waiting before working on 3DO or even Philip’s CD-I players, a surprise since Philips Interactive’s chairman, Gordon Stulberg, is a Trimark director.
BOB GREENBERG, co-founder/co-partner of R/Greenberg Associates, has launched a multimedia unit headed by Brian Loube.
The first project, with Hanna-Barbera, is called “Timewarp,” because Fred Flinstone and the Jetsons are trapped in each other’s world. The disc, of which Greenberg owns a percentage, is slated for Philips’ CD-I this summer. The key frames are being done in L.A. and sent, via phone line, to N.Y. for inking.
The move into this new medium, says Greenberg, makes RGA the only company with feet on both coasts that can handle everything from special effects to one-sheets to interactive CDs. He also promises that his West Coast operation, RGA/LA, will start developing its own feature film projects.
Along the lines of expanding business, he is knocking out walls in the L.A. office, adding 4,000 square feet for a total of 10,000. It’s needed to accommodate new personnel wooed from Industrial Light & Magic and Boss Films that are working effects magic on Sony’s sprawling “Last Action Hero,” which is under partner Richard Greenberg’s supervision.
Making a “Heroic” effort on the project is Jay Riddle, a visual F/X supervisor from Boss with the same title at RGA/LA, and digital F/X supervisor Stuart Robertson, who was department manager of digital film at ILM. Now running both N.Y. and L.A. as head of operations is former 20th Century Fox production exec Todd Arnow.
In the future, Greenberg wants to take his multimedia operation overseas, and is contemplating the idea of offices in Tokyo and Europe, possibly London.
VOYAGER IS MOVING to publishing Mecca New York. Confirms founder Bob Stein: “We’re moving our headquarters to New York and continue a presence in Santa Monica.” The company’s premier laserdisc Criterion label will remain at the beachside office.
Voyager opened an office a month ago near NYU and intends on moving with sister company, Janus Films, to a space in SoHo.
PLENTY OF MULTIMEDIA companies are hearing from investment bankers of every stripe who are willing to reach into their wallets and invest. Interested parties include New York’s Solomon Brothers and Allen & Co., L.A.’s InterMedia Partners and Bannon & Co., and San Francisco’s Volpe Welty & Co. InterMedia already owns a piece of Santa Monica’s Total Vision, and Volpe just raised $ 4 million for Ninetendo licensee High Tech Expressions in New York.
Says Lauren Tyler, at merchant bankers Allen & Co., “We see this as an emerging area since interactive multimedia is in its infancy. They can be become giants in the software industry in the 21st Century.”
BELOW THE LINE: Paramount Technology Group’s head of engineering, Doug Crockford, is leaving at the end of April. No comment from Par’s techno guru Sue Ann Ambron except to say, “We are continuing to do a lot of work in the prototyping area and there are a lot of engineering tasks.” Crockford’s tasks, it appears, will be parceled out to others..
Also, Republic Pictures Corp., which owns, among other things, the “Bonanza” and Linda Hamilton-starring “Beauty and the Beast” TV series, is close to signing a manager of new media. Republic chairman Russell Goldsmith recently said he was interested in mining the company’s library for other venues.
JIM CAMERON AND IBM’s Digital Domain are already hard at work. They are bidding against special effects rivals R/Greenberg and Rhythm & Hues for the “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” theme park ride scheduled for Universal Studios Florida.