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Col, Square venture in ‘Final’ animated fare

Studio to fund vidgamer's computer-generated pix

TOKYO — Japanese videogame maker Square and Columbia Pictures reached a joint financing deal in which the movie studio will co-finance the next three movies from the gamer’s U.S. movie company.

U.S. based Square Pictures is currently producing an all-computer-generated animated movie based on the videogame maker’s “Final Fantasy” game series. Square said that it would use the know-how developed in making that movie in the three pictures it co-produces with Columbia, which will all be 100% CG films.

Under the deal, the two companies would equally split financing costs and share profits evenly.

For Columbia, the deal allows the studio to tap into one of the hottest computer animation houses in the world, one that has developed a global market for its popular videogame products.

Funding CG films

For Square, the deal secures funds to make its pricey CG movies and tap into distribution channels in the U.S. and other major markets outside of Japan.

Square and Columbia have joined hands for the “Final Fantasy” movie, with the film expected to hit screens next summer. Gaga Communications will distribute the film in Japan, while Columbia will distribute the film in North America and Europe. The movie boasts a hefty pricetag of about $115 million.

Final Fantasy is one of the most popular videogame series in the world and has racked up sales of 30 million units. About two-thirds of the games have been sold in Japan with the United States and Europe accounting for the rest.

Investors reacted positively to the news by sending Square’s share prices up by about 3.3% on trading on the Tokyo Stock Exchange with the stock closing at 5,950 yen ($54.92), up $1.38.

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