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Midway, WB ‘Happy’ with game deal

Vidgame maker put 'Feet' on market

Sumner Redstone’s Midway Games has signed its second major Hollywood licensing deal, once again with a Time Warner division.

Vidgame publisher will make a game based on “Happy Feet,” a CG-animated pic Warner Bros. will release next year with Village Roadshow.

And in a sign of tighter ties between the two companies, Midway is expected to soon close a deal for another upcoming animated pic from WB, which, based on the studio’s limited toon output, is most likely “Ant Bully.”

Deal expands Midway’s move into moppet-oriented games that it started by licensing a number of properties with Warner sister company Cartoon Network (Daily Variety, Feb. 16). Deal is also another sign that despite its ownership by the conglom’s chairman, Midway is making deals with entertainment companies besides Viacom as it strengthens its ties with Hollywood.

Redstone credited Midway prexy-CEO David Zucker with recruiting top talent from rivals and focusing on product quality. “That’s why we’re seeing a growing confidence by the studios in the games,” he added. “Happy Feet,” which is written and directed by “Babe: Pig in the City” helmer George Miller, stars the voices of Elijah Wood, Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman. Game and pic will be released in November 2006.

According to an SEC filing last year, three independent members of Viacom’s board are investigating whether to license the conglom’s content to Midway or to acquire the vidgame publisher.

Redstone predicted Tuesday, “If Viacom should choose to try buying Midway, it will have plenty of competition.”

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