Newark, N.J. and Tempe, AZ – May 12, 2004 –IDT Entertainment and Todd McFarlane Productions (TMP) today jointly announced a multi-faceted development, production, and distribution agreement to produce animated programming and merchandise based on Spawn and other TMP original intellectual properties. Todd McFarlane Productions is best known for its multiple Emmy-winning Spawn franchise. IDT Entertainment is a vertically integrated entertainment/animation company. The company includes animation and film production through DPS/Film Roman, Mainframe Entertainment, and DKP Effects, and video distribution through Anchor Bay Entertainment. IDT Entertainment is a subsidiary of IDT Corporation (NYSE:IDT, IDT.C.), a multinational carrier, telephone and technology company.
According to the terms of the agreement, the initial project is the return of “Todd McFarlane’s Spawn: The Animated Series.” Spawn is the story of a highly decorated U.S soldier, brutally executed by his own men. Reborn as a creature from hell, he fights a constant battle between the forces of good and evil. The first Spawn series aired on HBO from 1997 through 1999 and won two Emmy awards. Spawn, one of the world’s best-selling comic books with hundreds of millions sold worldwide, has also been the subject of a live action feature film released in 1997. Distributed by New Line Cinema, the movie version of Spawn has grossed over $100 million internationally.
“This agreement is better than Marvelous,” said Jim Courter, IDT’s CEO. “Worldwide, the demand for a new Spawn series continues to grow. The first series broke new creative ground for an animated series and was its generation’s most popular comic franchise. With IDT Entertainment as the animation partner the new series will be even better.”
Grammy- and Emmy-winning Producer/Director Todd McFarlane will oversee all aspects of development and production, as executive producer. Terence Fitzgerald, senior vice president of creative development of Todd McFarlane Productions, will serve as co-executive producer, and Sidney Clifton, senior vice president and head of programming and development for DPS Film Roman, will lead the creative development team on the IDT Entertainment side. DPS Film Roman is the IDT Entertainment company known for its award-winning production work on “The Simpsons,” “King of the Hill,” and other popular broadcast television programs.
“Ever since the Spawn animated series left HBO in 1999, I have been asked — almost daily — when the show is going to return,” said Todd McFarlane, Spawn creator and CEO of the McFarlane Companies. “I’ve been waiting for the right opportunity to not only bring the show back, but also do it with the intent of making it better creatively than its first incarnation. Teaming up with IDT Entertainment’s DPS/Film Roman will allow us to take it to the next level of animation technology.”
According to the agreement, in addition to Spawn, Todd McFarlane will create two additional animated properties. All three projects include animated broadcast television series, DVDs, feature films, video games, apparel and action figures, as well as other consumer products. McFarlane Toys, one of the world’s premier toy manufacturers, is currently on its 25th figure line for Spawn action figures and merchandise.
“The long awaited new Spawn series provides the perfect opportunity to match Todd McFarlane’s legendary creative genius with IDT Entertainment’s innovative animation expertise,” said Morris Berger, CEO of IDT Entertainment. “Spawn will mark the start of a long term relationship. Together, IDT Entertainment and Todd McFarlane can revolutionize comic animation and develop franchise properties of enduring value.”
The McFarlane Group of companies produces award winning animated television, feature films, and music videos. Past projects include Pearl Jam’s animated music video Do the Evolution, Korn’s mini-movie-style video for Freak on a Leash, Jodie Foster’s critically acclaimed The Dangerous Lives of the Altar Boys. Animation and live-action projects under the production of McFarlane and Fitzgerald have won a Grammy, two Emmys, two MTV Music Awards, and a Much Music Video Music Award. A leader in publishing and entertainment, The McFarlane Group owns the rights and trademarks to more than 250 intellectual properties and characters. The company is the fifth largest U.S. action figure manufacturer, featuring Spawn, Elvis, The Matrix, Ozzy Osbourne, NASCAR drivers, Beatles, KISS, Alien Vs. Predator, plus officially licensed football, baseball, basketball and hockey action figures. More information at Spawn.com
IDT Entertainment, a division of IDT Corporation, is a vertically integrated entertainment concern that develops, produces and distributes proprietary and licensed entertainment content, with a particular focus on high-quality animation. IDT Entertainment is in the early stages of production on two proprietary CG animated feature films, Gene Roddenberry’s Starpoint Academy and a feature yet to be named, directed by Christopher Reeve. IDT Entertainment consists primarily of the following wholly owned or controlled subsidiaries:
·Digital Production Solutions, or DPS, is a Computer Generated (CG) animation production company. DPS’ proprietary Global Animation Studio platform enables numerous animators at diverse locations to work cooperatively and simultaneously on the same animation project utilizing IDT’s telecommunications infrastructure.
·Anchor Bay Entertainment is one of the largest independent distributors of DVDs and videos to retail outlets, and has a significant presence in the children’s, horror and fitness genres. Anchor Bay’s library consists of over 3,500 owned or licensed titles, including the Thomas the Tank Engine series, the Halloween series and the Crunch fitness series.
·DPS Film Roman is a leading third-party provider of television animation services and special effects. Film Roman has been the animation studio for The Simpsons, King of the Hill, and Tripping the Rift, now airing on the Sci-Fi network.
·Mainframe Entertainment is a leading provider of CG animation for television and direct-to-video products such as the Barbie DVD collection for Mattel, Popeye and Scary Godmother.
·DKP Effects is a 3-D animation, and special effects production company, well known for its innovative work for movies and television.
IDT Entertainment has completed several investments and joint ventures to secure access to brand name characters and content, as well as distribution channels for family-friendly content. In July 2003, IDT purchased a minority equity interest in Vanguard Animation and entered into a joint venture with Vanguard to co-produce and co-own future Vanguard properties distributed in theaters, direct-to-video and on television. Vanguard Animation is a CG animated feature film company founded by John Williams, the originating producer of Shrek. Vanguard’s initial production, Valiant, is the first in a series of four Vanguard-produced films to be distributed by Disney. IDT Entertainment also has an equity interest in Archie Comics Entertainment as well as rights to co-develop and co-produce animated properties based upon selected Archie comics characters as well as Josie and the Pussycats and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. IDT has also entered into a joint venture with the Christian Broadcasting Network to develop and distribute family-friendly programming. IDT Entertainment also owns a minority interest Stan Lee’s POW! Entertainment. In connection with IDT Entertainment’s investment in POW!, the companies agreed to co-develop and co-produce a minimum of six animation projects for Direct-to-DVD distribution and broadcast.
Important Note: In this press release, all statements that are not purely about historical facts, including, but not limited to, those with the words “believe,” “anticipate,” “expect,” “plan,” “intend,” “estimate, “target” and similar expressions, are forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. While these forward-looking statements represent IDT’s current judgment of what may happen in the future, actual results may differ materially from the results expressed or implied by these statements due to numerous important factors, including, but not limited to, those described in IDT’s most recent report on SEC Form 10-K (under the heading “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations”), which may be revised or supplemented in subsequent reports on SEC Forms 10-Q and 8-K and other filings IDT may make with the SEC.