RealTime IT News

Itemus to Acquire U.S. Rich Media Firm

Canadian software developer and venture firm itemus said Tuesday that it intends to acquire the rich media assets of Shooting Gallery, Inc., a U.S. film, television and music distributor and media company.

According to the companies, Shooting Gallery's music, film and television development and distribution business will be spun off to current stockholders as Shooting Gallery Entertainment. Itemus will pay $56 million for a majority stake in the remainder of the company, which will operate as a subsidiary while retaining Shooting Gallery's original management team.

Shooting Gallery delivers its services across broad- and narrowband, wireless and traditional media platforms to clients in the new media, enhanced and traditional television, film, music and commercial video arenas. The company's film credits include Sling Blade, illtown, Niagara Niagara, Croupier and A Time for Drunken Horses. Its rich media work has included interactive television, digital content development and digital animation.

The deal gives itemus those rich media capabilities, as well as a healthy source of income. itemus' Shooting Gallery subsidiary projects revenue of $24 million for year-end 2000, with predictions of late 2001 profitability.

The deal also calls for Shooting Gallery Entertainment to patronize itemus' new unit.

"Solution providers need razor sharp Web development skills combined with the hardened broadcast experience that only comes from years of dealing with large scale content production in film, television and advertising," said Jim Burns, CEO of itemus' Solutions division, with will oversee the new subsidiary.

"With this acquisition, itemus now competes globally with proven, branded capabilities in one of the most important aspects of the emerging Internet -- broadband and enhanced/interactive TV."

The acquisition also gives itemus access to Shooting Gallery clients, including Saatchi & Saatchi, J. Walter Thompson, and New York Times Television.

"This new relationship with itemus is a natural evolution for Shooting Gallery," said Shooting Gallery chairman and chief executive Larry Meistrich. "With itemus' incredible strengths in technology and operations and our expertise in creative development and execution, we fulfill our mission to combine a creative focus with enhanced technology."

The deal is expected to close in January 2001. Meistrich and other principal stockholders of Shooting Gallery will become directors of itemus as part of the transaction.