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Platinum updates – UPDATED

UPDATE: we’ve corrected the mention of IDT owning pieces of both IDW and Vanguard Animation. IDT and IDT Entertainment are now two separate entities, having split in 2006. Although IDW’s did make a 2007 deal with the original IDT, IDW has no association with IDT Entertainment, Vanguard Animation, or Platinum Studios.

In all the hubbub last week, we missed this story about Platinum spinning off a new imprint:

Platinum Studios and Vanguard Animation have formed Vanguard Comics, an imprint designed to develop properties that can simultaneously be launched as comicbooks or graphic novels as well as feature films.

Platinum Studios CEO-chairman Scott Mitchell Rosenberg and Vanguard Animation chairman John H. Williams, producer of the “Shrek” series, are launching the imprint.

They’ve already acquired a first property, “Illegal Aliens,” about a skeptical tabloid reporter sent to a Texas border town to investigate cattle mutilations. The reporter uncovers stories of the chupacabra monster.

The comic was created by freelance illustrator Kevin MacDougall.

Vanguard Animation is partly owned by Starz Animation. GIven Platinum’s current money woes (lack of payment to creators), some have seen this as the kind of “split ‘n’ save” financial arrangement that’s all the rage now. A recent stock market filing shows Platinum operating at a $4.6 million operating loss, so you’d expect some kind of financing plan.

Meanwhile, Steven Grant, who has seen it all and done it all in this business, sums up many of the current problems at a number of companies, including Archaia, Tokyopop and Platinum, and it’s a must-read for those following the Platinum saga:

Currently the company [Platinum] is in new hands, following an “infusion of funds” a couple years ago; it’s my understanding that while Scott is still officially attached he’s not much directly involved in the business anymore, though the recent announcement of a new publishing company, Vanguard Comics, by Platinum and an animation company prominently mentions him. (By the way, isn’t there already a Vanguard Publishing on our side of the aisle?) Complicating the scene is that the animation company is co-owned by IDT, which also co-owns IDW. Meanwhile Platinum has reportedly been withholding creator payments, citing the “financial challenges” of “this tough economy,” while a letter to talent from Platinum praises the talent’s patience while repeatedly asserting their confidentiality agreements.

But all is not lost for Platinum! Red hot after Iron ManRobert Downey Jr. reportedly wants to add to his comic book portfolio with negotiations to star in COWBOYS AND ALIENS, the long-delayed comic by Fred Van Lente and Andrew Foley (from an idea by Rosenberg) that’s currently in development:

Robert Downey Jr. is in negotiations to star in DreamWorks/Universal’s “Cowboys & Aliens,” a pulpy mix of the sci-fi and Western genres that could serve as a potential 2010 tentpole.

The deal would be Downey’s first since propelling Marvel Studios’ “Iron Man” to $500 million-plus in worldwide loot (and growing). He next will be seen in the comedy “Tropic Thunder” in August, followed by the drama “The Soloist” in November, both for DreamWorks.

Imagine Entertainment partners Brian Grazer and Ron Howard are producing. Platinum Studios chairman and CEO Scott Mitchell Rosenberg also will produce, along with DreamWorks mainstays Steven Spielberg, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci. Ervin Rustemagic and Rich Marincic will co-produce.

One little tentpole and everything would be coming up roses again.

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