The Nets Report #3

Ender's Game Cast/Crew News and Gossip

Seems like it's time for a bit of fun around here to lighten the mood! Let's see what a couple of our favorite Ender's Game cast members are up to these days...

Khylin Rhambo (Dink Meeker)

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What he's up to: The last week of August, Khylin Rhambo started filming on his new sitcom The First Family, a show following the often comedic lives of the President and his family in the White House. Many lucky viewers had a chance to check out the Pilot episode (which was filmed earlier this year) this past weekend, but for the rest of us, The First Family begins airing on October 5th.

In the show, Khylin plays Charles, a character he himself describes as "always happy," "mischievous," and  "into the ladies."

If you want to check out what Khylin and the rest of the cast are up to on The First Family, you should follow the show on their Facebook page -- they've promised to keep us updated!

Twitter

Our favorite recent tweet: @KhyRhambo Made a milkshake. Had to call the cops to escort the men off my yard.

Abigail Breslin (Valentine Wiggin)

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What she's up to: Making music, in part! Abigail was featured in the newest single of Stargroves, an alternative indie band from NYC. The song is called Westfjords and you can listen to it here.

If you're interested in hearing more from Abigail Breslin, she's also a member of a band called CABB with her good friend, actress Cassidy Reiff. Head over to YouTube to listen to their song "Well Wishes."

Our favorite recent tweet: @yoabbaabba No, you can never have too many pumpkin (autumn in general) scented candles.

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Also: Heads up, guys! Ever wondered why stunt coordinator Garrett Warren wears an eyepatch? Check out his story this Friday (September 28th) on Dateline NBC. The episodes are usually available afterward to watch online if you can't catch it live!

The Nets Report is an Ender News series dedicated to keeping the fandom up-to-date with cast news and gossip until the movie's release in November 2013. Updates every couple of weeks!

402 days to go! (We hope.)

"Ender's Game" Protected in Digital Domain Sale

Judge Brendan L. Shannon signed off on the sale of Digital Domain Media Group's (DDMG) assets to the Galloping Horse and Reliance MediaWorks joint venture. The group will pay $30.2 million, additionally take on contracts worth $3.6 million and pay employees $2.9 million in wages. Court records show that the Chinese-Indian team beat out 3 other bidders, but Ender's Game producers OddLot Entertainment (OLE) did not participate in the auction. We reported last week that OLE has filed a motion with the court to protect the Ender's Game project:
Given the importance of the assumption of all of the Agreements to the success of Ender's Game, OLE is particularly concerned that a buyer may agree to assume all of the Agreements at the Auction and the hearing on the Sale Motion, only to turn around and assume only certain of the Agreements after this Court has approved the sale.
Documents show that OddLot has been successful with this motion, as the now approved Asset Purchase Agreement (PDF) has been revised to include the following:
On or before the Closing, Buyer may, from time to time, update the Schedules hereto listing Acquired Assets to add or remove a Contract, lease or other asset to or from such Schedules. Provided, however, that Buyer shall not remove any of the agreements related to Ender's Game. (page 12)

Within 30 days after the Closing Date, Buyer may by written notice to Sellers indicating which, if any, Post Closing Contracts or Post Closing Assets shall be assumed by Sellers and assigned to Buyer on the Assignment Effective Date [...] Provided, however, that none of the agreements related to Ender's Game shall constitute Post Closing Contracts notwithstanding anything in this Agreement to the contrary. (page 13)
That should ease the most severe of OLE's concerns about the Digital Domain sale, and after all the threat of moving Ender's Game VFX work to another provider could have only been that... a threat! Another reassuring fact for OLE should be that Galloping Horse has extensive experience as a film/TV production company. The most prominent film is probably 2010's The Karate Kid with Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith, where Galloping Horse was co-producing.

We haven't seen an official statement from Summit Entertainment or OLE yet, and we can only speculate if the relationship between those two companies and Digital Domain Productions has been harmed too badly in the process of this bankruptcy. I personally hope that everything can be worked out, the producers continue to support Digital Domain, and together they bring us a spectacular Ender's Game film on November 1, 2013.

Chinese-Indian JV to buy Digital Domain

Digital Domain Media Group (DDMG) has received a winning bid of $30.2 million for virtually all its assets from a joint venture led by Beijing-based Galloping Horse Film & TV Co. and Reliance MediaWorks (RMW), based in Mumbai, India. Both Asian media firms already have an existing business relationship with Digital Domain. Chinese firm Galloping Horse, which will hold a majority stake of 70% in the venture, partnered last year with Digital Domain to produce its first animated feature "The Legend of Tembo," while RMW and DDMG joined forces in July 2011 to set up visual effects and 3D studios in Mumbai and London.

The sale is subject to execution of an asset purchase agreement and approval by the U.S. bankruptcy court, which will hold a hearing today (September 24) on this and other matters. According to The Indian Express, Reliance MediaWorks issued a statement saying that the purchase includes DDMG's co-production stake in Ender's Game and that all acquired businesses "will continue to operate in the normal course, with the joint venture assuming ownership upon court approval."

The outcome of this bankruptcy auction is possibly good news for Digital Domain, its remaining businesses and employees. Galloping Horse and RMW are global, strong companies with a combined enterprise value of $25 billion, and the outstanding quality of Digital Domain's visual effects work has never been questioned. However, we don't know how the Ender's Game producers, OddLot Entertainment and Lionsgate/Summit feel about parterning with Chinese and Indian companies for the Ender's Game franchise. If they have concerns they will make those heard at the court hearing today.

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Let's not forget that Digital Domain's bankruptcy is a total mess. Approximately $135 million in U.S. taxpayer money has been lost in the process while executive compensation has risen sharply in 2011. The company closed its animation studio in Port St. Lucie, Florida, and laid off 346 workers without a severance package or paying out their vacation benefits. Yet Digital Domain's new CEO Ed Ulbrich is quoted in the LA Times today with saying that the Galloping Horse/Reliance deal puts them "in the strongest financial position that Digital Domain has ever been in."

Let's hope that this newfound financial strength will translate into fair treatment and compensation for the fired staff. Just this Saturday hundreds of former DDMG employees held a yard sale, selling their belongings in an effort to raise enough money to move to California, where most of the country's visual effects industry is located.

"Ender's Game" VFX Work Likely to be Moved

New court documents (PDF 1, PDF 2) in the Digital Domain Media Group (DDMG) bankruptcy case show that there is now a substantial risk for the timely completion of the Ender's Game film. When DDMG filed for bankruptcy on September 11 the company was working on the visual effects for Ender's Game and this work is far from being completed.

The producers, OddLot Entertainment (OLE) and Ender's Game Holdings (with Lionsgate via Summit Entertainment), contacted DDMG immediately after the bankruptcy filing to negotiate the situation and possibly reach a settlement, but according to the document "extensive negotiations" were "ultimately unsuccessful" as the producers learned at the court hearing last Thursday (September 20) that Digital Domain was "unwilling to go forward with the negotiated settlement." (PDF 2, page 2-3)

OLE sees Digital Domain's situation as pretty much hopeless. The court document states that DDMG has "no reasonable chance of reorganizing," and that the only reason the bankruptcy case was filed was to "effect an extremely expedited sale process followed by a liquidation." (PDF 1, page 11) OLE also believes that Digital Domain is "in no position to finish production under the Ender's Game Agreements," and therefore immediate action is necessary to protect the film.

In U.S. bankruptcy law a so-called "Automatic Stay", an automatic injunction that halts certain actions by creditors such as collecting debt in a declared bankruptcy, currently prevents the producers from moving forward. OddLot Entertainment and production partners petitioned the court to schedule a hearing tomorrow (September 24) at noon ET for granting them relief from the Automatic Stay. If granted, they plan to exercise the following steps: (PDF 1, page 8)
1. taking immediate possession of the Ender's Game Property
2. moving the visual, digital and animation effects for Ender's Game to another provider
3. accessing any of [Digital Domain's] technology necessary to finish the production of Ender's Game.
Those steps would be necessary because "films such as Ender's Game have carefully selected release dates, such that any actual or threatened interruption to the delivery of work product by [Digital Domain] would have potentially devastating and certainly very costly financial impact. Any delays in the production of Ender's Game will cause significant and irreparable harm. ... [Digital Domain's] current status presents a substantial risk, if not likelihood, that such delays will materialize very shortly." (PDF 1, page 7)

The whole situation looks pretty dire, however, OLE concludes that "if [...] the visual, digital and animation effects for Ender's Game are transferred to another provider in a timely and orderly manner, [the producers] may still have the ability to complete Ender's Game on schedule." (PDF 1, page 14)

My take on this, and what it means for Ender's Game:

Those court documents express the views of Ender's Game Holdings and OLE who naturally have an interest in regaining complete control over the film as quickly as possible. The court doesn't necessarily have to follow the producers' assessment. However, certain statements made in the filings, such as DDMG having "no reasonable chance of reorganizing," and being "in no position to finish production," are worded so strongly that I would consider them factual, especially as they are presented to the court.

It now seems very likely that the special effects work on Ender's Game will be moved to another VFX studio, which will ultimately cause delays in post-production of the film. This is supported by OLE's conclusion that they "may still have the ability to complete Ender's Game on schedule" if everything works out smoothly, which effectively means that the November 1, 2013 release date is now at risk, no matter the outcome of Monday's court hearing.

Ender News will be keeping you updated on any new developments in this mess of a bankruptcy case related to our beloved Ender's Game franchise.

UpdateChinese-Indian JV to buy Digital Domain

Introducing: The I.F. Files - An Enderverse Directory

Hey everybody! We're really excited to show you guys a new part of Ender News we've been working on the past few weeks: a comprehensive Ender's Game book and movie directory called The I.F. Files.

From the main page:
Ever since Bean made a few trips through the ventilation system in Ender's Shadow, we've been aware that the International Fleet keeps detailed dossiers on every student who has ever set foot in Battle School, as well as on their family and friends. This is a compilation of those files.

While this directory will contain book and movie spoilers, our point of time in Ender's universe is before the major event in Ender's Game is happening. We do not give away the ending of the book or anything that happens after that event. At our point in time, the Formics are a veritable threat to humanity, Ender has made his way through Battle School, and we know nothing about the adult life of any of our child protagonists.

A Few Features:

Biographies: We've been working hard these past few weeks to add extensive biographies for not only all book and movie characters, but also for the cast and crew of Ender's Game, especially for all lesser-known cast members who do not yet have a presence on Wikipedia, a biography on IMDB, etc.

Timeline: Each of the cast/crew member files has a special timeline section that makes it easy to keep track of Ender News blog posts, external links, and events related to the subject. Here's an example from Aramis Knight's file:



All of the timeline records are clickable and take you right to the mentioned article, whether it's from Ender News, YouTube, or the Official Production Blog.

Quotes: Apart from character quotes from the Ender's Game novel (and there are a lot!), we now have a place to keep track of our favorite quotes from the cast and production team. Once publicity for the movie begins and everyone starts popping up in interviews, this will be intensely useful. Right now we're just using it to save some of our favorite tweets!

By the way, did you know that Battle School students Vlad and Dumper don't have a single line in the book?

Birthday Calendar: Since there are so many people whose birthdays we know you all want to keep track of, we created a fun page to make it easier. You can also always view all upcoming birthdays on the main page -- and please remember, not everyone is listed; we can only list the birthdays we know!

Video Records: Every time we post a video on Ender News or link to one in a record, the video will show up on the I.F. Videos page. Right now there aren't so many but that will definitely change soon: whatever happened to that cast band idea? Buggers and Astronauts, right? ;)

Historical Files: This is a work in progress! All historical and fictional characters mentioned in Ender's Game will have their own file where you can read all about their appearance in the novel. Did you know Alexander the Great was referenced more than any other historical figure?

So, that's it: The I.F. Files. We really hope you guys enjoy this new part of the site. Over time, we think it'll grow into something pretty cool. And keep checking back: not only will we be adding to the files as fun stuff comes in, we have so many more ideas for upcoming topics, features, quizzes, and maybe even some games!

We intend to eventually add everyone who has a recognizable role in the movie. This includes extra cast such as stand-ins, doubles or minor characters. If you've been involved with Ender's Game and find yourself missing in our files, you're welcome to contact us and we'll add a file for you.

Also, please keep in mind: none of this can exist without your help. Find a mistake? Is something factually incorrect? Have additional information? Email us and let us know.

Cast Meetup at Variety's Power of Youth

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The cast of Ender's Game had a mini-reunion yesterday at Variety's Power of Youth event at Paramount Studios in Hollywood, a day that celebrates young celebrities' passion for and dedication to humanitarian causes.

The 6th time this even has been held, its mission is to encourage "the industry and their fans around the world to get involved and give back."

Pictured here left to right: Brandon Soo Hoo, Aramis Knight, Khylin Rhambo and Brendan Meyer. 

It's great that the younger members of the cast had the chance to hang out with Brendan Meyer, the young actor who unfortunately had to drop out of Ender's Game due to a last-minute scheduling conflict back in March.

It's certain that there will be some more photos coming in soon (Jimmy Jax Pinchak definitely promised the Internet some on his Facebook page!) and we'll get them posted below as soon as they come in!

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Digital Domain Bankruptcy Puts "Ender's Game" Schedule at Risk

Special effects company Digital Domain Media Group (DDMG) filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last Tuesday and presented a buyer, Searchlight Capital, for its core operations, Digital Domain Productions, on the same day. However, regulations require that a bankruptcy auction is held, and it is far from certain that Searchlight's $15 million will be the winning bid when this auction concludes on September 21st.

We reported last weekend that a Lionsgate spokesman confirmed that "post-production work on Ender's Game remains on schedule," but several new developments, including new court documents filed by Lionsgate production partner OddLot Entertainmain (OLE) on Wednesday show that this schedule is now at risk.

An auction date just ten days after the initial bankruptcy filing is, according to DDMG's bankruptcy judge Brendan Linehan Shannon, "unprecedented," and he said he approved the timeline "only because Digital Domain claimed it would be forced to liquidate and fire all its employees." That, of course, would prevent DDMG to complete the visual and animation effects for Ender's Game on time.

On Thursday night, Digital Domain announced that it has secured "close to $12 million in financing" to help keep the company running, meet its expenses, and make payments including employee wages. That is good news for Ender's Game as post-production work on the film should continue even if the bankruptcy auction -- judge Shannon called his approval "interim" - should be delayed for a while.

But we won't know for sure if the November 1, 2013 schedule for Ender's Game can be met until we know the outcome of this auction. A court motion filed by OLE (PDF) details the concerns of the producers:
"It is of paramount importance to OLE that the visual, digital and animation effects for Ender's Game be completed according to schedule. Without knowing the identity of the proposed buyer, the ability of the proposed buyer to perform the obligations under the Agreements or whether the proposed buyer is even assuming the Agreements, OLE will not be able to determine whether the proposed sale will enable the visual, digital and animation effects for Ender's Game to be completed according to schedule."
Digital Domain has several "Agreements" with Summit Entertainment and OddLot, most importantly they agreed "to provide visual, digital and animation effects for Ender's Game at cost plus a deferred fee of approximately $10 million to be paid out of the net proceeds of Ender's Game." But there is also an "Investment Agreement" which gives DDMG a 37.5% interest in the project, and a "Completion Guaranty Agreement" with certain banks. All these agreements come with certain rights and obligations, and we don't know how the eventual buyer of Digital Domain intends to handle those agreements.

Searchlight Capital is a private equity firm that intends to make a profit off its investments, and one of the shiniest assets they would acquire with DDMG is the 37.5% equity interest in Ender's Game. OLE filed with the court that the consent of both OLE and Summit would be required prior to a sale of those Ender's Game interests, and neither party has provided such consent to date. OLE addresses further concerns in the court motion:
Given the importance of the assumption of all of the Agreements to the success of Ender's Game, OLE is particularly concerned that a buyer may agree to assume all of the Agreements at the Auction and the hearing on the Sale Motion, only to turn around and assume only certain of the Agreements after this Court has approved the sale.
We hope - and expect - that Summit and OddLot will be successful in protecting the Ender's Game film in this mess of a bankruptcy, but we'll have to wait for the auction's results which are expected to be announced on September 24th. A delay of the film's release date seems unlikely at this point, but court documents show that there is clearly a risk.

Kyle Clements as a young Mazer Rackham: "It was crazy."

Kyle Clements is a young actor from Hammond, Louisiana who plays the younger version of Ben Kingsley's character Mazer Rackham in the upcoming Ender's Game film. He is probably best known for his role as FBI Investigator Lawrence in the Nicolas Cage remake of The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call - New Orleans. He also appeared in Middle of Nowhere with Susan Sarandon and the 2012 action flick Battleship.

Kyle recently sat down with his local newspaper and talked a bit about his role in the film and what it's like working on such a huge project:
"Ender's Game was a large scale production. You could have kids flying around on high wires on one stage while Harrison Ford and Ben Kingsley were doing a scene on another stage. All the while I’m being spun around in the cockpit of a jet in another stage. It was crazy."
As we reported earlier, it's very likely that Clements was used to film several flashback scenes as well as the propaganda vids released by the International Fleet after the Second Formic War.
Clements plays a fighter pilot in Ender’s Game, which was nostalgic to him. Growing up, Top Gun was one of his favorite movies.

"Having a role similar to that was very cool," he said. "Two Navy pilots were even there as technical advisors."

"Ender’s Game has a huge fan base. When someone on the crew of 2 Guns heard I played Young Mazor Rackham in Ender's Game, he wanted a picture with me," Clements said. "It's flattering," Clements said. "I encourage everyone to pursue their dreams, whatever they may be."
Good advice!

It's exciting that the production team behind Ender's Game has brought in so many professionals to make sure that this film looks top notch, from Cirque du Soleil acrobats to astronauts, and now Navy pilots. They even sent the kids to Space Camp!

We're really excited about these possible flashbacks and propaganda vids, and still wondering if those gas masks are going to be used! Do you think we'll get to actually see them boarding the Formic starships and finding the insectoid crew lifeless and catatonic?

Follow Ender News on Facebook for all the latest on the upcoming Ender's Game movie, set to hit U.S. theaters November 1, 2013!

"Ender's Game" Remains on Schedule Despite Digital Domain's Collapse

Problems at Digital Domain Media Group (DDMG), the company that is not only responsible for all the visual effects in Ender's Game, but also co-producing and holding a 37.5% interest in the film, reached new highs this Friday with the decision to close its animation and visual effects studio in Port St. Lucie, Florida. Almost the entire Florida staff will be eliminated, but the company has said its studios in California and Vancouver "intend to continue to operate without interruption."

Digital Domain is not operating profitably and the company has a huge load of debt, in part because of the $18 million they've invested in Ender's Game. In late August the company's debt holders demanded their money back, but the company didn't have the cash, so they formed a committee to review all of their options. What this committee came up with is to streamline operations, close the Florida studio, and focus on its core business of creating visual effects and digital content: Digital Domain Productions.

What does this mean for the Ender's Game film?

John Textor
Nothing at first, as Digital Domain's studio in California continues to operate, and the company's financial contribution as co-producer has been fully paid. Lionsgate spokesman Peter Wilkes confirmed to Bloomberg that post-production work on Ender's Game remains on schedule and said: "We are very excited about Ender's Game and we're very confident we will release it as planned on Nov. 1, 2013."

However, the story is likely not over as the motivation of the debt holders to ask their money back at this time is unclear. The Ender's Game film is set to be a box office success, and while profits for Digital Domain from this franchise won't come in before 2014, they will be significant. The company said back in April that with $250 million domestic box office they will make $43 million in profits, and to quote DDMG's now former chairman John Textor, "I wouldn't say [those numbers] are on the high-end."

Here are some more interesting tidbits about Ender's Game and Digital Domain that haven't been widely reported yet (Source: DDMG Q4 2011 Transcript):
1. Digital Domain's 37.5% interest in the franchise "gives us rights to the first film, the sequel, certain gaming rights, and obviously we hope a future that goes well beyond that." Note that they are not talking about a possible sequel here. Words are powerful in the financial world, and if the production team wouldn't have had a sequel in mind from the very beginning, Textor wouldn't have worded it like this. Of course, the final decision for a sequel will depend on the box office success of the first film.

2. "We took a test piece [for Ender's Game] to the Cannes Film Festival, showed it to a roomful of people, and within a very short amount of time had really sold out pretty much every country in terms of foreign distribution." The film was pre-sold to foreign for about $44 million, that is about 40% of the total production budget.

3. Ender's Game "seems to be positioned very well to be a tent-pole production. It will look like one of the biggest films you've ever seen." If you read between the lines of Digital Domain's statements, anything below $200 million domestic box office would be seen as a disappointment. And while there are no words from Lionsgate about expectations, I wouldn't be surprised if they secrectly hope to beat the $408 million The Hunger Games has brought in domestically, the studio's biggest success in history. After all, the Ender's Game cast is much higher profile in terms of Academy Awards and Oscar nominations.
John Textor, Chairman and CEO of Digital Domain Media Group, resigned from all his positions with the company on Friday as he is "in profound disagreement" with the decision to close the Florida studio. It is unclear how this resignation will effect Textor's status as Executive Producer of the Ender's Game film. He said he intends "to stay actively involved as a shareholder of the Company."

DDMG is currently looking to appoint a new Chairman and CEO, while Ed Ulbrich, also an Executive Producer of Ender's Game, has been promoted to Chief Executive Officer of the company's core subsidiary, Digital Domain Productions.

Comic-Con Swag Giveaway -- The Winners!



Here you go, guys. I suppose this is what everyone has been waiting for: the winners!

T-Shirt:

#2568 Shelli Weinstein

Pins:

#2550 A.J. Murphy
#2659 Sevan
#2594 James
#2551 Haha Maimai
#2532 Rich Reed
#2548 Pete Salisbury
#2540 Rita
#2571 Michelle Lemieux
#2546 Hans Olo
#2529 Caroline Elizabeth Kruczynski

All of the winners need to send their shipping address to endernews@gmail.com -- some of you we've messaged on Facebook but that wasn't possible for everyone. :)

If you didn't win this time, don't despair! Not only will we be having other giveaways in the future, but you can also participate in our Reading Ender's Game Photo Challenge -- it runs all the way through September and there will be a prize for the best submission!

Make sure to like Ender News on Facebook to stay up-to-date with all of our fun activities, contests and giveaways.

Congrats, all!